Saturday, December 31, 2005

New Year's Eve Rant

I planned to spend tonight working on my novel. But blogging is so much more instantly gratifying. Novel writing is sort of like potential communication, like sending an echo down a well. Blogging is more like yodeling - you never know what anyone's going to make of it, but they're going to hear it.

This is the first time in three years that I'm not spending New Year's in jail. I thought I'd be happier about that.

It's not that I wish I were in jail. It's not that I'm not happy to get to go out to the movies with my friends. It's not like if I were sitting in jail I would be accomplishing anything, but I would be accomplishing most everything I could. Last year's New Year's felt like a promise of what I would do when I got out. Thinking about the past year feels like a catalogue of what I didn't get done - my novel, my films, ending the occupation (or any of them), putting a dent in capitalism, organizing a mass action to shut down Guantanamo Prison.

If I were in jail, I could think that was the reason I couldn't fulfill my dreams. Being supposedly free, I have to acknowledge my own limitations, and the limitations of my situation. Which of us is truly free to act as we wish we could? We are limited by our fear of seeming nuts, and we are limited by our fear of losing whatever security we have, we are limited by our inability to persuade others that what we want to do is right and possible, we are limited by our self-doubt and self-critique.

I am limited here by my status in a way that I was not during the time I spent in Palestine, and I think that is what I liked so much about being there. There, I didn't have to try to "fit in" to anything, because there was no way that I could. My role was what I decided it was, and there wasn't really anyone to tell me different. Here I usually feel like a collection of privileges I didn't ask for but am generally happy to use, or at least happier to use than to give up. The privilege of being a U.S. citizen with no felony convictions, the privilege of a good education and a well paying job which gives me the privilege of a nice place to live and money to spend on things I want to do, the privilege of health which enables me to do most of what I want and not expend a lot of energy getting from place to place, the privilege (or not) of being mainly invisible thanks to white skin and middle-age, the privilege (or not) of not having anyone who is dependent on me.

I was just reading about an acquaintance's experience doing "invisible theater" in Harlem. Invisible theater is something I used to do a lot of. It's basically a way of creating reactions by coming to an ordinary situation with a heightened level of intention and awareness. It occurs to me that internationals in Palestine are basically doing invisible theater all the time: just our presence there creates a reaction in nearly every situation. Simply my walking out on the street would inevitably provoke a response, from Palestinians, from soldiers, from settlers. My watching someone changed their behavior. Just being there was doing something.

Here that's not the case. Provoking a reaction can in fact be much harder than one imagines, especially if you are already invisible. (As I alluded to a minute ago, it is a little-known medical fact that most women as they pass 35 start to become invisible. Apparently, you slowly lose pigmentation in your skin until you are completely permeable to light. I don't know why no one has done research on how and why this happens, it seems like it could be marketable in some way. I think that groups of middle aged women should specialize in sabotage, because we would be impossible to stop. You cannot catch someone who is invisible. A couple years ago, an old woman scaled Windsor Castle during Bush's visit there. She was hanging off it with a banner for four hours before anyone saw her. I guess prolonged exposure to high altitudes causes some effect where you start to reflect light again.) People are so wrapped up in their own worlds here, always rushing around, especially nowadays with the explosion of iPods and other things that enable people to inhabit the same space without actually being in the same world, that sometimes even pretty intense actions fail to attract attention. Years ago (pre-iPod), a group of 50 or so AIDS activists took over a big shopping center in the middle of San Francisco and started setting up a social service center in the lobby, and almost no one even noticed.

Being a U.S. citizen who sees and feels the need for real change is an enormous and sometimes overpowering responsibility. It takes either a huge stroke of luck, or an extroardinary circumstance combined with extraordinary courage - Cindy Sheehan, for instance, has found a way to tap into the collective consciousness (she still has that MAW invisibility though, GWB has never seen her even though she's camped out at his house) - or enormous talent, which, unfortunately, I am not blessed with. It also takes an inspired community, and that I am frequently lucky to have. What I'm not lucky enough to have is anyone who makes me feel really special, who loves me more than anyone else, or maybe it's that I don't have the personality to inspire that kind of feeling, but there's always hoping.

In August 2004, after visiting a family whose son had been killed when he inadvertently handled some kind of unexploded ordnance, I wrote in my journal, "I keep trying to tell the people here, the world does not act because people are suffering. The world acts because suffering people are demanding action -- demanding by resisting. It is the resistance that enables people to see that the suffering is not inevitable, not a natural disaster, that it has a human cause that could be ended."

The last year saw human caused natural disasters of unparallelled proportions, one wiping out the images of the last. Here in the States, the hundreds of thousands killed by the tsunami in Asia are forgotten as we suffer with the millions of displaced, disappeared and unaccounted for in the Gulf Coast. Two months ago, experts were predicting that a massive death toll in Pakistan (where a mere 80,000 people died in the earthquake) if international aid organizations could not figure out how to get food, shelter and medical care to remote regions. I never heard if they did or didn't. I just looked online and the only current information I found says that 90% of the tents people are staying in are "not winterised" and that winterised ones are expensive and difficult to get.

Americans responded to the suffering with charity, a noble instinct. But the resistance which would enable people to see that the suffering is not inevitable, which seemed about to explode, remains uncongealed. I just got a card from a friend, one of the lucky few who has been able to move back to New Orleans. She asks that everyone write/call/fax your Congresspeople and tell them New Orleans deserves to be rebuilt. I would add, tell them it can't be rebuilt as a city with a quota on Black people.

A small group of activists I have been meeting with just finally ended a year-long process of looking for a name. (I didn't meet with them for a year, I only started attending recently, and I claim some credit for bringing the name discussion to a timely end). I want to usher in 2006 by shouting our name from the rooftops (is blogging the 21st century equivalent of shouting from the rooftops?) in hopes that we can fulfill its promise this year:

SPARK THE RESISTANCE!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Deciphering Disengagement

A lot of people have asked me in recent weeks what I think about the Gaza disengagement. Will it work? Is it a real peace initiative? I am always surprised, because honestly, I don't know much more about Gaza than most of you. I only ever spent two days there. I recommend to everyone: "Behind The Smoke Screen Of The Gaza Pullout," (April 2005, http://www.countercurrents.org/pa-reinhart150405.htm) by Tanya Reinhart, "What May Come After the Evacuation of Jewish Settlers from the Gaza Strip: A Warning from Israel," by Uri Davis, Ilan Pappe and Tamar Yaron (http://www.counterpunch.com/davis07162005.html, July 15, 2005), and the Gaza Disengagement section of www.electronicintifada.net.

I offer this perspective, as someone who over the last three years got used to thinking about how the Israeli government thinks about the Palestinians, and how the Palestinians are likely to respond.

No one who wants to see peace and freedom for the Palestinian people could not support the pullout of settlers from Gaza. First, the 24 settlements and the security infrastructure built by the Israeli government to support them have been occupying 40% of the land in the most densely populated place on earth, and using over 80% of the water, stifling one of the most fertile agricultural economies in the region. About 40% of fruits and vegetables currently sold in Israel, and 70% of organic produce, is grown in the Gaza settlements. If the Gaza Palestinians were able to gain control of that market, the sprawling green lawns and swimming pools for their children, the spacious houses, it would significantly increase the quality of life of the people who since 1948 have been crammed into ever tighter, inadequately served refugee camps.

Second, the presence of the settlements, and the vast difference between the lifestyle enjoyed by the settlers and that endured by the Palestinians has been a constant irritant to the people of Gaza. The security of the settlements has been an excuse for construction of Jewish-only roads and checkpoints which have carved the small strip into three virtual prisons. Travel within the Strip has been almost impossible, and for most Palestinians living in Gaza, travel outside has been completely impossible. People like my friend Fatima, who come from Gaza and now live in the West Bank, have been unable to visit their families for over four years.

Israeli tanks and watchtowers, guarded by some of the most notoriously brutal army units, are omnipresent on the borders, shooting at anything Palestinian which moves. The deadliest instances of Israeli army violence have taken place there, including the two massacres in Rafah one year ago, killing 73 civilians, including 11 children; the missile attack which leveled a building to kill Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, his bodyguards and 6 members of his family; and the 10 shots fired into the body of 13-year-old Iman al-Hams, on her way to school, by an officer who said he would have killed her if she had been three years old (UK Guardian, November 2004). Thousands of homes in Rafah Camp have been demolished by the army for the creation of a "security zone." All of this is justified by the need to protect "Israeli citizens" living in Gaza.

So in theory, the removal of the settlements will make life in Gaza much more livable for the Palestinians there.

The big issue in determining whether that happens is how much control the Palestinian Authority is able to get over the borders. Israel retains complete control over all its own borders with Gaza. Supposedly, it is taking steps to ease passage of workers and goods from Gaza into Israel, and to make a "safe passage" from Gaza to the West Bank. But this supposing has been going on for a long time, and Israel always finds reasons not to do it.

A few weeks ago, Reuters reported, "Israel will not seal off the Gaza Strip but is instead looking to invest millions of dollars in border crossings to help the Palestinian workforce and business thrive after its pullout from the territory, Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said Thursday." The report talked about new lanes opened for pedestrian workers and new terminals for transport of goods between Gaza and Israel. "Peres, who is in charge of coordinating the economic aspects of the disengagement plan with the Palestinians, said the Israelis understood that both sides would benefit from the territory's economic viability."

Last Friday, "Democracy Now!" reported that "The Israeli army … is increasing its military and security system near the Gaza Strip in anticipation of next month's so-called withdrawal. The army describes a high-tech complex to ring the coastal strip with what Israel hopes will be the world's most impenetrable barrier. … The Israeli military says that the plan includes new army bases and 22-foot concrete walls around nearby Israeli settlements. Watchtowers armed with remote-controlled machine guns are to be built every 1.2 miles and within a year, remote-controlled, unmanned vehicles will begin patrolling the area."

Does this not sound to you like the kind of wall you build around a prison? And we do not think of prisons as fertile seed grounds for vibrant economies and democratic institutions.

The international border with Egypt is a much bigger issue for the Palestinians. Israel wants to retain total control over the border, preserving a narrow sliver of land as a wedge between Gaza and Egypt. But, according to a UPI article in June, "there are other pressures on Israel to pull out completely. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday demanded the pullback include the crossing points to Egypt." The UPI article quoted a report by the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information released a report saying that "creating a new customs barrier, between Israel and Gaza, would be 'Next to a death blow,' to Gaza's economy."

Is it the goal of the Israeli government which has committed itself to the pullout to make life anywhere in Palestine more livable for Palestinians? The more able the Palestinians are to survive, or heaven forbid, to thrive, in their land, the less likely they are to give up and go somewhere else -- assuming they have or could find somewhere else to go. Is this what the Israeli government wants?

Certainly there are individuals in the Israeli government who want that. But the man behind the Gaza pullout is Ariel Sharon, and the world knows who Ariel Sharon is.

Molly Ivins, in her wonderful sardonic book about "W" Bush, mentioned that in journalism school she was taught, "one, look at the record, two, look at the record, three, look at the record." If you try to understand politicians by their rhetoric, you are asking to be lied to. You look at their actions, and the actions of Sharon have always been those of someone whose one and only goal is to take all the land of the Palestinians for a "greater Israel." Most of the time, his rhetoric has also articulated this goal. But if suddenly, his rhetoric is one of peace, we cannot assume suddenly that he has become a man of peace. Someone like Sharon -- or anyone, actually -- does not wake up one day and decide that today, peace with the Palestinians seems like a good idea.

Politicians change their minds because events or trends convince them that their former strategies will likely cause them to lose their power. That's why Nixon pulled out of Vietnam. It's why Barak pulled out of Lebanon. What has occurred in the last five years to convince Sharon that the strategy of taking the land from Palestinians will lose power? Nothing. A 2004 poll by the Israel Democracy Institute (www.idi.org.il), found that 59% of Jewish Israeli adults and 66% of Jewish Israeli youth "wanted their government to encourage the emigration of Arabs out of Israel."

The strategy of starving and isolating and humiliating the Palestinians in order to drive them out of their lands has worked very well in the last five years. At least 200,000 middle-class Palestinians have emigrated in the last three years, out of a total population of 5.5 million (the right-wing Israeli party Modelet, whose goal is the transfer of all Palestinian Arabs from their homeland, claims it is 380,000). One quarter of the population of Qalqilya, once one of the wealthiest market towns in the West Bank, has left the city since the completion of the 25-foot concrete wall which now surrounds it.

The recent actions of Sharon's government continue the policy of trying to drive the Palestinians out of Palestine. The Israeli government in the last six months began construction of 3,500 new homes in Maale Adumim, the largest illegal settlement in the Jerusalem area, and began expanding 31 other West Bank settlements (Peace Now, http://www.peacenow.org/updates.asp?rid=0&cid=873). They began construction of the "Ariel Loop" of the Segregation Wall, 25 kilometers inside the Green Line, in the area where I lived almost half of the last three years. They issued demolition orders for 6,000 Palestinian homes in the outskirts of Jerusalem, and cut or uprooted hundreds of Palestinian trees in the villages of Mas'ha, Marda, Kufr Thulth, Kufr Qadum and Belain, to name only a few. These are not the actions of a government that is interested in trading land for peace.

Moreover, as the statement by Davis, Pappe and Yaron points out, the presence of the 7,500 Israeli settlers in Gaza has been the one thing limiting the use of extreme force against the camps and cities in Gaza. With no Israeli civilians in the line of fire, there is nothing to stop Sharon's government from using intensified air attacks against large population centers. The statement quotes a comment by General (Res.) Eival Giladi, head of the Coordination and Strategy team of the Prime Minister's Office, in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: "If pinpoint response proves insufficient, we may have to use weaponry that causes major collateral damage, including helicopters and planes, with mounting danger to surrounding people." Is it alarmist to suggest that Sharon might be simply clearing his way for clearing the land? Ariel Sharon has shown himself willing to use such methods before against Palestinians. He authorized and masterminded the massacres in 1982 in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, where 3,500 people, mostly women and children, were slaughtered.

The Gaza disengagement plan is a clever move by Sharon, a very clever politician. Suddenly, against almost all evidence, he is the embattled "man of peace." This means that the Palestinian leadership is under enormous pressure from the international community, especially the US government, not to do anything that might undermine him. While the disengagement plan is being implemented, President Abbas and his Cabinet will be expected to keep virtually silent about the settlement expansions in the West Bank, the failure to carry out promised prisoner releases, and especially the curfews and closures being imposed all over the West Bank and Gaza to facilitate the removal of the settlers from Gaza. It is really possible that by the time the pullout is completed, if it ever is, the Palestinians will have lost more land and freedom than anyone imagined could be accomplished in such a short time.

There is nothing to say, of course, that the Gaza disengagement, if it happens, will have exactly the result the Israeli government intends. They are smart, but they are not all-powerful (contrary to what some of my Palestinian neighbors believed), and they hold most of the cards but not all of them.

To the international capitalist establishment, for instance, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the European Union, this is not a time for building the most impenetrable borders the world has ever seen. This is a time for easing the flow of cheap goods and labor -- both of which are plentiful in Gaza -- to the markets of the West. The IPCRI report, for instance, is quoted as saying that, "The international community, donors and professional agencies suggested a foreign company with international expertise and practice take over customs collection, verification of documents, and inspection of standards to make sure they conform to Israel's demands." One imagines that that could be a lucrative contract for one of the U.S. companies currently operating only two countries away in Iraq. Israel has objected to this plan, saying there is no one they can trust. Possibly the U.S. government, its benefactor of $14 million a day and rising, would find this lack of confidence insulting.

The South African apartheid regime found out about ten years ago that settler colonialism had gone out of vogue. They also found out that there are subtler, more acceptable means of holding onto most of the resources of the land when you have had 50 years to accumulate them. Possibly, the Israelis are about the find out the same. Or possibly, the only European-led government suppressing an Arab Muslim population in the Middle East will make the most of the newly reenergized "war on terror" in the wake of the bizarre incidents in London.

If so, then infallibly, as the IPCRI report concludes, "economic despair will bring about the next round of [Palestinian] violence and Israel may find itself returning to Gaza, not as tourists or investors, but as military conquerors once again."

For more of my ramblings and some more cogent thinking about Palestine, Israel, apartheid, Israeli immigration prison and other stuff, see my blog at http://www.iwps-pal.org/en/articles/article.php?id=702

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Germany 1939

I'm obsessed with prisons these days.

Especially with Guantanamo Bay, where more than 400 men have been held for almost four years in inhuman conditions – many of them outside, in rain or heat or cold, not able to wash regularly (and cleanliness is very important to Muslims), no privacy, no regular exercise, no charges, no arraignments, no trials, sometimes no lawyers.

Let me say that again – four years, no charges, no lawyers, no trials.

There have been at least 34 suicides which have been barely reported in our press, though they are widely covered in the Arab, British and even the Taiwanese press. The military has reported several hundred “SIBs” – “self-injurious behaviors”, averaging two a week. The other day, Jumah Dossari tried to hang himself in front of his lawyer. I heard the lawyer, Joshua Colangelo-Bryan, on Democracy Now! If I relied on CNN or ABC for my news, I could well have missed the story. Yes, it was there, but there wasn't the kind of up-to-the-minute breaking news coverage that there was when Terry Schiavo was sucking in her last artificial breaths, or when Scott Dyleski murdered Pamela Vitale in Lafayette.

But that's no surprise. The mainstream media works for the government or at least for the same agenda, we know that, and their interest is in burying stories of US atrocities. The surprise to me has been the lack of response from the left, even from the people I have worked with for years on other prison issues, against the death penalty, against control units.

When I mention Guantanamo to them, they say, yes, and people are also being tortured in Pelican Bay and in East Oakland. We are busy focusing on that.

Okay, I get that. But actually, I don't think that's right. I think we, the left, are in denial about the significance of what has happened over the last four years.

When the Guantanamo prisoners began hunger striking, I thought that would wake us up, make us realize this is an issue we need to target specifically right now. Just in solidarity. I mean, they are being force-fed with tubes up their noses, which are then put into the next person's nose without even cleaning the vomit and blood off of them.

And if that is not enough, now we know that our government is abducting people from their countries and taking them to Romania and Poland to be tortured.

Congress just said it's okay to torture people as long as they're not u.s. citizens and not on u.s. territory.
I'm not saying that what's happening in our own communities, what has been happening for years in our prisons, is okay, or is less important. The california supreme court recently found the state's prison "health care" system a form of cruel and unusual punishment, and ordered it reformed, and then a couple weeks ago that reform was put on hold because they can’t find a qualified person to implement it (perhaps they should consider the EVIL DAVE KEARS). And this is an issue that the California Coalition for Women Prisoners and other prison activist groups have fought hard on for years and years.

And then there are the stories about the prisoners in New Orleans. How the guards left the prison, the largest in the country, leaving the prisoners in locked cells to drown, how some of the prisoners were able to help others get out, how the guards surrounded the prison with rafts to round up the people who managed to make it out, and held them for days on a bridge where they were not allowed to stand up but had to pee on themselves, how then they were taken to a soccer field where they were held for like a week with no blankets and no mattresses and guards would come and throw peanut butter sandwiches over the fence for them to fight over. And on top of that, Human Rights Watch found that when they finally got to whatever prisons they were sent to all over the south, that some of them were badly beaten, just because.

I don't try to say that couldn't have happened eight years ago, because it probably could have and would have and maybe it even did. But I think that Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib made it more possible. Because we, the good people of this country, the ones who care, have heard about Guantanamo, and we have seen the pictures of Abu Ghraib, and we have been pretty silent. Not in our houses, not in our cars, certainly not in our hearts, but in the streets, we have been silent.

Guantanamo, and its counterparts in Iraq and Afghanistan and Poland and Romania and wherever, stand out to me for one reason: Auschwitz.

We have not had one major demonstration focused on the enormous erosion of civil rights that is represented by the newly legalized phenomena of indefinite detention, offshore prisons, "renditioning" and torture. I mentioned this recently to some friends, and I was shocked by their response. "Oh, I don't know, I think people have done some things, there's that group that does street theater, and the Center for Constitutional Rights is doing stuff about it." I don't dismiss those actions, some of which I have done myself, but if you heard that as of late 1942 the German left had done a few small theater actions about concentration camps, and some liberal lawyers filed a lawsuit, would you be impressed?

Why do they call Guantanamo a prison? The people held there – apparently for the rest of their lives, are not called prisoners. They are called "enemy combatants"? What is an enemy combatant? Isn't it a prisoner of war? Well, yes, except it's a prisoner of war who is not subject to any of the international covenants, to which this country is signatory, on the treatment of prisoners of war. The people we are imprisoning and torturing all over the world are not subject to these covenants because our government says they don't have to be. End of story. Well the Jews in europe were not called prisoners of war either. They were called “deportees” or “enemy aliens.”

A website dedicated to defining terms related to the nazi genocide explains, “Concentration camps were prisons used without regard to accepted norms of arrest and detention.”

Guantanamo is a concentration camp, and by all accounts, which are pretty sparse because not many people are allowed in there, and not many are trying to go as far as I can tell, it is becoming a death camp. Abu Ghraib, where torture and abuse did not stop when Lyndie England was sentenced, or when Janis Rapinsky was demoted, or when Newsweek retracted its story about the desecration of the Koran, is another concentration camp. Shebergan, in Afghanistan (CIA code name “The Salt Pit”), was another, where at least 43 men suffocated while being transported in closed metal containers, and at least five hundred were in danger of starving to death when the International Committee of the Red Cross “was forced to step in” (Washington Post editorial).

