Friday, November 28, 2014

Talking to James Risen About Pay Any Price, the War on Terror and Press Freedoms

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/27194-talking-to-james-risen-about-pay-any-price-the-war-on-terror-and-press-freedoms

Glenn Greenwald speaks to the media after arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Friday. (photo: AP)

Talking to James Risen About Pay Any Price, the War on Terror and Press Freedoms

By Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept

27 November 14

James Risen, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for exposing the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program, has long been one of the nation’s most aggressive and adversarial investigative journalists. Over the past several years, he has received at least as much attention for being threatened with prison by the Obama Justice Department (ostensibly) for refusing to reveal the source of one of his stories—a persecution that, in reality, is almost certainly the vindictive by-product of the U.S. government’s anger over his NSA reporting.

He has published a new book on the War on Terror entitled Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War. There have been lots of critiques of the War on Terror on its own terms, but Risen’s is one of the first to offer large amounts of original reporting on what is almost certainly the most overlooked aspect of this war: the role corporate profiteering plays in ensuring its endless continuation, and how the beneficiaries use rank fear-mongering to sustain it.

That alone makes the book very worth reading, but what independently interests me about Risen is how he seems to have become entirely radicalized by what he’s discovered in the last decade of reporting, as well as by the years-long battle he has had to wage with the U.S. government to stay out of prison. He now so often eschews the modulated, safe, uncontroversial tones of the standard establishment reporter (such as when he called Obama “the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation” and said about the administration’s press freedom attacks: “Nice to see the U.S. government is becoming more like the Iranian government”). He at times even channels radical thinkers, sounding almost Chomsky-esque when he delivered a multiple-tweet denunciation—taken from a speech he delivered at Colby College—of how establishment journalists cling to mandated orthodoxies out of fear:

It is difficult to recognize the limits a society places on accepted thought at the time it is doing it. When everyone accepts basic assumptions, there don’t seem to be constraints on ideas. That truth often only reveals itself in hindsight. Today, the basic prerequisite to being taken seriously in American politics is to accept the legitimacy of the new national security state. The new basic American assumption is that there really is a need for a global war on terror. Anyone who doesn’t accept that basic assumption is considered dangerous and maybe even a traitor. The crackdown on leaks by the Obama administration has been designed to suppress the truth about the war on terror. Stay on the interstate highway of conventional wisdom with your journalism, and you will have no problems. Try to get off and challenge basic assumptions, and you will face punishment.
I spent roughly 30 minutes talking to Risen about the book, what he’s endured in his legal case, attacks on press freedoms, and what is and is not new about the War on Terror’s corporate profiteering. The discussion can be heard on the player below, and a transcript is provided. As Risenput it: “I wrote Pay Any Price as my answer to the government’s campaign against me.”

GREENWALD: This is Glenn Greenwald with The Intercept and I am speaking today with Jim Risen, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times who has released a new book, the title of which is Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. Hey Jim, thanks so much for taking some time to talk to me.
RISEN: Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

GREENWALD: My pleasure. So, I’ve read your entire book, and I have several questions about it, beginning with a general one, which is: there have been a lot of books written about the failures of the War on Terror, deceit kind of embedded with the War on Terror, most of which have taken the war on its own terms, and critiqued it because of strategic failures or of failure to achieve the claims which have been made to justify the war, and I actually have written a couple of books myself about the War on Terror from that perspective. Yours is really one of the first that has focused on a particular part of the War on Terror, namely the way in which economic motives, what you call the Homeland Security Industrial Complex, has driven a huge part of the war, and there’s a lot of new reporting about how that functions.

I wanted to ask you two things about that. One is, is that something that you intended to do; that you set out to do when you began writing the book, and if so, what led you to do that, and the second part of it is, how much of this economic motive is the cause of the fact that we’ve now been at war for 13 years as opposed to traditional war objectives such as increasing domestic power or asserting foreign influence. How big of a role do you think it actually plays?

RISEN: That was my goal. That was one of the key objectives of writing the book, and I think it plays a really central role in why the war is continuing. I think it’s basically that after so many years there’s a whole class of people that have developed. A post-9/11 mercenary class that’s developed that have invested in their own lives an incentive to keep the war going. Not just people who are making money, but people who are in the government who their status and their power within the government are invested in continuing the war.

So I was trying to show that it wasn’t just greed—it was partly greed—but it was also status, and power, and ambition that all intertwined to make it so that there’s very little debate about whether to continue the war, and whether we should have any real re-assessment on a basic level. So you’re right, I was trying to get at those motivations, I was trying to understand how we could have this prolonged period of war with such little debate. And I think it’s both economic incentives and personal power incentives and ambition and status.

GREENWALD: Let’s talk about the economic part of the motive, because obviously one of the most striking things about the war is not just its duration but the fact that it’s continued essentially unimpeded, notwithstanding these wild swings in election outcomes. You have the Republicans, who were in power when the war commenced, get smashed in 2006 and 2008 as a result of, at least primarily, as a result of dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq and the general state of things, but then you had the war continue under a president who kind of vowed to reign it all in, and then even when the Democrats get killed in 2010 and then again in 2014, there’s no signs of any of this letting up.

It’s easy to see why there’s this private sector—you know, the weapons manufacturers and the defense contractors, sort of a General Dynamics, Booz Allen world—that want the war to continue. They do really well when they’re selling huge amounts of machinery, weapons, and drones. But what causes the political class to be so willing to serve their interests so brazenly, even when public opinion is so overwhelmingly against it?
RISEN: That’s a question I’ve struggled with myself. I’ve tried to understand. I think we had one or two real moments when we could have gone in a different direction. The primary one was, of course, 2008. I think Obama had a chance. He had a mandate to do something different. And he didn’t do it. I think part of it was that he was never exactly what we thought he was, I think he was never really as liberal as people thought he was. I think a lot of voters invested in him their hopes and dreams without exactly realizing what he really was. I think he was always really more conservative than how he presented himself in 2008.

To give him a little bit of the benefit of the doubt, I think it’s very easy for the intelligence community to scare the hell out of politicians when they come in, and I think that Obama probably got seduced a little bit by the intelligence community when he arrived. All you have to do is look at a lot of raw intelligence to scare somebody. Convince them that “Oh, it’s much worse than you ever realized.” But at the same time, he must take some of the blame. He surrounded himself with a lot of the Bush people from the get-go. Brennan was on his campaign. Most of his team had some ties to the Bush years in the War on Terror.

To me, that’s the hardest thing to really sort out, the factors that led Obama—at that one moment, I think there was one opportunity he had in 2008 to make a significant change and he didn’t do it. And I think historians are going to be struggling with that for a long time.

GREENWALD: Well, let me struggle with that with you for a little bit because the idea, and I think it’s a commonly expressed one—there’s probably an element of truth to it—that a new president who doesn’t really have a great deal of experience with the military or the intelligence community has these impressive generals and CIA people coming in with medals on their chest and decades of experience and, as you say, purposefully scaring them.
But at the same time, anybody who’s remotely sophisticated about the world understands that that’s going to happen. Dwight Eisenhower warned of the military industrial complex 50 years ago. And you know that there are factions in Washington who maintain their power by scaring you, and you have your own advisors. If you and I know that so much of that is fear mongering, he has to know, right?

RISEN: Right, and I’m not trying to excuse it at all, and in fact I think it’s what he wanted. My own gut tells me that what he decided to do was in early 2009 was to focus on economic and healthcare policies and that in order to do those things on the domestic side, he had to protect his flank on national security and not fight the Republicans on national security, so I think there was a calculated move by Obama to prolong the War on Terror in order to try to focus on domestic issues. And I think that after a while, he lost control of that narrative.

GREENWALD: It’s always hard to talk about somebody’s motives, right? I think we have a hard time knowing our own motives, let alone other people’s, who are complicated. As you say, he had this great opportunity in 2008 because things like closing Guantanamo and reining in the War on Terror and stopping torture—these were all things that he ran on, and won on, right?

RISEN: Right.

GREENWALD: And you’ve been really outspoken about the fact that it’s not just the continuation of the Bush national security agenda but the even—especially, rather—an escalation of the attack on journalism. I’ve seen you have some pretty extreme quotes on that, that he’s the worst president on press freedom since at least Nixon, maybe worse. Do you think that’s a byproduct of the fact that every president gets progressively worse, or do you think there’s something unique and specific about his worldview and approach that has made him so bad on these press freedom issues?

RISEN: I think one of his legacies is going to be that on a broad scale he normalized the War on Terror. He took what Bush and Cheney kind of had started on an emergency, ad-hoc basis and turned it into a permanent state and allowed it to grow much more dramatically than it ever had under Bush or Cheney, and part of that—I think within that—was his attack on whistleblowers and journalists. I think it’s all part and parcel of the same thing. If you believe in the national security state in the way Obama does, then you have to also believe in squashing dissent.

