government

Thoughts on violent revolution, anarchism and social change…

I haven’t posted in a while, so I thought it was time for a good old fashioned rant… 🙂

Though I have a lot of friends who consider themselves anarchists, it’s a philosophy that I’ve never fully been able to agree with in any real sense. I often find myself in great debates over the practicality or some underlying, glaring contradictions that I can’t seem to wrap my head around. It’s not that I don’t see the problems with the way the world is currently being run, nor that I am brainwashed or don’t appreciate (and hope) for the idea of erasing the hierarchical subtext of our world and creating a more just society in its place. It’s the method of getting there that most worries me. The particular rise I see in the “F#*$ the police”, let’s-start-a-violent-revolution-to-overthrow-the-government-type of anarchism is quite troubling to me. Having experienced what happens in the absence of a functioning state first-hand, I fear the shape that would arise from such a drastic situation and see alternatives that are not so abrupt that I feel could be just as, if not more, effective.

Most of the anarchists I know believe in creating consensus-run societies. Herein lies one of my greatest problems with the whole philosophy of the violent revolution type of anarchism. Consensus right now does not favour a violent overthrow. Society does not consent to this. How can one expect to build a consensus society on the back of silencing another’s objections entirely? How does this inevitably not lead to more hierarchy—as those who have had their objections bulldozed over now become the ones who feel oppressed and ignored? I am not talking about the objections of those top elites in power, but rather, those of Joe Average; the vast majority of everyday persons who object. Those who will likely have a drastic change of life in the transition that they may well feel resent towards. Consensus doesn’t mean we all have to fully think everything is the best decision, but we do have to consent.

History has demonstrated repeatedly what can happen when a small group of people feel they know what is “best” for society and violently take matters into their own hands to try and change the situation via revolution.

Thinking practically for a minute; if all governments were tomorrow overthrown, what would happen in the world? What shape would the new, new world order take? How would society transition? Would essential services still run? Who would ensure that they do? Would it become a free-for-all in the streets in some places during the transition?

Obviously, if one believes in the ideal of consensus—then each community would be left to decide what shape this would take amongst them-selves. This leads to a seemingly never ending list of questions within my mind. Does the power vacuum created in the fall of the state lead to a crisis situation wherein a new power struggle takes place? Do those who led the overthrow get power-hungry once they have toppled the government? Do those freed from the previous system, those who were imprisoned by its rules rejoin society and how do they do that? How does society respond to those who refuse to live by consensus choices or laws, the psychopaths and the killers and such? If the world becomes decentralized, and communities become responsible for themselves, what happens to those communities without access to essential resources? Do we form some kind of global consensus on issues that affect us all? How does that take shape? Would we have to send representatives from our communities to share our objections and consent on the global stage, thus replicating government forms all over again? What happens to all the people who are currently reliant on capitalist global trade? Would their positions (and livelihood) just cease to exist in the breakdown, and what would their role in society now become? Would they be resentful of the change, having a complete upheaval in their way of life? What IS working in society right now? Do we have to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”, as they say. Is there anything worth keeping in the current system? Each question leads to a new series of questions with endless possibilities, many of the likely ones far worse in my mind than our current reality.

The status quo is violence. We, as humans, have invented so many forms of degrading, hurting, killing and maiming each other and our violence comes in so many forms; it is engrained in us that violence is the only “real” response. That oppression cannot be overcome by any other means. That the only way to respond to violence is with more violence. That perhaps, in reality, everything is violent. We cannot imagine a world without it. Perhaps there is no way to even be completely non-violent. Can we at least strive to reduce the harm as much as possible?

People are becoming more aware of the world around them. For the first time in history, the world is truly connected. It is possible to see live events from someone’s cell phone on the opposite side of the globe, to share ideas instantaneously. The technological advancements over the past hundred years are astounding. We began creating and creating and not immediately realizing the side effects and in the search for the almighty dollar, cheaper became more important than quality or overall consequences, especially when someone distant bore the brunt. We are growing consciousness and if you look around you—things are s-l-o-w-l-y changing right now. The corporate world is desperately trying to keep us placated, while others have been growing test communities with alternative economies and ways of life.

