Tag Archives: Martin Luther King

The Conspiracy to Kill Martin Luther King Jr:

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deuts...

Martin Luther King leaning on a lectern. Deutsch: 1964: Martin Luther King Português: Martin Luther King (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not a Theory But a Fact, According to Our Own Legal System

From: http://moorbey.wordpress.com/

Original: AlterNet /By Ira Chernus

April 4, 2013  |
Should the United States government be allowed to assassinate its own citizens? That question was in the air briefly not long ago. April 4 is an excellent day to revive it: On April 4, 1968, the government was part of a successful conspiracy to assassinate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
That’s not just some wing-nut conspiracy theory. It’s not a theory at all. It is a fact, according to our legal system.
In 1999, in Shelby County, TennesseeLloyd Jowers was tried before a jury of his peers (made up equally of white and black citizens, if it matters) on the charge of conspiring to kill Dr. King. The jury heard testimony for four full weeks.
On the last day of the trial, the attorney for the King family (which brought suit against Jowers) concluded his summation by saying: “We’re dealing in conspiracy with agents of the City of Memphis and the governments of the State of Tennessee and the United States of America. We ask you to find that conspiracy existed.”
It took the jury only two-and-half hours to reach its verdict: Jowers and “others, including governmental agencies, were parties to this conspiracy.”
I don’t know whether the jury’s verdict reflects the factual truth of what happened on April 4, 1968. Juries have been known to make mistakes and (probably rather more often) juries have made mistakes that remain unknown.
But within our system of government, when a crime is committed it’s a jury, and only a jury, that is entitled to decide on the facts. If a jury makes a mistake, the only way to rectify it is to go back into court and establish a more convincing version of the facts. That’s the job of the judicial branch, not the executive.
So far, no one has gone into court to challenge the verdict on the King assassination.
Yet the version of history most Americans know is very different because it has been shaped much more by the executive than the judicial branch. Right after the jury handed down its verdict, the federal government’s Department of Justice went into high gear, sparing no effort to try to disprove the version of the facts that the jury endorsed — not in a court of law but in the “court” of public opinion.
The government’s effort was immensely successful. Very few Americans are aware the trial ever happened, much less that the jury was convinced of a conspiracy involving the federal government.
To understand why, let’s reflect on how history, as understood by the general public, is made: We take the facts we have, which are rarely complete, and then we fill in the gaps with our imaginations — for the most part, with our hopes and/or fears. The result is a myth: not a lie, but a mixture of proven facts and the fictions spawned by our imaginings.
In this case, we have two basic myths in conflict.
One is a story Americans have been telling since the earliest days of our nation: Back in not-so-merry old England, people could be imprisoned or even executed on the whim of some government official. They had no right to prove their innocence in a fair, impartial court. We fought a bloody war to throw off the British yoke precisely to guarantee ourselves basic rights like the right to a fair trial by a jury of our peers. We would fight again, if need be, to preserve that fundamental right. This story explains why we are supposed to let a jury, and only a jury, determine the facts.
(By odd coincidence, as I was writing this the mail arrived with my summons to serve on a local jury. The website it directed me to urged me to feel “a sense of pride and respect for our system of justice,” because “about 95 percent of all jury trials in the world take place in the United States.”)
Then there’s another myth, a story that says the federal government has only assassinated American citizens who were truly bad people and aimed to do the rest of us harm; the government would never assassinate an innocent citizen. Most Americans devoutly hope this story is true. And most Americans don’t put MLK in the “bad guy” category. So they resist believing what the legal system tells us is true about his death.
Perhaps a lot of Americans would not be too disturbed to learn that the local government in Memphis or even the Tennessee state government were involved. There’s still plenty of prejudice against white Southerners. But the federal government? It’s a thought too shocking for most Americans even to consider. So they fill in the facts with what they want to believe — and the myth of James Earl Ray, “the lone assassin,” lives on, hale and hearty.
Since that’s the popular myth, it’s the one the corporate mass media have always purveyed. After all, their job is to sell newspapers and boost ratings in order to boost profits. Just a few days after the trial ended the New York Times, our “newspaper of record,” went to great lengths to cast doubt on the verdict and assure readers, in its headline, that the trial would have “little effect” — an accurate, though self-fufilling, prophecy.
Imagine if the accused had been not a white southerner but a black man, with known ties not to the government but to the Black Panther Party. You can bet that the trial verdict would have been bannered on every front page; the conspiracy would be known to every American and enshrined in every history book as the true version of events.
None of this necessarily means that the federal government and the mass media are covering up actual facts. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. Again, I don’t claim to know what really happened on April 4, 1968.
But there surely were people in the federal government who thought they had good reason to join a conspiracy to get rid of Dr. King. He was deep into planning for the Poor People’s Campaign, which would bring poor folks of every race and ethnicity to Washington, DC. The plan was to have them camp out on the Mall until the government enacted major economic reforms to lift everyone out of poverty. That meant redistributing wealth — an idea that made perfect sense to Dr. King, who was a harsh critic of the evils of capitalism (as well as communism).
It also meant uniting whites and non-whites in the lower income brackets, to persuade them that the suffering they shared in common was stronger than the racial prejudice that divided them. Dr. King did not have to be a prophet to foresee that the longer whites blamed non-whites, rather than the rich, for their troubles, the easier it would be to block measures for redistributing wealth. The unifying effect of the Poor People’s Campaign spelled trouble for those whose wealth might be redistributed.
At the same time, Dr. King was the most famous and respected critic of the war in Vietnam. By 1968 he was constantly preaching that the war was not just a tragic mistake. It was the logical outgrowth of the American way of life, based on what he called the inextricably linked “triplets” of militarism, racism, and materialism. Had he lived, the Poor People’s Campaign would have become a powerful vehicle for attacking all three and showing just how inseparable they are.
Yes, plenty of people in the federal government thought they had good reason to put an end to the work of Dr. King. But that hardly proves federal government complicity in a conspiracy to kill him.
So let’s assume for a moment, just for the sake of argument, that the jury was wrong, that James Earl Ray did the shooting and acted alone. The federal government would still have good reasons to suppress the conspiracy myth. Essentially, all those reasons boil down to a matter of trust. There is already immense mistrust of the federal government. Imagine if everyone knew, and every history book said, that our legal system has established as fact the government’s complicity in the assassination.
If the federal government has a convincing argument that the jury was wrong, we all deserve to hear it. There’s little advantage to having such uncertainty hanging in the air after 45 years. But the government should make its argument in open court, in front of a jury of our peers.
In America, we have only one way to decide the facts of guilt or innocence: not through the media or gossip or imagination, but through the slowly grinding machinery of the judicial system. At least that’s the story I want to believe.


