Category Archives: Peace

John Lennon at 80: One Man Against the Deep State “Monster”

You gotta remember, establishment, it’s just a name for evil. The monster doesn’t care whether it kills all the students or whether there’s a revolution. It’s not thinking logically, it’s out of control.

— John Lennon (1969)

John Lennon, born 80 years ago on October 9, 1940, was a musical genius and pop cultural icon.

He was also a vocal peace protester and anti-war activist, and a high-profile example of the lengths to which the Deep State will go to persecute those who dare to challenge its authority.

Long before Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning were being castigated for blowing the whistle on the government’s war crimes and the National Security Agency’s abuse of its surveillance powers, it was Lennon who was being singled out for daring to speak truth to power about the government’s warmongering, his phone calls monitored and data files illegally collected on his activities and associations.

For a while, at least, Lennon became enemy number one in the eyes of the U.S. government.

Years after Lennon’s assassination it would be revealed that the FBI had collected 281 pages of files on him, including song lyrics. J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI at the time, directed the agency to spy on the musician. There were also various written orders calling on government agents to frame Lennon for a drug bust. “The FBI’s files on Lennon … read like the writings of a paranoid goody-two-shoes,” observed reporter Jonathan Curiel.

As the New York Times notes:

Critics of today’s domestic surveillance object largely on privacy grounds. They have focused far less on how easily government surveillance can become an instrument for the people in power to try to hold on to power. ‘The U.S. vs. John Lennon’ … is the story not only of one man being harassed, but of a democracy being undermined.

Indeed, all of the many complaints we have about government today—surveillance, militarism, corruption, harassment, SWAT team raids, political persecution, spying, over-criminalization, etc.—were present in Lennon’s day and formed the basis of his call for social justice, peace and a populist revolution.

For all of these reasons, the U.S. government was obsessed with Lennon, who had learned early on that rock music could serve a political end by proclaiming a radical message. More importantly, Lennon saw that his music could mobilize the public and help to bring about change. Lennon believed in the power of the people. Unfortunately, as Lennon recognized: “The trouble with government as it is, is that it doesn’t represent the people. It controls them.”

However, as Martin Lewis writing for Time notes:

John Lennon was not God. But he earned the love and admiration of his generation by creating a huge body of work that inspired and led. The appreciation for him deepened because he then instinctively decided to use his celebrity as a bully pulpit for causes greater than his own enrichment or self-aggrandizement.

For instance, in December 1971 at a concert in Ann Arbor, Mich., Lennon took to the stage and in his usual confrontational style belted out “John Sinclair,” a song he had written about a man sentenced to 10 years in prison for possessing two marijuana cigarettes. Within days of Lennon’s call for action, the Michigan Supreme Court ordered Sinclair released.

What Lennon did not know at the time was that government officials had been keeping strict tabs on the ex-Beatle they referred to as “Mr. Lennon.” Incredibly, FBI agents were in the audience at the Ann Arbor concert, “taking notes on everything from the attendance (15,000) to the artistic merits of his new song.”

The U.S. government, steeped in paranoia, was spying on Lennon.

By March 1971, when his “Power to the People” single was released, it was clear where Lennon stood. Having moved to New York City that same year, Lennon was ready to participate in political activism against the U. S. government, the “monster” that was financing the war in Vietnam.

The release of Lennon’s Sometime in New York City album, which contained a radical anti-government message in virtually every song and depicted President Richard Nixon and Chinese Chairman Mao Tse-tung dancing together nude on the cover, only fanned the flames of the conflict to come.

The official U.S. war against Lennon began in earnest in 1972 after rumors surfaced that Lennon planned to embark on a U.S. concert tour that would combine rock music with antiwar organizing and voter registration. Nixon, fearing Lennon’s influence on about 11 million new voters (1972 was the first year that 18-year-olds could vote), had the ex-Beatle served with deportation orders “in an effort to silence him as a voice of the peace movement.”

Then again, the FBI has had a long history of persecuting, prosecuting and generally harassing activists, politicians, and cultural figures. Most notably among the latter are such celebrated names as folk singer Pete Seeger, painter Pablo Picasso, comic actor and filmmaker Charlie Chaplin, comedian Lenny Bruce and poet Allen Ginsberg.

Among those most closely watched by the FBI was Martin Luther King Jr., a man labeled by the FBI as “the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country.” With wiretaps and electronic bugs planted in his home and office, King was kept under constant surveillance by the FBI with the aim of “neutralizing” him. He even received letters written by FBI agents suggesting that he either commit suicide or the details of his private life would be revealed to the public. The FBI kept up its pursuit of King until he was felled by a hollow-point bullet to the head in 1968.

While Lennon was not—as far as we know—being blackmailed into suicide, he was the subject of a four-year campaign of surveillance and harassment by the U.S. government (spearheaded by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover), an attempt by President Richard Nixon to have him “neutralized” and deported. As Adam Cohen of the New York Times points out:

The F.B.I.’s surveillance of Lennon is a reminder of how easily domestic spying can become unmoored from any legitimate law enforcement purpose. What is more surprising, and ultimately more unsettling, is the degree to which the surveillance turns out to have been intertwined with electoral politics.

As Lennon’s FBI file shows, memos and reports about the FBI’s surveillance of the anti-war activist had been flying back and forth between Hoover, the Nixon White House, various senators, the FBI and the U.S. Immigration Office.

Nixon’s pursuit of Lennon was relentless and in large part based on the misperception that Lennon and his comrades were planning to disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention. The government’s paranoia, however, was misplaced.

Left-wing activists who were on government watch lists and who shared an interest in bringing down the Nixon Administration had been congregating at Lennon’s New York apartment. But when they revealed that they were planning to cause a riot, Lennon balked. As he recounted in a 1980 interview:

We said, We ain’t buying this. We’re not going to draw children into a situation to create violence so you can overthrow what? And replace it with what? . . . It was all based on this illusion, that you can create violence and overthrow what is, and get communism or get some right-wing lunatic or a left-wing lunatic. They’re all lunatics.

Despite the fact that Lennon was not part of the “lunatic” plot, the government persisted in its efforts to have him deported. Equally determined to resist, Lennon dug in and fought back. Every time he was ordered out of the country, his lawyers delayed the process by filing an appeal. Finally, in 1976, Lennon won the battle to stay in the country when he was granted a green card. As he said afterwards:

I have a love for this country…. This is where the action is. I think we’ll just go home, open a tea bag, and look at each other.

Lennon’s time of repose didn’t last long, however. By 1980, he had re-emerged with a new album and plans to become politically active again.

The old radical was back and ready to cause trouble. In his final interview on December 8, 1980, Lennon mused:

The whole map’s changed and we’re going into an unknown future, but we’re still all here, and while there’s life there’s hope.

The Deep State has a way of dealing with troublemakers, unfortunately. On December 8, 1980, Mark David Chapman was waiting in the shadows when Lennon returned to his New York apartment building. As Lennon stepped outside the car to greet the fans congregating outside, Chapman, in an eerie echo of the FBI’s moniker for Lennon, called out, “Mr. Lennon!”

Lennon turned and was met with a barrage of gunfire as Chapman—dropping into a two-handed combat stance—emptied his .38-caliber pistol and pumped four hollow-point bullets into his back and left arm. Lennon stumbled, staggered forward and, with blood pouring from his mouth and chest, collapsed to the ground.

John Lennon was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. He had finally been “neutralized.”

Yet where those who neutralized the likes of John Lennon, Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy and others go wrong is in believing that you can murder a movement with a bullet and a madman.

Thankfully, Lennon’s legacy lives on in his words, his music and his efforts to speak truth to power. As Yoko Ono shared in a 2014 letter to the parole board tasked with determining whether Chapman should be released:

A man of humble origin, [John Lennon] brought light and hope to the whole world with his words and music. He tried to be a good power for the world, and he was. He gave encouragement, inspiration and dreams to people regardless of their race, creed and gender.

Sadly, not much has changed for the better in the world since Lennon walked among us.

Peace remains out of reach. Activism and whistleblowers continue to be prosecuted for challenging the government’s authority. Militarism is on the rise, with local police dressed like the military, all the while the governmental war machine continues to wreak havoc on innocent lives across the globe.

For those of us who joined with John Lennon to imagine a world of peace, it’s getting harder to reconcile that dream with the reality of the American police state.

Meanwhile, as I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, those who dare to speak up are labeled dissidents, troublemakers, terrorists, lunatics, or mentally ill and tagged for surveillance, censorship, involuntary detention or, worse, even shot and killed in their own homes by militarized police.

As Lennon shared in a 1968 interview:

I think all our society is run by insane people for insane objectives… I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal means. If anybody can put on paper what our government and the American government and the Russian… Chinese… what they are actually trying to do, and what they think they’re doing, I’d be very pleased to know what they think they’re doing. I think they’re all insane. But I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.

So what’s the answer?

Lennon had a multitude of suggestions.

If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.

War is over if you want it.

Produce your own dream…. It’s quite possible to do anything, but not to put it on the leaders…. You have to do it yourself. That’s what the great masters and mistresses have been saying ever since time began. They can point the way, leave signposts and little instructions in various books that are now called holy and worshipped for the cover of the book and not for what it says, but the instructions are all there for all to see, have always been and always will be. There’s nothing new under the sun. All the roads lead to Rome. And people cannot provide it for you. I can’t wake you up. You can wake you up. I can’t cure you. You can cure you.

