Monday, June 30, 2008


Separate and Unequal

Presbyterians consider divestment tool to end segregation in Israel. Corporate engagement that worked in South Africa encouraged in Palestine.


Absence of the Sacred

The World Archeological Congress will meet soon in Dublin, where, among other topics, they'll examine the Tara controversy. Tara Hill, to the Irish, is like The Black Hills to the Lakota and Cheyenne -- a sacred landscape imbued with spiritual values, myth and legend.

As a national monument, as well as proposed UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tara defenders are fighting the government of Ireland to protect it from a planned motorway.

As pointed out by Professor Ronayne from Galway University, the privatization of archaeology in service to global development corporations and militaries ensures that such foundational aspects of human identity as cultural heritage will be increasingly under attack. In the absence of the sacred, of course, we will no longer be fully human; maybe that's the whole idea.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Something Worthwhile

The dawning of the culture war within our dominant society was inspiring and exhilarating. But war is more than celebrating identity; it also involves social conflict. That conflict continues -- in education, politics, the arts, as well as all forms of human relationships and exchange.

Endurance and sense of purpose have a lot to do with it. Had the Native Americans thrown up their hands, they would not exist today. The values hippies expressed, likewise, would not still be cherished by so many.

Present laments aside, those who still value the noble aspects of the 1960s probably have something worthwhile to offer to young people who weren't yet around to experience the beginning of our social revolution. Sharing whatever that may be is probably a good idea.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Doing Your Part

Defeating the anti-democratic movement in America requires doing your part, no matter how small or insignificant that may seem. One way to do that is through open source research -- looking through news archives or public documents like court records.

People in your community who behave as though they are above the law are often acting unlawfully. Even when they are within the letter of the law, they almost always act against the public interest. These people in turn provide support for others like them engaged in business and politics at various levels, and constitute a network at odds with democracy. Outing them weakens their network's effectiveness.

While it is exciting to connect with investigative researchers dealing with regional corruption and national crises, it is likewise essential to the pro-democracy movement to link up local activists with those doing research in their community. That way, we, too, can create a support network capable of sustained effort and effective action.


Striking Back

People over-complicate things, let themselves be overwhelmed by the scale of criminal negligence in the world.

In reality, the crimes we see emanating from high-level operatives in Congress or the White House rely on an extensive network of support from the local to the international. Striking back at their vulnerable points wherever opportunities arise may appear to be futile when we allow ourselves to be distracted by big league spectacle, but weakening our enemies one community at a time can have amazing results.

In Blind Spots: A Citizen's Memoir, I presented some useful local tactics, as well as strategic discussions about what has worked in terms of regional cooperation in fighting the anti-democratic movement. There is no silver bullet to rid ourselves of this menace once and for all; it takes constant research, education, organizing and community action to make any headway.

I've never had to look for trouble, I just deal with the trouble that shows up. Over time I've learned to recognize patterns useful to those who contact us looking for help in understanding the particular trouble they're confronted with. The fact they've decided to do something about it, and realize they need experienced advice sets them apart.

When I speak to distraught young people, I tell them anecdotes from my organizing experience, some of which are included in my book. They seem to find that inspiring. Knowing that there are numbers of fellow citizens willing to do something makes it less lonely; discussing this stuff makes the lessons worthwhile.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Planning for Panic

Walking around town, I encounter signs on public property exhorting us to be prepared for natural disasters like earthquake and fire. Probably good advice here in California.

But what about man-made disasters, is anything being done about that? I haven't seen any signs. With the certainty of such things as foreign and domestic terrorism recurring in the future, what is being done to plan for public panic? Is this government and media-generated psychosis even being discussed?

In the aftermath of Oklahoma City and 9/11, innocent American citizens were murdered, and many others were terrorized based on racial misperceptions promoted by both major media and the FBI. Nervous breakdowns and domestic violence were also rampant.

Operating from the assumption that government and industry will continue to act irresponsibly, what might we do in our own communities to inoculate our neighbors and ourselves against panic? Can we finally begin having discussions based on the future we expect, rather than on the future we hope for?

Is anyone already doing this?


Collateral Damage

As the US prepares for its next war, we revisit a report on perception management. Released in October 2003 by Sam Gardiner, Colonel USAF (Retired), Truth From These Podia used open source data to identify intent, methods of operations, and organizational dynamics deployed by the US and British governments to strategically influence and distort public perceptions before, during, and after Gulf War II.

Regarding this coordinated information warfare mobilized against their respective citizenries, Colonel Gardiner observes, "We allowed strategic psychological operations to become part of public affairs." Reflecting on this observation, Gardiner goes on to say, "When truth is a casualty, democracy receives collateral damage."

