Peace activist David Swanson has a great new book that just might be perfect for someone on your Christmas list:
David Swanson's past books, including War Is A Lie, When the World Outlawed War, and War No More: The Case for Abolition, have tended to be full-length, single-topic affairs. War Is A Lie is a sort of taxonomy of war lies aimed at creating a prepared and skeptical populace. When the World Outlawed War is an account of the peace movement of the 1920s and the creation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact -- a book aimed both at depicting a powerful movement and at creating awareness of a law still on the books banning all war. War No More: The Case for Abolition is an argument for the possibility and desirability of ending the entire institution of war, a project taken up by
Swanson and others at WorldBeyondWar.org. Swanson's past books have won him some fans. Ralph Nader put When the World Outlawed War on a short list of books everyone should read. Cornel West says "David Swanson is a truth-teller and witness-bearer whose voice and action warrant our attention." Kathy Kelly says "David Swanson predicates his belief that nonviolence can change the world on careful research and historical analysis." And Thom Hartmann: "The world needs more true advocates of democracy like David Swanson!"
The new book, Killing Is Not a Way of Life is a collection of essays, all written between January and November 2014 and touching on a variety of topics, most heavily peace, justice, and environmentalism. We asked Swanson about this new publication:
Why a collection of short items?
DS: Well, the logistical answer, I guess, is that while I have topics in mind for longer works, I haven't yet written them. I've been busy for the past year starting up WorldBeyondWar, working for RootsAction.org, and with our second little boy being born (now 9 months old). The inspirational answer is that the idea was given to me by Lila Garrett whose radio show on KPFK in Los Angeles I am often a guest on. She used to just ask me questions, but then started asking me to read some of my columns aloud -- she calls them "rants." She suggested I produce a book of rants. The substantive answer, I think, is that these essays are my favorite way to put my thoughts down, are perhaps my best writing, are easily readable by people as busy as I am, and seem to create something better than the sum of its parts when put into combination in the right way.
By picking the right essays (there were many more to choose from) and organizing them in the right way, I think I've created, for whatever it's worth, a depiction of my worldview that couldn't be had in an extended reflection on one topic or in a lengthy historical tale or in any of these short pieces on their own. The reason I dare to think this may be of some value is that I'm often asked questions that originate completely outside my worldview. Such as: "If we don't use drones, what should we use?" or "If you don't want to bomb ISIS, you must want to do nothing, and how can you justify doing nothing?" or "If we didn't have prisons, wouldn't we all be raped and killed?"
I can, and do in this collection, provide direct answers to such questions. But I think it may help more for someone thinking in the standard ways to see how someone thinking like I do reacts to each new occurrence in the world.
What do you mean by calling the first section of the book "What Is Hidden"?
I suppose I mean a number of things, and that readers may find others. As described in the first essay, I mean that our dependence on the destruction of the earth is hidden, at least for the moment; our dependence on products created in horrific conditions is hidden, our distant and poorly reported wars are hidden, our troubled souls locked away behind bars are hidden, and our nationalistic narcissism hides much of the world from us, including how much of the world views us.
Isn't that odd? Most narcissists also want to know whether others love them. U.S. television news only wants to reassure itself that the U.S. is its own true love. But I also mean that our options are hidden by the pretense that things are inevitable or unquestionable. Do other countries use renewable energy, make college free, provide security for their elders? Well, we can't do that because of, um, human nature.
Why include a section on the Earth?
Because we're ruining it. All of our energy should be going into protecting it. Instead our biggest public project is also our biggest consumer of petroleum and destroyer of the earth, a project that also removes our rights, drains our economy, endangers our lives through the creation of enemies, and kills human beings on a horrible scale. Once in a blue moon someone notices how war destroys the earth, but then they totally blow the presentation.
Here's the first sentence of a New York Times article on the environmental damage of the U.S. Civil War: "The Civil War was the most lethal conflict in American history, by a wide margin." The second sentence makes clear it is talking about "humans." But of course it must define Filipinos as non-humans, Vietnamese as non-humans, Iraqis as non-humans, et cetera. And we're at a point now where war is killing people primarily by taking $1 trillion a year away from where it's needed. People are shouting right now about a $68 billion slush fund for war in a military funding bill in Congress. But the whole $1 trillion a year through numerous departments that the U.S. puts into militarism is the war costs. Without the wars, the "base" spending loses its reason to exist.
Note: You will get a message saying it won't be available for several weeks, but orders will be filled right away.