Category Archives: Non-violence

While State Leaders Make War, Spanish Children March for Peace

Jacaranda schoolchildren marching for world peace

Benalmádena, Spain — Seven hundred and seventy primary and elementary school children, aged three to 12, walked and skipped three kilometers to the main square (Plaza de España) here in this town located in Spain’s Andalusia province, and back to their municipal school, Jacaranda.

On this 30th march for international peace in commemoration of the day that Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated (January 30, 1948), the children sang “No to War”, “Yes to Peace”, “Save the Children,” “Friendship Yes, Violence No”. (The event was postponed a week due to a storm.)

They were accompanied by their 29 classroom teachers and about 100 parents and grandparents.

For a week each January, these students study peace, solidarity and friendship values, and how to protect Mother Earth from man-made pollution. The day dedicated to “Save the Children” includes students asking their parents for donations of funds and clothing for poor children. Since 2011-2, they have raised some 7500 Euros ($8500). A committee of teachers and parents decides where to send the donations, sometimes in Spain and sometimes abroad.

The students also make designs for banners and T-shirts. A committee of students and teachers decides what designs are used. The municipal marine sports and water firms donated 3000 Euros to manufacture 1000 T-shirts that the students and teachers wear.

I have participated in hundreds of peace activities but never one where the prime activists are young children. I asked some children and parents what marching for peace means to them.

Ten-year-old Julia made the T-shirt design for last year. “I love peace” is centered on the blue shirt, and “We must all work to create peace” is the co-slogan. All words are in Spanish and English.

Julia tells me, “We can’t get peace in the world without everyone together, building for it. I just thought about that when I drew.”

This year’s T-shirt is pink. A dove is flying leading three children wearing shirts with a peace sign, a heart and a smile, and the words: peace, respect, solidarity, equality, happiness, friendship and love.

Along the march, I meet up with Carmen, Jonathan, Tillie and Dario ages 11-12. Their collective voice speaks gleefully: “Togetherness is beautiful. Racism and machoism are wrong.”

Lise, 4, feels that marching is “fun”. Her teacher adds, “Teaching peace can be fun. Teaching war is not.”

One mother tells me, “We are so grateful for this school, because it focuses on developing a consciousness of peace and friendship, of love, really. We do not make wars; it is the politicians. War for oil. This,” says the parent, opening her arms as to embrace the hundreds of children assembled before the march began, “this is life.” Her husband adds, “Not forming Hitlers and Francos, and those of today’s times.”

A Polish couple moved from their country to Benalmádena, in part to get away from warring conflicts. Carolina and Robert tell me as they march, “We must help create a future, and this school is one way of doing it. Wars are for politicians and the rich. Here the children are stimulated with peaceful thoughts.”

Thirty-year old Carmen walks beside her husband and her father as they follow their two children and grandchildren. “I bring my children to this school because of the values they teach,” Carmen says. “The academic part is OK but the best is the morality that is taught, and done so without authoritarian finger pointing. The teachers let our well-nourished children know that other children in the world die of hunger, others barely live with little nutrition; many live with fear and in violent danger. They are helping our children become conscientious adults. This is humanitarian, this is caring, and one day our children may make a real difference for peace.”

One of those kids, 9-year old Karin, tells me, “We are happy to have our parents help other children no matter where they are.”

At the Plaza de España, the children sing and dance to cheerful songs, waving their arms and stepping in tune. I ask a local policewoman what she thinks of the children’s peace march in the context that her government is killing people in the Middle East. “It is not ‘my’ government. It is the world government making wars. We need more love and peace.”

Three children read manifestos for peace that 6th graders had written in Spanish and English:

Peace needs education with values, behavior and attitudes that allow personal and social harmonia, refusing all types of violence.

Many wars could be avoided through dialogue, reaching pacific agreements that could benefit us all. When it comes down to it, we are all equal human beings, born of a father and mother: tall and short, blond and brown, with round or extended eyes, with different colors of skin.

It is not enough to talk about peace. We must believe in and work for peace. The children and adults of Jacaranda are ‘peaceniks’. Each year we join hands and march through the streets of our beautiful town, traveling a common path of solidarity and joy, offering our grain of sand for peace in the world.

A second statement, read in English by a 12 year-old girl, states:

If you look up the word peace in the dictionary, it speaks about tranquility and non-violence…a synonym might even be a truce. I think Peace is far more than a truce… If we are to achieve peace, we have to make a difference.

Peace is the feeling that everybody wants to enjoy in the world. How do I feel it? When everyone around me in my family, my circle of friends and my neighborhood is happy, eager to love, to accept and relate…then I feel at peace…Peace starts with me, and begins with a smile.

The day’s peace activity ends by freeing doves from a cage, and with tears on many adults’ cheeks.

Jacaranda school’s education

While the school is state funded, it has its own values, not necessarily those of the Spanish state, which wars against several countries in the US-led so-called “coalition of the willing against terrorism”. Nevertheless, the town’s mayors and other members of the town council are always present at the square where students sing and read their manifestos for peace.

Spain’s King Felipe VI recently made a trip to Iraq. He is the first Spanish monarch to visit Iraq in 40 years. He went to encourage his occupying troops in the “cradle of civilization” devastated by the invasion since 2003. The current Iraqi government wants the “coalition of the willing” to leave its war-torn country. Spain has fought beside the US in its wars since 1992 against Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. It warred against Afghanistan from 2002 to 2015 where 102 of its soldiers died.

Before the peace march, I discussed with the school’s principal, Juan Luis Castro, and head teacher, Camino Albillos, how it can be that the state wars against people (who have not attacked and do not threaten Spain) while this public school rejects wars and teaches peace.

Camino explained:

Our 1978 constitution sets down principles of working for peace, and gives public school administrators and teachers the freedom to teach, and to help develop alongside with parents their own religious and moral values.

Here’s my translation of that part of the Spanish constitution’s preamble:

The Spanish Nation, wishing to establish justice, freedom and security and promote the well-being of those who make up the nation, in use of their sovereignty, proclaim the will to…Collaborate in the strengthening of peaceful relations and effective cooperation among all the peoples of the Earth.

The constitution’s Article 27. states:

1. “Everyone has the right to education. Freedom of teaching is recognized. 2. Education shall aim at the full development of the human personality in respect of democratic principles of coexistence and fundamental rights and freedoms. 3. The public authorities guarantee the right that assists parents so that their children receive the religious and moral training that is in accordance with their own convictions. 7. Teachers, parents and, where appropriate, students can intervene in the control and management of all centers supported by the Administration with public funds, under the terms established by law.”

Camino told me:

We teachers learn to teach through our students. We don’t have a particular doctrine but we view all humans in a holistic manner, such as did Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessori. Today, it is called emotional intelligence, or creative intelligence. Most teachers want peace. We hope our children will grow to be critical thinkers, not sheep but full humans who question, who are active in finding solutions to problems we have, and to protect the earth. We are an ecological school.

The founders of the school named it after the blue-flowered tree. They placed emphasis on teaching values of peace and solidarity, and using teaching methods formulated by Steiner and Montessori. The founders chose the peace march to mark the day Gandhi was murdered. The UN International Day of Peace (September 21), and the International Day of Non-Violence (October 2) also honor peace efforts and the life of Gandhi.

Principal Luis Castro told me:

Our laws allow our teaching methods and values. Many other schools in Spain practice these ideals and forms as well, though there is no network. The state decides on general curricula. We have the liberty to respect universal values: violence is no solution to conflicts. We do not enter into the particular foreign policies of the various political parties and governments, but we do not justify what they do when using violence and warfare. We say humans must reflect and discuss, empathize with one another, respect humanity and the planet.

Jacaranda morality seems to work for the many thousands of children who have attended the school through its 30 history. “We do not have bullying here, nothing that has required implementing the protocols required for such bad treatment of one another,” concluded Camino. “We have learned from the terrible years of fascism and Franco,” added Juan Luis.

Photos by Jette Salling

Beyond NATO: Time To Break The Silence, End NATO’s Militarism

Source No2NATO2019.org.

Fifty-two years ago on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  gave his most important speech ever, “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence.” King’s conscience drove him to take the unpopular position of publicly criticizing the Vietnam War and putting it in the context of the “giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism.” The message of that speech remains relevant today because its wisdom has not been heeded.

We put this in the context of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) because this year on April 4, the anniversary of that speech and the anniversary of the murder of King by the government, NATO will be holding its 70th anniversary meeting in Washington, DC. Protests and other activities are being planned.

NATO is a front for Western military aggression, which has resulted in destruction around the world, mass deaths and mass migration as people are forced from their NATO-destroyed communities. It’s time to end it.

No to NATO! : Newport, August 30, 2014. From Rtuc’s Blog.

Would Dr. King oppose NATO?

That is the question asked by the Black Alliance for Peace on this birthday weekend of Martin Luther King, Jr. The Alliance explains why Dr. King would speak out against NATO if he were alive today:

Dr. King would be opposed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) because it is an instrument of US and European militarism. He would not be confused—and neither are we—about why the liberal establishment, neocons, military-industrial complex, corporations and the corporate media are opposed to ending an anachronistic structure. NATO’s only reason for being today is to serve as the military wing of the dying U.S.-European colonial project.

Black Alliance for Peace is not alone in seeing the reality of NATO as an aggressive arm of the US military. In the Chicago Tribune, Victor Davis Hanson writes, “In an era when the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact are now ancient history, everyone praises NATO as ‘indispensable’ and ‘essential’ to Western solidarity and European security. But few feel any need to explain how and why that could still be so.”

The truth is NATO is not only not indispensable or essential — it is counterproductive. It creates conflicts and is being used as an aggressive military tool. Among the wars of NATO are Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen as well as Bosnia, Serbia, Kosovo and Yugoslavia

In NATO is a Danger, Not a Guarantor of Peace, the American Conservative describes how NATO was appropriate when it was created to deter Russian aggression, but that was only necessary prior to the dissolution of the soviet union. It writes that NATO “has maintained a destabilizing posture toward Russia ever since” and urges Trump to return to his campaign view that NATO is obsolete, a position he has backtracked from saying he just didn’t know much about it.

David Swanson of World Beyond War describes how NATO works against the rule of law writing, “NATO is used within the US and by other NATO members as cover to wage wars under the pretense that they are somehow more legal or acceptable.”

When the Soviet Union dissolved, the excuse for NATO ended. Indeed, it is well known that Gorbachev and other Soviet leaders received assurances that NATO would not expand. These assurances came not only from President George H.W. Bush but also from West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher; West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl; former CIA Director Robert Gates; French leader Francois Mitterrand; Margaret Thatcher; British Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd; and Manfred Woerner, the NATO secretary-general.

Instead of ending NATO after it no longer served any defensive military purpose, NATO expanded to 29 nations, 13 since the end of the Soviet Union, including countries on the border of Russia. One of the reasons for the US coup in Ukraine was to antagonize Russia and prevent access to its naval fleet through Crimea. Ukraine is now partnering with NATO.

The current US national military strategy calls for conflict with Russia and China. NATO continuously expanding, conducting military exercises and putting bases, missiles and other military equipment on the Russian border are part of that strategy. NATO has even expanded to Colombia, which borders Venezuela, another nation the US has threatened with war while conducting an economic war and regime change operations there.

A coalition of more than 100 organizations that are calling for an end to NATO describes its devastating impact:

NATO has been the world’s deadliest military alliance, causing untold suffering and devastation throughout Northern Africa, the Middle East and beyond. Hundreds of thousands have died in U.S./NATO wars in Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yugoslavia. Millions of refugees are now risking their lives trying to escape the carnage that these wars have brought to their homelands, while workers in the 29 NATO member-countries are told they must abandon hard-won social programs in order to meet U.S. demands for even more military spending.

