Archive for August, 2009

29 August, 2009

Ice-cream is non-patriarchal

Icecream is nonpatriarchal. Ice cream, frozen yogurt, milk-shakes– every dairy product we can think of is the exclusive product of females. So, okay, they’re cows… But eating this stuff can be a political act that neatly unities feminist principles with a love of animals… Fuck the vegans, I say. Anyone who doesn’t eat ice cream for purely “ethical” reasons is a killjoy and a moron and ultimately not to be trusted. Pro-ice cream is pro-woman”
Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a SmartMouth Goddess – Sarah Jane Gilman, p25

Dairy is very much a feminist issue

MILK=VEAL

From the treatment of the female animals enslaved to produce it, to the women consumers of this product, and the way it is sold to mothers by playing on their guilt to overdose their children on dairy.

Which, I think has to be seriously, one of the most moronic statements I have ever seen in print regarding dairy and feminism. The SINGLE most effective thing that got me to go from vegetarian to vegan was the two sayings “There is veal invisibly floating in every glass of milk” and “Meat is Murder, Milk is Rape”, and if anyone looks at where milk comes from, and the conditions of the cows, there is no way they could claim it to be a feminist act. And if this author saw the condition of dairy cows, there is no way she could claim to love animals.

Quite apart from the fact, that unless the person gets their milk from a farmer who they know, and who happens to be female, milk isn’t the “product of females” it is the product of large corporations, with a board of directors most likely made up almost exclusively of men, whose first priority is to make money. It is not your health and it is not the welfare of the cows or the consumers. No. They will do whatever it takes to make as much money as possible.

Cows, like all mammals (including people), produce milk to feed their babies, so in order for the cow to produce milk, she has to have a baby. In order to get the cow pregnant, she is continuously raped (sex without consent). And, because the milk corporations do not want to share that milk with a calf, the babies are removed from their mothers, the females to become dairy cows and the males to become veal.

And regardless whether that dairy is organic, or factory farm, the male babies are surplus to requirements, and sent to packing plants (“slaughterhouse”). Because no farmer (few if any), no matter how much they claim to love their animals would spend the money to raise and animal that is unable to make profit.

So, what part of being raped, and having your baby stolen and slaughters sounds feminist?

How does rape and slaughter of babies promote the sisterhood?

The body leeches calcium out of bones to the blood stream in order to neutralise excessive protein. Where does protein come from – animal products. So milk is sold to women as a cure for a disease that has a devastating effect on women more than men, especially post menopausal women – that being osteoporosis. Yet, too many animal products can be a large contributor to the osteoporosis. But do large corporations care about womens’ health? It doesn’t seem that way, not as long as they are selling a product to women whose only nutritional information comes from dairy and meat industry propaganda.

It’s not about whether people and animals are the same, but are their Rights the same. Any living thing is as entitled to the most basic right of all, the right to live a life, especially without suffering.

Dairy is the very essence of imposing of patriarchal values – if you want it, take it.

So, GOT MILK? Got rape, veal, cruelty, suffering, apathy, patriarchy, damaged health, animal cruelty, toxic environment, disease and death?

— SIDEBAR: The following ad for quality cattle crushes came up while I reading for this pieces
Cattle Crush Company Fail search engine


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24 August, 2009

G20 countries practice ‘agricolonialism’ in developing countries (via Workers World)

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. … Dwight D. Eisenhower

World’s Rich in Massive Land Grab

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G20 countries practice ‘agricolonialism’ in developing countries

A new attack
By Betsey Piette
Published Aug 3, 2009 8:24 PM

Collectively the countries which participate in the Group of Twenty comprise 85 percent of the global gross national product, 80 percent of world trade and two-thirds of the world’s population. What many G-20 countries lack, however, is sufficient arable land to meet the needs of growing urban populations.

In recent years, many G-20 nations have engaged in agricolonialism, taking over arable land in developing countries.

One billion people worldwide face starvation, according to United Nations reports. The global recession is expected to drive 103 million more into hunger.

However, the land grabs, concentrated in Africa, Asia and Latin America where hundreds of millions lack sufficient food, are intended to grow food and biofuel crops for export, not for use by at-risk populations.

While the U.S., Britain and European Union nations have a long history of colonial control over land in developing countries, other G-20 countries, including China, south Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia, have recently bought up global farmland.

