Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Spy Symposium

The Spy Symposium at American University examines global ethics versus national security in the case of the illegal spy operation by the National Security Agency against members of the UN Security Council. Featured panelists include British Secret Service whistle-blower Katharine Gun, who revealed the NSA criminal operation, Martin Bright, the London Observer journalist who exposed it, and Daniel Ellsberg, the former CIA analyst who during the Vietnam War leaked the now famous Pentagon Papers. What was in 2003 a front page story worldwide, except in the United States where it was blacked out by all major media, is a tale worth recalling.

Monday, September 29, 2008


Agents of Hate

Acts of domestic terrorism in the US have always been preceded by hate campaigns. Chris Rodda writes about the recent hate crime against a Mosque in Dayton, Ohio following on the heels of the anti-Muslim campaign there sponsored by the Clarion Fund, an off-shoot of Aish HaTorah, an Orthodox Jewish organization headquartered in Jerusalem.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


A Criminal Offense

As Tom Burghardt notes, crossing borders is now considered a criminal offense. At least that's the way the Department of Homeland Security views it, if you're a critic of the war on terror or its corollary criminal enterprise known as Homeland Security.

For activist scholars, and for journalists or whistleblowers, voicing your objections to organized crime posing as government will get your cell phone, laptop, and personal papers confiscated by Customs agents if attempting to visit Canada or Mexico, or to fly out of the country for international conferences. The information extracted by Customs will then be shared with the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the FBI.

With illegal wiretaps of phones and e-mail already in practice, the seizure of personal papers, without any suspicion of crime, rounds out the sanctions against peace and pro-democracy writers and activists. These constitutional violations, combined with the use of paid informers to close down dissent, should suffice to instill public paranoia across our land.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Learning to be More

In Motion Magazine interviews Raymundo Sanchez Barraza about the indigenous intercultural system of informal education in Chiapas, Mexico. In A University Without Shoes, Barraza explains that saying no to established power -- which is in terminal crisis -- requires both understanding the historic world system, as well as developing a world vision based on "learning to be more". That, according to Barraza, can only be done by reinforcing the cognitive, organizational, and practical ability to resist. "Hope," says Barraza, "belongs to the resistance."

Friday, September 26, 2008


Ending Colonialism

Latin American leaders support Morales at the UN, where Bolivia's president has taken the lead in ending colonialism against indigenous peoples of the world. You can help.

We did.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


God War

Bruce Wilson takes a closer look at the emerging militant Christianity and how this created the political career of Sarah Palin.

Paul de Armond explains why Christian militancy matters.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Prophets of Doom

America didn't suddenly become a nuthouse, that took some effort. While it's always been home to religious fanatics and prophets of doom, it's only by the mainstreaming of these damaged people that it seems like our society has come unhinged.

Not to downplay the public harm and threat to democracy that unleashing this violent milieu on the political process has done, but it's worth remembering that while sometimes dormant or marginalized, right-wing terrorists have always been part of the American social landscape. It's just that bringing them out of the closet makes them seem new.

Normalcy, as defined by the time prior to the mainstreaming of religious-based bigotry in the 1980s, had its problems, but the readily-apparent insanity of the present GOP ticket, for instance, signals a qualitative change in power politics that many Americans are having difficulty getting their minds around. And indeed, the fallout from this electoral fiasco may be something even the GOP regrets.

The decision by America's aristocracy to unleash religious savagery on the American public is perhaps the ultimate sign of a society in decline, but the dysfunction of governance is only one of the consequent problems. The resurgence of domestic terrorism that is almost sure to come as a result, is not an easily controllable outcome. For, unlike the strictly criminal enterprise of the present administration, an apocalyptic regime inciting true believers to run rampant is a pathogen cured only by official violence.