Peace is not something you wish for; It’s something you make, Something you do, Something you are, And something you give away.

If you want peace, you won’t get it with violence.

And my favorite advice of all:

Say you want a revolution / We better get on right away / Well, you get on your feet / And out on the street / Singing power to the people.

The post John Lennon at 80: One Man Against the Deep State "Monster" first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Walking the Talk

Member of the radical 1960’s anti-war group Baltimore Four reflects on social justice, his life and going through it with a disability

Although activist Jim Mengel recalls falling asleep in class, he didn’t know he had narcolepsy until after he was married. At 92, he still dozes off occasionally, but that doesn’t stop him from attending weekly peace vigils in White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

Between boyish chuckles, the soft-spoken pastor remained humble throughout the interview. He was self-deprecating at times and deliberated questions at length before giving detailed explanations that sometimes digressed from the theme. It was apparent he took his faith in Jesus Christ seriously and let me know early on he didn’t want to be portrayed as a hero in this story.

Mengel grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania with the influence of the United Church of Christ. He was a Boy Scout who loved playing baseball and tennis and found part-time employment as a printer when he was a teenager. His mother stayed home with three kids and his father was employed by the local water department. He recalled his dad working his way up from fixing frozen water pipes to station manager. He didn’t think much about the difficulty he had with reading or his tendency to fall asleep in school. He did, however, think a lot about the anguish his family felt after learning his uncle had been killed in France during WW2.

He graduated from Albright College in 1950 with a BS in Business using a learning system he invented that didn’t include reading text books. Instead, he made sure he attended every class and sat up front so he could hear clearly and take detailed notes with a form of shorthand he devised. Sometimes he’d sit in the back so he could fall asleep and not disturb anyone. When he studied he generally focused on headlines, summaries, glossary words or what he could glean from indexes or pictures.

Right after college he joined the National Guard along with his brother and cousin at the onset of the Korean War. He stayed stateside and worked primarily as a clerk after he was released from flight school because of trouble he had with landing planes safely. He started thinking harder about what he called “the foolishness of seeking peace through the military” when he left the service. This sentiment grew stronger throughout his life. After his discharge he took a freighter to Africa and worked from 1952-54 as a missionary.

He met his wife later in Cleveland during a clinical internship while he was enrolled in the Lancaster Theological Seminary. It wasn’t long after the two were married that he and his wife, who was a nurse, discovered he had narcolepsy. “Winston Churchill, Harriet Tubman and Jimmy Kimmel had narcolepsy” Mengel mentioned.

The pills he took for narcolepsy didn’t help much, impelling him and his wife to continue on with their lives as best they could. Because of his medical condition, he could only hold a job for about seven months so his wife became the primary bread winner while he did more stay-home parenting. After taking another freighter across the ocean, the couple had their second child in Daegu, Korea where Mengel worked from 1963-66 as a civilian pastor and missionary with street-children and orphans impacted by the Korean War.

It was a life-defining moment for him in 1966 when he met the late Josephite priest and anti-war activist Phil Berrigan who is remembered for his early work with disenfranchised blacks along with his dedication to the 1960’s peace movement. Mengel was particularly impressed with Berrigan after he openly criticized the Catholic Church for not taking a tougher stance against warfare. He recalled the ire Berrigan received when he linked Black oppression with the disproportionate number of Blacks who were used as cannon fodder during the Vietnam War. Phil’s brother Daniel Berrigan, a Jesuit priest/Christian pacifist and poet worked alongside Phil during their lives. “The Berrigans were saying things in church that needed to be said. They saw what was happening to Blacks, especially because of the war” said Mengel pointing out that Martin Luther King Jr. was saying similar things.

At that time, Mengel was traveling between Baltimore and Washington DC to attend anti-war demonstrations. On October 27, 1967 he was arrested with three others after they occupied the draft board office at the Customs House in Baltimore. During an act of civil disobedience, Phil Berrigan, artist/Tom Lewis and writer/poet David Eberhardt combined the blood from all four activists with poultry blood and poured it over draft records. They hoped this symbolic and sacrificial ritual would bring more awareness to the Vietnam War. Mengel decided to forego the actual pouring of blood and passed out “Good News for Modern Man” (New Testament) paperbacks instead. The three others distributed Bibles and talked about the reasons for doing what they did with those nearby until the police arrived for a peaceful arrest.

The group, along with their efforts, did make headlines and were tagged the Baltimore Four. Berrigan was sentenced to six years in a federal penitentiary and Eberhart and Lewis served additional jail time after the arrest. That didn’t stop Berrigan from organizing or inspiring others to continue on with radical demonstrations — he’d been to jail before and would end up there again.

Mengel, though, continued on with peace-and-justice work, while avoiding jail, in parishes or through community service. He moved to Minnesota about twenty years ago and still resides in White Bear Lake not far from his two children and three grandsons.

James and daughter Mary

He emphasized numerous times he didn’t want to be portrayed as a hero in this article, referring back to the importance of the legendary Martin Luther King Jr. and Berrigan brothers. His admiration for his deceased wife Norma also surfaced frequently. He spoke of her lovingly and panegyrically as an amazing person who excelled in many things and contributed more to their lives together than he did. Going on to say if there’s to be a hero in this write-up, it should be his wife, adding that men should be more appreciative and inclusive of women — especially the ones in their lives. His daughter Mary Mengel mentioned the heavy emotional toll her father feels after the death of his wife a year and a half ago.

James and Norma Mengel

Nevertheless, Mengel continues to show up Mondays near downtown White Bear Lake. He’s there between 3 and 4, shuffling back-and-forth along the sidewalk holding a sign with a message for peace, just like a trooper — not a hero.

• Photos courtesy of Mary Mengel

The post Walking the Talk first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Kevin Zeese: His Last Words For The Movement And Carrying On

As I wrote last week, Kevin Zeese died unexpectedly in his sleep, likely from a heart attack, early in the morning on September 6. He had not shown signs of illness and was working until the end.

Many of you know Kevin from Popular Resistance, from his writing and podcast Clearing the FOG. He had a deep knowledge of history and the issues. He often spoke of his time working for Ralph Nader in 2004 when he wrote policy briefs as a “PhD in public policy.” Kevin understood how political power works.

Kevin’s work in activism spanned more than 40 years. He worked on political campaigns during high school in Queens, New York and protested the Vietnam War. When radical lawyers Ramsey Clark and William Kunstler spoke at SUNY Buffalo, where he was studying political science, Kevin was inspired to join the civil rights movement. He went to Boston to be a marshal for an anti-racism march and was attacked with others by police on horseback.

During law school at George Washington University, Kevin’s favorite class was on legal activism. He describes the experience in Americans Who Tell the Truth:

We created a group SEXCE (Students for the Examination of Contraceptive Effectiveness) and got legislation introduced in Congress, got the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to correct their advertising, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to start a rulemaking process to correct their labeling. It was pretty amazing to see all of that come out of one law school course on Legal Activism.’ Through this project, Zeese says he ‘learned guerilla law and legal judo’—how to leverage the law with minimum cost and maximum impact.

Kevin’s first internship was with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) answering letters from prisoners. He said this gave him a deep understanding of the destructive impact the War on Drugs has on people and their families. After law school, Kevin worked as legal counsel for NORML and then as executive director. He was working to legalize marijuana when Reagan was president and popular opinion strongly supported the Drug War. Kevin sued the Drug Enforcement Agency three times over the reclassification of medical marijuana and won, but each time the decision was overturned on appeal.

During this time, Joe Biden was the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee who worked with the racist head of the Dixiecrats, Strom Thurmond, to push for a ‘drug czar’ (Reagan vetoed that) and for more severe punishments. Kevin called Biden the architect of the drug war and mass incarceration.

After NORML, Kevin created the Drug Policy Foundation, which later became the Drug Policy Alliance, and the Alliance of Reform Organizations, which brought all of the groups working on various aspects of the Drug War together as one movement. Kevin understood early on that popular power required building a movement of movements to be effective. He often worked to create unity and collaboration among people and organizations.

Arnold Trebach (left) and young Kevin Zeese (right) who founded the Drug Policy Foundation.

In his later years, Kevin’s advocacy work expanded to include peace, economic justice, election integrity, single payer health care and much more. He often recognized issues as important before they were popular and had the courage to take them on even when they were controversial. He had a moral clarity that was unwavering and told the truth even when it was not what people wanted to hear.

Kevin also saw the potential in people and wasn’t afraid to tell them. He touched the lives of and mentored countless people throughout his career. Kevin was the person many people turned to for guidance and assistance, whether it was helping them figure out what they want to do in life or what to do in a time of crisis or advice on strategy. People felt safe when Kevin was around because of his calm steadiness and he always seemed to know what to do. He was a gentle giant who looked out for everyone. He also had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh.

The weekend before his death, Kevin participated in an online rally about how to build power for the changes we need before and after the coming election. He spoke to us about what we must do (video and transcription):

Power to the people! We have the power to change if we stay united. We have incredible opportunity now. We see the movement’s growing, especially after the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention. The conventions showed us that those parties do not represent the people and that our power is not in elections. Our power is in building people power — and we see that happening.