After the collapse of the former Soviet Union, even Russia and other former Soviet states became targets of land grabs.

Global “AgInvesting”

Last year, as the global economic crisis deepened, food “riots” destabilized many countries. In December, spiking grain prices that had led to food shortages fell by 50 percent. Today, grain prices remain above their 20-year average, and global food stocks continue at 40-year lows.

Over the next 40 years the world’s population is projected to grow from 6 billion to 9 billion, doubling demand, while arable land and water become scarcer. As a result, the cost of farmland keeps rising.

Food now rivals oil as a basis of power and economic security. Arable land has become the latest target for international investors, with more than 90 funds invested directly in farmland.

With the current credit crunch, large companies are investing in farmland as a means of control over future food supplies when food security could become a major concern.

In June a Global AgInvesting 2009 Conference, held in New York, aimed at investors eager for opportunities to invest in agricultural lands, commodities and infrastructure. It brought together top players from the global agricultural and investing industries, including Soyatech, Altima Partners, Bayer CropScience, Brazil AgroLogic, DuPont, Rabobank and the World Bank. The participating firms own and/or manage over 11 million acres of productive farmland worldwide.

The International Food Policy Research Institute reports that 37 million to 49 million acres of land in poor countries, valued at $20 to $30 billion, were sold or under negotiation for sale to foreign buyers since 2006.

Foreign investments in agriculture are not new, but today they are more strategic than commercial, with many transactions intended to insulate the foreign investor’s home country from future global food and energy crises.

Another significant difference is the scale of these purchases. A “big land deal” used to be 240,000 acres. Now the largest ones are many times that size.

The investment firm Blackrock has set up a $200 million hedge fund to invest in land. Dow Chemical has invested its pension funds in farmland futures. Morgan Stanley bought nearly 100,000 acres of Brazilian farmland.

Multibillionaire George Soros is getting into the global land-buying business. Jim Rogers Jr., Soros’ partner at the Quantum Fund, is involved with two farmland investment funds–Agrifirm and Agcaptia Farmland Investment Partnership. “I’m convinced that farmland is going to be one of the best investments of our time,” Rogers told ContrarianProfits. (July 27)

Land in Africa targeted

Africa imports 25 percent of its food, and the continent has become a prime target of land grabbers. Although sub-Saharan Africa is rich in minerals and natural resources, more than 450 million people live there on less than $2 a day. More than one-third of the population suffers from malnutrition.

A recent Food and Agricultural Organization study of five African countries found that 6.2 million acres of farmland valued at $920 million were bought or leased by foreign investors since 2004.

Most of the nearly 1 million acres taken over in Ghana were for biofuel production. Philippe Heilberg, chairman of New York-based Jarch Capital, controls nearly 2 million acres of land in south Sudan.

Saudi Arabian investors spent $100 million to raise grain on land leased to them by the Ethiopian government; the entire crop is for export back to Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, millions of Ethiopians face hunger and malnutrition and require emergency food assistance.

A proposed 99-year land lease deal with the south Korean company Daewoo would have included nearly half of Madagascar’s arable land, with almost no benefits to the host country. Public protest over this deal contributed to the overthrow of President Marc Ravalomanana earlier this year.

Genetically modified sugar cane in Latin America

Since 1994, U.S. farm policies through the so-called “North American Free Trade Agreement” have devastated farmers who produced corn throughout Mexico. NAFTA opened Mexican markets to corn imports from the U.S. and to the introduction of genetically modified seeds.

Now other countries are getting into the act. A French investment firm is buying up cattle ranches in Argentina and Uruguay to convert the acreage to the production of barley, corn and soy.

Within a 10-year span, nearly the entire Argentine pampas and large areas of forest and farmland in Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay and Paraguay have been converted to produce soy as a solo crop. Agribusiness giants Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and Bunge made billions selling chemical fertilizers, while Monsanto and Syngenta raked in record profits from modified seeds and chemical pesticides.

Corporations that led the boom in soy production in Latin America are now aggressively moving into genetically modified sugar cane production. GM and Monsanto have been working on “Roundup Ready” sugar cane and sugar beets. Production of genetically modified sugar cane crops would devastate cane growers in Colombia, where panela, a sugar cane byproduct, is a source of nutrition.

