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Monday 17 December 2018

The material interest

The first political condition for the refoundation of the EU, says Balibar, is that the peoples of the EU have a material interest in it. For us who think that historical materialism has a great point,— the point that the material conditions of the peoples are, in the last instance, decisive— this sounds very true indeed. And this truth implies another great point: history is in reality made by masses of people who, in the end, are guided by their material interest.

Yet the role of science-based technology in the human history has proved as fundamental as the material interest. Or even more fundamental, because of the Doomsday Machine. I suppose that a majority of the reading public, and even of those who not read that much, are aware of this existential threat to their own survival: The Doomsday Machine. The most detailed and chilling account of the Doomsday Machine that I know of is Daniel Ellsberg's book with that very title.(1)

But is not survival—the survival of each and everyone—then also a material interest?

"Erst kommt das Fressen, dann kommt die Moral" (Brecht). True, but even before the eating comes the disarmament. Let economists, like Keynes, believe that this may be so "in the long run" (when we are all dead anayway), but not right now. No, the disarming and the deconstruction of the Doomsday Machine is a very fundamental part of the present material interest. . It is the top of an enormous economical iceberg, the part of the real economy that is wasted in the war industries, the ongoing arms race, the armies, navies, military air and space forces, and the actual wars.

Economists believe that it is possible to "save the EU from itself", by fiscal policy. (2) It is not. It is necessary to take on the military-industrial-academic complex, because this is in the material interest of the peoples!

To what extent is the ecological crisis, and the climate crisis, in particular, a result of "the war economy" (Seymour Melman) ? Dear economists, could you please try calculate it?

Can the ecological crisis be solved without the conversion of the military machines to green production?

Can the democracy be enlarged in the nuclear state? How much of the democracy can even co-exist with the Doomsday Machine?

(1) Ellsberg, D. : The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner (2017). Edward Snowden tweeted about this book: "As we flirt with nuclear war for the first time in decades, @DanielEllsberg releases perhaps the most authoritative work ever produced on the subject (he helped write the plans!). "

_(2)_ See http://tdem.eu/

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Those who do not count in the armament billions and war budgets in the climate equation will never solve it

16 November

Following the recent Salafist-Jihadi terrorist attacks in Paris the leaders of the environmental movement are now reported to discuss whether it is wise to go on as planned with the large international demonstrations around the UN climate conference in that city on 30 November and 11 December 2015.

I really hope that the civic movements will not become paralyzed. A similar situation arose last winter before the World Social Forum in Tunis. A few days before the international big meeting had Salafists shot dead at least 20 tourists at the Bardo Museum. This violence certainly got many participants to thinking twice before departure to Tunis.

Fortunately most participants continued their thinking and drew the correct conclusion: if we stay at home, we recognize that violence is fruitful and efficient and thus, tat the Salafis have chosen the right method. And so the World Social Forum in Tunis 2015 had a great many participants and became a success despite the recently-concluded terror attacks.

If civic activists and movements let themselves become intimidated into retreat and passivity they will only fall in the hands of their opponents, these governments, which hardly can avoid to turn the climate conference in Paris into yet another fiasco. Because these governments, like the terrorists, prioritize violence as problem solving method. Just look at the French government's bombing raids in Syria in response to the recent shootings and suicide attacks in Paris!

The United Nations was founded "to save future generations from the scourge of war." In a few days, the UN is to deal with another plague, i.e. climate change. This can succeed only if citizens take courage and adopt a strategy, which addresses both these problems together.

17 November

''"This movement for climate justice has always also been a movement for peace--a way for people around the world to come together, no matter their background or religion, and fight to protect our common home."''

As happy as I am about the decision of the Climate Coalition to go on with its planned peaceful actions in Paris despite the recent terrorist actions there, I still do not share your conviction that "this movement for climate justice has always also been a movement for peace."

If you can pardon me for this disagreement, I am, however, ready to agree that this movement is close to becoming a real movement for peace.

The first thing we see today on the Facebook-page of the climate coalition is the logogram for solidarity with the victims of the terrorists in Paris; I mean the logo which combines the nuclear disarmament symbol (originally designed for the British Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, CND) with the Eiffel tower.


My point is that, in addition to expressing solidarity with the victims of terror, this symbol should symbolize a common demand for European Nuclear Disarmament. And that the climate movement ought to say so, clear and loud!

Does this require too much? Should we focus on "the climate crisis" now, and take up the issue of world peace later? Would the nuclear disarmament priority lead to a fragmentation of the movement for climate justice?