People are creating and innovating and trying to make great changes in the systems all over the world. And they are making things better. Instead of bullying our way through to change, why don’t we do our best to build consensus among those around us that change is desirable by demonstrating what’s possible. What is working. What can work. And educating on what doesn’t and why it doesn’t work for everyone.

We as humans are capable of great change. Numerous times throughout history we have seen a radical change in morality and norms. Slavery was not so long ago thought to be a natural state of humanity. Though it still exists, it is no longer a morally acceptable practice in the vast majority of the world and there are numerous laws outlawing its practice. So why can we not change the hierarchy and inequality too?

How can we drastically change the system, without necessarily breaking the system?

Government and society’s systems are intricate and complex—there is no one answer that will work universally. Practice out what works and what doesn’t in test communities all over the place. When something works, share it widely among other communities. There are already test communities popping up all over the place. They need more funding, more awareness and more ideas to be successful.

Some key things I think are necessary for drastic change and necessitate further investment, development and testing:

• Teaching peace and investing in peace on a global scale. Teach it from early childhood in every classroom, techniques such alternative dispute resolution and other conflict management strategies. Reinforce conflict resolution skills all through school and workplaces where possible. If we can spend trillions of dollars annually on militarization, we can surely spend billions on peace. Peacebuilding projects around the world are currently sparse and severely underfunded.
• Gradual reduction/retraining of the current armed forces into national guard/emergency services roles. Army functions retrained into civilian-based defense facilitators and other non-militarized functions.
• Reform the judicial and penal systems to focus on actual rehabilitation and positive reintegration into society for current offenders. Try alternative dispute resolution and alternate forms of justice in future grievances, particularly in “non-violent” crimes. Review current societies’ laws via some form of consensus. This includes local, regional, and global laws.
• A complete overhaul/creation of corporate law that favours the living world over profit.
• Restructuring local and regional governments so that they become more direct forms of democracy.
• Massive investment into the research and development of sustainable communities.
• Investment in basic needs over luxuries.
• A complete overhaul or creation of new international structures.
• Re-thinking spaces. Let cities feed cities. Rethink how spaces are connected, how they are accessible, how they blend into the environment around them, how they use energy, how they use water, how they interact with humans and other living species and let’s invest our time and our energy in that direction in the future.

Economic Growth and the ever-increasing GDPs

Economic development and growth is basically the prime goal of every nation on the planet. Billions and billions of dollars are been spent annually on economic growth projects worldwide.

In some development circles, there is a thought that if the economy is doing well– the lives of those living in the economy will be better. This is often referred to as the “trickle-down effect”. That prosperity will trickle down to those less fortunate.

Unfortunately, this is not a reliable nor sustainable way to ensure that basic needs are being met or any real indication of anything other than the ability to yield high market value for the goods and services produced.

If the goal is to be ever-increasing– where does it ever end? When do we stop increasing our economies, or does it ever stop? Are we doomed to a never-ending race for the largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP)?

Some of the countries with the fastest growing GDPs are still experiencing tremendous poverty among their poorest inhabitants and the increase in GDP does not appear to correlate with any increase in human rights protection or poverty reduction or any semblance of general well-being. Within the top ten countries with the fastest growing GDP sit Macau, Angola, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Equatorial Guinea, Anguilla, Republic of Congo, Solomon Islands, Mongolia, China, Armenia, Liberia and Peru. Afghanistan currently sits as the 16th fastest growing economy if that gives you any indication of how much economic growth translates into poverty reduction, respect for human rights or general well-being of the population.

Gdp_real_growth_rate_2007_CIA_Factbook

So maybe economic growth doesn’t translate into well-being, but what about having a large GDP? Among the countries with the largest GDPs sit China, Russia, and India. Poverty is still a massive problem in all three areas, and human rights violations frequent occurrences. Clearly then, a large GDP doesn’t in and of itself cause the trickle down of development.

