All Wars Are Illegal, So What Do We Do About It?

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Above photo: From Getty Images.

Every war being fought today is illegal. Every action taken to carry out these wars is a war crime.

In 1928, the Kellogg-Briand Pact or Pact of Paris was signed and ratified by the United States and other major nations that renounced war as a way to resolve conflicts, calling instead for peaceful ways of handling disputes.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact was the basis for the Nuremberg Tribunal, in which 24 leaders of the Third Reich were tried and convicted for war crimes, and for the Tokyo Tribunal, in which 28 leaders of the Japanese Empire were tried and convicted for war crimes, following World War II.

Such prosecutions should have prevented further wars, but they have not. David Swanson of World Beyond War argues that a fundamental task of the antiwar movement is to enforce the rule of law. What good are new treaties, he asks, if we can’t uphold the ones that already exist?

By Ellen Davidson.

The United States is violating international law, and escalating its aggression

All wars and acts of aggression by the United States since 1928 have violated the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the United Nations Charter since it was signed in 1945. The UN Charter states, in Article 2:

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Yet, the United States has a long history of threatening aggression and using military force to remove governments it opposed and install friendly ones. Illegal attacks by the US since World War II have resulted in 20 million people being killed in 37 nations. For example, as we outline in “North Korea and the United States: Will the Real Aggressor Please Stand Down,”the United States used violence to install Syngman Rhee in power in the 1940’s and subsequently killed millions of Koreans, in both the South and the North, in the Korean War, which has not ended. Under international law, the “war games” practicing to attack North Korea with conventional and nuclear weapons are illegal threats of military action.

The list of interventions by the United States is too long to list here. Basically, the US has been interfering in and attacking other countries almost continuously since its inception. Currently the US is involved directly in wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Somalia. The US is threatening Iran and Venezuela with attack.

The United States has 883 military bases in 183 countries and has hundreds of outposts scattered throughout the world. Lynn Petrovich recently examined the new defense budget. With regard to the Pentagon’s 2019 budget report, she writes:

If the planet is our community, America is the bully in the neighborhood.  Reference to the word ‘lethal’ is sprinkled no less than 3 dozen times throughout The Report (‘more lethal force’ p. 2-6, ‘technology innovation for increased lethality’ p.1-1, ‘increasing the lethality of new and existing weapons systems’ p. 3-2).”


Were it not for The Report’s dire (yet, fully funded) predictions for world domination, one would think this budget request was satire by The Onion.”

Included in the new budget are funds to recruit 26,000 more of our youth into the military, purchase ten more “combat ships,” build more F-35s, even though they don’t work, and “modernize” our nuclear weapons. At a time when the United States is losing power in the world and falling behind in wealth, the government voted nearly unanimously to provide $74 billion more than last year to be more aggressive. Imagine what that money could do if it were applied instead to improving public education, transitioning to a clean energy economy and a public works program to restore our failing infrastructure.

The United States empire is falling and blindly taking all of us down with it as it tries to assert its power.

By Margaret Flowers.

What to do about it

The peace movement in the United States is being revived and building alliances with peace activists in many countries, and it can’t happen fast enough. There are many opportunities for action this fall, the “Antiwar Autumn.”

The World Beyond War conference, #NoWar2018, just concluded in Toronto. The focus of the conference was legalizing peace. Among the topics discussed was how to use courts to prevent wars, stop the escalation of militarism and investigate war crimes. Professor Daniel Turp of the University of Montreal and his students have sued the Canadian government over participating in extraditing prisoners to Guantanamo, potential intervention in Iraq and providing weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Turp recommends that activists who are considering legal action first look to domestic courts for a remedy. If none exists or domestic action is unsuccessful, then it is possible to turn to international bodies such as the International Criminal Court or the United Nations. Any people or organizations can file a report or complaint with these bodies. Before doing so, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible, first hand accounts are strong but even hearsay can be grounds to trigger an investigation.

Currently, Popular Resistance is supporting an effort to ask the International Criminal Court to launch a full investigation of Israel for its war crimes. People and organizations are invited to sign on to the letter, which will be delivered by a delegation, including us, to the Hague in November.

Click here to read and sign onto the letter (please share it).

Click here to donate towards the delegation to the ICC

William Curtis Edstrom of Nicaragua wrote a letter to the United Nations in advance of Trump’s visit to serve as the chair of the Security Council meeting. He is requesting “hearings, debate and vote on an effective plan of action against various crimes that have been committed by people working for the government of the US that are of significance to the global community.”

This week, Medea Benjamin confronted a Trump administration official, the head of the new “Iran Action Group,” at the Hudson Institute. President Trump is planning to advocate for more aggression against Iran at the United Nations. When the US tried this in the past, it has received push back from other nations Now it is clear it is the US, not Iran, that has violated the nuclear agreement and is conducting an economic war against Iran while threatening military action. The world is likely to stand up to Trump and US threats.

Recent progress towards peace by North and South Korea show that activism is effective. Sarah Freeman-Woolpert reports on efforts by activists in South Korea and the United States to build coalitions and organize strategic actions that create the political space for peace.

Leaders of both countries met this week to discuss improving relations and finding a compromise between North Korea and the United States. President Moon will meet with President Trump at the United Nations this month. Korean activists say that their greatest concern is that Koreans finally having “the ability to shape the future of [their] country.”

When we understand that war is illegal, our task becomes clear. We need to make sure that all nations, especially the United States, obey the law. We can replace war with mediation, conflict resolution and adjudication. We can legalize peace.

From Pinterest.

Here are more actions this Antiwar Autumn:

September 30-October 6 – Shut Down Creech – week of actions to protest the use of drones. More information and register here.

