From the August 2005 Idaho Observer:
What Does it Take to Bring About More Peace in the World?
XIII Mut zur Ethik Conference, Sept. 2-4, Feldkirch, Austria
For the third year in a row, IO editor Don Harkins has been asked to speak at the Mut zur Ethik conference in Feldkirch, Austria. This year’s conference theme (see above) poses a question that seems to be on everyone’s mind in our modern era of global conflict, economic uncertainty and looming environmental catastrophe. The problem is that there are few viable answers to the question, largely because of the tendency of human societies to be fooled by their leaders into ending perfectly good peaces on false pretenses. And therein lies a clue as to how we can bring about more peace in our lifetimes. Inspired by "The Yes Men"—a psuedodocumentary that opens up new horizons on the frontiers of public speaking—Harkins and his co-presenter this year and seasoned broadcast journalist Kevin Tighe, evolved what they believe is the only answer to the question. In true Yes Men fashion, the punchline of this presentation is outrageous—and absolutely true.
This year’s conference speakers will be divided into four panels: I. Foundations for Peace; II. Education for Peace; III. Which Wars Threaten Us? and; IV. What Can We Do to Bring About More Peace in the World?
After reading a draft of the presentation Tighe and Harkins will deliver at the conference this year (see below), feel free to make a determination as to which of the four panels is most appropriate for their talk. Also keep in mind that Tighe and Harkins are interested in accepting invitations to deliver this extremely important message to audiences throughout the several states this coming fall and winter.
Enjoy and realize that, as crazy as it sounds, there is no other solution and failure to do nothing will ensure that the era of war, technotyrannical oppression and injustice will come to an end the day each and every one of us stop supporting it—and not one day sooner.
Our Modern World: It’s Problems and Why All Efforts to Correct Them, Except One, Will Inevitably Fail
Don: Why is Peace so hard to achieve? Why have all efforts throughout human history to change the dominant paradigm that precipitates war and aggression traditionally and inevitably fail?
It is because we, the common people, actively and exuberantly participate in the system, perpetuating through our own daily activities this dynamic cycle of aggression, death and exploitation. Everyone at every level of society must look inside themselves and ask what they can do, peacefully, to alter or disrupt the current system. To quote Eldridge Clever, "If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem."
Fredrich Nietzsche said in 1886 that, "Nihilism stands at the door." By 2005, nihilism has crossed the threshold and is standing in the foyer.
Never has the need for the masses to save themselves from a horrific future, been so critical to all life on Earth. The future of our children, our species and all plants and animals is at stake. The old order is collapsing and the authors of the emerging order are prescribing the consolidation of nations and economies and major corrections in populations of people as they progress toward their vision of a brave new, technotyrannical world.
Kevin: Recognizing the changes that are making our world unlivable for the majority of Earth’s inhabitants is to understand that we must find nonviolent ways to alter the course we are now on.
Great examples abound. As an American, I look to the achievements of those like Dr. Martin Luther King who, almost 50 years ago, made the city of Birmingham, Alabama, stop making Blacks ride in the rear of the city buses by organizing a successful boycott of the buses. For months blacks and some whites walked, rode bicycles and car pooled, but never rode the buses. This caused economic hardship that resulted in the city changing the laws. Last year Father McKevitt talked about their success in Dublin of mass phoning of newspapers that carried advertisements from corporations and organizations they disagreed with. Economic pressure en masse works. Mahatma Ghandi was able to coordinate a massive movement of nonviolent civil disobedience among his people to end British rule of India. From every corner of the globe and from every chapter in world history we can find examples of how peaceful people have initiated positive changes.
Selfless peace demonstrators like American women Rachel Corrie and Marla Ruzicka gave their lives trying to help civilians in Iraq and Palestine. Marla Ruzicka spent her last years trying to count and name the Iraqi civilians killed in the U.S. invasion and occupation. Her counts were the only real tabulation of the more than 100,000 killed since 2002 as the U.S. coalition forces make no counts, or drastically underestimate the numbers.
Rachel Corrie died as she tried to stop an Israeli bull dozer from demolishing the home of a Palestinian doctor. With megaphone in hand she was run over and crushed to death. Deaths like this are shining examples of extreme selflessness in an attempt to help innocents in war zones.
