rn- web weaving


Richard Moore

Dear rn,

This is a difficult posting for me.  I know some will misunderstand and
misinterperet no matter what, but I'll do my best.  The message at the
bottom is from what we would call a 'right wing' list.  Before I explain
why I'm bringing this to your attention, let me review a concept we call
'web weaving'...

This list is brought to you by "Citizens for a Democratic Renaissance"
(CDR).  We've had exactly one face-face gathering which was in the summer
of '98 in Bear River, Nova Scotia.  Besides myself and Jan, there were
Bruna Nota (current President of Womens International League for Peace and
Freedom), and about a half dozen others.  One of the things we talked about
was the problem of divisiveness in the activist community, and how a
broad-based movement might be encouraged in the face of divisiveness.  In
our "Invitation", which is a kind of manifesto located on our website, we
have the following language:

    The opportunity offered by this crisis is for these various
    resistance efforts to coalesce into a single grass-roots
    global movement -- a movement aimed at bringing sanity to
    economic arrangements and to international affairs, a
    movement to lay claim to our democratic institutions and to
    reassert sovereignty over giant corporations.

We discussed a 'web' as a model for movement development.  The spokes of
the web are different 'causes' ('resistance efforts'), and the circular
strands of the web are bridges, or connections, that communicate between
individual causes.  'Web weaving' is the task of building these circular
strands - of building dialog and communication between different causes.
The mission of the rn-list is to facilitate 'web weaving', by providing a
forum in which people with differing focuses of concern can talk together.
Jan, I think, is to be commended for her web-weaving efforts.

For one reason or another, most of the people on this list seem to be from
a political region I would characterize as 'left-green-internationalist'.
We do have disagreement among ourselves, but for the most part we seem to
share a great many values and assumptions.  We are all aware of excessive
corporate power, of environmental degradation, of unfairness to the third
world, of the drawbacks of free-trade treaties - and we all see these (and
some others) as being front-burner issues.  At least that's the sense I get
from things that people send in to the list.  With respect the UN, most of
us would agree that it has its problems, but most of us would say it's
basically a good thing - that it facilitates international communication
and collaboration.

What I would like to do is to introduce a question for us to consider.
That question is "What should our attitude be toward that political region
that can be characterized as 'right-nationalist'?"  There are some
knee-jerk reactions that may occur to some of you.  You might think 'they
are the enemy', and that our job, in terms of political correctness, is to
shout them down.  Or you might think that 'they are deluded', and our job
is to convert them.  Here are a couple short exchanges with Chris, the
fellow who inspired my little "Ode to Marxism" ditty.  In the first
exchange, Chris said:

    You have mentioned several times that it's unfortunate that
    the left and right don't talk.  What is there to talk about?
     To think that any common ground could ever be reached
    bewtween the two is to ignore the class content of the
    politics reflected in the terms left and right.  The
    capitalist class will never see eye to eye with the working

To this I responded:

    I do not consider the capitalist class to be 'the right'.
    The capitalist class is a very tiny minority, whereas 'the
    right' is a large number of deluded people, though not any
    more deluded than 'liberals' are...   the 'right'opposes
    abortion, while the 'left' supports abortion-rights. The
    capitalist class cares nothing about abortion, but is
    happy to exploit the social divisiveness that the abortion
    issue leads to... Much of the 'working class' is today part
    of 'the right'.

Chris then said:

    I agree that many working people have accepted right-wing
    ideology and that we on the left have to try to get them back.

I would _guess at this point that most of you would tend to agree with
Chris - that dialog with the right might be benficial, and that our
'message' to them should be to think like us.  We are on to the correct
answers and they aren't; our job should be to help them see the light.

I would like to suggest a different attitude.  The fact is that we _aren't
going to get people on the right to think like us; it just isn't going to
happen.  I've talked to plenty of them, and they (at the risk of
over-generalizing) just see the world from a different perspective.  It is
very easy to get into arguments - all you need to do is bring up one of the
many divisive issues, from Bible in schools, to police & crime, to the UN.

