Spinelli's Footsteps

To content | To menu | To search

Thursday 24 April 2014

NetMundial: An Emergency Solution

Today journalist Rita Freire of CIRANDA communicated via channels of the World Social Forum about NetMundial, the ongoing conference on Internet Governance. She provided a link to the streaming of the parallell conference of civil society organisations and to the remote participation facility of the NET MUNDIAL meeting itself . Inspired by Rita's message, I set out to write the following letter:

Dear Rita,

thank you very much for this! Glad to see that Ciranda tries to cover Net Mundial. I just listened to the morning news from our Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE. Not a word about NetMundial. There was, however, an insert about the upcoming football Mundial...

For the WSF, NetMundial is really the event of the year. Or, it ought to be. The future of the internet determines so many aspects of social relations and thus of human society. (You may want to replace 'determines' and 'aspects' with more precise words.) And the WSF should play a very big role in the so called governance of the internet, which is at stake at NetMundial. It probably will, through its future process.

A couple weeks ago, WikiLeaks, that embryonal intelligence agency of the peoples, released the penultimate outcome document of NetMundial . Something you cannot miss when reading it, is the frequent reference to 'Multistakeholder'. (This word indeed figures already in the official name of NetMundial, that is, "The Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance"). This is good, because it means that it is commonly addmitted that those who have 'a stake' in the future of the internet are many. Indeed, we all have.

The problem is that 'multistakeholder' is not good enough. It is no more than an emergency solution.

Tyranny can be eliminated by way of division of powers. People can have a say. Peace and global democracy are doable - but only with the internet.

''Mankind thus inevitably sets itself only such tasks as it is able to solve, since closer examination will always show that the problem itself arises only when the material conditions for its solution are already present or at least in the course of formation.'' Karl Marx, who wrote that sentence, could hardly foresee the coming of the computers and the internet. Yet those words from the critique of the political economy were prophetic.

The problem now is that of changing the states and the UN into a new international political system. The computers and the internet have formed into a material condition for the solution.

But 'Multistakeholderism' is not that solution. As said, it is only an emergency solution.

The internet, like the library, is an universal institution. And it is unowned. The internet is like the library -- the only trustworthy memory of mankind (to quote Schopenhauer, another German philosopher). The internet needs to be governed by the library, and vice versa: the library needs to be governed by the internet. Both should be cybernetic, or self-governed. Will that be possible?

Yes, self-governance is possible. The peoples may govern themselves. On the condition that they create open spaces and connect via the internet.

Of course, the librarians are, and will be, a key group as facilitators of the conversations between the peoples. R. David Lankes, an American library scientist has put it well in "The Atlas of New Librarianship" (The MIT Press 2011): "The Mission of Librarians Is to Improve Society Through Facilitating Knowledge Creation In Their Communities." This also goes for their global communities.

Regards,

Mikael

PEACE AND THE INTERNET at Peace Event Sarajevo 2014

Idea paper for the workshop (version 9 April 2014; last updated 8 May):

"PEACE AND THE INTERNET"

Place : Sarajevo

Venue: (See the program of Peace Event Sarajevo http://p2014.eu)

Preliminary Date: 7 June 2014 (See the program of Peace Event Sarajevo)

Introductions: Rita Freire (Ciranda, Brazil), Mikael Böök (Network Institute for Global Democratization, Finland)

Organisation: Peace Union of Finland (www.rauhanliitto.fi)

Contact: Mikael Böök book at kaapeli.fi +358-445511324

Discussion:

Is the internet something that people can do something about? How to make cyberpeace instead of cyberwar? In Snowden's time, everybody must have given these questions some thought so the time is ripe for them to be discussed at the social forums and in the peace movement. And, after the next Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance (Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23-24 April, 2014) the actuality of the subject is almost guaranteed.

  • Internet governance? State governments who continue to prepare for war against each other have failed and will probably continue to fail if they try to govern the internet. The same goes for big corporations who wish to introduce corporatist versions of internet governance. Unfortunately, they may have succeeded for the time being. The peace movement ought to dig a route to people power.
  • Library power? The internet is like the library mankind's only trustworthy memory. And, to use a common term when speaking about internet governance: internet and library are multistakeholder institutions. But how about letting the librarians govern the internet, as far as this new cybernetic (self-governing) institution needs to be governed at all? Could the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) become a subdivision of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)?
  • Alliance with the free software community. During WW II, Communists allied themselves with Capitalists to defeat Fascism. Today, a great alliance between the peace movement and the free software community is badly needed. Can these two find a common language?

Reference material:

de Nardis, Laura & Raymond, Mark: "Thinking Clearly about Multistakeholder Internet Governance" (Paper presented at Eight Annual GigaNet Symposium, Bali Oct 2013; available via https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2354377)

de Nardis, Laura: The Global War for Internet Governance (Yale UP 2014)

Friday 11 April 2014

On Oded Grajew, The Ukrainian Crisis and the Italian Intellectuals

Below, please find copies of three messages that I posted to the "WSF-Discuss" mailing list earlier this Friday morning. "WSF-Discuss" is an ongoing international discussion about the World Social Forum. From the list's well-ordered archives the other texts that relate to these messages can easily be retrieved.

1. My first message relates to a debate on the role of Brazilian businessman Oded Grajew, one of the founders of the World Social Forum back in 2000-2001.

Piran Azad,

I am afraid you are not expressing your opinion clearly enough. Are you satirical? Sarcastic? What do you think about Oded Grajew? Has he played a role in the WSF process? If yes, has his role been positive or negative? Are you defending Oded Grajew against Peter Waterman's critical comments?

Or maybe you are of the same opinion that I am. I think it is fortunate that we have people like Oded Grajew with us. (With "us", I mean the participants in the WSF process.) He incarnates the bad consciousness of the many who go on like another world would not be possible. Moreover, he has drawn some conclusions and taken some positive steps to change this world. Therefore, he is a rare bird.

Grajew "believe(s) that institutions like the UN and national governments are not prepared to lead, but they must be part of the change." So do I. Besides, those who go on and on with their NATOs and nukes (via their WalMarts), are they not a little like you and me? Anyway, they seem to be many. We can hardly be as good as having to kill them all. So they just have to be part of the change, to quote Oded Grajew.

Cheers,

Mikael

PS A propos the killing, I would would agree with that actor who created the monolog "Kill the Corporation". The corporation, however, is an institution. It is not people. At the very least, the corporation should be crippled.


2. In the second posting, I expressed my support for the Appeal to the member states of the European Union : EU should follow OSCE advice to solve the Ukrainian crisis now! The message is addressed to Swedish Friends of the Earth activist Tord Björk, who took the initiative to this appeal.

Thanks, Tord.

I have signed on the appeal to EU to support OSCE (and tweeted about it). Only fourteen people had signed before me. (Let's become many more.) Maybe it is because OSCE is unknown to the common man and woman in Europe, let alone in the other parts. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) " has its origins in the 1975 Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) held in Helsinki, Finland" (Wikipedia). The CSCE was the culmination of the political career of Urho Kekkonen, the then president of the republic of Finland. Today, of course, Kekkonen is a dead dog. Ein toter Hund.

Qui sta il busillis. Da liegt der Hase im Pfeffer [oder der Hund begraben]. That's the fly in the ointment! "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are." (Anais Nin) Yours, etc.