We need to build power, so that in 2021 people can rule from below. So that we can call general strikes. So we can stop business as usual. That is the only way change will occur. It will not come from Joe Biden or Donald Trump. It will come from the people.

We also have to understand — and it’s often very hard for people to understand — that the only path to success is failure. We fail and fail and fail until we win. But every time we try, we build the movement. And we get stronger. We can never tell how close we are to success. It’s like we’re banging on a wall, pounding and pounding, and it’s not until that wall begins to crack and we start to see the light come through that we realize we’re getting close to that breakthrough moment when change can occur.

We see the 2020s as a decade of transformation. The movements have been growing since Occupy in 2011,  then the Black Lives Matter movement, Fight For 15 — all during the Obama era – and now the growing of the movements during the Trump era. We see the 2020s as a decade of social transformation. In order to have that transformation, we need to be organized and educated . . . It’s normal for us to not always be on a linear path to success. It’s a jagged path. We move up and down, we get stronger.

We all know that Donald Trump is terrible. The worst president of my life! His overt racism; his open support for violent white supremacists; his mishandling of the COVID-19 virus, causing more than 180,000 deaths so far and probably more than 200,000 by the time of the election; his poor response to the economic collapse. He’s leading us into another Great Depression, and he constantly puts in place laws for the wealthy — while poverty, homelessness, debt and joblessness increase.

But Biden is no better. And I mean no better. For 47 years he’s been wrong on every important issue. When I was in college going to an anti-racism demonstration in Boston in favor of school integration, at that time Biden opposed school integration. Then I worked on ending mass incarceration, ending the drug war, while Biden was passing laws to escalate the drug war, passing laws for mandatory sentencing to increase mass incarceration. He’s the architect of mass incarceration!

Later in his career Biden became chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and led in not just voting for the Iraq War, but in the effort to make the Iraq War happen. As chair of Foreign Relations, he put in place massive military budgets, bloated corrupt budgets, while leading us into war after war. When it came to student bankruptcy, he led the effort to make it so students can’t get rid of student debt even in bankruptcy. Now he’s even calling for cutting Social Security when we should be doubling or even tripling Social Security payments.

So I’m going to vote against Trump by voting for what I believe in. There are more alternatives than the two parties. I’ll be voting for the Green [Party] candidates Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, because I’m going to be voting for Medicare For All. I’m going to be voting for community control of the police, for the eco-socialist Green New Deal, for ending the wealth divide and ending the never-ending wars.

We all have the power to vote for what we believe in, for candidates [who] reflect the movement. There are many more choices than a few corrupt candidates of the millionaires. And we need to use what little power we have in the elections to send a message of what we are for, to show that those who speak for movement issues get the movement’s support. After we vote, we must build people power, so that people can rule from below.

We must build people power, so that no matter who’s in office, we can stop the government from operating. We can make the country ungovernable. We can put in place general strikes, so that our demands are heard and met. That is how we will win.

We have a lot to build on. . . . There have been over 900 wildcat strikes since March. The labor movement is growing. The climate justice movement is growing. The anti-racist movement is growing. The anti-inequality movement is growing. We have a lot to build on. The One Percent cannot defeat the 99%. So let’s not underestimate ourselves.

An online tribute to Kevin Zeese will be held on Saturday, September 19 at 3:00 pm Eastern/12 noon Pacific. Simultaneous translation will be provided in English and Spanish. It will be live streamed on Facebook and YouTube. Register at bit.ly/KevinZeese.

We created a Kevin Zeese Emerging Activists Fund to continue Kevin’s legacy by sponsoring young activists and front line grassroots organizations that work for economic, racial and environmental justice and peace. We can best honor Kevin by continuing to support new movement leaders and visionaries who recognize injustice before the rest of us do and have the courage to address it.

Americans Who Tell the Truth writes:

Zeese sees one of his most important jobs as empowering people because ‘what we’re working on will not be resolved in my lifetime. Part of my job is to help others become their own powerful force that will continue the work after we’re gone…Economic democracy and system-wide political change are multi-decade challenges.

Now, more than ever, you are Popular Resistance. Kevin is gone but the work continues and so we need to carry on. Popular Resistance was created in part to inform about what people are doing to stop the machine (resistance) and create the new world (build alternative systems). If you see articles or have a press release from your local group on resistance, constructive programs or movement strategy, please share it with us at gro.ecnatsiserralupopnull@ofni.

Listen to my interview with Ralph Nader about Kevin Zeese’s life and legacy plus our final interview of Elias Tchen with the Qiao Collective on Clearing the FOG (available on Monday).

The post Kevin Zeese: His Last Words For The Movement And Carrying On first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Kevin Zeese: His Last Words For The Movement And Carrying On

As I wrote last week, Kevin Zeese died unexpectedly in his sleep, likely from a heart attack, early in the morning on September 6. He had not shown signs of illness and was working until the end.

Many of you know Kevin from Popular Resistance, from his writing and podcast Clearing the FOG. He had a deep knowledge of history and the issues. He often spoke of his time working for Ralph Nader in 2004 when he wrote policy briefs as a “PhD in public policy.” Kevin understood how political power works.

Kevin’s work in activism spanned more than 40 years. He worked on political campaigns during high school in Queens, New York and protested the Vietnam War. When radical lawyers Ramsey Clark and William Kunstler spoke at SUNY Buffalo, where he was studying political science, Kevin was inspired to join the civil rights movement. He went to Boston to be a marshal for an anti-racism march and was attacked with others by police on horseback.

During law school at George Washington University, Kevin’s favorite class was on legal activism. He describes the experience in Americans Who Tell the Truth:

We created a group SEXCE (Students for the Examination of Contraceptive Effectiveness) and got legislation introduced in Congress, got the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to correct their advertising, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to start a rulemaking process to correct their labeling. It was pretty amazing to see all of that come out of one law school course on Legal Activism.’ Through this project, Zeese says he ‘learned guerilla law and legal judo’—how to leverage the law with minimum cost and maximum impact.

Kevin’s first internship was with the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) answering letters from prisoners. He said this gave him a deep understanding of the destructive impact the War on Drugs has on people and their families. After law school, Kevin worked as legal counsel for NORML and then as executive director. He was working to legalize marijuana when Reagan was president and popular opinion strongly supported the Drug War. Kevin sued the Drug Enforcement Agency three times over the reclassification of medical marijuana and won, but each time the decision was overturned on appeal.

During this time, Joe Biden was the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee who worked with the racist head of the Dixiecrats, Strom Thurmond, to push for a ‘drug czar’ (Reagan vetoed that) and for more severe punishments. Kevin called Biden the architect of the drug war and mass incarceration.

After NORML, Kevin created the Drug Policy Foundation, which later became the Drug Policy Alliance, and the Alliance of Reform Organizations, which brought all of the groups working on various aspects of the Drug War together as one movement. Kevin understood early on that popular power required building a movement of movements to be effective. He often worked to create unity and collaboration among people and organizations.

Arnold Trebach (left) and young Kevin Zeese (right) who founded the Drug Policy Foundation.

In his later years, Kevin’s advocacy work expanded to include peace, economic justice, election integrity, single payer health care and much more. He often recognized issues as important before they were popular and had the courage to take them on even when they were controversial. He had a moral clarity that was unwavering and told the truth even when it was not what people wanted to hear.

Kevin also saw the potential in people and wasn’t afraid to tell them. He touched the lives of and mentored countless people throughout his career. Kevin was the person many people turned to for guidance and assistance, whether it was helping them figure out what they want to do in life or what to do in a time of crisis or advice on strategy. People felt safe when Kevin was around because of his calm steadiness and he always seemed to know what to do. He was a gentle giant who looked out for everyone. He also had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh.

The weekend before his death, Kevin participated in an online rally about how to build power for the changes we need before and after the coming election. He spoke to us about what we must do (video and transcription):

Power to the people! We have the power to change if we stay united. We have incredible opportunity now. We see the movement’s growing, especially after the Democratic National Convention and Republican National Convention. The conventions showed us that those parties do not represent the people and that our power is not in elections. Our power is in building people power — and we see that happening.

We need to build power, so that in 2021 people can rule from below. So that we can call general strikes. So we can stop business as usual. That is the only way change will occur. It will not come from Joe Biden or Donald Trump. It will come from the people.

We also have to understand — and it’s often very hard for people to understand — that the only path to success is failure. We fail and fail and fail until we win. But every time we try, we build the movement. And we get stronger. We can never tell how close we are to success. It’s like we’re banging on a wall, pounding and pounding, and it’s not until that wall begins to crack and we start to see the light come through that we realize we’re getting close to that breakthrough moment when change can occur.

We see the 2020s as a decade of transformation. The movements have been growing since Occupy in 2011,  then the Black Lives Matter movement, Fight For 15 — all during the Obama era – and now the growing of the movements during the Trump era. We see the 2020s as a decade of social transformation. In order to have that transformation, we need to be organized and educated . . . It’s normal for us to not always be on a linear path to success. It’s a jagged path. We move up and down, we get stronger.

We all know that Donald Trump is terrible. The worst president of my life! His overt racism; his open support for violent white supremacists; his mishandling of the COVID-19 virus, causing more than 180,000 deaths so far and probably more than 200,000 by the time of the election; his poor response to the economic collapse. He’s leading us into another Great Depression, and he constantly puts in place laws for the wealthy — while poverty, homelessness, debt and joblessness increase.