The Man Who Should Be President

From: Chuck Baldwin

Today, I am going to do something that I have never done: I am going to devote virtually my entire column to posting another man’s words. That man is the man who should be President of the United States: Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. The following is a written transcript of a speech Dr. Paul gave on the floor of the US House of Representatives back in 2007. Had Congressman Paul been elected President in 2008, the country would be four years into the greatest economic, political, and, yes, spiritual recovery in the history of America. As it is, the US is on the brink of totalitarianism and economic ruin. And you can mark it down, four years from now it won’t matter to a tinker’s dam whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney was elected President this November. Neither man has the remotest understanding of America’s real problems nor the courage and backbone to do anything about it if they did understand.

Read the following. This is a man who understands the Constitution. This is a man who understands sound economic principles. This is a man who understands liberty and freedom. This is a man who has the guts to tell the truth. This is a man who has put his life and career on the line for the principles of liberty for more than two decades. This is a man who has returned every dollar that he has been paid as a US congressman to the taxpayers. This is the man who should be President of the United States.

[Ron Paul’s speech begins here]

 For some, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. For others, it means dissent against a government’s abuse of the people’s rights.

I have never met a politician in Washington or any American, for that matter, who chose to be called unpatriotic. Nor have I met anyone who did not believe he wholeheartedly supported our troops, wherever they may be.

What I have heard all too frequently from various individuals are sharp accusations that, because their political opponents disagree with them on the need for foreign military entanglements, they were unpatriotic, un-American evildoers deserving contempt.

The original American patriots were those individuals brave enough to resist with force the oppressive power of King George. I accept the definition of patriotism as that effort to resist oppressive state power.

The true patriot is motivated by a sense of responsibility and out of self-interest for himself, his family, and the future of his country to resist government abuse of power. He rejects the notion that patriotism means obedience to the state. Resistance need not be violent, but the civil disobedience that might be required involves confrontation with the state and invites possible imprisonment.

Peaceful, nonviolent revolutions against tyranny have been every bit as successful as those involving military confrontation. Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., achieved great political successes by practicing nonviolence, and yet they suffered physically at the hands of the state. But whether the resistance against government tyrants is nonviolent or physically violent, the effort to overthrow state oppression qualifies as true patriotism.

True patriotism today has gotten a bad name, at least from the government and the press. Those who now challenge the unconstitutional methods of imposing an income tax on us, or force us to use a monetary system designed to serve the rich at the expense of the poor are routinely condemned. These American patriots are sadly looked down upon by many. They are never praised as champions of liberty as Gandhi and Martin Luther King have been.

Liberals, who withhold their taxes as a protest against war, are vilified as well, especially by conservatives. Unquestioned loyalty to the state is especially demanded in times of war. Lack of support for a war policy is said to be unpatriotic. Arguments against a particular policy that endorses a war, once it is started, are always said to be endangering the troops in the field. This, they blatantly claim, is unpatriotic, and all dissent must stop. Yet, it is dissent from government policies that defines the true patriot and champion of liberty.

It is conveniently ignored that the only authentic way to best support the troops is to keep them out of dangerous undeclared no-win wars that are politically inspired. Sending troops off to war for reasons that are not truly related to national security and, for that matter, may even damage our security, is hardly a way to patriotically support the troops.

Who are the true patriots, those who conform or those who protest against wars without purpose? How can it be said that blind support for a war, no matter how misdirected the policy, is the duty of a patriot?

Randolph Bourne said that, “War is the health of the state.” With war, he argued, the state thrives. Those who believe in the powerful state see war as an opportunity. Those who mistrust the people and the market for solving problems have no trouble promoting a “war psychology” to justify the expansive role of the state. This includes the role the Federal Government plays in our lives, as well as in our economic transactions.

Certainly, the neoconservative belief that we have a moral obligation to spread American values worldwide through force justifies the conditions of war in order to rally support at home for the heavy hand of government. It is through this policy, it should surprise no one, that our liberties are undermined. The economy becomes overextended, and our involvement worldwide becomes prohibited. Out of fear of being labeled unpatriotic, most of the citizens become compliant and accept the argument that some loss of liberty is required to fight the war in order to remain safe.

This is a bad trade-off, in my estimation, especially when done in the name of patriotism. Loyalty to the state and to autocratic leaders is substituted for true patriotism; that is, a willingness to challenge the state and defend the country, the people and the culture. The more difficult the times, the stronger the admonition comes that the leaders be not criticized.

