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This issue: Light and darkness
The featured book in this issue of Other Voices
is Diana Johnstone’s memoir Circle in the Darkness.
The title is inspired by Albert Einstein’s observation that “as our
circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness
As Einstein, and Johnstone, remind us, the more we learn, the more we
realize how little we know. Each question we answer opens the door to
more questions, because there are always more questions than answers. We
are called upon to attempt to answer at least a few of the questions
that seem important to us, but we do well to keep in mind that our
answers are tentative and incomplete, always subject to revision in the
light of further investigation. It can be difficult to remain critical,
and self-critical, but self-righteousness and absolute certainty, no
matter how emotionally satisfying they may be, only do harm, to
ourselves, and to those we interact with.
This issue of Other Voices
offers some fragments of knowledge and insight, and it also raises questions.
David Rovics observes that, in his view, people on the left and on the
right have a lot in common, such as opposition to the elites that are
destroying the lives of so many around the world. Why, he asks, do they
respond to the same problems in such different ways? Why do they direct
so much of their anger against each other, rather than against those who
Cedric Johnson raises a similar concern: blackwashing, that is, the
corporate embrace of anti-racist rhetoric, which works to present those
who produce and benefit from gross inequalities of wealth and power as
allies. If we fall for this, says Johnson, we will inevitably be
fighting each other for crumbs, while the rich and powerful get richer
and more powerful.
Amory B. Lovins offers a fact-filled critique of the idea that ‘clean’
nuclear power can be a climate “solution.” He shows that nuclear power
is much less efficient than solar and wind power, and that investing in
it inevitably comes at the expense of more investment in better
solutions. In any case, the best solution, by far, as he points out, is
using less energy, not producing more. He also makes the important point
that new nuclear plants would not come into service until the late
2030s – far too late to make the changes that we have to make now.
In The Day the World Ended, Caitlin Johnstone asks us to think about the unthinkable: nuclear war.
In the aftermath, she writes, there will be “No one left to recognize
the mistake, to grow as a result of that recognition, and to rise above
it. No one left to realize how staggeringly insane it was to flirt with
the end of the world for the sake of power, how arrogant it was to think
that we could remain in perfect control of all those weapons for
decades on end without something going wrong amid our reckless games of
So do it now: “Pursue a life of excellence and live each moment like it
could be your last, because of course it could. And above all make sure
you do everything in your power to raise awareness and oppose the
insanity of the situation we now find ourselves in.”
And on that cheerful note, Happy Thanksgiving!
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This Week on Connexions.org
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The Day the World Ended
The day the world ended began like any other day. People woke up, had
their coffee, checked their social media, kissed their loved ones, went
to work. It simply did not feature in anyone’s mind that this could be
the day they and their loved ones die in a nuclear holocaust.
Then it happened. A nuclear weapon was deployed by one side, setting
off a chain reaction that had been set in place ready to be triggered
long ago, from which there was no coming back.
And the funny thing is, it was an accident. Just a stupid, innocent mistake.
One of the thousands of people responsible for the operation of those
horrific weapons got a little careless with their part in the day-to-day
management of the imperfect technology used in an international nuclear
standoff that had become increasingly tense and confusing amid rapidly
rising cold war chaos. That’s all it took. Nothing grand or dramatic.
Just a bad decision, made at the wrong time.
One minute it seemed fine. The next minute it was the end. The end of everything.
Keywords: Militarism - Nuclear Weapons
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The Far Left and the Far Right Actually Have a Lot in Common
It is the strangest thing, says David Rovics, to know that most of the
regular people attracted to both the far left and the far right very
clearly appear to be motivated by a desire to stand up to an elite that
is actively destroying the lives of so many people around the world, but
they have such radically differing ideas of each other’s motivations,
and of the nature of the elite they oppose.