But I've found ways to talk to such people productively.  It begins by
listening, and by asking them "why", and getting to the root of some of
their concerns.  The next step is to look for values that are shared in
common, and to develop areas where agreement is possible.  After developing
some modicum of rapport, it is possible to discuss issues productively
which would have been divisive earlier in the conversation. In the end, one
learns that they are real people, who care about many of the same things we

Back in the sixties, I always felt the biggest failing of the New Left was
that it didn't link up effectively with the labor movement.  That could
have led to some powerful politics.  Similarly, back at the turn of the
century, the Agrarian Populists were limited by the failure to link up with
discontented urban populations.   In both cases there was a cultural
assumption that the two groups couldn't be allies - but if you analyze the
primary issues of the day, an alliance would have made political sense.
Today I think the failure of the left and right to communicate is the
single greatest obstacle preventing the development of a substantial
movement for systemic change.  We are both suffering from the degradation
of our physical and social environments, and it would serve our mutual
interest to collaborate together in doing something about it.

I subscribe to some right-wing lists, in order to keep in touch with the
kind of issues they talk about.   What I find most interesting is that left
and right seem to be concerned with totally separate issues.  It's less
that they argue two sides of the same issue than that they are focusing on
different things altogether.  While we're concerned about the enviornment,
you might say, they're concerened about shadiness in Clinton's background.
Since we're always talking about different topics, the illusion is
maintained that we have nothing in common.

The posting below was from one of those lists, and it is concerned with the
following three issues:
  1) privacy, including efforts to require Americans to have a national ID;
  2) presidential executive orders and the erosion of the Constitution;
  3) the United Nations and the erosion of national sovereignty.

Basically, this is an annoucement of an activist effort, around those
issues, describing a mechanism they've developed by which they hope to
achieve results.  They are talking about a 'spoke' on a movement web, but
the question is whether that spoke could be part of our own web - whether
web-weaving would in this case be a desirable objective.

I'll join you again after you've looked at the posting itself...


Date: Sat, 16 Oct 1999 02:31:17 -0700
From: APFN - American Patriots Freedom Network <•••@••.•••>
Organization: APFN http://www.insidetheweb.com/mbs.cgi/mb77532
To: APFN ONELIST <•••@••.•••>

Subject: Cyberwarfare is on.....THE IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY

Cyberwarfare is on.
       FRIDAY  OCTOBER 15   1999

       Can Internet curb Clinton power?
       'We're not surrendering, we're
       fighting back,' congressman vows

       By Sarah Foster
   © 1999 WorldNetDaily.com

 Inspired in part by the successful use of the Internet in derailing the
 "Know Your Customer" regulation promulgated by the Federal Deposit
 Insurance Agency, a group of 14 congressmen and eight constitutional
 Attorneys plan to take the fight for American liberties and national
 sovereignty to cyberspace.

 The Liberty Study Committee, organized by Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas,
 will focus on three interrelated issues: privacy, including efforts to
 require Americans to have a national ID; presidential executive orders;
 and the United Nations.

 "I am sorry and dismayed that our liberty is indeed being taken," Paul
 says, explaining the mission of the committee. "However, regret and
 disappointment are not the same as surrender. We are not
 surrendering, we are fighting back."

 And they are doing so with determination. According to Kent Snyder,
 the group's executive director, the Liberty Study Committee is not a
 think tank or research foundation, but an "action-oriented organization"
 that will enable Americans to make their voices heard in Congress.
 "Everything we do is to advance the legislative remedy to a problem,"
 Snyder told WorldNetDaily. "That's priority one for the Liberty Study
 Committee. There are plenty of organizations that do research, and we
 encourage that, but our primary focus is not education but the legislative
 solution. Everything we do must advance the solution -- a specific piece
 of legislation. And we will use the Internet to do it."