I hope you do not hesitate to give a negative answer to these questions. The general argument in support of the view that the climate movement ought to demand nuclear disarmament (without conditions) could be summarized as follows: The armies burn more oil than many nations. Wars in the Middle East are motivated in large part by a desire to control and profit from much greater amounts of fossil fuels. The continuing nuclear arms race (nowadays often disguised with the label of "modernisation") creates a serious climate threat. Those who do not count in the armament billions and war budgets in the climate equation will never solve it.

Consider, for instance, the probability of a "nuclear winter", following upon even upon a nuclear war that would be limited in scale. But then, could a war where France would launch its nuclear strike force against an enemy, remain limited? And, just to illustrate the mention of the billions spent on armaments, of wich the nuclear armaments are only like the top of the iceberg, take, for example, the French M51-missile.

But the present situation, after the most recent incidents of Salafist-Jihadi terrorism in Paris, also urgently require the climate movement to become an outspoken defender of disarmament and peace.

The temptation is great to agree with the reasoning that, in this case, we have to accept the use of air raids and bombs, and that, from now on, it is necessary to utterly destroy the IS by violent means. However, I tend to agree, instead, with the reasoning of Pierre Conesa, a former senior civil servant at the Department of Defence and lecturer at Sciences Po, when he says, in a recent interview: "The more we get stuck in a military logic, the more attacks we will face." (Read MiddleEastEye's interview Interview with Pierre Conesa: 'We've declared war first in the Middle East' ".)

The French general and military theorist Vincent Desportes, in his statement to the commission for foreign policy and defence of the Sanate in December 2014, argued that France should not deepen its military engagement in the fight against the Daech (ISIS). "Daech delenda est" (Daech must be destroyed, for sure) he confirmed, and added: "action is needed, but who is to act?"

Thereafter, he presented the following analysis:

''Quel est le docteur Frankenstein qui a créé ce monstre ? Affirmons-le clairement, parce que cela a des conséquences : ce sont les Etats-Unis. Par intérêt politique à court terme, d'autres acteurs - dont certains s'affichent en amis de l'Occident - d'autres acteurs donc, par complaisance ou par volonté délibérée, ont contribué à cette construction et à son renforcement. Mais les premiers responsables sont les Etats-Unis. Ce mouvement, à la très forte capacité d'attraction et de diffusion de violence, est en expansion. Il est puissant, même s'il est marqué de profondes vulnérabilités. Il est puissant mais il sera détruit. C'est sûr. Il n'a pas d'autre vocation que de disparaître.'' (link to source)

If General Desportes is right in his opinion that the ISIS is a creation of the USA, and that its mission is to disappear when it has done its job-and I believe he is-then we have a double reason not to support the air strikes and the bombings. Firstly, we are a citizens movement, and as such, airstrikes and bombings should not be our business; secondly, let the monster be killed by those who created it.

And remember this universal slogan, made in USA:

"Cut the military, save the climate."(link to source)

17 November, afternoon

Today, we have learned that France requests military help from the other EU states. Time to remember Altiero Spinelli, the author of the Memorandum sull'esercito europeo, arguing for a European federation and the creation of a common European army. But that was back in 1951, when the European Defence Community (EDC) was still on the table. Ironically, "the EDC went for ratification in the French National Assembly on 30 August 1954, and failed by a vote of 319 against 264."

To be honest, I think it is already too late. But we should always say: "Perhaps it is not too late!" Moreover, we must continue to act as if things were that way.

Nuclear disarmament, however, is an either-or issue, perhaps one of the very few issues that really are of that kind. Either one of the existing nuclear weapons states -France, for example-unilaterally proceeds to abolishing those weapons, thereby opening the Exit door for the rest of us, or... well, the alternative is "Exterminism." (See E.P.Thompson, "Notes on Exterminism, the Last Stage of Civilization", New Left Review I/121, May-June 1980.)

Saturday 6 September 2014

Our world is governed by nuclear terrorists

"Civil society and popular movements must start to act", yes, and I am willing to spread this message, but as long as the question of European nuclear disarmament is not high on our agenda, our "Peace in Europe" action will be groping in the dark and our future will be decided by the great powers and big corporations. And the Ukrainian crisis will continue to escalate into a new "Cold War", and the world will continue to drift towards a "Hot War" in which nuclear weapons will be used.


A senior analyst of US-Russian relations, prof. Stehen F. Cohen, recently stated (here comes four full paragraphs of quotation):

"Ukraine is linked to Russia not only in terms of being Russias essential security zone, but its linked conjugally, so to speak, intermarriage. There are millions, if not tens of millions, of Russian and Ukrainians married together. Put it in NATO, and youre going to put a barricade through millions of families. Russia will react militarily.