Because the crisis atmosphere of war supports the growth of the state, any problem invites an answer by declaring war, even on social and economic issues. This elicits patriotism in support of various government solutions, while enhancing the power of the state. Faith in government coercion and a lack of understanding of how free societies operate encourages big-government liberals and big-government conservatives to manufacture a war psychology to demand political loyalty for domestic policy just as is required in foreign affairs.

The long-term cost in dollars spent and liberties lost is neglected as immediate needs are emphasized. It is for this reason that we have multiple perpetual wars going on simultaneously. Thus, the war on drugs, the war against gun ownership, the war against poverty, the war against illiteracy, the war against terrorism, as well as our foreign military entanglements are endless.

All this effort promotes the growth of statism at the expense of liberty. A government designed for a free society should do the opposite, prevent the growth of statism and preserve liberty.

Once a war of any sort is declared, the message is sent out not to object or you will be declared unpatriotic. Yet, we must not forget that the true patriot is the one who protests in spite of the consequences. Condemnation or ostracism or even imprisonment may result.

Nonviolent protesters of the Tax Code are frequently imprisoned, whether they are protesting the code’s unconstitutionality or the war that the tax revenues are funding. Resisters to the military draft or even to Selective Service registration are threatened and imprisoned for challenging this threat to liberty.

Statism depends on the idea that the government owns us and citizens must obey. Confiscating the fruits of our labor through the income tax is crucial to the health of the state. The draft, or even the mere existence of the Selective Service, emphasizes that we will march off to war at the state’s pleasure.

A free society rejects all notions of involuntary servitude, whether by draft or the confiscation of the fruits of our labor through the personal income tax. A more sophisticated and less well-known technique for enhancing the state is the manipulation and transfer of wealth through the fiat monetary system operated by the secretive Federal Reserve.

Protesters against this unconstitutional system of paper money are considered unpatriotic criminals and at times are imprisoned for their beliefs. The fact that, according to the Constitution, only gold and silver are legal tender and paper money outlawed matters little. The principle of patriotism is turned on its head. Whether it’s with regard to the defense of welfare spending at home, confiscatory income tax, or an immoral monetary system or support for a war fought under false pretense without a legal declaration, the defenders of liberty and the Constitution are portrayed as unpatriotic, while those who support these programs are seen as the patriots.

If there is a war going on, supporting the state’s effort to win the war is expected at all costs, no dissent. The real problem is that those who love the state too often advocate policies that lead to military action. At home, they are quite willing to produce a crisis atmosphere and claim a war is needed to solve the problem. Under these conditions, the people are more willing to bear the burden of paying for the war and to carelessly sacrifice liberties, which they are told is necessary.

The last 6 years have been quite beneficial to the health of the state, which comes at the expense of personal liberty. Every enhanced unconstitutional power of the state can only be achieved at the expense of individual liberty. Even though in every war in which we have been engaged civil liberties have suffered, some have been restored after the war ended, but never completely. That has resulted in a steady erosion of our liberties over the past 200 years. Our government was originally designed to protect our liberties, but it has now, instead, become the usurper of those liberties.

We currently live in the most difficult of times for guarding against an expanding central government with a steady erosion of our freedoms. We are continually being reminded that 9/11 has changed everything.

Unfortunately, the policy that needed most to be changed, that is, our policy of foreign interventionism, has only been expanded. There is no pretense any longer that a policy of humility in foreign affairs, without being the world’s policemen and engaging in nation building, is worthy of consideration.

We now live in a post-9/11 America where our government is going to make us safe no matter what it takes. We are expected to grin and bear it and adjust to every loss of our liberties in the name of patriotism and security.

Though the majority of Americans initially welcomed the declared effort to make us safe, and we are willing to sacrifice for the cause, more and more Americans are now becoming concerned about civil liberties being needlessly and dangerously sacrificed.

The problem is that the Iraq war continues to drag on, and a real danger of it spreading exists. There is no evidence that a truce will soon be signed in Iraq or in the war on terror or the war on drugs. Victory is not even definable. If Congress is incapable of declaring an official war, it is impossible to know when it will end. We have been fully forewarned that the world conflict in which we are now engaged will last a long, long time.

The war mentality and the pervasive fear of an unidentified enemy allows for a steady erosion of our liberties, and, with this, our respect for self-reliance and confidence is lost. Just think of the self-sacrifice and the humiliation we go through at the airport screening process on a routine basis. Though there is no scientific evidence of any likelihood of liquids and gels being mixed on an airplane to make a bomb, billions of dollars are wasted throwing away toothpaste and hair spray, and searching old women in wheelchairs.

Our enemies say boo, and we jump, we panic, and then we punish ourselves. We are worse than a child being afraid of the dark. But in a way, the fear of indefinable terrorism is based on our inability to admit the truth about why there is a desire by a small number of angry radical Islamists to kill Americans. It is certainly not because they are jealous of our wealth and freedoms.

We fail to realize that the extremists, willing to sacrifice their own lives to kill their enemies, do so out of a sense of weakness and desperation over real and perceived attacks on their way of life, their religion, their country, and their natural resources. Without the conventional diplomatic or military means to retaliate against these attacks, and an unwillingness of their own government to address the issue, they resort to the desperation tactic of suicide terrorism. Their anger toward their own governments, which they believe are coconspirators with the American Government, is equal to or greater than that directed toward us.

These errors in judgment in understanding the motive of the enemy and the constant fear that is generated have brought us to this crisis where our civil liberties and privacy are being steadily eroded in the name of preserving national security.