King delivering his speech “Beyond Vietnam” at New York City’s Riverside Church in 1967 (John C. Goodwin, TIME Magazine)

Dr. King’s Clarion Call Needs to be Acted On

In 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr., warned, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” He described how militarism was destroying the soul of the United States and called for an end to the Vietnam war. He described in excruciating detail the US destruction of Vietnam, mass bombings, napalm, poisoning of their water and land and the killing of more than a million Vietnamese. He said a foreign policy based on violence and domination abroad, leads to violence and domination at home, and he urged “we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.”

Time has shown the truth of his message as militarized police terrorize poor communities and are used to silence dissent, creating a war at home. Other aspects of the war at home are the injustice system, mass incarceration, the lack of social supports and the exploitation of workers and the environment.

King described how war degrades US soldiers who realize “we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.” King said he could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor “as poor blacks and whites” from the United States were “burning the huts of a poor village” 8,000 miles away. The dehumanization and contempt of “other” people, he noted, leads to the persecution and death of black people in the United States.

King saw war as “a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit.”  He accurately predicted that if we did not face this reality, US militarism would spread throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Today the US has 883 foreign military bases with troops deployed in 149 countries and sells or gives weapons to 98 countries. He described how the US keeps troops in foreign lands to “maintain social stability for our investments accounts.” He described US imperialism as based on “refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment. “

King connected the extreme materialism of capitalism to militarization and racism, describing a “thing-oriented” society rather than a “person-oriented” society and how “profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people.” He described the new hopes in the nation as the government confronted poverty with new programs to uplift the poor, but how he “watched this program broken and eviscerated” as war funding stole from funding the necessities of the people.

Today, US military spending of more than a trillion dollars – the Pentagon alone is $717 billion – accounts for more than 65% of discretionary spending while poverty and homelessness rise. King called for a transformational change as an “edifice which produces beggars needs re-structuring” and urged us to “look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth.” The wealth divide today has worsened with three people having wealth equal to half the population. King criticized “capitalists” who sought to take the wealth of nations across the globe.

Members of various groups planning to protest the Nato summit including Jesse McAdoo, from the People’s Summit, Aaron Hughes from Iraq Veterans Against the War and Andy Thayer, protest organizer talk to the media Thursday May 10, 2012 in Chicago. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune) …..

The Insult of NATO Celebrating War-Making In Washington, DC on April 4

On April 4, NATO will be holding meetings in Washington, DC. This is an insult to the memory of Dr. King and what he stood for. The Peace Congress, which was held in place of Trump’s cancelled military parade, called for people to unify around protests against NATO during their meetings.

The No2NATO2019 coalition, which is organizing protests against NATO, writes:

… in a grotesque desecration of Rev. King’s lifelong dedication to peace, this is the date that the military leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have chosen to celebrate NATO’s 70th anniversary by holding its annual summit meeting in Washington, D.C. This is a deliberate insult to Rev. King and a clear message that Black lives and the lives of non-European humanity, and indeed the lives of the vast majority, really do not matter.

World Beyond War is organizing No to NATO — Yes to Peace Festival, which will include an art build, food, music and teach-ins on April 3 and a march from the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial on April 4.

People are planning to organize strategic, nonviolent protests against NATO’s meetings and organizing non-violent direct action training to prepare for them. Learn more about all of the events and how you can participate.

On this holiday weekend, we reflect on the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. who urged us to “re-dedicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.” Protest to end NATO will be a step towards ending what King called “the deadly western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.” It is time for peace to “take precedence over the pursuit of war.”

An Invitation from the Nevada Desert Experience

Come to Nevada: Walk for Peace, Resist Nuclear Weapons, Stand for Indigenous People’s Rights and Fill the Jails! April 13-19, 2019.

On Indigenous People’s Day, formerly known as Columbus Day, October 8, 2018, Nye County, Nevada, prosecutors and Sheriff’s deputies ended a three decades old policy concerning arrests of protesters at the Nevada National Security Site, NNSS, formerly known as the Nevada Test Site, 60 miles from Las Vegas.

From 1986 through 1994, two years after the United States put a hold on full-scale nuclear weapons testing, 536 anti-nuclear peace demonstrations were held at the site. Many thousands participated and according to government records, 15,740 arrests were made, but starting in 1987, the Sheriff’s Department, motivated in part by the expense of so many prosecutions on a rural county, stopped charging protestors who entered the site with criminal trespass. Activists who crossed the cattleguard at the fence-line three miles from the secured zone, now represented by an arbitrary white line closer to US Highway 95, were detained briefly in an open air corral and issued a misdemeanor “Notice to Appear” citation with no appearance date filled in. They were informed that no charge would be filed. Detainees who had no identification, who refused to identify themselves or even offered frivolous names were also released, as were those who presented permits to enter Western Shoshone land issued by their National Council.

In August, 2018, a representative of the Sheriff’s Department informed the Nevada Desert Experience, NDE, of the change in policy. From now on, protesters who enter the site and can present government issued ID will be given a warning ticket the first time and issued real citations if they repeat. Those who are apprehended without ID will be arrested, transported to jail in Pahrump and charged as trespassers. Permits issued by the National Council of the Western Shoshone will no longer be honored. This crackdown is due, according to the deputy who spoke to NDE members, to pressure from the National Nuclear Security Administration of the US Department of Energy that operates the site.

With diminished numbers but with faithful regularity, NDE has continued its vigils, prayers and protests at the Test Site several times each year, usually with some of us detained by the deputies and released after presenting permits from the Western Shoshone. Our annual fall event, “Justice for Our Desert”, includes a prayerful procession into the site and this time, three members of the NDE governing council were taken into custody. Two of us, Mark Kelso of Las Vegas and me, from Maloy, Iowa, were released with warnings after we presented our driver’s licenses. Marcus Page-Collonge of Calaveras County, California, was taken to jail in Pahrump and was bailed out that evening.

A few days later, on October 11, the Nye County District Attorney filed a complaint against Marcus in Beatty Township Justice Court that charges that “The Defendant did willfully and unlawfully go on to the property of Nevada National Security Site after being warned no to do so” and trial for his alleged crime is set for December 3.

At trial, the State of Nevada will need to prove that the property Marcus went on to is that “of Nevada National Security Site,” an allegation that will not be verified easily. In 1950, Test Site was established on land legally recognized by the Treaty of Ruby Valley in 1863 as belonging to the Western Shoshone indigenous nation. This agreement allows the US government the “right to traverse the area, maintain existing telegraph and stage lines, construct one railroad and engage in specified economic activities. The agreement allows the US president to designate reservations, but does not tie this to land cessions.” The NNSS posts billboard-sized “NO TRESPASSING” signs claiming the land as theirs, but the Western Shoshone have never ceded their sacred land to the government. By any measure, the land is theirs and it is the NNSS who is the trespasser, not Marcus nor any of the thousands of activists arrested there in the past.

The NNSS is not only occupying land that is not theirs, it is operating a criminal enterprise there. Nye County authorities could use their time more productively addressing these crimes against humanity than harassing law abiding protesters. This site is the place on the planet that has suffered more atomic blasts than any other and so will be poisoned for countless centuries, even if Yucca Mountain (at the western edge of the NNSS) does not finally become the repository for all nuclear reactor waste. While there have been no actual detonations there since 1992, there are still “subcritical” tests done and there is still testing done to determine the viability of the United States’ aging nuclear arsenal. Plans also still exist to resume testing at Area 5 of the NNSS, should any US President order such. The NNSS is operated not only in violation of the Treaty of Ruby Valley but against the United Nations Charter and other international agreements that according to the US Constitution are supreme law of the land. The treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons adopted by the United Nations last year makes it a crime to “develop, test, produce, acquire, possess, stockpile, use or threaten to use nuclear weapons.”

If on December 3, Judge Gus Sullivan of the Beatty Township Justice Court rules according the law he is sworn to uphold, Marcus will be found not guilty of trespassing and the District Attorney will be admonished never to file such obviously frivolous charges in that court again. Justice, however, is rarely seen in our courts and this reasonable outcome is not expected, at least not the first time such a case is heard there in more than 30 years. But, what if in the coming months, dozens, hundreds, even thousands show up at the Test Site as in the past, packing the Beatty Township Justice Court, and the Nye County Jail while we are at it? As Marcus tells us, “All humans in Nevada and Shoshone territory who care about the future of life on earth are responsible to reverse the momentum of nuclear weapons, waste, mining and milling, to end the nuclear violence represented here at the NNSS!”

A modest proposal: We invite all friends and fellow travelers to join all or part of NDE’s annual Sacred Peace Walk, April 13-19, this coming year, walking 60 miles from Las Vegas, past the killer drone center at Creech Air Force base to the historic Peace Camp, ending on Good Friday at the gates of the Nevada National Security Site. Then, with the largest number of resisters we can raise and with the permission of the Western Shoshone National Council, we enter their sacred land together!

While this “arrest” will no longer be the ritual without consequences that it has been, even in the new regime each one should be able to calculate the risk each is ready and able to take. First, anyone can participate in a meaningful way without crossing the line, each person adding to the strength of the whole action with no risk of arrest. Second, anyone entering the site with a Western Shoshone permit AND a photo ID such as a driver’s license, who has not already been issued a warning (that’s only me and Mark Kelso so far) will likely be processed quickly and released with a warning. Third, anyone entering with the Western Shoshone permit as their only ID should expect a ride to Pahrump and booked into the jail there. Marcus was held on $500 bond, but who knows what they will do if there is a crowd of us? Going bail or not may be another option for each to consider. If we are held over, it is likely that a judge will let us out on Monday, either with time served or with a trial in the near future.

“Filling the Jails” is a time honored American tradition that has been an integral part of every successful movement for social progress and the stakes have never been higher. Thirty years ago, overwhelming numbers helped end prosecutions of protesters at the Test Site and contributed to implementing the global ban on full-scale testing of nuclear weapons. What we demand now is so much more than this. There are no promises of outcome beyond educated guesses in this proposal. It would be a step in faith, but one that these dangerous times demand of at least some of us and the more who show up, the more fun it will be!

Long time protester and prophet Phil Berrigan could have been speaking to our present dilemma when he offered that, “In this morally polluted atmosphere, we believe that imprisonment could hardly be more to the point. We shudder under the blows of a society permanently mobilized against peace. Duplicity, propaganda, media indifference, institutional betrayal mark our plight. Our people are confused and hopeless. Let us not give up. Let us continue to nourish each other by consistent and prayerful presence at military installations, in courts and lock ups. Indeed, we need to be free enough to go to jail. We need to fill up the jails. Nonviolent revolution will come out of the wilderness, as it always has. And be assured, dear friends, one formidable wilderness today is the American prison.”

Nevada Desert Experience is a faith-based movement and the Sacred Peace Walk embraces the witness and worship of many traditions and of those who identify themselves with none. Walk and camp with us through the desert for the week or join us on Good Friday morning for a communal act of nonviolent resistance. For those who can, come prepared for a joyous weekend together in jail and a strong rebuke to oppressive power in court, if that’s how it goes. Contact us at gro.ecneirepxetresedadavennull@ofni, or phone (702) 646-4814, the same number you might need to call from inside the Nye County Jail, where only collect calls are allowed!