3. A note on the Italian intellectuals' fight about the naming of a new hotel in Turin.

Oh dear! Don't the Italian intellectuals have bigger issues to fight about than the name of a hotel? Besides, Gramsci is not only one of the greatest Marxist philospers, he is also one of the greatest Italians. So he really belongs to all who will stay at the hotel "Antonio Gramsci" in Turin, Italians and foreigners alike.

From today's perspective, however, Gramsci looks a little bit too Italian. This is because of what he choose to make his central problematic in his posthumously published Prison Notebooks, namely, the unification of the Italian nation. Not that I think that Gramsci ought to be criticized for having focussed on that subject. But then came the second world war, the nuclear age, and the internet. So the focus has changed, or it has to be changed.

Rather we have, nowadays, to try to walk in the footsteps of Altiero Spinelli, who was the secretary of the Communist youth organisation in 1927, when he, too, was imprisoned. (Gramsci had already been put in jail the previous year.) -- In 1941, while still deported to the traditional prison island of Ventotene, Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi wrote the famous Manifesto of Ventotene "For A Free And United Europe". Today Europeans ought to put that idea in focus. Plus the European Nuclear Disarmament.

As you may conclude from the foregoing, I remain a great admirer of the fabulous Antonio Gramsci. And, although I doubt that my voice matters in this particular symbolic fight, I would like to support giving that hotel his name.

La lotta continua,

etc.

- - -

Thank you, if you have read this far. You may also want to know that I run in the elections to the European Parliament. For the Pirate Party.



                                                  But don't click on the picture yet. (The film is forthcoming.)

Thursday 20 March 2014

A letter from Brussels

Dear all,

Wall Street Journal yesterday (19 March) had an editorial speaking volumes about how they see the situation. Subject: Ukraine and nuclear proliferation. Thesis: The lesson learnt most recently is that Ukraine would had been better off in its conflict with Russia had it not decided to abandon its nuclear arsenals to Russia in the 1990s. Iran, North Korea, etc. will have learned the lesson. Corollarium: V. Putin is reponsible for causing even more nuclear proliferation. My comment: yes, the nukes are political weapons. Unfortunately, they are also nuclear weapons. Would it be possible to  prove that the nukes are not only political weapons? Of course, after a nuclear attack (and a possible counter-attack) one could say: Look, I was right!  But then, who would like to be proven right in that case?  It is wiser to  prefer nuclear disarmament. Would not nuclear disarmement, too, be a kind of proof?

The situation reminds me about le pari de Pascal. Oppenheimer might have agreed with the comparison. Yet it is not Shiva who has become the multi-faceted Destryoer of Worlds. It is us. After the nuclear war, it would no longer be possible to determine who was responsible. We would all be. The Mayor of den Haag is said to have forbidden demonstrations during the Nuclear Security Summit there next Monday and Tuesday. Demonstrations and protest there will certainly be, nevertheless. And for a good reason: nuclear disarmament and general denuclearisation! And against the hypocrisy about nuclear non-proliferation and the possible (because I am afraid it is possible, after all) nuclear terrorism. May I remind you once again that Altiero Spinelli was in favour of American military disengagement from Europe, and European denuclearisation, already in the sixties. He actually said so in the American journal Foreign Affairs. Of course that was well before Chernobyl and Fukushima and the fall of the USSR. And well before the internet. Which does not mean that the Spinelli's opinion has become obsolete.

I have just returned from the NATO in Brussels where I was one in a group of visitors from Finland. I did not go there to protest or demonstrate. It was more like a fact-finding mission. And it proved to be an interesting visit. However, in the short time we had, it was not possible to go very deeply into the nuclear issues. After the main lecture, I managed to ask whether all member states of NATO do have a say about the nuclear weapons and their use, or whether NATO should have or use such weapons at all. Background: the question whether  my country (Finland) should now join NATO is presently being discussed with fervour there, and I have heard people say, that Finland should join, because then we the Finns could influence NATO to become better, read: to abolish its nuclear weapons doctrine. The answer I got was that NATO is not really the forum for discussions about nuclear weapons. The weather is sunny and warm here in Brussels. Have a good day,

Mikael

Wednesday 19 March 2014

The size of Guy Verhofstadt's slice

Like so many others, I was rather disturbed by Guy Verhofstadt's way of presenting Europe to the people on Maidan. Also, I was thinking about the size of the slice of the Spinellian legacy that Guy Verhofstadt believes that he has managed to cut for himself. However, to try to polemicize directly with the leaders of the Spinelli Group seems to me less likely to be successful. True Eurofederalists now rather need to develop and update the legacy of Spinelli, that is, to present an alternative Spinellian vision, one that is more based on the Manifesto of Ventotene and the original plans of a Defense Union (from the beginnigs of the 1950s) than on the perhaps a bit too corporation-friendly Spinelli the Commissioner of the 1970s. The nuclear question is key, even more today than in the period of the Cold War: how to get rid of the WMDs, the NPPs and the existing (and ever growing) huge stockpiles of radwaste, enriched uranium, plutonium, etc.? That goal needs to be written clearly into a new edition of the Spinellian constitutional Treaty of EU which the EP would have preferred to see adopted (1984). The EU ought to take the lead in the necessary general nuclear exit.

A second essential question is internet governance. A clever solution on how to build a common - not corporate - telecoms infrastructure is badly needed. I would opt for a public and municipally owned physical (fiber optics) infrastructure, and a strong role of the public libraries and their personnel - the librarians - as "governors" oft the internet - to the extent that ihe internet needs to be governed. The Internet is, and it has to remain, a predominantly self-governing ("cybernetic") institution. And we all need to start talking more about cyberpeace instead of cyberwar.

Addition to what was said above on the nuclear issues: notice the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in den Haag next Monday and Tuesday (24-25 March)? Ironically, it is only meant to be about nuclear terrorism. Admittedly, that's a big issue in itself. But then, the root of the problem is the very use of the nuclear technology itself (both the "military" and "civil" variants) by governments and corporations.

Also Ironically, Ukraine's stockpiles of highly enriched uranium (HEU) - which is precisely the material that supposed nuclear terrorist most want to get their hands on - has been one of the big issues of previous NSSs.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Was the new Europe born on Maidan?

Below, please find my reply to a posting on the mailing list of the European Social Forum earlier today.

Good afternoon,

the Declaration RUSSIA, STOP THE WAR AGAINST UKRAINE! from the Queen Sofia Museum in Madrid makes me want to add a mild word of protest.

"STOP THE WAR IN UKRAINE" -- yes, but the guilt for the present situation does not lay sqarely on "Russia" or its government. This is not the right moment to stand up against, or for, Russia, or for some other nation.

The idea that Ukraine has in the recent days and weeks seen an "emancipative people's uprising" and a genuine democratic revolution might be what an American assistant secretary of state like e.g. Ms Victoria Nuland believes. We Europeans should know better.

The text from the Queen Sofia Museum is related to the event ''The New Abduction of Europe. Debt, War, Democratic revolutions'' (27.2 - 2.3.2014, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid). In the Manifesto of this cultural event it is said that the event "hopes to lay the foundations for a radically new European cultural and political agency, driven by the urgency of the situation."

But did not the Capitalist abduction of Europe happen already in the 1950ies? And, did not some interns on the prison island of Ventotene draw up excellent guidelines for another possible Europe already in 1941?