GREENWALD: And I think that’s part of what makes war so degrading, right, for a political culture and a country is that it always gets accompanied by those kinds of things. Let me ask you a little bit about your own personal experience as part of that war on whistleblowing and journalism.

I know you’re a little constrained because your case is still pending. But one of the things I always find so interesting is that whenever your case is talked about, it always gets talked about in this very narrow sense: that you had a source for a story that you published in your book about some inept and ultimately counterproductive attempts to infiltrate the Iranian nuclear program and the case is about trying to force you to reveal your source, and like every good journalist should, you refuse to do so and therefore face a possibility of being held in contempt of court and being sent to prison.

But the background of your case, that I want to just step back and talk about a little bit, is that you’ve had this very adversarial relationship with the intelligence community, this increasingly adversarial relationship with the intelligence community, as a result of a lot of the reporting that you did, including exposing the warrantless NSA program in 2005, for which you won the Pulitzer Prize.
Can you talk about that, the tensions you’ve had with the government in the War on Terror reporting that you’ve done and how that has manifested and affected your life?

RISEN: Yeah, sure. In fact, I’ve said in affidavits in the case that I believe that the reason they came after me on this subpoena is because of the NSA stories that we did for The New York Times. I’m convinced, and I believe there’s a lot of evidence to show that they decided ultimately not to come after The New York Times on the NSA stories and instead wanted to isolate me by looking at something in my book. In fact, I know for a fact that they conducted leak investigations of at least three or four separate chapters in my book.

They interviewed a lot of people about totally unrelated things to the case that they ultimately came after me on and I think they were looking for something in my book to isolate me from The New York Times, and in their court papers they have repeatedly cited the fact that The New York Times decided not to run the story as one of the arguments for why it’s justified for them to come after me on it. And so I pride myself on the fact that I developed an adversarial relationship with the government because I think that’s what every reporter should do.

GREENWALD: I know from my own experience doing NSA reporting over the last 18 months—and I’ve heard you say before that you’re not going to let these kind of threats and recriminations affect your reporting. That was my mindset as well and I was actually even more determined a lot of times whenever I felt threatened to do the reporting even more aggressively, to make sure that those bullying tactics weren’t going to work. At the same time, when you hear top level government officials openly muse about the crimes that you’ve committed, when you hear privately through your attorney that the Justice Department might arrest you when you come back to the U.S., of course it does have an effect on you. It occupies a mental space. You spend a lot of time talking to your lawyers instead of focusing on journalism.

And one of the things I’ve always found so fascinating about your case is that you have a Pulitzer, you work for The New York Times, you’re one of the best known investigative journalists in the country—one of the most institutionally protected, even though they did separate you from the Timesby focusing on your book. Still, though, the fact that they were able to target you this way, for this many years, I thought was a very powerful message that if we can even go after Jim Risen, we can go after anybody.

I know you want to maintain the idea, and I know that it’s true, that none of this consciously deterred you from doing the journalism. But how does being at the center of a case like this, where people are openly talking about you going to prison, including people in the Justice Department—how does this have an effect on your journalism, on your relationship to your sources, just on your ability to do your work?

RISEN: Well, you know, it’s interesting. It affected me a lot at first, for the first couple of years. It’s one of those weird things that I’m sure you know now—these things go on forever and they take a long time and most of the time nobody’s paying any attention except you and your lawyers. During the first several years, nobody paid much attention, and it did have an effect on me then. And it took a long time for me to realize I’ve got to just keep going. But the fact that now a lot of people are supporting me has really helped me, this year in particular.

In the last six months to a year, when I’ve gotten a lot more attention and people supporting me, I feel like now I have to represent the industry, represent the profession, and so it’s changed the way I even think about the case.

GREENWALD: You have become this kind of increasingly prolific user of Twitter, out of nowhere. You were never on Twitter. You were a very late joiner. I clearly see all the signs of addiction forming, and I say this as someone who recognizes it personally. You’ve evolved—you had a Twitter egg for a long time, and now you have a real picture.

RISEN: (Laughs) My son took that picture.

GREENWALD: (Laughs) Alright, well I knew it was going to be somebody else who caused you to leave the egg behind. But one of the things I find really interesting is Twitter is a venue in which you get to speak in a different way about different things than you do, say, in an article that you write forThe New York Times, where you’re a little bit more constrained in how you’re talking. And you’ve expressed some ideas that I think are very rare for someone who is a reporter at a large, establishment institution like The New York Times to express, and I want to ask you a couple of questions about that.

You had this multi-part tweet maybe about a month ago. It almost sounded like something Noam Chomsky might say, or other people might say like that, about how the big plague of establishment thought in the U.S. is a fear of deviating from conventional wisdom, and it’s only after generation or two later when people who do that get vindicated, and so there’s this really strong incentive not to do that. Can you elaborate on the kinds of things you were talking about that and what you’ve experienced that has led you to see those things?

RISEN: That was actually part of a speech I gave at Colby College. I think the best thing I’ve written on this whole issue. I compared how Elijah Lovejoy, who was an abolitionist in the 1830s who was murdered because he was trying to run a newspaper in St. Louis that was pro-abolitionism, how he was so far ahead of his time that people thought he was crazy. He was so far outside the mainstream, and people thought abolitionism and the end of slavery was this idea that was insane.

And I was trying to compare that to what we have today, where anybody who says we shouldn’t have a War on Terror is considered delusional. And I was trying to show that conventional wisdom is a creature of our time. It’s not inherently true or not true. And that the mainstream press’s dependence on conventional wisdom ultimately cripples it in a lot of different ways.

GREENWALD: The impression that I have, and I’ve known you personally only for a few years, so it’s more just a speculative observation from having seen your work before that is that a combination of your going through this case with the government where your own liberty is very much at risk as a result of the government’s actions, combined with a lot of the reporting that lead to this book kind of has radicalized you in a way that I think is a pretty common thing that people in the War on Terror have gone through where people look at their country differently, much more so than they ever did before, look at institutions differently.

Am I right about that? Is the Jim Risen of today more willing to experiment with novel ideas that aren’t conventional than the Jim Risen of 20 years ago as a result of those experiences?

RISEN: Probably, probably. I have to think about that. I’m trying to think back. I think my real change came after 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. I was covering the CIA as a beat then. And to me, it was fascinating talking to CIA people right after the invasion of Iraq and right before the invasion of Iraq, because it was kind of like privately talking to a bunch of Howard Deans. They were all radicalized against what Bush was doing.

To me it was wild to hear all of these people inside the intelligence community, especially in 2003, 2004, who were just going nuts. They couldn’t believe the radical change the United States was going through, and that nobody was opposed to it. And that led me to write my last book, State of War, because I was hearing things from within the intelligence community and the U.S. government that you weren’t hearing publicly from anybody. So that really led me to realize—and to step back and look at—the radical departure of U.S. policy that has happened since 9/11 and since the invasion of Iraq.

To me, it’s not like I’ve been radicalized, I feel like I stayed in the same place and the country changed. The country became more radicalized in a different direction.

GREENWALD: I wonder about that a lot. Obviously, I started writing about politics in 2005, and a huge part of it was that perception, that the country had radically changed, that things that we took for granted were no longer the case, and I’ve definitely had a rapid and significant evolution in my views of how I look at those things the more I focus on them and the more the country changed.
But if you go back and look at some media critics of the ’50s and ’60s, people like I.F. Stone who were kind of placed on the outside of conventional wisdom, and were viewed as fringe or crazy at the time—a lot of that can be traced to way before 9/11. Lies about the Vietnam War. The huge military industrial complex around the Cold War. Do you think 9/11 was this radical break from how things were done in the country, or was it more an injection of steroids into processes that were already underway?

RISEN: There have always been problems. But we’ve taken this to a new level. Both because the technology has allowed the government to do things it would never have done before, but also because of the willingness of the country to accept security measures and a reduction in civil liberties that I think would not have been contemplated before. I keep thinking that if you had a Rip Van Winkle from 1995 who woke up today, I don’t think they would really recognize the country. And that’s what I’m trying to write about, and what I view, because that’s the America that I remember.

GREENWALD: There’s this fascinating debate that took place in the ’90s, after the Timothy McVeigh attack on the Oklahoma City federal building, when the Clinton administration introduced these proposals to require backdoors into all encryption, for all computers and internet usage. And it didn’t happen, and the reason it didn’t happen is because all of these Republicans in Congress, led by John Ashcroft, stood up with a bunch of Democrats in alliance with them, saying “We’re not the kind of country that gives the government access to all of our communications. Privacy is actually a crucial value.” And just a few short years later, all of that reversed, and that debate became inconceivable.