As the perpetrators of these operations throw up flak to distract public attention and derail investigation of high crimes, the perception management continues. As both presidential contenders beat the drum for war against Iran, it remains to be seen whether the American public has learned anything about information warfare since the televised Iran-Contra hearings twenty years ago, or if what's left of democracy in the US will also become collateral damage.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


A Short Distance

In his novel The Lazarus Project, Aleksandar Hemon observes it is a short distance from the editorial to the massacre. Referring to America's anti-immigrant fervor of a century ago, Hemon remarked, "I do not need to tell you what a crowd of excited Christians is capable of doing".

In the reality of the present, with the benefit of hindsight into the 9/11 hysteria that left a dozen brown-skinned American citizens dead for being different, the ongoing xenophobic behavior by corporate media makes it difficult to think of the human rights abuses at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and Fallujah as accidents. Indeed, the overt White Nationalism promoted on FOX News is yet another red flag that things have gotten seriously out of hand.

I'm not sure what the National Council of Churches is waiting for, but a boycott of FOX and their sponsors is long overdue. If our moral authorities won't act, who will?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Watching the Sunset

The totems of Kwakiutl and other aboriginal coastal villages of British Columbia were often the initial cultural expressions encountered by other First Nations and explorers traveling the Inside Passage between the Salish Sea and Queen Charlotte Sound. Facing the setting sun, these carved accounts of history and clan were the ultimate fusion of art and craft, myth and legend.

In Looking at Totem Poles, Hilary Stewart recounts the history of this vital aspect of the indigenous civilization spanning some thousand miles of still dramatic coastline, including many illustrations and stories about how this culture was clandestinely preserved and adapted to the hostile environment of European invasion. The book is informative as well as inspiring in many ways.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Paralyzed by Confusion

The merger of mass communication with psychological warfare and advertising in the US has so penetrated political advocacy that consumers are paralyzed by confusion. They don't know whether to support Lyndon Larouche or Morris Dees. Indeed, some support both.

How did this happen?

Communications analysts suggest it is the inevitable result of hyperbolic claims used in direct-mail fundraising, bolstered by conspiracism promoted in the media, and perpetuated by repetition in political campaigns. Given this all-out assault on our ability to reason, the ruling elite clearly have nothing to fear from the citizenry.


Zimbabwe on Potomac

The GOP goon squads sent to threaten the Florida canvassing boards in December 2000 weren't carrying machetes, but the results were the same as if they had.

Mugabe's thugs are admittedly less sophisticated than RNC goons, but Zimbabwe adheres to a model flexible enough to include variants on the fascist theme. Russia provides another variant, slightly more crude than that of the US, but -- like the two American political parties -- increasingly syncretic.

Republican Party synchronization with militias against immigrants since 2005, like White House support for industry-financed vigilantes against environmentalists in the early 1990s, are indicators of an attitude only reined in by withering institutional mores. Mores now nearly vanquished by incremental intrusion into personal privacy, sweeping erosion of civil rights, and brazen hostility toward free expression.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Cognitive Dissonance

Reviewing an interview I did with Tarso Luis Ramos in 2001, I came across a remark he made about progressive activist organizations being extremely reluctant to re-think and reconsider their fundamental strategic approach. This remark got me thinking about comments made by a reader this week in regard to liberals' inability to get their minds around a realistic estimate of the situation we find ourselves in politically.

Exploring this thought further, I think that most people are extremely reluctant to re-think their habitual opinions or to reconsider their fundamental world view, even when their world view repeatedly conflicts with social reality. This cognitive dissonance that persists no matter how often the pattern recurs, is what some have called reinforcing an opinion.

What I am suggesting is that this habit is sometimes subconscious, even hard-wired.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


Crises in Context

In a recent exchange, the notion of an American popular uprising was broached, conditioned on some future government having gone too far. My response was that this is not in our nature, culturally speaking, but that random violence toward scapegoats is. My suggestion was that prophylactic measures be initiated at community levels in anticipation of public panics generated by ongoing social and political neglect.

Three books come to mind that might help put our present circumstances in context: Peddlers of Crisis by Jerry Sanders, The Science of Coercion by Christopher Simpson, and The Iran-Contra Scandal by Peter Kornbluh.

Sanders illustrates how the National Security Agency (enacted in 1948) enabled secret, unaccountable government that helped to create our current crises; Simpson shows how the methodology of advertising merged with that of psychological warfare to maintain this anti-democratic development; and Kornbluh documents the consequences in the form of the criminalization of US policy and administration under President Reagan. Taken as a whole, these three books help to create a backdrop for the prognosis delineated in A New Dark Age by Phil Williams.

Friday, June 20, 2008


The World As We Know It

Phil Williams is a sober, well-informed guy. So when he discusses the chaos likely to envelop the world as modern states collapse and morph into criminal enterprises, I take him seriously.

In his recently-published paper on the topic, Professor Williams examines the key factors, any one of which could bring on widespread panic, and proceeds to show how the nexus of multiple crises already well underway could literally change the world as we know it.