It is absolutely necessary to try to dig a tunnel under the deep structures of the Cold War, which are still in place, although we may nowadays be inclined to deny their existence.

"New Europe was born on Maidan," proclaims the text from the Queen Sofia Museum in Madrid. No, I think the new Europe which would be worthy of our "solidarity, dignity, self-organization and freedom" should be neutral and non-aligned, cooperate economically with all its neighbours (including Russia), abolish all nuclear arms and other wmd on its soil, start converting its military-industrial complex to civil industry, abstain from building more nuclear power stations and dismantle the existing ones, create a pan-European, municipally owned, telecommunications infrastructure (the fiber-optic cables ought to be owned by the cities and the communes as natural monopolies) and shift towards food soverignty. Please make this European project more concrete and realistic.

But, for gods sake, don't forget the European Nuclear Disarmament (END) because that is where any genuinely "new Europe" begins.

Greetings from Finland,

Mikael

PS Want to read something more specifically on the Ukraine and the politics there? May I recommend two articles by the Russian sociologist Boris Kagarlitsky, translated into English and published by the Australian journal Links.

Thursday 2 January 2014

Assange: “Go into the ball park and bring the ball out.”

See the Youtube video (here) with Sarah Harrison, Julian Assange and Jacob Appelbaum from the recent Chaos Communication Conference in Hamburg. It will wake you up to the challenges of 2014!

WikiLeaks advisor Sarah Harrison, the journalist who helped Snowden to find asylum in Moscow, gave an impressive overview of what WL has been able to achieve despite all the governmental and corporate harrassment. She was greeted with standing ovations by the free software and transparency enthusiasts at the yearly CCC event, organised by the famous "Chaos Computer Club".

Assange managed to say a lot in just a couple of minutes in spite of the sabotaged skype connection (he had to give his speech from his asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.)

"We are all becoming part of this state whether we like it or not", Assange said somewhat cryptically, but added an unmistakeable call to become politically active: "Our only hope is to help determine what kind of state we will be a part of."

Assange drew a parallell between hackers and administrators of computer networks and the industrial workers of the historical labour movement. He asked all hackers and sysadmins to unite and become aware of their being a mighty social class. Edward Snowden has shown that "even a single system administrator to have very significant constructive effect," he said. Now others ought to follow in Snowden's footsteps and accept employment at state institutions "in order to bring out more documents".

“Go into the CIA,” he said. “Go into the ball park and bring the ball out.”

Hopefully, other information specialists like the librarians and archivists will also hearken to the call from Harrison and Assange. Together with hackers and journalists the librarians and archivists can make a formidable freedom & democracy team where the former represent the attack chain while the latter take care of the defense.

(More here)

Sunday 22 December 2013

Beyond the Euro - ICAN and/or ICAN

Below, please find two letters written this morning, and posted to the mailing list of the European Social Forum. The first is my response to the most recent newsletter from the Anti-imperialist Camp; the second contains reflections on the lack of a common movement for a neutralist and denuclearized European Union.

1.

Beyond the euro

Hello anti-imperialistic comrades,
and thank you for your newsletter. Although I cannot remember having ever subscribed to it (some friend or acquaintance seems to have put me on your mailing list) I often at least skim-read it. Sometimes, I also try to read your postings with the linked articles with more care and afterthought.
Where I cannot follow you is when you declare yourselves to be enemies, not only of imperialism and the euro, but of the European Union, a concept that was given a more precise meaning, if not actually invented by the Italian political theorist (and MEP, 1979-1986) Altiero Spinelli. The sad fact is, that you have only empty words to put in its stead. Of course, you are not alone in this throwing the baby out with the bath water. The lack of a common idea of the EU is our main weakness, which I do not hesitate to call a sickness of mind.
But this weakness-sickness cannot be cured with phrases like "popular sovereignty". Nor should we try to do away with the EU in the name of "democracy", because democracy will not come to Europe without a "European Union", that is, without a democratic European state, based on an agreement between the citizens of the European countries.
Yes, the present EU is dominated by a Capitalist oligarchy. But how can anybody fail to recognize that the rulers of this EU have stolen the original ideas of the EU which were laid down in, for instance, the Manifesto of Ventotene (1941)?
The article on "Italy in Revolt" by Leonardo Mazzei is quite alarming ( here ). I congratulate the author for avoiding the usual mistake of simply dismissing the present social protest movements in Italy, which are called the "forconi", as "populist" or "fascist". However, if you declare yourself enemies of European unity, where else can those movements end up, if not in pernicious right-wing nationalism?
Agreed, the common currency, the euro, has failed. Every day, it is becoming more ghostlike. But would it not be possible, for the time being, to re-introduce national currencies? Indeed, it is possible and even probable that this will happen anyway in a number of European countries.
Conclusion: favour the Euro Exit, but reinforce the political project on European Union!
In a second posting, I shall add a word about the EU we all need.
Greetings from Finland,
Mikael
PS This is an open letter. Therefore, I CC it to the mailing list of the European Social Forum.

2.

ICAN or/and ICAN

It sounds like a joke. And why not? Funny, we have not only one ICAN, we have two of them!
Yesterday, somebody summarized this coincidence in a tweet:
#goodbyenukes and goodbye #Troika: ICAN (Int'l Citizen debt Audit Network) to join ICAN (Int'l Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons)!
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is something that I have known about for some time already. Nobody, who is involved in the preparations of the Sarajevo Peace Event 2014 (see http://p2014.eu) can avoid stumbling over it. The present writer is involved in that project, which has its origins in a plan to organize a Thematic World Social Forum against War and Militarism. It will be in Sarajevo 6-9 June, 2014. It will certainly also be a good occasion to commemorate the last century of the peace movements -- and to relaunch them!
The other ICAN, then, where did that come in? Most recently, it popped up in the first newsletter from Troika Watch, which was posted on this mailing list. Please read it at their website , if you missed the posting. It is very good and inspiring, although it has nothing about Ukraina, NATO's missile shield and the Russian nuclear missiles in old Königsberg (Kaliningrad). But that will be covered in later issues, we may hope and believe.
The Troikawatch newsletter is produced by "a group of people that mostly know each other from meetings like the European Social forum, Firenze 10+10, the Altersummit, EU in crisis or Blockupy. Some of us work for progressive NGOs like the Bretton Woods Project, CEO, CADTM or TNI, others are activists in networks like Attac or ICAN". There it is again, the International Citizen debt Audit Network (ICAN)!
The first image that hits the eyes of the visitor at www.citizen-audit.net (the website if ICAN !) is the symbol of peace, painted on the stomach of a young man. This is the now widely used symbol originally designed for the British nuclear disarmament movement, and reused by millions of people in the European Disarmament movement of the 1980s. (Nowadays ☮ is also available in Unicode as U+262E .)
Yes, ICAN is ICAN. And yet ICAN is not ICAN. How can that be? And why?
In my previous posting, I promised to add something about the EU we all need. Here:
The EU we all need starts with END, meaning European Nuclear Disarmament. (Funny how these acronyms can sometimes take on real meaning!) We need a denuclearized and neutralist power between the USA and Russia. Many Americans, and quite a few Russians as well, understood this already in the 1980s. Therefore, they gave END all support they could, while continuing to fight against the armaments of their respective military blocs.
Climate justice is impossible without disarmament. Think of all the fossil fuels and raw materials that are consumed by the armies and in the production of new weapons systems for deployment on the soil, in the seas, in the air and in outer space! Not to speak about the immediate climatic threat of even a "limited" nuclear war!
As long as our economies are war economies, we may as well forget about preventing the global warming. A stark reminder of the reality of the war economy is the recent report "Don't Bank on the Bomb", on the Financing of nuclear weapons producers, from the Dutch Inter-Church Council (IKV). (See www.dontbankonthebomb.com)
Why do we let the banks of Europe continue to invest billion after billion in the production of nuclear weapons?
Why is ICAN not ICAN?
OK. Is it not time that ICAN becomes ICAN?
Cheers,
Mikael

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Ukraine’s two sides dig in for a fight, but they do not dig deep enough

(this entry is my response to an Indian friend who, like myself, is trying to understand the news from Ukraina)

Dear J.,

thank you for drawing even more attention to the Ukrainian situation and, by consequence, to the situation in Europe. The article you have chosen as a backgrounder reflects the standard views and attitudes of the American mainstream press. We really need to come up with a more complete picture.