So if the ultimate goal is ever-increasing GDP or ever-increasing market value of goods and services produced; who will be the ones consuming this ever-increasing amount, where will the waste go, and where will the raw materials come from to supply this ever-increasing amount of productivity?

Why is the measure of how much can be produced the number one goal of almost every country and enforced as a primary goal in the poorer nations through global development programs by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank? Wouldn’t the measure of general well-being, or respect for human rights, or lack of poverty, or even the level of democracy rank higher than production?

So why don’t governments change this goal to something more sustainable in the long-term?

Mike Nickerson, who founded the Sustainability Project, suggests a different goal for governments; one of long-term well-being.

To get there our activities must:
“1) Use materials in continuous cycles.
2) Use continuously reliable sources of energy.
3) Come mainly from the qualities of being human (ie. creativity, communication, coordination, appreciation, and spiritual and intellectual development).”
*** To which I add 4) Respect the human rights of all affected populations.

“Long-term well-being is diminished when activities:
4) Require continual inputs of non-renewable resources.
5) Use renewable resources faster than their rate of renewal.
6) Cause cumulative degradation of the environment.
7) Require resources in quantities that undermine other people’s well being.
8) Lead to the extinction of other life forms.”

I like to think of it as respecting the human rights of all those on the planet, as well those who will be here in the future. It’s not about global warming, or native rights, or some isolated issue. It is a holistic issue involving all our rights. If one of our nationals within our country’s rights are infringed upon, then all our rights have been infringed upon. We need to act together, no matter who we are. If we don’t speak up for the rights of others, who will speak for us when our rights are trampled on?

If our air is polluted, our rights are being infringed upon. If our water is polluted, our rights are being infringed upon. This is a global issue. Our actions affect the world, and their actions affect us.

Until our goals become to respect human rights and to have long-term well-being– we will not progress as humans. We will just become more efficient at producing crap that we don’t even really need or want that will in the end just kill us all.


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Yarrr! What’s the deal with Somali pirates?

Piracy off the coast of Somalia has cost the international community as much as $30 million dollars so far this year alone and has once again become an international priority of the moment for many world governments. The term “pirate” itself, is a debatable one, as many so-called “pirates” prefer to call themselves as “coastguards”, and see themselves as protecting their waters from international bodies who are dumping waste or are illegally fishing their livelihood away. Others see them as blood-thirsty thieves eager for profit. Who are these seafarers, and what motivates them to live this lifestyle?

There were at least 165 piracy attacks in Somali waters in 2008, up from the 58 in 2007. There have already been 60 attacks so far in 2009 and more than 200 hostages are still being held here. Acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia really began to rise about 10-15 years ago, as illegal international commercial fishing began plundering the country’s tuna-rich waters following the collapse of the Somali government in 1991. It started as angry fishermen took to the sea in their speedboats trying to dissuade dumpers and trawlers from devastating their waters; expecting a “tax” from the plunderers for the privilege to fish. These acts were often supported by the local communities. In fact, a Somali Wardher News research poll found that 70% of Somalis strongly supported piracy as the best form of national defense; but these tides are changing.

Piracy has been steadily rising as the country remains in chaos under the fighting of regional warlords and a completely fractured state that is incapable of supporting the population. The cities are bombed out ghost towns, as most of the population has fled from constant war, drought and famine. Insecurity has left the country in a constant state of war, where acts of violence are commonplace. Where the average annual income is only approximately $650, a successful pirate raid becomes a great way to get ahead. Pirate bosses have little difficulty recruiting new crews of fresh young teenagers and out of work fishermen eager to make some serious dough. Mostly, they are not heading out in fancy boats, laden with massive amounts of weapons. They are seizing giant cargo ships and tankers in tiny speedboats barely suitable for the seas, loaded with only a few guns, ladders and machetes. International warships have entered the Somali waters trying to stop the bandits, but are really only pushing the problem into the vast depths of the Indian ocean where it is much harder to police. Some say there is a danger of exaggerating the threat of piracy as it is mostly an economic threat, since the pirates “rarely harm crews” and “the actual cost to global shipping is negligible” .