In other words, what mad behavior we are unable to constrain by moral sanction, in time will have to be put down by lethal force. If one looks back over the last thirty years, it isn't hard to find examples of what I mean.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


From Here to Eternity

As noted in the Irish Times, the response by the U.S. Army to the political plans for perpetual warfare from here to eternity is not the generals' first preference, but rather a choice forced on them by politicians. With U.S. policy specifically identifying aggression (aka offensive forward projection of power) as the official solution to resource depletion, world war against the proprietors of these resources is an inescapable fate for the U.S. armed forces. Public acknowledgment of this by the U.S. military in its own strategic documents should ring off alarm bells from Washington to Wasilla.


Indigenous Solidarity

Indigenous nations and associations of South and Central America express solidarity with Bolivia's president Evo Morales, threatening widespread action against the U.S. empire if the United States government doesn't cease its efforts to overthrow the governments of Bolivia and Venezuela.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Normalising Violence

War on Terror: lessons from Northern Ireland, a report by the Committee on the Administration of Justice in Belfast, looks at the problem of normalising violence. As the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg remarked, "The experience in Northern Ireland was that such [counter-terrorism] laws corroded the normal criminal justice system and politicised the rule of law."

Read the CAJ report summary online here, or order the full report here.


Progressive Retreat

Using the Public Health Model to deal with hysteria generated by FOX and the FBI is not just the duty of local government and media, it's also the responsibility of educational institutions, activists and advocacy groups. And while the associated misanthropic misbehavior generated for power and profit may end up on law enforcement's plate, that doesn't mean moral authorities have no role to play in preventing or constraining it.

I'd encourage readers to check out Talk to Action, a blog by the religious left about the religious right. I'd also note the work done in the Midwest by the Center for New Community, a mainstream faith-based network that has organized an effective community-based response to the religious right's anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-abortion agenda for over twenty years.

As for my take on the anti-war movement, they seem to have run out of ideas due to the fact their diplomatic model of engagement was ineffective. To paraphrase Guy DeBord, they became part of the spectacle.

When a movement runs out of ideas, its participants revert to what they did before or retreat in confusion. Right now we're dealing more with public panic and private despair than cynicism in this milieu, which understandably drives some into party politics or conspiracism.

As political researchers know, little of progressive activism is based on research and analysis, and much is based on preconceptions or what is fundable. As any astute observer can see, dependence limits strategies.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Soldiers of Misfortune

In Soldiers of Misfortune, ACLU reports on coercion, deception, abuse and other misconduct by military recruiters targeting American children.

As an example of this misconduct, the U.S. Army recently signed a licensing deal with Sears, Roebuck & Co. to begin selling clothing called All American Army Brand’s First Infantry Division collection as part of the illegal effort to recruit children under the age of 17.

Those who wish to stop the illegal recruitment of children can boycott Sears and sign this online petition.


Literacy and Logic

As noted previously, the two things needed to develop a pro-democracy movement in the US are literacy and logic. Political illiteracy and cognitive illogic lead people to participate in dysfunctional systems with delusional expectations; frustration then contributes to cynicism, and can lead to panic and despair.

Literacy and logic in politics is built on research and analysis, which can then be used in education and organizing, that in turn can lead to community action. Failed tactics are often the result of defective strategies, founded on faulty analysis or lacking research.

Engagement in activities that make people feel good because the activities allow them to express their emotions while communing with like-minded others is OK, but it is not the same as engaging in effective actions based on a strategy for diffusing concentrated power. Strategy is determined by an estimate of the situation, which is in turn determined by analysis of information produced through research, and strategic research is not something obtained from secondary sources like media stories or advocacy propaganda. A pro-democracy strategy would produce a very different guiding narrative than a moral theatrics strategy; it would also produce different results.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Chile vs Mapuche

Chile denies right to travel to indigenous political leader Pascual Pichun. After releasing the Mapuche nation land rights activist from prison on trumped up anti-terrorism charges, Chilean officials seized Pichun's passport to prevent him from traveling to the European Forum last week, where he was to address the delegates in Switzerland about the abuse of civil and human rights by the Chilean state against its indigenous peoples. North American timber and mining corporations had asked for Chile's support in reconquering and raping Mapuche lands.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Holy War

Talk to Action examines a Palin presidency.