RISEN: When Dick Cheney said, “the gloves come off,” I don’t think we realized how important that was, and what that really meant. As I’ve said before, that really meant, “We’re going to deregulate national security, and we’re going to take off all the rules that were imposed in the ’70s after Watergate.” And that was just a dramatic change in the way we conduct foreign policy and national security. And I think it’s been extended to this whole new homeland security apparatus. People think that terrorism is an existential threat, even though it’s not, and so they’re willing to go along with all this, and that’s what’s so scary to me.

GREENWALD: Let me ask you a few questions about some specific examples in your book, including one that relates to what you just said. You kind of have these different wars that you conceive of and one is called the “War on Normalcy.” One of the examples is, there’s this area on the U.S.-Canadian border that used to be kind of tranquil and now there’s a ton of War on Terror money that has gone to the state police there, and it’s kind of militarized that zone, and made it so the citizens are just interfered with in all kinds of ways.
One of the most overlooked trends, I think—you mentioned Cheney taking the gloves off—all of these things we were doing overseas aimed at ostensibly foreign terrorists have now begun to be imported onto U.S. soil, like the militarization of our police force using techniques from Baghdad, the use of drones, that “Collect it All” NSA model, which was first pioneered by Keith Alexander in Baghdad, is now aimed at U.S. citizens. Do you think that’s an important trend? Is that something that’s really happened, that what was the War on Terror aimed outward is now being aimed domestically?

RISEN: Absolutely, and that’s one of the most scary elements of it. To me, when the NSA started spying domestically that was like Caesar crossing the Rubicon. It was a really important shift. People thought that was absolutely forbidden. And when the NSA started doing it, and then when you started fooling around with creating a new Department of Homeland Security, merging all of these departments—creating Immigration and Customs Enforcement and all of this stuff—I think you’ve created a much more efficient federal domestic law enforcement apparatus, and efficiency is not always a good thing when it comes to that.
One of the things I always think about, and one of my earlier books was comparing the CIA and the KGB during the Cold War, and I always remember somebody telling me that the only countries that have really efficient security services are dictatorships.

GREENWALD: Right, and you can basically only have a really efficient security service if you’re willing to at least kind of go into that realm of authoritarianism—they kind of go hand in hand. Let me ask you: there’s this pretty new reporting you have on this company General Atomics, which is the maker of drones, and you kind of describe them as the new oligarchs. In 2001 they had $100 million in government contracts and now in 2012 they have $1.8 billion, an obscene increase. At the same time, coincidentally enough, you cite a good governance group documenting that they’ve spent more to fund congressional staff travel than any other company.
One of the things that always amazes me—I remember that there was this reporting that was done byWired, during the debate over whether to give immunity to the telecoms that participated in the NSA program that you uncovered. An extraordinary thing to do, to retroactively immunize the biggest companies in the United States, and Sen. Jay Rockefeller became the leading spokesman for it at the time. He was the Democratic chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and there were studies showing that right around the time when he became the leading proponent of telecom immunity, AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint began donating lots of money to his campaign, they threw parties for him, but still, in the context of Jay Rockefeller—a Rockefeller—with a super safe seat in West Virginia, they were pretty trivial amounts to be able to just dominate congressional policy that way. And that was what struck me too about General Atomics. So they fund some congressional staff travel.
What is it about the D.C. culture that lets these kind of seemingly trivial amounts in the scheme of things end up translating into this massive influence?

RISEN: You know, I don’t think that it’s the money that really does the trick. I think what really, you’ve got to look at is that all of the staffers, and all of the members of Congress are thinking about what are they going to do after they leave those jobs. The same is true for military officers. What are you going to do when you retire from the military, or from the House Intelligence Committee, or whatever? You’re going to need a job at a defense contractor. And so I think that the real incentive for a lot of these people is not to upset their potential employers in the future. The campaign contributions themselves are just tokens, as you said.

GREENWALD: To say that, on one hand it seems kind of self-evident, but on the one hand, it’s a pretty extraordinary observation because it’s a form of the most extreme corruption. Public officials are serving the interests of really rich corporations in exchange for lucrative private sector jobs that they get when they leave after serving their interests.

RISEN: What really hit home was when I was working on a chapter on KBR, and one of the guys who I describe was kind of a whistleblower, Charles Smith. He was an auditor for the army who tried to stop about a billion dollars of payments to KBR because they didn’t have any proof that they’d actually spent the money—or they didn’t have sufficient records to prove it—and he lost his job over his fight with KBR, he believes.
And after I started talking to him he said, “There’s this one general you could talk to who was one of my bosses for a while. He was a good guy and he would vouch for me.” So I called that general, and he had since retired, and he said, “Well, I think Charlie was a great guy, but I now work for a contractor that does business with KBR, and I don’t want to say anything publicly about Charlie because that might upset KBR.” And that’s the kind of thing that you see all the time.

GREENWALD: There’s a case that you talk about in the book that’s Burnett v. Al Baraka, where 9/11 families sued the Saudis. There are lots of influential people in D.C., like Sen. Bob Graham, the former head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and others, who have said that the role that the Saudis have played in the War on Terror, and specifically the 9/11 attack, has been really actively suppressed, because of the U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia. And there is this sort of bizarre aspect that we’ve gone to war against a huge number of countries, one of the few exceptions to which has been the country that had the most nationals involved in that attack, and whose government has been the most persuasively implicated.
How persuasive or credible do you find those questions about the Saudi involvement in the War on Terror generally, 9/11 specifically, and whether that’s been actively suppressed?

RISEN: Well, as you said, I don’t really get into the substance of that in that chapter because it’s really about this bizarre operation and how crazy that operation became. But I think you’re right. I think it’s one of the unanswered questions of 9/11 that, as you said, Graham became fixated on, and they still have not unredacted parts of that report.

I think the role of the Saudi government is probably different from the role of wealthy people in the Persian Gulf. And that’s the distinction that people have tried to grapple with for a long time. Are these just individually wealthy people in the Gulf, either in Saudi Arabia or in the Emirates, or is there some direction from any of these governments? And that’s the question that the U.S. government has never wanted to address publicly.

GREENWALD: You said in an interview within the last week—it might have been at the Firedog Lake Book Salon, I’m not exactly sure where it was—but you described the period of time in 2004 and 2005 when you were trying to get the NSA eavesdropping story published as one of the most stressful times of your life. I think you even said the quote “most stressful period of your professional life.” The New York Times, to its credit, did eventually publish that story, and did a great job on it, but can you talk a little bit about what you meant by that? Why that period was so stressful?

RISEN: Eric Lichtblau and I were trying to get that in the paper beginning in October 2004, and they killed it, or they stopped it. They agreed with the White House not to run it before the election and then we tried again after the election, and they killed it again, and by that time it was pretty well dead. So I went on a book leave and I put it in my book, and I knew that by doing that, I was putting my career at The New York Times in jeopardy.

It was very stressful about what was going to happen between me, The New York Times, and the Bush administration. I really credit my wife more than anybody else. I told her at one point that if I do this, if I keep it in the book, and the Times doesn’t run it, I’m probably going to get fired, and I remember she told me, “I won’t respect you if you don’t do that.” And so that was enough for me to keep going, but I didn’t sleep for about six months.

GREENWALD: It’s got to be incredibly difficult knowing that you have a story of that magnitude, and that the story has been nailed down and you can’t get it out into the world. Your book, which I literally finished reading about 24 hours ago, is really riveting, and it’s not just a book that is a polemical indictment of the War on Terror, like you’ve read before, it really is an incredible amount of individual reporting on one of the most under-reported aspects of this war, which is just how many people are gorging on huge amounts of profit and waste at the expense of the taxpayer, and what a big part of the war that is. Congratulations on writing such a great book, and I really appreciate your talking to me.
RISEN: Well thank you.

© 2014 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

The Other America - A Riot is the Language of the Unheard

Published on Portside (https://portside.org)

The Other America - A Riot is the Language of the Unheard

http://www.gphistorical.org/mlk/mlkspeech/

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

Thursday, March 14, 1968
Grosse Pointe Historical Society

["The Other America" - Speech by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Grosse Pointe High School - March 14, 1968]

Rev. Dr. Harry Meserve, Bishop Emrich, my dear friend Congressman Conyers, ladies and gentlemen.