It would not be a bad idea to read some good article that represents the opinions and feelings of the majority of Russians who voted for Vladimir Putin. It could actually help us a long way. However, in this case, even that would not solve the problem, which is to understand what is happening in Europe and Ukraina.

It is absolutely necessary to try to dig a tunnel under the deep structures of the Cold War, which are still in place, although we may nowadays be inclined to deny their existence.

For instance: today's morning news edition from the Finnish public broadcasting company Yle tells that Russia has placed Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad. This was revealed by the German Bild-Zeitung (!) and has been confirmed by the Sov..., excuse me, Russian authorities. The Russians say that this stationing of middle-range nuclear missiles is made as a response to the missile defence building plans of NATO. Because that planned missile defence shield of NATO is seen as offensive by the Russians. And rightly so, I would say. Not that I want in the least to legitimize the threatening of Berlin with nuclear extinction from Russian military bases in old Königsberg (Kaliningrad).

So the nuclear war between "East" and "West" is still being prepared here in Europe even if we who live here - I mean the French, Ukrainian, Russian, German, Finnish, Georgian, British, Hungarian, Italian, etc. - refuse consciousness of it. Everybody seems to prefer to speak about climate justice -- as if a nuclear war, even a limited one, would not be a major threat against the climate (and a wholly unjustified threat, by the way) and as if the nuclear armaments, including, in particular, the so called missile defence, would not be a driving force of this capitalist war economy that is heading fast towards ecological catastrophe (including climate change). In short, it seems that we prefer banking on the Bomb. (http://www.dontbankonthebomb.com/).

True, Ukraine's two sides dig in for a fight, but they don't dig deep enough.

Greetings,

Mikael

Saturday 30 November 2013

Draft workshop-proposal for Sarajevo 2014: "AN INTERNET FOR PEACE"

Sarajevo Peace Event, 6-9 June 2014 ; http://www.peaceeventsarajevo2014.eu/

Draft workshop-proposal:

"AN INTERNET FOR PEACE"

Preferred date: 7 June

Participants in spe: librarians, geeks, generals, cat lovers, citizens and consumers. Ca 50 persons.

Themes for the discussion:

How to integrate the anarchic internet in the democratic state? And how to integrate the democratic state in the anarchic internet? Can there be an anarchic state? Can there be a democratic internet? How do these questions relate to war and peace?

Suppose that the anarchic internet is here to stay, like the democratic state, and that both are worthy goals to pursue. Also assume that both are useful means to those valuable ends.

Is the internet at all something that people can do something about? Will the internet help us to get rid of the nuclear arms, the nuclear power plants, and the other devices of mass destruction? How to make the internet work for peace? In Snowden's time, everybody must have given these questions some thought. The time is ripe for them to be discussed at the social forums and in the peace movement. The subject is overdue and is likely to be burning after the multi-stakeholder Conference on Internet Governance, which is scheduled to take place in Brazil in April, 2014.

Four starters for the conversations at the Sarajevo Peace Event in June, 2014:

  • Internet governance (IG). State governments who continue to prepare for war against each other have failed and will always utterly fail to govern the internet. Big corporations are trying to impose corporatist versions of IG. Unfortunately, they may have succeeded, for a while, but the peace movement ought to dig a route to people power.
  • "Kill the corporation!" This slogan (like in the monologue of Mike Daisey) is allright. The transnational internet must not be dominated by the TNCs. So kill the fire, stop the motor. As long as the target here is an obnoxious institution, and not a living being, this should be OK with the peace movement.
  • Library power. The library metaphor means that the internet is like the library. Let it become even more so. Let it become what it is: the extension of mankind's only trustworthy memory. The library is also a ”multistakeholder”. So let the librarians govern the internet, as far as this historically new anarchic, cybernetic institution needs to be governed. The tasks of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) should be taken care of by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).
  • Alliance with Google? During WW II, Communists allied themselves with Capitalists to defeat Fascism. Correspondingly, a great alliance might be needed today between a global IT-corporation and the peace movement. The corporation that has adopted "Don't do evil" as their motto comes to mind.

Contact:

Mikael Böök Lovisa, Finland book (ät) kaapeli.fi ; twitter: @mikaelbook ; blog in English: blog.spinellisfootsteps.info

Sunday 29 September 2013

A Future Nuclear-free EU? Dialoguing with Viviane Reding and Sirpa Pietikäinen

The debate with Vice-President Viviane Reding and MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (see my previous blog entry) took place in the Old Students' House of Helsinki on Monday, September 23, in front of ca two hundred citizens. The lively discussions on employment and the economic crisis, on the rights of the citizens, and on the future of the European Union, were moderated by André Noël Chaker.

Having listened to the previous questions and answers, I decided to re-formulate my question a little and to link it more closely to the key issues of citizens' dialoguing, democracy and the constitutional rights, Will the citizens of EU have the right to decide on the weapons of mass destruction? I also asked whether the EU ought not to become one of the members of the Security Council of the United Nations and to contribute there to the nuclear disarmament.

The Conference Service of the EU Commission has made videos from the debate available for watching with translations into Swedish and Finnish. To open and watch (in a new window) the part on the future of the EU, Click here  !

Screenshots from the video:


Citizen Mikael Böök asking questions about the Teutates Treaty bet-
ween France and UK (2010) and the possibility of a nuclear free EU.

Vice-President Viviane Reding, MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (left) and mode-
rator André Noël Chaker (right).

Monday 23 September 2013

A question for Vice-President Viviane Reding and MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen

Background: in order to reach out to citizens, the EU Commission arranges a series of public discussions with Vice-President Viviane Reding and other Commissars and MEPs. The next event of this kind will be in Helsinki tomorrow, Tuesday 24 September, where Viviane Reding and MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP) have promised to be at the citizens' disposal for a debate on the themes :

" How we are getting out of the crisis, What are the rights of the EU citizens and How does the future of Europe look alike."

Here is a question I would like to ask:

When looking at the future prospects of the European Union, of which I am by principle a supporter, the first question that I, an elderly person with children and grandchildren, should like to ask, is the following: will the territory of the Union be nuclear-free and, in particular, free from nuclear (or other) weapons of mass destruction? Right now the news are bad. For instance, in the year 2010 the two EU member states UK and France signed the ‘Teutates Treaty’ in order to research together on new Nuclear weapons for the next 50 years! I could quote more evidence to show that member states of EU are not really acting in favour of nuclear disarmament. But how about the EU itself? What has it done, what can it do to rid the EU and Europe of nukes? What have you personally done; and what do you plan to do in this respect?