But Biden is no better. And I mean no better. For 47 years he’s been wrong on every important issue. When I was in college going to an anti-racism demonstration in Boston in favor of school integration, at that time Biden opposed school integration. Then I worked on ending mass incarceration, ending the drug war, while Biden was passing laws to escalate the drug war, passing laws for mandatory sentencing to increase mass incarceration. He’s the architect of mass incarceration!

Later in his career Biden became chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and led in not just voting for the Iraq War, but in the effort to make the Iraq War happen. As chair of Foreign Relations, he put in place massive military budgets, bloated corrupt budgets, while leading us into war after war. When it came to student bankruptcy, he led the effort to make it so students can’t get rid of student debt even in bankruptcy. Now he’s even calling for cutting Social Security when we should be doubling or even tripling Social Security payments.

So I’m going to vote against Trump by voting for what I believe in. There are more alternatives than the two parties. I’ll be voting for the Green [Party] candidates Howie Hawkins and Angela Walker, because I’m going to be voting for Medicare For All. I’m going to be voting for community control of the police, for the eco-socialist Green New Deal, for ending the wealth divide and ending the never-ending wars.

We all have the power to vote for what we believe in, for candidates [who] reflect the movement. There are many more choices than a few corrupt candidates of the millionaires. And we need to use what little power we have in the elections to send a message of what we are for, to show that those who speak for movement issues get the movement’s support. After we vote, we must build people power, so that people can rule from below.

We must build people power, so that no matter who’s in office, we can stop the government from operating. We can make the country ungovernable. We can put in place general strikes, so that our demands are heard and met. That is how we will win.

We have a lot to build on. . . . There have been over 900 wildcat strikes since March. The labor movement is growing. The climate justice movement is growing. The anti-racist movement is growing. The anti-inequality movement is growing. We have a lot to build on. The One Percent cannot defeat the 99%. So let’s not underestimate ourselves.

An online tribute to Kevin Zeese will be held on Saturday, September 19 at 3:00 pm Eastern/12 noon Pacific. Simultaneous translation will be provided in English and Spanish. It will be live streamed on Facebook and YouTube. Register at bit.ly/KevinZeese.

We created a Kevin Zeese Emerging Activists Fund to continue Kevin’s legacy by sponsoring young activists and front line grassroots organizations that work for economic, racial and environmental justice and peace. We can best honor Kevin by continuing to support new movement leaders and visionaries who recognize injustice before the rest of us do and have the courage to address it.

Americans Who Tell the Truth writes:

Zeese sees one of his most important jobs as empowering people because ‘what we’re working on will not be resolved in my lifetime. Part of my job is to help others become their own powerful force that will continue the work after we’re gone…Economic democracy and system-wide political change are multi-decade challenges.

Now, more than ever, you are Popular Resistance. Kevin is gone but the work continues and so we need to carry on. Popular Resistance was created in part to inform about what people are doing to stop the machine (resistance) and create the new world (build alternative systems). If you see articles or have a press release from your local group on resistance, constructive programs or movement strategy, please share it with us at gro.ecnatsiserralupopnull@ofni.

Listen to my interview with Ralph Nader about Kevin Zeese’s life and legacy plus our final interview of Elias Tchen with the Qiao Collective on Clearing the FOG (available on Monday).

The post Kevin Zeese: His Last Words For The Movement And Carrying On first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Racism: Are We All Prejudiced?

Loud acts of racism, like the atrocious killing of George Floyd by a US police officer; the disproportionate number of black men incarcerated in American prisons or the high percentage of young black or minority ethnic (BAME) men subjected to ‘stop and search’ by police in Britain are blatant and ugly. But an individuals ‘unconscious bias’ and the institutionalized racism festering deep within organizations is subtler, perhaps harder to recognize.

Racism is prejudice against BAME people/groups, it has deep historical roots within ex-colonial cultures (particularly in countries with large migrant populations, like Britain, France and the US), it is vile and abhorrent and it must be driven out of society. It is one of many forms of prejudice that exist all over the world. Prejudice against women, or LGBT individuals and groups, people with disabilities, tribal people and other minorities, prejudice against religious groups, certain nationalities and people of various ages. No matter how liberal minded and ‘progressive’ we believe ourselves to be, are any of us truly free from all forms of prejudice?

Learning to hate

Prejudice in all its foul forms, including racism, is not innate  – nobody is born a racist – it is learnt. It results from psychological and sociological conditioning, which is absorbed unconsciously from birth and for the most part is acted on habitually, without thinking or awareness. Decisions, choices and actions that proceed from this position are in some way or other limited, colored, and distorted by dogma, motivated by desire and fear.

Such actions take place all the time; most are petty and relatively limited in their impact. But when prejudice is involved and the action is constantly repeated or exercised from a position of power – an employer, government official, a parent, someone in uniform or education then the effects can have long-lasting detrimental effects. Worse still, when racism has seeped into the fabric of the perpetrator and turned to blind hate, allowing for abuse (like kneeling on a defenseless man’s neck while arresting him for a petty incident) to occur the results can then be much more serious: recurring mental health illnesses, physical injuries, and sometimes death, of an individual, or in the case of genocide (the organized expression of hate) the systemic annihilation of a whole community.

Prejudice then is a form of conditioning; it is discrimination or bias unconsciously expressed in varying degrees, fuelling hurtful destructive patterns of behavior and social division. This does not in any way legitimize or excuse acts of racism and prejudice, but if such actions are the consequence of conditioning we have a key to eradicating this poison from society.

Young children do not on the whole exhibit signs of prejudice. They see other children simply as children, they don’t see black, white, brown, Asian etc., children. That is, until they are conditioned into seeing ‘difference’, into dividing people based on race, gender, religion, nationality etc., and encouraged to make judgments based on that prejudice. The agents of conditioning are (most commonly) ignorant parents, peers who have already taken the poison, government policy (on immigration, for example) and the media.

In 1968 an exercise in racial conditioning was famously demonstrated by the schoolteacher and campaigner Jane Elliot (credited with inventing the concept of diversity training): On 5th April, the morning after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jnr, she segregated the 28 children (eight/nine year olds) in her classroom based on eye color, with one group adopting superior status to the other. The following day the roles were reversed. It was a brilliant exercise that aimed to show what it would feel like to be discriminated against and also to discriminate.

Once the seed of prejudice and division is planted, false notions of superiority and inferiority are fed and the belief that some people are ‘like us’ and some people ‘are not’ is adopted. The idea of ‘the other’ separate from me, potentially a threat to me, takes root, and this, if reinforced by competition and fear (as is commonly the case) leads to distrust, further division and hate. Allowing for the creation of a violent minority, and, in extreme cases the birth of a flag-waving, swastika-bearing racist or bigot. In the majority prejudice leads to what is commonly called ‘unconscious or implicit bias’.

How unconscious is Unconscious Bias

In October 1998 social psychologists from the University of Washington and Yale conducted the ‘Implicit Association Test (IAT)’. An online research tool designed to “measure implicit or unconscious evaluations and beliefs that spring from strong, automatic associations of which people may be unaware.” The study found that 90-95% of people held such unconscious prejudices. The researchers, including Mahzarin Banaji, professor of psychology at Yale, stated that unconscious prejudice “results from the culture they [people] live in and the culture’s attitudes towards stigmatized groups …a culture leaves an imprint on the mental structure, and most people have more or less the same mental imprint.” This is sociological conditioning.

Various studies since have revealed that unconscious bias affects a range of everyday decisions impacting on people from minority groups. Job prospects, education opportunities and health care, as well as prejudicial treatment by criminal justice systems. While it may be unclear just how ‘unconscious’ an individual’s bias is, what isn’t in dispute is that it exists, impacting on almost all of us, creating division and injustice. But, as Professor Banaji said “the same test that reveals these roots of prejudice has the potential to let people learn more about and perhaps overcome these disturbing inclinations.”

Action not words

As Jane Elliot said, ‘there is only one race, the human race’: humanity is one, brothers and sisters of one humanity. This has been proclaimed many times, most famously perhaps by Mahatma Gandhi. Yet, like peace, brotherhood and justice, equality is nowhere to be found. It remains a noble ideal, but ideals, which are not made manifest become tools of deceit, feeding complacency and apathy, allowing destructive attitudes and behavior to remain intact, and to proliferate.

In the years since the introduction of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in March 1966 attitudes have changed and much progress has been made. But there is a long way to go if we are to create a world that is completely free from all forms of discrimination. To rid society of racism and prejudice a number of things need to take place simultaneously.

Education, inclusion and awareness (de-conditioning) are key, together with the introduction of urgent practical steps within all areas where institutionalized racism exists. The essential element to individual liberation from prejudice is awareness; the unconscious impulse of discrimination needs to be brought into the light of awareness where, when seen, it can be rejected. Institutionalized racism collects out of the individual prejudice of people working within a particular organization, whether a police force, government department, school, university, corporation or small business. Eradicating prejudice from all such organizations and encouraging diversity and greater representation of minority groups must become a priority; more support needs to be given to children from BAME families (often among the poorest in society) to ensure equal education opportunities and, in order to limit prejudice by employers, schools, universities etc., the mandatory introduction of ‘blind CVs’ (without personal details concerning the applicant’s gender, age or ethnicity) should be brought about immediately.