I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here tonight and to have the great privilege of discussing with you some of the vital issues confronting our nation and confronting the world. It is always a very rich and rewarding experience when I can take a brief break from the day-to-day demands of our struggle for freedom and human dignity and discuss the issues involved in that struggle with concerned people of good will all over our nation and all over the world, and I certainly want to express my deep personal appreciation to you for inviting me to occupy this significant platform.

I want to discuss the race problem tonight and I want to discuss it very honestly. I still believe that freedom is the bonus you receive for telling the truth. Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. And I do not see how we will ever solve the turbulent problem of race confronting our nation until there is an honest confrontation with it and a willing search for the truth and a willingness to admit the truth when we discover it. And so I want to use as a title for my lecture tonight, "The Other America." And I use this title because there are literally two Americas. Every city in our country has this kind of dualism, this schizophrenia, split at so many parts, and so every city ends up being two cities rather than one. There are two Americas. One America is beautiful for situation. In this America, millions of people have the milk of prosperity and the honey of equality flowing before them. This America is the habitat of millions of people who have food and material necessities for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, freedom and human dignity for their spirits. In this America children grow up in the sunlight of opportunity. But there is another America. This other America has a daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair. In this other America, thousands and thousands of people, men in particular walk the streets in search for jobs that do not exist. In this other America, millions of people are forced to live in vermin-filled, distressing housing conditions where they do not have the privilege of having wall-to-wall carpeting, but all too often, they end up with wall-to-wall rats and roaches. Almost forty percent of the Negro families of America live in sub-standard housing conditions. In this other America, thousands of young people are deprived of an opportunity to get an adequate education. Every year thousands finish high school reading at a seventh, eighth and sometimes ninth grade level. Not because they're dumb, not because they don't have the native intelligence, but because the schools are so inadequate, so over-crowded, so devoid of quality, so segregated if you will, that the best in these minds can never come out. Probably the most critical problem in the other America is the economic problem. There are so many other people in the other America who can never make ends meet because their incomes are far too low if they have incomes, and their jobs are so devoid of quality. And so in this other America, unemployment is a reality and under-employment is a reality. (I'll just wait until our friend can have her say) (applause). I'll just wait until things are restored and. . .everybody talks about law and order. (applause)
Now before I was so rudely interrupted. (applause), and I might say that it was my understanding that we're going to have a question and answer period, and if anybody disagrees with me, you will have the privilege, the opportunity to raise a question if you think I'm a traitor, then you'll have an opportunity to ask me about my traitorness and we will give you that opportunity.

Now let me get back to the point that I was trying to bring out about the economic problem. And that is one of the most critical problems that we face in America today. We find in the other America unemployment constantly rising to astronomical proportions and black people generally find themselves living in a literal depression. All too often when there is mass unemployment in the black community, it's referred to as a social problem and when there is mass unemployment in the white community, it's referred to as a depression. But there is no basic difference. The fact is, that the negro faces a literal depression all over the U.S. The unemployment rate on the basis of statistics from the labor department is about 8.8 per cent in the black community. But these statistics only take under consideration individuals who were once in the labor market, or individuals who go to employment offices to seek employment. But they do not take under consideration the thousands of people who have given up, who have lost motivation, the thousands of people who have had so many doors closed in their faces that they feel defeated and they no longer go out and look for jobs, the thousands who've come to feel that life is a long and desolate corridor with no exit signs. These people are considered the discouraged and when you add the discouraged to the individuals who can't be calculated through statistics in the unemployment category, the unemployment rate in the negro community probably goes to 16 or 17 percent. And among black youth, it is in some communities as high as 40 and 45 percent. But the problem of unemployment is not the only problem. There is the problem of under-employment, and there are thousands and thousand, I would say millions of people in the negro community who are poverty stricken - not because they are not working but because they receive wages so low that they cannot begin to function in the main stream of the economic life of our nation. Most of the poverty stricken people of America are persons who are working every day and they end up getting part-time wages for full-time work. So the vast majority of negroes in America find themselves perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. This has caused a great deal of bitterness. It has caused a great deal of agony. It has caused ache and anguish. It has caused great despair, and we have seen the angered expressions of this despair and this bitterness in the violent rebellions that have taken place in cities all over our country. Now I think my views on non-violence are pretty generally known. I still believe that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to the negro in his struggle for justice and freedom in the U.S.
Now let me relieve you a bit. I've been in the struggle a long time now, (applause) and I've conditioned myself to some things that are much more painful than discourteous people not allowing you to speak, so if they feel that they can discourage me, they'll be up here all night.

Now I wanted to say something about the fact that we have lived over these last two or three summers with agony and we have seen our cities going up in flames. And I would be the first to say that I am still committed to militant, powerful, massive, non--violence as the most potent weapon in grappling with the problem from a direct action point of view. I'm absolutely convinced that a riot merely intensifies the fears of the white community while relieving the guilt. And I feel that we must always work with an effective, powerful weapon and method that brings about tangible results. But it is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.

Now every year about this time, our newspapers and our televisions and people generally start talking about the long hot summer ahead. What always bothers me is that the long hot summer has always been preceded by a long cold winter. And the great problem is that the nation has not used its winters creatively enough to develop the program, to develop the kind of massive acts of concern that will bring about a solution to the problem. And so we must still face the fact that our nation's summers of riots are caused by our nations winters of delay. As long as justice is postponed we always stand on the verge of these darker nights of social disruption. The question now, is whether America is prepared to do something massively, affirmatively and forthrightly about the great problem we face in the area of race and the problem which can bring the curtain of doom down on American civilization if it is not solved. And I would like to talk for the next few minutes about some of the things that must be done if we are to solve this problem.

The first thing I would like to mention is that there must be a recognition on the part of everybody in this nation that America is still a racist country. Now however unpleasant that sounds, it is the truth. And we will never solve the problem of racism until there is a recognition of the fact that racism still stands at the center of so much of our nation and we must see racism for what it is. It is the nymph of an inferior people. It is the notion that one group has all of the knowledge, all of the insights, all of the purity, all of the work, all of the dignity. And another group is worthless, on a lower level of humanity, inferior. To put it in philosophical language, racism is not based on some empirical generalization which, after some studies, would come to conclusion that these people are behind because of environmental conditions. Racism is based on an ontological affirmation. It is the notion that the very being of a people is inferior. And their ultimate logic of racism is genocide. Hitler was a very sick man. He was one of the great tragedies of history. But he was very honest. He took his racism to its logical conclusion. The minute his racism caused him to sickly feel and go about saying that there was something innately inferior about the Jew he ended up killing six million Jews. The ultimate logic of racism is genocide, and if one says that one is not good enough to have a job that is a solid quality job, if one is not good enough to have access to public accommodations, if one is not good enough to have the right to vote, if one is not good enough to live next door to him, if one is not good enough to marry his daughter because of his race. Then at that moment that person is saying that that person who is not good to do all of this is not fit to exist or to live. And that is the ultimate logic of racism. And we've got to see that this still exists in American society. And until it is removed, there will be people walking the streets of live and living in their humble dwellings feeling that they are nobody, feeling that they have no dignity and feeling that they are not respected. The first thing that must be on the agenda of our nation is to get rid of racism.
Secondly, we've got to get rid of two or three myths that still pervade our nation. One is the myth of time. I'm sure you've heard this notion. It is the notion that only time can solve the problem of racial injustice. And I've heard it from many sincere people. They've said to the negro and/to his allies in the white community you should slow up, you're pushing things too fast, only time can solve the problem. And if you'll just be nice and patient and continue to pray, in a hundred or two hundred years the problem will work itself out. There is an answer to that myth. It is the time is neutral. It can be used either constructively or destructively. And I'm sad to say to you tonight I'm absolutely convinced that the forces of ill will in our nation, the forces on the wrong side in our nation, the extreme righteous of our nation have often used time much more effectively than the forces of good will and it may well be that we may have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words of the bad people who will say bad things in a meeting like this or who will bomb a church in Birmingham, Alabama, but for the appalling silence and indifference of the good people who sit around and say wait on time. Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability, it comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation. And so we must always help time and realize that the time is always right to do right.

Now there is another myth and that is the notion that legislation can't solve the problem that you've got to change the heart and naturally I believe in changing the heart. I happen to be a Baptist preacher and that puts me in the heart changing business and Sunday after Sunday I'm preaching about conversion and the need for the new birth and re-generation. I believe that there's something wrong with human nature. I believe in original sin not in terms of the historical event but as the mythological category to explain the universality of evil, so I'm honest enough to see the gone-wrongness of human nature so naturally I'm not against changing the heart and I do feel that that is the half truth involved here, that there is some truth in the whole question of changing the heart. We are not going to have the kind of society that we should have until the white person treats the negro right - not because the law says it but because it's natural because it's right and because the black man is the white man's brother. I'll be the first to say that we will never have a truly integrated society, a truly colorless society until men and women are obedient to the unenforceable. But after saying that, let me point out the other side. It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart but it can restrain the heartless. It may be true that the law can't make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me, and I think that's pretty important also.

