New Clear Vision

constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted

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…)

Inside Peace

February 26, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Current Events, Robert C. Koehler

Film Festival Highlights Struggles, Possibilities for Prisoners

by Robert C. Koehler

As media ownership converges and technology “unites” us, the concept of national identity grows ever easier to exploit — and therefore, I fear, increasingly, and dangerously, simplistic.

POEfilmThis is the war on terror. This is the war on crime. They march on, despite the magnitude of their failures. They march on . . . because America is tough. America is exceptional.

If our news and mass-entertainment outlets valued complexity and expansion of the national IQ, we wouldn’t go to war. We’d be building our lives on the far side of fear and the far side of cynicism, which is the only place where peace is possible.

It’s not like we aren’t doing that anyway, to a certain extent. But it only becomes news when visionary journalists — peace journalists –declare that it is, which is why, every year for the last seven years now, I have written about and celebrated Chicago’s Peace on Earth Film Festival, which showcases extraordinary films that step beyond the simplistic myth of good vs. evil, us vs. them.

This year the festival is scheduled for March 19-22 at the Chicago Cultural Center; as always, it’s free of charge. (more…)

Front Page Rule

February 20, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Kathy Kelly, Politics

Planting Seeds of Peace Through Protest

by Kathy Kelly

After a week here in FMC Lexington Satellite camp, a federal prison in Kentucky, I started catching up on national and international news via back issues of USA Today available in the prison library, and an “In Brief” item, on p. 2A stopdronesof the Jan. 30 weekend edition, caught my eye. It briefly described a protest in Washington, D.C., in which members of the antiwar group “Code Pink” interrupted a U.S. Senate Armed Services budget hearing chaired by Senator John McCain. The protesters approached a witness table where Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and George Schulz were seated. One of their signs called Henry Kissinger a war criminal. “McCain,” the article continued, “blurted out, ‘Get out of here, you low-life scum.'”

At mail call, a week ago, I received Richard Clarke’s novel, The Sting of the Drone, (May 2014, St. Martin’s Press), about characters involved in developing and launching drone attacks. I’m in prison for protesting drone warfare, so a kind friend ordered it for me. The author, a former “National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism,” worked for 30 years inside the U.S. government but seems to have greater respect than some within government for concerned people outside of it. He seems also to feel some respect for people outside our borders. (more…)

The Shift

February 10, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Kathy Kelly, Politics

Helping Each Other Do Easier Time

by Kathy Kelly

“We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person oriented society: when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” — Martin Luther King Jr., “Beyond Vietnam

kkellyHere in Lexington federal prison, Atwood Hall defies the normal Bureau of Prisons fixation on gleaming floors and spotless surfaces. Creaky, rusty, full of peeling paint, chipped tiles, and leaky plumbing, Atwood just won’t pass muster.

But of the four federal prisons I’ve lived in, this particular “unit” may be the most conducive to mental health. Generally, the Bureau of Prisons system pushes guards to value buffed floors more than the people buffing the floors, walking the floors. Here, the atmosphere seems less uptight, albeit tinged with resigned acceptance that everyone is more or less “stuck” in what one prisoner described as “the armpit of the system.” (more…)

The Art of Satyagraha

May 09, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Michael N. Nagler, Politics

Achieving ‘Victory’ With, Not Over, the Forces of Conflict

by David Swanson

Michael Nagler has just published The Nonviolence Handbook: A Guide for Practical Action, a quick book to read and a long one to digest, a book that’s rich in a way that people of a very different inclination bizarrely imagine Sun Tzu’s to be.  That is, rather than a collection of misguided platitudes, this book proposes what still remains a radically different way of thinking, a habit of living that is not in our air. In fact, Nagler’s first piece of advice is to avoid the airwaves, turn off the television, opt out of the relentless normalization of violence.

We don’t need the art of war applied to a peace movement. We need the art of satyagraha applied to the movement for a peaceful, just, free, and sustainable world.  This means we have to stop trying to defeat the Military Industrial Complex (how’s that been working out?) and start working to replace it and to convert the people who make up its parts to new behaviors that are better for them as well as for us.

It can seem out of place to shift from a discussion of the world’s largest military to personal interactions. Surely giving John Kerry a complete personality transplant would leave in place corrupt elections, war profiteering, complicit media outlets, and the assumption held by legions of career bureaucrats that war is the way to peace. (more…)

What Is It Good For?

April 18, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: David Swanson, Economy, Politics

War Brings Peace and Prosperity, New Book Claims

by David Swanson

Ian Morris has stuck his dog’s ear in his mouth, snapped a selfie, and proclaimed “Man Bites Dog.” His new book War: What Is It Good For? Conflict and Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots is intended to prove that war is good for children and other living things.  It actually proves that defenders of war are growing desperate for arguments.

Morris maintains that the only way to make peace is to make large societies, and the only way to make large societies is through war. Ultimately, he believes, the only way to protect peace is through a single global policeman.  Once you’ve made peace, he believes, prosperity follows.  And from that prosperity flows happiness.  Therefore, war creates happiness.  But the one thing you must never stop engaging in if you hope to have peace, prosperity, and joy is — you guessed it — war.

This thesis becomes an excuse for hundreds of pages of a sort of Monty Python history of the technologies of war, not to mention the evolution of chimpanzees, and various even less relevant excursions.  These pages are packed with bad history and guesswork, and I’m greatly tempted to get caught up in the details.  But none of it has much impact on the book’s conclusions.  All of Morris’s history, accurate and otherwise, is put to mythological use.  He’s telling a simplistic story about where safety and happiness originated, and advocating highly destructive misery-inducing behavior as a result. (more…)