rn: the next step (beyond demonstrations)


Jan Slakov

Dear RN,

Interesting question being "discussed" by austin & Richard in the last RN/cj
posting which Richard sent (June 27 '00). 

>What the movement needs next is to figure out how to get to
>the next step beyond demonstrations.

I'm sure, looking with hindsight some years hence, we ought to be able to
see some "next step" that will have emerged. At the same time, I think we
are already taking "next steps" now in various ways. 

For one thing, the demonstrations have not been merely demonstrations, but
have tried to use non-violent blockades and non-cooperation to make it
difficult or impossible for agreements/meetings to proceed.

Meanwhile, people in many countries are not waiting for their governments to
lead us out of servitude to corporate globalization but are setting up
alternative structures themselves. (I suppose the cyberjournal lists can be
seen as part of an alternative media/news service. Lots of other projects
one could cite as examples: community gardens/ community-supported
agriculture, peace and reconciliation efforts through groups such as Peace
Brigades International, Médecins sans frontières, Bat Shalom, Building a
Culture of Nonviolence in Croatia (and the Centar Za Mir in Osijek) etc.,
alternative schooling, etc. etc.)

One "next step" I see as crucially important is for people to see fully how
our militaries have been "hijacked" by a corporate agenda and how our taxes
and militaries are being used to commit crimes against humanity. From there,
people must go on to do two things: 1) refuse to contribute to this evil and
commit acts of civil disobedience to prevent others from doing it (by
disarming planes which drop DU bombs, for instance)
and 2) build up alternate ways of "defending" ourselves so that we will not
have military forces just sitting around, waiting to be "hijacked". ... I
think, when we reflect on the nature of power and the kind of world we want,
we will see that military power (power over) is problematic not just because
it can so easily be "hijacked" by those wanting to protect their
stranglehold on an inordinate amount of the earth's resources. Maintaining
armies also feeds off/necessitates a "growth" economy because armies consume
vast amounts of natural resources, resources which would never be available
were it not for the corporate exploitation of the earth.

There is much we can do to help build true (not military) security. Some
examples: strengthen international law and enforcement mechanisms (including
the holding of alternate tribunals when the official ones are one-sided),
contribute to the efforts of groups working to build trust, reconciliation
and economic security in areas where these are lacking, inform ourselves and
others of the reality of non-violent power; move ourselves and others beyond
seeing history as a series of military battles won and lost to seeing the
importance of acts of "Conscience and Courage" (as documented in one book
with that title; there are, of course, many other excellent resources such
as _Women Against the Iron Fist_ by Sybil Oldfield, books by Gene Sharp (and
others at the Albert Einstein Institution in Cambridge MA), etc.

In any case, I think the notes for a speech on globalization and envisioning
healthy alternatives to globablization/growth by Bruna Nota, which I will
send in the next message, fits in well with this discussion. I hope you will

all the best, Jan

P.S. RE: the idea of supporting Ralph Nader's campaign. While it does seem,
from my perspective, unlikely that Nader would ever be elected president, I
do not necessarily think it would be a mistake to put some energy into his
campaign. If nothing else, political campaigns can give us opportunities to
set before the public some crucial questions to consider. 

...And since we're on the topic of "mistakes", I copy below something I
already sent to this list, but a long time ago, along with another way of
looking at "mistakes" that I just encountered recently:

In the introduction to _Let the Mountains Speak, Let the Rivers Run_, Amory
Lovins quotes someone else as saying that mistakes are situations one has
not yet succeeded in turning to one's advantage (the notion that we can work
to make meaningful and useful any situation that life might throw at us)...

---> From the beginning of a chapter entitled _Thriving in a "User-Friendly"
Universe_ in Barry Neil Kaufman's _Happiness is a Choice_.

Teaching everything in terms of circles or wheels is a Native American
spiritual tradition. The "mistakes wheel" is a new perspective on the
medicine wheel, which is part of the Sweet Medicine path, and shares keys to
self-acceptance and acceptance of the universe. The five sections of the
disk hold five messages about mistakes.

        In the north part of the wheel, the message reads: "Learning from
our own mistakes". In the west part, it's "Learning from the mistakes of
others". in the east portion, it says: "Learning from the mistakes of our
teachers", and, in the south segment, it's "Being willing to make as many
mistakes as it takes."

        Finally, in the centre of this medicine wheel, a position which
represents the essence of learning, the following is written: "Learning that
there is no such thing as a mistake".