And so while legislation may not change the hearts of men, it does change the habits of men when it's vigorously enforced and when you change the habits of people pretty soon attitudes begin to be changed and people begin to see that they can do things that fears caused them to feel that they could never do. And I say that there's a need still for strong civil rights legislation in various areas. There's legislation in Congress right now dealing with the whole question of housing and equal administration of justice and these things are very important for I submit to you tonight that there is no more dangerous development in our nation than the constant building up of predominantly negro central cities ringed by white suburbs. This will do nothing but invite social disaster. And this problem has to be dealt with - some through legislation, some through education, but it has to be dealt with in a very concrete and meaningful manner.

Now let me get back to my point. I'm going to finish my speech. I've been trying to think about what I'm going to preach about tomorrow down to Central Methodist Church in the Lenten series and I think 1'11 use as the text, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."

I want to deal with another myth briefly which concerns me and I want to talk about it very honestly and that is over-reliance on the bootstrap philosophy. Now certainly it's very important for people to engage in self-help programs and do all they can to lift themselves by their own bootstraps. Now I'm not talking against that at all.

I think there is a great deal that the black people of this country must do for themselves and that nobody else can do for them. And we must see the other side of this question. I remember the other day I was on a plane and a man starting talking with me and he said I'm sympathetic toward what you're trying to do, but I just feel that you people don't do enough for yourself and then he went on to say that my problem is, my concern is that I know of other ethnic groups, many of the ethnic groups that came to this country and they had problems just as negroes and yet they did the job for themselves, they lifted themselves by their own bootstraps. Why is it that negroes can't do that? And I looked at him and I tried to talk as understanding as possible but I said to him, it does not help the negro for unfeeling, sensitive white people to say that other ethnic groups that came to the country maybe a hundred or a hundred and fifty years voluntarily have gotten ahead of them and he was brought here in chains involuntarily almost three hundred and fifty years ago. I said it doesn't help him to be told that and then I went on to say to this gentlemen that he failed to recognize that no other ethnic group has been enslaved on American soil. Then I had to go on to say to him that you failed to realize that America made the black man's color a stigma. Something that he couldn't change. Not only was the color a stigma, but even linguistic then stigmatic conspired against the black man so that his color was thought of as something very evil. If you open Roget's Thesaurus and notice the synonym for black you'll find about a hundred and twenty and most of them represent something dirty, smut, degrading, low, and when you turn to the synonym for white, about one hundred and thirty, all of them represent something high, pure, chaste. You go right down that list. And so in the language a white life is a little better than a black life. Just follow. If somebody goes wrong in the family, we don't call him a white sheep we call him a black sheep. And then if you block some-body from getting somewhere you don't say they've been whiteballed, you say they've been blackballed. And just go down the line. It's not whitemail it's blackmail. I tell you this to seriously say that the nation made the black man's color a stigma and then I had to say to my friend on the plane another thing that is often forgotten in this country. That nobody, no ethnic group has completely lifted itself by it own bootstraps. I can never forget that the black man was free from the bondage of physical slavery in 1863. He wasn't given any land to make that freedom meaningful after being held in slavery 244 years. And it was like keeping a man in prison for many many years and then coming to see that he is not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. Alright good night and God bless you.

And I was about to say that to free, to have freed the negro from slavery without doing anything to get him started in life on a sound economic footing, it was almost like freeing a man who had been in prison many years and you had discovered that he was unjustly convicted of, that he was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted and you go up to him and say now you're free, but you don't give him any bus fare to get to town or you don't give him any money to buy some clothes to put on his back or to get started in life again. Every code of jurisprudence would rise up against it. This is the very thing that happened to the black man in America. And then when we look at it even deeper than this, it becomes more ironic. We're reaping the harvest of this failure today. While America refused to do anything for the black man at that point, during that very period, the nation, through an act of Congress, was giving away millions of acres of land in the west and the mid-west, which meant that it was willing to under gird its white peasants from Europe with an economic floor. Not only did they give the land, they built land grant colleges for them to learn how to farm. Not only that it provided county agents to further their expertise in farming and went beyond this and came to the point of providing low interest rates for these persons so that they could mechanize their farms, and today many of these persons are being paid millions of dollars a year in federal subsidies not to farm and these are so often the very people saying to the black man that he must lift himself by his own bootstraps. I can never think ... Senator Eastland, incidentally, who says this all the time gets a hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars a year, not to farm on various areas of his plantation down in Mississippi. And yet he feels that we must do everything for ourselves. Well that appears to me to be a kind of socialism for the rich and rugged hard individualistic capitalism for the poor.

Now let me say two other things and I'm going to rush on. One, I want to say that if we're to move ahead and solve this problem we must re-order our national priorities. Today we're spending almost thirty-five billion dollars a year to fight what I consider an unjust, ill-considered, evil, costly, unwinable war at Viet Nam. I wish I had time to go into the dimensions of this. But I must say that the war in Viet Nam is playing havoc with our Domestic destinies. That war has torn up the Geneva accord, it has strengthened, it has substituted. . .(interruption). . .alright if you want to speak I'll let you come down and speak and I'll wait. You can give your Viet Nam speech now listen to mine. Come right on.

Speaker: Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Joseph McLawtern, communications technician, U.S. Navy, United States of America and I fought for freedom I didn't fight for communism, traitors and I didn't fight to be sold down the drain. Not by Romney, Cavanagh, Johnson--nobody, nobody's going to sell me down the drain.

Alright, thank you very much. I just want to say in response to that, that there are those of us who oppose the war in Viet Nam. I feel like opposing it for many reasons. Many of them are moral reasons but one basic reason is that we love our boys who are fighting there and we just want them to come back home. But I don't have time to go into the history and the development of the war in Viet Nam. I happen to be a pacifist but if I had had to make a decision about fighting a war against Hitler, I may have temporarily given up my pacifism and taken up arms. But nobody is to compare what is happening in Viet Nam today with that. I'm convinced that it is clearly an unjust war and it's doing so many things--not only on the domestic scene, it is carrying the whole world closer to nuclear annihilation. And so I've found it necessary to take a stand against the war in Viet Nam and I appreciate Bishop Emrich's question and I must answer it by saying that for me the tuitus? cannot be divided.

It's nice for me to talk about ... it's alright to talk about integrated schools and in integrated lunch counters which I will continue to work for, but I think it would be rather absurd for me to work for integrated schools and not be concerned about the survival of the world in which to integrate.

The other thing is, that I have been working too long and too hard now against segregated public accommodations to end up at this stage of my life segregating my moral concern. I must make it clear. For me justice is indivisible. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Now for the question of hurting civil rights. I think the war in Viet Nam hurt civil rights much more than my taking a stand against the war. And I could point out so many things to say that. . . a reporter asked me sometime ago when I first took a strong stand against the war didn't I feel that I would have to reverse my position because so many people disagreed, and people who once had respect for me wouldn't have respect, and he went on to say that I hear that it's hurt the budget of your organization and don't you think that you have to get in line more with the administration's policy ... and of course those were very lonely days when I first started speaking out and not many people were speaking out but now I have a lot of company and it's not as lonesome now. But anyway, I had to say to the reporter, I'm sorry sir but you don't know me. I'm not a consensus leader and I do not determine what is right and wrong by looking at the budget of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference or by kind of taking a look at a gallop poll and getting the expression of the majority opinion. Ultimately, a genuine leader is not a succor for consensus but a mold of consensus. And on some positions cowardice ask the question is it safe? Expediency asks the question is it politics? Vanity asks the question is it popular? The conscience asks the question is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politics nor popular but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.

