Hope for a Soft Landing

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 7 Sep 2020

David Adams | Transition to a Culture of Peace – TRANSCEND Media Service

1 Sep 2020 This month’s CPNN bulletin shows how, in the face of pessimistic predictions for the United States, to the point of civil war, there are many progressive initiatives advancing. It’s the dialectics of history in action: “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” And it raises the hopes that the crash of the empire could have a soft landing.

After all, there is a rich history of progressive mobilizations in the United States. The bulletin lists initiatives in the following domains of action which we may consider in terms of their historical roots.

Unionization. When times get tough, the workers organize. The extensive union drives in factories in the 1870’s and 1880’s and of the railroads in the 1890’s were crushed by police and military violence that was directed by the major capitalists of the time. But in the 1930’s, despite attempts by the capitalists to forcibly prevent them, the CIO was able to organize the national trade unions in the United States in most of the major manufacturing companies. This gave popular support to the New Deal policies that saved the country from the worst ravages of the Great Depression and gave birth to the systems of social security.

Colleges and Universities. Progressive movements have long found support in American institutions of higher education. For example, the mass movement against the Vietnam War took root primarily in college campuses.

Civil rights. The most important mobilizations in recent months have taken place in the struggle against racism. This recalls the movement for civil rights of the 1960’s which provided leadership to the movement against the Vietnam War as exemplified by Martin Luther King.

Climate activism. The youth movement demanding action to address global warming has been a second major mobilization in the past few years. The roots of this movement go back almost 30 years to the 1992 Rio Summit on Environment and Development (the “Earth Summit”). At the time I was still teaching at Wesleyan University and the students sent representatives to the Rio Summit and mobilized teach-ins when they returned.

Peace movement. American Peace Movements have taken many forms over the years, as I documented 40 years ago in my book with that title. Many of them are working together in the United National AntiWar Coalition which has issued a Call to Action. In recent years the most important mobilizations have taken place around the International Day of Peace in September, led by Campaign Nonviolence which last September held over 3,300 actions, events and marches across the USA and in 20 countries.

City governments. In recent years city governments have taken more progressive stands as documented in a series of articles in The Nation and many articles in CPNN. The US Conference of Mayors exemplies this in its many resolutions, and most recently, its “Vision for America.” New Haven has long been a good example going back at least 30 years with the formation of its City Peace Commission.

Members of congress.
Although they are a minority, there have always been a few progressive candidates elected to the US Congress. There is not enough of them to change a system that is dominated by big money interests, but they provide a voice for progressive change which has traditionally inspired other activists

If the United States is to survive the crisis in which it is now engulfed, it will need massive mobilizations in all of these domains and their unity into a single solid progressive movement. And, as we have said before, it will require the dismantling of the US military empire. The military budget must be totally converted in order to save the country. Its military bases around the world must be dismantled and the soldiers brought home and put to useful work.

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Dr. David Adams is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment and coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the UN International Year for the Culture of Peace.  Previously, at Yale and Wesleyan Universities, he was a specialist on the brain mechanisms of aggressive behavior, the history of the culture of war, and the psychology of peace activists, and he helped to develop and publicize the Seville Statement on Violence. Send him an email.

Go to Original – decade-culture-of-peace.org


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