History is punctuated with examples of passionate individuals who have given their lives to good causes. But, neither Don nor myself or anyone else in this room plan to martyr themselves for a cause. There has to be something else short of giving our lives that we can do to help peace happen.
Don: There is little doubt in the minds of those attending this conference that human societies are on a collision course with each other and the natural world. Following is a short review of some of the most pressing problems, the efforts of passionate and dedicated people all over the world to correct them and why they are doomed to fail. Once we understand the true cause of our problems we can clearly see there is only one mechanism for positive change available to good people.
Kevin: Examples like Rachel and Marla also remind us that the problems they tried to solve while among the living have not gone away with their deaths. Did they die for nothing? The question to ourselves then becomes: Do we do something proactive or just do nothing and hope things get better?
Don: Some of the principle problems facing the world community are:
Environmental pollution: Our use of petroleum products, agricultural/industrial chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs is poisoning the land, the air, the sea, human bodies, the bodies of animals and the tissues of plants, making the world increasingly unlivable.
Kevin: Multinational Corporations and free trade: Modern, multinational corporations exist for only two purposes—to minimize the personal liability of corporate employees and officers and maximize profit. These heartless, soulless government-blessed legal fictions both create and supply marketplace demands with no regard for environmental degradation or human misery. International trade agreements destroy the free-market, create restrictions on the flow of goods and services—artificially influencing supply and demand. Government meddling in the marketplace benefits large corporations at the expense of small businesses and working people, leading the masses into dependence on government programs for subsistence—which leads to higher taxes—which leads to bigger governments and deeper cycles of poverty among the masses inevitably ending in social and/or military conflict. Under the guise of international "free trade" agreements, corporations are allowed to violate the labor laws and environmental regulations of host nations without fear of being punished. The World Trade Organization and other recently constructed organizations preserve and enhance the corporations’ ability to exploit resources, markets and people.
Don: Militarism: The constant manipulation of money supplies, credit, markets, access to resources and its ever-unsettling effect on diplomatic relations among the nations, fuels the continued growth of the military/industrial complex at the expense of people, their environments and peaceful relations with one another.
Government education: Government-funded curriculums condition children to become compliant, malleable instruments of the state who need to be governed instead of educating them to be strong, free-thinking, self-governing citizens of their communities.
Injustice: Courts are created by governments to protect government interests, which are not necessarily the same as those held by individuals or societies of people. Whether criminal or civil, government courts decide cases to further government interests. Truth and justice are frequently not factored into a government courts’ litigation equation.
Mass media: The entertainment industry, which includes mainstream print and broadcast news, perpetuates the masses’ preoccupation with nonsense so they will remain mired in the pettiest aspects of our human natures. Such people are easily controlled by their appetites and their fears. Thus distracted, they have no time to follow world events or consider their own fates.
Vice: The organized international trafficking in drugs, stolen goods and humans for sex and slavery is enabled at the highest levels of public policy making by the world’s most influential individuals and institutions.
Kevin: International banking: The global economy is a function of an international banking system comprised of the world’s wealthiest and most influential families and their corporate minions. This cabal has successfully fooled the masses into trading valuable resources for intrinsically worthless paper notes that have whatever value the international bankers assign them. Organizations like the International Monetary Fund loan developing nations funds they can never repay, then foreclose on the national infrastructure and resources that were pledged as collateral for the loans, a very successful form of neo-colonialism.
We live in an ever-increasingly polluted word of chronically ill people perpetually at war with one another because that is where the money—and the power—is. Through the manipulation of money supplies, supplies of commodities and credit and interest rates, the international bankers are able to control the rise and fall of nations and the relative health, wealth or impoverishment of their people.
Don: Pollution: Passionate scientists and activists all over the world are using every means their meager resources will allow to inform governments and people that the reckless use of chemicals and pharmaceuticals pose an imminent threat to life on Earth. The proof of what chemicals and pharmaceuticals are doing to the world is readily available to anyone. In many cases, biologically compatible alternatives to these substances have been developed but are not given free access to the marketplace.
Corporations and free trade: Pockets of people are getting wise to the political power that multi-billion dollar (yen, euro), multinational corporations wield, the environmental degradation their exploitation of resources causes and the abhorrent conditions under which laborers are forced to work under the pretense of "free trade." People all over the world are taking a stand against these corporations and the damages they cause to people, the marketplace and the environment by boycotting their products—intentionally spending their money locally whenever possible. Some of the most well-publicized protests throughout the world happen when thousands of ordinary people assemble in opposition to "free trade" agreements and the organizations promoting them.