Now the time is passing and I'm not going to. I was going into the need for direct action to dramatize and call attention to the gulf between promise and fulfillment. I've been searching for a long time for an alternative to riots on the one hand and timid supplication for justice on the other and I think that alternative is found in militant massive non-violence. I'll wait until the question period before going into the Washington campaign. But let me say that it has been my experience in these years that I've been in the struggle for justice, that things just don't happen until the issue is dramatized in a massive direct-action way. I never will forget when we came through Washington in 1964, in December coming from Oslo. I stopped by to see President Johnson. We talked about a lot of things and we finally got to the point of talking about voting rights. The President was concerned about voting, but he said Martin, I can't get this through in this session of Congress. We can't get a voting rights bill, he said because there are two or three other things that I feel that we've got to get through and they're going to benefit negroes as much as anything. One was the education bill and something else. And then he went on to say that if I push a voting rights bill now, I'll lose the support of seven congressmen that I sorely need for the particular things that I had and we just can't get it. Well, I went on to say to the President that I felt that we had to do something about it and two weeks later we started a movement in Selma, Alabama. We started dramatizing the issue of the denial of the right to vote and I submit to you that three months later as a result of that Selma movement, the same President who said to me that we could not get a voting rights bill in that session of Congress was on the television singing through a speaking voice "we shall overcome" and calling for the passage of a voting rights bill and I could go on and on to show. . .and we did get a voting rights bill in that session of Congress. Now, I could go on to give many other examples to show that it just doesn't come about without pressure and this is what we plan to do in Washington. We aren't planning to close down Washington, we aren't planning to close down Congress. This isn't anywhere in our plans. We are planning to dramatize the issue to the point that poor people in this nation will have to be seen and will not be invisible.

Now let me finally say something in the realm of the spirit and then I'm going to take my seat. Let me say finally, that in the midst of the hollering and in the midst of the discourtesy tonight, we got to come to see that however much we dislike it, the destinies of white and black America are tied together. Now the races don't understand this apparently. But our destinies are tied together. And somehow, we must all learn to live together as brothers in this country or we're all going to perish together as fools. Our destinies are tied together. Whether we like it or not culturally and otherwise, every white person is a little bit negro and every negro is a little bit white. Our language, our music, our material prosperity and even our food are an amalgam of black and white, so there can be no separate black path to power and fulfillment that does not intersect white routes and there can ultimately be no separate white path to power and fulfillment short of social disaster without recognizing the necessity of sharing that power with black aspirations for freedom and human dignity. We must come to see. . .yes we do need each other, the black man needs the white man to save him from his fear and the white man needs the black man to free him from his guilt.

John Donne was right. No man is an island and the tide that fills every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. And he goes on toward the end to say, "any man's death diminishes me because I'm involved in mankind. Therefore, it's not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." Somehow we must come to see that in this pluralistic, interrelated society we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality. And by working with determination and realizing that power must be shared, I think we can solve this problem, and may I say in conclusion that our goal is freedom and I believe that we're going to get there. It's going to be more difficult from here on in but I believe we're going to get there because however much she strays away from it, the goal of America is freedom and our destiny is tied up with the destiny of America. Before the Pilgrim fathers landed at Plymouth we were here. Before Jefferson etched across the pages of history the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence we were here. Before the beautiful words of the Star Spangled Banner were written we were here. And for more than two centuries our forbearers labored here without wages. They made cotton King, they built the homes of their masters in the midst of the most humiliating and oppressive conditions and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to grow and develop and if the inexpressible cruelties of slavery couldn't stop us, the opposition that we now face including the white backlash will surely fail.

We are going to win our freedom because both the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of the Almighty God are embodied in our echoing demands. So however difficult it is during this period, however difficult it is to continue to live with the agony and the continued existence of racism, however difficult it is to live amidst the constant hurt, the constant insult and the constant disrespect, I can still sing we shall overcome. We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.
We shall overcome because Carlisle is right. "No lie can live forever." We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right. "Truth crushed to earth will rise again." We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right. "Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne." Yet that scaffold sways the future. We shall overcome because the Bible is right. "You shall reap what you sow." With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when all of God's children all over this nation - black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old negro spiritual, "Free at Last, Free at Last, Thank God Almighty, We are Free At Last."

Ella's Song

Composed by Bernice Johnson Reagon [1], copyright: Songtalk Publishing Co.

Refrain:

We who believe in freedom cannot rest
We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes

Verses

Until the killing of Black men, Black mothers' sons
Is as important as the killing of White men, White mothers' sons
And that which touches we most is that I had a chance to work with people
Passing on to others that which was passed on to me
To me young people come first, they have the courage where we fail
And if I can shed some light as they carry us through the gale
The older I get the better I know that the secret of my going on
Is when the reins are in the hand of the young who dare to run against the storm
Not needing to clutch for power, not needing the light just to shine on me
I need to be just one in the number as we stand against tyranny
Struggling myself don't mean a whole lot I come to realize
That teaching others to stand up and fight is the only way my struggle survive
I'm a woman who speaks in a voice and I must be heard
At time I can be quite difficult, I'll bow to no man's word

Source URL: https://portside.org/2014-11-27/other-america-riot-language-unheard

Links:

[1] http://www.bernicejohnsonreagon.com/ella.shtml

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Remembering Freedom

Published on Portside (https://portside.org)

Remembering Freedom

http://parkerhiggins.net/2014/11/will-need-writers-can-remember-freedom-ursula-k-le-guin-national-book-awards/

Ursula K. Le Guin

Wednesday, November 19, 2014
parker higgins dot net

Ursula K. Le Guin was honored at the National Book Awards tonight and gave a fantastic speech about the dangers to literature and how they can be stopped. As far as I know it’s not available online yet (update: the video is now online [1]), so I’ve transcribed it from the livestream below. The parts in parentheses were ad-libbed directly to the audience, and the Neil thanked is Neil Gaiman, who presented her with the award.

Thank you Neil, and to the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks from the heart. My family, my agent, editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as mine, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice at accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long, my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction—writers of the imagination, who for the last 50 years watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

I think hard times are coming when we will be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine some real grounds for hope. We will need writers who can remember freedom. Poets, visionaries—the realists of a larger reality.

Right now, I think we need writers who know the difference between the production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not quite the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship. (Thank you, brave applauders.)

Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial; I see my own publishers in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an ebook six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience and writers threatened by corporate fatwa, and I see a lot of us, the producers who write the books, and make the books, accepting this. Letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish and what to write. (Well, I love you too, darling.)

Books, you know, they’re not just commodities. The profit motive often is in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art—the art of words.

I have had a long career and a good one. In good company. Now here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want—and should demand—our fair share of the proceeds. But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom.

Thank you.

Source URL: https://portside.org/2014-11-24/remembering-freedom

Links:

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et9Nf-rsALk

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Ask Not What Your Planet Can Do For You...

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/271-38/27186-focus--ask-not-what-your-planet-can-do-for-you

(photo: EcoWatch)

Ask Not What Your Planet Can Do For You...

By Harvey Wasserman, EcoWatch
27 November 14

The images we ingest never cease to shape us.

Just 51 years ago, the head of a profoundly gifted young man was blown apart.
A few months earlier he’d given a speech that promised a new dawn.

He reached out to our enemies. He talked of going to the moon, of technological breakthrough and human promise.

And he stopped the radioactive madness of atmospheric Bomb testing, a reason many of us are alive today.
It’s easy to idealize John Kennedy.

We still debate what he might have done in Vietnam.

But since the war did escalate, and we know the horrible costs to us all, then the possibility that he might have gotten us out gnaws at our soul.

So does not being sure about who actually killed him.

And then there’s the horror of the moment itself. A fellow human, blown apart before our eyes.

It hurts to think about it. To write about it. How can sorrow not reign in our hearts over this terrible human image that so deeply defines us?

As a nation, we still feel the murder of Abraham Lincoln. Having won a Constitutional Amendment to end slavery, he was the only one to smooth the transition from civil war to progressive peace. We still pay for losing him.

And for the image of a good man, seated happily in a theater, next to his wife … as a time for healing is unbearably shattered by a bullet to the head.

Russia never really recovered after Alexander II, a rare reformist czar, was murdered in 1881 while moving his nation toward a democratic constitution.

Michael Collins was a violent Irish revolutionary who turned to peace amidst a horrendous civil war.
Could he have ended it? All we know is the Troubles dragged on a ghastly seven decades after he was shot.

Mahatma Gandhi led the world’s first successful nonviolent anti-imperial campaign, then fasted nearly to the death to help halt a Hindu-Muslim civil war.

Then he was shot. And what is the outcome?

Egypt’s Anwar Sadat and Israel’s Yitzhak Rabin were also murdered. And what’s come since?

In America … Medgar Evers and Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy … and then John Lennon.
Around the world, names we don’t know. Faces we haven’t seen. Social movements crushed, freedoms lost, good people killed (too often by our own government) deadening the soul.

And who is next? Does all this mean activists of great heart and artists for social change inevitably court a death sentence?

It’s long been clear, for a wide variety of reasons, that we cannot rely on “great leaders” to save our world for us.

But can our minds and souls ever recover from such horrible images repeatedly rammed into our brains?
Lynn Stuart Parramore has written with brilliance at AlterNet about the traumas we all face in today’s America.

In their wake, we are being poisoned by a ghastly, malignant class of zombie corporations somehow granted human rights and no human responsibilities.