Anticipating such man made disasters in advance may not allow us to avoid them all together, but they can make it possible for us to prepare while some of us still have cool heads. Under these conditions, capitalizing on social anxiety by perpetuating fear as part of consumer advocacy campaigns becomes all the more unconscionable.


Leaving the Comfort Zone

Richard Atleo, in his book Tsawalk, writes about civilizations completing phases of growth, and likens the resistance to change or transformation to the reluctance of individuals to leave the comfort zones of womb, home, and immediate family as they mature and encounter institutions and ideas outside their infantile experience.

He specifically denotes the exhausted model of the colonial enterprise, and remarks on how it has changed the natural environment and the spiritual capacity of both indigenous and colonial peoples.

The need to make a spiritual connection in order to advance has him concerned that great harm might take place as we struggle to get unstuck from this unworkable arrangement of relationships. Given the degree of dysfunction and disharmony we live in, I suppose it is inevitable that individual sacrifices will have to be made.

(Professor Atleo is the first aboriginal to receive a doctorate in British Columbia.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Taking a Dive for Empire

Taking a dive for empire takes many forms, and style in the spectacle of presidential candidacies is probably the most melodramatic. Kerry's dive was more of a whimper compared to Gore's eagerness to throw in the towel. But McCain seems hell-bent on televised immolation.

Guy Debord would be amused.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The Certainty of Tyranny

Taoiseach Cowen says Ireland faces uncertainty due to its rejection of corporate colonialism; earlier in the week, Ireland's prime minister remarked that he couldn't get his mind around this mentality. What an odd statement from the leader of Britain's first and longest held colony -- a country of fiercely independent people.

Cowen probably can't imagine living in defiance of neoliberal aggression; that would require a mind liberated from free-market indoctrination -- not something likely to be encountered in mainstream politicians. Which is why, no doubt, the Irish constitution does not rely on representative democracy to protect the Irish nation from foreign rule.

Better the uncertainty of democracy than the certainty of tyranny.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Scary Photos

The current news focus on American Nazis brought back memories from the 1980s when Aryan Nations (or one of their militia friends) blew off the back of Bill Wassmuth's home with dynamite.

Little known to the Pollyannas, or to anyone outside the couple dozen investigative researchers in the Public Good network, SPLC did almost nothing about the militias of the 1990s until they were in a position to cash in through a major lawsuit against Aryan Nations--largely made possible by the heroic field research of Paul de Armond and the exemplary grassroots regional organizing of Bill Wassmuth and Eric Ward.

SPLC cranked up its well-oiled PR machine and legal machinery and effectively killed funding for Bill and Eric. To this day, many people still think all it takes to defeat domestic terrorism is a slick lawyer and a lot of pious posturing.

I'm not suggesting we stoop to such methods, but it's good to be aware of how shallow the understanding of the violent right-wing is, and the emotive force of scary photos. Mostly what I object to is the impression that this is our major problem, rather than the very widespread and entrenched system of exclusion from power and decision-making in this country, and how mainstream thuggery really is.

It's the guys in suits behind the scenes that cause most of the trouble. Nailing them takes a lot more than PR campaigns.

Part of the problem is that philanthropy in this country does not provide any infrastructural support for building and maintaining regional pro-democracy networks, where authentic activists can meet up and find mentors. Within that climate of deprivation, what should be a cooperative, reciprocal arrangement has become a very unhealthy competition.

I see no resolution of this social disaster.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Stranger Than Fiction

In his novel The War of the End of the World, Mario Vargas Llosa illustrates how an inability to communicate can cripple an entire society. Undergirding the pervasive misunderstanding that contributed to the tragedy at the center of this historical fiction, says Llosa, was the perpetuation of rumor and fantasy by journalists, politicians and academics. A confirmed believer in the power of fictitious literature to benefit mankind in comprehending reality, Llosa also believes that fiction in politics is inevitably catastrophic. As anyone who has lived an authentic life knows, life is indeed stranger than fiction.

Friday, June 13, 2008


Treaty Trounced

The Irish people say NO to the corporate agenda in Europe. The neoliberal treaty forced on the EU by megacorporations has been roundly rejected in Ireland. Routed by the fierce Irish independence enshrined in their constitution, the European corporations seeking to emulate the brash aggression of the United States on the world stage have suffered a setback in the land of Erin (peace in Irish).

Thursday, June 12, 2008


The Stereotypical Mind

It is about the bureaucratic deformation of the mind, which I think is one of the major contemporary problems in all societies, industrialized or underdeveloped. The book deals with the problem of how specialization in life's activities can create this kind of deformation of the mind. In order to fulfill his task in an efficient and perfect way, a person finds himself secluded in a position in which he cannot see how what he does can have tragic and catastrophic repercussions and consequences in other areas or activities of society.