We may be the economic and the military giant of the world, but the effort to stop this war on our liberties here at home in the name of patriotism is being lost.

The erosion of our personal liberties started long before 9/11, but 9/11 accelerated the process. There are many things that motivate those who pursue this course, both well-intentioned and malevolent, but it would not happen if the people remained vigilant, understood the importance of individual rights, and were unpersuaded that a need for security justifies the sacrifice for liberty, even if it is just now and then.

The true patriot challenges the state when the state embarks on enhancing its power at the expense of the individual. Without a better understanding and a greater determination to rein in the state, the rights of Americans that resulted from the revolutionary break from the British and the writing of the Constitution will disappear.

The record since September 11th is dismal. Respect for liberty has rapidly deteriorated. Many of the new laws passed after 9/11 had, in fact, been proposed long before that attack. The political atmosphere after that attack simply made it more possible to pass such legislation. The fear generated by 9/11 became an opportunity for those seeking to promote the power of the state domestically, just as it served to falsely justify the long-planned invasion of Iraq.

The war mentality was generated by the Iraq war in combination with the constant drumbeat of fear at home. Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, who is now likely residing in Pakistan, our supposed ally, are ignored, as our troops fight and die in Iraq and are made easier targets for the terrorists in their backyard. While our leaders constantly use the mess we created to further justify the erosion of our constitutional rights here at home, we forget about our own borders and support the inexorable move toward global government, hardly a good plan for America.

The accelerated attacks on liberty started quickly after 9/11. Within weeks, the PATRIOT Act was overwhelmingly passed by Congress. Though the final version was unavailable up to a few hours before the vote, no Member had sufficient time to study it. Political fear of not doing something, even something harmful, drove the Members of Congress to not question the contents, and just voted for it. A little less freedom for a little more perceived safety was considered a fair trade-off, and the majority of Americans applauded.

The PATRIOT Act, though, severely eroded the system of checks and balances by giving the government the power to spy on law-abiding citizens without judicial supervision. The several provisions that undermine the liberties of all Americans include sneak-and-peek searches, a broadened and more vague definition of domestic terrorism, allowing the FBI access to library and bookstore records without search warrants or probable cause, easier FBI initiation of wiretaps and searches, as well as roving wiretaps, easier access to information on American citizens’ use of the Internet, and easier access to e-mail and financial records of all American citizens.

The attack on privacy has not relented over the past 6 years. The Military Commissions Act is a particularly egregious piece of legislation and, if not repealed, will change America for the worse as the powers unconstitutionally granted to the executive branch are used and abused. This act grants excessive authority to use secretive military commissions outside of places where active hostilities are going on. The Military Commissions Act permits torture, arbitrary detention of American citizens as unlawful enemy combatants at the full discretion of the President and without the right of habeas corpus, and warrantless searches by the NSA. It also gives to the President the power to imprison individuals based on secret testimony.

Since 9/11, Presidential signing statements designating portions of legislation that the President does not intend to follow, though not legal under the Constitution, have enormously multiplied. Unconstitutional Executive Orders are numerous and mischievous and need to be curtailed.

Extraordinary rendition to secret prisons around the world have been widely engaged in, though obviously extralegal.

A growing concern in the post-9/11 environment is the Federal Government’s list of potential terrorists based on secret evidence. Mistakes are made, and sometimes it is virtually impossible to get one’s name removed even though the accused is totally innocent of any wrongdoing.

A national ID card is now in the process of being implemented. It is called the REAL ID card, and it is tied to our Social Security numbers and our State driver’s license. If REAL ID is not stopped, it will become a national driver’s license ID for all Americans. We will be required to carry our papers.

Some of the least-noticed and least-discussed changes in the law were the changes made to the Insurrection Act of 1807 and to posse comitatus by the Defense Authorization Act of 2007. These changes pose a threat to the survival of our Republic by giving the President the power to declare martial law for as little reason as to restore public order. The 1807 act severely restricted the President in his use of the military within the United States borders, and the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 strengthened these restrictions with strict oversight by Congress. The new law allows the President to circumvent the restrictions of both laws. The Insurrection Act has now become the “Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act.” This is hardly a title that suggests that the authors cared about or understood the nature of a constitutional Republic.

Now, martial law can be declared not just for insurrection, but also for natural disasters, public health reasons, terrorist attacks or incidents, or for the vague reason called “other conditions.” The President can call up the National Guard without congressional approval or the Governors’ approval, and even send these State Guard troops into other States.

The American Republic is in remnant status. The stage is set for our country eventually devolving into a military dictatorship, and few seem to care. These precedent-setting changes in the law are extremely dangerous and will change American jurisprudence forever if not revised. The beneficial results of our revolt against the King’s abuses are about to be eliminated, and few Members of Congress and few Americans are aware of the seriousness of the situation. Complacency and fear drive our legislation without any serious objection by our elected leaders. Sadly, though, those few who do object to this self-evident trend away from personal liberty and empire-building overseas are portrayed as unpatriotic and uncaring.

Though welfare and socialism always fails, opponents of them are said to lack compassion. Though opposition to totally unnecessary war should be the only moral position, the rhetoric is twisted to claim that patriots who oppose the war are not supporting the troops. The cliché “Support the Troops” is incessantly used as a substitute for the unacceptable notion of supporting the policy, no matter how flawed it may be.

Unsound policy can never help the troops. Keeping the troops out of harm’s way and out of wars unrelated to our national security is the only real way of protecting the troops. With this understanding, just who can claim the title of “patriot”?

