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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 surrounding it.”

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 rule?

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 nuclear chicken.”

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!

Ulli Diemer

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This Week on Connexions.org

mushroom cloud

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.

Read more

Keywords: Militarism - Nuclear Weapons

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.

Read more

Keywords: The Left - The Right

nuclear power plant

"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.

Read more

Keywords: Nuclear Power - Renewable Energy

dead end sign

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.

Read more

Keywords: Anti-RacismCorporations

Red flag of the International Manifesto Group

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 September 2021.

Read more

Keywords:  Socialism - Manifestos

Assange and Sigi

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’ media.

Read more

Legal Systems as Instruments of Oppression - Whistleblowers 

cartoon men trying to march through a brick wall

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 strategically.

Corporate Mapping logo

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

Book cover for Circle in the Darkness by Diana Johnstone

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.

Read more

Keywords: Intervention - Journalism

Movie poster for On the Side of the Road

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

picture of a country road


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.

Read more

Keywords: Community Organizing - Grassroots Activism


People's History

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.

Read more

Keywords: Gaza - Memory

The Partisan movement in occupied Yugoslavia

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.

Read more

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

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 Revolution

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.

Quote of the week: Mixing one's wines may be a mistake, but old and new wisdom mix admirably. Bertolt Brecht

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This issue was edited by Ulli Diemer.

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