Tuesday, May 31, 2011

State Secrets

FRONTLINE looks at the biggest story on the planet, the tension between transparency and secrecy, and how Wikileaks is changing the world.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Much as we'd like democratic revolution to be as simple as using a cell phone and waving a rainbow flag, the dreadful reality of our globalized world is that isn't going to cut it. Transitioning from feudal fiefdoms, be they transnational corporations or local thugs, requires intellectual preparation and political organization.

In their report on the transition from feudalism to democracy in Bolivia, the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs documents the mechanisms used to change land ownership and territorial resource management to support self-rule.

For civil society in countries lacking indigenous majorities, the political science lessons from Bolivia and throughout the Andes help to illustrate that research, education and organizing go hand in hand. Trying to short cut that process is just wishful thinking.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wealth of Ideas

How do people decide what to talk about? What method do they use to determine what they discuss? Why do they cede this function to Wall Street?

The narratives we engage in our daily lives about vital issues create the context within which we organize our communities and societies. If we limit that context to market perspectives, then nothing but money matters. Understanding our world demands more.

Since market narratives control most major media, expanding our comprehension requires stepping outside these dominant venues to look around at the wealth of ideas excluded by their gatekeepers. One place to look is in tribal explanations of world affairs, made available by networks of activists and scholars devoted to indigenous studies.

For the last five years, I have actively associated with the Center for World Indigenous Studies, contributing my views to their various publications like Fourth World Eye, Fourth World Journal, and the Forum for Global Exchange. Reading the contributions from other scholars has broadened my perspective considerably.

Reviewing past and present issues of Fourth World Journal, I can see that translation of indigenous ideas to a popular audience begins with thoughts first explored in academic surroundings. I suppose that's why they're called think tanks.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Funding Feudalism

Under the Reagan administration, protecting US-friendly feudalism in Central America went hand in hand with privatizing clandestine military operations. The crimes against humanity committed by foreign death squads, trained at US Army schools, primarily targeted peasants mobilized by liberation theology against brutal feudal systems that had been around since Europeans first enslaved and massacred entire indigenous societies.

Since then, as support for feudalism regained the upper hand within the Roman Catholic church, privatizing US institutions like the military, schools, and Social Security has become both a lucrative form of feudalism as well as a religious battleground. While theocracy and feudalism are core values within the Republican Party, separating the two is awkward for the Democratic Party, which supports privatization, yet depends on peasants for their votes.

As Rachel Tabachnick documents in her article on funding feudalism in the United States, theocracy has the upper hand in mobilizing resources for activism, and with the Obama administration out-privatizing Reagan, forces of liberation in the US literally have nowhere to turn for help. With a growing American peasantry, a key objective in their liberation is an awareness that their freedom is jointly impeded by church and state, and that organizing against this criminal cabal does not come with a paycheck or the blessing of feudal philanthropies.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Clean Water Clean Air

When I first encountered the Wise Use Movement — corporate funded vigilantism against environmentalists — it was just after CBS 60 Minutes aired its September 20, 1992 program Clean Water, Clean Air about community activists assaulted by corporate thugs. One of those threatened with murder was my closest friend.*

Over the last twenty years, efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice to make life miserable for those who advocate sane environmental policy has escalated. In 2006, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D)-San Francisco proposed a law that would make interfering with corporations in any way a federal crime.

In the current issue of Mother Jones magazine, James Ridgeway examines FBI harassment and incarceration of environmental activists, and the Homeland Security mindset that views these non-violent activists as a greater threat to America than militias that blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City.

*Recalled in this excerpt.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Struggling to Survive

In Peak Psychotherapy, Abundant Human Connection, Carolyn Baker explores the emotional repercussions of collapse. Examining the mental health infrastructure for treating illness associated with industrial civilization, Baker observes that many are turning to indigenous traditions that resonate more fully with their deeper humanity. "As health care disappears," says Baker, "humans will be forced to heal differently."

As health care is privatized and made more exclusive, immersion in nature, creation of beauty, and human interconnectedness, argues Ms. Baker, will supplant much of professional mental health care in the future. Whether sitting in rural natural surroundings, or in urban rubble, healers as counselors will often as not be found there as well, bartering with their neighbors struggling to survive the trauma of social panic and despair.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Counteracting Violence

It might work to the benefit of tribes as well as tribal activists and their allies to discuss means of counteracting free market violence. Analysis of such things as communications in conflict, research as organizing tool, networks and netwar would be not only useful in guarding indigenous governance, but help to clarify the experience and direction of the anti-globalization movement already in life and death struggle within indigenous territories and international institutions worldwide.

Whether participants view it necessary to transform, defeat, or circumscribe the free market system, they can jointly focus on ending the violence against indigenous peoples and Mother Earth. Discussing the tools and skills required in this task, and how to make them accessible, might draw an interesting mix of activists and scholars.