The Importance of Alternative Media

Social critic Neil Postman contrasted the futures predicted in Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World in the foreword of his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in an Age of Show Business (1985). He wrote:

What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.

Neil Postman’s book had its origins at the Frankfurt Book Fair, where he was invited to join a panel discussing George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Postman said that our present situation was better predicted by Huxley’s Brave New World. Today, he maintained it is not fear that bars us from truth. Instead, truth is drowned in distractions and the pursuit of pleasure, by the public’s addiction to amusement.

Postman sees television as the modern equivalent of Huxley’s pleasure-inducing drug, Soma, and he maintains that television, as a medium, is intrinsically superficial and unable to discuss serious issues. Looking at television as it is today, one must agree with him.

The wealth and power of the establishment

The media are a battleground where reformers struggle for attention, but are defeated with great regularity by the wealth and power of the establishment. This is a tragedy because today there is an urgent need to make public opinion aware of the serious problems facing civilization, and the steps that are needed to solve these problems. The mass media could potentially be a great force for public education, but in general their role is not only unhelpful – it is often negative. War and conflict are blatantly advertised by television and newspapers.

Newspapers and war

There is a true story about the powerful newspaper owner William Randolph Hearst that illustrates the relationship between the mass media and the institution of war: When an explosion sank the American warship USS Maine in the harbor of Havana, Hearst anticipated (and desired) that the incident would lead to war between the United States and Spain. He therefore sent his best illustrator, Fredrick Remington, to Havana to produce drawings of the scene. After a few days in Havana, Remington cabled to Hearst, “All’s quiet here. There will be no war.” Hearst cabled back, “You supply the pictures. I’ll supply the war.” Hearst was true to his words. His newspapers inflamed American public opinion to such an extent that the Spanish-American War became inevitable. During the course of the war, Hearst sold many newspapers, and Remington many drawings. From this story one might almost conclude that newspapers thrive on war, while war thrives on newspapers.

Before the advent of widely-read newspapers, European wars tended to be fought by mercenary soldiers, recruited from the lowest ranks of society, and motivated by financial considerations. The emotions of the population were not aroused by such limited and decorous wars. However, the French Revolution and the power of newspapers changed this situation, and war became a total phenomenon that involved emotions. The media were able to mobilize on a huge scale the communal defense mechanism that Konrad Lorenz called “militant enthusiasm” – self-sacrifice for the defense of the tribe. It did not escape the notice of politicians that control of the media is the key to political power in the modern world. For example, Hitler was extremely conscious of the force of propaganda, and it became one of his favorite instruments for exerting power.

With the advent of radio and television, the influence of the mass media became still greater. Today, state-controlled or money-controlled newspapers, radio and television are widely used by the power elite to manipulate public opinion. This is true in most countries of the world, even in those that pride themselves on allowing freedom of speech. For example, during the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the official version of events was broadcast by CNN, and criticism of the invasion was almost absent from their transmissions

The mass media and our present crisis

Today we are faced with the task of creating a new global ethic in which loyalty to family, religion and nation will be supplemented by a higher loyalty to humanity as a whole. In case of conflicts, loyalty to humanity as a whole must take precedence. In addition, our present culture of violence must be replaced by a culture of peace. To achieve these essential goals, we urgently need the cooperation of the mass media.

The predicament of humanity today has been called “a race between education and catastrophe”. Human emotions have not changed much during the last 40,000 years. Human nature still contains an element of tribalism to which nationalistic politicians successfully appeal. The completely sovereign nation-state is still the basis of our global political system. The danger in this situation is due to the fact that modern science has given the human race incredibly destructive weapons. Because of these weapons, the tribal tendencies in human nature and the politically fragmented structure of our world have both become dangerous anachronisms.

We have to learn to think in a new way. Will we learn this in time to prevent disaster? When we consider the almost miraculous power of our modern electronic media, we can be optimistic. Cannot our marvelous global communication network be used to change anachronistic ways of thought and anachronistic social and political institutions in time, so that the system will not self-destruct as science and technology revolutionize our world? If they were properly used, our instantaneous global communications could give us hope.

The success of our species is built on cultural evolution, the central element of which is cooperation. Thus human nature has two sides, tribal emotions are present, but they are balanced by the human genius for cooperation. The case of Scandinavia – once war-torn, now cooperative – shows that education is able to bring out either the kind and cooperative side of human nature, or the xenophobic and violent side. Which of these shall it be? It is up to our educational systems to decide, and the mass media are an extremely important part of education. Hence the great responsibility that is now in the hands of the media.

How do the mass media fulfill this life-or-death responsibility? Do they give us insight? No, they give us pop music. Do they give us an understanding of the sweep of evolution and history? No, they give us sport. Do they give us an understanding of need for strengthening the United Nations, and the ways that it could be strengthened? No, they give us sit-coms and soap operas. Do they give us unbiased news? No, they give us news that has been edited to conform with the interests of the military-industrial complex and other powerful lobbies. Do they present us with the need for a just system of international law that acts on individuals? On the whole, the subject is neglected. Do they tell of the essentially genocidal nature of nuclear weapons, and the urgent need for their complete abolition? No, they give us programs about gardening and making food.

A consumer who subscribes to the “package” of broadcasts sold by a cable company can often search through all 100 or so channels without finding a single program that offers insight into the various problems that are facing the world today. What the viewer finds instead is a mixture of pro-establishment propaganda and entertainment. Meanwhile the neglected global problems are becoming progressively more severe. In general, the mass media behave as though their role is to prevent the peoples of the world from joining hands and working to change the world and to save it from thermonuclear and environmental catastrophes. The television viewer sits slumped in a chair, passive, isolated, disempowered and stupefied. The future of the world hangs in the balance, the fate of children and grandchildren hang in the balance, but the television viewer feels no impulse to work actively to change the world or to save it. The Roman emperors gave their people bread and circuses to numb them into political inactivity. The modern mass media seem to be playing a similar role.

Our duty to future generations

The future of human civilization is endangered both by the threat of thermonuclear war and by the threat of catastrophic climate change. It is not only humans that are threatened, but also the other organisms with which we share the gift of life. We must also consider the threat of a global famine of extremely large proportions, when the end of the fossil fuel era, combined with the effects of climate change, reduce our ability to support a growing global population.

We live at a critical moment of history. Our duty to future generations is clear: We must achieve a steady-state economic system. We must restore democracy in our own countries when it has been replaced by oligarchy. We must decrease economic inequality both between nations and within nations. We must break the power of corporate greed. We must leave fossil fuels in the ground. We must stabilize and ultimately reduce the global population. We must eliminate the institution of war; and we must develop new ethics to match our advanced technology, ethics in which narrow selfishness, short-sightedness and nationalism will be replaced by loyalty to humanity as a whole, combined with respect for nature.

Inaction is not an option. We have to act with courage and dedication, even if the odds are against success, because the stakes are so high.

The mass media could mobilize us to action, but they have failed in their duty.

Our educational systems could also wake us up and make us act, but they too have failed us. The battle to save the earth from human greed and folly has to be fought in the alternative media.

The alternative media, and all who work with them, deserve both our gratitude and our financial support. They alone can correct the distorted and incomplete picture of the world that we obtain from the mass media. They alone can show us the path to a future in which our children, grandchildren, and all future generations can survive.

Author’s Note:

• A book discussing the importance of alternative media can be freely downloaded and circulated from this address:

• More freely downloadable books and articles on other global problems can be found here.

Marching for Peace: From Helmand to Hiroshima

I have just arrived in Hiroshima with a group of Japanese “Okinawa to Hiroshima peace walkers” who had spent nearly two months walking Japanese roads protesting U.S. militarism.  While we were walking, an Afghan peace march that had set off in May was enduring 700km of Afghan roadsides, poorly shod, from Helmand province to Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul. Our march watched the progress of theirs with interest and awe.  The unusual Afghan group had started off as 6 individuals, emerging out of a sit-in protest and hunger strike in the Helmand provincial capital Lashkar Gah, after a suicide attack there created dozens of casualties. As they started walking their numbers soon swelled to 50 plus as the group braved roadside bombs, fighting between warring parties and exhaustion from desert walking during the strict fast month of Ramadan.

The Afghan march, which is believed to be the first of its kind, is asking for a long-term ceasefire between warring parties and the withdrawal of foreign troops. One peace walker, named Abdullah Malik Hamdard, felt that he had nothing to lose by joining the march. He said: “Everybody thinks they will be killed soon, the situation for those alive is miserable. If you don’t die in the war, the poverty caused by the war may kill you, which is why I think the only option left for me is to join the peace convoy.”

The Japanese peace walkers marched to specifically halt the construction of a U.S. airfield and port with an ammunition depot in Henoko, Okinawa, which will be accomplished by landfilling Oura Bay, a habitat for the dugong and unique coral hundreds of years old, but many more lives are endangered. Kamoshita Shonin, a peace walk organizer who lives in Okinawa, says:

People in mainland Japan do not hear about the extensive bombings by the U.S. in the Middle East and Afghanistan, they are told that the bases are a deterrent against North Korea and China, but the bases are not about protecting us, they are about invading other countries. This is why I organised the walk.

Sadly, the two unconnected marches shared one tragic cause as motivation.

Recent U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan include the deliberate targeting of civilian wedding parties and funerals, incarceration without trial and torture in Bagram prison camp, the bombing of an MSF hospital in Kunduz, the dropping of the ‘Mother of all bombs’ in Nangarhar, illegal transportation of Afghans to secret black site prisons, Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and the extensive use of armed drones. Elsewhere the U.S. has completely destabilised the Middle East and Central Asia, according to The Physicians for Social Responsibility, in a report released in 2015, stated that the U.S. interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan alone killed close to 2 million, and that the figure was closer to 4 million when tallying up the deaths of civilians caused by the U.S. in other countries, such as Syria and Yemen.

The Japanese group intend to offer prayers of peace this Monday at Hiroshima ground zero, 73 years to the day after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city, instantly evaporating 140,000 lives, arguably one of the worst ‘single event’ war crimes committed in human history. Three days later the U.S. hit Nagasaki instantly killing 70,000. Four months after the bombing the total death toll had reached 280,000 as injuries and the impact of radiation doubled the number of fatalities.

Today Okinawa, long a target for discrimination by Japanese authorities, accommodates 33 U.S. military bases, occupying 20% of the land, housing some 30,000 plus U.S. Marines who carry out dangerous training exercises ranging from rope hangs suspended out of Osprey helicopters (often over built-up residential areas), to jungle trainings which run straight through villages, arrogantly using people’s gardens and farms as mock conflict zones. Of the 14,000 U.S. troops currently stationed in Afghanistan, many to most would have trained on Okinawa, and even flown out directly from the Japanese Island to U.S. bases such as Bagram.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan the walkers, who call themselves the ‘People’s Peace Movement’, are following up their heroic ordeal with protests outside various foreign embassies in Kabul.  This week they are outside the Iranian Embassy demanding an end to Iranian interference in Afghan matters and their equipping armed militant groups in the country. It is lost on no-one in the region that the U.S., which cites such Iranian interference as its pretext for building up towards a U.S.-Iran war, is an incomparably more serious supplier of deadly arms and destabilizing force to the region. They have staged sit-in protests outside the U.S., Russian, Pakistani and U.K. embassies, as well as the U.N. offices in Kabul.

The head of their impromptu movement, Mohammad Iqbal Khyber, says the group have formed a committee comprised of elders and religious scholars. The assignment of the committee is to travel from Kabul to Taliban-controlled areas to negotiate peace.