Common people are not fooled by "free trade" agreements that undermine national sovereignty, human dignity and environmental stability to facilitate lawless resource exploitation. Organizations promoting the de-funding of wealthy and powerful corporations in the marketplace can be found in nearly every nation in the world. The main philosophy anti-corporatist organizations hold in common is their desire for people to understand that each purchase they make represents a conscious choice to support whomever or whatever provided or produced the item, or items, purchased.
Kevin: Militarism: Most ordinary people are opposed to war. Anti-war organizations came into being about the time the first war was fought. Wars require ordinary people to fight them. The only just cause for ordinary people to fight in wars is in defense against invasion of their own nation or community. All wars where armies are raised and sent to foreign lands are unjust. Therefore, all governments ordering armies to fight in foreign lands are unjust and soldiers who enlist to fight in foreign lands are unjustified in their decisions to do so. The history of wars and why they were really fought is available to anyone with access to a library or the Internet.
Government education: Though most parents send their children to government schools, private schools are available and, in most countries, homeschooling is an option. Most parents choose government education for their children because it is free and the easiest choice for them to make. The purpose of government education has been known since ancient Greece. Most children are educated and programmed in government schools and grow to become government citizens because parents give government the responsibility of educating their children for their own convenience. In America, many children are virtually raised by the schools while their parents work multiple jobs.
Injustice: The only just laws are those that punish people for harming others or their property. All other laws are unjust. In America, about one million people are imprisoned for allegedly violating unjust laws and about 295 million people are forced to abide by unjust laws or be punished with fines and/or imprisonment. Citizen groups have formed to witness and report what is happening in the courts. Prisoner advocacy organizations are dedicated to improving prison conditions while helping the wrongfully-imprisoned seek post-conviction relief. While institutionalized injustice—ridiculous fines and wrongful convictions—rule nearly every court in every nation, people allow the injustices to continue for fear that publicly condemning them will result in their own persecution and imprisonment.
Mass media: Concerned citizens have been warning us about the negative impact that sex, violence and inanity on TV, video games and in print will have on society. At this conference in 2003, FOX war analyst Bob McGinnis told us how the news is created and twisted to make people addicted to watching it while making them feel powerless to do anything about what’s happening in the world. In both cases, news and entertainment are merely vehicles for advertising. One must conclude that there is a high demand for mass media and the products it advertises because we are bombarded from every direction with a endless supply of sexy, violent and inane shows/publications and advertisements selling us an infinite array of goods and services we do not need. We are numbed by the tidal wave of entertainment and material goods and we predictably buy into it, consciously or unconsciously, thus supporting the very beast that is killing us.
Vice: The horrors of slavery, drug addiction and sexual perversion have been a part of "civilized" life for millennia. The fact that societies devolve under deepening cycles of vice has been known for centuries as has the knowledge that governments prefer governing vice-ridden, immoral masses because moral, self-governing citizens inhibit the growth of government. It is our own tendency as frail humans to engage in vices that encourage governments to covertly promote supplying our demand for the goods and services that diminish our own dignity and destroy our cultures.
International banking: International bankers finance both sides of wars and finance the reconstruction that becomes necessary after hostilities have ceased. International bankers finance the operations of major corporations that irreparably damage people and environments while greedily harvesting resources and manufacturing products. International bankers give us worthless paper in exchange for valuable resources. In other words, international bankers are in the business of destroying nations, environments and ordinary people. The history of international banking and its legacy of broken nations, impoverished peoples and destroyed environments through the activities of international bankers have been well-documented from the Dark Ages to the present. In America, alternative, commodity-based mediums of exchange, such as the Liberty Dollar, are being promoted and used by increasing numbers of people who are becoming aware of the fiat money scam being operated worldwide by the international bankers.
Don: No matter how selflessly handfuls of people dedicate their lives to righting any one or more of the aforementioned wrongs plaguing our modern world; no matter how knowledgeable people become about the history of how the world really works, their activities will inevitably fail to result in meaningful change. Why?
* We buy the chemicals, fuels and pharmaceutical drugs that are poisoning everything.