October 6-13 – Keep Space for Peace Week. Many actions planned in the US and UK. Click here for details.

October 20-21 – Women’s March on the Pentagon. More information here.

November 3 – Black is Back Coalition march to the White House for peace in Africa. More information here.

November 10 – Peace Congress to End U.S. Wars at Home and Abroad. This will be a full day conference to define next steps for collaboration by activists and organizations in the US. More information and registration here.

November 11 – March to Reclaim Armistice Day. This will be a solemn march led by veterans and military families on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, which ended World War I, to call for celebrating Armistice Day instead of Veterans Day in the US. Click here for more information.

November 16-18 – School of Americas Watch Border Encuentro. This will include workshops and actions at the border between the US and Mexico. More information here.

November 16-18 – No US NATO Bases International Conference in Dublin, Ireland. This is the first international conference of the new coalition to close US foreign military bases. Click here for more details.

  • il corvo

    No matter who you vote for, believe in, what country you live in, or what economic system you back, if you are a human being who is able to feel love and compassion you are against war. War is an aspect of nationalism that demands complete obedience to authority. Follow John Trudell’s striking words of how he saw his place in the world:




  • Ishi Crew

    Half the reason we have wars is so Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, and their university affiliates (eg MIT) , and US military etc can provide jobs–some high skilled and some ‘basic military training’.

    The other half of the reason we have wars is so people like Media Benjamin, CodePink, and DemocracyNow have something to talk about and prtoest against, and raise funds for their protests, travel and infrastructure. Birds of a feather flock togetehr.

  • mwildfire

    I can’t let this one pass. We don’t have wars on behalf of peace activists! You really think Benjamin would have to give up protesting if the world slid into total peace? There is still slavery, environmental devastation, inequality…I protest quite a bit, usually these days about environmental stuff–I haven’t been to a peace protest in years because it seems to have no effect. I’d LOVE to have nothing to protest, to put all my energy into growing crops and writing novels.
    I’d say your first statement was close to true, except that it’s more about the profits than jobs–in fact weapons work is among the least labor intensive, one reason it’s favored. Fossil fuels provide fewer jobs than renewable energy, one reason the transition hasn’t picked up more steam in the US, where workers have so little power. When a gas corporation, for example, wants to expand fracking or build a petrochemical complex or a pipeline, with environmental and health and quality of life devastation, they talk in the impacted communities about jobs. But behind closed doors, those jobs are referred to as “labor costs” to be minimized.
    So if the lobbying power of the military industrial complex is half the reason for war, what’s the other half? Certainly not the feeding of antiwar protesters–that’s absurd. I can name several things: it’s a way of sending hundreds of thousands of people, mostly young unemployed males–the people most likely to be at the heart of insurrection–and sending them out of the country, keeping them busy and paid enough to live on, while also indoctrinating them in mindlessly following orders. It’s a way for the cabal of people who make the actual decisions in countries like ours to manipulate other countries–the US targets as “rogue nations” any whose leaders refuse to take orders from Washington DC. Each is “made an example of,” left in ruins. People like Dick Cheney see the world as their Risk board, in which they play games of conquest with similar sociopaths elsewhere–they have just as much love and concern for “our brave men and women in uniform” as you do for those little colored cubes called “armies” you use when you play Risk.

  • chetdude

    And to connect the final dot that my friend mwildfire was getting close to…

    The ENTIRE reason we have wars are the counter-evolutionary human experiments with systems of dominator hierarchies that homo sapiens(sic) have been experimenting with for the last few millennia…

    The current tool the dominators are using to enforce their domination is a regressive form of consumption/unfree market capitalism.

    Of course given your attempt to fruitlessly smear decent people who oppose that system, I would not be surprised if you are unable to comprehend the truths in my last 2 paragraphs…

  • Ishi Crew

    I deal with both macro and micro. I just do not believe that more prtesting will solve the problem. I ve met people people at protests who take a plane to USA from Australia who think they are saving the world. They fly back to australia next day after saving the world.

  • chetdude

    You made a serious mistake in your characterization of Medea and Code Pink…I happen to know Medea and have worked with her on a few actions.

    Your anecdotal “evidence” doesn’t apply. She’s the real deal!

  • chetdude

    If the protesting educates enough folks and energize them into vigorously active, massive, relentless (24/7/365), non-partisan People’s Lobby that’s educated in Working Class interests – the interests and needs of We the People of the 90% – and are ready, willing and able to force elected “representatives” to ignore their major campaign bribers (and their paid lobbyists) and do the People’s Work instead then it’s worthwhile…

  • Ishi Crew

    I’ve also met medea benjamin and been to quite a few of their protests. she was much more effective when she did global exchange which was bascially before i heard of her—i only heard of codepink . i respect global exchange idea. thats the real deal.

    code pink is just a media spectacle. i’m on their mai,ling list—they sent me an email today asking me to promote them on social media. they are basically a very insular group of ‘activists’ who want you to fund them —‘donate now!!’ so we can travel to gaza.

    thats why gaza is a mess, yemen is a mess, and usa has trump. all these professional activists busy patting themselves on the back and getting paid. codepink people also in my experience are quite arrogant and self-absorbed–wound’t be surprised they hate men too. spend more money on their wardrobe and signs and travel than anything else. trumpstertainors.

  • Ishi Crew

    I think there were 400,000 people protesting the war on iraq. many people protested trump’s inauguration ( i happenned to be there–went as a tourist–saw people breaking windows, burning cars, getting bombed by the police). so what? i told police me and my firend were just visiting tourists—we dont live in DC—we live in ‘the other DC’ –the one nobody downtown goes to because you wouldn’t want to. you might get killed up here

    many working class people in my area build luxury condos for rich people downtown. . many make a good living doing that. i dont do that kind of work and hence unlike working class people i can’t afford a car, to take uber, or a cab.