I remember in military school all those incredible documents we had to write or read. The language was so stereotyped that it gave you an idea of something totally disconnected from what real life is...Also used are scripts from a radio broadcaster in Iquitos who likes to exaggerate, a kind of tropical journalist, very primitive, who is really an incarnation of the stereotypical mind, a mind that moves only among stereotypes, totally incapable of saying or creating anything original.

--Mario Vargas Llosa A Writer's Reality

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Chilean Challenge

Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have intervened on behalf of documentary filmmakers arrested by the Chilean government. All five filmmakers were involved in covering the confrontation between the indigenous Mapuche and the government over lands taken by Chile from the Indians, lands now in the hands of timber companies.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Coming Together

Making amends takes many forms. In California, a state with no indigenous colleges, tribes like the Miwok — who previously inhabited Yosemite Valley and San Francisco Bay — also have no reservation. With by far the largest indigenous population in the country, California could easily help its tribes to establish a first-rate Native American university on the existing San Francisco Presidio campus. As a renowned incubator of ideas, such an innovative addition to the Bay Area academic industry would further consolidate its already international reputation.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Fourth World Eye

In addition to posting here, I also write regularly for Fourth World Eye, a publication of the Center for World Indigenous Studies. Readers can either check out my portfolio, or click on FWEye in the Skookum sidebar.

--Jay Taber, Skookum editor

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Writing Under Siege

Mohammed Omer, recipient of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism.


Out of the Silence

The decaying totems of Haida Gwaii, documented in William Reid and Adelaide de Menil's 1971 book Out of the Silence, were living monuments to a form of communication about the values of a civilization in decline. The 2007 formation of the United League of Indigenous Nations, as well as the Coast Salish Gathering, are testimonials to the resurgence of Haida Gwaii and related autochthonous civilizations.

As the rest of us struggle to survive the decline of our own civilizations, perhaps we will likewise find our voices and create our own forms of communication. By discussing the values we wish to protect, we might even find ways of freeing ourselves by uniting with the indigenous resurgence.

At the very least, hosting discussions free of market exclusion, government censure, and media influence, will allow us opportunities to also come out of the silence.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


The National Security State

A visceral development


Neocon Liberal

Obama's war

Friday, June 06, 2008


A Small Step

On this 60th anniversary of our national security state, perhaps we could begin discussing how militarism (a bi-partisan project) has corrupted our entire society. In preparation for this discussion, reading Peddlers of Crisis by Jerry Sanders might help Americans begin to understand how our secret government, established in 1948 as the National Security Agency, foreclosed the possibility of democratic governance in the United States. Discussion is a small step to take in freeing our minds from the elitist spectacle, but it is a crucial one.


Spinning into War





Separated from honesty by fear, centrists reside halfway between integrity and fraud.

--Jay Taber


No Change

Real News TV examines how an Obama administration would continue Bush administration policies in Palestine.

Thursday, June 05, 2008



Praising the tough diplomacy (Iran-Contra) of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama yesterday promised $30 billion to Israel, continued support for the deprivation of Palestinian human rights, and the elimination of the Iranian threat.


Really Lucky Guy

Irish politicians are so lovable, even in disgrace. Former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern -- who recently resigned after caught taking payoffs from developers -- said he now remembers that the piles of cash deposited in his and his daughter's bank accounts were winnings from the racetrack. Judging by the amounts discovered by tribunal counsel Des O'Neill's legal team, Ahern must be a really lucky guy.


Speaking of Celts

Peter's Paris today has photos of the Roman arena, which isn't as in tact as the ones we saw in Arles and Verona, but nevertheless infuses a sense of history into everyday Parisian life. Peter also notes that Paris is named after the Celtic tribe of Parisii, that lived there during the Roman occupation. Yes, the Gauls were Gaelic.

Speaking of Celts, we were pleasantly surprised to find Celtic ruins during our visit to the Iberian Peninsula in Northern Portugal.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Treasure Trove

Skookum Index constitutes our treasure trove, where we've archived selected articles from various publications over the years, including our own. For readers who have the time, we encourage you to explore our other sites as well, conveniently listed under Access in the Skookum sidebar. Each one has a unique ambience, creating in aggregate an unusually sympatico symbiosis.

--Jay Taber, Skookum archivist

Monday, June 02, 2008


Token Citizenship

The US boycott of the cluster bomb conference in Dublin, Friday, caught no one by surprise; for seven years running, the government of the United States hasn't even made a pretense of respecting human rights or human life. Knowing that, symbolic activism by anti-warriors (like ANSWER and the ILWU in their one-day-a-year protest and shutdown of shipping terminals) becomes yet another empty commemoration to the risk-taking and courage of the 1960s that has almost disappeared from American society. Resistance to our openly-acknowledged fascist state requires a 24/7 365 commitment to shutting down not only the armaments industry, but in disrupting business as usual in the halls of Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court. Anything less is just token citizenship.