The U.S. have yet to describe its long term or exit strategy for Afghanistan. Last December Vice President Mike Pence addressed U.S. troops in Bagram: “I say with confidence, because of all of you and all those that have gone before and our allies and partners, I believe victory is closer than ever before.”

But time spent walking doesn’t bring your destination closer when you don’t have a map.  More recently U.K. ambassador for Afghanistan Sir Nicholas Kay, while speaking on how to resolve conflict in Afghanistan said: “I don’t have the answer.”  There never was a military answer for Afghanistan.  Seventeen years of ‘coming closer to victory’ in eliminating a developing nation’s domestic resistance is what is called “defeat,” but the longer the war goes on, the greater the defeat for Afghanistan’s people.

Historically the U.K. has been closely wedded to the U.S. in their ‘special relationship’, sinking British lives and money into every conflict the U.S. has initiated. This means the U.K. was complicit in dropping 2,911 weapons on Afghanistan in the first 6 months of 2018, and in President Trump’s greater-than-fourfold average increase on the number of bombs dropped daily by his warlike predecessors. Last month Prime Minister Theresa May increased the number of British troops serving in Afghanistan to more than 1,000, the biggest U.K. military commitment to Afghanistan since David Cameron withdrew all combat troops four years ago.

Unbelievably, current headlines read that after 17 years of fighting, the U.S. and Afghan Government are considering collaboration with the extremist Taliban in order to defeat ISKP, the local ‘franchise’ of Daesh.

Meanwhile UNAMA has released its mid-year assessment of the harm done to civilians. It found that more civilians were killed in the first six months of 2018 than in any year since 2009, when UNAMA started systematic monitoring. This was despite the Eid ul-Fitr ceasefire, which all parties to the conflict, apart from ISKP, honoured.

Every day in the first six months of 2018, an average of nine Afghan civilians, including two children, were killed in the conflict. An average of nineteen civilians, including five children, were injured every day.

This October Afghanistan will enter its 18th year of war with the U.S. and supporting NATO countries. Those young people now signing up to fight on all sides were in nappies when 9/11 took place. As the ‘war on terror’ generation comes of age, their status quo is perpetual war, a complete brainwashing that war is inevitable, which was the exact intention of warring decision makers who have become exceedingly rich of the spoils of war.

Optimistically there is also a generation who are saying “no more war, we want our lives back”, perhaps the silver lining of the Trump cloud is that people are finally starting to wake up and see the complete lack of wisdom behind the U.S. and its hostile foreign and domestic policies, while the people follow in the steps of non-violent peace makers such as Abdul Ghafoor Khan, the change is marching from the bottom up.

Okinawa to Hiroshima Peace Walk (Photo by Maya Evans)

With Blood on Its Missiles, US Indicted for Global Nuclear Terror

The Nuremberg Principles not only prohibit such crimes but oblige those of us aware of the crime to act against it. “Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity … is a crime under International Law.” […]

The ongoing building and maintenance of Trident submarines and ballistic missile systems constitute war crimes that can and should be investigated and prosecuted by judicial authorities at all levels. As citizens, we are required by International Law to denounce and resist known crimes.

— Kings Bay Plowshares Indictment of US for war crimes, April 4, 2018

On April 4, 2018, seven Catholics, three women and four men calling themselves the Kings Bay Plowshares, carried out their faith-based, nonviolent, symbolic action, pouring blood on the world’s largest nuclear submarine base and indicting the US for its perpetual crime of holding the world hostage to the terrorist threat of using nuclear weapons. The US crime that began in 1945 has reached new intensity with Donald Trump’s years of casual rhetoric threatening nuclear holocaust on targets from ISIS to North Korea. Every other nuclear-armed state engages in the same criminal threatening every day, but the US has been at it longer and is still the only state to have perpetrated the actual war crimes of not one but two nuclear terror attacks against mostly civilian targets in Japan in 1945.

The target of the Plowshares Seven’s radical direct action was the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base, home to eight Trident nuclear submarines, each capable of launching nuclear missile strikes anywhere in the world. Each 560-foot-long Trident ballistic missile submarine carries sufficient firepower to attack some 600 cities with more destructive force than destroyed Hiroshima. The “small” warheads on Trident missiles have a 100-kiloton payload, roughly seven times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. The Kings Bay base covers some 17,000 acres, making it roughly 30 times larger than the principality of Monaco. The base was developed in 1978-79 under President Jimmy Carter, a former nuclear submarine engineer. A prominent Christian protestant all his career, Carter has long made peace with war-making, unlike the radical Catholics in the Plowshares movement since they hammered and poured blood on nuclear nosecones in 1980 (the first of more than 100 Plowshares actions since then).

On April 4, 2018, the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Liz McAlister, 78, Stephen Kelly S.J., 70, Martha Hennessy, 62, Clare Grady, 58, Patrick O’Neill, 62, Mark Colville, 55, and Carmen Trotta, 55, entered the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.

Carrying hammers and bottles of their own blood, the seven sought to enact and embody the prophet Isaiah’s command to: “Beat swords into plowshares.” In so doing, they were upholding the US Constitution through its requirement to respect treaties, international law through the UN Charter and Nuremberg principles, and higher moral law regarding the sacredness of all creation. They hoped to draw attention to and begin to dismantle what Dr. King called “the triple evils” of racism, militarism, and extreme materialism.

— Kings Bay Plowshares press release, May 4, 2018

As darkness fell on April 4, the Plowshares Seven were setting out to commit a classic act of civil disobedience, breaking laws that they saw as unjust in light of a higher law. The description of events that follows here is based on the government indictment (signed by five lawyers), the Kings Bay Plowshares account, and a conversation with one of the Plowshares Seven, Martha Hennessy, a retired occupational therapist, at her home in Vermont, where she is confined with an ankle bracelet while awaiting trial.

After penetrating the perimeter fence as a group, the seven split up into three groups, headed for three different destinations on the base, and arrived unchallenged.

The nuclear weapons storage bunkers are in a shoot-to-kill zone. McAlister, Kelly, and Trotta managed to unfurl a banner without getting shot, but were quickly arrested. The banner read: “Nuclear weapons: illegal/immoral.”

The second group, Grady and Hennessy, went to the Strategic Weapons Facility Atlantic Administration, two large, one-story office buildings out of sight and hearing range from the weapons storage bunkers. Here the scene was more surreal: lights were on in the building, people were working inside, but it was very quiet. Grady and Hennessy were alone in the dark outside for almost an hour. That gave them time to post the Plowshares indictment on the door and rope off the area with yellow crime scene tape. They poured blood on the door and the sidewalk. They spray-painted the sidewalk with “Love One Another” and “Repent” and “May Love Disarm Us All.”

When they were done, they joined the third group, Colville and O’Neill, at the Trident D5 Monuments, a sculptural, phallic celebration of nuclear weapons delivery systems. There the Plowshares splashed blood on the base logo and the Navy seal. They draped the monument in yellow crime scene tape. They pried brass letters off the monument. They hung a banner paraphrasing Martin Luther King’s admonition that “the ultimate logic of racism is genocide.” The banner read: “The Ultimate Logic of Trident is Omnicide.” People drove by as they worked, but no one stopped. After about an hour, security officers arrived and very politely, full of Southern good manners, handcuffed the four and took them into custody at a base facility sometime after midnight.

In days to come, the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised about the hills. All nations shall stream toward it….  He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares; and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”

— Book of Isaiah, 2:2-4

According to Kings Bay Base spokesman Scott Bassett, the Plowshares Seven were quickly transferred to the civilian county jail. Bassett said there were no injuries and that no military personnel or “assets” were in danger. He said the incident was still under investigation, but “At no time was anybody threatened.”

Mainstream media seem to have treated the blooding of the submarine missiles as a one-day story of little import, or ignored it entirely. The Navy was treating it as a trivial case of trespass and vandalism. Georgia officials filed charges along the same lines. But by the time the Plowshares Seven had been in county jail for a month, someone had decided to make a federal case of it.

The federal indictment of May 2 is a squalid bit of legalism at its most dishonest. The seven-page charge tries to have it both ways, making out a trespass/vandalism case while suppressing what makes it actually worthy of federal prosecution (albeit not of these defendants). No wonder it took five lawyers to conjure up a redundantly iterated charge of conspiracy to trespass and “willfully and maliciously destroy and injure real and personal property” of the US Navy. The charge is naked of any hint of a motive, and for good, sordid, corrupt prosecutorial reason. The motive calls into question the legality of the base, the submarines, the nuclear weapons, and the right of the US to keep the rest of the world under perpetual threat of annihilation. The feds have a long history of keeping that argument out of court by any means necessary.

Prosecutorial deceit is further illustrated by the indictment’s corrupt selection of the alleged overt acts by the defendants. The indictment charges all seven with acts some of them could not possibly have committed. And for all their wordy whining about property being damaged or defaced, the lawyers conspire not to mention any yellow crime tape, or banners, or – most importantly – the defendants’ blood. “A True Bill” the document is called on the page where five federal lawyers signed, if not in contempt of court, surely in contempt of truth and justice.

But that’s where this case is headed, down the rabbit hole of police state justice, if the government has its way. The Plowshares Seven, all presently proceeding without attorneys of their own, will attempt to argue a necessity defense – that whatever illegal actions they have taken were necessary to prevent a greater harm, in this case nuclear destruction. That case is so patently obvious, the government has never dared to let it be argued (in other countries it has led to some acquittals). Mostly miscarriages of justice like this go on in the shadows, without media attention, without regard to who is president or which party is in power. Anyone who looks carefully soon realizes this is true. In late 2008, Martha Hennessy wrote from Ireland:

I can’t write about my journey coming here to participate in the Catholic Worker Farm community without considering the context of our current world situation. The global financial markets teeter on the brink of chaos, and the US presidential race nears Election Day. It feels as though those who are aware of what is happening are holding their collective breath while others toil on in pain and oblivion. I completed early voting before leaving the States but I am always left with a feeling of having blood on my hands, trying to be a “responsible” citizen in a so-called democracy. The recent American bailout of the corporate criminals is a theft from the people who need housing, healthcare, and education. The horrific war that has been visited on the Iraqi people has turned on its perpetrators. And now people of faith who mount nonviolent protest to these atrocities are being branded as “terrorists” by the domestic security apparatus. How to maintain faith, hope and love with such dark times ahead?

Hennessy and two others are out on bail, but electronically shackled. The other four remain in federal prison in the usually appalling conditions the US justice system deems appropriate, or at least profitable. The prosecutors opposed any bail for any of them. A motions hearing is scheduled for early August, when all seven will seek release to allow them to prepare for trial, representing themselves. No trial date has yet been set. The defendants face potential sentences of 5 to 20 years each. They used their own blood to symbolize redemption and repentance in the shadow of nuclear holocaust. For that, these seven nonviolent Catholics have put themselves at the mercy of a “Christian” nation whose deepest belief is in its own exceptionalism, immersed in a permanent war economy heading toward omnicide, which can’t come soon enough for apocalyptic dominionoids who figure their souls are saved so let’s get it on. In a sane world, wouldn’t that be enough for jury exclusion?

Conflict Theory and Biosphere Annihilation

In a recent article titled “Challenges for Resolving Complex Conflicts“, I pointed out that existing conflict theory pays little attention to the extinction-causing conflict being ongoingly generated by human over-consumption in the finite planetary biosphere (and, among other outcomes, currently resulting in 200 species extinctions daily). I also mentioned that this conflict is sometimes inadequately identified as a conflict caused by capitalism’s drive for unending economic growth in a finite environment.

