New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

Not in Charge

September 18, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Ecology

Film Review: This Changes Everything

by David Swanson

I thought the cause of climate destruction was political corruption, but I thought the cause of so little popular resistance was ignorance and denial. Naomi Klein’s new film This Changes Everything seems to assume that everyone is aware of the problem. The enemy that the film takes This_Changes_Everything_coveron is the belief that “human nature” is simply greedy and destructive and destined to behave in the way that Western culture behaves toward the natural world.

I think that is an increasingly common frame of mind among those paying attention. But if it ever becomes truly widespread, I expect it to be followed by epidemics of despair.

Of course, the idea that “human nature” destroys the earth is as ridiculous as the idea that “human nature” creates war, or the idea that human nature combined with climate change must produce war. Human societies are destroying the climate at vastly different rates, as are individuals within them. Which are we to suppose are “human nature” and which acting in violation of the same?

I think it’s safe to assume that those not recognizing the climate crisis are going to be brought to recognize it along an exponentially rising curve, and it’s possible that treating an audience as if they all already know the problem is a helpful way to get them there. (more…)

Peace Lessons

July 10, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Politics

New Book Covers Familiar Terrain with Original Perspective

by David Swanson

I just read what may be the best introduction to peace studies I’ve ever seen. It’s called Peace Lessons, and is a new book by Timothy Braatz. It’s not too fast or too slow, neither obscure nor peace lessonsboring. It does not drive the reader away from activism toward meditation and “inner peace,” but begins with and maintains a focus on activism and effective strategy for revolutionary change in the world on the scale that is needed. As you may be gathering, I’ve read some similar books about which I had major complaints.

No doubt there are many more, similar books I haven’t read, and no doubt most of them cover the basic concepts of direct, structural, and cultural violence and nonviolence. No doubt many of them review the 20th century history of nonviolent overthrows of dictators. No doubt the U.S. civil rights movement is a common theme, especially among U.S. authors. Braatz’s book covers this and other familiar territory so well I was never tempted to set it down. He gives some of the best answers available to the usual questions from the dominant war-based culture, as well: “Would you shoot a crazed gunman to save your grandma?” “What about Hitler?” (more…)

Blueprint to End War

March 16, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Politics

Excerpt from A Global Security System: An Alternative to War

provided by David Swanson

In On Violence, Hannah Arendt wrote that the reason warfare is still with us is not a death wish of our species nor some instinct of aggression, “. . .but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.” The Alternative Global Security System we describe here is the substitute.

2015_0311globj_The goal of this document is to gather into one place, in the briefest form possible, everything one needs to know to work toward an end to war by replacing it with an Alternative Global Security System in contrast to the failed system of national security.

For nearly all of recorded history we have studied war and how to win it, but war has become ever more destructive and now threatens whole populations and planetary ecosystems with annihilation in a nuclear holocaust. Short of that, it brings “conventional” destruction unimaginable only a generation ago, while looming global economic and environmental crises go unattended. Unwilling to give in to such a negative end to our human story, we have begun to react in positive ways. We have begun to study war with a new purpose: to end it by replacing it with a system of conflict management that will result, at the very least, in a minimal peace. This document is a blueprint for ending war. It is not a plan for an ideal utopia. It is a summary of the work of many, based on many years of experience and analysis by people striving to understand why, when almost everyone wants peace we still have wars; and on the work of countless people who have real-world political experience in nonviolent struggle as a substitute for war. Many of these people have come together to create World Beyond War. (more…)

Reflections on Ferguson

November 26, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Randall Amster

Cover of Darkness, Rays of Light

by Randall Amster

The announcement arrived at the telegraphed moment, conveniently scheduled for prime time in most zones. A decision said to shed light on a matter of national importance is revealed only after dark, with the lede buried under a pile of prosecutorial dereliction. When the decisive words newfergseasonsare finally uttered, they echo with unintended irony as a broken system delivers its own self-indictment: “No True Bill.”

We’ve been here before, far too many times. Anguish fills the air, slowly replaced by tear gas and smoke. Rage smolders from the friction of perpetual despair, finally igniting fires that engulf a handful of structures. People are urged to lodge their complaints but keep their place, to express their views but only from the sidelines, to follow the rule of law but relegate their quest for justice. The convenient spectacle of “violence in the streets” obscures the perpetuation of “structural violence” everywhere. (more…)

Losing Another Decade

April 30, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Robert C. Koehler

Can We Turn the Tide While There’s Still Time?

by Robert C. Koehler

“We cannot afford to lose another decade.”

My God. There’s more darkness in this quote than the New York Times intended. I winced when I read these words of Ottmar Edenhofer, co-chairman of the committee that wrote the latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC report, which the Times quoted in a recent editorial headlined “Running Out of Time.”

Suddenly, ten years felt vital, alive with possibility. Edenhofer wasn’t referring to some abstract decade embedded in the history of the human race, or the history of the planet, but ten years gouged out of our own lifetimes and certainly out of our children’s lifetimes. We can’t afford to lose … ten years of breath and heartbeat. (more…)

Will We Ever Learn?

April 07, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

High-Stakes Testing Undermines the Essence of Teaching

by Robert C. Koehler

A mind is a terrible thing to test, especially a child’s mind — if, in so doing, you reduce it to a number and proceed to worship that number, ignoring the extraordinary complexity and near-infinite potential of what you have just tested.

“In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.” What if?

What if the American education bureaucracy understood these words of Ralph Waldo Emerson and honored the latent genius of every student? What if it funded teachers and schools with as much enthusiasm as it did corporate vendors? What if, in some official way, we loved kids and their potential more than the job slots we envisioned for them and judged them only in relationship to their realization of that potential? What if standardized testing, especially the obsessive, punitive form that has evolved in this country, went the way of the dunce cap and the stool in the corner? (more…)

World Social Justice Day

February 20, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Brian J. Trautman, Politics

A Reminder of Our Moral and Civic Responsibility

by Brian J. Trautman

In one of his most famous writings, “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said of injustice, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” In other words, the very existence of injustice has implications for us all. Thus, we each have a responsibility to actively challenge unjust power structures wherever they should surface. According to the United Nations, “the immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. have never been more relevant than they are today.” Structural injustices are pervasive in the United States, perhaps more than in any other Western industrialized nation. They include record levels of economic inequality and mass incarceration and attempts to slash entitlement programs, restrict women’s reproductive rights, and erode voting rights. Globally, injustice exists more frequently in other forms, such as poverty, hunger, worker exploitation, sex trafficking, resource privatization, and severe restrictions on women’s and gay rights. In every corner of the world people’s rights and dignity are under constant assault by different forces. (more…)