  • chetdude

    IMHO, You’re wrong…

    USA has Trump because Capitalism/Oligarchy…

    Code Pink does not “hate men”…

  • kevinzeese

    Such nonsense on Medea and CODE PINK. Not only do they do excellent protests but they write articles and reports, organize and mobilize people as well as write books. Medea’s most recent books were on drones, Saudi Arabia and Iran. If we had more people like Medea and CODE PINK we would have a strong antiwar movement. They do exactly what needs to be done – educate, organize and mobilize.

  • Red Robbo

    ‘ Russia’s president knows exactly what he wants, and it’s not eastern Ukraine. His interests are all about oil and gas and supply routes. The rest is smoke and mirrors,’ one article stated back in March 2015. States compete over natural resources, trade routes and areas of domination.

  • Ishi Crew

    code pink probably does not hate men.
    i gew up in DC so it seems like there have been 5 protests a day on various issues and meetings here my entire life. i’m tired of that. most people i know don’t go to protests, many don’t vote, some get PhDs and good jobs, some hang out on the street and get high, some do arts and music or hiking, write articles or books, some have minimum wage jobs, families, watch sports or TV, go shopping, buy cars and houses and travel, have gardens, …. I’m not convinced either voting or protesting is ‘the solution’.

    We have ‘oligarchy’ and ‘capitalism’ because people ‘play by the rules’—they take whatever job they can get whether its at mcdonald’s , or as a professor at Harvard, or on capital hill, or in an NGO , hollywood, or the NFL.

    All these silicon valley billionaires (some of whom now support things like ‘unconditional basic income’) are oligarchs because lots of people bought smart phones, computers and are on facebook and have websites and cars. ‘follow the money’. at some protests on say ‘climate change’ i’ve met people who have flown to a 1 day protest from places like australia or washington state. Alot of local people wont go mile for a protest or 5 blocks to a voting place or meeting,.

  • kevinzeese

    The comment that CODE PINK hates men is so absurd that I did not think I needed to respond. It is so detached from reality that it says more about the person saying it then about CODE PINK.

  • Ishi Crew

    that view actually comes from my personal encounters with codepink people (who were female). they did not have a very firendly attitude towards me, which i took as anti-male at the time, but i think actually what they didn’t like about me was that i was not the kind of activist they wanted—i sort of wanted some discussion of whether these continual protests, getting arrested, etc were ‘effective’ or were just playing to the USA media spectacle. they viewed discussion as a waste of their time. trying to talk to them was like trying to talk to fundamentalist christians about religion and science. their minds are closed.

    They wanted people who were gung ho activsts—block traffic, get out in the street, carry signs, chant slogans. If you weren’t with that program 100% you were not welcome basically. you have to be a true believer. (the encounter i remember was at an anti-AIPAC conference in DC –i went to protest AIPAC , but i think a better way to protest groups like AIPAC is via boycotts –don’t waste time and energy and money on all these protests because you are indirectly supporting them just going to a protest).

    Its similar to the ‘green party’ of which i am technically a member. a legitmate argument that GP people like Ralph Nader and Jill stein indirectly helped G Bush and D Trump get elected because they had these ‘purist’ views that there is no difference between democrats and republicans. ‘vote green, be pure, not for the lesser of 2 evils’.
    Kevin Zeese said similar things .

    Trump is now dismantling the entire system of environmental regulations in the USA, and putting on supreme court people who will set policy for a long time (unless there is, say, some sort of revolution). hilary probably would not have done that, and gore probably would not have invaded iraq. The ‘left’ or ‘progressives’ in america are as divided as the ones in russia in 1900’s—lenin , stalin, trotsky, kropotkin and other anarchists. they were all against the czars, but eventually ended up taking each other out. (Noam Ch9msky has discussed this many times—though in linguistics chomsky himself is viewed as an antiquated authoritarian by maybe 50% of linguists.) (and in anarchist world, some anarchists from some more ‘purist’ traditions view him as a traitor to anarchism . Chomsky also has had some differences with BDS movement. )

    Its better for people like me to leave politics to the politicians, and i should stick with nature, music and sciences.

  • kevinzeese

    Sounds like you invited hostility because of your views and actions. And your comments here will also have a hostile reaction because you have minimal understanding of social movement and how the work.

    As I said, your comment on CODE PINK was way off and said more about you then CODE PINK. Your response just re-enforced my comment.

  • chetdude

    As you say. Most people are programmed to “play by the rules”…

    Part of the rules is not to upset business as usual with your “silly little protests”…

    And it’s true that since protests can’t seem reach critical mass, they are ineffectual in practice — although some like Media’s recent excellent take-down of this war monger can energize us.

    However, in the “electoral” realm I recommend constant, targeted pressure by a People’s Lobby, much the same kind that corporate lobbyists apply but we can apply with greater numbers of people on our alleged “representatives” to force them to represent We the People rather than they the major campaign bribers…

  • chetdude

    Ok, I’ll accept your self-characterization…

    You appear to be a relentless contrarian who cannot commit to an ideal (like NO WAR, NEVER, NOHOW for NO REASON) and should stay out of politics…

    It’s been a slice…

  • 2Ronnie47

    I cannot find any information on William Curtis Edstrom who authored the open letter to the UN. I also tried to find the the trilogy of articles he wrote which he says are all freely accessed on the internet. Also the news column “American Bioweaponry” that he mentions at the end of his letter. Can you provide a link to them, or to information about him. Thanks.