They have gutted the Democratic Party and seized our government.

Their cancer is of injustice, cynicism, pollution and war.

Avoidable poverty, racism for the hell of it, a gutted democracy, eco-suicide for private profit, perpetual war for its own sake … they all metastasize to feed the corporate tumor.

Another election has been bought, rigged, stolen and lynched. The internet is endangered. Likewise our civil liberties.

So do we turn our heads “until the darkness goes”?

Or do we face the unthinkable head-on, and refuse to blink (except momentarily—we all need a break from time to time) at what we see?

Somehow we have survived since John Kennedy was killed. Kids have been born … and so have social movements … along with many surprising twists of fate.

We are winning a culture war barely begun in 1963.

Silent Spring had just been published. An avid sailor, we don’t know how JFK might have interacted with a nascent environmental movement.

But born it was. A half-century later, Solartopian technologies are poised to green-power our economy. We have the means to survive in harmony with our Mother Earth.

But can we muster the political power to cure our corporate cancer?

Richard Nixon has come and gone. So have Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

Now “Hope and Change” join them in the compost of history. They came too cheap. They meant too little.
Apparently we have more lessons to learn, more inner strength to build.

Departed friend, whoever you might have become, whatever you might have done, you have left us no choice.

The better angels of our souls now demand that we ask not what our planet can do for us …

© 2014 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving: A Native American Perspective

Friends,

Free a turkey in order to enjoy the holiday. And remember the dispossessed.

Kagiso,

Max

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/27185-thanksgiving-a-native-american-perspective

One of the 1,000 Idle No More protesters who gathered on the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor, Ontario, last January and blocked traffic for several hours. (photo: Geoff Robins/AP)

Thanksgiving: A Native American Perspective

By Indians.org
27 November 14

For many of us, thinking about Thanksgiving makes us think of the First Thanksgiving between the Indians and the Pilgrims. There are many versions of this story though, but many of us know the one we are taught in school. In 1621, America would have their very first Thanksgiving Dinner between the two different groups. Today it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.

The very first Thanksgiving was to celebrate a treaty between the pilgrims and the Indians. This was a large feast that had enough food to feed everyone for weeks.

On the table was foul such as geese, turkey, swans, duck, etc. There was also lots of meat, vegetables and grains provided by both the Indians and the pilgrims. Everyone had a wonderful celebration, and certainly a wonderful meal. The Native Indians even signed a paper stating that the pilgrims had the right to Plymouth.

Thanksgiving to the Native American Indians may not mean the same thing that it did to the white settlers in American History. To the Indians, Thanksgiving would mean a totally different thing. This was the beginning of their end - a time where they had given up their land in return for gifts that were full of disease - which would kill many of them later down the road.

The White settlers would see this as a friendship being started, knowing that without the help of the Native American Indians, they would never have survived the rough winter. It was a time of celebrating with family and friends and being thankful they were still around to do it. Today, we celebrate it with our own family with turkey, yams and ham.

Thanksgiving will always be remembered as a time when the Native American Indians and Pilgrims sat at a long table and ate together, sharing everything they had with one another.

© 2014 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Baltimore Activist Alert - November 28 -29, 2014

29] Protest Wal-Mart – Nov. 28
30] Protest Wal-Mart – Nov. 28
31] Protest SodaStream – Nov. 28
32] Protest Wal-Mart – Nov. 28
33] Vigil for peace at White House – Nov. 28
34] Vigil for Justice in Palestine – Nov. 28
35] Ballroom Dancing – Nov. 28
36] Boycott RE/MAX – Nov. 29
37] Olney Peace vigil – Nov. 29
38] Roger Newell’s funeral – Nov. 29
39] West Chester, PA demo – Nov. 29
40] Silent peace vigil – Nov. 29
41] Protest Drone War Center – Nov. 29
42] Sign up with Washington Peace Center
43] Join Fund Our Communities
44] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records
45] Do you need any book shelves?
46] Join Global Zero campaign
47] War Is Not the Answer signs for sale
48] Join Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil

29] – On Fri., Nov. 28 at 8 AM, come out on Black Friday in front of the first Wal-Mart in D.C. and show your support for the workers’ calls for $15/hr and access to full time hours. The store is located 99 H St. NW, and this but one of the protests happening nationwide. Meet at Columbus Circle in front of Union Station, 50 Massachusetts Ave. NE, WDC 20001. Contact D.C. Jobs With Justice at info@dcjwj.org.

Income inequality is the highest it’s been since 1928. Corporate profits are at an all-time high. Meanwhile, wages are at the lowest point since 1948 – even as productivity increases. No one family is driving this trend quite like Wal-Mart’s owners, the Waltons. The Walton family is the richest family in America with nearly $150 billion in wealth and as much money as 43% of American families combined. And yet, most Wal-Mart workers make less than just $25,000 a year. See http://www.blackfridayprotests.org/actions?eventName=black-friday-in-dc-2#event.

30] – Come out on Black Friday, Nov. 28, at 9 AM, and show your support for the Wal-Mart workers’ calls for $15/hr and access to full time hours. This Wal-Mart Supercenter is at 6303 Richmond Hwy., Alexandria. Go to http://www.blackfridayprotests.org/actions?eventName=walmart-black-friday-alexandria-prayer-vigil-1#event.

31] – On Fri., Nov. 28 from 10 AM to noon, walk or bike off that Tofurky by participating in a string of direct actions targeting SodaStream and the six East Baltimore retailers that have refused to remove this apartheid product from their shelves despite community pressure. Driving to and between the stores, clustered a few miles apart, will also be an option, starting at the Eastpoint Mall, 7839 Eastpoint Mall and ending around noon in Harbor East. Baltimore Palestine Solidarity organizers are receptive to your constructive suggestions on how to make this action more inclusive, participatory, and impactful. Message the hosts your ideas or get down with them at https://www.facebook.com/events/741886655878246/?ref=6&ref_notif_type=plan_user_invited.

32] – Jobs With Justice is asking you to Stand with Wal-Mart Workers on Black Friday, Nov. 28. Gather at noon at Wal-Mart 5344, 1238 Putty Hill Ave. Ste 5, Towson 21286. Go to http://www.blackfridayprotests.org/actions.

Despite that wealth, the Waltons have ignored the demands of store associates who are calling for living wages and full-time hours. And even though the company rakes in $16 billion in annual profits, some stores are once again hosting food drives for associates in need this holiday, instead of paying employees enough to buy their own groceries. Wal-Mart provides such low wages and meager benefits that many of its hourly associates are forced to rely on food stamps and Medicaid. The company costs American taxpayers $6.2 billion each year in public assistance for its poorly paid workers, but meanwhile avoids paying an average of $1 billion in taxes every year through loopholes. When Wal-Mart workers have spoken out, they're often fired. The government is pursuing a nationwide prosecution against Wal-Mart, alleging the company illegally retaliated against 117 employees. And yet, despite the risks to their livelihoods, hundreds of Wal-Mart workers are planning on going on strike on Black Friday.

The Peoples Power Assembly, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Baltimore chapter, and other groups will join the Black Friday protest at noon at the Towson Wal-Mart on Joppa Rd. For transportation from Baltimore, meet at 2011 N. Charles Street at 10:30 AM. Leave at 11 AM sharp. Call 410-218-4835 or go to https://www.facebook.com/events/1622189168008715/.

33] – On Fri., Nov. 28 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! The vigil takes place at the White House on Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contact Art @ artlaffin@hotmail.com or at 202-360-6416.

34] – A vigil for Justice in Palestine/Israel takes place every Friday from noon to 1 PM at 19th & JFK Blvd., Philadelphia, across from Israeli Consulate. It is sponsored by Bubbies & Zaydes (Grandparents) for Peace in the Middle East. Email cswartz@pil.net. Go to http://phillyjewishpeace.org/.

35] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month, in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM. Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St. Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be Nov. 28. Call Dave Greene at 410-599-3725.

36] – On Sat., Nov. 29 (all day) to Fri., Dec. 5 (all day), people of conscience, globally, are launching Boycott RE/MAX: No Open House on Stolen Land, a campaign of CODEPINK to demand the company cease the unethical sale of settlement properties in the West Bank that violate international law. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1583226448567667/?ref=6&ref_notif_type=plan_user_invited.

37] – Friends House, 17715 Meeting House Rd., Sandy Spring, MD 20860, hosts a peace vigil every Saturday, 10:30 to 11:30 AM, on the corner of Rt. 108 and Georgia Ave. [Route 97] in Olney, MD. The next vigil is Nov. 29. Call Chuck Harker at 301-570-7167.