Keywords: The Left
- The Right
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"Low-carbon" Misses the Point: Arguments Favoring Nuclear Power as a Climate "Solution" are Fundamentally Misframed
The view that climate protection requires expanding nuclear power has a
basic flaw in its prevailing framing, says Amory B. Lovins. it rarely
if ever relates climate-effectiveness to cost or to speed -- even though
stopping climate change requires scaling the fastest and cheapest
solutions. Not only are wind and solar significantly more efficient than
nuclear, but the time required to deploy them is much less than for new
nuclear reactors, which wouldn’t even come online until the late 2030s:
too late to prevent climate catastrophe.
Keywords: Nuclear Power - Renewable Energy
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Don't Let Blackwashing Save the Investor Class
Corporations have embraced antiracist rhetoric, says Cedric Johnson,
but they will not eradicate the economic insecurity and inequality the
investor class requires — and wants the police to uphold.
Keywords: Anti-Racism - Corporations
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Through Pluripolarity to Socialism: A Manifesto
International Manifesto Group September 2021
The International Manifesto Group, as its website explains, began
discussing the fast-changing political and geopolitical economy of the
world order and its national and regional components at the beginning of
the pandemic. “We are from around the world – North and South America,
Europe and Africa, West Asia, Russia, China, East, South East and South
Asia – and aim to be even more inclusive. We represent a diversity of
currents of socialist thought. We meet fortnightly and hold zoom events
on major issues. These are published on this website. The core of our
analysis is our Manifesto, ‘Through Pluripolarity to Socialism’, and we
believe engagement with its themes to develop them further is important
for further left advance.” This is their manifesto, published in
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A Remarkable Silence: Media Blackout After Key Witness Against Assange Admits Lying
A major witness in the US case against Julian Assange has admitted
fabricating key accusations in the indictment against the Wikileaks
founder. But all of this is seemingly of no interest to the ‘mainstream’
Legal Systems as Instruments of Oppression - Whistleblowers
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Topic of the Week
Strategies for Social Change
The need for fundamental change in every part of the world has never
been greater. Yet all too often our actions are confined to clicking and
sharing, and perhaps attending protests where we listen to speeches
telling us what we already know and believe. What strategies can we use
to work together effectively to actually bring about fundamental change
before it’s too late?
The Strategies for Social Change page
in the Connexions Subject Index is a gateway leading you to many
different viewpoints and resources about thinking and acting
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Website of the Week
Corporate Mapping Project
The Corporate Mapping Project works to shine a light on the fossil fuel
industry by investigating the ways corporate power is organized and
exercised. The project focuses on “mapping” how power and influence play
out in the oil, gas and coal industries of BC, Alberta and
Saskatchewan. They are also working to map the wider connections that
link Western Canada’s fossil fuel sector to other sectors of the economy
(both national and global) and to other parts of society (governments
and other public institutions, think tanks and lobby groups, etc).
Find them here
Keywords: Corporate Power - Fossil Fuels
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Book of the Week
Circle in the Darkness: Memoirs of a World Watcher
By Diana Johnstone
Circle in the Darkness recounts veteran journalist Diana Johnstone’s
lifelong effort to understand what is going on in the world, seeking the
truth about our troubled times beyond the veils of government
propaganda and media deception. For Johnstone, the political is
personal. From her experience of Cold War hostilities as a student in
Yugoslavia, in the movement against the U.S. war against Vietnam, in May
’68, in professional and alternative journalism, in the historic peace
movement of the 1980s that led to the reunification of Germany, in the
transformation of the German Greens from peace to war party and the
European Union’s sacrifice of democracy to “globalization”, her critical
viewpoint dissects events and identifies trends.
She recounts in detail how the Western left betrayed its historical
principles of social justice and peace and let itself be lured into
approval of aggressive U.S.-NATO wars on the fallacious grounds of
“human rights”. Subjects range from caustic analysis of the pretentious
confusion of French philosophers to the stories of many courageous
individuals whose struggle for peace and justice ended in deep personal
tragedy, with a great deal in between.
Circle in the Darkness is a lucid, uncompromising tour through half a
century of contemporary history intended especially for those who may
aspire against all obstacles to change its course for the better.
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Film of the Week
On the Side of the Road
Former West Bank settler Lia Tarachansky looks at Israelis' collective
amnesia of the fateful events of 1948 when the state of Israel was born
and most of the Palestinians became refugees.