  • Ishi Crew

    Actually my main point was that maybe some people in social movements, and who are sort of unofficial or official, self selected or ‘democatically’ (whatever that is–USA supposedly has democraticaslly selected leaders and rules) leaders of them, also have minimal understanding of how social movements work. (The approach i sort of favor—follow the money and boycott—had some activist value in civil rights bus boycott. Howwever simple boycotts like that have limniterd effects—this is 2018 so something more sophisticated might be needed instead, using ‘scienctific analyses’. The ‘effective altruism’ movmement (which seems sort of dominated by silicon valley billionaries, IT types, academics , though it has some socialists in it too, claims to try to take the scientific approach to charity–some people’s form of activism. Einstein was a socialist, but not much of an activist except in case of paul robeson. ).

    Also, that may be why most of them have had limited sucess—‘arab spring’, ‘orange revolution’, communism, green politics, environmentalism, and so on. My impression is most of them are using almost the same play book from 1960’s. (i guess OWS had a slight twist on it such as the idea ‘no list of demands’. By contrast BLM has now a fairly long list of demands–eg a UBI).

    ‘Hostility’ and inviting it is actually one part of some activists toolbox— antifa and some anarchists actually are not very friendly, although they will particiapte in protests with ‘peaceful proterstors’ who typically are (eg talk with cops, etc.) . ‘punk rock ‘ had elements of political actvisism and being a social movoment —and one famous song from era has lyrics ‘i dont know what i want , but ii know how to get it, i want to destroy, anarchy’…

  • kevinzeese
  • Ishi Crew

    In a way i use as an analogy of my position in current social movments somewhat like some of these DCPublic school system students which I attended. They are seen as an impediment to progress, are sometimes hostile, sleep in class, are delinquent, dont study , flunk out. . Just as i likely should not be in social movments the way most currently operate, my view is these kids likely should be in a different learning environment. some schools are good for some people, but some aren’t good for anyone (they just teach conformity and obediance to authroity, and some people need different kinds of schools. I probably need a different kind of social movment or some other role than going to protests. I’d probably be better as a writer or musician but i’m too disorganized. (Half the protests i have gone to often feature charismatic writers, professors and musicians. since iread alot i rarely learn little that is new—i often go for the music if they have some punk or hip hop. –something to reduce the pain of being in polluted noisy downtown in some big crowd. )

    Bad students often sort of have ADHD but they arent aginst learing—just the rformat. I also support the goals of most current social movments -im a GP member, etc. and occasionally even vote for them but mostly because is support the platform and also keeping them on the ballot even if 3rd parties at present have almost no chance of winning. (Zeese and Flowers actually have an article i read recently that pointed out 3rd parties were important to causing FDR to make the democratic reforms he’s known for in 1930’s like labor laws, social security, etc. —ie the democratic platform weas modified by pressure from smaller groups. Same argument is made for Jeremy Corbyn of UK—morwe radical groups /parties even if they couldn’t win forced labor to modify their platform . so there is argument for voting say green”.) Some people at Jacobin magazine make same argument.

    But the ‘left’ is factionalized (even the GP) so in same journals one can see arguments pro and con of going independent versus infilitreating the mainstream, or supporting unviersal basic or not, or a guranteed job (berni’es platform) or not. I’ve been to many political meetings where supposedly the people all share same views but spend most of their time atacking different factions in the group. Pacifica Radio network (eg WPFW in DC) is an example–i’ve seen fights almost break out supposedly among people all commited to peace. Alot of them were really fighting to preserve their own radio show whch they consider private proerty and sometimes their own advertizing channel even though its called ‘community radio’. Under Stalin USSR was viewed as run by the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ (workers ran it) but Stalin was the dictator . (‘all men are equal, but some are more equal than others.) I used to hag out with anarchists, whoridicule socialists, and at times with socialists who ridicule anarchists and view as
    them as people who get in the way of ‘Progress’.
    UBI peope and JG people in economics go after each other.

    CodePink probably does . serve an educational purpose since they get alot of press—i have spent alot of time in rural areas like WV where almost all the media is right wing radio or some local station reporting on church picnics in town with 300 people. So there WV public radio (the only other station) NPR is a breath of fresh air —in WV thats the radical left to many people. .

    civil rights movement was split too into often hostile factions—MLK vs MX at times, Marcus Garvey vs E B Dubois and NAACP before that.
    I do know alot of people drop out of social movements because they don’t want be around these conflicts. Also people drop out of democratic party because it doesnt seem to do anything for them (one reason why Tump won). But same is tre for more radical groups. I dont like going to some protest and have some upscale professor at Harvard explaining to the crowd why we have ‘ to ‘step things up’, maybe get arrrested and go to jail, when he is going to fly back to Harvard in another hour to write more books. People like that decide being a ‘tenured radical’ and celbrity is a more fun life than going to endkless protest and repeating sdlogans rather than write more complex stuff on economics, climate change, ‘intersectionality, justice, etc. They also feel they contribute more that way.

    alot of people suport progressive values but instead get a job, in say corporate america because being an activist or working in DCPS is too stressful and not their kind of thing. Einstein while very progrressive preferred doing physics to being involved inthe socialist movment—and his later work was funded by a very wealthy person who set up a think tank in Princeton NJ (where Chris hedges lives as well—and speaks at protests and writes books, etc. –perhaps gets arrested occassionally, but people i know for example who are part of DC (nonpolitical) street culture get arrested more often and avoid getting arrested if they can (and many would not be welcome either because they are not very ‘pc’ –they are more into the ‘gangsta thug ‘ lifestyle though most would want to get out of it but basically see no alternative.They wont go to a BLM protest —they’d rather hang on their corner where they feel comfortable. They choose ‘happiness’ even if it means they are part of the social problem rather than part of the solution. They are no happier at some event ‘for a good cause ‘ than some DCPS students are in school supposedly learning to be productive good citizens —eg getting prepared so can join the army to fight for USA and get in return a ‘thank you for your service’ and maybe even some free VA healthcare for their PTSD. I dont blame some people dropping out. . )