Protests erupt in Southeast Asia

Many of the anti-agricolonialism protests have taken place in Asia. The 15-million-member Asian Peasant Coalition recently began a five-month Asia-wide Peasants’ Caravan for Land and Livelihood. The group is acting against global land grabbing in 10 Asian countries, including Sri Lanka, Philippines, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In India and Thailand, the theme is “Stop Global Land Grabbing! Struggle for Genuine Agrarian Reform and Peoples’ Food Sovereignty.”

An estimated 365 million people in Asia make their living off the land. Globalization has increasingly integrated Asian countries into the global market and intensified landlessness among Asian peasants. In Pakistan and the Philippines, almost 75 percent of peasants are now landless.

In the Philippines, Fil-Japan is using 1.49 million acres of land for biofuel production. South Korea has leased 232,000 acres of farmland for 25 years to grow 10,000 tons of corn annually. Protests halted plans to allow China to use 3 million acres of farmland.

Wagar Ahmad Khan, the Pakistani federal minister for investment, assures legal cover and tax breaks for investors and says his government “has decided to raise a special security force, which will help create an investment-friendly atmosphere.” (IslamOnline.net, April 21)

Impact on Indigenous populations

Since the 1970s, more than half of the farmland expansion has come at the expense of natural forests, including large tracts of land in Brazil’s Amazon region. While biofuels are promoted as a means to reduce climate change, expanding cropland for biofuel production has devastated rainforests and savannas.

Conversion of natural ecosystems for production of corn and sugar cane for ethanol, and soy and palm oil for biodiesel, causes substantial greenhouse gas emissions since these crops absorb far less carbon dioxide than the forests and wetlands they replace.

Monsanto, DuPont, Archer Daniels Midland, Deere & Co. and the Renewable Fuels Association have formed the Alliance for Abundant Food and Energy, which spends billions of dollars to lobby U.S. lawmakers to support subsidies for biofuel production and to promote genetically modified crops.

The social consequences of these land grabs are significant. Indigenous groups who have lived off the land for generations are being driven off their lands. Even when local peasant farmers are able to retain the land, larger land tracts draw off most of the water supply.

G-8 code of conduct

Faced with growing pressure from developing countries, the recent G-8 Summit issued a code of conduct in international agricultural investments that reflects the debate over foreign land purchases in poor countries. It is not clear, however, how the code might work.

“The G-8 statement is pretty weak,” said Sarah Gillam of ActionAid, an anti-poverty group which is calling for an independent U.N. commission to establish an enforceable code of conduct for foreign land purchases. It would include adequate compensation for affected communities and an assessment of the impact on local food security and rural livelihoods.

Devlin Kuyek of GRAIN, an international nonprofit organization that supports struggles for community-controlled, biodiversity-based food systems, compared the danger of land investments to the subprime mortgage crisis. “It’s not just that they want to produce food. It’s that they want to produce it in a way that makes profit. … Nothing is being done to address speculation or the amount of profits taken by the corporations in control of the food system.

“Land is fundamental to life particularly in many countries of the South,” stated Kuyek. “Governments are playing with fire, and better watch out what they are doing.” (See www.farmlandgrab.org.)


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A new attack

19 August, 2009

Factory Farms (Isn’t man an amazing animal?)

C David Coats quote of factory farms, with snail and flower
This quote is also written below.


This is how we treat animals, and the rest of the human race.

All animals are treated like this. Whether it is free-range raised for food or bullfighting and circuses. There are no degrees of exploitation.


Isn’t man an amazing animal?

He kills wildlife – birds, kangaroos, deer, all kinds of cats, coyotes, beavers, groundhogs, mice and foxes by the million – in order to protect his domestic animals and their feed. Then he kills his domestic animals by the billion and eats them. This in turns kills men by the million, because eating all those animals leads to degenerative -and fatal – health conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, and cancer. So then man tortures and kills millions more animals to look for cures to these diseases. Elsewhere, millions of other human beings are being killed by hunger and malnutrition because food they could eat is being used to fatten domestic animals. Meanwhile, some people are dying of sad laughter at the absurdity of man, who kills so easily and so violently, and once a year sends out cards praying for ‘Peace on Earth’

from Old MacDonald’s Factory Farm by C. David Coats


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14 August, 2009

Celebrity Vegans And Vegetarians

The disadvantage with turning celebrities who say they are vegan or vegetarian is how quickly they can turn around, after they have been built up as heros of the vegan movement, making vegans look foolish for worshipping these people.