Fighting Aristocracy

As we see in Bolivia, any threat to aristocrats is met with violence, and, as in the United States, this lawlessness extends to the seizure of power and the subversion of lawful elections. Also similar to the US situation, the criminality of the most violent aristocrats is wedded to the control of land and theft of energy resources belonging to indigenous peoples. Not surprisingly, the American aristocracy has come to the rescue of the Bolivian aristocracy -- via funding from the U.S. State Department -- to foment violent revolution against the rule of law and the sharing of public energy wealth.

While it is possible the elected leaders of South America will manage to fend off this latest attempted coup by the United States, it is unlikely either candidate for president of the US will rein in America's aristocracy and the violence they promote worldwide. If anything, the test of the world indigenous movement, and its ally the pro-democracy movement, will be whether criminal governance can be reined in in the United States.

Bad as the last eight years have been, things can always get worse, and the apocalyptic Republican ticket guarantees it. Even the status quo Democratic ticket ensures no change. In order to end criminal violence as official US policy, the American people themselves must intervene, and this is a task for which they are woefully unprepared.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Social Disintegration

My concern is that too much attention is paid to financial confusion, and too little to social disintegration. Public trust is perhaps at an all-time low, while political panic and religious hysteria are on the rise. Last time these phenomena converged we had Aryan Nations, Waco and Oklahoma City.

With the Republicans running an openly apocalyptic ticket, and the Democrats running a black man, the violent right-wing underground must be frothing at the mouth. It wouldn't take much for Far Right social movement entrepreneurs to ignite this tinderbox.

Sad to say, reform groups and law enforcement are almost wholly unprepared for dealing with this type of social pathology, and due to their ignorance (and arrogance) almost always make things worse through inappropriate responses.


American Inquisition

Chris Rodda of Talk to Action writes about Islamaphobia penetrating the armed forces through guest speakers invited to U.S. Military Colleges and bases, three of whom claim that, "Muslims cannot be loyal Americans".


Prime Thesis

In answer to a request for my prime thesis, it is exposed in this essay , the essence of which I condensed into this briefing , and elaborated on in this book .

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


All Things Are Connected

As they say, all things are connected. The Reagan Administration brought criminal governance to America, and consequently a culture of fraud. That culture could not go on forever, and now we are paying the price.

Forecasting our future might be as simple as looking at the Argentinean experience, or as complex as examining the economic and religious hysteria of the 14th century as portrayed by Barbara Tuchman in A Distant Mirror. Given America’s exotic religious inclinations and economic system, I know which I’d place my bets on, but either way, public panic and private despair are phenomena we as activist scholars are going to have to deal with.

Fortunately, there are some excellent thinkers available to aid us in this task.


Breaking the Choke Hold

Real News reports on the regional resolution of Bolivia's civic unrest by the elected leaders of South America who are jointly attempting to break the choke hold of the United States over their natural resources.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Creating Democracy

Two years ago we wrote about how to honor the gallant among us while simultaneously safeguarding our communities. We also discussed how to separate the wheat from the chaff in identifying this milieu. Starting it all off, we elaborated on what needs to be done to create democracy in the US, and how to go about it.

Since then, we've established an online archive of briefings, articles, essays and reports essential to this task, as well as discussed our proposals with leading activist scholars throughout the US. We now feel it is time to move forward with implementing our initiative (and those of others) by establishing a Public Good Foundation in order to channel resources to the most appropriate recipients.

As this will entail a sizable endowment to be effective, we will be searching for individuals with the interest, determination, connections and ability to help us put this together. If you know of anyone, kindly e-mail them this post, and we will take it from there.

--Jay Taber


Laying Down Arms

Stan Goff of Feral Scholar provides the following for US armed forces personnel contemplating refusal to fight:

LINKS for Christian troops ready to say no:



From Wikipedia on Conscientious Objection:

A 1971 United States Supreme Court decision broadened U.S. rules beyond religious belief but denied the inclusion of objections to specific wars as grounds for conscientious objection.[22] Some desiring to include the objection to specific wars distinguish between wars of offensive aggression and defensive wars while others contend that religious, moral, or ethical opposition to war need not be absolute or consistent but may depend on circumstance or political conviction.