The global response to the appalling killing of George Floyd and the widespread calls for fundamental change must not be ignored or the focus lost by distracting arguments about statues and artifacts. Certainly, following community debate, some statues should be removed – not torn down – and placed in museums, and items stolen by colonialists and now held in western museums returned.

But the primary issue is not what happened in the shameful past, it is changing existing attitudes and behavior. The momentum for change must not be lost as the mainstream media turn their attention elsewhere and politicians ruminate and set up yet more committees. Action is needed now, not endless speeches by duplicitous ambitious politicians. The rise of racism and all types of hate crime parallels the increase in political populism and tribal nationalism; these ideologies of division have stoked racial tensions and fed hate among the hateful. They are of the past and must be collectively rejected. The path to equality, social harmony and peace will come about through unity not division, cooperation not competition, tolerance not bigotry. It is these qualities that need to be adopted and cultivated, not as ideals, but as living principles animating and pervading all aspects of life.

Pivot To Peace Must Replace US Pivot To War With China

US and Chinese Fists and Weapons face-off (from the Financial Times)

The Trump administration, in seeking to divert attention from its bungled response to the COVID-19 pandemic and mishandling of the economic collapse, is escalating the bipartisan anti-China policy, which has a long history. This increases the potential of military conflict and economic war between our countries.

President Trump is making both a global depression and war more likely. The United States needs to de-escalate its conflicts and work with China and other countries to confront the pandemic and economic collapse, as well as the climate crisis and nuclear proliferation. This is not the time for escalation of conflicts, but for de-escalation and a new era of a multipolar and cooperative world.

Bipartisan Escalation Against China Is Longterm US Policy

While some blame Trump for the escalation of conflict with China, in this century, it began with President Obama’s pivot to Asia. It now includes a full spectrum dominance strategy of military, information, and economic aggression.

The roots of treating the Asian Pacific as a ‘US lake,’ just as Latin America is ‘our backyard,’ go back to 1878 when Navy Commodore Robert W. Shufeldt of the USS Ticonderoga described the Pacific as “the ocean bride of America.” Declaring a Monroe Doctrine for the Pacific, he described Asia as where the “search for Empire ceases and human power attains its climax.” Interestingly, it was the Panic of 1873 that led to a depression that resulted in a search for new markets. The US failed its invasion of Korea in 1871 and Shufeldt needed to improve US relations. In 1882,  his mission resulted in the first treaty in the Pacific Rim signed by the US and South Korea.

Today’s economic collapse is a major reason for Trump’s escalation with China but Trump is building on the policies of Barack Obama who declared himself the “first Pacific president” as part of a geopolitical strategy to challenge China. His Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote “America’s Pacific Century” that claimed the future will be decided in Asia and the US will be right at the center of the action. They put in place the Asian Pivot, an escalation of military confrontation with China with 60 percent of US war capacity shifting to the Pacific.

The US was already at war with China before Donald Trump entered the Oval Office. The US military and other branches of government were gearing up for a long-term conflict, involving both economic and diplomatic pressure on China with a buildup of military forces along the country’s periphery. Last Thursday, on Flashpoints on KPFA, KJ Noh pointed out that the Pivot came with the Air-Sea Battle War Doctrine designed to ensure the US maintained freedom of action throughout the globe. The US built a networked land, sea, air, space, and cyber collective warfighting capability with allied countries.

In 2011, the Council of Foreign Relations began urging the US to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF )Treaty. The RAND Corporation, which advises the US military, published “Thinking through the unthinkable” in 2016. It described how the US could win a war with China, which it argued the US needs to do before 2025. The strategy is to focus on the South China Sea in a long and costly way that cuts off Chinese fuel supplies and trade. Almost a decade ago, military strategists James Holmes and Toshi Yoshihara found the First Island Chain was a natural barrier that could bottle-up the Chinese Navy.

RAND urged the US to void the INF Treaty so missiles could be directed at China. In 2018, Trump declared–as if on his own volition–the US would drop out of the INF Treaty. The US falsely claimed Russia had violated the treaty, but it was really about targeting China. In August 2019, the US withdrew from the treaty and started developing new missiles. The US then conducted the first test launch of a new ground-launched cruise missile.

The US has also been expanding military bases and military agreements in the Pacific. In September 2019, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper called for further expanding military base locations in the Pacific region while speaking at the Naval War College, calling the Indo-Pacific “our priority theatre.” Esper believes “The United States network of alliances and partnerships provides us an asymmetric strategic edge that our adversaries cannot match.”

The hybrid war against China includes an information war as well as economic conflict. Just before the novel coronavirus pandemic, the propaganda war was most evident around the Hong Kong protests and the disinformation campaign about the Uyghurs. The US has been funding anti-China activities in Hong Kong since 1996. People have mistakenly called the anti-China protests ‘democracy protests’. While there was confusion about the protests, it is obvious when they called for “Trump to Save Us” and worked with right-wing anti-China senators that Hong Kong is part of Washington’s anti-China strategy. The US passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which the US will use to justify intruding into the internal affairs of China and Hong Kong.

Similarly, reports based on dubious studies claimed mass imprisonment of millions of Muslim Uyghurs, or even that there is a Muslim Holocaust in China. These were vast exaggerations used to stoke anti-China views. The US has long backed the World Uyghur Congress as part of its effort to undermine China from within. A small minority of poor, radicalized Uyghurs, who have been involved in terrorism and violence in China and have also fought with ISIS in Syria, are a problem for China.  People who visited the region and reported on the Uyghurs describe what we are hearing as ‘shameful lies’ peddled by the US empire.

Under Obama, economic domination involved the largest corporate trade agreement in history, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP included the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries, excluding the largest economy in the hemisphere, China. It was designed to ensure US hegemony in the Asia Pacific through corporate dollar domination. Popular Resistance helped organize a five-year ‘movement of movements’ campaign that stopped the TPP. This defeat was seen as the beginning of the end of US hegemony in Asia.

But, the defeat of the TPP did not stop the US’ focus on Asia. In 2018, the United States announced a new national defense strategy, “Great Power Conflict,” with China as the top target. Around the same time, the Nuclear Posture Review announced the escalation of nuclear weapons development, which also started under Obama. The new arms race also includes space, traditional weapons, cyber defense, and surveillance.

The US fears the 21st Century will be the Chinese Century and is doing all it can to prevent that development. This has resulted in a bipartisan policy of militarily surrounding China with nuclear and other weapons.

The Trump COVID Escalation

The Trump administration is now using the novel coronavirus to escalate opposition to China. This includes a propaganda offensive that is becoming a Chinese version of Russiagate. The Trump administration made a point to call it the “Chinese” or “Wuhan virus” until it was told this was an inaccurate description as we still do not know where it began. The propaganda continues with claims that China was not transparent, is hiding the number of deaths, punished doctors who discussed the issue, and leaked or manipulated the virus.

A thorough reality check of these claims has shown them to be false but they have built hatred for China, resulting in prejudice against Asian people and laying the groundwork for escalation. Now Trump and Biden are accusing each other of being soft on China. Biden accuses Trump of not holding China accountable while Trump is seeking to use China as a scapegoat for his failed response to the virus. Fearmongering is being used to justify escalating the economic and military conflict with China.

The reality is China had a rapid, breathtaking, and impressive response to the virus that bought countries time to respond and won praise from health experts. China allowed public health officials to examine its response, independently confirming its successful response. China’s approach provides other nations with lessons they can learn to combat the virus. In addition, China is providing assistance to nations throughout the globe to help them respond to the pandemic. Indeed, while countries received little or no help from the European Union and the United States, China along with Cuba provided aid to them.

Last month, China’s top intelligence ministry, the Ministry of State Security, presented a report by China’s Institutes of Contemporary International Relations to top Beijing leaders that warned China needs to be prepared in a worst-case scenario for an armed confrontation with the United States. This risk comes from the backlash against China over the pandemic.

This week, Reuters reported the US is investing heavily in weapons for use against China. Budget documents show the Marines sought $125 million to buy 48 Tomahawk missiles next year and $3.2 billion for hypersonic technology, mostly for research on new, long-range missiles. The Pentagon also seeks $224 million for another 53 new Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles in 2021. They expect to have more than 400 of them in service by 2025. These will be used on Navy Super Hornet jets and Air Force B-1 bombers.

Testimony also reported the Marines had successfully tested new shorter-range anti-ship weapons, the Naval Strike Missile. Reuters reports “in a radical shift in tactics, the Marines will join forces with the US Navy in attacking an enemy’s warships. Small and mobile units of US Marines armed with anti-ship missiles will become ship killers.”  These would be dispersed at key points in the Western Pacific and along the First Island Chain.

China has urged the US to stop “moving around the chess pieces” in the Asia Pacific. A Chinese military spokesman, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, warned last October that Beijing would “not stand by” if Washington deployed land-based, long-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific. The US moves are leading to an arms race in the Asia Pacific. Reuters has published a series on China’s military that revealed in most categories, China’s missiles now rival or outperform US counterparts.

In addition to these plans, the US has already increased military activity in the Asia Pacific. The South China Morning Post reported on May 10, that the US increased military operations in waters close to China. This has included 39 flights over the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea, and the Taiwan Strait, more than three times the number carried out in 2019. The US Navy also conducted four so-called freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea in the first four months of 2020 – compared with just eight for all of 2019.

