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2011: Year of Resistance

By davidswanson - Posted on 22 December 2010

By David Swanson

You say protests are outmoded because the corporate media ignores them (unless they're corporate sponsored). I say the corporate media is outmoded because it ignores protests.

The coming year is going to see intense resistance to the plutopentagonocracy from volunteer representatives of that majority of Americans that opposes its agenda. We are not going to ask for the media cartel's approval or permission. We are going to continue developing our own communications systems, which are already working well.

If we abandon the work of protest and resistance, those acts will soon be criminalized. If we abandon the work of self-communication we will each come to believe that the rest of us support that criminalization. There is another way.

William T. Hathaway's new book "Radical Peace: People Refusing War," tells true stories of people helping U.S. soldiers to desert and hide, chasing military recruiters out of schools, educating young people as counter-recruitment, caring for veterans, vandalizing recruiting stations, and burning unguarded tanks and airplanes. Many people will like some of these stories and not others. Personally I thought the Afterword was dumb enough to almost ruin an otherwise remarkable and wonderful book. The point is that these are stories that it is up to us to tell each other.

As I travel the country on a book tour I hear in about equal parts from people doing extraordinary things that nobody knows about and from people complaining that nobody is doing anything. We do not have an activism shortage so much as a communications shortage. People are engaged in civil resistance to the government, the banks, and the war machine in great numbers and with stunning creativity.

Since top aggressive war and torture lawyer Jay Bybee became a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which meets up and down the West Coast, he has sat in court few if any times without my friend Susan Harman in the room to protest him. She has become friends with the other judges who are increasingly aware that something must be done.

Were you aware of this? Did you know that students were being arrested for demanding living wages for university employees? Did you know veterans were being arrested at the White House for asking for peace? Did you know that foreclosure victims and journalists alike, when testifying in congressional hearings, were beginning to reprimand Congress? Did you know neighborhoods were preventing evictions? Did you know school districts were preventing the military testing of students? Did you know that most Americans in the corporate media's own polls favor policies depicted by that media as crazy and unpopular, things like peace, taxation of billionaires, green energy, public education and healthcare, and cuts to the military budget?

By understanding how many of us there are and how many are actively engaged, it can become easier to get involved or to remain involved, and to discover approaches that work for you -- and work for the rest of us. Here's a hint: taking a gun to a school board meeting doesn't fix anything. Shutting Congress down by blocking off its buildings with a human wall could. Our enemies are violence and silence. In 2006, according to then president George W. Bush's new book, the Republican minority leader of the Senate Mitch McConnell asked him to pull troops out of Iraq. We were that close, and nobody told us. They never tell us. They have yet to announce our ongoing success in preventing larger wars and in preventing the bombing of Iran. They never will. We have to make our own announcements.

But 2006 was the last moment in which Democratic-Party loyalists fully supported peace. Our task, therefore, is to develop activism and communication independent of political parties -- just as the other side does with its corporate front groups, tea parties, and Fox News; they support Republicans only when Republicans support fascism. One effort to build a counter-force to the Tea Party is called the Job Party:

But we need an alternative not only to Fox News but also to the rest of the corporate media. This is the easiest and most important project anyone can work on. The dream of persuading the labor movement (which can't even strongly oppose corporate trade aggreements when the president is a Democrat) to invest in a new television network should be abandoned. If the George Soros's of the world haven't figured out that there's a communications problem, they never will. But we already have what we need; we just need to make it bigger, and we can do so. We should invest in, Thom Hartmann, Free Speech TV, Link TV, GRIT TV, Democracy Now, Pacifica Radio, community radio stations, blogs and websites. We should make use of foreign outlets that, for their own reasons, are willing to provide decent coverage of US politics: Al Jazeera, ATN, RT-America, etc. Unsubscribe from the New York Times, stop contributing to any purchasing of ads in it, stop reading it, and read the Guardian online instead. Get connected online, and people will send you the occasional good article or video that all lousy outlets produce. Share that one further, but promote a good website that's hosting it, not the corporate source.

Above all, we must become the media we wish to see in the world. If you take action for peace or justice and do not make that news available online, you have largely failed. If you cannot make it available online, you can Email it to me at david at davidswanson dot org and I will post it at

It's all well and good to stand up in book events and ask everyone to stop paying their taxes, as happens at nearly every event I speak at. But unless you communicate that people are doing that and why, the impact will not be felt. You can withhold the 50% of your taxes that goes to war, but the government will simply defund schools and housing. We have to set aside fears of egotism, fears of spelling things wrong (that never stops the tea party), or whatever other factors cause people to do the work we all need done and then hide it away.