 Although it's a new group, the Liberty Study Committee has already
 made its presence felt on Capitol Hill. Earlier this year they set up a
 website, NoNationalID.com. With a click of a mouse, people could write
 what they thought about national IDs and e-mail the message directly to
 their representative and the two senators from their state.

 On Oct. 1, the House passed the Omnibus Transportation Bill, which
 included a rider by Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., repealing a section of a
 statute passed in 1996 requiring that, as of Oct. 1, 2000, Americans
 would be forced to carry a national ID. Under provisions of the Illegal
 Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act, without an ID no one would
 be allowed to board a commercial flight, purchase a handgun, receive
 federal benefits or take a new, private sector job.

 Although the repeal language survived the House Appropriations
 Committee, there was concern that it might be deleted on the floors of
 the House and possibly the Senate.

 That didn't happen. The repeal language was kept by both houses --
 thanks in large part to public response flooding congressional offices
 with e-mails, faxes and letters.

 "This is a great moment for all Americans," said Paul, who led the fight
 in the House. "We have succeeded in defeating a program that would
 have deprived Americans of constitutional liberties, while imposing a
 massive federal bureaucracy to monitor their every step from cradle to

 Snyder detailed the victory to WorldNetDaily.

 "We had a lot of people going to the site, a lot of people sending
 messages at the very last minute," Snyder said. "Sources who were
 involved in the process admitted that our presence was definitely felt."
 Although elated, Snyder cautioned that "the issue isn't going to go

 "The committee must remain alert for any push for any form of a
 national ID card," he said. "We know that the forces that want a national
 ID will continue to work for it, and we'll continue to fight it."

  With one victory to their credit, the Liberty Study Committee is turning
 attention to other areas of concern.

 "The 72-hour effort was a practice run for a much larger effort," said

 "The effort to stop the national ID within a 72-hour period was a success
 ... so we are taking that success and using it as a first step towards a
 similar effort on executive orders, the United Nations, and the other
 issues related to a national ID. We have the model, we have activists
 nationwide who have used it, we are becoming better known by liberty-
 minded individuals throughout the country."

 At present, the Committee is focusing on the president's practice of
 issuing executive orders to expand presidential power and set policy
 agendas, something Paul and his colleagues find particularly egregious.
 "By using executive orders and declarations of emergency, President
 Clinton is vastly increasing the power of the national government over
 us," says Paul. "He is also concentrating more power in his hands
 alone by taking the legislative power that rightfully belongs to the 535
 men and women of the United States Congress. With each stroke of his
 pen, he is effectively rewriting our Constitution."

 Paul cites as examples: Presidential Decision Directive 25 enables the
 U.S. military to be moved under U.N. command without congressional
 Approval. Executive Order 12919 directs cabinet officials to take over all
 aspects of the economy during a declared state of emergency. It
 effectively puts the entire United States under the control of the Federal
 Emergency Management Agency. Currently, the U.S. operates under
 14 states of emergency. Executive Order 13133, titled "Working Group
 on Unlawful Conduct on the Internet," was issued Aug. 7, 1999,
 stipulating that a group of agency heads will define "unlawful conduct."

 President Clinton has signed over 300 executive orders since assuming
 office in January 1993. The number doesn't include the presidential
 directives (which are kept secret), the various initiatives -- such as the
 Clean Water Initiative -- that also provide a way for the administration to
 make end runs around Congress and justify federal intervention in state
 and local governments.

 "We'd need a lifespan of 300 years to fight all the executive orders and
 initiatives if we take them on one at a time," said Snyder. "If we attack
 the orders in a piecemeal way, we'd be going round and round like
 gerbils in a cage.

 "The only solution is a comprehensive bill -- right now that's Rep. Paul's
 HR 2655 -- the Separation of Powers Restoration Act."
 Paul introduced HR 2655 this July, with co-author Jack Metcalf, R-
 Wash. It builds on House Concurrent Resolution 30 which Metcalf
 introduced in March, but which failed to get out of committee. HR 2655
 is far broader than its predecessor.