A conflict between the United States and China presents a risk of global warfare as the US has directed NATO to focus on China and has been building military relations in the Asia Pacific, especially with its closest military ally, Japan. China has also built relationships with numerous countries including Russia. The United States has been increasing military spending in the region while Russia and China have responded with the development of new weapons and also increased spending. The Pentagon is planning for a new long war with China and Russia.

Stephen Melkisethian from cc-nc-nd-flickr

Time for a Pivot to Peace

Rather than a national security strategy of major power conflict, the US needs a strategy of major power cooperation. The United Nations has called for international cooperation and a global ceasefire, which the US blocked this week.

People need to promote and work toward peace as a top priority as the risk of conflict escalates. We urge you to sign onto Peace Pivot where you can find more information on the conflict between China and the US and what you can do about it. US elected officials should not be rewarded for China-bashing. We must work together to call out the falsehoods about China so that doing so backfires against the politicians who make them.

China’s rise from poverty to becoming an engine for the global economy should not be seen as a threat to the United States. China’s Belt and Road Initiative can help all nations. If the United States responds with an escalation of economic and military conflict it will undermine US leadership and bring greater insecurity to the world. The US must work with China, and other nations in this new multipolar world to stop the pandemic, economic collapse, climate catastrophe, and the risk of nuclear war.

Only the Poor Starve: Hunger in the Time of Covid

Additional to the global health crisis and the coming worldwide economic collapse, Covid-19 is fuelling a humanitarian crisis. The World Food Program (WFP) warns that, “millions of civilians living in conflict-scarred nations, including many women and children, face being pushed to the brink of starvation, with the spectre of famine a very real and dangerous possibility.” The WFP’s view that the biggest impact of the pandemic will not by caused by the virus directly, but the hunger that flows from it, is in line with other concerned groups.

In a recent statement the WFP warned that “unless swift action is taken”, by the end of the year we “will see more than a quarter of a billion people suffering acute hunger…in low and middle-income countries.” This is made up of 135 million already facing food shortages, plus an estimated 130 million people (it could well be more), as a result of Covid-19. This would take the total number of people who go to bed hungry every night to over a billion – approximately, for all such statistics serve as a guide only; inevitably they miss the hidden hungry, people living on the fringes of society in every country, rich and poor.

In addition to the ‘130 million’ there are the tens of millions of casual workers who can only eat if they work. “Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs,” says Dr. Arif Husain, chief economist at WFP, “it only takes one more shock – like Covid-19 – to push them over the edge.”

Countries dependent on food imports and the export of oil are particularly at risk of increased levels of hunger, as well as communities that rely on remittance income from overseas, and tourism. In addition there is the uncertainty around foreign aid as donor countries face the prospect of recession. Those in greatest danger are in 10 countries affected by conflict, economic crisis and climate change – all of which are interconnected. The 2020 Global Report on Food Crises highlights Yemen (where two deaths from Covid-19 have already been reported), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Afghanistan, Venezuela, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Nigeria and Haiti. Drought and the worst locust infestation for decades (triggered by climate change) have already caused food shortages in South Asia and the Horn of Africa, where according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, 12 million people are living under the frightening shadow of food insecurity.

Unless we prepare and act now – “to secure access, avoid funding shortfalls and disruptions to trade,” the WFP statement state, “we could be facing multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months.”

If the virus takes hold in locations where war is raging, in countries which have weak health care systems, the UN has warned that it would be impossible to limit the impact and/or deliver much needed humanitarian supplies, including food. In an attempt to safeguard these countries the UN Secretary general António Guterres has called for a global ceasefire. While some 70 member states, regional partners, non-state actors, civil society networks and organizations,” have so far endorsed his plea, “there was”, he said, “still a distance between declarations and deeds in many countries.”

If a ‘Pandemic of Hunger’ is to be avoided, in addition to peace and humanitarian access, supply chains, which have been disrupted, must remain open and fluid, allowing food to be transported easily. And, as WFP makes clear, states must not introduce export bans or import duties, which would lead to price rises.

These are urgent steps that must be taken to meet the immediate threat. But these measures will not feed the 800 million or so suffering from chronic hunger. The primary cause of hunger in our world is not conflict or access to food, it is poverty – there is nowhere in the world where the rich go hungry. To banish hunger for good, lasting fundamental change must be introduced. Systemic change and behavioral change, and the two are inextricably connected.

A perfect storm

Even before Covid-19 the head of the WFP forecast “2020 would be facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II.” He cites wars in Syria and Yemen; the crisis in South Sudan, Burkino Faso and the Central Sahel region in Africa, where UNICEF says, “4.3 million children are now in need of humanitarian assistance,” the economic crisis in Lebanon, as well as countries like Ethiopia, the DRC and Sudan. The list, he says, ‘goes on…we’re already facing a perfect storm.’

The ‘perfect storm’ is an extreme consequence of a series of interconnected causes; many, if not all of which flow from the all-pervasive socio-economic order and the divisive values and attitudes that are promoted. Crystallized as it is, the system is a construct of the consciousness of the past. It is not of the now or the time we are moving into, nevertheless it dominates all life. Like many of our structures and forms it needs to change, many know this and Covid-19 is highlighting the need for change and presenting an opportunity. It is acting as a mirror, an agency of revelation, bringing issues into focus and pouring fuel on already simmering fires, insisting we attend. With businesses closed large numbers of people are being forced to slow down, to stop consuming, stop travelling. A space has opened up in which to reflect and examine how we live, individually as well as collectively.

A range of festering issues, known but either ignored or inflamed, are being brought to the surface; interrelated crises that have been percolating for decades demanding attention and a new approach. The man-made environmental crisis, which is the pressing issue of the age, and the outdated economic structure, inadequate or non-existent public services, the crisis of wealth/income and power inequality and social injustice among a number of other pressing social wounds.

After the pandemic has retreated and lockdowns are released the world economy is, by all predictions set to crash. The IMF estimate The Great Lockdown, as they are calling it, will result in the “worst recession since the Great Depression, and far worse than the Global Financial Crisis.” But as the head of the body, Kristalina Georgieva admits, it could be worse, they don’t know. If the coming crash is met, not with desperation and despair, but with creative imagination and compassion, it may, indeed could, bring about widespread liberation, allowing for a new and just, long overdue, reorganization of the socio-economic and political spheres.

The Age of Reason

Consistent with the new time we are moving into, a shift in collective consciousness is taking place among large numbers of people all over the world. To accommodate this shift, this new awareness that is slowly emerging, new ways of thinking, new institutions and structures are badly needed, including crucially a radically overhauled socio-economic system. A flexible evolving model anchored in certain Principles of Goodness: Unity, sharing and justice.

This common-sense trinity is interdependent and encourages values of cooperation and understanding, responsibility and tolerance. By the expression of one quality the other is strengthened, reinforced, expanded. Key is unity, the recognition that all of life is interconnected, whole, that humanity is one and that all have the same and equal rights. That we all have a responsibility to one another and the natural world and our actions should proceed from a position of awareness. Any new system must have sharing at its core. Sharing would end for good the abomination of men, women, and children dying of starvation – with or without a pandemic –, or living stunted crippled lives due to malnutrition in a world overflowing with food. Acknowledging what each nation has to offer the world at large (natural resource, including food and water, knowledge and skills, etc.) and what it lacks, what it needs from others. And thirdly, Justice, – social and environmental justice –, under the doctrine of the present order there is neither. The system is inherently unjust and cruel, benefiting these that have, punishing and abusing those that are vulnerable and have not. The natural environment – forests, rivers, oceans, habitat, all are sacrificed or exploited for profit. All need to be protected, nurtured, and allowed to heal, as does humanity.

Through the introduction of sharing as the primary organizing principle underlying the socio-economic order and animating widespread change, trust would be created, relationships built, divisions eroded, allowing for peace to come into being. Peace and freedom are perennial ideals held within the hearts of mankind. Sharing, unity and justice are the means of entry into a world in which they become not just hopes and  unrealized dreams, but vibrant qualities animating all modes of living.

COVID-19 and the Wasting Disease of Normalcy

“But what of the price of peace?” asked Jesuit priest and war resister Daniel Berrigan, writing from federal prison in 1969, doing time for his part in the destruction of draft records. “I think of the good, decent, peace-loving people I have known by the thousands, and I wonder. How many of them are so afflicted with the wasting disease of normalcy that, even as they declare for the peace, their hands reach out with an instinctive spasm in the direction of their loved ones, in the direction of their comforts, their home, their security, their income, their future, their plans — that twenty-year plan of family growth and unity, that fifty-year plan of decent life and honorable natural demise.”

From his prison cell in a year of mass movements to end the war in Vietnam and mobilizations for nuclear disarmament, Daniel Berrigan diagnosed normalcy as a disease and labeled it an obstacle to peace. “’Of course, let us have the peace,’ we cry, ‘but at the same time let us have normalcy, let us lose nothing, let our lives stand intact, let us know neither prison nor ill repute nor disruption of ties.’ And because we must encompass this and protect that, and because at all costs — at all costs — our hopes must march on schedule, and because it is unheard of that in the name of peace a sword should fall, disjoining that fine and cunning web that our lives have woven… because of this we cry peace, peace, and there is no peace.”

