May 1 – INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY AGAINST EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT IN MICHIGAN

http://www.d-rem.org/call-to-action-may-day-solidarity-against-emergency-management-in-michigan/

*CALL TO ACTION*

STATE AND WORLD-WIDE MAY 1, 2014

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY AGAINST EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT IN MICHIGAN

*NO BUSINESS AS USUAL!!!*

NO WORK, NO SHOPPING, NO LOTTERY TICKETS NO ALCOHOL, NO TOBACCO……. ON

THURSDAY, MAY 1, 2014

PROTEST TO SAVE WORKERS PENSIONS, CITY SERVICES, BUSES, SCHOOLS, OUR

CITIES’ ASSETS & DEMOCRACY

NO TO THE “PLAN OF ADJUSTMENT” THAT IS STEALING OUR MONEY

 

*SCHEDULE OF MAY DAY ACTIVITIES*

 

8:00 a.m. Ecumenical Unity Breakfast UAW Local 600 10550 Dix Avenue,

Dearborn, MI

9:00 a.m. The People Speak Out!!! Testimony from Citizens Affected by

Emergency Management

11:00 a.m. Protest Caravan for Justice and Democracy From UAW Local 600

to Hart Plaza – Downtown Detroit

12:00 p.m. Rally: No Business As Usual in Michigan!!!

1:30 p.m. March and Rally Through Detroit to Central United Methodist

Church, 23 East Adams Avenue at Woodward, Downtown Detroit

3:00 p.m. Why The Election of 2014 is So Important!!! The People Speak

Out Continues

4:30 p.m. Food, Fellowship and The People’s Plan for Detroit

 

Actions Continue at People Power Centers in Detroit neighborhoods around

the City

 

For more event details visit:

moratorium-mi.org,www.d-rem.org,

www.unitingdetroiters.org,

nationalactionnetwork.net/chapter/nan-detroit-chapter-51013

www.mwro.org

 

*PROTEST TO SAVE PENSIONS, CITY SERVICES, BUSES, SCHOOLS, WATER, OUR

CITIES’ ASSETS & DEMOCRACY*

 

*DEFEAT THE BANKERS’ “PLAN OF ADJUSTMENT”*

*HANDS OFF PENSIONS!*

 

*NO WORK, NO SCHOOL, NO SHOPPING, CASINOS, LOTTERY, ALCOHOL, TOBACCO*

 

 

*WHY WE PROTEST*

 

* MICHIGAN EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT

* SNYDER’S BANKRUPTCY PLAN

* PRIVATIZATION OF JOBS

* NO STATE REVENUE SHARING

* SCHOOL TAKEOVER

 

*=Equals= *

 

* NO MORAL COMPASS

* NO DEMOCRACY A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT

* TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION

* WALL STREET

* BANKERS GET PAID; PENSIONERS AND WORKERS HURT

* NO JOBS FOR DETROITERS AND OTHER MICHIGAN CITIZENS

* GIVE AWAY OF CITY’S ASSETS

* NO MORE TAXES FOR PRIVATE PROFIT

* REMOVAL OF CITIZENS FOR GENTRIFICATION

* POOR EDUCATION OF OUR CHILDREN

 

*NO BUSINESS AS USUAL*

 

Detroit is under siege. Governor Snyder and the right wing legislature

have joined Wall Street Bankers to strip us of our homes, our pensions and

benefits, and our democratic rights. They have used an Unconstitutional

Emergency Manager in a number of cities, where people of color are the

majority, to remove elected leadership so they could steal city assets and

privatize basic services. The unemployment rate in Detroit is already 49%

and for those under 30, 59%. Now Snyder is working to hand cities over to

the same banks that foreclosed on thousands of families across Michigan and

corporations. Snyder ignores the social cost of his plan, which is morally

bankrupt.

 

Today, 55% of all African Americans in Michigan can no longer vote for

effective local government and 75% of all African American elected

officials have been removed from power. We will stand on May 1, 2014 and

after with the people in cities across Michigan who are being denied basic

human rights and stripped of their common wealth.

 

* We demand that Governor Snyder, the Michigan legislature and, Kevyn

Orr stop stripping Michigan cities’ money and resources

* We demand our democracy taken by Snyder be restored immediately

* We demand that Wall Street pay for the crisis; not one dime from our

pensions and working government employees

* We demand the State restore full revenue sharing to all cities in

Michigan

* We demand Community Benefit Agreements for all development

* Support the People’s Plan for a Sustainable Detroit –

People’s Plan

* We join with people around the world on International Workers Day,

commemorating the Haymarket Square Protest in 1886 in Chicago for the eight

hour day.

* We celebrate with undocumented workers and immigrants, our heroic

sisters and brothers who revived May Day in this country

 

Call Issued By: Building Movement Detroit; Central United Methodist Church,

Rev. Edwin Rowe; Change Agent Consortium; Cities of Peace; Citizens For

Highland Park Schools; Cooperative Economics; Creative Hood Research;

Critical Moment; Detroit Communicator; Detroit Eviction Defense; Detroit

Green Party; Detroit People’s Platform; DPS Education Task Force; First

Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit, Lee Gaddies; Free Detroit/No

Consent; Feedom Freedom Growers; International Socialist Organization;

James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership; Keep

Detroit Growing; Library Committee; Michigan Citizen; Michigan Forward;

Michigan Welfare Rights Organization; Moratorium Now!; National Action

Network; National Lawyers Guild; Project Save Detroit; Rosa and Raymond

Parks Institute for Self Development; Sacred Heart Church, Father Norman P.