  • chetdude

    I am forced to agree with you. There’s not nearly as much fun, whimsy and music at “demonstrations” now as there was in the 60s – at least that’s how I remember things. As a musician who played at more than a few, I MISS the music. There were usually at least 3 or 4 different groups providing musical interludes between the interminable speeches “back in the day”. In fact, our regular anti-Vietnam War demos in ’68 were music performances with a couple of ant-war speeches allowed during the intermissions between bands!

    I must also agree with your characterization of the stultifying conditioning factories that “schools” have increasingly been forced to become by the PTB in order to pump out docile work units for the capitalist consumption machine. They learned their lessons from the time when minimal education was tried in instilling “critical thinking skills” and love of learning that my generation benefited from thanks to the desires (and fears) of our middle-class Depression-era parents and the fossil-fueled affluence in the late 40s through the 60s…

    Of course, a critical mass of us ended up “questioning everything” including knee-jerk support of wars so the PTB took major steps to dumb down the process…culminating in crap like NCLB, “Race to the Top” and “teach to the standardized test”…

    Of course, part of this training as good little cogs in “society” includes a massive amount of propaganda and the application of draconian negative incentives against organizing together to oppose authority of any kind.

    I’ve experienced what you’re talking about (more than once) at Pacifica, KPFA in Berkeley. Part of the conflicts are indeed often personal conflicts between programmers and a desire to preserve one’s platform/program/identity but it’s also often a result of the corporatizing and commodification of even Pacifica stations to “gain more audience”. I played music on KPFA back in the 70s when its schedule was so wonderfully anarchic that one could just tune in and find something new, kinky and/or interesting. Then the corporate democrat sorts showed up and had to pound those oblong and square pegs into round holes in their homogenized schedule just like the “big boys” in corporate radio. Ironically, my local NPR affiliate in a very blue blue state just did the same and three of my favorite, left-wing shows were dropped or buried in the shuffle…

    You describe what’s happened to Movements but isn’t most of that the direct result of the most massively successful corporate propaganda machine in history that most people allow to define their world while its intent on dividing and conquering us? It takes very little intellectual effort to deconstruct, see through the lies and find the deeper motivations and goals of that machine but, alas, most folks are so well conditioned that they can’t conceive of making that effort. So like the republicans with “Pelosi” and “abortion” and “guns” and the democrats with “Russia” and “Trump” they allow themselves to be pushed by symptomatic waves on the surface instead of making a few strokes to swim against the tide.

    I also deplore the factionalization of what passes for the “left” in USAmerica. That’s why my emphasis lately has been on proposing a People’s Agenda that includes items/policies/programs that the majority of the USAmerican electorate either already overwhelmingly supports (according to NON-partisan polls) or could easily be moved to supporting in their own best interests and urging a non-partisan People’s Lobby be created and maintained that can force enough of our alleged “representatives” to reject the needs and desires of the major campaign bribers and paid lobbyists and enact OUR legislation instead. If we could show some success we might be able to break the pattern of constant victories for the Oligarchs at the expense of the Working Class and our only Home Planet…

  • chetdude

    As a bridging tactic I also support UBI (at a decent supportive level) to provide for folk’s basic human needs (instead of wage slavery) until capitalism finishes its disintegration/suicide and we’ve built humane, sustainable replacements for it…

  • Ishi Crew

    I basically agree with your analyses — and this factionalization has been going on forever and still is. (I listen to WPFW in DC and on tuesdday mornings you have ‘democracy now’ and then after that another show voices with visions that often criticizes DN and amy goodman. Last week it was Glenn Ford of ‘black agenda report’, who gave a film talked at ‘Left forum’ with Zeese i think this year i saw on internet. He also has beefs with Cornel West, who has beef with another academic at Gtn U, who have beefs with Ta- hashi (?_
    Coates, etc. )

    Zeese has a 127 page quite good curriculum on social movments on this site i just looked at—i’d reccomend it to anyone, i’m familar with mabey1/3rd of what he cites (though i’ve studied that from a different perspective —what is called ‘complexity theory’ or ‘collective action’ in the sciences, sometimes uses alot of math and computing and is basically mostly academic theory and not directed towards activism. (Academics do that for fun and to get CVs, tenure and grants. I just study a bit at lower level for fun and because i like it, but not as a job. I’ve met some people in that field and many of them work for the military and some are very right wing but good mathematicins. Some progressives (eg Michael Albert of Z magazine, a professor Michael A Lewis of Hunter college, Rodrik Wallace at some new york u, ) also apply this to social movments either quantiatiatively or qualitatively. I sort of tried to get some progressive types i was in groups with interested in this even if only a little, but they basically felt that was a waste of time and we should get in the streets and may listen to speeches about fighting the power. I view those ideas as a tool (and if the military, Cambridge Ahnalytica and Steve Brannon—who helped elct trump—use them, maybe progressives should consider using them too. Some viewed that as ‘adopting the mindset of the oppressor’ but they use the internet, and that itself is to a large extent the tool of the oppressor and invovles a similar mindset.

    when i was doing some academic stuff i would tell people i was involved with there about possibilities for using the same formalism but applied to social movements—but all the research and study they really supported was the same ideas applied to finance (investing–where that field is big) and biotech (again big money–drgu devlopment, big pharma) and marketing. if you mention political subjects you arer basically banned in my experience (or told do that after you get tenure—don’t rock the boat or write anything offensive to who funds us–they want something useful for selling stuff, not social change.) The progressives in unversities in my experience typically are sort of mostly in humanities or some social science, and are anti-science or see it as irrelevant—you are hear philosophical theories of justice (the most popular harvard u class typically viewed as ‘easy’ so people planning to get jobs on wall street take it so they can get an easy good grade –the econ courses is where they put their effort.