Before the war in the Middle East spreads and becomes a world conflict for which we will be held responsible, or the liberties of all Americans become so suppressed we can no longer resist, much has to be done. Time is short, but our course of action should be clear. Resistance to illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of our rights is required. Each of us must choose which course of action we should take: education, conventional political action, or even peaceful civil disobedience to bring about necessary changes.

But let it not be said that we did nothing. Let not those who love the power of the welfare/warfare state label the dissenters of authoritarianism as unpatriotic or uncaring. Patriotism is more closely linked to dissent than it is to conformity and a blind desire for safety and security. Understanding the magnificent rewards of a free society makes us unbashful in its promotion, fully realizing that maximum wealth is created and the greatest chance for peace comes from a society respectful of individual liberty.

 [Ron Paul’s speech ends here]

There it is. The speech Dr. Paul gave in 2007 seems even more relevant today than it did then. Don’t you think?

You want to elect a real American statesman? You want to elect a man who would preserve liberty and freedom in America? You want to elect a man who would resist the devilish New World Order? You want to elect a man who would reestablish sound economic principles? If so, you will vote to elect Ron Paul as President of the United States. (And, no, no one has paid me a penny to post his speech or make this endorsement.)

Forget all the smoke and mirrors and the dog and pony shows that you see and hear from the other Presidential candidates. The issues that Dr. Paul addressed in this speech are the issues that are going to determine our country’s future. Again, this is the man who should be President of the United States.

And please visit my web site for past columns and much more at:

http://chuckbaldwinlive.com

© Chuck Baldwin


NON-VIOLENCE AND DECENTRALIZATION

*

http://www.carolmoore.net

By Carol Moore

Revised version. Original published in 1985 in The Peacemaker, Peace Conversion Times and the Green Letter.

Mahatma Gandhi often said that non-violence and freedom are inextricably intertwined.  In the first half of the twentieth century he wrote: “The attainment of freedom, whether for a man, a nation or the world, must be in actual proportion to the attainment of non-violence by each.”   And he held that: “No action which is not voluntary can be called moral….Any action that is dictated by fear or by coercion of any kind ceases to be moral….Freedom of the individual is at the root of all progress.”  Gandhi believed in these principles so much that he advocated that whatever laws were decided upon should be enforced only by non-violent police and that armies should be organized by non-violent methods.  (For Gandhi quotes on these ideas,click here.)
As I will discuss below, more and more non-violent theorists and activists are exploring the full implications of organizing society by principles of non-violence  And many of these theorists are coming to the inalterable conclusion that Gandhi was right–freedom and non-violence are two sides of the same coin. Moreover, they are recognizing that without the threat of brute military and police violence, most great nation states would break up into much smaller political entities; that without violent coercion decision-making would be dispersed widely among individuals, groups and self-governing communities and cities; that organizing society by principles of non-violence would decentralize power throughout society.

Superiority of Non-Violent Action
Gandhi, Martin Luther King, numerous activists and non-violent scholars like Gene Sharp (author of “The Politics of Non-Violent Action” and “National Security through Civilian-based Defense”) and Barbara Bondurant (“The Conquest of Violence”) have argued and illustrated the superiority of non-violent to violent action.
The purpose of non-violent action is to withdraw consent from government or other authorities, rather than wrest power from them.  Therefore it fosters dialogue and education and allows maximum participation by everyone in society. Non-violence heightens the moral superiority of the actionists in the eyes of the general public–especially if the authorities respond to their sincere and open protest with violence.  Even members of the ruling classes can be swayed to sympathy by such non-violent actions.  Police and soldiers wooed with sound political arguments and non-violent demonstrations are more likely to come over to the side of the activists than ones afraid of being shot and killed by protesters.
Political violence harms groups and movements.  It destroys public sympathy, reinforces public prejudices against activists, invites police infiltration and harassment, and gives the state an excuse to arrest, imprison and even kill innocent activists and bystanders. Even advocacy of violence can have a detrimental effect on organizing since it divides and demoralizes activists and provides the government and media an excuse to attack the advocates.
Violent action usually is practiced predominantly by angry young men, often with military training, who often become as ruthless towards other dissidents as they do towards the oppressor.  These days the most vocal advocates of violence are often government provocateurs.  When violent revolutionaries take power, their regimes usually are as ruthless as their revolutions.
Non-violent non-cooperation by large numbers of people is more disruptive to the state than violence by smaller numbers; violence only permits the state to enhance its power. Overall, non-violent action results in the least loss of life and property, the least destruction of the social fabric and the greatest assurance that post-resistance society will be free and peaceful.
In the last twenty years relatively non-violent mass movement–“people power”– overthrew the Shah in Iran, Marcos in the Philippines, apartheid in South Africa, Suharto in Indonesia, and brought about freedom for Eastern Europe and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  Most of these activists were at least aware of the success of the efforts of Gandhi and Martin Luther King.  Some leaders of these movements studied or were trained in non-violence .  Today, organizations like Non-violence International, International War Resisters League and Peacekeepers International are continuing to spread these ideas and strategies worldwide.

Non-Violent Civilian-Based Defense
Influenced by the writings and efforts of Gene Sharp and organizations like the Civilian-Based Defense Association, and impressed by the successes of non-violent action in recent revolutions, even the Swedish, German and French governments have studied the concept of non-violent civilian based defense.  This a broadening and updating of Gandhi’s notion of “non-violent armies.”  National militaries would be supplemented and even largely replaced by training all citizens in organizing economic, political and social non-cooperation.  The object would be to destroy an invader’s ability to control the populace and to undermine its troops’ morale.  In 1968, unorganized Czechs managed to do this to their Russian invaders for a number of months, bolstering non-violent actionists’ hopes that an organized and determined populace would deter any invasion.