Sunday, June 01, 2008


Defending Democracy

A Briefing on Models of Engagement for Change
Copyright Jay Taber 2003 
Christopher Simpson, Associate Professor of Communications at American University, writes in his book Science of Coercion, “Communication might be understood as both the conduit for and the actual substance of human culture and consciousness…Psychological warfare is the application of mass communication to modern social conflict.”
Professor Simpson’s predecessor in the field of communications theory, Harold Lasswell, wrote, “Successful social and political management depends on coordination of propaganda with violent and non-violent coercion and economic inducement.”
While Lasswell and others of his generation devoted their skills to working with military intelligence in defeating the fascist powers in World War II, many of them went on to apply their science afterward in the Cold War apparatus used to defeat both communism as well as self-determination emerging in the formation of post-colonial nation-states that challenged the new world order of American economic and military hegemony.
At the root of the conflict between democracy and fascism today is this split between the elitist, instrumentalist conception of communication expressed by Lasswell and the traditional vision of communication expressed by such writers as Kalle Lasn, founder of the Media Foundation, who predicts a groundswell of support in the “battle to make the right to communicate a fundamental human right of every person on earth.”
This distinction between the use of communication to dominate and suppress rival viewpoints and its use in sharing our duties and burdens in free and open inquiry lies at the heart of the struggles of indigenous nations and democratic cultures to survive. Confronting elitism, privilege and white supremacy is one and the same. Respect for diversity of opinion and freedom of expression is essential to human dignity. Without them we will have neither freedom from fear nor freedom from want.
The U.S. Army War College defines the tendencies of psychological warfare as destroying the will and the ability of an enemy to fight while depriving them of the support of allies and neutrals. Its effects are dissension, distrust and fear within the enemy’s ranks, and, perhaps most relevant in the application of psy-war by governments against their own people, hopelessness. These symptoms of apathy and cynicism, fostered by depriving us of venues of discussion and debate--nurtured by the terror to conform, and promoted by the iron triangle of academia, government and big business--are the natural outcome of systematic thought control known as mass communication. As a euphemism for modern psychological warfare, it pervades our militarist culture almost undetected, that is, until we awaken to the fact we can inform ourselves and make sense of the world around us, coming to terms with such absurdities as arming tyrants, bombing civilians, and neglecting international fora on human rights, racism, nuclear test bans, landmines, global warming, and even the right to food.
In 2000, oil pirates and arms dealers hijacked the US national election. U.S. Supreme Court justices Scalia and Thomas, the most zealous of the “Florida Five,” took bribes to reinstall the Reagan administration junta of war criminals and convicted felons in the White House. Energy companies that backed the coup moved quickly to wreak havoc on our economy through price-gouging and manipulation. In 2001, Congress further empowered world trade and banking institutions--serving both above and underworld enterprise--with authority to overturn all laws protecting our health and welfare. In 2002, Congress abolished the Bill of Rights, handing the executive branch carte blanche to conduct world war. The Pentagon is now deploying our armed forces to seize total control of global oil.
The secret, unaccountable, corrupt and inept national security agencies that contributed significantly to the underlying causes of the two World Trade Center bombings, and arguably the Oklahoma City bombing as well, now have free hand to continue engendering animosity and resentment toward our country by desperate fanatics and terrorists, foreign and domestic. Self-defense of the principles enunciated in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution now falls on us alone. It is up to we the people to repel the attack on American society by the warmongers posing as our protectors.
Cities, counties, and states unprepared for this turn of events are being disrupted by federal agencies on a rampage of terror against immigrants, alternative media, professors, dissidents and activists opposed to squandering our common wealth on prisons and warfare instead of investing in schools and healthcare. Existing environmental protection and work safety laws go unenforced under threat of federal sanction. Freedom of Information about toxic waste and FBI detentions has been shut down.
The lawlessness and domestic terrorism of the anti-environmentalist Wise Use movement, supported by the first Bush administration, hit a snag when these industry thugs merged with vigilantes and militias in the mid nineteen-nineties. If this convergence reemerges under our Homeland Security police state, it may very well have federal support in quashing the democratic process altogether. Communities need to begin discussing and preparing for these threats now.
It is not enough to be bold, brave and outspoken in the face of adversity. Community well-being in our pluralistic society depends on diverse views shared and argued in a safe, trusting environment. Healthy, nurturing, functional communities and societies require broad public involvement based on continuous and timely access to information. Actors who would disrupt this process can only be constrained by active engagement of organized civic groups and moral authorities educated and prepared to meet these threats.