I would like to explain the psychological origin of this biosphere-annihilating conflict and how this origin has nurtured the incredibly destructive aspects of capitalism (and socialism, for that matter) from the beginning. I would also like to explain what we can do about it.

Before I do, however, let me briefly illustrate why this particular conflict configuration is so important by offering you a taste of the most recent research evidence in relation to the climate catastrophe and biosphere annihilation and why the time to resolve this conflict is rapidly running out (assuming, problematically, that we can avert nuclear war in the meantime).

In an article reporting a recent speech by Professor James G. Anderson of Harvard University, whose research led to the Montreal Protocol in 1987 to mitigate CFC damage to the Ozone Layer, environmental journalist Robert Hunziker summarizes Anderson’s position as follows:

The chance of permanent ice remaining in the Arctic after 2022 is zero. Already, 80% is gone. The problem: Without an ice shield to protect frozen methane hydrates in place for millennia, the Arctic turns into a methane nightmare.1

But if you think that sounds drastic, other recent research has drawn attention to the fact that the ‘alarming loss of insects will likely take down humanity before global warming hits maximum velocity…. The worldwide loss of insects is simply staggering with some reports of 75% up to 90%, happening much faster than the paleoclimate record rate of the past five major extinction events’. Without insects ‘burrowing, forming new soil, aerating soil, pollinating food crops…’ and providing food for many bird species, the biosphere simply collapses.2

So, if we are in the process of annihilating Earth’s biosphere, which will precipitate human extinction in the near term, why aren’t we paying much more attention to the origin of this fundamental conflict? And then developing a precisely focused strategy for transcending it?

The answer to these two questions is simply this: the origin of this conflict is particularly unpalatable and, from my careful observation, most people, including conflict theorists, aren’t anxious to focus on it.

So why are human beings over-consuming in the finite planetary biosphere? Or more accurately, why are human beings who have the opportunity to do so (which doesn’t include those impoverished people living in Africa, Asia, Central/South America or anywhere else) over-consuming in the finite planetary biosphere?

They are doing so because they were terrorized into unconsciously equating consumption with a meaningful life by parents and other adults who had already internalized this same ‘learning’.

Let me explain how this happens.

At the moment of birth, a baby is genetically programmed to feel and express their feelings in response to the stimuli, both internal and external, that the baby registers. For example, as soon after birth as a baby feels hungry, they will signal that need, usually by crying or screaming. An attentive parent (or other suitable adult) will usually respond to this need by feeding the baby and the baby will express their satisfaction with this outcome, perhaps with a facial expression, in a way that most aware parents and adults will have no difficulty identifying. Similarly, if the baby is cold, in pain or experiencing any other stimulus, the baby will express their need, probably by making a loud noise. Given that babies cannot immediately use a cultural language, they use the language that was given to them by evolution: particularly audibly expressed noise of various types that an aware adult will quickly learn to interpret.

Of course, from the initial moments after birth and throughout the next few months, a baby will experience an increasing range of stimuli – including internal stimuli such as the needs for listening, understanding and love, as well as external stimuli ranging from a wet nappy to a diverse set of parental, social, climate and environmental stimuli – and will develop a diverse and expanding range of ways, now including a wider range of emotional expression but eventually starting to include spoken language, of expressing their responses, including satisfaction and enjoyment, if appropriate, to these stimuli.

At some vital point, however, and certainly within the child’s first eighteen months, the child’s parents and the other significant adults in the child’s life, will start to routinely and actively interfere with the child’s emotional expression (and thus deny them satisfaction of the unique needs being expressed in each case) in order to compel the child to do as the parent/adult wishes. Of course, this is essential if you want the child to be obedient – a socially compliant slave – rather than to follow their own Self-will.

One of the critically important ways in which this denial of emotional expression occurs seems benign enough: Children who are crying, angry or frightened are scared into not expressing their feelings and offered material items – such as food or a toy – to distract them instead. Unfortunately, the distractive items become addictive drugs. Unable to have their emotional needs met, the child learns to seek relief by acquiring the material substitutes offered by the parent. But as this emotional deprivation endlessly expands because the child has been denied the listening, understanding and love to develop the capacity to listen to, love and understand themself, so too does the ‘need’ for material acquisition endlessly expand.

As an aside, this explains why most violence is overtly directed at gaining control of material, rather than emotional, resources. The material resource becomes a dysfunctional and quite inadequate replacement for satisfaction of the emotional need. And, because the material resource cannot ‘work’ to meet an emotional need, the individual is most likely to keep using direct and/or structural violence to gain control of more material resources in an unconscious and utterly futile attempt to meet unidentified emotional needs. In essence, no amount of money and other assets can replace the love denied a child that would allow them to feel and act on their feelings.

Of course, the individual who consumes more than they need and uses direct violence, or simply takes advantage of structural violence, to do so is never aware of their deeply suppressed emotional needs and of the functional ways of having these needs met. Although, I admit, this is not easy to do given that listening, understanding and love are not readily available from others who have themselves been denied these needs. Consequently, with their emotional needs now unconsciously ‘hidden’ from the individual, they will endlessly project that the needs they want met are, in fact, material.

This is the reason why members of the Rothschild family, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim, the Walton family and the Koch brothers, as well as the world’s other billionaires and millionaires, seek material wealth and are willing to do so by taking advantage of structures of exploitation held in place by the US military. They are certainly wealthy in the material sense; unfortunately, they are emotional voids who were never loved and do not know how to love themself or others now.

Tragically, however, this fate is not exclusive to the world’s wealthy even if they illustrate the point most graphically. As indicated above, virtually all people who live in material cultures have suffered this fate and this is readily illustrated by their ongoing excessive consumption – especially their meat-eating, fossil-fueled travel and acquisition of an endless stream of assets – in a planetary biosphere that has long been signaling ‘Enough!’

As an aside, governments that use military violence to gain control of material resources are simply governments composed of many individuals with this dysfunctionality, which is very common in industrialized countries that promote materialism. Thus, cultures that unconsciously allow and encourage this dysfunctional projection (that an emotional need is met by material acquisition) are the most violent both domestically and internationally. This also explains why industrialized (material) countries use military violence to maintain political and economic structures that allow ongoing exploitation of non-industrialized countries in Africa, Asia and Central/South America.

In summary, the individual who has all of their emotional needs met requires only the intellectual and few material resources necessary to maintain this fulfilling life: anything beyond this is not only useless, it is a burden.

If you want to read (a great deal) more detail of the explanation presented above, you will find it in Why Violence? and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

So what can we do?

Well, I would start by profoundly changing our conception of sound parenting by emphasizing the importance of nisteling to children – see Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’ – and making ‘My Promise to Children’.

For those adults who feel incapable of nisteling or living out such a promise, I encourage you to consider doing the emotional healing necessary by ‘Putting Feelings First’.

If you already feel capable of responding powerfully to this extinction-threatening conflict between human consumption and the Earth’s biosphere, you are welcome to consider joining those who are participating in the fifteen-year strategy to reduce consumption and achieve self-reliance explained in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ and/or to consider using sound nonviolent strategy to conduct your climate or environment campaign. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy.

You are also welcome to consider signing the online pledge of The Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World.

As the material simplicity of Mohandas K. Gandhi demonstrated: Consumption is not life.

If you are not able to emulate Gandhi (at least ‘in spirit’) by living modestly, it is your own emotional dysfunctionality – particularly unconscious fear – that is the problem that needs to be addressed.

  1. Robert Hunziker, “There Is No Time Left“, Dissident Voice, February 19, 2018.
  2. Robert Hunziker. “Insect Decimination Upstages Global Warming“, Dissident Voice, March 27, 2018.

Challenges for Resolving Complex Conflicts

While conflict theories and resolution processes advanced dramatically during the second half of the 20th century, particularly thanks to the important work of several key scholars such as Professor Johan Galtung significant gaps remain in the conflict literature on how to deal with particular conflict configurations. Notably, these include the following four.

First, existing conflict theory does not adequately explain, emphasize and teach how to respond in those circumstances in which parties cannot be brought to the table to deeply consider a conflict and the measures necessary to resolve it. This particularly applies in cases where one or more parties is violently defending (often using a combination of direct and structural violence) substantial interrelated (material and non-material) interests. The conflict between China and Tibet over the Chinese-occupied Tibetan plateau, the many conflicts between western corporations and indigenous peoples over exploitation of the natural environment, and the conflict between the global elite and ‘ordinary’ people over resource allocation in the global economy are obvious examples of a vast number of conflicts in this category. As one of the rare conflict theorists who addresses this question, Galtung notes that structural violence ‘is not only evil, it is obstinate and must be fought’, and his preferred strategy is nonviolent revolution. But how?

Second, existing conflict theory does not explain how to respond in those circumstances in which one or more parties to the conflict are insane. The conflict between Israel and Palestine over Israeli-occupied Palestine classically illustrates this problem, particularly notable in the insanity of Israeli Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. But it is also readily illustrated by the insanity of the current political/military leadership in the USA and the insanity of the political, military and Buddhist leaders in Myanmar engaged in a genocidal assault on the Rohingya. For a brief discussion of the meaning and cause of this insanity see “The Global Elite is Insane Revisited“.

As an aside, there is little point deluding ourselves that insanity is not a problem or even ‘diplomatically’ not mentioning the insanity (if this is indeed the case) of certain parties in particular conflicts. The truth enables us to fully understand a conflict so that we can develop and implement a strategy to deal with all aspects of that truth. Any conflict strategy that fails to accurately identify and address all key aspects of the conflict, including the insanity of any of the parties, will virtually certainly fail.

Third, and more fundamentally, existing conflict theory does not take adequate account of the critical role that several unconscious emotions play in driving conflict in virtually all contexts, often preventing its resolution. This particularly applies in the case of (but is not limited to) suppressed terror, self-hatred and anger which are often unconsciously projected as fear of, hatred for and anger at an opponent or even an innocent third-party (essentially because this individual/group feels ‘safe’ to the person who is projecting).

While any significant ongoing conflict would illustrate this point adequately, the incredibly complex and interrelated conflicts being conducted in the Middle East, the prevalent Islamophobia in some western countries, and the conflicts over governance and exploitation of resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo are superlative examples. Ignoring suppressed (and projected) emotions can stymie conflict resolution in any context, interpersonally and geopolitically, and it does so frequently.

Fourth, existing conflict theory pays little attention to the extinction-causing conflict being ongoingly generated by human over-consumption in the finite planetary biosphere (and currently resulting in 200 species extinctions daily) which is sometimes inadequately identified as a conflict caused by capitalism’s drive for unending economic growth in a finite environment.

So what can we do?

Well, to begin, in all four categories of cases mentioned above, I would use Gandhian nonviolent strategy to compel violent opponents to participate in a conflict transformation process such as Galtung’s. Why nonviolent and why Gandhian? Nonviolent because our intention is to process the conflict to achieve a higher level of need satisfaction for all parties and violence against any or all participants is inconsistent with that intention. But Gandhian nonviolence because only Gandhi’s version of nonviolence has this conflict intention built into it.

‘But isn’t this nonviolent strategy simply coercion by another name?’ you might ask. Well, according to the Norwegian philosopher, Professor Arne Naess, it is not. In his view, if a change of will follows the scrutiny of norms in the context of new information while one is ‘in a state of full mental and bodily powers’, this is an act of personal freedom under optimal conditions. Naess highlights this point with the following example: Suppose that one person carries another against their will into the streets where there is a riot and, as a result of what they see, the carried person changes some of their attitudes and opinions. Was the change coerced? According to Naess, while the person was coerced into seeing something that caused the change, the change itself was not coerced. The distinction is important, Naess argues, because satyagraha (Gandhian nonviolent struggle)  is incompatible with changes of attitudes or opinions that are coerced.