Non-Violent Conflict Resolution
In the last twenty years non-violent activists in a variety of movements have begun to focus on non-violent conflict resolution not only between nations but on the interpersonal level between individuals, between warring gangs in the inner cities, between religious, racial, ethnic and lifestyle groups, and even within their own groups.  (As one activist said, “A pacifist is a person who can go to a peace meeting and not get in a fight.”)
Conflict between individuals, groups and communities is inevitable–but bad will, bad mouthing, sabotage, destruction of property and violence are not.  Gandhi contended that there is some truth in both or all sides of a conflict and that only through non-violence can we appreciate and tolerate differing views of truth–or come to an understanding of a greater truth.  Opponents must be recognized as potential allies, and all sides must search for resolutions that are mutually satisfying, “win-win”ones.  Of course, various forms of protest may be necessary to impress the “opponent” with the seriousness and sincerity of one’s claims or to convince them to enter into negotiations.  But negotiations are the goal.

Non-Violent Sanctions
Many non-violent actionists have gone to the next step.  They have come to regard all political conflict over laws, regulations and taxes as conflicts to be resolved non-violently, not as issues to be settled by the vote of the majority (usually the defacto will of special interests) and enforced by the threat of police violence, confiscation of property and imprisonment.
Non-violent activist groups have long used consensus-oriented decision-making in their groups to ensure the maximum of support for policies, strategies and actions.  Many of their members have come to realize that the same principle must be applied to politics–only laws, regulations and taxes supported by the overwhelming majority of people should be imposed.  Only those basic community services supported by overwhelming majorities would be provided, since the collection of taxes for them would no longer be enforced through the threat of police violence.  Non-violent resistance to such laws, rules or taxes would be a respected component of ongoing community debate.
Police violence, like individual violence, would be reserved only for defense of self or others from physical violence.  Public courts and police would still deal with such universally deplored acts as murder, assault, pollution, theft and fraud.  However, police would be, as Gandhi said, “a body of reformers…composed of believers in non-violence .  They will be servants, not masters.”  To deal with minor offenses, police would use education, verbal persuasion and publicly.  If that was ineffective, they might organize citizen picketing or boycott.  More serious crimes might result in ostracizing or expelling the individual from the community.  (This is one variation on the polycentric law idea I detail at length in Non-Violent Secessionist Strategies.)
Non-violent sanctions are based on trust that humans who share the consciousness that violence is illegitimate (except in extreme circumstances of self-defense) and are taught from childhood the many subtle and creative ways of attaining their goals without using violence, will rarely resort to it.  To connect two popular sayings, if “violence begets violence” then “the only way to peace, is peace itself!” Otherwise we become willing co-creators of our violence-wracked system.  As Gandhi said, “Every citizen silently, but never the less certainly, sustains the government of the day in ways of which he has no knowledge.  Every citizen, therefore, renders himself responsible for every act of his government.”

Non-Violence and Decentralization
It is easily arguable why “complete non-violence ” would lead to political and economic decentralization.  Most centralized governments and nation sates were formed from a number of formerly autonomous communities, cities and regions through armed conquest.  Some were formed hundreds of years ago–others only in the last few decades.  Their different ethnic, racial, religious and national groups are held together by nationalist jingoism, government subsidies, and the threat of terrible military vengeance against secessionists.
Nevertheless, secessionist sentiments, activities and demands to be completely free of centralized control have escalated worldwide.  When I first wrote this piece in 1985 I wrote ”Eastern European and Asian people seek to free themselves from Soviet control.”  They did so in 1989, and non-violently.  In fact, it was non-violent change in Czechoslovakia (which itself later peacefully divided into two nations) that became known as the “Velvet Revolution.”
However, Yugoslavia’s power-mad leader replied to Croatia and Bosnia’s attempts to secede from Yugoslavia with ethnic hatred and “ethnic cleansing” by the militarily superior Serbs.  Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda and other African nations remain rife with racial, religious and tribal violence between communities forced into artificial “nation states,” first by colonists and later by repressive dictators.  Many of Indonesia’s thousands of Islands could decide to go their separate way. India, which contains hundreds of religious, linguistic and ethnic groups, continually suppresses its separatist factions.  Closer to home, should Quebec finally vote to secede, it is likely British Columbia might do so as well, breaking up a nation right at our borders.  And it is clear that demographic, social and economic factors already are dividing America. Only the smallest and most culturally and politically homogenous nations could be held together if they had to rely on non-violent sanctions and non-violent armies or civilian-based defense.
Once free of the fear of violence from centralized authorities, decentralization would probably proceed quite rapidly as counties seceded from states, cities from counties and even neighborhoods from cities. The concept of “neighborhood power” would become a reality.  Innumerable experiments with non-violent governance would be tried and those which proved most successful would become most popular. Networking and confederations between neighborhoods, communities, cities and regions would be necessary to deal with common problems and resolve conflicts. But without massive military violence, there could be no return to the centralization of the past.
There is no doubt that we will live in times of mounting economic, political and military crisis, which will further undermine the credibility of established institutions and open more people to radical change.  And we may yet experience a devastating nuclear exchange that will destroy the great nuclear powers.  If pacifists and decentralists are not ready with new visions equal to the crisis and disasters we face, we can be sure that demagogues of all stripes will be.  It is a matter of human responsibility that we re-think our politics and create thorough and credible non-violent alternatives–in full light of their decentralist implications.