Drew Barrymore, once lauded as a champion of animal rights, from not shaving under her arms when a movie company supplied on Gillette products, to a few short years later, turns up wearing fur for Guess ads in Vogue magazine to eating bacon, promoting Cover Girl which tests on animals.

To point out that eating bacon and wearing cosmetics tested on animals isn’t vegan, and people shout you down, about being the “vegan police”. But where in the definition of veganism does it say that vegans exclude all animal products, for all reasons – except for celebrities.

If people see these celebrities who wear fur, eat cheese and claim to be vegan, it completely weakens what the word “vegan” means. It weakens it to the point that it ceases to exist, and might as well be meaningless if it does not mean what it means.

It also means, any celebrity buying a vegetarian-friendly product is now responsible for upholding the values that fans project onto them, whether they hold those values or not.

In this second video, Shania Twain is pictured wearing leather, and Pink also wears a lot of leather at various times in her career, although she has done anti-fur ads for PETA.

Pamela Anderson, a PETA pin-up model, for a range of causes, from anti-sealing and anti fur, as well as a lettuce lady, promoting vegetarianism… also wears uggboots, made from dead sheep. Pictured below is Pamela Anderson in her ugg boots.


Pamela Anderson, left, in Uggboots, and Pink, right

[ETA (edited to add the following twitter picture:
]

That is the thing with role models, they are humans first, and turning humans into role models means they can’t be human.


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9 August, 2009

Settle For Nothing: Rage Against The Machine (music)

Settle For Nothing: Rage Against The Machine


Lyrics and Music: Rage Against The Machine

Part of the lyrics are:
If we don’t take action now
We settle for nothing later
Settle for nothing now
And we’ll settle for nothing later

Animal rights, can be seen in that light… If we don’t take action, and do something now, we will always be doing nothing. We will settle for nothing because we have always settled for nothing. We have given up fighting. We will have forgotten how to fight.

And if we do that, and settle for nothing, those who are in the Animal Death Industries, will always win, because they know we will never change.


* The image used in this clip, is the cover art for their self titled album ‘Rage Against The Machine. It is Hòa thượng Thích Quảng Đức a Buddhist monk who set himself on fire to protest the treatment of monks during the Vietnam war


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4 August, 2009

The Problem Is Civil Obedience – Howard Zinn


For more on Howard Zinn, this is his A People’s History of American Empire by Howard Zinn narrated by Viggo Mortensen

The Problem is Civil Obedience

by Howard Zinn, 1970
from the Zinn Reader, Seven Stories Press
emphasis added, original format


[By the latter part of May, 1970, feelings about the war in Vietnam had become almost unbearably intense. In Boston, about a hundred of us decided to sit down at the Boston Army Base and block the road used by buses carrying draftees off to military duty. We were not so daft that we thought we were stopping the flow of soldiers to Vietnam; it was a symbolic act, a statement, a piece of guerrilla theater. We were all arrested and charged, in the quaint language of an old statute, with “sauntering and loitering” in such a way as to obstruct traffic. Eight of us refused to plead guilty, insisting on trial by jury, hoping we could persuade the members of the jury that ours was a justified act of civil disobedience. We did not persuade them. We were found guilty, chose jail instead of paying a fine, but the judge, apparently reluctant to have us in jail, gave us forty-eight hours to change our minds, after which we should show up in court to either pay the fine or be jailed. In the meantime, I had been invited to go to Johns Hopkins University to debate with the philosopher Charles Frankel on the issue of civil disobedience. I decided it would be hypocritical for me, an advocate of civil disobedience, to submit dutifully to the court and thereby skip out on an opportunity to speak to hundreds of students about civil disobedience. So, on the day I was supposed to show up in court in Boston I flew to Baltimore and that evening debated with Charles Frankel. Returning to Boston I decided to meet my morning class, but two detectives were waiting for me, and I was hustled before the court and then spent a couple of days in jail. What follows is the transcript of my opening statement in the debate at Johns Hopkins. It was included in a book published by Johns Hopkins Press in 1972, entitled Violence: The Crisis of American Confidence.]

