By David Swanson, World BEYOND War, July 7, 2023
What most excites me about Julian Aguon’s book No Country for Eight-Spot Butterflies is that (1) there is very little indication in the cover, the blurbs, the preface, the table of contents, etc., that it opposes war, militarism, or empire, (2) but it does, and (3) people are reading it. I’m aware that only small numbers of people read any books, but this is a short little book, and it’s clearly aimed at people who care about art, activism, and the environment. Yet it makes central the need to oppose the agenda of the United States military, exactly as if that were the most normal thing in the world — a world (or at least a country) in which, truth be told, most environmental organizations, publishing companies, multi-issue activist coalitions, artists, and readers generally run screaming from that idea, diving headfirst under a blanket of American flags, shooting patriotic fireworks out their ass as they go.
What excites me second-most about this book is that it’s a darn good book, a book that shows itself to be the product of a writer, an activist, a lawyer, and a poet. A writer:
“As I write this, the US Department of Defense is ramping up the militarization of my homeland — part of its $8 billion scheme to relocate 5,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam. . . . The construction of these firing ranges will entail the destruction of more than 1,000 acres of native limestone forest. . . . The largest of the five ranges, a 59-acre multipurpose machine-gun range, will be built a mere 100 feet from the last remaining reproductive häyon lågu tree in Guam. . . . If only superpowers were concerned with the stuff of lowercase earth.”
“The message we constantly get is some variant of this: Guam’s broken. Probably unfixable. The Guam Memorial Hospital is at capacity. All the beds are taken. Code Red. The Guam Department of Education is in trouble and may lose millions more in federal funding. Any minute now the bottom will fall out. Take the popular local expression OOG, Only on Guam. We all know what this means . . . . I cannot think of anything more terrifying than children who do not believe the world can be changed.”
“Rice and Davis (along with a third decision allowing non-native people to vote to repeal land laws in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands)laid dangerous doctrinal groundwork. It will now be even harder for colonized peoples to exercise any measure of self-determination (at least where an act of voting is involved) because the mere act of designating who constitutes the colonized class could collapse, in the court’s eyes, into an act of racial categorization.”
“We have no need
for scientists to
tell us things
The inundated need no instruction in inundation.
We have eyes
of our own
we are busy
off our grandfathers’
tide. . . . “