Fifty one years later, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the very notion of normalcy is being questioned as never before. While Donald Trump is “chomping on the bit” to return the economy to normal very soon based on a metric in his own head, more reflective voices are saying that a return to normal, now or even in the future, is an intolerable threat to be resisted. “There is a lot of talk about returning to ‘normal’ after the COVID-19 outbreak,” says climate activist Greta Thunberg, “but normal was a crisis.”

In recent days even economists with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and columnists in the New York Times have spoken about the urgent necessity of reordering economic and political priorities to something more human — only the thickest and cruelest minds today speak of a return to normal as a positive outcome.

Early in the pandemic, the Australian journalist John Pilger reminded the world of the baseline normal that COVID-19 exacerbates:

A pandemic has been declared, but not for the 24,600 who die every day from unnecessary starvation, and not for 3,000 children who die every day from preventable malaria, and not for the 10,000 people who die every day because they are denied publicly-funded healthcare, and not for the hundreds of Venezuelans and Iranians who die every day because America’s blockade denies them life-saving medicines, and not for the hundreds of mostly children bombed or starved to death every day in Yemen, in a war supplied and kept going, profitably, by America and Britain. Before you panic, consider them.

I was starting high school when Daniel Berrigan asked his question and at the time, while there obviously were wars and injustices in the world, it seemed as though if we did not take them too seriously or protest too strenuously, the American Dream with its limitless potential was spread before us. Play the game, and our hopes would “march on schedule” was an implied promise that in 1969 looked like a sure thing, for us young white North Americans, anyway. A few years later, I abandoned normal life, dropped out after a year of college and joined the Catholic Worker movement where I came under the influence of Daniel Berrigan and Dorothy Day, but these were privileged choices that I made. I did not reject normalcy because I did not think that it could deliver on its promise, but because I wanted something else. As Greta Thunberg and the Friday school strikers for climate convict my generation, few young people, even from previously privileged places, come of age today with such confidence in their futures.

The pandemic has brought home what the threats of global destruction by climate change and nuclear war should have long ago — that the promises of normalcy will never deliver in the end, that they are lies that lead those who trust in them to the ruin. Daniel Berrigan saw this a half century ago.  Normalcy is an affliction, a wasting disease more dangerous to its victims and to the planet than any viral plague.

Author and human rights activist Arundhati Roy is one of many who recognizes the peril and the promise of the moment:

Whatever it is, coronavirus has made the mighty kneel and brought the world to a halt like nothing else could. Our minds are still racing back and forth, longing for a return to ‘normality’, trying to stitch our future to our past and refusing to acknowledge the rupture. But the rupture exists. And in the midst of this terrible despair, it offers us a chance to rethink the doomsday machine we have built for ourselves. Nothing could be worse than a return to normality. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.

“Every crisis contains both danger and opportunity,” said Pope Francis about the present situation. “Today I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world. This is the opportunity for conversion. Yes, I see early signs of an economy that is less liquid, more human. But let us not lose our memory once all this is past, let us not file it away and go back to where we were.”

“There are ways forward we never imagined – at huge cost, with great suffering – but there are possibilities and I’m immensely hopeful,” said Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, on Easter. “After so much suffering, so much heroism from key workers and the NHS (National Health Service) in this country and their equivalents all across the globe, once this epidemic is conquered we cannot be content to go back to what was before as if all was normal. There needs to be a resurrection of our common life, a new normal, something that links to the old but is different and more beautiful.”

In these perilous times, it is necessary to use the best social practices and to wisely apply science and technology to survive the present COVID-19 pandemic. The wasting disease of normalcy, though, is the far greater existential threat and our survival requires that we meet it with at least the same courage, generosity and ingenuity.

Will Covid-19 spur a Peoples’ Bailout for the World’s Poorest?

Image credit: Giacomo Carra on Unsplash

The question is whether Covid-19 will awaken us to the stark inequalities of our world, or does it simply represent a new cause of impoverishment for the vast swathes of humanity who have long been disregarded by the public’s conscience?

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Since the beginning of 2020, we’ve entered an extraordinary new era. There is still a great deal of fear and uncertainty about what lies ahead, and most countries are undergoing a kind of social and political revolution that is unprecedented in the post-war period. But amidst the tragedy and suffering of those affected by Covid-19, there is also a reawakening of hope about the future possibilities of this epochal moment. Political campaigners of every type are rolling out their progressive agendas, envisioning the crisis as an inflection point that could potentially kickstart a more just and sustainable economy.

The reasons for optimism are in plain view. With major economies temporarily frozen, state interventions on a colossal scale have directly contradicted the prevailing ideology of our time. The free market creed that has run the world for almost 40 years is, once more, effectively defunct; in its place, governments are forced to undertake huge feats of economic planning in order to avert an economic catastrophe.

Right across the Western world, state-imposed lockdowns have necessitated social solidarity policies that were previously unthinkable. Rescue programmes vary greatly in terms of social protection measures, cash assistance and workers’ rights, but there is no alternative to governments stepping in to secure the livelihoods of millions of people.

Despite the shortcomings of many schemes, together they have dramatically busted the myth that governments cannot afford to implement radical pro-social investments. Never has there been such a case for guaranteeing everyone’s right to an adequate standard of living during the current crisis and beyond, particularly by rolling back punitive austerity measures and the privatisation of essential public services.

Even a universal basic income has suddenly resurged in popular interest and been seriously discussed by policymakers of all political persuasions. From every quarter, the calls are ringing out for a different kind of economy to be built that recognises the limitations of the market, and that places finance at the service of basic human rights.

But the worst of the pandemic is still to come, and it’s too early to tell how events will unfold. An implosion of global financial markets is an imminent possibility, with a global recession of perhaps record dimensions a near certainty. What will happen then for social safety nets and economic priorities—will the burden of adjustment really be shouldered by large corporations and wealthy elites, or will governments heap the costs onto the poor and ordinary workers as since 2008?

Unequal outcomes

The one certainty is that the most vulnerable and excluded members of society will suffer the worst consequences, as with all economic crises. We may be all in this together, and the coronavirus may not discriminate as to one’s socioeconomic class, but the experience of lockdown will be very different with respect to one’s position and place in society. This pertains most of all to those who live in the world’s most downtrodden places, where even basic health advice is impossible to follow. Constant media reports now question how a billion people living in slums can practice social distancing, or frequently wash hands when there is no easy access to clean water or sanitation (a situation that afflicts 40% of the world population).

The prospects are terrifying for the millions of migrants and displaced people, prisoners, the homeless and those who live in disaster-prone areas. Not only are they most exposed to infection, but they are least able to access quality healthcare, and most impacted by a loss of income. No government support packages will be expected by the world’s 25.9 million refugees, of whom huge numbers may be left to fend for themselves in overcrowded temporary settlements.

For many low-income countries, the current health crisis could become a ‘double tap’ that exacerbates existing humanitarian challenges, such as conflicts, droughts, the locust plague or endemic poverty. Healthcare systems are already overburdened throughout the global South, especially where IMF-backed austerity cuts have been imposed. Scores of countries have endured waves of fiscal adjustment programmes that have increasingly weakened social protection schemes, curtailed labour rights and exacerbated precarious work.

If the virus takes off in its ‘third wave’ – after China, after Europe and across the developing world – the consequences could be devastating for under-resourced governments that are reeling from other humanitarian catastrophes.

As John Pilger has reminded, deaths from Covid-19 still pale in comparison with the 24,600 people who unnecessarily die from starvation every day, or the 3,000 children who die from preventable malaria. Not to mention other diseases of poverty like tuberculosis or pneumonia, or the cholera crisis in Yemen, or the countless daily deaths due to economic sanctions in countries like Venezuela and Iran. No pandemic or global emergency has ever been declared for these people.

Will Covid-19 therefore awaken us to the stark inequalities and injustices of our world, or will it simply represent a new cause of impoverishment for vast swathes of humanity who have long been disregarded by the public’s conscience?

A global action plan

Given the huge challenges for less developed countries, it is essential that governments respond to this global health emergency through genuine cooperation and the sharing of international resources. The developing world is already in turmoil due to falling commodity prices and foreign direct investment, a collapse in tourism and the weakening of their own domestic demand—even before the socioeconomic impacts of the virus take hold.

Heavily indebted countries are also facing a ‘double whammy’ of declining exports and sharply increased borrowing costs, raising the prospect of a new debt crisis that engulfs south-east Asia, Latin America and Africa. But the need for global economic sharing goes beyond moral imperatives: unless we prevent these regions from descending into chaos, the virus could circle around the world and be reimported into richer countries.

The scale of an emergency response plan is boldly summarised by Oxfam, who call upon governments to implement a globally-coordinated and massive investment in public health. This necessitates a degree of international aid-giving that is unseen in our history, as well as an immediate moratorium on debt interest payments for poor countries without conditions.

Oxfam estimates that it would cost $159.5 billion to double the health spending of the 85 poorest countries, home to nearly half the world’s population. Compare this with the trillions of dollars being released by the United States and European Union in their emergency relief measures. The United Nations, in contrast, has so far called for merely $2 billion to fund its Humanitarian Response Plan, which is seriously inadequate given the scale and complexity of the crisis, but still far from being met.