"In fact, Russia is already reacting militarily, because look what they're doing in Wales today. They're going to create a so-called rapid deployment force of 4,000 fighters. What is 4,000 fighters? Fifteen thousand or less rebels in Ukraine are crushing a 50,000-member Ukrainian army. Four thousand against a million-man Russian army, its nonsense. The real reason for creating the so-called rapid deployment force is they say it needs infrastructure. And the infrastructurethat is, in plain language is military basesneed to be on Russias borders. And they've said where they're going to put them: in the Baltic republic, Poland and Romania.

"Now, why is this important? Because NATO has expanded for 20 years, but its been primarily a political expansion, bringing these countries of eastern Europe into our sphere of political influence; now its becoming a military expansion. So, within a short period of time, we will have a new -- well, we have a new Cold War, but here's the difference. The last Cold War, the military confrontation was in Berlin, far from Russia. Now it will be, if they go ahead with this NATO decision, right plunk on Russias borders. Russia will then leave the historic nuclear agreement that Reagan and Gorbachev signed in 1987 to abolish short-range nuclear missiles. It was the first time nuclear -- a category of nuclear weapons had ever been abolished. Where are, by the way, the nuclear abolitionists today? Where is the grassroots movement, you know, FREEZE, SANE? Where have these people gone to? Because were looking at a new nuclear arms race. Russia moves these intermediate missiles now to protect its own borders, as the West comes toward Russia. And the tripwire for using these weapons is enormous."

"One other thing. Russia has about, I think, 10,000 tactical nuclear weapons, sometimes called battlefield nuclear weapons. You use these for short distances. They can be fired; you dont need an airplane or a missile to fly them. They can be fired from artillery. But they're nuclear. They're radioactive. They've never been used. Russia has about 10,000. We have about 500. Russia's military doctrine clearly says that if Russia is threatened by overwhelming conventional forces, we will use tactical nuclear weapons. So when Obama boasts, as he has on two occasions, that our conventional weapons are vastly superior to Russia, he's feeding into this argument by the Russian hawks that we have to get our tactical nuclear weapons ready." (You ought to look up the full interview with Stephen F. Cohen yesterday at Democracy Now!, -- thanks to Toshimuro Ogura who pointed at it at WSF-Discuss)


Prof. Cohen mentioned the huge American mass movements FREEZE and SANE of the 1980s. He also ought to have mentioned END, that is, European Nuclear Disarmament, the immense popular and anti-systemic European movement of the same decade.

END, being a non-aligned and Neutralist movement, not committed to "the East" nor to "The West", was opening a perspective towards an alternative world system. Our Social Forum has hitherto lacked this perspective. It has postponed it, and in so doing it has been mistaken. Another world is not possible without nuclear disarmament, and nuclear disarmament will not be decided multilaterally. It has to begin in some particular country and/or region. It has to start unilaterally.

Unilateral nuclear disarmament is the right thing to do, morally. But it is also the right thing to do from a military, strategical, point of view -- a necessary condition for what can possibly be meant with "a victory".

It is politically right, because the "weapons" of today (the nuclear, but also the new genetic, nanotech and robotic weapons) are incompatible with justice and democracy.

Economically: disarmament indeed opens up an economic perspective, and the nuclear armament systems are the top of the iceberg, that is, of our "war economy", which contributes, probably more than anything else, to destroying the conditions of life on this planet.

And culturally?


Our world is governed by nuclear terrorists.

"It is hopeless. And we are not giving up." -- Jan Erik Vold

Saturday 26 April 2014

Your strategy will prevail

It is hopeless. And we do not give up.
--Jan-Erik Vold, Norwegian poet, b. 1939.

When you have a long period without a major war, you tend to forget the peace all while the states continue to prepare for that major war.

Last year they spent 1700 billions on their armies and nuclear weapons space missile defenses while talking about the climate.

They. You. And me.

In these days, it looks like we, the peace movement of 2014, would be shrinking as rapidly as the peace movement of 1914.

And we do not give up. How about a joint Russian-European nuclear disarmament initiative "from below"?


To win a war you need to fight. To win the fight you need a plan, a strategy. But first of all you need courage.

Take courage, implement your strategy. Nuclear disarmament will prevail.

Thursday 10 December 2009

A serious comment on the draft declaration

These are my comments on the second draft of the declaration of the ongoing Klimaforum09 in Copenhagen. (A preliminary version of the comment is also found here..)

I would like to sign the declaration as an individual, and I will probably do so, although I think this declaration is far from saying what needs to be said right now.