Currently, the U.S. Selective Service System states, “Beliefs which qualify a registrant for conscientious objector status may be religious in nature, but don’t have to be. Beliefs may be moral or ethical; however, a man’s reasons for not wanting to participate in a war must not be based on politics, expediency, or self-interest. In general, the man’s lifestyle prior to making his claim must reflect his current claims.”[23] In the US, this applies to primary claims, that is, those filed on initial SSS registration. On the other hand, those who apply after either having registered without filing, and/or having attempted or effected a deferral, are specifically required to demonstrate a discrete and documented change in belief, including a precipitant, that converted a non-CO to a CO. The male reference is due to the current “male only” basis for conscription in the United States.

In the United States, there are two main criteria for classification as a conscientious objector. First, the objector must be opposed to war in any form, Gillette v. United States, 401 U.S. 437. Second, the objection must be sincere, Witmer v. United States, 348 U.S. 375. That he must show that this opposition is based upon religious training and belief was no longer a criterion after cases broadened it to include non-religious moral belief, United States v. Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 and Welsh v. United States, 398 U.S. 333. COs willing to perform non-combatant military functions are classed 1-A-O by the U.S.; those unwilling to serve at all are 1-O.

This open letter and other written material (like that found in the enclosed links) opposing war on moral and-or religious grounds “demonstrate a discrete and documented change in belief, including a precipitant, that converted a non-CO to a CO,” if they are listed as the persuasive moral, religious, and philosophical arguments leading to your objector status.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Prosecuting War Criminals

The Real News Network presents the Justice Robert Jackson Conference on the Planning for Prosecution of High Level American War Criminals. The multi-part streaming series looking at prosecution, punishment, deterrence, and the challenges of achieving accountability raises issues of global import left largely unaddressed since the Nuremberg Trials.

By discussing such principles as human rights and related processes as openness in government, the panelists in this conference examine both the systematic violations of international humanitarian law by the United States, and perhaps more importantly, how this proactive undermining of universal human rights infrastructure by the world's first superpower portends collapse of global society if left unprosecuted.


Leaving Fear Behind

A presentation of Filming for Tibet.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Morales Effective

President Morales of Bolivia takes a measured and effective response to the fascist uprising supported by the United States. As guarantor of the human rights of indigenous peoples under national and international law, Morales' composure in confronting Bolivia's violent aristocracy serves as a model for other indigenous leaders throughout the Americas and the world. Bolivia's struggle for justice also serves as a warning for those of us seeking to democratize our own countries.

Friday, September 12, 2008


New College Update

Readers who followed the implosion of New College of California over the last year might be interested to know the fiasco is finally landing in court--sort of. While the employees of my alma mater in San Francisco never managed to organize themselves to file a class-action suit, they did get their back wage claims certified by the Department of Labor and dump these claims on the California Superior Court for resolution.

What the court will do with these claims remains a mystery, primarily because the employees' union attorneys have yet to file liens on any of the college's properties, which are nearly all sold now, with liens by trustees (who also functioned as the school's landlords) having already been satisfied. Still, maybe the employees will yet prevail through sheer accident in undoing conversion of the school's assets by dishonest trustees.

If they have a prayer in seeing a nickel, we suspect it will be as a result of the federal Department of Education investigation that was initiated in response to the frauds exposed by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges' special investigation team a year and a half ago. In the end, we think that satisfying employee wage claims and recovering stolen federal funds will involve judgments against the personal properties of individual trustees involved in the money-laundering and cover-up detailed in the numerous WASC letters and reports.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Sold Their Soul

No one can become a presidential candidate of a major political party in the United States without having sold their soul. Once having done so, it is a small step to selling their birthright, and ours. Remember that when tempted to indulge in the Messiah Complex.