Thomas; Simmons’ Hush House; Slowdown/Raiz Up; Social Justice Chair; St.

Peter’s Episcopal Church Detroit, Pastor Bill Wylie-Kellerman; Sugar Law

Center; Team for Justice; Uprooting Racism Planting Justice; We The People

of Detroit

 

For more event details visit:

moratorium-mi.org,www.d-rem.org,

www.unitingdetroiters.org,

nationalactionnetwork.net/chapter/nan-detroit-chapter-51013

www.mwro.org

 

CALL TO ACTION: MAY DAY SOLIDARITY AGAINST EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT IN MICHIGAN

 

 

 

The Viet Nam War and the U.S.A. of Amnesia By Frank Joyce

The Viet Nam War and the U.S.A. of Amnesia

By Frank Joyce

March 23-30-2013

frankjoyceForty years ago, on January 27, 1973 , the United States officially stopped carrying out direct military attacks against Viet Nam. That phase of the war ended with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords. Henry Kissinger and Viet Nam’s Le Duc Tho subsequently won the Nobel Peace prize for negotiating the agreement.

In Viet Nam the anniversary was a very big deal. I know because I was part of a delegation of Americans and other anti-war activists from around the world invited to participate in events commemorating the Paris Peace accords. An official ceremony in Hanoi was carried live on national TV. Deep gratitude was expressed to the U.S. civilians and soldiers who resisted the war.

The Vietnamese government wants young people to better understand the war and its place in Viet Nam’s past, present and future. They think it’s especially important because 80 percent of the population has been born since the war ended.

Many young Americans were also born since the Viet Nam war ended. But the number of stories in the US media about the Paris Peace Accords anniversary was Zero. That’s not really surprising because we really are the United States of Amnesia. It all goes back to slavery.

The United States is exceptional. Never before did a spanking new nation birth its economy and its government on capitalist slavery and genocidal policies toward the indigenous people. The consequences of that birth “defect” are very much with us today. One of them is that we are loathe to recognize how much the consequences are with us today.

The fact of slavery required a rationalization for slavery. When that ended, the fact of Jim Crow segregation required the moral justification of the Jim Crow system. And so it goes. Such moral excuses require a lot of mental gymnastics.

Given what we are beginning to learn about neuroscience, we can understand that rationalizing slavery (and genocide) form neural paths that become part of the collective DNA of our citizenry. Avoidance, denial, and hypocrisy are essential components of the process. Those thought habits get passed from generation to generation.

Given that the USA has yet to come to terms with slavery we have avoided many, many other issues as well. It’s what we do. So we also have yet to process our decades long 20th century brutality in Viet Nam, Cambodia and Laos. Instead we just moved on to apply similar thinking and actions to Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan , Africa and Iran.

It becomes almost inevitable that we make the same mistakes over and over again in trying to force other nations to bend to our will and “way of life.” It also means that we fail to connect the viciousness we visit on other countries with the brutality that characterizes our own culture.

Does anyone seriously think we can control gun violence at home when we commit massive gun violence every day in countries all over the world? Or that “PTSD” homicides, suicides and domestic violence are not “blowback” (chickens come home to roost) from foreign aggression? Of course ,we elevate a distorted view of the second amendment which was originally passed for purposes of

slave control to a preeminent position in the U.S. constitution.

There is, fortunately, another side to this story. The history and traditions of our nation also include an abolitionist movement. Whites died in the struggle to end Jim Crow segregation in the South. African Americans and whites died in opposing U.S. wars against Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia. And the anti-war movement did make a difference in bringing that war to an end more quickly than would otherwise have been the case.

In observing the end of the U.S. war, the Vietnamese made very clear that they see both sides of the picture. They know the reality so brilliantly described in the recently published book by Nick Turse, Kill Everything That Moves. Those atrocities were daily reality to the Vietnamese (and the Laotians and Cambodians).

As Chris Hedges says in his recent review: “Case after case in his book makes it painfully clear that soldiers and Marines deliberately maimed, abused, beat, tortured, raped, wounded or killed hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilians, including children, with impunity. Troops engaged in routine acts of sadistic violence usually associated with demented Nazi concentration camp guards.

“The few incidents of wanton killing in Vietnam—and this is also true for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—that did become public, such as My Lai, were dismissed as an aberration, the result of a few soldiers or Marines gone bad. But, as Turse makes clear, such massacres were and are, in our current imperial adventures, commonplace. The slaughters “were the inevitable outcome of deliberate policies, dictated at the highest levels of the military,” he writes. They were carried out because the dominant tactic of the war, as conceived by our politicians and generals, was centered on the concept of “overkill.” And when troops on the ground could not kill fast enough, the gunships, helicopters, fighter jets and bombers came to their assistance. The U.S. Air Force contributed to the demented quest for “overkill”—eradicating so many of the enemy that recuperation was theoretically impossible—by dropping the equivalent of 640 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs on Vietnam, most actually falling on the south where our purported Vietnamese allies resided. And planes didn’t just drop bombs. They unloaded more than 70 million tons of herbicidal agents, 3 million white phosphorus rockets—white phosphorous will burn its way entirely through a body—and an estimated 400,000 tons of jellied incendiary napalm.”