Defending Democracy:

Models of Engagement for Change
  1. An open society is safe and inviting
  1. A closed society is fearsome
  1. The public health model works
  1. Common models are counterproductive
  1. Aggression can be contained
  1. Moral sanction is essential
  1. Obstacles to moral conduct can be overcome

An Open Society is Safe and Inviting

Democracy provides a context for problem-solving
The democratic values embedded in our Constitution—such as equal protection under the law, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly-- allow us to participate in determining community goals, international relations and the uses of our common wealth. The rights of the many and restrictions on the few build a capacity for non-violent change and personal growth of our citizenry.
Many have sacrificed for this right of self-governance. None of our rights and freedoms has been granted by those in authority; rather, they have been gained through coercion by we the people.
Public participation corrects official inattention, cowardice and laziness
Conflict between the ruled and the rulers of our country—in movements for environmental sanity, civil rights, workplace safety and universal health care to name a few-- is our only means of taking corrective action to meet our most pressing needs in the face of state and market neglect. When our elected delegates and sacred institutions fail us, organized grassroots activism is all that stands between us and tyranny.
Our corrupted government and economic system require strong doses of popular non-cooperation and demands for accountability. When they begin to listen to us with respect, not manipulate us with contempt, we can begin to reconcile our differences and heal the grievous wounds they’ve inflicted on the world. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we can avoid nuclear and microbial disaster.

A Closed Society is Fearsome

Political violence undermines democracy
When people are afraid to attend a protest, to speak at a public hearing or write a letter to the editor, let alone run for office, expose official fraud or challenge the government in court, we suffer not only from the absence of fresh ideas; we also suffer from the monopolization of private interests willing to threaten and bribe their way to power.
When media is afraid to expose political violence, such as transpired in the Florida 2000 election, we are robbed of the opportunity to marshal public reserves of righteous indignation based on our collective sense of goodwill and fairplay. We need to know what’s wrong in order to put things right.
Organized political violence suppresses free and open inquiry
Hate groups and other intolerant organizations such as Christian Coalition, Business Roundtable and the Wise Use Movement--motivated by fundamentalist world views--have succeeded in gaining power and influence by appealing to greed, cynicism and white supremacy. Enormous energy and resources have been expended to promote their authoritarian ideology. Social movement entrepreneurs associated with these fanatic minorities realize—as agents of privilege and inequality—they must undermine the resolve of the majority who still revere the U.S. Constitution and what it stands for. The promoters of US unilateralism are the founding fathers of the transformation of American conservatism, the resurgence of the GOP, and the totalitarian state envisioned by Bush II.
Intimidating political opponents is terrorism
Very simply, harassing people with different political views, threatening employees and blacklisting people from employment because of these views is terrorism. Terrorists like the congressional aides and GOP staff who intimidated Florida canvassing boards don’t have to blow up abortion clinics or arson black churches to strike terror into the hearts of their opponents. Sometimes all it takes is for movement ideologues or captains of industry to provide targets for their recruits to hate. Revenge, then--by those who seek scapegoats for falling living standards or social insecurity--is a threat that hangs over anti-fascists like a giant noose.
Demonization and xenophobia lead to aggression. Our war on terrorism should begin there.

The Public Health Model Works

The Public Health Model of engagement is effective in protecting society
Our public health system is effective in controlling disease and preventing epidemics as a result of advances in epidemiology, vaccination and public administration. Research revealed the nature of diseases, who was most susceptible to them, what conditions favored outbreaks and what behaviors helped them spread. Aggression can be looked at in the same way.
Stopping anti-democratic agents requires training
Social movement ideologues, field agents and fundraisers essential to advancing theocratic and free-market agendas use a simple formula:
Understanding their ideology, keeping track of their agents and dissecting their fundraising methods enables researchers—those people who attend council meetings, clip and file news articles and share information with others--to help protect their communities. Regional outposts of specialized researchers, functioning in a similar manner to centers for disease control, can be very helpful in providing concerned citizens with educational materials, activist resource kits and research training.
Effective activism relies on respect for research and analysis
Not everyone has the inclination to look into the background of hate groups and fearmongers, but ignoring these social pathogens doesn’t make them go away; it allows them to spread. The first thing concerned people should do is find someone knowledgeable on the political disease and ask for a briefing to their church adult study forum, civics class or other such organizational function. Once informed about what their community is up against, they can act in a safe and appropriate way.
With a solid moral foundation, righteous indignation propels citizens to make the changes necessary before things get so out of hand it requires police or military intervention, which quite often makes things worse. With a solid understanding of the social pathogen they are confronting, civic groups can assess for themselves whether lobbying for legislation is likely to make any difference. They can also determine whether diplomacy with the enemies of their body politic is a productive activity or if it only serves to enhance the stature and legitimacy of intolerant views.
Independent research and analysis can provide answers to questions about who is behind anti-democratic activities, what their agenda is, and what techniques they use to divide and conquer communities.
Experience is a good teacher
In the mid nineteen-nineties, communities throughout Puget Sound and other parts of Washington State encountered property-rights groups initiated and incited by the Building Industry Association against environmentalists and American Indians seeking enforcement of growth management, endangered species protection, and the honoring of federal treaties. Numerous city and county governments were taken over through corrupt elections made possible by illegal PACs, violent goon squads, and media laziness or complicity in deceiving and misleading voters. FBI arrests eventually sent seven individuals involved in firearms and explosives violations to prison, but only after public participation in policy development had plummeted.
Those who experienced the upsurge of discussion and involvement by ordinary people, excited by the opportunity to be engaged in true democracy as a result of the citizen-sponsored growth management initiative, came to value the open process. Those accustomed to backroom deals that kept the public in the dark revealed the nature of fascism American style. The lessons articulated in Wise Use in Northern Puget Sound by Paul de Armond, research director of the Public Good Project, serve as a warning for the rest of the country.
Current efforts by the Center for New Community (a network of churches and civic groups throughout the Midwest) in combating racism and violence aimed at immigrants and people of color, have been very effective at preventing community disruption by hate groups and professional agitators. Using the public health model, organizers like Devin Burghart have helped this network--originally established to fight the family farm crisis of the nineteen eighties—to effectively confront the militia epidemic of the nineteen nineties and the anti-immigrant outbreaks of the past two years.
By monitoring the activities and agents of their opponents, discovered through painstaking research and analysis as well as methodical education, training and organizing of their allies, moral authorities associated with the Center have managed to use authentic communication in a manner that resonates with liberals and conservatives alike. If we wish to avoid another civil war in this country, we would do well to learn from their experience.