 If enacted, HR 2655 would: Repeal the War Powers Resolution and end
 all states of national emergency. Require that treaties and executive
 agreements purporting to assign powers not amongst those specifically
 granted to the federal government by the Constitution would be non-
 binding. Require that the president, in issuing executive orders, cite the
 specific congressional enactment and the constitutional authority on
 which it's based. Prohibit delegation of power to a foreign government or
 international body when no such delegating authority exists under the
 Constitution. Grant legal standing to individual members of Congress,
 state officials and private citizens who believe a presidential executive
 order is unconstitutional.

 As it did to fight the national ID law, the Liberty Study Committee has
 set up a special website, executiveorders.org with information about
 executive orders -- what they are, how they work, what they do, as well
 as a bibliography about executive orders and emergency powers for
 people who want to explore the issue in depth.

 "At this juncture, we want to make the public aware of the subject of
 executive orders and the abuses," said Snyder. "There will be an
 endless list of abuses -- examples of the usurpation by the president of
 congressional powers. They represent the total breakdown of the
 separation between the presidency and the Congress. Our first step is
 to throw some light on this subject."

 Asked what people should do about the problem, Snyder urged that
 they use the website, just as they did to oppose the national ID.
 "I'd advise them to go to our site to read about executive orders -- then
 find out online if their representative is a co-sponsor of HR 2655. If they
 are not, then send them a message urging them to become a co-
 sponsor. Currently we have eight. There are a lot that have not signed
 on. If they are co-sponsors, then send a message of thanks.

"We're involving the public step by step in the legislative process. It's
very simple: Here's the issue, here's the remedy. They must urge their
representatives to take a stand on the issue of presidential executive
orders by supporting HR 2655."

       © 1999 WorldNetDaily.com, Inc.
Capital Directory

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES - Capitol Hill number is (202) 224-3121
                                                         Call Congress on
House Of Representatives (EMAIL)

"NORFOLK, Va. - Defense Secretary William Cohen established a new
military command here Thursday that will direct troops and equipment
in response to terrorist attacks on U.S. soil."
Source:  http://www.usatoday.com/news/washdc/ncsthu05.htm


rkm, cont...

There are many attitudes above which I don't go along with, such as their
characterization of the Clean Water Initiative as being, more or less, a
federal plot to subvert states' rights.   More important, I don't share
their underlying attitude that the UN is a bad thing altogether.   But on
their main three points I'm mostly in agreement.   (1) Governemnts _are
intruding increasingly on privacy, and that _is a vitally important
civil-liberties issue.  (2) Power in the US _is being dangerously
centralized in the federal executive, and the erosion of the Constitution
does move the US closer to what could be called an 'imperial' system.  In
Canada you have a similar problem with power being shifted increasingly
from the provinces to Ottawa.  And in the EU the same shift is happening
toward Brussels.   (3) Transfer of national sovereignty to international
organizations, whether it be the UN or the WTO, _is a bad thing, even if we
would disagree over the reasons why.  'They' think its a 'liberal'
conspiracy, while I see it as corporate-elite conspiracy, but we can agree
that keeping sovereignty closer to home, closer to the electorate, gives us
more hope of exercising democratic control over our destinies.

A breakthrough occured some years back in Northern Ireland when some women
got together from the Catholic and Protestant communities.  Their united
voice had a political weight to it that neither side could ignore.  Their
efforts were a kind of web weaving, and they contributed significantly
toward the building of the momentum that led to the current peace process.
My intuition tells me that if there began to be grass-roots connections
between groups from left and right backgrounds, and if they began to
identify areas of consensus, that the result could be politically electric.

I hope some of you are still reading, and if so, I'd be interested in
seeing some discussion about this left-right divide, and the possibility of
productive web weaving.



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