Yes, the Vietnamese know that reality and its ongoing consequences including continuing birth defects from Agent Orange and unexploded U.S. bombs that still kill and maim. But they also know and celebrate the contributions of the anti-war movement that helped shorten the war.

Here in the U.S. the government and the mainstream media see neither. The sooner we truly appreciate what we did in Viet Nam, the sooner we will make real headway at dealing with injustice and violence here at home.

Naming Our Storms: On Climate and Clarity Rebecca Solnit

CommonDreams.org.

Naming Our Storms: On Climate and Clarity

Against the Destruction of the World by Greed

by Rebecca Solnit

 

In ancient China, the arrival of a new dynasty was accompanied by “the rectification of names,” a ceremony in which the sloppiness and erosion of meaning that had taken place under the previous dynasty were cleared up and language and its subjects correlated again. It was like a debt jubilee, only for meaning rather than money.

 This was part of what made Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign so electrifying: he seemed like a man who spoke our language and called many if not all things by their true names. Whatever caused that season of clarity, once elected, Obama promptly sank into the stale, muffled, parallel-universe language wielded by most politicians, and has remained there ever since. Meanwhile, the far right has gotten as far as it has by mislabeling just about everything in our world — a phenomenon which went supernova in this year of “legitimate rape,” “the apology tour,” and “job creators.”  Meanwhile, their fantasy version of economics keeps getting more fantastic. (Maybe there should be a rectification of numbers, too.)  

Let’s rectify some names ourselves. We often speak as though the source of so many of our problems is complex and even mysterious. I’m not sure it is. You can blame it all on greed: the refusal to do anything about climate change, the attempts by the .01% to destroy our democracy, the constant robbing of the poor, the resultant starving children, the war against most of what is beautiful on this Earth.

Calling lies “lies” and theft “theft” and violence “violence,” loudly, clearly, and consistently, until truth becomes more than a bump in the road, is a powerful aspect of political activism. Much of the work around human rights begins with accurately and aggressively reframing the status quo as an outrage, whether it’s misogyny or racism or poisoning the environment. What protects an outrage are disguises, circumlocutions, and euphemisms — “enhanced interrogation techniques” for torture, “collateral damage” for killing civilians, “the war on terror” for the war against you and me and our Bill of Rights.

Change the language and you’ve begun to change the reality or at least to open the status quo to question. Here is Confucius on the rectification of names:

“If language is not correct, then what is said is not what is meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.”

So let’s start calling manifestations of greed by their true name. By greed, I mean the attempt of those who have plenty to get more, not the attempts of the rest of us to survive or lead a decent life. Look at the Waltons of Wal-Mart fame: the four main heirs are among the dozen richest people on the planet, each holding about $24 billion. Their wealth is equivalent to that of the bottom 40% of Americans. The corporation Sam Walton founded now employs 2.2 million workers, two-thirds of them in the U.S., and the great majority are poorly paid, intimidated, often underemployed people who routinely depend on government benefits to survive. You could call that Walton Family welfare — a taxpayers’ subsidy to their system. Strikes launched against Wal-Mart this summer and fall protested working conditions of astonishing barbarity — warehouses that reach 120 degrees, a woman eight months pregnant forced to work at a brutal pace, commonplace exposure to pollutants, and the intimidation of those who attempted to organize or unionize.

You would think that $24,000,000,000 apiece would be enough, but the Walton family sits atop a machine intent upon brutalizing tens of millions of people — the suppliers of Wal-Mart notorious for their abysmal working conditions, as well as the employees of the stores — only to add to piles of wealth already obscenely vast. Of course, what we call corporations are, in fact, perpetual motion machines, set up to endlessly extract wealth (and leave slagheaps of poverty behind) no matter what. 

They are generally organized in such a way that the brutality that leads to wealth extraction is committed by subcontractors at a distance or described in euphemisms, so that the stockholders, board members, and senior executives never really have to know what’s being done in their names. And yet it is their job to know — just as it is each of our jobs to know what systems feed us and exploit or defend us, and the job of writers, historians, and journalists to rectify the names for all these things.   

Groton to Moloch 

The most terrifying passage in whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg’s gripping book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers is not about his time in Vietnam, or his life as a fugitive after he released the Pentagon Papers. It’s about a 1969 dinnertime conversation with a co-worker in a swanky house in Pacific Palisades, California.  It took place right after Ellsberg and five of his colleagues had written a letter to the New York Times arguing for immediate withdrawal from the unwinnable, brutal war in Vietnam, and Ellsberg’s host said, “If I were willing to give up all this… if I were willing to renege on… my commitment to send my son to Groton… I would have signed the letter.”

