Open Letter to Peace Activists
Thoughts on Christmas Eve, 2002
The AP story in today's local press (12/24) was headlined, "Activists prepared to protest Iraq strike." If a war breaks out in Iraq, the "peace activists" will be prepared. To do what? Stop the war? Make world peace? No. "Rally meeting places are posted, March routes set, protest signs painted, acts of nonviolent civil disobedience choreographed." That's peace action? After the war starts? But what were you peace activists doing to prevent that start? Did you have to wait for the war to begin your alleged action? Isn't that a bit late and isn't it a blanket confession that you hadn't a clue as to how to prevent it?
Let's clarify one minor point first off. What peace are you Peace Activists interested in? Is it peace between New York and San Francisco, peace between India and Pakistan, peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis? Peace between Muslims and Christians? Or is it, I can hardly conceive it, world peace? Peace between humanity and the nation-state system? You've got to define your overall objective before you take to the streets and the TV cameras and policemen turn on you.
Does your peace action include eliminating war itself? That would indeed be a worthwhile goal but you are all still exclusive national citizens bound by national laws and we all know that "national security" is crisscrossed with laws from the constitution on down. The US government is a giant war machine judging from the military budget.
Then what is all that blather about the sovereignty of the people? I haven't ever read where peace activists have talked about exercising their sovereignty to step out of the national war box, to get out to that clear ground where peace was an effect of law and not simply a belated cause of protest. It's as if you needed war in order to act, a self-fulfilling prophecy. "Give us war, you bloody plunderers, so we can go after you and prove we were right! In San Francisco, (we'll block) traffic in the business district; in St. Louis, (we'll have) a candlelight vigil downtown; in Seattle, (we'll) march on the federal buildings; in New York, (we'll) crowd Times Square with protesters. "You betcha, that'll show them warbirds we mean business!"
Have you learned nothing from history, nothing from society and nothing from yourselves? From history, and especially American history, you should know that, as United States citizens, you have inherited a peace process from the Founders which placed the exercise of popular sovereignty, i.e. political choice, on a level above the potentially warring parties, in other words, the sovereign states. Have you checked out the Bill of Rights lately? Or ever? Madison wrote an amendment which 215 years later lets you add a higher level of citizenship as an inalienable right just as the Founders added national citizenship to their state allegiances. I refer to the Ninth. " .inalienable rights retained by the people." "Inalienable." That mean we've got them because we're human first, not citizens. And, as humans, we can't give them away, nor can they be taken away. But,and here's the BIG catch, we've got to claim them as humans not as Americans. Get it? The Founders first had to recognize then exercise the sovereign right to claim a higher level of government, not as New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians, Marylanders or Virginians but as humans. And what are the first words of the new constitution they wrote: "We, the people ." If that isn't self-evident to you, nothing else will be. But that was 1789 and who studies that far
back in high school or universities. Of course, we, in 2002, live in a "global village" which you can get around in two days whereas those ancients took weeks and months to get from place to place.
Then society itself is based on mutual trustthere's two principle behind that called unity and universalitywithout which it would fly apart in ten seconds flat. And what destroys that trust? Why your revered nation that you're protesting against, the blind leading the blind. Our nation as opposed to your nation. No unity, no universality. Check it out. Gore vidal in Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace has nailed the beginning of our political demise to the White House plunderers.
"Fifty years ago, Harry Truman replaced the old republic with a national-security state whose sole purpose is to wage perpetual wars, hot, cold, and tepid. Exact dates of replacement? February 27, 1947. Place: White House Cabinet Room. Cast: Truman, Undersecretary of state Dean Acheson, a handful of congressional leaders. Republican senator Arthur Vandenberg told Truman that he could have his militarized economy only if he at first 'scared the hell out of the American people' that the Russians were coming. Truman obliged. The perpetual war began, Representative government of, by, and for the people is now a faded memory. Only corporate America enjoys representation by the congresses and presidents that it pays for in an arrangement where no one is entirely accountable because those who have bought the government also own the media. Now, with the revolt of the Praetorian Guard at the Pentagon, we are entering a new and dangerous phase, Although we regularly stigmatize other societies as rogue states, we ourselves have become the largest rogue state of all. We honor no treaties, We spurn international courts We strike unilaterally wherever we choose, We give orders to the United Nations but do not pay our dues, We complain of terrorism, yet our empire is now the greatest terrorist of all. We bomb, invade, subvert other states. Although We the People of the United States are the sole source of legitimate authority in this land, we are no longer represented in Congress Assembled. Our Congress has been hijacked by corporate America and its enforcer, the imperial military machine. We the unrepresnted People of the United State are as much victims of this militarized government as the Panamanians, Iraqis, or Somalians. We have allowed our institutions to be taken over in the name of a globalized American empire that is totally alien in concept to anything our founders had in mind. I suspect that it is far too late in the day for us to restore the republic that we lost a half-century ago."