I start from the supposition that the world is topsy-turvy, that things are all wrong, that the wrong people are in jail and the wrong people are out of jail, that the wrong people are in power and the wrong people are out of power, that the wealth is distributed in this country and the world in such a way as not simply to require small reform but to require a drastic reallocation of wealth. I start from the supposition that we don’t have to say too much about this because all we have to do is think about the state of the world today and realize that things are all upside down. Daniel Berrigan is in jail-A Catholic priest, a poet who opposes the war-and J. Edgar Hoover is free, you see. David Dellinger, who has opposed war ever since he was this high and who has used all of his energy and passion against it, is in danger of going to jail. The men who are responsible for the My Lai massacre are not on trial; they are in Washington serving various functions, primary and subordinate, that have to do with the unleashing of massacres, which surprise them when they occur. At Kent State University four students were killed by the National Guard and students were indicted. In every city in this country, when demonstrations take place, the protesters, whether they have demonstrated or not, whatever they have done, are assaulted and clubbed by police, and then they are arrested for assaulting a police officer.

Now, I have been studying very closely what happens every day in the courts in Boston, Massachusetts. You would be astounded-maybe you wouldn’t, maybe you have been around, maybe you have lived, maybe you have thought, maybe you have been hit-at how the daily rounds of injustice make their way through this marvelous thing that we call due process. Well, that is my premise.

All you have to do is read the Soledad letters of George Jackson, who was sentenced to one year to life, of which he spent ten years, for a seventy-dollar robbery of a filling station. And then there is the U.S. Senator who is alleged to keep 185,000 dollars a year, or something like that, on the oil depletion allowance. One is theft; the other is legislation. something is wrong, something is terribly wrong when we ship 10,000 bombs full of nerve gas across the country, and drop them in somebody else’s swimming pool so as not to trouble our own. So you lose your perspective after a while. If you don’t think, if you just listen to TV and read scholarly things, you actually begin to think that things are not so bad, or that just little things are wrong. But you have to get a little detached, and then come back and look at the world, and you are horrified. So we have to start from that supposition-that things are really topsy-turvy.

And our topic is topsy-turvy: civil disobedience. As soon as you say the topic is civil disobedience, you are saying our problem is civil disobedience. That is not our problem…. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. And our problem is that scene in All Quiet on the Western Front where the schoolboys march off dutifully in a line to war. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem. We recognize this for Nazi Germany. We know that the problem there was obedience, that the people obeyed Hitler. People obeyed; that was wrong. They should have challenged, and they should have resisted; and if we were only there, we would have showed them. Even in Stalin’s Russia we can understand that; people are obedient, all these herdlike people.

But America is different. That is what we’ve all been brought up on. From the time we are this high and I still hear it resounding in Mr. Frankel’s statement-you tick off, one, two, three, four, five lovely things .~ about America that we don’t want disturbed very much. But if we have learned anything in the past ten years, it is that these lovely things about America were never lovely. We have been expansionist and aggressive and mean to other people from the beginning. And we’ve been aggressive and mean to people in this country, and we’ve allocated the wealth of this country in a very unjust way. We’ve never had justice in the courts for the poor people, for black people, for radicals. Now how can we boast that America is a very special place? It is not that special. It really isn’t.

Well, that is our topic, that is our problem: civil obedience. Law is very important. We are talking about obedience to law-law, this marvelous invention of modern times, which we attribute to Western civilization, and which we talk about proudly. The rule of law, oh, how wonderful, all these courses in Western civilization all over the land. Remember those bad old days when people were exploited by feudalism? Everything was terrible in the Middle Ages-but now we have Western civilization, the rule of law. The rule of law has regularized and maximized the injustice that existed before the rule of law, that is what the rule of law has done. Let us start looking at the rule of law realistically, not with that metaphysical complacency with which we always examined it before.

When in all the nations of the world the rule of law is the darling of the leaders and the plague of the people, we ought to begin to recognize this. We have to transcend these national boundaries in our thinking. Nixon and Brezhnev have much more in common with one another than – we have with Nixon. J. Edgar Hoover has far more in common with the head of the Soviet secret police than he has with us. It’s the international dedication to law and order that binds the leaders of all countries in a comradely bond. That’s why we are always surprised when they get together — they smile, they shake hands, they smoke cigars, they really like one another no matter what they say. It’s like the Republican and Democratic parties, who claim that it’s going to make a terrible difference if one or the other wins, yet they are all the same. Basically, it is us against them.