Somalia, one of the poorest, least stable and most violent countries out there, is in shambles. There is no formal government overseeing the country, and almost all services must operate in the informal sector or through international humanitarian aid. There is no effective police force and over half of the population is on food aid, making the draw of up to $10,000 for one raid incredibly lucrative. “Heavy” sentences in Western prison cells that offer regular feedings, quality care and the opportunity of asylum in the new country is hardly a strong deterrent. The international laws are actually so incredibly vague on the subject, that many captured pirates find themselves being released shortly after capture. UN conventions define piracy as a universal crime, allowing each country to arrest pirates at sea and prosecute them at home; however, several countries have difficulty incorporating that into their domestic jurisdiction. Many countries wind up releasing the pirates back because of the potential legal headaches or sending them to Kenya to be tried. Out of 238 pirates captured by international navies, only about half were ever prosecuted. Many that are prosecuted are released shortly thereafter because they are handed over to Somali authorities in Puntland where they simply pay a bribe or use corruption channels to avoid any prison sentences.

And what of the crimes being committed in these waters by international actors? When will the be persecuted for their crimes? Allegations of waste dumping off the coast by European companies was brought to light during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami after hazardous waste containers washed up on Somali shores. Twenty percent of the world’s oil supply passes through this channel, and thousands of cargo ships pass regularly. Illegal trawlers have nearly fished the region dry. The local fishing populations are left without jobs, without livelihoods, without food to feed their families. Their families are left with strange illnesses, death and ailments from the toxic waste that they have been exposed to. What would you do? Where is the justice?

The Somali pirate issue is not merely an economic problem and it is not just a matter of dealing with the pirates. It is a symptom of a much greater social and justice problem that is incredibly pervasive and not going to go away simply because navies will patrol the waters. It will just shift the problem or make it that much worse. Something bigger needs to be done here– and it starts with establishing government and legality within the nation itself.


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My thoughts on anarchy.

Anarchy. I have heard this term thrown around a lot, especially by the “revolutionary” types here in North America. Brought out significantly in modern pop culture through the punk scene, anarchism can be witnessed in symbology throughout our society. Interestingly, anarchy has been labelled as being almost synomous with popular culture in its disruption and envelopment of every day life of those in societies.

I often wonder what people think anarchy really means. I wonder if the people who use this term have ever lived in a lawless, or semi-lawless society. If they have experienced the breakdown of society, or lack of government. I wonder what they envision a “true” anarchist society to look like. What they think will happen on the process towards anarchism. Many anarchists have themselves benefited tremendously from government systems and laws.

Anarchy and anarchism are difficult to fully define, since there are so many different interpretations and visions of what anarchism is ranging from extreme individualism to total collectivism. It ranges from libertarians and hard-core capitalist neoliberals to the most extreme “tree-hugging” environmentalists.

By dictionary definition, anarchy is the state of lawlessness and disorder, usually stemming from failure of government. Anarchism is a political theory that a community is best organized by the voluntary cooperation of individuals, rather than by government systems. There have been many so-called anarchist communities over time, but all of these communities have had some form of laws or policies that are followed and enforced by communal decree and systems that help make them run smoothly. They may not be labelled as “government” systems or laws, but they are definitely heading in that direction. Over time, one would think that communal decisions would lead us back towards creating governments. Essentially, communal decree is how governments in North America are supposed to run; through democracies. The voice of the people, doing what’s best for the people.

So where is the vision of anarchy that anarchists are really striving for? Are they looking for a different type of system than we have that are better suited to the needs of the population? That’s what I’m looking for too, but I would hardly call myself an anarchist.

I try to imagine a world without some form of government and it makes me incredibly fearful. Anarchy, in my eyes, means a lot of death. It means survival of the fittest as the government breaks down and people must learn to live in new ways without it. Those that find a community and are blessed with resources may find happiness, but those who don’t are doomed to live a terrible existence, especially at the world’s current population. Complete individualism to me is a scary existence that I would not want to experience. Anarchism to me always boils down to separation; but I also have difficulty separating the chaotic definitions of anarchy and the breakdown of government. Separating people from other people into small collectives may result in a thriving environment for some, but in the long run, who looks out for the global environment? Or those who do not fit into the collectives? Or those collectives who don’t have access to natural resources?