The AP story continues: "The long buildup to the war is doing wonders for organizing" according to Scott Lynch, spokesman for Peace Action, largest anti-war activism group in the US, claiming 85,000 members in 100 chapters. "Our community now entails a much more moderate and wider swath of America," says Lynch. "it's not a fringe and it's not the old lefties and it's not the kids with purple and nose rings." And apparently, it's not composed of anyone willing to get off their butts before the war starts as citizens of a higher peace order to outrank their national "leaders" before they start the global bloodbath.
"We're trying to be creative about civil disobedience," says Mike Yarrow, an activist of Seattle, "A lot of us want to show our commitment to a peaceful world but don't want to aggravate people by making their drive home more difficult." Heaven forbid! While the bombs are winging homeward overseas with humans crouching in cellars hugging terrified children,
don't aggravate Americans driving home to a nice dinner, TV and a goodnight hug with the missus. And we wonder why the rest of the world hates us!
There was a pitch for "new technology" in the article - email distribution lists, Internet listserver Web sites, cellular phones, pagers and other devices that help get the word out quickly. Bob Fitch of the Santa Cruz Resource Center for Nonviolence, says, "I would say it might be a significant surprise to the government to see how well we are organized." That's like claiming that we prisoners are pretty well organized in this prison and the bloody guards better beware.
Hey, "peace activists," the gates to your national "prison" are open but you refuse to walk out! You were born out! Free! Global! Earth beings! You came from your mother's womb/space into the world/space. Your national chains are of your own making. Ironically, you sit in front of your computers, get online and you're mentally in the world. You turn on the tube before dinner and you get instant satellite news from anywhere on earth. You dial a few numbers on your phone and talk to Aunt Lizzie or Uncle Joe in Hong Kong, Timbucktoo or Wellington. You walk into any post-office and for a few pennies your letter is delivered to any POB in the world. You see pictures of galaxies billions of light years away, And you think nothing of it. Yesterday's miracles are today's banalties. But politically? Your brain does a paradigm shift of 1800 and you're back in the 18th horse-and-buggy, gaslight century. And your brains don't even compute the anomoly! How do I know? Becaue you wilfully, fearfully remain in the nationalistic box all the while complaining how stifling and deadly it is. That's the insidious nature of nationalism, the most deadly educational device ever perpetrated on the human mind. But worse, you're a "good" person, moral, kind, loving, a Christian, Jew or Muslim and you worship one God and all those sages from the past who are revered in churches, temples and mosques. But do their words really matter in today's world? Hell no! Everyone "outside" in the "real" world beyond your tribe/nation is an "alien;" men, women and children are in your nation's jail who don't possess papers with "your" government's seal of approval on them. And so you wait for the war to start before you "activate" your insignificant and totally irrelevant "peace" plans.
There is no "peace action" to take once the war starts. You will be caught up in its maelstorm. For as that Clown-in-Military-Fatigues informed you with a straight face, "Either you're with us or against us." That one sentence should have tipped you off that for national legal plunderers
there is no middle ground. As for solutions to global problems such as war and peace, Emery Reves had it right back in 1945: There is no first step to world government. World Government is the first step*
So, your only appropriate peace action is "up" to the only space above the national myth which is where the real world and humanity already exist. That's where peace, civic peace is awaiting you. It's your human heritage.
You'd better claim it today. Tomorrow maybe too late.
*Anatomy of Peace, Harper & Brothers, 1945
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