September 2004

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Peacework Magazine

Sara Burke, Managing Editor

Sam Diener, Editor

Pat Farren, Founding Editor

2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

Telephone number:
(617) 661-6130

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(617) 354-2832

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Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.

Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.

From the Editor's Desk "But words are things, and a small drop of ink/ Falling like dew upon a thought, produces/ That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think."

From Don Juan. Canto iii. Stanza 88 by George Gordon Noel (Lord) Byron

Peacework, as an independent, nonprofit magazine, is a small drop of ink in a very large media ocean. As we turned to formulating this particular dollop of ink, Peacework's annual book review issue, I realized that, in his satirical piece, "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers," Byron probably described me too well. If I am lucky, I have, "just enough of learning to misquote; a mind well skill'd to find or forge a fault; A turn for punning, call it Attic salt...."

Though I wouldn't lay claim to the biting wit the reference to Attic salt implies (see, I certainly have what some, reading Peacework's headlines, might call an unfortunate "turn for punning."

Two boys reading in the shade, Caldwell, Idaho, July, 1941. Photo: Russell Lee (Library of Congress,
Yet, it can be a mistake to dwell overmuch on our shortcomings and small apparent influence. We just celebrated the sesquicentennial of Thoreau's Walden, yet, when Thoreau died, Walden was already out of print. It had made little splash, selling only 2000 copies over the course of six years. The essay we now celebrate as "Civil Disobedience," which he titled, "Resistance to Civil Government" was even more obscure at the time. But Thoreau's work profoundly influenced Tolstoy, Gandhi, King, and Havel. Thoreau thus shaped and helped spur a dramatic increase in the effective, organized, mass nonviolent movements that characterized the twentieth century as much as mass killing did.

We lead off this issue with Steven Hill's timely article on the opportunity that still remains for Democrats, Republicans, and others to expand democracy in the upcoming US presidential elections, rather than circumscribe it.

Maxine Hong Kingston's Fifth Book of Peace, reviewed here, also calls on us to expand the democratic conversation, by sharing our stories of effective nonviolent action, and listening empathetically to diverse, even divergent, voices. I hope the stories we share in Peacework, both on an ongoing basis and in this issue, contribute to generating a sixth "book" of peace.

Adbusters magazine is at the forefront of "culture jamming," the effort to call capitalist media into question by turning ads inside out with incisive commentary and clever graphic design. In these pages, Adbusters calls on us to help reclaim and transform our media culture. With similar scope and audacity, David Solnit's edited volume, Globalize Liberation, chronicles and advances the development of new global movements against corporate globalization. Just as US corporations have used both the National Guard and private Pinkertons to break strikes and unions, global capital uses the US military to maintain capitalist empire, which in turn is contracting this role out to modern mercenaries, as described in Corporate Warriors.

In the long term, capitalist growth, in Muhammad Yunus's famous aphorism, is based on the logic of a cancer cell -- exponential growth suicidally destroying the environment it needs to survive. Richard Heinberg's work, The Party's Over, focuses on the need to revamp our energy future before the cancer metastasizes further.

Elaine Mar focuses attention inward, to the appropriate technology of what Gandhi called constructive program; in her case, not spinning, but the reflective practice of knitting.

The next three books reviewed here, one centered in Palestine, one in Ethiopia, and one in Indonesia, focus a critical empathetic lens on people caught in cruel cycles of violence. These books suggest that we examine our own complicity with systems of violence, and use that self-awareness to understand those who more overtly perpetrate the crime of war.

Children's librarian Lani Gerson provides us with an overview of children's books focusing on these same difficult and sometimes inspiring themes. The Jane Addams and Gustavus Myers book awards, and the selections from AFSC's film and video library, present us with additional resources to help spread the "dew" of nonviolent social change.

The travails of artist Steve Kurtz, still facing 80 years in prison for daring to create innovative art in the US, reminds us that the freedom to create, to write, to read, and to make millions think, is never fully won. We must struggle for it anew with each generation.

In a Peacework editorial eight months ago, I waxed poetic about my newborn baby, Sasha. I am now joyfully looking forward to a few months of parental leave, and have placed the next two issues of Peacework in the skilled hands of Peacework Managing Editor, Sara Burke. I look forward to good reading.

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