Some anarchists say they are rebelling from the coercion of the government, while others believe in using coercive measures to bring about anarchy such as mass violence, revolution or terrorism. In collectives there is also a lot of coercion. In most collectives, there is tremendous pressure to fit in and be part of the group, and this pressure can be a form of coercion.

If the government breaks down in a systemized manner that prevents death and destruction, is it still anarchism? Or would this require an altogether new label?

I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts or visions of anarchism, because to me, it’s the furthest thing from what I truly want or envision for the world. I can’t understand the drive I’ve seen among many educated people to be anarchists. Please enlighten me. I’m intrigued.


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Social Trust

Social trust is a human necessity if one doesn’t want to live completely isolated and alone. Social trust can be created within a household, a group, a community, a city, a state or province, a nation or perhaps even the world. It is the sense of togetherness, the norm of cooperation between individuals that allows them to work together in their lives. It is reciprocity and exchange.

Our personal levels of social trust may vary, based on our experiences of the world. The world we live in makes it difficult to trust anyone or anything sometimes. So many people have been disappointed or lied to or treated with disrespect or abuse in their lives by systems, groups or individuals. In the wake of this treatment, they lash out or isolate themselves further away from societal norms because they feel they can no longer trust that part of the system or the system as a whole. Sometimes they strike out with violence.

If a system treats you with violence, do you have the right to strike back at them with violence?

Truly, the statement “an eye for an eye makes the world blind” has some validity to it. Violence to solve violence makes no sense. Does inflicting more hurt take away the hurt that’s already experienced? Non-violent strategies can work. Sometimes they are met with extreme violence, and must face tremendous abuse and struggle.

In the last century, we have seen the change in North American society through non-violent means that has altered the status quo so that blacks are entitled to the same legalities as whites, and women as men. We have been moving towards more equity in many of our systems, but others still fail us. Other systems still breed hatred, intolerance or distrust. These systems must be changed. Social trust is lost with each inequitable system, and rebuilding the trust is a tremendous task.

So often, the creation of groups, organizations and associations is seen as the best way to build social trust. It extends so far beyond this. The social trust created must be greater than the social trust lost or we wind up killing and abusing each other en mass. We wind up feeling alone, insecure or angry; often leading to violence or violent thoughts.

The world is so incredibly complicated right now. It is really complicated here in North America because we are almost forced to rely on our systems for our daily survival. We no longer rely on ourselves and our systems are in many ways failing us. This is a scary thought. If we do not start building more social trust on the government and national levels and in our systems, the smaller associations of trust will begin to close themselves to the outside world and we will have learned nothing but distrust.

In many ways, this has already started to happen. Just look to the increase in barter and trade, and those seeking to live off the grid and be self-sufficient. So many want to escape this crazy system and live a more trusting existence, where they are connected to their own life. This new “financial” crisis (and I use that term loosely) has reminded us of the struggle of our parents and grandparents. Those who lived through the depression and scrimped and saved and yet often led incredibly satisfying lives. Many are beginning to see the failings of capitalism. The failings of this over-consuming society. Over the last several decades, we have become immersed into ourselves, increasingly insecure and in need of material goods to fill this insecurity. We need to rebuild the trust in society, and not fill this distrust with things or violence.

We can learn to work together and change, or we can continue violent practices. We have certain agreed standards already in place that are not fully enforced or ratified (such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). These standards were created to change societal norms to be more peaceful, but haven’t been fully incorporated yet into the whole society. They were created so we could avoid some of the tragedies we have seen in the past. A learning tool for us, a framework to start to make change.

If legally agreed upon standards are ignored by our governments, what example does it set to follow laws? Social trust is broken, and society becomes more chaotic. So how do we change this?

Little by little. We rebel against the injustice in peaceful ways. We speak out against atrocities. We change ourselves and our thoughts and behaviours. We change the legalities and systems. We learn from the mistakes of our ancestors and avoid those mistakes for our grandchildren.