Are you angry enough to put something hard and metal in your hand and go after your congress member? Make it a video camera. Stalk them with it. Sit in their office and refuse to leave until they stop funding Wall Street and wars. Make a movie of what happens and POST IT ONLINE. There is probably enough video footage currently aging in people cameras to save our republic, giving new meaning to the term camera obscura.

On January 11, Witness Against Torture will begin its protests of the policies symbolized by Guantanamo, which turns 10 that day. Come to Washington, D.C., or join in wherever you are.

On January 15, Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, the peace movement will mark 20 years of U.S. war on Iraq. Come to Washington, D.C., or join in wherever you are.

January 17 is both the official Martin Luther King Day and the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower's speech warning of the military industrial complex. Events are being planned.

January 21 marks one year since the Supreme Court's "Citizens United" ruling handing corporations the power to spend unlimited funds on elections. Events are being planned.

To make this a year of growing resistance, we'll need to start it right. Every advance, from the ending of slavery to the establishment of women's rights, has looked absolutely hopeless until shortly before it was achieved. In fact, it has looked to most people INCOMPREHENSIBLE until shortly before it was achieved. While we no longer talk of good or bad slavery and good or bad rape, we still talk about good or bad wars. That will continue until we resist it sufficiently. There's no telling whether the amount of resistance still needed is large or small, but that it is both our moral responsibility and much more enjoyable than sitting home and grumbling is beyond dispute.


David Swanson is the author of "War Is A Lie,"

Everything you write on this subject is good. I especially like the comment "Come to DC or join in wherever you are." I also acknowledge we must not spend much time on the corporate media and continue to build an effective alternative. The rich progressives need to do more, I am so tired of being broke and getting 100 copies instead of 500 because of money problems. Protests should be protests and not walking around on a Saturday, protest must be multi-level, very much like what you did on January 16th in DC. How we spend our money must be looked at, the time and money to go to DC must be balanced against other options. Is it worth spending thousands of dollars per person to go to DC to protest? Why? From time to time I would like to see CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox, CNN, and maybe large churches be the target of protests. Seems to me that a dozen or so people sitting in the lobby of CNN or a group standing in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral would be more effective than in front of a congressperson's office. The religious leaders and the corporate press have been terrible for the advancement of peace. Seems we should let them know in public that we are disappointed with their lack of action or in the case of the corporate media, lies by omission. I think all of us need to sit alone for a time and try to think of new ideas and bring them to a gathering and start fresh. I have also said that the movement to stop wars and occupations must be separate from any political party. We will continue to be in the streets here in Portland, and you know how much we honor all who stand for non-violence. Thanks David!

Joe Walsh-Lone Vet
Individuals for Justice
Portland, Oregon

was just on KBOO for an hour

I especially liked: "We do not have an activism shortage so much as a communications shortage."

How true! The corporate media makes us feel isolated, like we're a tiny minority, and everyone else is cheering on the oligarchy.

It's an illusion. Many people are outraged at the criminal element that has taken over our government over the last decade. Laws simply aren't enforced when the criminal is a powerful corporation or a well-connected Republican.

We need to communicate to share stories of victories and new outrages by the corporate power structure. A good source of progressive news is:

BTW, starting a new progressive political party is a wasteful duplication of effort because we already have one: The Green Party. Over the last 10 years, they've done the hard work of getting on the ballot and recognized as a political party in most states.

The Green Party doesn't accept ANY corporate money, and backs all the right issues, such as universal single-payer health care, and pulling out of international corporate trade agreements, like NAFTA.

David, I have sent your book to all of the people in my family who can read. One of them spent a year or so in Iraq as a Marine. My sister still thinks Saddam Hussein is the problem. I guess no one has told her he is dead.

My goal is to get your book out to people so they can at least think of the possibility of ending war. It is so unnecessary and such a crime.

Watch Peace News, Thursdays @ 7:30 PM EDT on the web @ [Watch Live MNN ch. 2] or, in Manhattan on Time Warner channel 56 or RCN ch. 83. Tomorrow night 12/23: Alicia Godsberg of Peace Action New York State on the Sorrows of the New START.

Also, please send media to our vimeo channel -- also called, Peace News.

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