About the above-mentioned series of discussions, see http://ec.europa.eu/debate-future-europe/index_en.htm and http://ec.europa.eu/debate-future-europe/citizens-dialogues/finland/helsinki/index_en.htm

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Stop 1984 and keep the state under surveillance!

While the NSALeaks scandal unveils, our mailboxes are flooded by messages protesting against it. A while ago arrived a message from Stop84, a movement in Philadephia (USA), calling for an End to the Surveillance State. And, in yesterday's The Guardian (UK), veteran whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg wrote that Edward Snowden is "saving us from the United Stasi of America".

How does the American surveillance problematic relate to our discussions about global democratization and the World Social Forum? In numerous ways, undoubtedly. De nobis fabula narratur, these tales about the surveillance state concern us all, the Africans, Asians and Latin Americans as well as the North Americans. Plus, of course, all the citizens of this fake European Union (which will some day still be the real European Union that Spinelli envisaged).

Tyrants, princes, even elected political leaders, have always spied on their subjects, serfs and citizens. Only the scale of today's surveillance operations is unprecedented.

Our counter-operations, on the other hand, are also previously unheard of. Thanks to whistle-blowers like Ellsberg, Manning and Snowden, and ethical information pirates like Julian Assange/ WikiLeaks, and even some (but still rare) courageous journalists of the mass media (like Glenn Greenwald), we, the spied-on, are already becoming capable of blowing back on our rulers with their own surveillance weapons.

The roots of the present surveillance state go back to the Manhattan project (and similar projects outside the USA), the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the ensuing new kind of military-industrial-academic complex(es). George Orwell's 1984 tells the story.

The present period of the surveillance state started with the crimes of 9/11. But here we come to questions which have only rarely been discussed in connection with the WSF: What was 9/11?

Was 9/11 an attack against the the Empire? Or, was it an attack by the Empire? Was 9/11 only a terrorist act, albeit one of unusual dimensions? Or was it a strategic act of war, a "continuation of politics by other means," characteristic of the nuclear age? Was 9/11 a criminal revenge by fanatical Islamists? Or, was it a state crime against democracy? (See footnote)

Personally, I am inclined to answer yes to the second parts of the above questions. This means that I am what they call a conspiracy theorist. Which brings me back to another conspiracy, although one of the more benign kind. Namely, the WSF itself.

In these days, meanings and contradictions are reversed, just as Orwell predicted. For instance, we can now read about Pirate Parties in the papers. Well, pirate used refer to criminals only. Now a Pirate can already be a popular member of the European Parliament; see "Amelia Andersdotter: Internet copyright laws? They can walk the plank", says Pirate Party politician" (The Independent 12 May 2013). Ethical pirates are becoming possible.

Perhaps the time has also come for a global, but good, conspiracy: a new (and less technocratic) edition of the "Open Conspiracy" which H.G.Wells pleaded for back in the 1920s?

Much remains to be discussed, and done, about the World Social Forum, including the regional, national and local social forums. One vision of the WSF's future is that we make it into something more like a library, but not only a library of books. It needs to become at the same time a library of books and a library of activities. Public activities, which are well documented so that the library can be easily "surveilled" by us all. There you see: the "surveillance" in itself needs to be turned into a public and positive activity of the citizens. Not of the state.

The sender of the posting from Stop 1984 was right: End the surveillance state! But, by all means, continue to keep the state under surveillance!

Footnote: The concept of State Crimes Against Democracy (SCAD) is discussed and illustrated by the authors of the articles in American Behavioral Scientist, Volume 53, Number 6, February 2010. The main example of a SCAD discussed there is 9/11. It is also applicable on the electronic surveillance which has now been revealed by Snowden and the Guardian.

Monday 20 May 2013

Review: The Top 100 NGOs 2013 according to the Global Journal

Last week Pambazuka News, one of my regular web sources, reprinted an article by Fairouz El Tom on non-governmental organisations (See Diversity and inclusion. Do NGOs practice what they preach?). Inspired by an ongoing discussion about the role of the NGOs in the World Social Forum, and particularly during the WSF event in Tunis last March (to which I myself was a participant), I decided to take a closer look on Fairouz el Tom's material. This is how I became aware of the existence of "The Global Journal" , edited by Jean-Christophe Nothias (globaljournal.net) and decided to buy myself a copy of its Special Edition on the "Top 100 NGOs 2013" for 10 Swiss francs. Below, please find three notes from my logbook.

1.

My first reaction is that the selection of the TOP 100 NGOs 2013 of the Global Journal reflects the values and worldviews of the participants of the World Economic Forum. Not those of the participants of the World Social Forum. I mean, the issue has no photo of Chico Whitaker, but Bill Gates features in a pig picture. The leading analysis is written bay David Armitage of Harvard university. Is it even thinkable that it could have have been penned by Samir Amin of the ENDA?

Neither ATTAC, ABONG, Focus on the Global South, Tax Justice Network, Via Campesina, nor Conselho Internacional de Educação de Adultos, COSATU or MST did make it to the list of the Global Journal. I dont know if precisely these are the "Top 10" of WSF but I am sure I have heard and seen them there. How come none of them got mentioned in this special edition of the Global Journal?

Big companies publish glassy ads in the Global Journal and their selection of NGOs is prominently publicized in the mainstream press, such as the Guardian, UK. The aforementioned article by Fairouz El Tom had been published in the Guardian 7 May. The Global Journal is certainly an interesting read, though, and I would recommend that you get yourself an own copy. Still it surprises me that the excellent Pambazuka wished to reprint that article.

2.

The issue #15 of the Global Journal is well-edited and carefully stuffed. On page 3 of the issue comes the first advertisment: "Conserving Resources, Protecting the Climate". It means, among other things, that Global Journal is financed by by drug giant BAYER AG. But then, of course, it is also partly financed by myself and other readers, who paid 10 Swiss francs to read its digital copy.

How does the GJ define an NGO? According to the GJ, an NGO is "...an operational- or advocacy-focused non-profit organization active at the local, national or international level." (p. 38) OK, but how to draw the line between "governmental" and "non-governmental"? In reality, this border is blurred. Even the so called 'boots on the ground' may be private (and/or corporate) and, in that sense, "non-governmental". So this definition must be in our heads only. Antonio Gramsci called it "methodological". We just need it in order to make sense of the great continuum that lies in between the state and the civil society, and to be able to maintain, whenever it proves necessary, that "we" are not The State. (L'état, c'est n'est pas moi.)

Corpwatch, the San Francisco based group, tries to hold corporations like BAYER AG accountable by researching and documenting their profit-driven malfeasance (see, e.g http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=723). So does Corporate Watch, another group with a similar name (see e.g. http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=320#poisons) So why are Corpwatch or Corporate Watch not scored, or even mentioned, in GJ:s report about the Top 100 NGO:s? Evidently, the reason is that these groups do not meet "the three key criteria relevant to the activities of any NGO impact, innovation and sustainability" (p 39 ; these are GJ's criteria for inclusion among the TOP 100 NGOs). Now, it must be added that GJ does not claim to be "scientific". Indeed, it explicitely stresses, that "despite our best efforts to ensure the ranking is based on concrete information fed through a rigorous, objective process, there is no science in the measuring", and continues: "We invite you to read the feature that follows for what it is a fascinating global snapshot of an often-overlooked sector." Agreed! The content of GJ #15 is indeed fascinating. But why does the digital copy have to cost 10 Swiss francs?