In other words, his unnamed co-worker had weighed trying to prevent the violent deaths of hundreds of thousands of people against the upper-middle-class perk of having his kid in a fancy prep school, and chosen the latter. The man who opted for Groton was, at least, someone who worked for what he had and who could imagine having painfully less. This is not true of the ultra-rich shaping the future of our planet.

They could send tens of thousands to Groton, buy more Renoirs and ranches, and still not exploit the poor or destroy the environment, but they’re as insatiable as they are ruthless. They are often celebrated in their aesthetic side effects: imposing mansions, cultural patronage, jewels, yachts.  But in many, maybe most, cases they got rich through something a lot uglier, and that ugliness is still ongoing. Rectifying the names would mean revealing the ugliness of the sources of their fortunes and the grotesque scale on which they contrive to amass them, rather than the gaudiness of the trinkets they buy with them. It would mean seeing and naming the destruction that is the corollary of most of this wealth creation.

A Storm Surge of Selfishness 

Where this matters most is climate change. Why have we done almost nothing over the past 25 years about what was then a terrifying threat and is now a present catastrophe? Because it was bad for quarterly returns and fossil-fuel portfolios. When posterity indicts our era, this will be the feeble answer for why we did so little — that the rich and powerful with ties to the carbon-emitting industries have done everything in their power to prevent action on, or even recognition of, the problem. In this country in particular, they spent a fortune sowing doubt about the science of climate change and punishing politicians who brought the subject up. In this way have we gone through four “debates” and nearly a full election cycle with climate change unmentioned and unmentionable.

These three decades of refusing to respond have wasted crucial time. It’s as though you were prevented from putting out a fire until it was raging: now the tundra is thawing and Greenland’s ice shield is melting and nearly every natural system is disrupted, from the acidifying oceans to the erratic seasons to droughts, floods, heat waves, and wildfires, and the failure of crops. We can still respond, but the climate is changed; the damage we all spoke of, only a few years ago, as being in the future is here, now.

You can look at the chief executive officers of the oil corporations — Chevron’s John Watson, for example, who received almost $25 million ($1.57 million in salary and the rest in “compensation”) in 2011 — or their major shareholders. They can want for nothing. They’re so rich they could quit the game at any moment. When it comes to climate change, some of the wealthiest people in the world have weighed the fate of the Earth and every living thing on it for untold generations to come, the seasons and the harvests, this whole exquisite planet we evolved on, and they have come down on the side of more profit for themselves, the least needy people the world has ever seen.

Take those billionaire energy tycoons Charles and David Koch, who are all over American politics these days. They are spending tens of millions of dollars to defeat Obama, partly because he offends their conservative sensibilities, but also because he is less likely to be a completely devoted servant of their profit margins. He might, if we shout loud enough, rectify a few names.  Under pressure, he might even listen to the public or environmental groups, while Romney poses no such problem (and under a Romney administration they will probably make more back in tax cuts than they are gambling on his election).

Two years ago, the Koch brothers spent $1 million on California’s Proposition 23, an initiative written and put on the ballot by out-of-state oil companies to overturn our 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act. It lost by a landslide, but the Koch brothers have also invested a small fortune in spreading climate-change denial and sponsoring the Tea Party (which they can count on to oppose climate change regulation as big government or interference with free enterprise). This year they’re backing a California initiative to silence unions. They want nothing to stand in the way of corporate power and the exploitation of fossil fuels. Think of it as another kind of war, and consider the early casualties.   

As the Irish Times put it in an editorial this summer:

“Across Africa, Asia, and Latin America, hundreds of millions are struggling to adapt to their changing climate. In the last three years, we have seen 10 million people displaced by floods in Pakistan, 13 million face hunger in east Africa, and over 10 million in the Sahel region of Africa face starvation. Even those figures only scrape the surface. According to the Global Humanitarian Forum, headed up by former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan, climate change is responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and affects 300 million people annually. By 2030, the annual death toll related to climate change is expected to rise to 500,000 and the economic cost to rocket to $600 billion.”

This coming year may see a dramatic increase in hunger due to rising food prices from crop failures, including this summer’s in the U.S. Midwest after a scorching drought in which the Mississippi River nearly ran dry and crops withered.

We need to talk about climate change as a war against nature, against the poor (especially the poor of Africa), and against the rest of us. There are casualties, there are deaths, and there is destruction, and it’s all mounting. Rectify the name, call it war. While we’re at it, take back the term “pro-life” to talk about those who are trying to save the lives of all the creatures suffering from the collapse of the complex systems on which plant and animal as well as human lives depend. The other side: “pro-death.”

The complex array of effects from climate change and their global distribution, as well as their scale and the science behind them makes it harder to talk about than almost anything else on Earth, but we should talk about it all the more because of that. And yes, the rest of us should do more, but what is the great obstacle those who have already tried to do so much invariably come up against? The oil corporations, the coal companies, the energy industry, its staggering financial clout, its swarms of lobbyists, and the politicians in its clutches. Those who benefit most from the status quo, I learned in studying disasters, are always the least willing to change.