To elaborate this point: Unlike other conceptions of nonviolence, Gandhi’s nonviolence is based on certain premises, including the importance of the truth, the sanctity and unity of all life, and the unity of means and end, so his strategy is always conducted within the framework of his desired political, social, economic and ecological vision for society as a whole and not limited to the purpose of any immediate campaign. It is for this reason that Gandhi’s approach to strategy is so important. He is always taking into account the ultimate end of all nonviolent struggle – a just, peaceful and ecologically sustainable society of self-realized human beings – not just the outcome of this campaign. He wants each campaign to contribute to the ultimate aim, not undermine vital elements of the long-term and overarching struggle to create a world without violence.

Consequently, given his conception of nonviolence, Gandhi’s intention is to reach a conflict outcome that recognizes the sanctity and unity of all life which, obviously, includes the lives (but also the physical and emotional well-being) of his opponents. His nonviolent strategy is designed to compel participation in a conflict process but not to impose his preferred outcome unilaterally. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy and Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

This can apply in the geopolitical context or in relation to ordinary individuals ‘merely’ participating in the violence of over-consumption. Using nonviolent strategy to campaign on the climate catastrophe or other environmental issues can include mobilizing individuals and communities to emulate Gandhi’s asceticism in a modest way by participating in the fifteen-year strategy outlined in “The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth” which he inspired.

But even if we can use nonviolent strategy effectively to get the conflicting parties together, the reality is that suppressed and projected emotions – particularly fear, self-hatred and anger as mentioned above – or even outright insanity on the part of one or more parties may still make efforts to effectively transform the conflict impossible. So for conflict resolution to occur, we need individuals who are willing and able to participate with at least minimal goodwill in designing a superior conflict outcome beneficial to everyone concerned.

Hence, I would do one more thing in connection with this process. Prior to, and then also in parallel with, the ‘formal’ conflict process, I would provide opportunities for all individuals engaged in the process (or otherwise critical to it because of their ‘background’ role, perhaps as a leader not personally present at the formal conflict process) to explore in a private setting with a skilled ‘nisteler’ (who is outside the conflict process), the unconscious emotions that are driving their particular approach to the conflict. The purpose of this nisteling is to allow each participant in the conflict process to bring a higher level of self-awareness to it.

I am not going to pretend that this would necessarily be possible, quick, easy or even work in every context. Insane individuals are obviously the last to know they have a psychological problem and the least likely to participate in a process designed to uncover and remove the roots of their insanity. However, those who are trapped in a dysfunctional psychological state short of insanity may be willing to avail themselves of the opportunity. In time, the value of this aspect of the conflict resolution process should become apparent, particularly because delusions and projections are exposed by the person themself (as an outcome of the expertise of the person nisteling).

Obviously, I am emphasizing the psychological aspects of the conflict process because my own considerable experience as a nonviolent activist together with my research convinces me that understanding violence requires an understanding of the psychology that drives it. If you are interested, you can read about the psychology of violence, including the 23 psychological characteristics in the emotional profile of archetype perpetrators of violence, in the documents “Why Violence?” and “Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.”

Ideally, I would like to see the concept of nistelers operating prior to, and then parallel with, focused attention on the conflict itself normalized as an inherent part of the conflict resolution process. Clearly, we need teams of people equipped to perform this service, a challenge in itself in the short-term.

If, however, conflicting parties cannot be convinced to participate in this process with reasonable goodwill, we can always revert to using nonviolent strategy to compel them to do so. And, if all attempts to conduct a reasonable conflict process fail (particularly in a circumstance in which insanity is the cause of this failure), to impose a nonviolent solution which nevertheless takes account of the insane’s party’s legitimate needs. (Yes, on just that one detail, I diverge from Gandhi.)

Having stated that, however, I acknowledge that only a rare individual has the capacity to think, plan and act strategically in tackling a violent conflict nonviolently, so considerable education in nonviolent strategy will be necessary and is a priority.

Given what is at stake, however – a superior strategy for tackling and resolving violent geopolitical conflicts including those (such as the threat of nuclear war, the climate catastrophe and decimation of the biosphere) that threaten human extinction – any resources devoted to improving our capacity to deliver this outcome would be well spent.

Provided, of course, that reducing (and ultimately eliminating) violence and resolving conflict is your aim.

In addition to the above, I would do something else more generally (that is, outside the conflict process).

Given that dysfunctional parenting is ultimately responsible for the behaviour of those individuals who generate and perpetuate violent conflicts, I would encourage all parents to consider making “My Promise to Children” so that we start to produce a higher proportion of functional individuals who know how to powerfully resolve conflicts in their lives without resort to violence. If any parent feels unable to make this promise, then they have the option of tackling this problem at its source by “Putting Feelings First.”

If we do not dramatically and quickly improve our individual and collective capacity to resolve conflicts nonviolently, including when we are dealing with individuals who are insane, then one day relatively soon we will share the fate of those 200 species of life we drove to extinction today.

Nonviolence or Nonexistence? The Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

Fifty years ago, on 4 April 1968, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

The night before he died, King gave another of his many evocative speeches; this one at the packed Mason Temple in Memphis. The speech included these words:

Men for years now have been talking about war and peace. Now no longer can they just talk about it. It is no longer a choice between violence and non-violence in this world, it is non-violence or non-existence. That is where we are today.

In clearly identifying this stark choice and having been inspired by Mohandas K. Gandhi’s wide-ranging social concerns, King’s concerns were also broad:

The Triple Evils of poverty, racism and militarism are forms of violence that exist in a vicious cycle. They are interrelated, all-inclusive, and stand as barriers to our living in the Beloved Community. When we work to remedy one evil, we affect all evils.

So what has changed in the past 50 years? The world has traveled a great deal further down the path of violence. So far, in fact, that nonexistence is now the most likely outcome for humanity. See “On Track for Extinction: Can Humanity Survive?

Despite the vastly more perilous state of our planet, many people and organizations around the world are following in the footsteps of Gandhi, King and other nonviolent luminaries like Silo, and are engaged in what is effectively a last ditch stand to end the violence and put humanity on a path to peace, justice and sustainability.

Let me tell you about some of these people and organizations and invite you to join them.

In Bolivia, Nora Cabero works with the Movimient Humanista. The Movement has many programs including the Convergence of Cultures which aims to facilitate and stimulate true dialogue – oriented towards the search for common points present in the hearts of different peoples and individuals – to promote the relationship between different cultures and to resist discrimination and violence. Another program, World Without Wars and Violence emerged in 1994 and was presented for the first time internationally in 1995 at the Open Meeting of Humanism held in Chile at the University of Santiago. It is active in about 40 countries. It carries out activities in the social base and also promotes international campaigns such as Education for Nonviolence and the World March for Peace and Nonviolence.

Eddy Kalisa Nyarwaya Jr. is Executive Secretary of the Rwanda Institute for Conflict Transformation and Peace Building and also President of the Alternatives to Violence Program. For the past 18 years, he has been active in the fields of ‘peace, reconciliation, nonviolence, healing of societies, building harmonious communities’ in many countries including Burundi, Chad, eastern Congo, Darfur (western Sudan), Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan and northern Uganda. Late last year he was in New Zealand to deliver a paper on the Great Lakes conflict. In Rwanda, the Institute for Conflict Transformation particularly works on nonviolence education in schools, universities and refugee camps. Another initiative is the conduct of workshops on nonviolence and peace through sports for head teachers in the country but it also has programs to fight early marriages and pregnancies, as well as offering trauma counseling to refugees.

In Russia, Ella Polyakova is a key figure at the Soldiers’ Mothers of Saint-Petersburg. Ella and her colleagues work to defend the rights of servicemen and conscripts in the Russian military. Ella explains why:

When we were creating our organization, we understood that people knew little about their rights, enshrined in Russia’s Constitution, that the concept of “human dignity” had almost disappeared, that no one had been working with the problems of common people, let alone those of conscripts. We clearly understood what a soldier in the Russian army was a mere cog in the state machine, yet with an assault rifle. We felt how important hope, self-confidence and trust were for every person. At the beginning of our journey, we saw that people around us, as a rule, did not even know what it meant to feel free. It was obvious for us that the path towards freedom and the attainment of dignity was going through enlightenment. Therefore, our organization’s mission is to enlighten people around us. Social work is all about showing, explaining, proving things to people, it is about convincing them. Having equipped ourselves with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Russia’s Constitution, we started to demolish this dispossession belt between citizens and their rights. It was necessary to make sure that people clearly understood that, having a good knowledge of rights, laws, and situations at hand, they would be able to take responsibility and protect themselves from abuse.

Bruce Gagnon, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, was recently part of a committed effort to convince the Maine state legislature not to give warship-builder General Dynamics, which has already received more than $200 million in state and local tax breaks for the Bath Iron Works (BIW), any more ‘corporate welfare’. Bruce recently completed a fast, which lasted for more than a month, as one of the actions that Maine peace activists took to try to prevent this welfare payment to a company that has spent $14.4 billion buying back its own stocks between 2013-2017 and whose CEO was paid $21 million in 2016.

Despite their efforts, the Maine House of Representatives voted 117-31 in favor of the $45million General Dynamics corporate welfare bill and the Senate supported it 25-9. The decision was announced on the same day that General Dynamics sacked 31 workers from the BIW. As Bruce noted:

It was an honor to work alongside [those] who stood up for the 43,000 children living in poverty across Maine, for the tens of thousands without health care, for our starving public education system, and for the crumbling physical infrastructure as Maine joins Mississippi in the “race to the bottom”.

You can read more about this ongoing campaign to convert the Bath Iron Works into a location for the production of socially useful and ecologically sustainable non-killing technologies on the website above. There are some great photos too.

Gaëlle Smedts and her partner Luz are the key figures at Poetry Against Arms based in Germany. ‘The inspiration for this campaign is the life, work and legacy of the Latin American poet, philosopher and mystic: Mario Rodriguez Cobos, also known as Silo. His total commitment to active nonviolence, his denunciation of all forms of violence, his doctrine for overcoming pain and suffering and his magnificent poetry are a great affirmation of the meaning of life and transcendence.’ Poetry Against Arms publishes poetry/songs of people around the world who take action to resist militarism.

Since the 1970s, the world’s leading rainforest activist, John Seed, has devoted his life to saving the world’s rainforests. Founder and Director of the Rainforest Information Centre in Australia, one of his latest projects is to save the tropical Andes of Ecuador, which is ‘at the top of the world list of biodiversity hotspots in terms of vertebrate species, endemic vertebrates, and endemic plants’. From the cloud forests in the Andes to the indigenous territories in the headwaters of the Amazon, the Ecuadorean government has covertly granted mining concessions to over 1.7 million hectares (4.25 million acres) of forest reserves and indigenous territories to multinational mining companies in closed-door deals without public knowledge or consent. These concessions will decimate head water ecosystems and biodiversity hot spots of global significance. If you would like to read more about this campaign and what you can do to help, you can do so in John’s article ‘Ecuador Endangered’.

Apart from the individuals mentioned above, signatories and endorsing organizations are engaged in an incredibly diverse range of activities to end violence in one context or another. These include individuals and organizations working in many countries to end violence against women (including discriminatory practices against widows), to rehabilitate child soldiers and end sexual violence in the Congo, activists engaged in nonviolent defense or liberation struggles in several countries and occupied territories, as well as campaigns on a vast range of environmental, climate and indigenous rights issues, campaigns to promote religious and racial harmony as well as campaigns for nuclear disarmament and to end war.