Yossarian was right, remember, in Catch-22? He had been accused of giving aid and comfort to the enemy, which nobody should ever be accused of, and Yossarian said to his friend Clevinger: “The enemy is whoever is going to get you killed, whichever side they are on.” But that didn’t sink in, so he said to Clevinger: “Now you remember that, or one of these days you’ll be dead.” And remember? Clevinger, after a while, was dead. And we must remember that our enemies are not divided along national lines, that enemies are not just people who speak different languages and occupy different territories. Enemies are people who want to get us killed.

We are asked, “What if everyone disobeyed the law?” But a better question is, “What if everyone obeyed the law?” And the answer to that question is much easier to come by, because we have a lot of empirical evidence about what happens if everyone obeys the law, or if even most people obey the law. What happens is what has happened, what is happening. Why do people revere the law? And we all do; even I have to fight it, for it was put into my bones at an early age when I was a Cub Scout. One reason we revere the law is its ambivalence. In the modern world we deal with phrases and words that have multiple meanings, like “national security.” Oh, yes, we must do this for national security! Well, what does that mean? Whose national security? Where? When? Why? We don’t bother to answer those questions, or even to ask them.

The law conceals many things. The law is the Bill of Rights. ;’~ fact, that is what we think of when we develop our reverence for the law. The law is something that protects us; the law is our right-the law is the Constitution. Bill of Rights Day, essay contests sponsored by the American Legion on our Bill of Rights, that is the law. And that is good.

But there is another part of the law that doesn’t get ballyhooed- the legislation that has gone through month after month, year after year, from the beginning of the Republic, which allocates the resources of the country in such a way as to leave some people very rich and other people very poor, and still others scrambling like mad for what little is left. That is the law. If you go to law school you will see this. You can quantify it by counting the big, heavy law books that people carry around with them and see how many law books you count that say “Constitutional Rights” on them and how many that say “Property,” “Contracts,” “Torts,” “Corporation Law.” That is what the law is mostly about. The law is the oil depletion allowance-although we don’t have Oil Depletion Allowance Day, we don’t have essays written on behalf of the oil depletion allowance. So there are parts of the law that are publicized and played up to us-oh, this is the law, the Bill of Rights. And there are other parts of the law that just do their quiet work, and nobody says anything about them.

It started way back. When the Bill of Rights was first passed, remember, in the first administration of Washington? Great thing. Bill of Rights passed! Big ballyhoo. At the same time Hamilton’s economic pro gram was passed. Nice, quiet, money to the rich-I’m simplifying it a little, but not too much. Hamilton’s economic program started it off. You can draw a straight line from Hamilton’s economic program to the oil depletion allowance to the tax write-offs for corporations. All the way through-that is the history. The Bill of Rights publicized; economic legislation unpublicized.

You know the enforcement of different parts of the law is as important as the publicity attached to the different parts of the law. The Bill of Rights, is it enforced? Not very well. You’ll find that freedom of speech in constitutional law is a very difficult, ambiguous, troubled concept. Nobody really knows when you can get up and speak and when you can’t. Just check all of the Supreme Court decisions. Talk about predictability in a system-you can’t predict what will happen to you when you get up on the street corner and speak. See if you can tell the difference between the Terminiello case and the Feiner case, and see if you can figure out what is going to happen. By the way, there is one part of the law that is not very vague, and that involves the right to distribute leaflets on the street. The Supreme Court has been very clear on that. In decision after decision we are affirmed an absolute right to distribute leaflets on the street. Try it. Just go out on the street and start distributing leaflets. And a policeman comes up to you and he says, “Get out of here.” And you say, “Aha! Do you know Marsh v. Alabama, 1946?” That is the reality of the Bill of Rights. That’s the reality of the Constitution, that part of the law which is portrayed to us as a beautiful and marvelous thing. And seven years after the Bill of Rights was passed, which said that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech,” Congress made a law abridging the freedom of speech. Remember? The Sedition Act of 1798.

So the Bill of Rights was not enforced. Hamilton’s program was enforced, because when the whisky farmers went out and rebelled you remember, in 1794 in Pennsylvania, Hamilton himself got on his horse and went out there to suppress the rebellion to make sure that the revenue tax was enforced. And you can trace the story right down to the present day, what laws are enforced, what laws are not enforced. So you have to be careful when you say, “I’m for the law, I revere the law.” What part of the law are you talking about? I’m not against all law. But I think we ought to begin to make very important distinctions about what laws do what things to what people.

