The State vs. Peace

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at the Friends of Gandhi Museum
Plenary Session I
International Conference on Global Conflicts and Terrorism
World Foundation on Reverence for All Life
22 January 2007, Pune, India

Sometimes I
think that I will step into the day and see that it was all a bad
dream, a horror movie, not the real human life. I refuse to finance
massive killing from the sky. I refuse to finance the murder of
women and children. It feels better to live and let live. I am not
the property of the State, to be stamped, branded and tracked like
a sheep.

My purpose
in these few minutes is not to advance theories, but to share some
perceptions that I hope will raise questions in our minds about
what we are doing to each other, and to ourselves.

In Vietnam
and Cambodia the US Government murdered around three million human
beings. Women and children living peacefully in huts of bamboo and
straw were incinerated by napalm bombs rained down upon them from
the sky.

And I'll tell
you this: in those days I was an accomplice to that murder because
I was financing it with my income tax. I was part of the system,
catering to the Powers That Be.

The path now
beckons toward the courage of active non-violence. I have yet miles
to go and promises to keep. Promises to life itself and to my own

My primary
exemplars have been Indian: Tagore, Aurobindo, Buddha, Gandhi, Khan
Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Vinoba Bhave, J.P. Narayan.

As I speak,
the US Government is preparing to launch a nuclear attack on Iran.
Two aircraft carrier strike groups and nuclear missile submarines
are in position already.

Credible reports
indicate an attack planned as early as April.

This will ignite
an unimaginable conflagration that will not be contained. Lights
will go off all around the world. Oppenheimer's statement at the
Trinity Test Site, Alamogordo, New Mexico in 1945 — "I am become
death" — will have been fulfilled for the third time.

If you doubt
this cold-blooded political calculation, look to history. Hiroshima
and Nagasaki were bombed after Japan had delivered a petition
for surrender.

To me, the
events unfolding before our eyes indicate a kind of mass insanity.
How, otherwise, would six billion human beings choose to organize
themselves such that a handful of madmen — infected with insatiable
lust for power and war profiteering — could start a chain reaction
that reduces humanity to a heap of radioactive ash?

We stand at
a profound junction in our journey as a biological species. We have
not much time to change our course away from fear and murder and
toward love and life.

We must evolve
to a higher consciousness or become extinct through mass suicide.

The fundamental
questions of who we are and what are we doing have moved from the
realm of philosophy to the urgent issue of survival.

Today, the
US has 460,000 military stationed in 144 foreign countries.

The US has
been waging aggressive overt and covert war on foreign lands almost
continuously since the Spanish American War of 1848. It has systematically
employed bestiality and torture.

Its current
Iraq aggression — with goal of oil and war profits for the business-military-political
complex — has resulted in death of an estimated 690,000 people.
Millions have been displaced.

The economic
sanctions imposed for 12 years prior to this war resulted in death
of 500,000 Iraqi children. The Clinton administration stated on
the public record that it was "worth the price."

I think
you would have to look pretty hard to find a bigger terrorist than
the US Government.

In the past
100 years, Nation States have murdered around 230 million people
— many their own citizens within their own borders.

I suggest that
this mass murder — planned and executed by our best and brightest
— should raise in our minds some question about the intelligence
of the design of our human political institutions.

It seems obvious
that the Corporate State is killing us and destroying planetary
ecology in the process. It is owned by the big banks and corporations.
It is operated through revolving door personal power relations within
the military-industrial-banking-political complex. It functions
as a contract hit man on a mass scale for its corporate clients.

The State is
capable of this destructive behavior only with our cooperation.
It subsists only by our permission through public opinion. The money
powers have made an arranged marriage between politics and religion
to advance their agenda. For those of organized religion who doubt
this — or wish the truth — I suggest go check the investment portfolios
of your main parent organization.

We must grow
up and become full human beings. We must give up our childish ideas
of being Indian, Chinese, Russian, American, Hindu, Muslim, Christian,
Buddhist and all the other labels and isms which we are taught and
which are not real.

We must get
on with the hard work of learning to live together on a planet that
has become too small to afford the easy path of violence. If war
is not made obsolete, we will be made obsolete.

The very idea
of a Nation State — in addition to its stupidity — must be abhorrent
to anyone who loves peace.

Draw a line
on a map of India. Then start killing anyone who crosses. This is

Who lies and
who dies? The politicians lie and the poor people die.

Who has murdered
more — a few hundred terrorists, or the Corporate Warfare State?
Nineteen men who commandeered aircraft provided the excuse to start
an endless world war that had been planned by the money power long
before. What could have been handled as a civil police function
was rotated to a premeditated "clash of civilizations"
that threatens total annihilation.

Root Cause
of Terrorism is the fear, greed and ignorance within our own mass
mind which allows the money power to manipulate us. People don't
rush off to war. Governments must go to great lengths to incite
their citizens to war. It is made easier to incite violence when
for a long time the people have watched helplessly their lives and
cultures destroyed, the very earth denied to them and burned before
their eyes.

We are passing
to our children a degraded planet and a culture of obscenity, violence,
deceit and corruption.

How did this
come to be?

  • Could it
    be the institution of Sovereign Immunity pursuant to which agents
    of State can commit any crime against humanity without fear of
  • Could it
    be the illusion that the State — which Gandhi described as a soulless
    machine founded upon organized and concentrated violence — can
    provide security and peace?
  • Could it
    be the self-deception that Power will attract good men who are
    morally incorruptible?
  • Could it
    be the cunningly manufactured deception that our security and
    peace are best guaranteed by a gang of criminals calling themselves
    a government and taking our earnings by forcible taxation?
  • Could it
    be the creation of the legal construct of the corporation which
    shields owners and directors from personal liability for their
    destructive actions against the human commons? Personal accountability
    tends to limit irresponsible behavior.
  • Could it
    be the illusion that we can shirk our personal responsibilities
    and pass them off to institutions funded by other people's money
    which was taken from them by force?
  • Could it
    be that The Lie — endemic to politics — has everywhere permeated

What is the
State if not a monopoly on violence?

Can violence
create peace? Have we forgotten that means creates end?

Ask yourself
this about your relationship with the State:

  • Does it
  • Does it
    finance this murder with my taxes?
  • Am I therefore
  • Do I finance
    it voluntarily of my free will?
  • If not,
    then does that make me a slave?
  • Why do I
    pay a gang of thieves to enslave me, to commit murder in my name,
    to keep secret what it does with its stolen wealth?
  • Why do I
    support the State in crimes for which any citizen would be jailed
    or hung?

people are gathered at this seminar. Similar seminars are held around
the world.

Yet, murder
and planetary destruction continue in our name.

What does this
say about us?

Is it about
a system-structure which we have not the imagination or the courage
to change? Have we forgotten that only the individual can be a moral
agent? Can I assign my moral conscience to another? If my moral
conscience is inalienable, how can I assign it to the State? Thus,
if the State acts against my own conscience in its murder or thievery,
is this possible by any means other than force or threat of force?
Is this something else than slavery?

There is no
government that can save us from the self-inflicted disaster bearing
down upon us. Only the freedom to express our love of life in opposition
to the State's reverence for death can save us. We must tap into
a deep, overflowing, unconditional love of life, of this earth,
of each other.

This nature
of love, this inclination to love, is in every one of us.

To express
this love from within, we must get the State out of our way — so
that we can relate person to person without institutional barriers
to our common humanity.

May you live
long, live free.

23, 2007

Knaebel [send him
] is an expatriate American domiciled in India since 1995.
He formerly practiced as a registered professional engineer, having
been trained at Cornell Univ. and the Colorado School of Mines.

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