Traditional Models Are Counterproductive

Protest is insufficient
Registering our disapproval is important and necessary in reaching others, but is inadequate to acquiring the power and influence needed to institute and consolidate the changes we need. We simultaneously need to undermine the resources and resolve of the enemies of democracy, and educate potential supporters why it is necessary.
The political elite marginalize authentic activists
The established elite of a community rarely do their own dirty work. For that, they employ their dependants, which includes charitable and pseudo public-interest organizations that benefit from their philanthropy. In this way, authentic activists committed to democratic values—the white blood cells of a community-- frequently encounter overt opposition from their ideological opponents and covert opposition from ostensible allies in the pay of the power elite. This makes it easy for compliant media to alienate true patriots from their natural constituency and vital resources. Moral authorities and community leaders need to speak out against this form of social exclusion. Alternative media need to make it clear how synthetic activists (usually the better funded non-profits), posing as guardians of the public interest, often serve to maintain the status quo privileges of their benefactors by undermining the credibility of grassroots organizers.
Social support is necessary
Without social support for fundamental change, the status quo of liberal/conservative elitism behind US military and economic hegemony will continue to make more enemies for America around the world—enemies willing to die to teach us a lesson. The vast empire constituency dependant for their livelihoods on Pax Americana are not the enemy; they are our neighbors, many of whom are eager to escape this dependence and the pangs of conscience associated with industries of cultural and national genocide.
Moral theatrics frustrate and dissipate limited social support
There are limits, however, to the amount of time, money and energy people will expend. They need to understand how their investment will pay off, how it makes a difference. Feeling pious is not enough. Taking risks must be accompanied by a chance of success. Visions, to be enacted, need a program.

Aggression can be Contained

Aggression is a disease
Like the AIDS virus and the bubonic plague, aggression is a disease that threatens the viability of societies and the survival of species. We can choose to take prophylactic measures, we can reprioritize public expenditures, and we can alter our behavior, but we cannot eliminate aggression. We can, however, contain it. We can keep it from spreading and ultimately consuming us.
Ideological warfare enables aggressive elites to rule
By controlling media, co-opting professional activists and manipulating the fears of insecure populations, tyrants like the Bush brothers gain control of the public purse and police powers necessary for consolidating social control. Only a confused, apathetic and cynical people could be paralyzed into thinking there is nothing they can do about a junta that rose to power by bribing two U.S. Supreme Court justices.
Resistance to aggression must exercise intelligence and security
In the ensuing conflict to take back our government and economy—indeed our lives—we must approach the aggressors as enemies. As in military warfare, we need to conduct opposition research.
We require timely and accurate information to prevent our destruction. We also need to protect our spokesmen and warriors from police misconduct and wrongful prosecution. We need to stand together.
Dominant forces can be isolated
The minority of religious and free-market fundamentalists who’ve usurped our public institutions are not unknown. The peddlers of crisis have been named. If mainstream religious leaders across our country stood up and pointed them out like Dr. King did, they would have to hide in shame. As this story is told in congregations and gatherings across our country, public disgust with the fraud, deceit and betrayal of our ruling class builds. As this awareness grows, we must prepare ourselves for the commitment required of sustained conflict that awaits us. America can once again be a democratic republic pursuing the ideals of equality and justice for all, but not without a fight.