The Courage to Choose Non-Violence
Those of us who believe that humans should conduct our affairs non-violently should not be afraid of the radically decentralist implications of our beliefs.  Rather we should explore them and even emphasize them, as do Gandhians, anarchist pacifists, libertarians, and many Greens, eco-feminists and bioregionalists.  They oppose the structural violence of large nation states.
Many who say they are committed to non-violence and non-violent conflict resolution merely use non-violent action to strengthen state power–and the state’s excuses for, and ability to use, violence against citizens. This includes activists in the feminist, environmentalist, labor, anti-racism and bigotry, anti-corporate, and social welfare movements.  Perhaps the epitome of this hypocrisy is the gun control movement which calls for heavily armed federal agents to assault, arrest and imprison Americans who refuse to give up the ever-growing list of proscribed weapons. In fact, it is the fear of such a vicious and powerful state that is causing freedom-lovers to arm themselves so heavily.
Meanwhile too many pro-freedom activists who challenge the growing state power and violence believe the old saw that there are only two political alternatives, the ballot or the bullet. (A statement with which leftist who advocate violence also agree.)  Freedom lovers must take the step their “liberal opponents” have taken: learn the effectiveness of non-violent action and conflict resolution in social, economic, and political protest and resistance.
Members of groups left and right must learn more about non-violent conflict resolution between individuals, groups and nations, about non-violent civilian-based defense against political repression and foreign invasion, and about non-violent sanctions as the alternative to violent sanctions in enforcing rules and laws.
And having learned about those they may finally come to the conclusion that Gandhi did–that only the voluntary society is moral and that the essence of human enlightenment is organizing our affairs in a voluntary manner without the ever present threat of state violence.  As Gandhi said, the only way to peace is peace itself.

Copyright 1998 by Carol Moore.  Permission to reprint freely granted, provided the article is reprinted in full and that any reprint is accompanied by this copyright statement and the URL http://www.carolmoore.net


The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee

* Dr. Stuart Jean Bramhill wrote a comment on one of my recent posts. I decided to promote her book here as her story is very telling. Her struggles with American Intelligence are frightening and should give all of us pause. This country has been taken over by liars, thieves and thugs. At some point the American people will come to see it. Hopefully, it will not be too late. What follows is a review from Amazon. I am providing links to there as well as to her publishers’ site if you prefer to purchase direct or want an e-book version. Please purchase her book if these types of things interests you at all . Whether you agree with her politics is irrelevant since we are supposed to live in a free country where one is free to choose one’s political and religious beliefs. Her experiences should awaken us all that we need to act. (E) Clicking on the image will take you to the Amazon page. *

Follow this link if you prefer the e-book or want to buy directly from the publisher: Strategic Publishing Group Her is the link to her blog: http://stuartbramhall.aegauthorblogs.com/

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Finally here is a review from Amazon:

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A Psychiatrist Searches for Sanity in a Crazy World,

August 12, 2010

By Michael David Morrissey (Germany)
This review is from: The Most Revolutionary Act: Memoir of an American Refugee (Paperback)