The Doublespeak on Taxes 

I’m a Californian so I faced the current version of American greed early. Proposition 13, the initiative that froze property taxes and made it nearly impossible to raise taxes in our state, went into effect in 1978, two years before California’s former governor Ronald Reagan won the presidency, in part by catering to greed. Prop 13, as it came to be known, went into effect when California was still an affluent state with the best educational system in the world, including some of the top universities around, nearly free to in-staters all the way through graduate school. Tax cuts have trashed the state and that education system, and they are now doing the same to our country. The public sphere is to society what the biosphere is to life on earth: the space we live in together, and the attacks on them have parallels.

What are taxes? They are that portion of your income that you contribute to the common good. Most of us are unhappy with how they’re allocated — though few outside the left talk about the fact that more than half of federal discretionary expenditures go to our gargantuan military, more money than is spent on the next 14 militaries combined. Ever since Reagan, the right has complained unceasingly about fantasy expenditures — from that president’s “welfare queens” to Mitt Romney’s attack on Big Bird and PBS (which consumes .001% of federal expenditures).

As part of its religion of greed, the right invented a series of myths about where those taxes went, how paying them was the ultimate form of oppression, and what boons tax cuts were to bring us.  They then delivered the biggest tax cuts of all to those who already had a superfluity of money and weren’t going to pump the extra they got back into the economy. What they really were saying was that they wanted to hang onto every nickel, no matter how the public sphere was devastated, and that they really served the ultra-rich, over and over again, not the suckers who voted them into office.

Despite decades of cutting to the bone, they continue to promote tax cuts as if they had yet to happen. Their constant refrain is that we are too poor to feed the poor or educate the young or heal the sick, but the poverty isn’t monetary: it’s moral and emotional. Let’s rectify some more language: even at this moment, the United States remains the richest nation the world has ever seen, and California — with the richest agricultural regions on the planet and a colossal high-tech boom still ongoing in Silicon Valley — is loaded, too. Whatever its problems, the U.S. is still swimming in abundance, even if that abundance is divided up ever more unequally.

Really, there’s more than enough to feed every child well, to treat every sick person, to educate everyone well without saddling them with hideous debt, to support the arts, to protect the environment — to produce, in short, a glorious society. The obstacle is greed. We could still make the sorts of changes climate change requires of us and become a very different nation without overwhelming pain. We would then lead somewhat different lives — richer, not poorer, for most of us (in meaning, community, power, and hope). Because this culture of greed impoverishes all of us, it is, to call it by its true name, destruction.

Occupy the Names  

One of the great accomplishments of Occupy Wall Street was this rectification of names. Those who came together under that rubric named the greed, inequality, and injustice in our system; they made the brutality of debt and the subjugation of the debtors visible; they called out Wall Street’s crimes; they labeled the wealthiest among us the “1%,” those who have made a profession out of pumping great sums of our wealth upwards (quite a different kind of tax).  It was a label that made instant sense across much of the political spectrum. It was a good beginning. But there’s so much more to do.

Naming is only part of the work, but it’s a crucial first step. A doctor initially diagnoses, then treats; an activist or citizen must begin by describing what is wrong before acting. To do that well is to call things by their true names. Merely calling out these names is a beam of light powerful enough to send the destroyers it shines upon scurrying for cover like roaches. After that, you still need to name your vision, your plan, your hope, your dream of something better.

Names matter; language matters; truth matters. In this era when the mainstream media serve obfuscation and evasion more than anything else (except distraction), alternative media, social media, demonstrations in the streets, and conversations between friends are the refuges of truth, the places where we can begin to rectify the names. So start talking.

© 2012 Rebecca Solnit

 

Rebecca Solnit is an activist and the author of many books, including: Wanderlust: A History of Walking, The Battle of The Story of the Battle in Seattle (with her brother David), and Storming The Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics. Her most recent book is, A Paradise Built in Hell, is now available. She is a contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine

Call For a Conference on Creating a New Green Corn Alliance: Transformative Organizing for a new Red State. Roberto Mendoza

Call For a Conference on Creating a New Green Corn Alliance: Transformative Organizing for a new Red State.

by Roberto Mendoza, Occupy Tulsa Neighborhoods organizer.

On August 2, 1917, the Green Corn Rebellion began in rural Oklahoma. This little-known chapter in U.S. history was an armed rebellion led by impoverished tenant farmers and former railroad workers who had lost their jobs when the railroad strike led by Eugene V. Debs was defeated in the 1890s.

The rebellion took place just weeks after the federal government moved to institute military conscription. (The United States had declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, and joined the British and French side in World War I, which had been raging since 1914.) While the Green Corn Rebellion included African-Americans and Native Americans, the overwhelming majority of the insurgents were white Southern rural people. Oklahoma’s dispossessed rebel against poverty and a ‘rich man’s war’ By Chris Mahin

It has been six months since the Occupy movement came to Tulsa. As someone who has been in ‘the movement’ in its various forms since the ’60’s I have had the privilege of being a part of its ups and downs and its defeats and successes. I have worked with people like Richard Oakes, James and Grace Boggs, Starhawk, Margo Adair, John Mohawk and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.

I joined the Occupy Tulsa movement from the very beginning. I saw the energy, hopefulness, intelligence and commitment from many people who came to the early meetings. Unfortunately a small group of people quickly took control of the means of communication (the Facebook page and web page) and started to block and push out people who questioned their covert leadership style and unaccountability. I was one of those who was pushed out and demonized.