Moral Sanction is Essential

Moral sanction is powerful
Confused people recruited by promoters of hate usually have some sense of right and wrong. Unless they are brain damaged from injury or neglect, most people will restrain themselves when recognized moral authorities condemn their behavior. They may still be confused, afraid or hateful, but if they refrain from seeking revenge, outbreaks of violence can be averted so vital public discussions can continue.
Moral positions are learned slowly
We aren’t born reciting the golden rule. We learn to get along and respect the dignity of others as we grow. It takes time to appreciate the importance of spirituality and diversity. In our economic society there is tremendous pressure to conform. Letting your conscience be your guide is more often punished than rewarded. It takes concentration and commitment to muster the courage of one’s convictions.
Societies, cultures and individuals are conscious organisms
In spite of these pressures, most of us—at least at a subconscious level—are aware of contradictions, hypocrisy and injustice. You can hear it any given day on the bus or in the coffee shop. And we know there’s a moral dimension to these issues.
The evolution of human consciousness redefines morality
As the world changes, our understanding of different world views allows us to be more accepting, more diplomatic and more cooperative. For those who’ve made the adjustment to the modern world, it is no longer God’s mandate that Americans or the white race should rule the peoples of the planet. Most of us have moved beyond that.
It is only through media control and extensive investment in propaganda that a minority of bigoted Americans have managed to intimidate the majority into silence. When that majority becomes aware of their unity and power, they can remake this country as a responsible member of the human community. Only then can we get down to the essential business of reconciliation with the first nations and descendants of slaves who made our wealth and freedom possible. Only then can we regain our self-respect and sense of purpose.
By acknowledging the evil committed in our name, we begin our renewal.

Obstacles to Moral Conduct can be Overcome

Consumerism and militarism are obstacles to moral behavior
Americans are unfortunately ill-informed and distracted. Consumerism and militarism compete for their attention in a seemingly endless bombardment of advertising, infotainment news programs and mindless talk radio. People need time to think, time to reflect and time to become informed in order for their conscience to guide them.
Communication is essential to countering misinformation and spectacle
We need opportunities to discuss our concerns face to face without media or government interference. Study groups, conferences, talks and forums are the first steps of self-government. When we have access to informed, thoughtful dialogue we can sort out what is true, what is important and what is distraction.
Once we obtain a more accurate and meaningful perspective, it is more difficult for fear mongers to undermine our resolve.
Unmediated discussion expresses group wisdom and collective values
Networks and social circles oriented toward understanding the world find core values to sustain them.
Expression of these values inspires others to join in constructing a better world.
New leadership finds expression that mobilizes social support
People who tap into the core values and articulate deeply-held beliefs—like Mandela, King and Gandhi—can move others to engage in movements that transform society and themselves.
The twentieth century human rights movements in South Africa, India and America advanced equal protection under the law, but fell far short of the goals of equal economic and educational opportunity necessary for a fulfilling and satisfying life. Like the American civil rights movement, the movement against South African apartheid took many generations to achieve nominal equality. Likewise, we should expect a similar commitment of time and effort to bring about an end to the apartheid of globalization now draining the lifeblood of the third and fourth worlds. Neglecting our duties in this task only ensure that we will be the next to suffer. Indeed, the assault on our rights as human beings has already begun. Americans have begun to take notice.

Suggestions for further reading
Arquilla, John and David Ronfeldt eds. Networks and Netwars: The Future of Terror, Crime, and Militancy. Santa Monica: RAND, 2001.
Himmelstein, Jerome L. To the Right: The Transformation of American Conservatism. Berkeley and Los Angeles/Oxford, England: UC Press, 1990.
Linebarger, Paul M. A. Psychological Warfare. Washington: Infantry Journal, 1947.
Mandela, Nelson. Long Walk to Freedom: the autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Boston: Little, Brown, 1994.
Sanders, Jerry. Peddlers of Crisis: The Committee on the Present Danger and the Politics of Containment. Boston: South End, 1983.
Simpson, Christopher. Science of Coercion: Communication Research & Psychological Warfare 1945-1960. New York: Oxford University, 1994.

Biographical Note
In September 2000, Jay Taber was presented the Defender of Democracy award by the Public Good Project, a privately-funded national research network, in recognition of his “devotion to the duties of citizenship.” Specifically noted were his achievements -- between 1990 and 1998 -- in broadening community participation in environmental public policy development, and in organizing effective opposition to Anti-Indian racism and Wise Use/Militia violence in Washington state.
In December 2002, he completed his post-graduate work on social organizing, including the development of a graduate level political science curriculum that examines activist approaches vis-à-vis their ability to protect society from interference that threatens public participation.

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