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The depths of violence.

Violence is more than just physical injuries, killings, beatings and inflictions of pain. It is more than the verbal and emotional abuse as well. This type of violence is referred to as direct violence in peace, conflict and transformation studies. These are clear subject-action-object type of relationships that result in the observation or experience of hurt in individuals or groups, usually happening quickly and dramatically; with possibly life-lasting traumatic effects.

The other types of violence are sometimes much more subtle; and possibly not even considered as violence outside the sphere of peace academics or activists. These types of violence create the conditions for direct violence to occur. The direct violence is most often merely the manifestations of the other forms of violence; the pent up anger, resentment, mindsets and reasons people rage into direct violence. Structural and cultural violence experienced by humans, only reinforces or condones more violent behaviour. If the system can do it, so can I.

Structural violence is the poverty, the hunger, the repression, the social alienation, the denial of educational opportunities, the causing of human misery, and the established patterns of organized society that result in systematic harm to millions of people each year. Structural violence is institionalized. It is rationalized and sanctioned by the state, making it the violence of the status quo. It extends to the systems and practices that allows violence to occur in the supply of products and services that are used by people who are unaware or are disconnected from the damage they cause around the world in their production.

Cultural violence has been referred to as the source of other types of violence because it produces hatred, fear and suspicion that leads to violence or violent policies and practices. Cultural violence engrains itself within us, and is the hardest to contain. It is found in comments, conversations, writing, art, ideologies, even empirical science and religious symbology. It is everywhere. It is propaganda, lies, misinterpretations, and misunderstandings that lead people to violent thoughts or behaviours; to hate other individuals or groups. This is the hardest type of violence to stop, as it is so thoroughly engrained into our cultures. It builds up over time. You can hear a comment here, and see a picture here and after enough “evidence”, you begin to see things in a new way. When spouted or displayed by those in positions of power or respect, cultural violence is its most damaging, because it then becomes “fact”. It is then passed on to many, and over time becomes the new cultural norm.

Stemming violence completely is a lofty goal, but limiting the structural and cultural violent norms is something we can definitely strive for. Doing this will also reduce the incidences of direct violence that occur in society. As the structures become more peaceful and equitable, so does the population living within it.

If peace were truly a goal of the governments in charge, they would take extensive efforts to reduce the cultural and structural violence that precipates the direct violence that occurs. They would restructure their policies and norms that are inequitable and violent. They would limit the amount of structural violence in the systems to create a more viable social trust. They would limit the propaganda allowed in the media and make more stringent policies to discourage violent business practices. The would create a culture of peace, and not a culture of war.

Peace is possibly attainable, despite what most realists will tell you. It is far off from our current reality, but it is possible. Human behaviour and cultural norms have been known to change. In our society, it starts with our systems. If our systems are corrupt and inequitable, our societies will remain violent. If our systems become systems to trust, systems that reward and promote peace, our societies will become more peaceful.

We have focused our energies towards war and profit for so long, it is hard to envison a different society. Peace studies has only recently become an academic discipline. Conflict transformation studies and strategies are still only developing and are given only minimal funding and attention. When put into practice, many conflict transformation strategies have proven somewhat successful. Some have been incredibly successful. The more money, time and energy we spend towards these strategies, the closer we will come to peace.


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violence on my mind.

I’ve never understood violence. perhaps it’s because i never had to face it until i was older. not old enough to understand it, but old enough to not be scarred for life. my childhood was happy, safe, loving and with every possible advantage a child could start with. that’s why i’m where i am today.