    Zeese makes 3 relevant points to me—he points out ‘chamgemakers’ (sort of leaders of movements) often ignore the needs of their movement members –that was my experience—people are looking for ‘true believers’ who will dedicate themselves to the ‘movement;’ as they define it. (Often one feels sort of like a ‘miliatry grunt’ or ‘cannon fodder’ and people assume everything they like you like as well ; in past and even now alot of ‘minorities’ like blacks and gays, and womyn, often were basically put into subserviant roles, and hence dropped out. Another thing he talks about is MAPS (basically people need to be convinced they are effective and not wasting their time. I was at some of these occupy events in DC, and often felt like i was just milling around and wasting my time. Other people thought those were great social gatherings and stimulating—talking about oppression, the corporate elite, etc. I have had those discussion my whole life. I usually would bring a book with me or talk with the homeless people —who often felt their space had been invaded (tjhough they appreciated the free food). Also too many some of the occupy people i did talk to were ‘single issue’ types promoting their view that they had ‘the theory of everything’ –everything from dogmatic marxism to conspiracy theories or arguing why their fraction of politics or identity politics was the correct one. (I also got physically ill hanging down there and ended up in the hospital 6 weeks, and i was uninsured. hospital paid for most of that—tax money. 3500$/day—they paid partly because i had pneumonia and should have eben out in 3 days but i caught sepsis in hosptial and was put on life support. i sort of regretted going to occupy. but i did lean what its like being a hospital—i dont i had been since i was born. I belong out in the woods, like animals, not downtown.)

    He also recognizes for ‘citizens’ and other roles besides hardcore activists–they play a supporting role and also act as ‘buffers’ (they may believe in the system mostly, but they also believe in playing by the system’s rules—so they will object to obvious cases of politve brutality, COUNTEL pro stuff, or may be teachers, medics, media, etc. who have useful skills besides being on the stereet.

    Zeese has this 3.5% figure as the minimal percent of popular and organized support size (or critival threshold) required for succesful movments (ie about 12-14 million people in usa ) to be succesful (i hadn’t seen that number though i saw another estimate of 15% as ‘critical mass’. Thats the kind of thing i sort of think about writing a paper on (i’ve seen a few which sort of do same kind study). Its really not much different than market research conceptually–ie how much your business must sell to not fail. .

    I sort of think from ‘diversity of tactics’ or ‘ecological view’ (of complexity theory) a succesful movement could get that 3.5% figure not only by getting 12-14 million people out in the streets, all you’d need is maybe similar numbers just doing ‘something’ (eg boycotting and donating money saved —possibly for other kinds of activism); there’s already lots of this (eg musicians do benefits and discuss the issues a bit at shows, progressive businesses host events and donate-eg busboys and poets restaurant in dc and so on) “Alienated’ people like me and many i know often squander the little money they have (eg get drunk or high, and hence are sort of useless) because they dont fit into current groups. Some smarter people get organized andd so something like move to the country where its cheap and just let the world take care of itself. (Thats what alot of enslaved people did—decided organizing a revolt was too difficult. just run.)

  • chetdude

    14 million people directly involved in a People’s Lobby would allow us to exert the pressure of 26,168 humans per Congresscritter on our “representatives”…

    I’d say that 26, 168 bodies would be enough to overcome the influence of the 15,000 paid lobbyists in DC — or 28 per Congresscritter…

    Or put another way, 14 million people in a targeted People’s Lobby could reasonably be termed critical mass…

  • Ishi Crew

    I’ve read a fair amount on UBI (pro, con, and all sorts of variants).

    I view most of the discussions (which contradict each other) as incoherent and poorly thought out but any of them would be better than nothing. The 4 types i really support a combined UBI and Job guarantee assuming they aren’t ‘b.s jobs ‘ which are socially useless and just make work, and might be funded as both a ‘negative income tax’ and with a carbon tax (so basically they would make sure has a basic living income –say 10G-20G a year—and if you do the math its affordable (but basically means the rich will be paying higher taxes , mostly by people in top brackets , and mostly top 10%. . I could also see making it slightly conditional like food stamps so people dont squander it on drugs though that actually could be solved by makijg it unconditional but having higher ‘sin taxes’ like a crarbon tax. The ‘safety nets’ (health, education, libraries, …) would be preserved–no reason to defund them, and with a BI health costs likely would go down. (one issue is things like food stamps are sometimes sold to buy junk but that is a relatively minor and partially correctable problem eg using electonic cash though even that can be subverted and is).

    You have to sort of combine proposals by people like Max Sawicky, Gary Burtless, Karl Widerquist, and some environmentalists (say a carbon tax should be distributed as a BI –the ‘sky trust’). to ge that recipe. (one could add in ‘land taxes’ , and IP taxes (ie tax google and FB for their computer patents since many of those owe to taxpayer funded research privatized by companies. )

    If you know Zeese you might suggest he teach a course on that along with his current one. there have been a few discussions locally on this but not many—of course its now a popular topic in electronic and other journals. (But too many of these seem half coherent to me—people making ‘strawman arguments’. eg critics say BI or UBI actually would reinforce capitalism since people would just collect a check and go shopping rather than deal with general issues–they usually support job, but thiose can also support the system—force people to choose between poverty and wage slavery doing whatver they are told to do. .)