But it also includes many individuals tackling violence at its source by focusing on their own healing and/or working on how they parent their children for a nonviolent world.

Given the perilous state of the global environment and climate, still others are focusing their efforts on reducing their consumption and increasing their self-reliance in accordance with the fifteen-year strategy outlined in “The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth“.

If you would like to be part of the worldwide movement to end violence that has drawn the six people and several organizations mentioned above together, along with many others in 103 countries around the world, you are welcome to sign the online pledge of “The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World“.

Reverend King posed the fundamental choice of our time: nonviolence or nonexistence. What is your choice?

The “Crucifixion” of the Black Messiah

Dick Cavett: A lot of people…were astounded at how you got [alleged assassin of Martin Luther King, James Earl] Ray to change the plea [from “not guilty” to “guilty”].

Percy Foreman [Ray’s lawyer and LBJ crony]: I didn’t get him to change the plea. [Laughing] I simply told him that I thought he would be executed if he didn’t.

— The Dick Cavett Show, August 9, 1969.1

 A Piece of Work, and then Some!

Choose any notable event between presidents Calvin Coolidge and Richard Nixon (even beyond), such was his impact that any subsequent discussion is far from complete without significant reference to J Edgar Hoover, the long-time founding Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); chances are that its Director’s ‘fingerprints’ were all over said “event”. That said, such knowledge about one of the most iconic and consequential figures in American history has only come to pass incrementally in the ensuing years after his death in 1972.

Moreover, choose any significant individual public or political figure during that era, and the likelihood is that Hoover knew more about that person than they might’ve known about themselves. He most certainly knew much more about them than they themselves might’ve cared for anyone else to know, much less someone like Hoover.

As we will see, one such “individual” on Edgar’s radar was the iconic civil rights leader and anti-Vietnam war campaigner Dr Martin Luther King (MLK); one such “event” was his assassination on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN., and the subsequent cover-up by the forces behind the murder and/or those closely aligned with them. The man who was subsequently charged with the crime, James Earl Ray, spent the rest of his life in prison, despite maintaining his innocence up until his last breath, an outcome we might safely opine ranks as one of the greatest perversions of justice in the Grand American Narrative.

There can surely be no doubt now there was a high level conspiracy to eliminate King, one planned and orchestrated from the highest levels of the U.S. government on down the ranks and that James Earl Ray was framed. In short, he was the fall-guy, and his involvement in the King assassination was both peripheral and unknowing. We will return throughout to the subject of King, Ray, the assassination, the conspiracy, and its 50 YO cover-up.

But first up, some background on Hoover and his alter ego and partner-in-crime (in this instance and in so many others) is necessary: president Lyndon Baines Johnson (LBJ). Few politicians of any political stripe and any significant import throughout Hoover’s lingering reign – and crucially, few Oval Office occupants – had a tighter relationship with America’s then Number One G-Man than did LBJ. That their fortunes, ambitions, and destinies intertwined in unique ways is axiomatic for those in the know. That all this was to come in handy for both men doesn’t even begin to explain it.

Beyond their involvement in King’s murder, individually their impact was not only to change everything from the course of the lives of millions of people to the political direction and very character of their nation and many others as well; together their impact proved to be much greater than the sum of the parts. That such new knowledge continues to be exposed by intrepid researchers and writers is also a given, even if such information doesn’t always filter through to – much less become accepted by — the mainstream. The “mainstream” in this sense being both the media gatekeepers and their readership.

The essence of this preamble becomes compelling when one reads the forthcoming book by Phil Nelson titled: Who REALLY Killed Martin Luther King Jr.? – The Case Against Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover. (Author’s note: I’ve been privy to an advance copy of this book for several weeks.) By referencing all available evidence and documents whilst drawing upon the extraordinary work of previous authors, most notably Dr William Pepper (to whom we shall return), but others as well — and in the process duly debunking both the renditions and reputations of several other authors whose names have frequently been linked with the official, yet totally bogus, narrative of his assassination, again most notably William Bradford Huie — Nelson delivers a thorough exposition of the real backstory behind one of modern American history’s most defining and traumatic events.

In doing so, as already indicated, the author shines the spotlight on two of the most reprehensible, coldblooded, megalomaniacal, treasonous, and criminally minded public figures ever to ‘grace’ the political stage and be accorded the public trust in the Home of the Brave and the Land of the Free: Messrs Hoover and Johnson. Given the plethora of folks — both living and dead — who might fit the above profile, by any measure we can say that that is one very big call.

It’s axiomatic that there was no shortage of people throughout his reign who pissed Edgar off, a not especially difficult achievement even for those who went out of their way to avoid doing so. Hoover was to be sure one of the Great Haters in that aforementioned narrative. And there can be little doubt that it was King — along with Robert Kennedy and his brother John Fitzgerald Kennedy — who invited Edgar’s hatred more so than anyone else. Hoover, along with LBJ — arguably the most unhinged, criminally psychopathic Oval Office occupant to date, an observation difficult to refute for those who take the time to read Nelson’s earlier work on the man; see here, here, and here — conspired to eliminate King. All up then, if there is a more symbiotically iniquitous alliance in the annals of U.S. political enterprise, then this writer who’d be keen to know about it.

Insofar as Nelson’s book is concerned, space herein precludes a detailed ‘blow by blow’ of the key dramatis personae involved in the King plot, the machinations behind it all, and the subsequent cover up that has endured to this day. In any event it is not the main purpose of this exercise. Suffice to say his meticulous deconstruction of the circumstances attending the assassination and the actual (versus the fabricated) facts related to it, and the now 50 year old campaign to preserve intact the official narrative, must now stand as the definitive account of this extraordinary event – both deeply shameful and tragic in equal measure — in America’s history.

That said, in a ‘cut to the chase’ kinda way, the following summary may be sufficient to inform those not overly familiar with some of the “actual facts”, and set the stage for what is to follow.

  1. a)  The assassination of MLK was planned more than 2 years before, and was the brainchild of Johnson and Hoover, with Edgar’s 2IC Clyde Tolson the point-man, ably abetted by Cartha “Deke” DeLoach;
  2. b)  The motivations for Hoover and LBJ were various and sometimes over-lapping, with Hoover having a visceral hatred of King because of his activism and his race, and LBJ resenting his popularity, political influence and vehement opposition to the Vietnam war;
  3. c)  The plotters cunningly planned to have the assassination portrayed from the off as the work of another “lone nut”, in Ray’s case, ‘[A] vicious Southern racist and hater, stalker, [and] murderer’, itself a total fabrication;
  4. d)  It was the famed novelist, William Bradford Huie, an old friend/crony of Hoover’s, who was given a “mission” to create this meme for Ray, one whose shelf life endures to this day, and from whom so many others took their lead in its perpetuation;
  5. e)  A civil trial in 1999 exonerated Ray (who’d died in prison the previous year just over 40 years after the murder), and it found that a government conspiracy was responsible for King’s murder, [and] that Ray was a ‘patsy’ with no knowing involvement in the hit.

From these basic premises, Nelson methodically unpacks this bespoke meme regarding James Earl Ray – as removed from reality as it could possibly be imagined — as the massive deceit that it was. He then presents us with a revised account in its place, based upon hard evidence that exonerates Ray. It needs be noted that Nelson’s account is supplemented by many other authors, including Harold Weisberg, Mark Lane, and, particularly, William Pepper.

Nelson also posits many instances of how government investigators — the FBI originally, then the Department of Justice in 1976, the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) investigators in 1978, and the DOJ again in 2000 — deliberately avoided pursuing any and all leads which pointed toward Ray’s innocence. In the latter case, it is noteworthy this aversion to allowing the truth to emerge regarding King’s murder was presided over by none other than William Jefferson Clinton, a man who interestingly enough, like LBJ himself at least post-1963 — owed his political career in no small measure to the black vote.

The Most Notorious Liars in America

As regards J Edgar Hoover then, given that he ruled the roost at the FBI for almost half a century right up until his demise, he surely qualifies as one of the most enduring — if not quite endearing – characters in the Grand American Narrative. More to the point, Edgar was one hombre who in the popular American idiom might be described as ‘a piece of work, and then some’, an accolade that could’ve been coined with just him in mind. In this LBJ himself was no less “a piece of work”.

Whether together or separately, in almost everything they touched or became involved in, this “impact” however it might be identified and so defined rarely manifested itself in a good way. Moreover, that their behaviour and actions went against everything their country purported to represent to the world at large and was at odds with every principle and value they were sworn to uphold as per the hallowed Constitution and the rule of law is a given.

For his part, along with pissing off – and instilling abject fear in – a lot of very famous, important and powerful people, Hoover’s main talent was being able to keep a secret, including as it turned out not only his own ‘deepest and darkest,’ but some of Johnson’s as well. That is to say he knew ‘where the bodies were buried’, a statement that again we might reflexively equate with the life, personality, and times of LBJ himself.

It should be noted that at the time they were still strutting the political stage, few folks would have known whose “bodies” Hoover and LBJ actually knew about, how they became “bodies” in the first place, and/or how much their ‘resurrection’ at the time might have changed the course of events as we now know them to have done. In both cases we’re not just speaking figuratively here. Whether by accident, expediency, or design, such information almost always worked to both men’s advantage. Insofar as their respective legacies go, it probably does so to this day, several decades after they both passed on (within just over six months of each other).

It needs be noted at this point that readers should not expect this narrative to be gleefully embraced by the mainstream media, given that for half a century they have by omission or by commission avoided revealing anything remotely resembling the truth of the matter. As with almost any significant event in U.S. history and the key players therein, the mainstream media – including many purported progressive, ‘liberal’ types – have proven themselves tireless gatekeepers inoculating their constituencies against that virulent infection called ‘truth’ for fear such a ‘pandemic’ will overwhelm the immune system of the republic.

This is, of course, not just in the case of King’s assassination, but just about any significant episode in American history where accounts differing from the official narrative are at best patronisingly reported, or relegated to the realm of conspiracy theory. Indeed in his must view interview last year with James Corbett, William Pepper alluded to this reality.

Preserving the secrets of the republic is as much, if not indeed more so, about protecting the reputations of individuals as it is about defending the ever so fragile integrity of ‘hallowed’ institutions, the Fourth Estate being one of these, along with the FBI, the Department of Justice, the Congress, and, of course, the presidency itself, to name just a few that are especially relevant in this instance.

In a recent Washington Post piece by Tom Jackman, the title from the off gives us a hint of what to expect: “Who killed Martin Luther King Jr.? His family believes James Earl Ray was framed.” The perfunctory concession embodied in the title — that King’s family “believes” Ray was innocent – and the ensuing narrative ends up being far removed from actually presenting any authentic detail that supports that belief, or offering anything that might invite readers to explore the matter further.

One also suspects that if it was any one other than the King family itself making these assertions, they’d have been ignored at best, or at worst, dismissed as conspiracy theorists. Jackman — ever the dutiful MSM ‘presstitute’ it would seem, and in an apparent attempt to inject some balance and objectivity — cites David Garrow of all people, a ‘Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of MLK’.