* We step into the uniforms as soldiers to fight unjust wars in foreign lands.
* We send our children to government schools to get government educations.
* We sit idly by while the courts fine and imprison our neighbors for noncrimes.
* We try to obey all of the laws, no matter how absurd and meekly pay the penalties for breaking them.
* We voraciously devour all the mass media we can get and buy the products advertised.
* We are willing to pay almost any price to sustain our vices and;
* We use the financial instruments international bankers have devised to impoverish us.
The reasons why our modern world is on a collision course with the natural world is merely a matter of economics in its simplest form: Supply and demand. All efforts to achieve peace, end poverty and establish an age where truth and justice prevail will fail until we, each and every one of us, cease being the little engines driving our world and every living thing on it toward the apocalypse.
Kevin: There is only one way for good people to remake our world in an image of decency: We must do nothing. Or more precisely, we must do nothing to support the systems that perpetuate this current order of exploitation and war. We must find ways to NOT participate in the activities that help maintain the system we are presently forced to endure.
Don: We must choose a day in the not too distant future when all of us who interact with this modern world decide to stay home until the world that depends upon our participation grinds to a halt. We must eat stored food and drink stored water until the present system collapses. We must not buy anything or go anywhere while seriously considering our relationships to God, friends, family and community while awaiting the machinery of our modern world to run out of gas—and with the dawning of the Peak Oil age we may not have to wait very long. We must imagine what the new world could be like and vow to take an active role in making sure that peace, justice and good will to all men is the guiding philosophy of the new paradigm. Conquest, greed and injustice must be spurned.
When the corporate executives, politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers and the bankers realize that the common people of the world have gone on strike with absolute resolve, we will have the opportunity to replace their poisons, wars, poverty, ignorance, absurd laws, vice and fake money with the balance, peace, prosperity, intelligence, virtue and real value that good people deserve.
It does us no good to pray for world peace without admitting that every one of us plays an active role in the perpetuation of our contemporary state of total world war. Admission leads to realization and realization leads to nonparticipation. Everything else is denial. There is no other way.
Blindly accepting the states’ wishes supports wars; benign acceptance of states’ policies won’t prevent them and; activism only serves notice of the conflict. We have no choice but to do absolutely nothing. If we are able to coordinate the day when good people stay home and our days of abstinence, contemplation and introspection bring the system to its knees, as it surely must and; if we are worthy, we can bring the system back up and make it a reflection of our nobler, more enlightened selves.
Kevin: We have been asked to give a "people’s view" of the American peace movement. We looked hard and couldn’t find any that was even a little effective. Mother’s of Dead soldiers, like Cindy Sheehan who stand outside George Bush’s home demanding an explanation for why her son died in Iraq, are well intended but ineffectual as police force them to march 5 miles from the Bush home in Texas. Protestors at the Republican convention in NYC last year were forced by police to gather in a fenced area near the Hudson River, a ˝ kilometer from the Convention site and were effectually silenced. The mainstream media gave them little coverage except as an interesting freak show. Those who try to change regimes through voting have begun to realize the American election system is corrupted and serves only to keep the corrupt in power. In America a great fever of discontent and anger is loose and society is deeply polarized. Many support the War on Iraq or any war America engages in. Many easily believe, without question, that the War on Iraq is a defensive war, a war to end terrorism. These are very Orwellian times. We need new solutions NOW because the old solutions aren’t working.
Don: History has demonstrated this is a world of war punctuated by fleeting moments of peace. There are two main factors perpetuating war and one factor that maintains peace.
War requires ruthless leaders and people willing to fight and die for causes they do not truly understand.
The only requirement of peace is that people live within their means, however humble, and do not harm others or damage their property.
Kevin: And therein lies our answer to the question posed at this, the 13th Mut zur Ethik conference: What will it take to bring about more peace in the world?
We must go forth from this room and begin the process of determining how our lives support war and what we can do to promote peace.
Many of us are familiar with the 100th monkey syndrome—the phenomenon whereby the 100th monkey assumes a behavioral pattern, the rest of the monkeys start doing it, too.
The only way good people will ever have peace is if we make it happen. When enough of us stop supporting war through the decisions we make every day, others will follow; a worldwide movement of non-participation will emerge. Together we can defund the monster and, if we are worthy, our remade world will embrace the peace we desire.
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