Eventually the continued excluding of people from access to the Facebook and web pages by this small group led to a revolt of most of the group, which then led to an inevitable split into two Occupy Tulsa groups.

Before the split, I had decided that it was no use in trying to get back into Occupy Tulsa, so I and several other people who had been pushed out (who were mainly people of color) decided to start our own Occupy group, based on the affinity group model and orientated towards basing ourselves in the neighborhoods, especially low income areas in North, West and East Tulsa, which were mainly black, Native, Latino and poor whites.

We were inspired by the ‘Visionary Organizing’ vs ‘Protest Organizing’ laid out by Grace Boggs of the Boggs Center/Detroit Summer.

Visionary vs Protest Organizing

Grace did not believe that putting most of your energy in protesting and trying to create bigger and bigger protests is the best way to create a revolution here in the U.S. The ruling class/1% not only ignore even the biggest protests (the millions who protested the Iraq War around the world and in the U.S.) but use them as a way to paint the protestors as unruly, violence prone proto-terrorists, evicting them from their encampments and tying up their energy and resources in court cases. The Occupy movement is not the answer, it is just the beginning of an evolving transformative movement that will take years, if not decades to fully mature and become truly powerful enough to replace the current declining American Empire.

She also pointed out that making demands on the ruling class is self defeating as they can and will try to make small concessions to defuse and divide the movement. It is the liberal reform wing of the Occupy movement that is pushing this direction. Reforms do not address the structural and systemic faults of the capitalist system, like climate change, peak oil, the prison-industrial complex, imperialist wars and extremes of poverty and homelessness. Grace Boggs, along with Immanuel Wallerstein and Johan Galtung, see that the U.S. Empire is collapsing and something revolutionary has to replace it.

In Revolution and Evolution in the 20th Century, Grace talked about the difference between rebellion and revolution: Rebels “do not see themselves as responsible for reorganizing society, what the revolutionary social forces must do in a revolutionary period. They are not prepared to create the foundation for a new society… In other words, because rebellions do not go beyond protesting injustices they increase the dependency rather than the self-determination of the oppressed…if and when they gain power, they may make some reforms, but they are powerless to make fundamental changes because they have not empowered the oppressed prior to taking power.” Examples of failed rebellions are the ‘People Power’ movement in the Philippines and the ‘Color Revolutions’ of Eastern Europe and the taking power in S. Africa by Mandela and the ANC. They replaced the dictatorships/Apartheid system, but retained and even extended the rule of Capitalism in their countries. As a result, inequality, poverty and lack of true democracy still prevail. ‘Revolutions’ that do not replace the Capitalist system and truly empower the people are not what we want or need.

Right now the Occupy movement is in it’s rebellion stage, with its constant marches, rallys and protests. Only when it moves into its Decolonization stage, and moves to sink roots and organize in oppressed communities, can it truly become revolutionary.

Visionary and Transformative Organizing

Organizing to empower our communities is what is needed to create the infrastructure and institutions that can best serve the people in the coming chaos and violence of the crumbling Empire. Creating community gardens, urban farms and community based schools, may not be as glamorous and exciting as fighting the cops in big protests, but they are part of slowly but surely building the foundations of a strong nationwide movement. Only then we will be able to mobilize millions to confront and replace the system when the time is ripe. In the process, these revolutionaries will have transformed themselves by doing transformative work in oppressed communities. This will take patience and a deep commitment to this work, which may take decades. There are no shortcuts to organizing and mobilizing the millions needed to make the structural, political and moral changes necessary for a real transformative revolution.

Transformative organizing, that which transforms not only society, but oneself,

is what is needed in this coming period of social, moral and economic breakdown. Like Sub Commandante Marcos and the Zapatistas in Chiapas, we need committed revolutionaries that go out to the barrios, ghettos, reservations and trailer parks to learn from, patiently organize and build community based schools, farms, health clinics, alternative energy systems for all the oppressed people, including poor whites, in this country.

Internalized Oppression – How They Affect our Movement.

External oppression holds back our movement greatly. But even more insidious, because it is so hidden, is our own Internalized Oppression. This happens when we internalize the negative and cynical messages from the Capitalist System about ourselves and our people – that we are too dumb, too lazy, not competitive and individualistic enough to make it in this system. It is our own anger, fear and resentment turned inward, onto the community itself. Most crime in our community, and especially gang banging, is a product of this hidden oppression. Other aspects include child and spousal abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, sexism, racism, gay oppression and classism. Individually, it is expressed in discouragement, cynicism, low self esteem and losing ourselves in excessive partying, sexual promiscuity and watching mindless spectator sports on TV, brainwashed by Fox News and right wing talk radio.

In our movements, it is expressed by attacking each other, spreading gossip and rumors, fiercely demanding that we all adhere to a ‘correct line’. Finally it leads some of us to become informants, provocateurs and police agents, both paid and unpaid. Suspicion, paranoia, and lack of trust can result, unless we find ways to understand, recognize and heal from Internalized Oppression. These oppressive, divisive patterns keep the system in place, as each one of us internalizes them in our thoughts and actions. We can learn to decolonize our thinking and free ourselves from the oppressor patterns installed as Patriarchal, Heternormative values in our families, schools, churches, corporations, the military and the so called Criminal Justice system.