For your information, the TOP 100 NGOs, in the order they are listed by the GJ, are as follows:

1. BRAC 2. Wikimedia Foundation 3. Acumen Fund 4. Danish Refugee Council 5. Partners in Health 6. Ceres 7. CARE International 8. Médecins Sans Frontières 9. Cure Violence 10. Mercy Corps 11. APOPO 12. Root Capital 13. Handicap International 14. International Rescue Committee 15. Barefoot College 16. Landesa 17. Ashoka 18. One Acre Fund 19. Clinton Health Access Initiative 20. Heifer International 21. Human Rights Watch 22. Rare 23. Akshaya Patra Foundation 24. Gram Vikas 25. DIGITAL DIVIDE DATA 26. Room to Read 27. Amnesty International 28. AMREF 29. Pratham 30. iDE 31. Riders for Health 32. MERLIN 33. Fonkoze 34. Helen Keller International 35. Water for People 36. Aflatoun 37. FrontlineSMS 38. Marie Stopes International 39. International Planned Parenthood Federation 40. Save the Children International 41. PLAN International 42. Tostan 43. Fred Hollows Foundation 44. Transparency International 45. Saude Crianca 46. Escuela Nueva 47. Open Society Foundations 48. Operation ASHA 49. International Medical Corps 50. GAIN 51. Search for common ground 52. WITNESS 53. Friends of the Earth Middle East 54. CAMBIA 55. Common Ground 56. Viva Rio 57. International Crisis Group 58. Habitat For Humanity 59. KickStart International 60. ZOA 61. Friends-International 62. Architecture for Humanity 63. Concern 64. Center for Digital Inclusion 65. American Refugee Committee 66. International Center for Transitional Justice 67. Interpeace 68. Geneva Call 69. Rainforest Alliance 70. FAWE 71. Code for America 72. Child & Youth Finance International 73. Asylum Access 74. Ycab Foundation 75. PlanetRead 76. Dhaka Ahsania Mission 77. International Commission of Jurists 78. World Vision 79. Movember Foundation 80. PlaNet Finance 81. Free the Children 82. Terre des Hommes International Federation 83. TRIAL 84. International Bridges to Justice 85. Skateistan 86. International Alert 87. Libera 88. Krousar Thmey Cambodia 89. Greenpeace 90. Global Footprint Network 91. Luz Portatil Brasil 92. INJAZ al-Arab 93. CIVICUS 94. Generations for Peace 95. Send a Cow Uganda 96. Project WET Foundation 97. Instituto da Crianca 98. Diplo Foundation 99. Born Free Foundation 100. Akilah Institute for Women

It could be a nice exercise to try and couple each and every one of the above organisations with a more radical, feminist, socialist, honest, or just non-governmental alternative. Like e.g. Transparency International - Tax Justice Network; Diplo Foundation - Les amis du monde diplomatique; Generations for Peace - No Bases Network ; International Commission of Jurists - IALANA, etc. Or, one could also try to produce the opposite list, to quote a less radical, feminist, socialist, honest, or just more governmental alternative. For instance: Friends of the Earth Middle East - AIPAC ; Wikimedia Foundation - Heritage Foundation; etc.

The interview with historian Mark Mazower, author of the book "Governing the World", (see "Dreaming The International Dream", pp 10-14) gives more food for thought about the definition of an NGO. Asked about why 'world government' is nowadays only rarely spoken of, while the expression 'world governance' is all the more often heard, Mazower says: "I think the semantic shift betrays something very, very important, which is that we moved from a world where people had confidence in the idea of government or at least some did to a world that lost it."

3.

It could be interesting to list the funding agencies, the international and national NGOs most active in and around the WSF, and to do a critical critical study on them. The results would certainly be very different to the GJ's TOP 100. But there would probably also be some overlapping. To do such a study could be a nice Master's or PhD project for someone, but not for the present writer; I shall now finish this trip to NGO-land with a few further notes.

The editors of the Global Journal do not say a word about imperialism. Do they think that imperialism is no longer a reality? And the nuclear weapons systems including the missile defense, are these only a thing of the past? The editors and writers of the GJ maintain a deep silence about the military-industrial-academic complex. But then the peoples of the WSF hardly speak loudly enough about that, either!

Nowadays, when I read an eJournal like the GJ, I cannot resist the temptation to do searches on the material. The searchword 'drones' leads to GJ's piece on On Borders (on p. 122), which was originally called The Ostkreuz Agency. This is only one of several NGOs on their TOP 100 list which I personally had not previously heard about (as said, this issue of the GJ is a good read!). "The Ostkreuz Agency was founded when what was probably the most important border in the history of Germany the Berlin Wall disappeared. Two decades later, its photographers set out on a search for todays frontiers ... On Borders covers many borders dissecting the planet, but there are some that seem less recognized: European borders. ... Ever since the advent of the Frontex Agency, a kind of common EU border patrol, technology is being upgraded along the edges of Europe.... In 2011, according to Frontexs report, the number of individuals arrested rose by 35 percent from 104,000 in 2010 to 141,000 in 2011. In the future, the organization plans to use robots and drones."

Henceforward, our external memory is carried by drones. But I remember the long list of names of the drowned and unsaved laid out on the ground at the campus El Manar in Tunis where the most recent WSF event was held. Hopefully, some photographers from On Borders also participate in the process of the WSF.

The advertisments of the GJ would be worth their own study. Even before the climate-friendly one of BAYER AG (p.5) come the Swiss watches of Jaquet Droz (p. 2). Somewhere, recently, I read about Yang Dacai, head of the Shaanxi Provincial Bureau of Work Safety, who was fired when users of the microblogging site Weibo noticed his collection of extremely pricey watches, one reportedly valued up to $32,000 and posted photos... (See Ivan Krastev: In Mistrust We Trust, kindlelocation 530; copied character by character by myself - because Kindle does not let you use the Copy and Paste function). Well, Yang Dacai's timepiece is in the price category of the Jaquet Droz watches for such kleptocrats.

Above, I quoted Mark Mazower on confidence in government. Or, more precisely, on the confidence lost. This theme (to use the musical term) is being further developed by Ivan Krastev in the aforementioned new eBook "In Mistrust We Trust - Can Democracy Survive When We don't Trust Our Leaders?" (I had to buy this one, too; price 4,95 USD). I'll say no more. Let me just note that while Ivan Krastev has many negative things to say about Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, but nothing at all about Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia, The Global Journal does not even mention the former, while The Wikimedia Foundation (with its Wikipedia) features as #2 among the world's foremost NGO's according to GJ, and its chairperson is considered to be famous enough to be shown on a big photo without his name (the name "Jimmy Wales" is not to be found in the whole issue).

(Will be back to the Ivan Krastev book.)