And there are other problems with the law. It’s a strange thing, we think that law brings order. Law doesn’t. How do we know that law does not bring order? Look around us. We live under the rules of law. Notice how much order we have? People say we have to worry about civil disobedience because it will lead to anarchy. Take a look at the present world in which the rule of law obtains. This is the closest to what is called anarchy in the popular mind-confusion, chaos, international banditry. The only order that is really worth anything does not come through the enforcement … of law, it comes through the establishment of a society which is just and in which harmonious relationships are established and in which you need a minimum of regulation to create decent sets of arrangements among people. But the order based on law and on the force of law is the order of the totalitarian state, and it inevitably leads either to total injustice or to rebellion-eventually, in other words, to very great disorder.

We all grow up with the notion that the law is holy. They asked Daniel Berrigan‘s mother what she thought of her son’s breaking the law. He burned draft records-one of the most violent acts of this century- to protest the war, for which he was sentenced to prison, as criminals should be. They asked his mother who is in her eighties, what she thought of her son’s breaking the law. And she looked straight into the interviewer’s face, and she said, “It’s not God’s law.” Now we forget that. There is nothing sacred about the law. Think of who makes laws. The law is not made by God, it is made by Strom Thurmond. If you have any notion about the sanctity and loveliness and reverence for the law, look at the legislators around the country who make the laws. Sit in on the sessions of the state legislatures. Sit in on Congress, for these are the people who make the laws which we are then supposed to revere.

All of this is done with such propriety as to fool us. This is the problem. In the old days, things were confused; you didn’t know. Now you know. It is all down there in the books. Now we go through due process. Now the same things happen as happened before, except that we’ve gone through the right procedures. In Boston a policeman walked into a hospital ward and fired five times at a black man who had snapped a towel at his arm-and killed him. A hearing was held. The judge decided that the policeman was justified because if he didn’t do it, he would lose the respect of his fellow officers. Well, that is what is known as due process-that is, the guy didn’t get away with it. We went through the proper procedures, and everything was set up. The decorum, the propriety of the law fools us.

The nation then, was founded on disrespect for the law, and then came the Constitution and the notion of stability which Madison and Hamilton liked. But then we found in certain crucial times in our history that the legal framework did not suffice, and in order to end slavery we had to go outside the legal framework, as we had to do at the time of the American Revolution or the Civil War. The union had to go outside the legal framework in order to establish certain rights in the 1930s. And in this time, which may be more critical than the Revolution or the Civil War, the problems are so horrendous as to require us to go outside the legal framework in order to make a statement, to resist, to begin to establish the kind of institutions and relationships which a decent society should have. No, not just tearing things down; building things up. But even if you build things up that you are not supposed to build up-you try to build up a people’s park, that’s not tearing down a system; you are building something up, but you are doing it illegally-the militia comes in and drives you out. That is the form that civil disobedience is going to take more and more, people trying to build a new society in the midst of the old.

But what about voting and elections? Civil disobedience-we don’t need that much of it, we are told, because we can go through the electoral system. And by now we should have learned, but maybe we haven’t, for we grew up with the notion that the voting booth is a sacred place, almost like a confessional. You walk into the voting booth and you come out and they snap your picture and then put it in the papers with a beatific smile on your face. You’ve just voted; that is democracy. But if you even read what the political scientists say-although who can?-about the voting process, you find that the voting process is a sham. Totalitarian states love voting. You get people to the polls and they register their approval. I know there is a difference-they have one party and we have two parties. We have one more party than they have, you see.

What we are trying to do, I assume, is really to get back to the principles and aims and spirit of the Declaration of Independence. This spirit is resistance to illegitimate authority and to forces that deprive people of their life and liberty and right to pursue happiness, and therefore under these conditions, it urges the right to alter or abolish their current form of government-and the stress had been on abolish. But to establish the principles of the Declaration of Independence, we are going to need to go outside the law, to stop obeying the laws that demand killing or that allocate wealth the way it has been done, or that put people in jail for petty technical offenses and keep other people out of jail for enormous crimes. My hope is that this kind of spirit will take place not just in this country but in other countries because they all need it. People in all countries need the spirit of disobedience to the state, which is not a metaphysical thing but a thing of force and wealth. And we need a kind of declaration of interdependence among people in all countries of the world who are striving for the same thing.


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