Ending Addictions and Growing Healthy Food

We have to pledge to help each other giving up addictions like smoking- a self destructive and wasteful addiction that enriches some of the richest drug peddlers in the world. We know it is slowly destroying our lungs and health, but we suffer alone, thinking that nobody cares if we smoke. We need to let each other know that we do care about each other’s health and well being. This is how we can show our love for each other. As Che Guevara said, “at the risk of seeming ridiculous, a true revolutionary is motivated by feelings of love”

It is hard to quit smoking alone. We need each others support, just as we need each other’s support to quit other addictions like alcohol and drugs, even seemingly innocuous drugs like marijuana. Our drug use leaves us open to arrest at any time, where we can end up in the prison industrial system. Harder drugs can kills us with overdoses.

Quitting addictions goes along with helping our people to stop eating toxic food produced by the Industrial Agriculture Complex that leads to all kinds of degenerative diseases like diabetes, obesity, cancer, etc. Helping others grow and eat healthy food is how we show love for our own bodies and the bodies of our families, friends, lovers and coworkers. This why the Food Sovereignty movement is growing so fast. Community gardens break our dependency on the Industrial food system, while encouraging young and old to work together in a safe, educational and spiritual environment that reconnects us to the living essence of the Natural World. As Grace Boggs reminds us, growing food is revolutionary.

Occupy vs Decolonize

On the national level, many people of color caucuses have begun calling for the Occupy movement to transform itself into a Decolonization movement. Especially since Native people, having suffered 500 years of Occupation by a Settler Colonial system called the United States. Many have started to split off from Decolonization movement, one of the most recent taking place in Oakland, CA. They felt that the mainly white leadership of Occupy Oakland was not open to hearing and acting on the concerns of communities of color who have constantly fought against colonial police violence, racism and the oppressive effects of White Skin Privilege. They have asked white leaders to Step Up, then Step Back, to little effect. White members of the Occupy movement need to learn the real history of colonization, genocide and slavery which created this settler nation, that eventually became an Empire. White skin privilege, and the middle and upper class lifestyles can only exist in a nation built and sustained by Empire (currently hidden under the benign term, Globalization).

We in Occupy Tulsa Neighborhoods were multiracial at the beginning, especially in our leadership, so we have not had these divisive struggles – yet. But we will still have to educate our white members on what White Skin Privilege and racism is doing to our communities. Occupy Tulsa and Occupy Oklahoma needs to deepen their commitment to understanding the dynamics of racism and White Skin Privilege within their own groups.

Who Will Organize Poor and Working Class Whites?

This means that they need to make a clear commitment to organizing poor whites in Tulsa and Oklahoma, who have felt ignored and marginalized by the White Left for too long. Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz pointed to that this was one of the worst mistakes of the White Left in the 60’s, which left poor whites to being organized by fundamentalist right wing Christians and the Republican party. The Klan is trying to fill the vacuum by organizing poor whites in West Tulsa. What is Occupy Tulsa doing there to counter them?

This does not mean that the different races cannot join together in multiracial coalitions and alliances, like the Rainbow Coalitions of the 60’s. It just means that whites can more effectively organize in the white communities, just as African Americans can best organize in their own communities. Too often, poor and working class whites have been ignored by white leftists/anarchists. Too often white leftists prefer to only work with and support Third World struggles like the Apartheid Movement and the Zapatistas in Mexico. That is seen as more glamorous than taking up the struggles of poor and working class whites who are seen as too racist, ignorant and fundamentalist. This is part of the Internalized Oppression of liberal and leftist whites, who end up looking down on and ignoring the poverty and oppression suffered by their ‘white trash’ ‘redneck’ and “clinging to guns and religion” poor white sisters and brothers.

We need the white Occupy people to direct their energies toward organizing and politicizing the millions of poor whites, who, if ignored, will continue to join right wing militias and racist groups. The Corporate State has and will continue to use them as the shock troops/Brown Shirts of the counter-revolution. This is already happening with the Tea Party and Christian Fundamentalist movement.

For white Occupiers, some resources for organizing their own people is in two books, ‘Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power,’ by Amy Sonnie and James Tracy, plus Deer Hunting with Jesus, by Joe Bageant (who also had a blog). They need to organize study groups around these books to get a sense of how poor and working class white groups like the Young Patriots and Rising Up Angry movements started in the 60’. They need to study their mistakes and successes and learn how to create a new movement of poor and working class whites for this century. Their are 60 million poor whites and their political education and organizing is one of the key parts of a strategy for a successful revolution in this country.

Indigenous People in Oklahoma: A New Way of Thinking

Native people have a key role to play in the coming iterations of the Occupy and Decolonizing movements here in Oklahoma. Our history goes back at least 30,000 years on Turtle Island and over a century in this Settler State now known as Oklahoma.

