Hold It All

Philosophy/Poetics/Politics

Category: The War-making State

Where Antiwar Efforts Begin and End by Andrew Wimmer

I received the following reflection from my friend Andrew this morning…

Here is Boeing’s latest press release about fighter jet training capabilities coming to St. Louis.  And Lacy Clay’s (MO 1-D) elation:

“I’m proud that Boeing has trust in the highly skilled workforce in my district, and I look forward to the economic opportunity these jobs will bring for our community and the Missouri supply chain,” added U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, who represents Missouri’s first district that includes Boeing’s St. Louis facility. Read the rest of this entry »

The Good News of Resistance, 4.22.2017

1.

A while back, I was sitting outside at RISE with a young Irish-Jewish American friend who asked me, when I showed her a particular chapter in Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine, “Who is Abbie Hoffman?”  It was a pleasure to send her such excerpts from his autobiography:

“Later, when I, as well as others, marched on Washington or Chicago, we carried with us the lessons that the local power structures had fought us tooth and nail—that racism was ingrained in the system. We also realized that the lessons came in spite of our formal education. (My critique of democracy begins and ends with this point. Kids must be educated to disrespect authority or else democracy is a farce.)”

“There are lots of secret rules by which power maintains itself. Only when you challenge it, force the crisis, do you discover the true nature of society. And only at the time it chooses to teach you. Occasionally you can use your intellect to guess at the plan, but in general the secrets of power are taught in darkened police cells, back alleys, and on the street. I learned them there.”

“By 1970, my ‘plan’ to stop the war was to disrupt life on the home front. I did not see going to jail as the best use of my time.”

2.

Clara  Bingham has done a riveting oral history of many of Abbie Hoffman’s peers  from the Sixties, focusing in particular on the year 1969-1970 in Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year  America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul.  Here’s her thesis: “Whether rebelling against the draft, the atrocities of the war, police and FBI repression, the conformity of the 1950s, the sexist, racist establishment, or all of the above, the movement in the final years of the sixties threatened the entire power structure of American society and transformed the country.”  Bingham’s book will remind baby boomers and instruct their grandchildren as to how people’s experiences then may still speak to the wars being waged in our name today. Read the rest of this entry »

Share the Wealth with Colin McLaughlin: The Life of Eugene Debs

Eugene V. Debs was a free speech advocate, a presidential candidate, a trade unionist, and a man who dedicated his life to economic justice for the working class and antiwar efforts surrounding World War One, “The War To End All Wars.” (This nation entered that conflict 100 years ago this month.) We will discuss how these causes have been furthered since the time of Debs, and how some of the issues have stayed the same, or worsened. We can also ask ourselves if anyone in our current political arena emulates the life of Eugene Debs.

Colin McLaughlin has been working on a research project/theatrical production about Eugene Debs presidential run from prison, after he was convicted for opposing the first world war (and encouraging draft dodgers). Come discuss the saga of Eugene Debs, the play being written about him and his plight for social justice, the deep relevance of what he fought for, and how it relates to our current social/political landscape.

Join us
Sunday 23 April
Potluck begins at 6:00 p.m.
Colin begins sharing at 6:45
At the home of Andrew Wimmer
5712 Arendes Dr.
South City Saint Louis
63116

Ninety Years Alive on Earth

On Thich Nhat Hanh, At Home in the World: Stories and Essential Teachings from a Monk’s Life.  Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 2016.

Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is a survivor.  Narrowly missing death in South Vietnam  on more than one occasion during the 1960s, he had many students killed in the bloodshed during the American War. He and other Tiep Hien Buddhists could not return to their country for fear of persecution, or worse. Uprooted, he ended up living in France,  where he and friends slowly began to rebuild their  lives.

At Home in the World, published in 2016, offers snapshots of nine full decades of Thich Nhat Hanh’s life.  It bears keeping in mind that his country  was living under a French colonial occupation regime, followed by U.S. intervention and invasion.  He and his friends knew what it was like to live under the U.S. bombs.

Nhat Hanh admits that in his youth he was a “revolutionary monk.”  He and his brothers  wanted to rejuvenate Vietnamese Buddhism, and they had to reckon with a conservative religious  establishment. Their motivation was simple: “Taking action against injustice is not enough. We believed action must embody mindfulness. If there is no awareness, action will only cause more harm. Our group believed it must be possible to combine meditation and action to create mindful action.” [41] Read the rest of this entry »

The Good News of MLK, 4.4.2017

Fifty years ago today at NYC’s Riverside Church, Martin Luther King delivered a powerful, prophetic indictment of U.S. war-making in Vietnam: “They ask if our own nation wasn’t using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

 

Martin Luther King and Thich Nhat Hanh

The Good  News of Public Libraries, 3.16.2017

This afternoon I walked eight blocks north to the Central West End’s Schlafly Library where I picked up three books by Bernard  B. Fall, whom Noam Chomsky once described as “the most respected analyst and commentator on the Vietnam War”—Last Reflections on a War, Street without Joy, and Hell in a Very Small Place: The Siege of Dien Bien Phu. The new trainee at the circulation desk said, “All these are very old books, look at the condition they’re in!”

Bella Levenshteyn Engages with Her Critics/1

“Why are you people here?
Why are you making this fuss?”

“Sir, people are suffering, that’s why.”

“But people are suffering right here, too
I’ve got buddies who were sprayed
Why don’t you think of them or lobby for them?”

“Sir, if you know of any specific actions
we can involved in to care for our veterans harmed by Agent Orange”—-
Bella has the most poignant conviction pervading her face—-
“Let me know and we’ll join you”

The septuagenarian stood silent
Then Bella continued Read the rest of this entry »

American Fangs

Dear Carla

Twice I read Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram
Because of your enthusiastic recommendation

I was captivated
I was crestfallen

Thuy’s diary revealed her commitment
Comparable to that of Lan

The ardent Buddhist social worker whom I had read before
And assigned in my classes

But Thuy was overtly political
An unabashed Communist

Lan was committed to the Noble Eightfold Path
Which included Right Speech Read the rest of this entry »

She Should Have Won the National Book Award

But then I think
What do these awards mean
They gotta serve somebody

I’ve checked the libraries
It’s her only book
On this—or any— subject

Why should the luminaries and guardians honor her
Which is to say honor our victims
Because that’s what she did Read the rest of this entry »

We Expect the Germans

To know their own history
To tell the truth about their war

To refuse rationalizations and excuses
To act responsibility here and now

However many decades
Ago that was Read the rest of this entry »