Beyond this emergency relief, there is also an urgent need to transform the global economy in the longer term. The coronavirus crisis has given renewed impetus for major structural financial reforms, including action against tax havens, debt cancellation and changes to trade rules. This is essential for enabling poorer nations to protect jobs and build comprehensive, universal public services and social protection systems.

Above all, a massive global stimulus package should be directed towards supporting green industries, rather than further entrenching fossil fuel interests. Similar proposals for a Global Green New Deal were put forward after the last financial crisis over a decade ago: now time is running out for governments to mobilise maximum resources towards decarbonising the global economy and restoring our natural ecosystems. A ‘just transition’ of sufficient scale will also serve to increase the resilience of low- and middle-income countries as they diversify production and reduce their heavy reliance on commodities.

A spirit of solidarity

The UN trade and development body, UNCTAD, has renewed its appeal for a new Marshall Plan for the global South, in which G20 nations act in a spirit of solidarity to assist the 6 billion people living outside their core economies. But there is little hope for such a historic level of coordinated global leadership to emerge, when the most powerful nations—particularly the United States—continue to view world politics as a zero-sum game in which states compete rather than cooperate. The global pandemic has arisen within a crisis of multilateralism which has increasingly eroded governments’ capacity for collective action in the post-crash years, so it is hardly surprising that the virus is already outpacing a global response.

Now, as ever, the responsibility for transforming geopolitical relations lies not with influential heads of state, but with ourselves. There may be much heartening evidence of national and local solidarity during this lockdown period, but the question remains as to whether that will be translated internationally once a vaccine is discovered.

Will the more privileged people in affluent societies continue to profess our global interconnectedness, while shrugging their shoulders at the dire inequality that leaves half the world impoverished? Or will we unify our demands in a deafening call for securing everyone’s basic socioeconomic rights, which would directly strengthen the United Nations’ capacity and foundational purposes?

It is one thing to call for a people’s bailout in single nations alone, but it is something else to call for a global people’s bailout that benefits every disadvantaged individual and family in all countries. If the coronavirus crisis is revealing anything of lasting human significance, surely it must be this necessity of finally sharing our planet’s phenomenal wealth and ample resources.

Standing on the Precipice of Martial Law

In my recent paper Why Assume there will be a 2020 Election?, I took the opportunity of today’s multifaceted crisis in order to revisit an important Wall Street funded coup d’état effort of 1933-34. As I explained in that location, this bankers’ coup was luckily exposed by a patriotic general named Smedley Darlington Butler during one of the darkest moments of America and profoundly changed the course of history.

The Deep State Plot Against JFK

The danger of World War and a military coup arose again during the short-lived administration of John F. Kennedy who found himself locked in a life or death struggle not with Russia, but with the Military Industrial Complex that had become dominated by the many Dr. Strangeloves of the Joint Chief of Staff and CIA who fanatically believed that America could win a nuclear war with Russia. Kennedy’s valiant efforts to achieve dialogue with his Soviet counterparts, move towards peace in Vietnam, support of colonial liberation, promotion of space exploration and advocacy of a Nuclear Test Ban treaty made him a target of the Deep State of his time. During this period, this effort was led from the top by JFK’s two most powerful American opponents: Allan Dulles (director of the CIA) and General Lyman Lemnitzer (head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), both of whom were proponents of pre-emptive nuclear war, architects of the Bay of Pigs regime change trap and advocates of Operation Northwoods (an ultimate “inside job” precursor to 9/11 which JFK subverted).

As historian Anton Chaitkin recently reported:

Lemnitzer had displayed what his faction viewed as his qualifications for this role back in August 1960, when, as Army chief of staff, he announced that the Army was all ready to “restore order” in the United States after a nuclear war with the Soviet Union—to bring back normalcy just as the military does after a flood or a riot.

This plot was detailed in a quasi-fictional book written by investigative journalists Fletcher Knebel and Charles Bailey published in 1962 entitled Seven Days in May and swiftly made into a famous film with unprecedented support by JFK himself who gave the film crew and director John Frankenheimer full access to the White House, advisors and materials for the film which he believed every American should see.

In the story, a patriotic lieutenant discovers the plans for the coup which is scheduled to take place during a vast military drill whereby a President who is close to finalizing a de-armament treaty with Russia will be incapacitated in a bunker while a military regime takes over America.

Tragically, where the lieutenant is able to expose the plot and save the nation in the story, by the time of the film’s 1964 release, JFK had been deposed by other means.

Now 56 years later, history has begun to repeat itself with distinctly 21st century characteristics… and a viral twist.

The Stage is Again Set for Martial Law

Another President resistant to regime change and nuclear confrontation with Russia and China finds himself today in the White House in the form of Donald Trump.

As in 1933, today’s financial collapse threatens to rip the social and economic fabric of America to shreds, and just as in 1963 a powerful military industrial complex and private banking system manages a web of power which is devoted to overturning the 2016 election (and 1776 revolution) by any means. The biggest difference today is that a global coronavirus pandemic threatens to be the catalyzer used to justify military dictatorship in America and broader nuclear confrontation with Russia and China.

Instead of names like “Dulles”, or “Lemnitzer”, today’s coup directors feature such names as “Pompeo” and “O’Shawnessy”… both Deep State assets highly positioned in 3rd and 4th place to take over the Presidency at the drop of a hat.

Terrence O’Shawnessy: The Man Who Could Be President

Having slipped silently under the radar four weeks ago, the American Government passed a new emergency protocol into law which vastly expands powers and procedures of Martial Law under “Continuity of Government” which must be taken very seriously. These new protocols deal at length with the triggering of Martial Law should the nation become ungovernable through a variety of foreseeable scenarios that COVID-19 has unleashed, such as “unwanted violence” caused by “food shortage, financial chaos” or also if the President, Vice President and Secretary of State all become incapacitated for any reason.

Even though this act was classified “Above Top Secret” a surprisingly in depth March 18 Newsweek report by William Arkin documented how the “Combat Commander” of U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) will immediately take power as a part of the “Continuity of Government” procedures which took on monstrous dimensions under the control of Dick Cheney in the wake of 9/11. According to Newsweek, the new regulation drafted by the Joint Chiefs states that the military may take control where “duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation” even when “authorization by the President is impossible”. Arkin describes the new protocols for “devolving” leadership to second-tier officials in remote and quarantined locations.”

General O’Shawnessy, (former Deputy of UN Command in Korea) currently doubles as the head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and has devoted his past 14 months to the promotion of a military confrontation over the Arctic which he has described as “the new frontline of our homeland defense” against Russia and China who are “determined to exploit the region’s economic and strategic potential”.

NORTHCOM went operational on October 1, 2002 as part of the Neocon takeover of America. This neocon coup which came to full fruition with 9/11 was governed by a manifesto entitled the Project for a New American Century which laid out a Pax Americana of police state measures at home, regime change abroad and containment of a rising China and Russia under a religious belief in a unipolar world order.

This continental organization interfaces closely with both FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, and was given a wide jurisdiction embracing not only the USA but also Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, acting as “primary defender of an invasion of America”. NORTHCOM interfaces closely with the deep state by hosting personnel from the FBI, CIA, NSA and Defense Intelligence Agency in its headquarters and is responsible for the protection of the President, Vice President and Secretary of State.

Most recently, RT has reported on March 28 that O’Shawnessy has ordered teams of “essential staff” deep into vast bunkers 650 meters below the surface in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado to “wait out the COVID-19 crisis”. Announcing this secretive mission, the General tweeted “Our dedicated professionals of the NORAD and NORTHCOM Command and control watch have left their homes, said goodbye to their families and are isolated from everyone to ensure they can stand watch each and every day to defend our homeland.” 

Other military personnel have been banned from travelling and commanded to stay near their bases ready for action and as of March 30, over 14,600 National Guard forces have been deployed to all 50 states. Although they cannot currently engage in policing due to the 1878 US Posse Comitatus Act, Martial Law would render that provision null and void.

It is also noteworthy that only one day after the Coronavirus was labelled an “international public health emergency” by the World Health Organization on January 30, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved nationwide pandemic plans and warned NORTHCOM to “prepare to deploy“.

This author doesn’t believe it to be a coincidence that patriotic voices who would typically be opposed to such a Martial Law agenda have been taken out of public life due to chaos emerging from the Coronavirus with Senator Ron Paul’s March 22 COVID-19 diagnosis forcing him into quarantine and the politically naive Tulsi Gabbard’s dropping out of the presidential race in order “to be prepared for the national guard duties”. It isn’t very hard to imagine a COVID-19 diagnosis, real or fabricated, to take the President and other members of the government out of office at a moment’s notice.

Time is running out for America and only bold, decisive action taken courageously and swiftly can change the course of self-annihilation upon which the republic now finds itself.

Presidents Xi Jinping and Putin have opened their arms to welcome America and other western nations into their new multipolar system which is built not upon a worship of money or militarism, but rather cooperation and creative mutual growth. Project Airbridge collaboration between China and the USA has begun as a part of the Health Silk Road bringing millions of medical supplies to America. Meanwhile a brilliant coalition of former Latin American heads of State called for the creation of a new just economic order and debt jubilee as a response to the failure of the neoliberal system which shines a principled light out of the current threefold danger of economic collapse, war and Martial Law.

• First published at Strategic Culture Foundation