but many are not so lucky as i. they face danger every day. they know the feel of starvation, their bellies swollen from days without food. violence surrounds them. many children must roam in packs before nightfall to escape their prey by roaving gangs of thugs who would force them into captivity, torture, abuse, violence, and drugs. initiate them by making them rape their own mothers and sisters, then making them slaughter their village in the most degrading ways. then they make them burn the villages down, making them feel they are now alone– with no place to go and no family left to care for them. and they are turned into soldiers, fueled by snorts of cocaine and gunpowder and calmed by weed. feared into submission, eventually they begin to become killing machines on their own people. they are led to slaughter against government and other rebel groups who kill them as though they were adult soldiers.  i climbed trees and played sports and had family and friends…

and those who do manage not to die or hide from the destruction are only spared for so long. the raids will come back. they flee into the forests, facing starvation, dangerous animals, and the continuing violence for years to come. perhaps for the rest of our lifetime. 

we consider ourselves civilized. somehow different from the past. but we are the same– perhaps even worse. because today we hide the shame away. we pretend the problems do not exist and continue with our never-ending consumerism. we use our products, unaware of the effects the resources we use every day have on places on the other side of the world. we are not aware that they come from mines that have been slaved by communities, forced by guns and machetes to dig for copper, tin, cobalt, gold, coltan, diamonds, and all the other minerals that are in our computers, electronic equipment and luxuries. unaware that they have made profits to violently abusing parties making war.  

with as much as $20 million a month in profits from one mine or resource, who could resist? the main perpetrators of these crimes against humanity are profiting from war. the companies who buy these resources, and sell them to other companies are all profiting from war. they are making incredible profits. and are protected from crimes others pay dearly for with white-collar sentences.

if they are all profiting from war– what incentive do they have to make it stop?  there are many of these metals and minerals available in plentiful amounts in Canada. they are also available in Austrailia and several other countries. why do they obtain their resources from the war zones (or neighbouring countries)? because they are cheaper. because the company can then make more profit for themselves.

 the companies may claim that they get the resources from neighbouring countries– but there have also been many companies admit; they can’t be sure where the resources actually come from. smugglers come across the borders and sell them in neighbouring country markets through contacts. there’s no way to be sure. there’s also no structure in place to ensure this. it’s interesting because some of the neighbouring countries listed as supplying resources, do not even have mines for these resources in their own country. clearly, they must be getting it from elsewhere. perhaps from the warring neighbouring country where it is plentiful.

the kimberly process was brought out to stop conflict diamonds and resources from getting into our luxuries; becoming popular with the movie Blood Diamond. and everyone focused their attention to diamonds, unaware of the effect their cellphones, cameras and laptops all had on the world. these goodies that we all trade in so frequently for the latest gadget. unaware that our laptop caused death, destruction and chaos somewhere else in the world.

it’s time we became aware. these companies need to know that it’s not okay for them to continue making profits from violence. they need to hear your voice telling them that they must find a way to avoid using conflict resources for their products.

the market is driven by the demand (well, in theory). we need to start demanding these companies stop using conflict resources or stop purchasing them. these companies should use their profits to create structures  to ensure that they are no longer fueling violence. this will serve far better for humanity than any amount of charity they can give. it is their product line and they should have “ethical purchasing policies” that actually mean something.

if there is no profit to be had for rebels, companies and governments — there is no incentive to continue the violence.

we watch the violence on tv (or perhaps read about it here) and think. there’s nothing i can do. or i give to charity. but we need to do more. we need to write letters to our governments and the companies and tell them to stop fueling violence. if there is no incentive to continue violence– it will not continue. we live in a democracy here in Canada. supposedly. sometimes i wonder. do our politicians listen to us? or is it that we don’t tell them what we want? if we don’t voice our opinion and have it respected– whatever that opinion is– we do not live in a democracy. it is not the voice of the people. it is the voice of some.

we live in an age where communication makes us all soo incredibly accesible. information is everywhere. it is soo easy to write to officials by email. find out what’s going on, and write everyone you can. tell them what you feel, even if it’s- I disagree with this war or this law. you don’t have to go into details. just state your opinion. they must respect our opinion– or else we seriously need to re-evaluate the effectiveness of our democracy. politicians must be held accountable. but so must we.

**Please read the folder- “my quest for a conflict free laptop” if you’d like to follow my struggle to buy a conflict free computer. I have been looking for one for about six months and have yet to find one for sure! this will be a continuing update as i try more and more companies in my quest.

–RS


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