Yes, a system change is needed, and each of the dozen or so proposed "Concrete steps towards a sustainable transition" is desirable. However, the word 'military' occurs only once in the draft text. Are its authors at all considering what the realities behind that word mean to the climate and the global warming in addition to what it does to the peoples? What 'system change', or 'transition', can we hope for if we do not take on the world's military-industrial complex?

It would certainly be more politically effective to ask the negotiators at the COP15 to agree on a convention on nuclear disarmament than to require them to look for "a bright future beyond Capitalism" (I refer here to the text on poster for the demonstration 12 December). Hell, the nuclear weapons are precisely what has kept and continues to keep the global economic and political Capitalist system together ever since 1945. A break with Capitalism requires first of all a break with the WMD-powered great power syndrome. Each one of them - USA, Russia, China, France, UK and India (and maybe even Israel or Pakistan) - could actually initiate the necessary 'transition' and 'system change' just by unilaterally, without waiting for the others, abolishing their own WMD. The WMD are entirely human generated, their existence and development are totally dependent on our will. So what is more likely: that we get rid of the WMD, or that we stop the global warming? And then: how can we be so naive as to believe that we can stop the global warming without getting rid of the WMD, which are the wrongest of all our wrong habits?

The CO2 emissions from all fossil fuel burning are, of course, also very wrong. Between 2003 and 2007 the war in Iraq alone was responsible for "at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent"; this "equals the emissions from putting 25 million more cars on the road in the US" (quoted from the report "A Climate of War. The war in Iraq and global warming".) But the threat of nuclear war and of the climate change which be caused by the "nuclear winter" after the nuclear war has not gone away although the consciousness about the dangers of man-made global warming may have increased. The new genetics, robotics and nanotech based weapons systems which are underway may be still worse than the existing nuclear weapons and space war systems. However, the latter are already bad enough, aren't they?

How can those of us who live in Europe even imagine that the EU will reduce its CO2 emissions with one or another percentage, but at the same time let some of its members go on modernizing their submarine-launched missiles and 'Oceanic' warheads, while others make SOFA agreements with the USA about new military bases and missile defense systems?

What our European politicians say (1) is that our values are so high and our way of life is so superior that they have the right to wipe out as many millions of human beings as they like if needs be. Now that the Cold War between the USA and the USSR has ended, the European WMD are in fact exclusively directed towards the peoples of the global South. They are the purest expression of the European racism and imperialism. As long as those multi-billion (euro) European WMD, dual-purpose space industries (the EADS company, for instance) and missile defense systems continue to be maintained and modernized, we shall hardly be believed, or be able to believe in ourselves, when we speak of "climate justice"!

"All these social, political, economic and ecological issues are closely interrelated. A coherent strategy must therefore address them all, which indeed is the central idea behind the concept of sustainable transition", the draft declaration says. And rightly so.

Therefore, it is also necessary to speak about Europe, and the need to create a real European Union, which is based on the denuclearization of Europe. The European citizens must make a real contribution to the climate (both in the environmental and in the political sense of the word) namely, through unilateral nuclear disarmament. That might eventually kick off the sustainable transition and paradigm shift we are all dreaming of. That would indeed be a real revolution of the particular system of thought, which is criticized in the draft declaration. So, let us reform our "economic man"; however, that will most probably take quite some time. Therefore, as a preliminary step, let's at least strip him of his atomic bombs, which should be possible to achieve within a couple of years.

I am born in a European country, and I live in the part of the world which is called Europe. Therefore, I have to take a particular responsibility for the European nuclear disarmament; this is comparable to the duty in the preceding period of history to combat dictators like Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. To some individuals it has been obvious ever since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 1945 that nuclear disarmament must be a primary task. For others, including the present writer, it took a longer time to understand. I wonder what Lady Ashton, the new foreign minister of the EU, thinks of the matter in these days. "CND was an organisation that democratically marched for what it believed in", she is reported to have said, recently, when she was accused by some British reactionaries for having functioned as the treasurer of the said movement at the beginning av the 1980s. Does Lady Ashton still believe in the necessity to campaign for nuclear disarmament? Or has she betrayed herself and us all?

I hope that Don't Nuke the Climate! will become the slogan which unites all of us who long for another political and economic system.

Greetings from Finland,

- Mikael


(1) Cf, for instance, “THE UNITED KINGDOM’S NUCLEAR DETERRENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY”. SPEECH BY THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR DEFENCE. KING’S COLLEGE LONDON. 25 January 2007. (http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Politics/documents/2007/01/25/Nucleardeterrentspeech.doc)

Mikael Böök * book -at- kaapeli.fi * gsm +358(0)-44 5511 324 * http://www.kaapeli.fi/book/ * http://blogi.kaapeli.fi/book/ * http://blog.spinellisfootsteps.info/