As Jackman tells it, Garrow viewed the King family as part of a larger population of American people who ‘need to believe that the assassination of a King or a Kennedy must be the work of mightier forces’ rather than the victims “of small-fry, lifetime losers”‘, as if to suggest the victims of the assassinations in question were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

As Jackman himself seems keen to emphasise (in the process holding up the Pulitzer winner as the go-to man on all things King), [Garrow he notes] is all but dismissive of such folks’ thinking: In Garrow’s palpably condescending opinion, ‘People need to see something of a balance between effect and cause’, he observes….[That] ‘if something has a huge evil effect, it should be the result of a huge evil cause.’ For those of us who’ve examined the whole “conspiracy theory” construct, this is a familiar trope, one that is trotted out with monotonous frequency.

Yet here is just one example of Nelson’s attention to detail in dismissing the likes of Garrow and other writers and authors of the King narrative, with Garrow himself a long way from being amongst the most egregious of those who’ve perpetuated the official narrative. Whilst acknowledging Garrow’s ‘partial revelations’ of Hoover’s ‘malfeasance and assorted criminal acts’ in his and the FBI’s campaign against King, Nelson states that these revelations ceased after the assassination.

He [Garrow] did not address the closing episode of King’s life; there is little reflection evident as to the forces that came to bear on King’s murder in Memphis within Garrow’s book, despite the intensive examination of them up until that point…. yet Garrow portrayed himself as the expert in later interviews on the subject. In not connecting anything he had examined up to 1968 with what happened next, he created a major disconnect.

Without any discernible nod to his own proclivities in this regard, it is interesting to note that Hoover himself once publicly designated MLK the “most notorious liar in America”. This Hooverian ‘accolade’ equally applies to not just the man himself, but his kindred spirit LBJ, along with the many authors who have ‘fought the good fight’ against truth and justice. It can and does also apply – albeit in the more collective sense – to the corporate media, whom I’ve hitherto described as the ‘praetorian guards of the empire’s liars’.

We are again talking about a recurring motif in the Grand Narrative then, and one which this writer has frequently cited as irrefutable evidence against that age-old truism: [that] ‘America doesn’t do irony’. Indeed, America does irony so well, it doesn’t realise how well it does “[do] irony”. To underscore this from a more contemporary perspective, the most accomplished purveyors of fake news are the corporate media, the very ones who are first to criticise any narrative that is at odds with their own. For those Americans then who harbour few illusions about their past history and the key political and public players who’ve populated it and driven the narrative, such observations will simply serve to underscore what many already know.

On the other hand, for those folks who, despite all evidence to the contrary, still see their country as the bastion of democracy, freedom, justice, equality, truth, and a force for good in the world – and may not have been acquainted with the individual and shared history of the aforementioned individuals – then this is a story which should leave one and all in a breathless state of disbelief, revulsion and shame. “Should” is the operative word herein; that “will” (ahem) should be in lieu thereof, may be expecting a tad too much.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

For his part, along with pissing off – and instilling fear in – a lot of very famous, important and powerful people, for his part Hoover’s main talent was being able to keep a secret, including as it turned out not only his own ‘deepest and darkest’, but some of Johnson’s own. That is to say he knew ‘where the bodies were buried’, another statement we might reflexively equate with the life, personality, and times of LBJ himself.

Again much the same can be said of the one man to whom he was most beholden, LBJ, even more so than Hoover. And although by no means the only one, this includes in LBJ’s case, one of the most prominent champions of liberal, progressive values in the media, a man named Bill Moyers. The recently retired Moyers has consistently refused to entertain a bad word about his former boss LBJ, which is understandable to some degree since he was complicit in many of his nefarious schemes whilst in office.

This included his proxy involvement in the harassment via Hoover’s FBI of the civil rights leader, which itself extended to the bugging of MLK’s phones, blackmail, in addition to death threats. Moyers even embroiled himself in a threat to sue the History Channel a few years back over a documentary series aired on the Channel that dared to suggest that LBJ was indeed a key plotter in the assassination of his predecessor. Well might we say: So much then for the purported liberal defenders of truth, justice, freedom of speech, and the American way.

Insofar as the MLK story goes, it is to Dr William Pepper that Nelson ‘dips his lid’ most prominently as being his most inspired source and the most indefatigable of investigators in the search for the real truth about the man’s murder, one of America’s most seminal and quintessential of ‘state crimes against democracy’. Pepper has written three books on this event, the latest being 2017’s The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

In his aforementioned interview with James Corbett, he reveals that in the forty plus years he’s been involved in investigating and reporting on the King assassination, he has spent over a million dollars of his own money and at one point relocated himself and his family to the UK as a resulta of numerous death threats. It is also notable that Pepper has given his seal of approval to Nelson’s more recent effort to add further insight into this extraordinary story. Here’s part of what he had to say (via email to this writer and Nelson):

Phil Nelson….has provided us with some valuable missing information about the actions of Lyndon Johnson in the context of events in the 1960’s. I’ve long believed the information given to me…about LBJ’s knowing involvement and collusion in the assassination of JFK. Nelson’s research about Johnson’s collaboration [with] and his support of the profoundly illegal and evil, public actions of J. Edgar Hoover [in the assassination of Martin Luther King] fills in many blanks and is a highly valuable historical contribution. I urge, and hope, that this work will be widely read.

If Nelson has written the definitive account of King’s murder then, it is to his credit that he goes out of his way to ensure that these people receive due acknowledgement for their contributions. This is not only evident in the course of the narrative itself, but was consistently reinforced to me in the recent conversations I had with him via Skype.

By the same token, Nelson has been unsparing in his criticism of those who have muddied the waters, and especially so of William Bradford Huie, the man whom Hoover personally tasked with authoring the meme that became irrevocably associated in the public’s mind regarding James Earl Ray. As Nelson tells it, Huie – a novelist it should be noted — reinvented Ray as a man completely at odds with his real persona. Instead of being depicted as ‘a backward, uneducated but non-violent man of low self-esteem’, Huie successfully remolded Ray into an aggressive, violent, hate-filled Southern-born racist whose main ambition in life was to see his name topping the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list. Huie did this via a series of lies, fabrications, and inventions, ‘presented as only a novelist could do’. He wasn’t even born in the south.

Being Black in America: The King Legacy Today

According to Eddie Glaude Jr., in a recent article titled “The Whitewashing — and Resurrection — of Dr. King’s Legacy“, the civil rights leader began second guessing the certainty of his ‘moral vision’. He’d “underestimated how deeply the belief that white people matter more than others was ingrained in the habits of American life.’ King apparently saw that white resentment was ‘not simply a sin of the South. It was embedded in the very psyche of white America”. When we consider the state of racial relations in America today – fifty years after LBJ’s Civil Rights Act was enacted in 1964 – few could argue there’s been a substantive across the board shift for the better in the social, educational, financial, legal, economic, or political standing of African Americans. This is palpably obvious even to non-Americans, even after the election of a black president in 2009, and whose second term in office embraced the 50th anniversary of the Act. Yet his tenure was ironically characterised by an unprecedented uptick in racial tension, division and violence (again, obvious to anyone with a passing interest in the country’s national affairs), and it could be argued that the standing of African Americans is in so many respects worse than it was in 1964.

This realisation is made even more unsettling by the fact that Obama seemed disinterested in lending the weight of his office to meaningful leadership on the issue, or for that matter was incapable of grasping the gravity of the situation. One suspects if he’d spent more time addressing this issue than bailing out Wall Street criminals; attacking journalists and whistle-blowers for their attempts to hold his government to account; resisting the pressures of the neo-con crowd and their so-called liberal interventionist confreres to interfere in the affairs of other countries; and bombing wedding ceremonies in the Middle East and beyond – to name just a few of those activities to which he seemed more focussed on that those of the concerns of his fellow African Americans, we might be talking about a different reality for many of them today. This from a president who reportedly opined that the iconic TV series The Wire was one of his favourites shows!

In King’s final book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, he argued in part that white supremacy stood in the way of America’s democracy, that it was an ever-present force in frustrating the dreams of the nation’s darker-skinned citizens. At the heart of it was a distorted understanding of the meaning of racial justice. He wrote:

Negroes have proceeded from a premise that equality means what it says, and they have taken white Americans at their word when they talked of it as an objective. But most whites in America … proceed from a premise that equality is a loose expression for improvement. White America is not even psychologically organized to close the gap–essentially it seeks only to make it less painful and less obvious but in most respects to retain it. This is a devastating judgment about our so-called national commitment to progress.…It reduces racial justice to a charitable enterprise by which white people “do good” for black people. This, in turn, provides white Americans with a necessary illusion that preserves the idea of innocence and insulates their conscience or, perhaps, their soul from guilt and blame.

One is left to ponder if King’s assessment isn’t as pertinent now as it was then.

And for those folks uncertain as to whether Johnson was a man capable of such a treasonous, criminal act as to arrange the murder of the most prominent African American of the ear, they might like to get up close and personal with Nelson’s 2012 book, LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination, wherein as the title suggests, he charges LBJ – convincingly so — with being the principal orchestrator of the assassination of his predecessor and the subsequent cover-up.

As we might rightly opine, that’s some “form” indeed!

And if that doesn’t do the trick, they should try reading this author’s account of the attempted sinking of the USS Liberty in 1967 by Israeli Defence Forces during the Six Day War, and from there consider LBJ’s direct role in planning and stage-managing both of these events. (See here and here.)

Not noted for being a conviction politician by any stretch, there was always a disconnect between Johnson’s drive to push his country to its limits in Vietnam (and beyond), and his drive to push the Great Society and its accompanying reforms (the War on Poverty anyone?) as far as he could. In keeping with his unique psychopathology, the Great Society was always all about LBJ. Any altruism embedded in its goals — these being egalitarianism, justice, equality, economic and social emancipation, and securing basic civil rights for African-Americans and other minorities in general — would have been foreign to the Johnson psyche.

By the same token LBJ, ever the consummate political chameleon and ‘chancer’, may just have been sucking up the zeitgeist; the Civil Rights movement at that time was unstoppable in any event. He knew supporting change in this area was one of many keys to his re-election in 1968, as well as providing him with extra ballast for his legacy, something that Johnson became increasingly obsessed with.

That is to say, there are still plenty of folks who’d refute any hard-core, warts ‘n all assessment of both these men, their tenure, and the sheer depth and breadth of damage they visited upon the republic, the fabric of which was very much torn and frayed at the time. It needs be noted this was during an era when, notwithstanding the intergenerational acrimony, economic inequality, social division, political turmoil, and cultural discord, of the times, said republic – or at least a sufficiently critical mass of its rank and file members — appeared to show some preparedness to reflect on the direction in which it was heading and what it might do about it.

For his part, in his championing of civil rights, social equality, justice, racial harmony, Martin Luther King both embraced, embodied, and echoed that promise, and there can be no doubt that that is what ‘scared the horses’ the most. That we haven’t seen anything quite like the movement he inspired since may be one of the most damning indictments on the prevailing political zeitgeist, and one of the most telling pointers to the republic’s future.

As for Johnson himself, like with his successor Obama mentioned earlier, had Johnson not embarked on his disastrous Vietnam adventure, there might have been some time, money, and energy remaining to devote to those issues that at the time really mattered to ordinary Americans, regardless of their colour.

There can be no doubt that his Great Society – no matter the potential and the promise it offered in principle – suffered from Johnson’s numerous other obsessions. Not least in this case his obsession with eliminating the very man who inspired the sentiment underpinning his whole civil rights/war on poverty crusade to begin with.

And they say, “Americans don’t do irony”. As I’m fond of pointing out, this author begs to differ.

  1. From: Who REALLY Killed Martin Luther King Jr.? – The Case Against Lyndon B. Johnson and J. Edgar Hoover, © Phillip F. Nelson/Skyhorse Publishing. Pub. Date: April 17, 2018.