Historic Gathering

Native American leaders to meet with Evo Morales in Alaska to discuss protecting the environment from North American mining and oil companies. All tribal leaders in the United States have been invited to this historic gathering with the preeminent indigenous head of state.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Restoring Trust

Elouise Cobell explains the meaning of trust, and how its betrayal affects the relationship between American Indians and the federal government.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Reality of Reconquest

With indigenous people making news from the Caucasus to the Andes recently, we thought it might be a good time to reintroduce Bill Weinberg's article about the current War on the Fourth World. As Bill observes, the inter-state conflicts in global resource wars often obscure the underlying reality of reconquest of indigenous nations by modern states for the purpose of plundering their property.

While some might argue that the theft of indigenous properties by modern states has been ongoing 24/7 since 1492, the nature of that looming larceny has taken new forms in the public mind, and thus the media and academia supporting such a grandiose criminal enterprise has had its hands full keeping us mesmerized with the free-market mantra. With 500 million people as the target of G8 genocide, obscuring and distorting this reality is no mean feat.

As autonomous zones around the world gain ground in the campaign for independence and subsidiarity relative to criminalized corporate states, the indigenous perspective is increasingly difficult to deny, and ignorance itself in the era of the Internet becomes a willful exercise in self-delusion. With the help of journalists like Weinberg and scholars like Bernard Nietschmann, the ignorance that bolsters neoliberal arrogance has perhaps met its match.

Monday, September 08, 2008


No on K

San Francisco ballot measure K to decriminalize prostitution is a bad idea; sex slavery should be abolished, not encouraged. Sweden got it right in protecting women and children by making procuring and trafficking for sex a crime, not the selling. By curbing demand and outlawing pimping, the levels of violence against women took a nosedive, something that has not happened wherever prostitution has been decriminalized.

San Franciscans are right about not blaming the victims of globalized poverty and crime, now they need to get their minds right about how to help them escape the brutal violence of prostitution--violence that takes place daily in both legalized and decriminalized jurisdictions.

San Francisco is often in the avant garde of social change for justice, it's still not too late for them to get this one right, too.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


America the Movie

If one accepts the premise of historian Howard Zinn, the United States government has been a criminal enterprise since the outset -- initially for the purpose of stealing real estate, later for profiteering from aggression -- then the hypothesis of author Walter Karp that the two American political parties of note are what he calls "indispensable enemies" makes sense. Competition, then -- much ballyhooed by media -- is merely over who gets to divide the spoils of the US Treasury, and not over whether the system of criminal enterprise in which they participate is, as they say, "on the table" for discussion.

For those unfamiliar with Zinn or Karp, the Sopranos TV series serves to illustrate this situation quite well: rival organized crime families compete and shift alliances now and then, but overall they are united in their opposition to lawful and orderly governance. The dominant political parties are simply a tool whereby aristocrats (the equivalent of crime families) control access to publicly-generated wealth; high profile politicians thus comprise the equivalent of Hollywood casting catalogues.

Viewed in its entirety, conventions, elections and other inter-party contests involving high drama, are best understood by the analysis of philosopher Guy DeBord in his classic text Society of the Spectacle. In this scenario, debating over which actor (politician) is more genuine, or heaven forbid, revolutionary, becomes an exercise in silliness.

Friday, September 05, 2008


Stop the Killing

The international volunteers who ran the Israeli blockade of Gaza last week got us thinking about overcoming the powerlessness Americans feel to stop the killing by our war industry. Anger against politicians, profiteers and pundits is out there; mobilizing that resentment is another matter.

Effective demonstrations of righteous indignation would need to be seen as dignified, meaningful and replicable. Something any local church or social group could do.

Young people especially need something encouraging for them to participate in. Stop the Killing seems broad enough to encompass such things as picketing defense contractors, opposing military recruiters, and shutting down shipping terminals. It's not too soon to start.