  • kevinzeese

    Following the money and boycotting is an excellent tactic, but it is one of many. Re following the 60s or other previous movement, our view is to learn from them. There have been resistance movements in the US and around the world for more than 100 years — that is just modern resistance, there were movements before these as well. We work to learn from the that is why we did the Popular Resistance School which reviews how movements develop and succeed, the obstacles they face and the roles of people in movements at various stages of movement development. People can view the eight classes and the curriculum with reading materials at

  • kevinzeese

    Medea Benjamin’s wiki page is You spelled her name wrong so gave the wrong link. As you can see from that page, Medea and CODE PINK do a lot more than protest. And, as someone who has worked closely with her and CODE PINK, I know her objective when they do use protest is not to get arrested but to use civil resistance to draw attention to issues that do not get enough attention or to highlight opposition to war, militarism and injustices. CODE PINK is a very effective organization and Medea a successful advocate.

    One of the tools we use is civil resistance, while we will break laws to make the point or accomplish an objective, the goal is not to get arrested but to do the action. And, of course, one goal is to get media attention since we want people to know about the issue we are working on. Usually, the corporate media ignores activist protests so we keep building our social media capacity and want every activist to think of themselves as a media outlet so we can get our message out without the limits of commercial media. Civil resistance is only one tactic among many that we use. There are more than 200 strategic nonviolent tactics which include your favorite, boycotts, but there are many other economic tactics as well as non-economic tactics. To be effective on an issue people need to build campaigns to accomplish them and campaigns should use a variety of tactics as no one tactic alone will be successful. All of our efforts begin with educating people on the issue and that is also accomplished in a variety of ways.
    If people want to learn how to build the movement and create effective campaigns, please review our Popular Resistance school on How Social Transformation Occurs. It reviews the stages of successful social movements, the challenges in building a movement or a campaign on an issue and provides tools for accomplishing your goals, among more. There are eight classes that include a curriculum with a lengthy reading list which can help anyone who is interested become a more effective advocate for economic, racial and environmental justice as well as peace. See

    By the way, you make a inaccurate assumptions about Popular Resistance (and false claims about CODE PINK and Popular Resistance). Coincidentally, just last night we were in Douglass Homes, a public housing project in the kind of neighborhood you are talking about, working with them to get better healthcare for their communities.

    You are welcome to continue to comment but if you continue to falsely attack people and organizations you will be blocked from participating. You can take whatever view you like on issues, strategies and tactics, but please stop the personal and organizational attacks.

    *Build power and resistance*
    *Popular Resistance*
    * *
    *Shift Wealth:** Economic Democracy*
    *Its Our Economy *
    *www.ItsOurEconomy.US *

    *Democratize the MediaClearing the FOG (Forces of Greed)
    Radio *

  • chetdude

    I’d say that trying to decide the mechanics of UBI when it’s impossible to pass right now is premature…and a waste of everyone but academic’s time…

    We the People must begin to wag the tail or there will be NO change…

    (I don’t have time this morning to address the rest of your post — maybe later today)…

  • Ishi Crew

    I did hear on WPFW M Benjamin has a book on ‘following the money’ of the various arms deals the USA and other countries are involved with in mideast (saudi arabia, etc. ). The details are too much for me but that kind of research is important, though not easily applicable to social change—its more like collecting alot of data on war crimes, police brutality or M Alexander’s ‘New Jim Crow—Prison Industrial Complex’ . It takes alot of time to collect that data and put in a form people can use (eg a book) and even then that may be only a small part of any process to change the system. And many people dont read books or articles.
    I saw from your bio you were involved in marijuana legalization issues—that is one reason i voted awhile back in DC –i rarely do. I was tired of seeing people get hassled for small amounts of marijuana, especially when alcohol which is legal is likely even a bigger problem around here especially for health. Now weed is semi-legal in DC–and that took years–social chanes dont happen in a minute.
    Only problem i have with cannabis legalization is it may be creating a new class of wealthy people—i dont know actually, but i’ve heard some things along that line. Even so wealthy people selling weed may be healthier for society than wealthy people selling this cheap malt liquor people drink around here.

  • kevinzeese

    Medea has written ten books. She is much more than a protester.

    I agree that marijuana legalization is imperfect, but better than arrest and incarceration. I don’t like seeing it commercialized. Those are battles we will continue to need to fight.

    Re working in Baltimore’s poor neighborhoods, I have written about how I went into neighborhoods to do needle exchange before it was legal. These were the kinds of neighborhoods you describing. See

    After I commented on your inaccurate claim that we do not go into poor neighborhoods in Baltimore, I saw this article which includes a photo of me, Margaret and allies at a Baltimore housing project. This is just another example of how we work in all neighborhoods, including poor neighborhoods in Baltimore.

  • chetdude

    I believe in entirely de-coupling the provision of everyone’s basic human needs including clean water, decent food, decent housing, Health Care and Education by the Community from the capitalist creation, “job” (wage slavery).

    In other words, everyone is taken care of by everyone else and one’s daily activities include contributing their skills to the Community to provide for everyone’s needs.

    As for the very concept of “B S jobs” – another subjective, capitalist perversion. Even though I spread a great deal of happiness and joy to hundreds of people every week playing music in public/on stage many would call that a “BS” job since I don’t get paid a lot of money (or even close to a “living wage”) to do it. Some have even called me a “grasshopper” rather than an “ant”.