This is a frightening book. Much of it reads like a thriller, but unfortunately it is a true story. Dr. Stuart Jeanne Bramhill, a woman (despite the unusual first name) and a psychiatrist, describes her 15-year long mental, emotional and physical ordeal resulting from her involvement in leftist activist politics in Seattle, Washington. Beginning in 1986, says Bramhall, “for some unknown reason, some faceless higher-up in one of the eleven federal agencies that spy on American citizens decided I posed a threat to national security,” and from then on she was subjected to phone harassment, wiretaps, break-ins, and even attempts on her life. Since she was never able to prove any of this (and how does one prove it?), she was also confronted with the disbelief of her own professional colleagues, who were quick to diagnose her as “psychotic” and gave her the choice of losing her medical license or spending a week in a locked ward at a mental hospital for observation. She chose the latter, though she continued to be misdiagnosed and over-medicated, which exacerbated her mental torment and had serious physical side-effects that lasted for years afterward. Bramhall learned the hard way that her fellow medical professionals were the last people in the world she could be honest with about her feelings of persecution: “The moment I mentioned the CIA, my psychiatrist decided I was psychotic and refused to listen anything else I said… Nelson’s erroneous diagnosis stemmed from pure political naiveté. He had no reason to come in contact with political or union activists, unemployed whistleblowers or the low-income street people that the police, and, I believed, U.S. intelligence, recruited as informants. Nevertheless, I had no confidence in any of my colleagues to objectively assess my mental state. I practiced in a totally different world from other Seattle psychiatrists, who automatically turned away patients who couldn’t afford their one hundred dollar fee.” Bramhall was never more than a “lukewarm radical”: “I was a very late bloomer politically. Despite my early disenchantment with the “establishment,” as we called it in the sixties and seventies, it never occurred to me to blame political factors for my chronic sense of loneliness, alienation, and unmet emotional and social needs.” At thirty-five, she “fell into Marxism almost by accident” when a medical colleague invited her to join CISPES (Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, formed in 1981 to protest Reagan’s covert war against El Salvador). Marxism helped her “make sense for the first time of a political system riddled with contradictions,” but she “never accepted the need for violent revolution to overthrow capitalism.” This would have been enough, I think, to have alienated her from most of her colleagues, since it must be as almost as hard to be a “Marxist” psychiatrist in the U.S. as it was to a “capitalist” one in the former Soviet Union, where political deviance was routinely equated with psychosis. But Bramhall crossed a number of other tripwires in her efforts to combine political activism with her profession, the most conspicuous one being the color line. As a white woman who actively pursued her profession, as well as social and political associations, in the African American community, she became involved with other activists whose motivations, she came to suspect, were not as innocent or transparent as her own. One of her early acquaintances, a former Black Panther called Jabari Sisulu, put it succinctly: “White professionals who fraternize with black radicals are at much greater risk than I am.” Bramhall’s story is testimony to the truth of this statement. Over the years, as she continued to participate in local activist projects like the effort to turn an abandoned school building in Seattle into an African American museum and cultural center, Bramhall broadened her political consciousness by reading about the assassination of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King, Cointelpro, AIDS, and more recently, 9/11 — in short, by delving into the immense body of literature dealing with the facts and evidence about such topics that continues to be systematically suppressed by the mainstream press and dismissed as “conspiracy theory” but which is now readily accessible on the internet. At some points, her activities at the “micro” level intersected, perhaps with consequences, with the “macro” level (my terms), such as her association with Edna Laidlow, who claimed to be the lover of the “umbrella man” at Dealey Plaza who supposedly gave the signal to begin the shooting of JFK. She also suspects that her effort to publicize an ulcer drug called “Tagomet” [sic, presumably Tagamet] as a treatment for AIDS may have triggered a covert response. The reader, like Bramhall herself, waits in vain for any resolution of the question of who was harassing her and why. This is hardly surprising, since none of the issues at the “macro” level have been resolved either. Despite the ever-increasing mountain of evidence of government involvement in multitudinous conspiracies (“plans by more than one person to do bad things”) against “the people,” both domestic and foreign, the steadfast response of both government and mainstream press, which are in this respect identical, remains the same. It is not denial — which would require facts and arguments — but silence. Thus Bramhall leaves us, at the end of the book in 2002, having emigrated to New Zealand in hope of starting a new life at a healthy distance from the “insidious pseudo-culture” of the U.S. public relations industry and “stranglehold of the U.S. military and U.S. intelligence.” I wish her luck, and as an longtime ex-pat myself I can say that she made a rational decision. I too am a kind of “American Refugee,” as Bramhall subtitles her memoir. Fortunately, I never experienced the kind of personal harassment she did, but reading her book gives me a strong sense of “there but for fortune.” I could have easily gone the way of Stuart Bramhall, just as I could have ended up in Vietnam or (more likely) in Canada fleeing the draft. But I got lucky. First of all, I was lucky enough to realize early on that the Vietnam war was insane, and secondly, I found a psychiatrist who shared my view. (He called it a “mass neurosis,” which I thought a gross understatement, but it served my purpose of escaping the draft.) I did not leave the U.S. for political reasons, however. I left, in 1977, because even armed with a Ph.D. (in linguistics), I couldn’t get a decent job. So I guess I was an economic “refugee.” (Part of Bramhall’s motive for emigrating was also economic, her medical practice having suffered under cutbacks in Medicare and Medicaid in the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations.) I was, obviously, opposed to the Vietnam war, but I did not become “radicalized” until much later, in 1988, when I was older than Bramhall was when she turned to Marxism, so I too was a late bloomer, politically. The catalyst for me was, I am almost ashamed to say, a TV program: Nigel Turner’s documentary about the assassination of President Kennedy (The Men Who Killed Kennedy). I saw this in Germany, after I had been living here for almost 11 years. This was the major turning point for me, but it all happened in my head. In Bramhall’s case, despite the opinion of her bourgeois colleagues, I don’t think it was in her head. Maybe some of it was, but her story is much too detailed to be dismissed as paranoia. So the irony of our two stories is complete. On the one hand, we have a psychiatrist who is persecuted for political reasons and falsely judged by her colleagues to be insane. On the other hand we have a linguist who opposes an insane war and is correctly judged by a “renegade” psychiatrist (as I’m sure his colleagues would have described him in those days) to be sane and therefore unfit to “serve.” Both of us end up leaving the country. But not everyone can leave. Vietnam did not end. It’s here again under a different name: Afghanistan/Iraq. In fact, things are much worse now, much more insane, than they were in the sixties. There was at least some attempt to lie convincingly about the reasons for the Vietnam war. The “communist threat” was more convincing than the the blatant lies about non-existent weapons of mass destruction, retaliation for 9/11, and bringing “freedom and democracy” to those unfortunate countries. A very large portion of the population, probably close to one half, disbelieves the government’s story of 9/11, and a clear majority does not support the ongoing war (read “military engagement”). There is a huge disjuncture between what people think and what the government and the mainstream media tell them. If societies were people, the U.S. would have to be locked up with the criminally insane. No person could remain sane harboring so many violently conflicting ideas. Societies are not people, but people do have to live in this insane society. How do they do it? I think there are three alternatives: 1) denial, 2) acceptance, and 3) fighting back. 1) and 2) are themselves psychotic states. How can you deny or accept insanity without becoming part of it? 3) is the only sane, reasonable and honorable alternative. This is what Bramhall did, and what many of us try to do, each in our own way. It is wrong to see her story as negative or her struggle as futile. It is part of the ongoing struggle. P.S. Dr. Bramhall mentions me as the “translator” of AIDS researcher Jakob Segal, but in fact I only proofread the English edition of his book “AIDS Can Be Conquered” (Verlag Neuer Weg, 2001; “AIDS Ist Besiegbar,” 1995). I did translate a couple of shorter pieces, which are accessible on my homepage (mdmorrissey.info) and in my book “Looking for the Enemy.” The latter and my more recent book “The Transparent Conspiracy” (on 9/11) are available on Amazon.com. *

 

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