38] – Go to the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, 5301 N. Capitol St. NE, WDC, on Sat., Nov. 29 at 11 AM to join community members in honoring Roger Newell, longtime D.C. JWJ board member and legendary D.C. organizer who passed earlier this month. Roger was a member of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters for 22 years working with the Strategic Research & Campaigns Department. Prior to the funeral service, the viewing will be 10 to 11 AM. Following the burial, gather at Teamsters Local Union No. 639, 3100 Ames Place NE, WDC 20018. Cards of condolence can be sent to DeBorah Richardson-Newell, 4623 Burlington Road, Hyattsville 20781.

39] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to www.ccpeace.org. Email ccpeacemovement@aol.com.

40] – There will be a peace vigil on the West Lawn of the Capitol at noon on Sat., Nov. 29. Look for the blue banner with the message, "Seek Peace and Pursue It.--Psalms 34:14." The vigil lasts one hour and is silent except when one responds to the occasional questions. Go to http://www.quaker.org/langleyhill/seekpeace.htm or email seekpeacevigil@yahoo.com.

41] – On Sat., Nov. 29 from noon to 2 PM, protest the establishment of the Drone War Command Center at the Horsham Air Guard Station at Route 611/Easton Road and County Line Road, in Horsham, PA. Demonstrations at the Horsham Air Guard Station occur the last Saturday of the month, after more than a year and a half of protests. Call (610) 544-1818 or visit www.brandywinepeace.com/events. FLY KITES not KILLER DRONES.

42] -- The Washington Peace Center has a progressive calendar & activist alert! Consider signing up to receive its weekly email: info@washingtonpeacecenter.org.

43] -- Fund Our Communities campaign is a grass roots movement to get support from local organizations and communities to work together with their local and state elected officials to pressure Congresspersons and senators to join with Congresspersons Barney Frank and Ron Paul, who have endorsed a 25% cut to the federal military budget. Bring home the savings to state and county governments to meet the local needs which are under tremendous budget pressures. Go to www.OurFunds.org.

44] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs or records, contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon.net.

45] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-366-1637 or mobuszewski at verizon.net.

46] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: http://www.globalzero.org/sign-declaration. A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees. This is an historic window of opportunity. With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

47] -- WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER signs from Friends Committee on National Legislation are again for sale at $5. To purchase a sign, call Max at 410-366-1637.

48] – A Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil takes place every day in Lafayette Park, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 24 hours a day, since June 3, 1981. Go to http://prop1.org; call 202-682-4282.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

Chile’s Journey Towards A Constituent Assembly

Published on Portside (https://portside.org)

Chile’s Journey Towards A Constituent Assembly

http://www.equaltimes.org/chile-s-journey-towards-a#.VHPISyomf95

Bruno Sommer Catalan

Monday, November 17, 2014
Equal Times

Citizen initiatives for the adoption of a new constitution by means of a Constituent Assembly (AC) are gaining ground in Chile

The conservative right is the fiercest opponent of the political proposal presented by thousands of social organisations that, without the backing of an institutional mechanism in the process of drawing up a new social contract, have already started out on their constituent journey.

The discussion over the imperative need for a Constituent Assembly in Chile has managed to overcome the media blackout and find its place at the centre of national political debate.

The reason for the media’s silence is that reforms could seriously undermine the interests of the national oligarchy.

The current constitution [1] was inherited from the regime of General Augusto Pinochet and contains a series of manacles to preserve the status quo in favour of those who accumulate and concentrate capital in a spectacular fashion.

As Gustavo Ruz, coordinator of the Movement for the Constituent Assembly, clarifies:

“This Constitution, Pinochet’s Constitution, which is the same as Lagos’ Constitution of 2005, with its irrelevant little amendments, consecrates the neoliberal model, obliging us as Chileans to be neoliberal, to have the economy concentrated in the hands of 0.01 per cent of the population, and to have two thirds of our GDP in the hands of foreign capital.

“Chile must put an end to this economic model, because it is the economic model that has failed in the whole of Latin America and the United States.”

Undoubtedly the most powerful restraint of the current constitution is that the quorum required for constitutional reforms is too high and, given the binominal composition of the Congress, all but impossible to reach.

In short, to pass a constitutional reform, the approval of 72 of the 120 deputies is required, and 23 of the 38 senators.

Bachelet and the new constitution

One item of the government manifesto that managed to draw sympathy among President Michelle Bachelet’s [2] voters was her pledge to put an end to Pinochet’s constitution.

In her manifesto, she clearly stated that: “The present constitution was drawn up in 1980, at the time of the dictatorship.

It is time we had a fundamental charter that is born under democracy, is the product of a broad and diverse discussion, and covers the changes Chile has undergone in recent decades.”

She goes on to insist that: “At present, democratic processes are held back by authoritarian trammels. We want a constitution without locks and bolts, a constitution that guarantees the full exercise of our rights and duties.

“We must put an end to the current binominal system under which candidates are elected with fewer votes than others who do not reach the chamber. It is also imperative that we amend the extremely high quorums required for the approval of laws.”

For the moment, however, nothing has gone beyond the stage of good intentions, and there are already signs, given the pressure from right-wing forces in conjunction with the business lobby, that she is being pushed to take a different path.

On one the hand, the conservative wing of the Christian Democrats – which is in the Chile’s coalition government alongside Bachelet’s Socialist Party – is insisting that constituent power lies in the parliament and is pulling out all stops to ensure that the birth of a new constitution comes from the Congress, without citizen participation.

Meanwhile, from the seat of the government and the hand of the Secretary General of the presidency, Ximena Rincón – a more “progressive” Christian Democrat – a document is being drawn up that contemplates an initiative to hold “citizen consultation or open councils” across the country, with a view to gathering ideas for the new mechanisms that may give rise to the new constitution.

Social movement for a Constituent Assembly

“We have been tripping over and bumping into each other without recognising ourselves as equals, as colleagues, as brothers or sisters. We are living through times in which it is essential that we see each other once again, that we get to know each other once again, that we recognise each other once again.”

These are the opening words of a text by the Vía Popular a la Constituyente (Popular Route to the Constituent Assembly), a movement headed by the Partido Igualdad (Equality Party), which refuses to sit and wait for the government to call a Constituent Assembly.

It has instead opted for direct action, deploying its forces throughout the country, holding discussions and educational talks about the social need to take a leading role in Chile’s future.

A similar initiative is being carried out by the Movement for the Constituent Assembly, with leaders such as Gustavo Ruz and Matías Sagredo.

Their Citizens’ School for a Constituent Assembly has already successfully trained over 150 monitors who will promote the cause in various parts of the country.

Matías Sagredo, speaking at the Fifth International Congress on Constituent Power held in Barcelona earlier this autumn, was emphatic:

“We will not allow them to impose an illegitimate constitution on us once again, usurping constituent power and bestowing it on a Congress to which it does not belong. We will continue working in this direction, with a view to overturning this corrupt system in which economic power governs and citizens’ rights are subordinate to it.”

Another leading player in the constituent process is the Marca AC movement, which called on citizens during the last presidential elections to mark their ballots with the initials AC (for Asamblea Constituyente), as a way of making the popular demand explicit.

There is also the cross-party group of nine senators in favour of a Constituent Assembly, a bloc bringing together the leader of the MAS, Alejandro Navarro, Quintana and Guido Girardi from the PPD, socialists Rabindranath Quinteros, Alfonso de Urresti and Carlos Montes, and independents Antonio Horvath, Alejandro Guillier and Pedro Araya, who are working with the constitutional lawyer Fernando Atria.

In Chile, thousands of citizens, intellectuals, artists, workers and social, environmental and indigenous peoples’ organisations have publically expressed their support for a Constituent Assembly, including national trade union centres such as the Central Unitaria de Trabajadores [3] (CUT) and the students’ confederation Confederación de Estudiantes de Chile (CONFECH), amongst others.

Lastly, a University of Santiago IPSOS poll, one of the most serious and reputable in the country, revealed that 74 per cent of those questioned considered that the political constitution should be replaced.

Main constitutional demands:

Free and quality public education
Re-nationalisation of copper and large-scale mining
Repeal of the Water Code and nationalisation of water
Decentralisation and greater power for the regions
End of the binominal system
Recognition of the indigenous people and declaration of Chile as a plurinational state

This article has been translated from Spanish.

Source URL: https://portside.org/2014-11-24/chile%E2%80%99s-journey-towards-constituent-assembly

Links:
[1] http://www.constitutionnet.org/country/constitutional-history-chile
[2] http://www.equaltimes.org/bachelet-at-the-crossroads-workers?lang=fr#.VGnyhclkzm5
[3] http://www.cut.cl/Portal/

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs