In the following brief video, Indian activist Arundati Roy challenges the way the global elite has repackaged Mohandas Gandhi as a hero to be worshiped and adored. She delivered her talk shortly after the publication of The Doctor and the Saint, a book length introduction to a new edition of The Annihilation of Caste. The latter was written in 1936 by Dalit (aka Untouchable) lawyer and activist Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. Gandhi bitterly fought Ambedkar and his ideas during his lifetime. This, according to Roy, was based on Gandhi’s entrenched beliefs about racial superiority, both towards Dalits and black South Africans.

Under Hindu’s rigid caste system a Dalit is limited (by virtue of birth) to occupations regarded as ritually impure, such as those involving leatherwork, butchering, or removal of rubbish, animal carcasses, and waste. Because these activities are considered polluting and contagious, by tradition Dalits are banned from full participation in Hindu social life. Discrimination against Dalits is still prevalent in rural India, as regards access to eating places, schools, temples and water sources.

Prior to the 1900s, hundreds of thousands of Dalits escaped their caste roles by leaving the Hindu religion and converting to Islam or Christianity. With the move towards representative government that occurred in the early twentieth century, an upper caste Hindu reform movement formed to ensure that India’s fourteen million Dalits (about one quarter of India’s population) remained outside the political process.

Gandhi, a member of the higher Banias caste, was part of this Hindu reform movement. He specifically opposed the movement started in 1904 to guarantee Dalits access to education. In the following video, Roy reads what he wrote about the Dalits he encountered during his time in South Africa (1893-1914):

“Whether they are Hindus or Mohammadans, they are absolutely without any moral or religious instruction worth a name; they are not learned enough. Plus thus they are adapting to yield to the slightest temptation to tell a lie. After sometime lying with them became a habit and disease. They would be lying without any reason, without any proper, prospect of bettering themselves materially in deep whom knowing what they are doing. They reach a stage in life when the moral faculties has completely collapsed owing to neglect.”

Gandhi launched his first non violent civil rights campaign in South Africa to protest the treatment of Indian immigrants as second class citizens. In 1906, he took the side of the British government when they declared war against the Zulu Nation in Natal and encouraged Indians to enlist with the British. Here are his views on Kaffirs [black South Africans) following his first arrest for civil disobedience:

“We were all prepared for hardships, but not quite for this experience. We could understand not being classed with the Whites, but to be placed on the same level with the Natives seemed to be too much to put up with. I then felt that Indians had launched our passive resistance too soon. Here was further proof that the obnoxious law was meant to emasculate the Indians…Apart from whether or not this implies degradation, I must say it is rather dangerous. Kaffirs as a rule are uncivilized—the convicts even more so. They are troublesome, very dirty and live almost like animals and scavengers.”

Roy goes on to describe the caste system in modern day India, where caste has merged with capitalism so that higher caste Hindus control all the major corporations and media outlets. Dalits continue to experience major discrimination and oppression, in both rural and urban areas. According to India’s National Crime Bureau, a crime is committed against Dalit by non Dalit in every sixty minutes. Every day four Dalit women are raped by upper caste men. Every week thirteen Dalits are murdered and six are kidnapped. In most cases, these crimes go unpunished.

Roy also points out that the Indian military is deployed on a daily basis to enforce the supremacy of upper caste Hindus:

“From 1947, whether the Kashmir, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Telangana, Punjab, Goa, every day of the year, the Indian Army is fighting its own people. And who are the people? Think about it. Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Adivasis, Dalits.”

stuartbramhall:

 

 

Insanity alert: Pentagon believes their own bullshit.

Originally posted on ThereAreNoSunglasses:

NATO’s Move Towards Russia Makes Russia a Threat-Adm.Kirby

They actually seem to believe their own bullshit.  That is the problem with American Imperialist Militarism, it fights for a contradiction of reality and expects reality to conform to their manufactured, self-delusion.

View original

stuartbramhall:

 

 

Complaint filed in International Criminal Court (ICC) against Obama (and others) for their crimes against humanity in Syria. You can demonstrate your support for this complaint by emailing the ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, at otp.informationdesk@icc-cpi.int

Originally posted on the real SyrianFreePress Network:

_50093656_002761263-1

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT

Office of the Prosecutor
The Hague
The Netherlands

Criminal Complaint filed by James C. Ryan
6 October 2014

Criminal Carnage in Syria
by the Criminal Cabal for Perpetual War

~

COVER LETTER TO THE OFFICE OF THE PROSECUTOR

The Honorable Fatou Bensouda
Office of the Prosecutor
International Criminal Court
Post Office Box 19519
2500 CM, The Hague, The Netherlands
Fax No.: 31-70-515-8555
Email: otp.informationdesk@icc-cpi.int

Dear Ms. Bensouda:

Please accept my personal compliments. I have the honor to file with you and the International Criminal Court (ICC) this Criminal Complaint against:

U.S. citizens Barack Hussein Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, John Forbes Kerry, John Owen Brennan, Michael Joseph Morell, David Howell Petraeus, and Leon Edward Panetta;

Turkish citizens Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Ahmet Davutoğlu and Hakan Fidan;

Saudi Arabian citizens King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and Prince Saud al-Faisal;

Qatari citizens Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa…

View original 321 more words

blessed unrest

Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Social Movement in History is Restoring Grace, Justice, and Beauty to the World

Paul Hawken
Google Authors (2007)

Film Review

In the following video, social entrepreneur Paul Hawken discusses Blessed Unrest, his book about trying to count the millions of local social change groups around the world. After several years of research, he concluded there were 1-2 million of them. They involve 100-200 million people and focus around three broad categories: social justice, human rights and ecological restoration. What they all have in common are their efforts to disperse a pathological concentration of power in a wealthy elite.

Hawken asserts this massive movement is virtually invisible because it’s solution-focused, rather than ideological. We’re accustomed to movements in which a charismatic white male leader founds a centrally-based organization and endeavors to expand it outwards to the grassroots. The movement Hawken refers started as small widely dispersed independent groups which are beginning to coalesce into networks.

He believes this diverse non-centralized movement had its origins in the anti-slavery movement. The past 1,000 years, in Hawken’s view, has been dominated by a system in which political power is based on privilege. With the abolitionist movement, which started as small local groups in England and the US, society began moving towards a system in which political power is based on community.

The high point of the video is where he scrolls through a screen shot listing the millions of groups. He asserts it would take more than four weeks to read through them all.

He predicted the number of social change groups, which is growing fast, would reach five million by 2013.

stuartbramhall:

 

 

All Canadian citizens living or working 8-16 kilometers of a nuclear power plant are to receive a stock of potassium iodide pills (by Dec 2015) to protect them from thyroid cancer. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Obama administration showed the same concern about Americans’ welfare?

Originally posted on nuclear-news:

flag-canadaRadiation protection pills delivered by end of 2015, Star.com  New rules from the Canadian Nuclear Safety
potassium-iodate-pillsCommission dictate that iodine thyroid-blocking pills must be delivered to homes and workplaces near nuclear plants by the end of next year. By: John Spears Business reporter, Oct 14 2014

People living and working within 8 to 16 kilometres of a nuclear power plant should have radiation protection pills in their hands by the end of 2015, under new federal regulations.

But Durham’s Medical Officer of Health says it will be “very tight – extremely tight” to meet the deadline.New rules from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission dictate that iodine thyroid-blocking pills must be delivered to homes and workplaces near nuclear plants by the end of next year.

The pills, often known as potassium iodide pills or KI pills, inhibit the thyroid gland from absorbing radiation.Nuclear plant operators must pay the cost of buying…

View original 302 more words

OST_meetingAn OST Meeting

Community: The Structure of Belonging

By Peter Brock

Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc (2008)

Book Review – Part II

By focusing on six essential “conversations,”* Brock is extremely prescriptive in his approach to forming groups. He seems to believe this artificial structure is necessary to keep the group from replicating patriarchal patterns in broader society. Based on 33+ years of grassroots organizing, I disagree. Provided they are properly facilitated, I have a lot of confidence in the ability of small groups to evolve spontaneously without replicating what happens in a corporate boardroom. I’m also extremely fed up with liberal academics and their obsession with technique.

In my mind, the artificial structure Brock imposes is counterproductive. Despite claiming to erase artificial distinctions between group leaders and members, he does the exact opposite. He gives group leaders immense power by setting up an expectation they will pose questions and members will answer them. I also see a risk – given the intrusive nature of the questions – that the community group will become a therapy group.

He justifies the need for a “possibility conversation” to prevent groups from focusing on about problems and complaints – which he feels causes them to behave like corporate boards and start setting up visions, goals and targets. Based on 30+ years of organizing of experience, I can guarantee this behavior isn’t automatic – not if there are working class people in the room.

He argues that the “ownership conversation” is designed to keep the group conversation focused inside the room. He maintains too many community groups focus on issues and people outside the room, which he claims are beyond beyond their control.

Again I strongly disagree. Most of the community groups I’ve worked with have (very successfully) focused on external problems, such as blocking the construction of an LNG (liquid national gas) terminal at Port Taranaki and forcing our local council to remove the fluoride from our drinking water. As far as I’m concerned, Brock’s “ownership conversation” is just a new twist on neoconservative ideological propaganda linking “rights” with “responsibilities” and “freedom” with “accountability.” In my view, the only way to win rights and freedom is by fighting for them – all the media hype linking rights and freedom to responsibility and accountability is designed to conceal this reality.

Personally, I much prefer Open Space Technology (OST), an older more established approach to creating self-organized groups. In OST, the facilitator’s role is strictly limited to a type of facilitation in which they “hold a space” for participants to self-organize, rather than managing or directing the conversations.**

I have to give Brock credit for using the “dissent conversation” to circumvent the strong tendency of self-organized groups to punish dissent. Despite some strong reservations about the intrusive nature of some of the questions, I feel the “dissent conversation” is the most valuable aspect of his approach. This has always been one of the main drawback of OST: its tendency to reward consensus and punish dissent.


*Brock’s six conversations include the “invitation” and the possibility, ownership, dissent, commitment and gift conversations. Each of the five conversations is presented as a series of questions.

1. The invitation names the possibility (eg The Possibility of a Safe Cincinnati) which is the reason for convening the group. It deliberately refrains from advocating for a particular issue or viewpoint and tries to bring people into the same room that don’t normally associate together.

2. The possibility conversation asks the following questions

  • What is the crossroads where you find yourself at this stage of your life or work or in the project around which we are assembled?
  • What declaration of possibility can you make that has the power to transform the community and inspire you?

3. The ownership conversation asks:

  • •How valuable an experience (or project or community) do you plan for this to be?
  • How much risk are you willing to take?
  • How much do you plan to participate?
  • To what extent are you invested of the well-being of the whole?
  • What I have I done to contribute to the very thing I complain about or want to change.
  • What is the story about this community or organization that you hear yourself telling the most often?
  • What are the payoffs you receive from holding on to this story?
  • What is your attachment to this story costing you?

4. The dissent conversation asks

  • What doubts and reservations do you have?
  • What is the no or refusal that you keep postponing
  • What have you said yes to that you no longer mean?
  • What resentment do you hold that no one knows about?
  • What forgiveness are you withholding?

5. The commitment conversation asks

  • What promises am I willing to make?
  • What measures have meaning to me?
  • What price am I willing to pay?
  • What is the cost to others for me to keep my commitments or to fail in my commitments?
  • What is the promise I’m willing to make that constitutes a risk or major shift for me?

6. The gift conversation asks:

  • What is the gift you still hold back?
  • What is something about you that no one knows?
  • What gratitude do you hold that has gone unexpressed?
  • What have others in this room done, in this gathering, that has touched you.

**OST is similar to Brock’s approach in that 1) it starts with a broad, open invitation articulating the purpose of the meeting 2) participants sit in a circle and 3) it places heavy emphasis on small group work. However in OST members set the agenda themselves by proposing a bulletin board of issues and moving into small groups to develop these issues through further discussion.

photo credit: Askavusa Open Space Technology (follow link to learn more about OST)

community

Community: The Structure of Belonging

By Peter Brock

Berret-Koehler Publishers, Inc (2008)

Book Review - Part I

“How Communities Awaken” is the title of a master class I’m taking through a local Maori social services agency. Our main textbook is Peter Brock’s Community: The Structure of Belonging. We meet every two weeks to do small group work around six “conversations” Brock prescribes as essential to transforming fragmented communities.

Peter Brock is one of a growing number of community strategists dedicated to reducing alienation and apathy by getting people more involved in their communities. In Community: the Structure of Belonging, he maintains that 1) our collective loss of power in contemporary society is a direct result of the breakdown of our communities, 2) the only way to regain this power is to restore citizen engagement in community life and 3) most groups and agencies designed to relive “political suffering” (i.e. poverty, inequality, unemployment and the multiple crises involving housing, education transportation, drug abuse, binge drinking, family violence and at-risk youth) fail because they buy into the patriarchal consumer model imposed on us by wider society.

Brock asserts that the consumer society causes most people to see themselves as passive consumers rather than engaged citizens – that this causes them to see their political and community leaders as delivering a product, with their own role limited to critiquing the product. The purpose of this book is to lay out specific strategies to lift us out of our role as passive consumers of government.

While I partially agree with premises two and three, I totally disagree with premise one. I find to hard to ignore substantial evidence that Wall Street Banksters, the Koch brothers, the Walton family (who own WalMart) and other corporate players have colluded to deliberately strip us of this power. Brock makes absolutely no mention of this. In fact, he dismisses activists who complain about “external” causes of powerlessness as playing the “blame game,” which he describes as a “delightful escape from the unbearable burden of being accountable.”*

I‘m also concerned by his glaring omission of the role the corporate public relations industry plays in constantly bombarding us with fearful, competitive, individualistic and pro-consumption messaging (see The Science of Thought Control).

In my view, this constant barrage of propaganda and disinformation – and the pernicious passivity and apathy resulting from it – is the main obstacle we face to organizing against corporate fascism. That being said, I strongly agree with Brock’s view that the only way to overcome this passivity and apathy is by re-engaging in the community groups and activities – both political and non-political – that our parents and grandparents enjoyed.

I haven’t found New Zealand that much different than the US in this regard. Although there are huge advantages to not living in a military empire (see The Sacrifices of Empire), most New Zealanders seem to be trapped in the same cycle of consumption, debt and overwork. Like Americans, they are depressed, anxious, apathetic and disengaged from community life and the political process. Voluntarism has declined steeply, particularly among young people, and a growing number of Kiwis don’t vote.**


*Turnout remains much better here than in the US. In NZ 77% is considered a poor turnout. In the US 60% is considered a good turnout.
** Brock’s equally dismissive of organized protest and “speaking truth to power,” which he belittles as a “complaint session in evening clothes.” He adds, “Any time we act in reaction, even to evil, we are giving power to what we are in reaction to.” I can agree that it’s more effective to focus on building positive institutions than reacting to negative ones. However we are all trained, as part of our indoctrination, to blame ourselves if for our personal, social and financial failures. The only way I know to get people to quit blaming themselves for the misery they experience in corporate society is to demonstrate that their so-called “personal” problems have a social and political cause.
To be continued with a critique of the specific strategies Brock proposes.