The truth is that we don't know how many more u.s. concentration camps there are around the world. And we don't know partly because we are not trying to find out. Because we are too busy with our lives, and with our other work, trying to stop the death penalty, trying to Free Palestine, trying to educate each other about sex trafficking and publicize the rape of a 22-year-old Filipina by six US marines (see articlesee article).

I grew up on the stories of the nazi holocaust, and how the good people of europe stood by and did nothing. And I always believed that I wouldn't do that. And I wondered how it could be that whole countries allowed people to be rounded up and starved to death and then annihilated.

Now I think I know. It's because it didn't start with millions, it started with a few thousand, and there weren't banner headlines that said, "Nine Million Will Be Killed." They were enemy aliens, they were traitors, they were troublemakers, they were cheats, they were fanatics; they were work camps, they were temporary detention centers, they were transit facilities, they were deportation centers; there was war, there were weddings, there were babies, there was work.

They didn't invade Poland one month and Czechoslovakia the next and France the month after that. They invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 and Syria in 2006 … and in the meantime they had coups in Haiti and Venezuela and the Philippines was reinvaded without anyone really hearing about it.
We the left in this country need to acknowledge the situation we are in. We are not Germany 1929. We are Germany 1939. It's not "Can It Happen Here?", it's not "If It Happens Here," and it's not "When It Happens Here."

A few weeks ago, I was skimming an article in the San Francisco Chronicle about the Democrats. It was titled something like, "Democrats bumble, Republicans fumble," and its point was that the Democrats are against a lot of things but they don't really stand for anything. Now if someone wants to argue that the Democrats are wishy-washy, I'm the last one to disagree. But the premise of this article was the Democrats are against tax breaks for the rich, against privatizing social security and against – um – letting poor people drown, and insofar as that's true, that's actually adds up to being for some pretty important things.

I don't care about the Democrats, because in fact, they never do stand for much. But the argument, that being opposed to enriching the rich and emiserating the poor or to wars of annihilation and weapons of mass destruction, is too negative, is the same one that is often made against the left, even by ourselves. We talk about needing to know what our vision is, that we only critique but don't offer an alternative, needing focused strategic campaigns that we can win. Somehow, when I read that article, I had a revelation:
If you read a news article in a German newspaper from 1938 and it was talking about a group of people who always seemed to be protesting the Nazi government, would you think, "Why are they so negative?" If in the same paper they had an article about another group that was organizing small collective businesses and a barter system for their neighborhoods, which would you think was doing the more important work?

I'm sure that there were Germans who organized summer camps and did cool art with underprivileged kids; some of them doubtless scandalized everyone by inviting a few Jewish kids. I remember reading about Polish Catholic women who took blankets to Auschwitz and threw them over the fence. But the people I grew up learning to honor are the ones who blew up train tracks and sabotaged weapons factories.

We are not in a period like the Paris Commune. We cannot let a hundred flowers bloom. When you live in a country that has concentration camps all over the world, where people are being tortured and imprisoned indefinitely because of their nationality and religion, a country whose government is bent on the destruction of every Muslim country, your job is to mount as much resistance to it on a daily basis as you can.

It's not true that we don't have a vision. We know very well what we're for. We are for good jobs and good health care and good housing and respect for every kind of communal or family structure people choose to have. We are for freedom from hunger and freedom to thrive and freedom from arbitrary rule. We're for just and peaceful resolution to conflicts over land, we're for sharing the earth's resources as fairly as possible, and for developing a lifestyle that tries not to destroy so many of them.But let's be clear. That vision cannot simply coexist with the status quo. It's not an alternative vision, it's a counter vision. Sometimes, maybe most of the time, you need to tear down the old house before you build the new one.

I always thought, and I know that most of my friends did too, that If It Happened Here, I would resist to the max. But it is happening, and I'm not doing that, because one, I don't know what to do, and two, I don't want to sound like a nutcase, and three (and if I'm honest I admit that this is the biggest reason), if they don't succeed in wiping us all out, and they probably won't because that's not what they're trying to do, I have to have a life, I have to have a place to live and food to eat and clothes to wear, and money to live on when I can't work any more.

But when history is written, people are going to say, "How could they have known and done nothing?" And I guess maybe someone will read this article and say, "That's how."

Or maybe they will say, "They did do something. They blocked the bridges, they stopped the trains, they interrupted the ballet, they took over the airwaves, they sabotaged military equipment, they protested at the homes of the torturers; they didn't stop it right away, but they kept at it and eventually they made things change."