New Barbarism

Globalization really is too tame a word to use for mass murder in the pursuit of power and profit. The colonialism that preceded globalization used similar methodology in subduing the indigenous owners of natural resources, but today's genocides and other crimes against humanity need a more precise term to describe this modern globalized aggression. Perhaps "neocolonialism" will have to do for now, but in time I would think something more descriptive of armed robbery by militaries and mercenaries might be useful.

The aristocracies that now surmount borders and laws in committing these crimes like to call themselves the free market, but those enslaved, robbed or murdered by their proxies might prefer to be market free.

Maybe new barbarism would suffice.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Exploring Criminal Enterprise

In today's post at our affiliate learning house Mill U, we explore some of the concepts involved in dealing with the global phenomenon of criminal enterprise posing as government.


Swimming the Avalanche

Numerous public opinion polls over the last half century have consistently shown that the least trusted people in America are politicians. Reasons for this mistrust repeatedly list dishonesty, self-interest, and systematic promotion of the corrupted or corruptible.

On the other hand, year in and year out -- especially during presidential elections -- many people suspend this healthy skepticism of electoral promises, fervently supporting politicians skilled in rhetorical flourish and playing the time-honored role of daddy protector. Which is why some of our most successful politicians have previously been professional actors.

Why this is is hard to say, but we suspect it has something to do with the indoctrination of public education, and the massive political advertising that subliminally goes on TV 24/7. Independent news now available on the Internet helps, but by the time one is an adult, the amount of disinformation one has encountered through cultural constructs promoting American exceptionalism is almost smothering; so smothering, in fact, that escaping this barrage of propaganda is the equivalent of swimming out of an avalanche.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008



Police brutality toward alternative media journalists and antiwar groups is old hat, but did you catch the footage on Real News of the Iraq Veterans Against the War? They were awesome!

Impeccably turned out in their respective uniforms, marching in step to close order drill commands, the Denver police were paralyzed as they watched them pass on their way to the DNC convention.

Perhaps there's a lesson there for other activists.


Tyrant Spring

While the spectacle of televised rhetorical flourish heads into Fall season, the convergent responders might want to begin preparing for a turbulent Spring. As things fall apart under our next anointed tyrant, chaos will undoubtedly ensue, and if history is any guide, we will once again be on our own in dealing with domestic right-wing terrorists and overzealous police.

The focus of police harassment against pro-democracy groups, highlighted these last two weeks in Denver and St. Paul, ensures that the real troublemakers are being ignored. What this means is that whether roused by the election of a belligerent black man, or excited by an apocalyptic white guy in the Oval Office, the violent right-wing will likely resurface with a vengeance.

The pattern of response by police is to blame victims and scapegoat minorities, while progressives usually attempt to dialogue with terrorists and to marginalize activists serving as community safeguards. Congress and the White House, of course, will use the opportunity to strip away any remaining civil liberties and public wealth. Should be an interesting new year.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


Art of Maneuver

As noted here, the heightened war on democracy by Congress and the White House has reached well into local police and sheriff's departments. If pro-democracy activists are to remain viable and effective, they will need to learn and incorporate counterintelligence into their regimen. After all, authentic activism -- unlike advocacy -- involves maneuvering, not marketing; preventing the abuse of police powers is not a mission in diplomacy.


New Brochures

For the convenience of college instructors, we have made our acclaimed 2001 survey report Research as Organizing Tool and our 2003 workshop briefing Defending Democracy available as brochures. The text of the forthcoming DVD Walking Around Ideas is also now available in this format.

Monday, September 01, 2008


Subverting Tyranny

Subverting tyranny has a long history, and much can be learned from Americans and others about the arts and sciences of this endeavor, including psywar and netwar.

When I write or speak, I have in mind that the war of ideas I am participating in is not going to garner me either personal fortune or popular fame. Rather, I am building and extending a network of correspondents and colleagues able and willing to share the burdens and responsibilities of citizenship, as well as to continue the mentoring necessary to carry on this effort beyond our lifetimes.

In a word, we are looking for a few good recruits to do what needs to be done; put that in your Homeland Security pipe and smoke it.

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