Tuesday 17 July 2012

The military exception

The participants of the DEMOCRACY INTERNATIONAL Summer Academy (Burgas, Bulgaria, 12.-15.07.2012) underlined that the future of the European Union must not be decided only by representatives of governments, the central bank and other executive institutions. But how to enable the citizens of the EU countries to decide on their Union? DEMOCRACY INTERNATIONAL would "call for a European Convention - as foreseen in Article 48 of the Treaty of the functioning of the EU - and for a europeanwide referendum on the outcome of this convention and on the future of the EU."

This convention, summarizes Gerald Häfner, the President of Democracy International, in his email "should be elected by the people, have enough time for its work and integrate civil society proposals. The European Union has to become a Europe of the citizens - or the European Union will fail."

With this conclusion one could only heartily agree, if one would not see one major obstacle which, at least for the time being, is blocking the road towards a better future. What I aim at is the unwillingness of the citizens to discuss the most fundamental issue of the federal state which is its military defence. This issue is more or less the same as the question whether we should at all strive towards a European Union.

As we have seen, it is not possible to achieve a "full-scale economic union" without first achieving a political union. In particular, it is impossible to keep and deepen the democracy in such a fake EU. But the main reason for the failure of the full-scale political integration, namely, the absence of the defence union, is almost never even mentioned.

Why this silence? Is it really so that people do not understand the issue? I doubt that. Consider the example of the French nuclear strike force, the force the frappe, which is aiming, as they like to say, tous azimuths, i.e. in all directions and against all potential aggressors, and thus also against, for instance, Germany. Indeed, if history matters at all, then the French atomic bombs seem to have been built especially with Germany in mind.

Now try for a while to think about the political union. How can one even for a moment imagine a union between countries that aim at each others with weapons of mass destruction?

I deliberately chose to begin with the atomic weapons, because I wished to go straight into the matter, which is also what kind of united defence forces the European Union should have once its citizens decide to build a democratic state for themselves, which DEMOCRACY INTERNATIONAL obviously hopes that they will do. (And, just to clear away any misunderstandings, so do I.) Should the EU have weapons of mass destruction in order to "deter" and, if the "deterrence" fails, to actually exterminate the populations of any external enemies?

With this question alone, I already hope to have made my self a little bit clearer. Because this is precisely the kind of question that bears upon the future of the European union and which, by consequence, we absolutely need to discuss and decide upon.

Now, let's assume the resurgence of a Europe-wide progressive citizens movement for nuclear disarmament, a movement with participants from every kind of people from cat-lovers to army generals like the one that we had in the 1980ies, a movement of millions of people which strongly pushes for the denuclearization of the EU and its withdrawal from the present aggressive transatlantic plans regarding missile shields and full spectrum military dominance with drones, weapons for prompt global strikes and God knows what nano-, bio, or robotic monsters. (By the way, how can one for a moment imagine that any change in our "economic model" could come about without the resurgence of such a movement?)

Further, suppose that the resurgent European peace movement adopts the proposal of DEMOCRACY INTERNATIONAL, and calls for "a European Convention - as foreseen in Article 48 of the Treaty of the functioning of the EU" , with the aim of introducing the constitution of the EU, thus into its basic law, a clause whereby all the member countries agree to abolish whatever weapons of mass destruction they may have, and not to build any new ones.

So, what would happen if the real European movement would be there before our eyes? ? Well, if you ask any specialist trained in European law and business, nothing would still happen. Because, the revision procedures as foreseen in the Treaty of the functioning of the EU "apply to all European policies with the exception of defence and decisions with military implications"! (See http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/institutional_affairs/treaties/lisbon_treaty/ai0013_en.htm.)

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Jean-Marie Matagne perseveres

In the southern French town of Saintes, Jean-Marie Matagne, aged 68, the President of Action des Citoyens pour le Désarmement Nucléaire (ACDN), began a hunger strike on 15 May 2012 to obtain a referendum on nuclear weapons.

The goal of Matagne and his friends is to break what he calls the nuclear omertà, or the shameful silence which surrounds France's weapons of mass destruction, and which also continued during the recent election campaigns.

In an article, which Dr Matagne wrote together with the Norwegian-born presidential candidate, the judge Eva Joly, they note, that France is in breach of international law spending billions of euros per year to develop new nuclear weapons.

The tenacious philosopher himself is one year older than the world's first nuclear test in Alamogordo, NM, USA (July 1945). Now that more than fifty years have also passed since the first French atomic bomb explosion in Reggane, Algeria (February 1960), Matagne believes that humanity risks missing its last chance to prevent a further proliferation and catastrophic use of weapons of mass destruction.

Nuclear weapons  have never been the subject of democratic decision-making in France (or anywhere else). Now Jean-Marie Matagne and his friends insist on a referendum whereby the French people would be asked to decide on the following question: "Are you in favour of France participating with the other states concerned in the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, under a system of mutual and international monitoring that is strict and effective ?" 

When I called up Dr. Matagne on Sunday, he confirmed that he will be continuing his hunger strike at least until Saturday, June  23, when forty days will have passed since he began. He still hopes to have the opportunity to discuss the referendum proposal with France's new government and new president François Hollande. Minister of Education Vincent Peillon and other new Cabinet members have acknowledged receipt of Matagne's letter. - After 40 days, my condition will probably turn critical. I have already lost 17 kg in weight, Matagne said.

(This entry is an English summary of my letters to the editor of the Finland-Swedish daily newspaper "Hufvudstadsbladet" concerning Jean-Marie Matagne's hunger strike. My first letter was published on May 18, and a second letter appeared on June 20, 2012. Read more about Jean-Marie Matagne's action at http://www.acdn.net. And remember: Without disarmament, there will be no sustainable development.)

Monday 18 June 2012

Without disarmament, there will be no sustainable development

The Trade Union Assembly statement from Rio is "an important step forward", writes Norwegian social activist Asbjörn Wahl to the mailing list of the European Social Forum. And I agree. In their statement, the workers "embrace the cause of a socially-just transition towards a sustainable development model", and they urge that this "transition must begin without further delay".

In the wording of this good trade union statement one looks, however, in vain for any explicit mention of the environmental impact of the arms industry, the contradiction between the arms trade and the social development, the CO2-emissions of the armies (major consumers of fossil fuels), and the threat posed to every living creature on earth by the existing radiological and other weapons of mass destruction.

But is a "transition towards a sustainable development model" even conceivable without a critique and a deconstruction of the military-industrial complex?

The answer is clearly no. This, on the other hand, has been well understood by the signatories of the international appeal Rio plus 20 Disarmament for Sustainable Development. This appeal was initiated by The International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES), the International Peace Bureau (IPB), Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF), the World Future Council (WFC), Mayors for Peace (MFP), VivaRio, Better World Links and World without Wars and Violence.

Quotation from the appeal "Disarmament for Sustainable Development":

"... Ecological disasters pile up; the loss of biodiversity and the destruction of the eco-system are increasing dramatically. In addition, the current economic crisis has made the world’s governments reduce spending on critical human needs and is once again hitting the weakest the hardest." "However, apparently unlimited financial resources seem to be available for military jets, tanks, ships, bombs, missiles, landmines and nuclear weapons. The technological developments in the armaments field are becoming more and more sophisticated and murderous." "How to reverse this process is the challenge of today." "The signatories of this Appeal demand that the governments of the world seriously address this neglected issue, and agree on a global plan for disarmament at the Rio Summit in June 2012... "

"Without disarmament, there will be no adequate development; without development, there will be no justice, equality and peace. We must give sustainability a chance. "

Monday 4 June 2012

Pour une Union Européenne sans armes nuclèaires (For a EU without nuclear weapons)

This entry was inspired by the hunger strike of Jean-Marie Matagne, which has by now lasted 21st days. I thought it was a good idea to try and write it in French...