    “I could also see making it slightly conditional like food stamps so people dont squander it on drugs” <– another Calvinist, almost uniquely USAmerican perversion. And you're also in an area that I know quite a bit about.

    A) Why do people take drugs? (nearly half of all USAmericans can't make it through the day without taking a pharma drug). Perhaps to help them cope with an insane, unfulfilling, rapaciously unequal socioeconomic system. Why deny those who are "poor" the same kind of help those who are affluent can avail themselves of, hmmm?

    B) Want to do something real about the "drug problem"? Ok, END the phony, racist war on drugs and use some of the vast sums saved that would otherwise be pissed away on the criminal-injustice system's mechinism oppressing of drug users to provide TREATMENT. I spent years leading recovery groups and met thousands of "addicts" and the major deterrent they've experienced to seeking and getting help is the phony drug war and its criminalizing drug use…

    C) DO NOT make one's access to food (or housing) contingent on being "drug free" (at least "free" from use of unapproved drugs).

    I say again that trying to decide the mechanics of UBI when it's impossible to pass anything sensible like that right now is premature…and a waste of everyone but academic's time…

    We the People must begin to wag the tail or there will be NO change…

    We must organize a vigorously active, massive, relentless (24/7/365), non-partisan People's Lobby that's educated in Working Class interests – the interests and needs of We the People of the 90% – and are ready, willing and able to force elected "representatives" to ignore their major campaign bribers (and their paid lobbyists) and do the People's Work instead.

    The People's Agenda

    1) Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. HR676 version…
    2) College without crippling debt. (ALL education without debt)…
    3) A Living Wage (or better Guaranteed livable income NOT tied to a "job"). Start with Card Check.
    4) End the wars (including the phony, racist "Drug War").
    5) A massive program of MEANINGFUL infrastructure changes to prepare for our post-AGW/Climate Change world (Lots of "jobs" available there).

    And then progress towards:

    6) Completely reform the socioeconomic system beginning with worker co-ops with the primary goals of providing for basic human needs while supporting a higher quality of life in harmony with the Web of Life on our only Home Planet.

  • kevinzeese

    Your comment is absolutely off target. This will be your last warning. If you keep attacking Medea Benjamin and CODE PINK you will be removed from commenting on this list.

    Global Exchange does a lot of good work but so does CODE PINK. If you do not like protest, don’t do it. If you do not understand the importance of social media and getting media attention – then you are limited in your perspective and have a lot to learn.

    The mess in Gaza, Yemen and with Trump are not the fault of Medea Benjamin or CODE PINK or activists like them. If we had a thousand more people working like they are the movement would be much better off.

    Again, this is your last warning. Stop your personal attacks. If you have a vendetta against CODE PINK and Medea Benjamin, take it somewhere else.

  • Ishi Crew

    I already said this in another comment but

    1) agree a UBI (or variant) is premature and imposible to pass (as a law of the land)but maybe worth keeping in mind and studying a tiny bit (similar to this old idea ‘i have a dream, free at last..’ (tho my version is ‘free at last, no money down’–america is the land of the (or where everything is) free. i always ask when i go to a store–is it free today? they always tell me maybe tomorrow ).

    2) academics such as van parijis of leuvan la neuve brussles belgium (i actually have been there because my family had a sort of student exchange with people there—and that is the french part of belgium and they are now talking about splitting with the flanders part of belgium–a germanic language–they hate each other) , and benjamin friedman of Harvard, are actually wasting time on their academic salaries writing books and papers on UBI when they can;’t even do basic arithmatic. (Friedman is an economics professor so he should know arithmatic, but he doesnt; parijis is a philosopher so thats excusable but before he writes a book maybe he should consult someone who knows a bit of math).

    Both of them (and similar other profs) should go out on the street–Frieman is for a (bs) job gurantee so he can be the oppsing side. They are wasting time. I’ll take both of their jobs and write something coherent.

    3) ‘we’ the ‘people’ . who or what is that? i am thinking ofr resigning my citizenship from the USA and becoming a seperate country–declaration of independence. maybe i’ll call it ‘Me, Inc.’ or ‘Ishi, Inc.’ (an unincorporated municipitality. citizens united). for my inauguration , i may have the UK band ‘the expoited’ do the national anthem ‘f-k the usa’. i once saw the exploited. (look em up on youtube—sort of a folk band in tradition of peter, paul and (heil) mary .

  • Steve SanFrancisco

    coincidentaly 3.5% of the population is approximately how much of the population is allowed to know about earth catastrophe cycle before the science gets suppressed and the establishment declares the earth is a safe place for a long time and the sun is a stable source of light that would never hurt humans and the public should move on. Currently there’s active communities of less than 0.25% of the population aware of earth catastrophe cycle AFIAK. YOU can join or learn about these communities if you want and they aren’t being suppressed at this time. There’s speculation the governments of the world are going to reveal everything soon and USA gov has already quietly admitted Extra-terrestrials are probably real and UFO’s are definitely real. google “USA gov admits UFO’s are real”. Google “youtube thunderbolts project” or “youtube suspicous 0bservers” for more info it that’s the sort of thing you want to know about.

  • Steve SanFrancisco

    well said.

  • Ishi Crew

    i just came across your reply–‘parecon’ is essentially dead and may have been DOA—95% of parecon ‘theory’ was written already in 1800s; the only new thing in it was the ‘groves-ledyard algorithm’ for consensus (not easy to use—its mathematical, and originates outside any political orientation—people who did it are probably ‘liberal’ but its possibly they are reactionary. there were/are some ‘smart’ people who do good math, but have political/social views i disagree with.