Ethnically cleansed from our homelands in the South, West and Midwest, we were were originally forcibley driven into what was then know as Indian Territory. After Statehood, many of us joined with poor whites and blacks in the Green Corn Rebellion during the First World War. Then, most of us were driven off our lands by the Land Run, the Dawes act and the Relocation program. Our children were kidnapped and brainwashed in BIA and church run boarding schools, where our language and culture were suppressed. When we could no longer find jobs and decent opportunities in our rural towns and lands, most of us ended up in the cities, especially Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

In the 60’s and 70’s, the American Indian Movement led many Oklahoma Native people to join the Occupation at Wounded Knee, SD in 1973. Carter Camp, a Ponca, was one of the leaders of that occupation. My own mother went to AIM meetings in Okmulgee.

Now, as groups like the Indigenous Environmental Movement link up to Native movements hemisphere wide, new ideas are being introduced by Natives from the Andean regions of South America.

Living Well instead of Living Better

“a vision of society in which the goal is working to live and not living to work. It is in this context that Evo Morales has been promoting the concept of ‘the good living’ (sumac kamaña in Quechua, sumak kawsay in Quichua, allin kausaw in Aymara or buen vivir in Spanish). ‘The good living’ – or ‘to live in harmony’ – is an alternative to ‘development’. While development puts life at the service of growth and accumulation, buen vivir places life first, with institutions at the service of life. That is what ‘living in harmony’ (and not in competition) means.”

—from, The Communal and the Decolonial, Walter Mignolo.

This is the new economic paradigm needed for the people in the Western Hemisphere – Living Well instead of Living Better. Living Better is grounded in Empire, Colonialism and Capitalism, of people, land and nature. Living well means living within our means, sustainably and in harmony with other nations and the Natural World. It requires values of cooperation, respect for the earth, balance, sharing – not individualism, competition and materialism. It means that we have to say goodbye to Empire, and the crass consumerism, materialism, individualism and competition that it produced, and learn to live a simple, cooperative, yet sustainable way of living. We will gain community, peace and a sustainable, balanced way of living.

We Are All Connected to the Sacred – Native Wisdom

Grace Boggs, in reading the writing of Karen Armstrong The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions, is also seeing the power of Indigenous thinking: “Armstrong is convinced that as a result of urbanization, globalization, and rapidly changing technology the whole world is now in the midst of a social crisis as profound as that of the Axial Age. We are therefore called on to make a similar leap in faith, to practice a similar compassion. Native Peoples’ view of the Earth as a sacred entity rather than only as a resource, she believes, provides us with a model.”

Even Albert Einstein, the epitome of a scientist, began to think like an Indigenous person in his later life: “A human being,” Einstein concluded, “is a part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest-a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

Our understanding that we are all interconnected, in a living entity called the Earth, forms the basis for an ancient, yet modern way of living our lives. It is a form of Spirituality (not religion) needed in this period. We need to become Warriors of the Rainbow, those multiracial fighters for the defense of life on earth, that an old prophesy that Betita Martinez wrote about, in the introduction to her book, De Coloris Means All of Us, “the legend continues with all the races and religions banding together against the disaster. Under the symbol of the rainbow they spread the great wisdom of living in harmony with each other and with all the creations of the world. “Those who teach this will be the Warriors of the Rainbow,” …Armed only with the truth, after a great struggle they will bring an end to the destruction. Eventually they will save life itself.”

The Eagle and the Condor

We are starting to understand that Chicanos and Indigenous people from Central and South America are One People, and that the Vision of the Eagle and the Condor is coming to pass: “Every five centuries the life of the nations would be nourished and renewed. For our time period, the beginning of liberation would be symbolized by this prophesy: “When Condor of the South and the Eagle of the North come together again, the union of their tears will heal the wounds of the Indian peoples and fortify their spirit, body and thought. A new generation will spring forth who will reach out their hands to end oppression, exploitation and injustice, and will write the word liberty in the sky.”

In our State, where Indigenous/Native/Latino people constitute a growing population, we can call on these legends, prophesies and stories (including the Green Corn Rebellion, which was composed of poor whites and Native American and African American farmers) to begin a dialogue among the different races, classes and religions here in Oklahoma about what kind of future we want to create for our children and grandchildren.

Call for a new Green Corn Alliance in Oklahoma

“What we urgently need are impassioned discussions everwhere, in groups large and small, where people from all walks of life are not only talking but also listening to one another”, Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution.

We can start by calling for local dialogues/discussions leading up to a conference on creating a New Green Corn Alliance: Transformative Organizing for a new Red State. This will be statewide, multi-class, multi-racial, across age and gender lines, building on the inspiration of the original Green Corn Rebellion. It will also reclaim the radical history of early Oklahoma, a necessary step in building a new radical movement for the 21st century.

The Conference will feature workshops on topics discussed in the Call for Local Dialogues. It will feature speakers like Roxanne Dunbar-Otiz, Food Sovereignty and Native American Activist, Ben Yahola and possibly regional activists like Grace Boggs and Native American land activist Winona LaDuke. Hopefully a new statewide Green Corn Alliance can result from this effort. Joining together the stuggles of Native Americans, African Americans, European Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Arab Americans would create a powerful force for positive change in the new Red State of Oklahoma. Let us begin the first steps in this new direction. Our children and grandchildren are counting on us.

Roberto Mendoza

If you wish to be on the Organizing Committee, contact Roberto Mendoza, quetzalhombre@gmail.com.