She follows the transformation of Israeli veterans trying uncover their
denial of the war that changed the region forever.
Tarachansky then turns the camera on herself and travels back to her
settlement where that historical erasure gave birth to a new generation,
blind and isolated from its surroundings. Attempting to shed a light on
the country's biggest taboo, she is met with outrage and violence.
Find out more
Keywords: Israeli Settlements - Nakba
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From the Grassroots: The Company of Young Canadians, Local Activism, and Sustainable Development in Canada, 1965-1975
Kevin Brushett looks at the role of the Company of Young Canadians in
developing grassroots initiatives in communities across Canada.
Keywords: Community Organizing - Grassroots Activism
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The obliteration of memories
Over 16,000 housing units were damaged during the recent Israeli
attacks on Gaza. What that number doesn't capture however is what else
was lost in those places -- the irreplaceable photos, keepsakes, and
possessions and that made each a home.
Keywords: Gaza - Memory
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From the Archives
The "Red Light" of Yugoslav Partisan Photography
The Partisan movement in occupied Yugoslavia, under the leadership of
the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, grew into the largest popular
uprising against fascism between 1941 and 1945. The People's liberation
struggle of the Yugoslav partisans was led on three fronts – against the
German and Italian occupation, the domestic traitors and collaborators
Ustase and Chetniks, but also for a complete change in the
socio-economic relations by promoting economic democratization, social
revolution and complete emancipation of a society which was largely
half-feudal and illiterate. The Belgrade office of
Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, in collaboration with its Zagreb association
“Kolektor – Centre for Visual Arts” and the author of the book, Davor
Konjikušić, published a book which provides a special and unique view of
the movement through photographs, most of which have been published for
the first time in the book.
Keywords: Photographers - Yugoslavia
Seeds of Fire
October 14, 1943
As the result of an uprising at the Sobibor extermination camp in
Poland, about 300 Jewish prisoners escape, though only about 50 survive
until the end of the war. Following the escape, the remaining inmates
are killed and the camp is closed by the Germans.
October 15, 1966
The Black Panthers
The Black Panthers are formed in Oakland. The Panthers are a militant
left-wing group which sets out to fight police brutality against blacks.
The Black Panther Party goes on to actively involve itself with many
issues important to blacks in the United States. They organize free
breakfast programs for children, free medical clinics, transportation to
prisons for family members of inmates, and classes on politics and
economics. Law enforcement agencies see the Panthers as a threat because
of their militancy and black nationalism and target the Panthers with a
variety of repressive tactics. Some Black Panthers die at the hands of
police, others are imprisoned. By the late 1970s the Black Panther Party
ceases to function.
October 16, 1859
John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry begins. Brown and his group, all
deeply committed to the anti-slavery cause, have planned the raid in the
hope of obtaining guns, freeing slaves, and triggering an armed revolt
against slavery. By October 18, the raid has failed; some of Brown’s men
are dead, and Brown and six other raiders are subsequently executed.
The events inspire the song “John Brown’s Body”, frequently sung by
Union soldiers as they march into battle in the Civil War which breaks
out less than two years later. The song proclaims: “John Brown’s body
lies a-mouldering in the grave, His soul is marching on.”
October 17, 1961
Massacre in Paris
Paris police massacre people taking part in a demonstration in favour
of Algerian independence. The number of dead is never accurately
tallied, but is believed to exceed 200. Many demonstrators are beaten
unconscious and then thrown into the River Seine. Others are gunned down
in the courtyard of police headquarters after being arrested and
brought there on police buses.
October 18, 1803
Haitian forces defeat the French army at Vertières in the last major
battle of the Haitian war of independence. The battle ends French
attempts to put down the Haitian Revolution and re-institute slavery.
France subsequently turns to economic warfare to punish the Haitians for
daring to throw off their chains. Haiti is forced to pay ‘reparations’
to French slave-owners and bondholders for the loss of their ‘property’
(i.e. slaves and land); the reparations continue until 1947 and plunge
Haiti into extreme poverty.
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This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.
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