Pour une Union Européenne sans armes nuclèaires

Pourquoi l'union européenne ne s'est elle pas materialisée, du moins pas au rythme qui serait nécessaire si l'intention est de répondre aux problèmes urgents de la crise économique et financière?

La réponse est facile à donner: l'économie est en grande partie politique. Par conséquent, il faudrait d'abord réaliser une union politique pleine et entière pour que l'union économique devienne une réalité.

Il faut faire une mise en garde importante, cependant. La politique est à son tour en grande partie une question de la guerre et de la paix. Cela vaut également pour l'Union européenne. Au début, la vision européenne a été fondée sur ce point, comme nous le lisons dans le "Manifeste de Ventotene" (1941). Les deux auteurs de ce texte fondateur, Altiero Spinelli et Ernesto Rossi, étaient partisans de l'argument fort d'Alexander Hamilton en faveur du fédéralisme: "Espérer le maintien de l’harmonie entre plusieurs Etats indépendants et voisins, ce serait perdre de vue le cours uniforme des événements humains et aller contre l’expérience des siècles."

Sur la base de cette idée réaliste, l'union économique présuppose l'union politique, qui à son tour exige l'union militaire. Ici se pose la question: pourquoi doit-il être si difficile de parvenir à une union militaire et politique des états éuropéens? La réponse spontanée, non seulement des Vrais Finlandais et leurs homologues en Europe mais aussi d'une grande partie de la gauche politique, c'est que l'idée d'un état fédérale européenne n'a pas obtenu le soutien des peuples. Une union européenne politique et de défense ne serait donc pas démocratique, il est réclamé.

C'est ignorer le fait que le premier Parlement européen élu, en 1984, a adopté, avec une confortable majorité (237 votes sur 31 avec 43 abstentions), le projet de traité instituant l'union politique européenne (qui d'ailleurs avait été proposé par le même Spinelli du "manifeste de Ventotene"). Presque tous les élus ont appuyé la proposition, mais tous les gouvernements l'ont rejeté.

Ce qu'on oublie aussi, ou qu'on ne veux pas ou n'ose pas prendre en compte , ce sont les armes de destruction massive. Comme un citoyen Finlandais qui aime bien la France, je dois pourtant donner raison à M. Jean-Marie Matagne qui a constaté, en commencent son grêve de la faim*, qu'il existe en France une sorte d’omertà nucléaire. Et comme un citoyen de l'UE, je retrouve ce silence honteux sur le plan européen. Sans doute, quelques géneraux de l'OTAN en discutent, mais pour les citoyens cette question clé est restée tabou.

”Le peuple français n’a jamais été consulté sur la question des armes nucléaires, armes de crimes contre l’humanité, construites en son nom et avec ses subsides”, a dit M. Matagne. Le peuple Finlandais non plus...

Cet obstacle, et la fausse idée de souveraineté absolue qui l'accompagne, doit être éliminé.

L'union européenne démocratique commence avec le désarmement nucléaire européenne, donc avec l'abolition des forces nucléaires françaises et britanniques, et le désengagement militaire américaine en Europe. Il s'agit-là d'un vrai projet de libération.

Mais nous ne devrions pas attendre que le Président de la Commission européenne, ou bien l'un de Présidents ou premiers des pays membres de l'UE, vont prendre l'initiative. Seule la pression d'un fort mouvement européenne pour la paix et le désarmement pourrait les faire tourner leurs manteaux.

Mikael Böök Lovisa Finlande

Friday 18 May 2012

The hunger strike of Jean-Marie Matagne

Jean-Marie Matagne, an anti-nuclear militant living in the town of Saintes of Southwestern France, went on hunger strike last Tuesday. Matagne, a 68-year doctor of philosophy, is calling attention to the nuclear omertà, that is, the shameful silence about France's nuclear weapons during the recent elections. I hope this theme will also be discussed at the ongoing Blockupy in Frankfurt, because I do not believe that a real and democratic European Union could possess nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction. As Matagne says in his communiqué (see www.acdn.net) , the French people has never been heard about the construction of such criminal weapons. To show my solidarity with dr Matagne, I inserted the following comment on the website of the French newspaper "Sud-Ouest", where Matagne's hunger strike is being discussed:

@Pignon et autres, merci de ne pas refuser la conscience! Je pense que le lien entre les armes nucléaires et le statut de grande puissance peut être dissous en Europe, par les peuples européens eux-mêmes. Nous avons besoin d’un mouvement européen pro-européen pour le désarmement nucléaire. Pro-européen, c’est-à-dire en faveur de la création d’un Etat européen démocratique - une véritable Union européenne. Une telle Union ne peut pas disposer des armes de destruction massive. Comme le dit M. Matagne, ces armes ne sont pas du people ni pour le peuple. Salutations de Nord-Ouest, c'est-à-dire de la Finlande,

Mikael Böök

Loviisa

PS Pardon, la Finlande, c'est évidemment le Nord-Est! And once I am on it, why don't I add the idea in English, too:

The link between nuclear weapons and great power status can be broken in Europe, by the peoples of Europe. We need a pro-European movement for European Nuclear Disarmament. Pro-European means being in favour of establishing a democratic European state - a real European Union.

Not to speak about the need to uncover the links between the austerity measures and all the money that goes into the military-industrial production and consumption (the EADS, the BAE, the Finmeccanica, the missile defence systems, the "nuclear capable" aircraft), and so on... Greetings to Frankfurt! the same

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Summary

Dear forum goers,

hope you will have a good meeting. I cannot make it to Brussels today. Below, please find a short summary of my thoughts:

There is a necessary connection between any new constitution and the military strategy. To finish with the so called war on terror, working group 1 ought in my view to amend the draft treaty on EU which was approved by the representatives of several European peoples in February 1984. Points of departure for the re-drafting: the emerging informational hegemony of the internet; the dissolution of the military alliances, e.g. of NATO; the unilateral abolition of our weapons of mass destruction. Congo, and the millions of human beings killed there since the assassination of Lumumba, must also be kept in mind. Make the new draft even shorter and more gemeinverständlich than the draft from 1984. Make sure it will be swiftly translated into all languagues.

As for the debt crisis, let us all join the struggle of ATTAC for a tax on financial transactions. An FTT must not exclude the money trade. (1). Its purposes are two: to kill the financial speculation; to regulate the capitalists in order to give people power a better chance (2). The tax revenue should be spent on a useful purpose, e.g. on optical fiber networks owned by the public libraries, but that is not why an FTT is needed.

Warm regards,

Mikael

Explanations:

1: Presently, it seems that the EU-negotiators plan to introduce a financial transactions tax without a currency transactions tax. Source: Patomäki, Heikki: "Financial transaction tax (FTT): An analysis of the EU Commission proposal" (http://www.cttcampaigns.info/Patomaki_EU_FTT).

2: The capitalists are a group which roughly corresponds to that which is described by Nicholas Shaxson in his book Treasure Islands. Tax Havens and The Men Who Stole The World. Bodley Head 2011. People power (democracy) is our political goal. The old political system must go and the new system, which we call federation, must come in its stead.

- page 2 of 7 -