24 December 2003 - WRPI (address: 1 WRPI Plaza, Troy, NY 12180-3590, USA)
"On the Barricades" (10-11 a.m. local time; 4-5 p.m. Middle European Time) -
Interviewer: Dr. Steve Breyman (SB) - on the telephone: Christian Bartolf (CB):
SB: "Good morning and welcome to "On the Barricades". I'm Steve Breyman. You're listening to WRPI, Troy. With me on the telephone from Berlin is Christian Bartolf of the Gandhi Information Center. Let me tell you a little about the organisation: It was established in 1990. It's been freely available for education and culture since then. There's more than one hundred members at home and abroad, home is in Berlin, amongst them well-known scientists, artists and authors, for example the Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Count Sergey Tolstoy and Professor Joseph Needham. The Gandhi Information Center became well-known all over the world on account of the distribution of the "Manifesto against conscription and the military system". And it's that Manifesto we've got Christian here this morning to speak with us about. It revives attention to two manifestoes, earlier historic manifestoes, signed by Gandhi, Einstein, Buber, Freud and Tolstoy's assistants Birukov and Bulgakov against military training of youth. In the meantime, this Manifesto has been translated into 25 languages and has been signed by more than two hundred outstanding personalities from over thirty different countries. Since 1990 the Gandhi Information Center for Research and Education on Nonviolence has organised educational activities with publications about the life and achievement of Mahatma Gandhi. The Gandhi Information Center has made contacts all over the world and contributes to an international network. The nonviolent active resistance as developed and lived by Gandhi is to serve as focus and support. Connected with this the active members wish to document the origins of nonviolence in multifold traditions, for instance, the nonviolent tradition of Tolstoy in Russia, the civil disobedience of Henry David Thoreau in the US, the Civil Rights Movement of Dr. Martin Luther King, the social ethics of John Ruskin in England, the Arc communities of Lanza del Vasto in France as well as the reasons of conscience of religious conscientious objectors in Austria and Germany. "Satyagraha" was the title under which the Gandhi Information Center has recently published information for its members. The first two issues were dedicated to the commemoration of Gandhi's 125th birthday and on their correspondences to the followers of Leo Tolstoy in Russia. So, this is the Gandhi Information Center! Christian Bartolf, good morning, and welcome to the programme!"
CB: "Good morning, good morning, America, how are you?"
SB: "Well, good, on this soggy Christmas Eve. Christian, tell us a little bit about yourself, how you yourself came to be affiliated with the Gandhi Information Center and what daily work involves."
CB: "Well, actually I studied political and educational sciences at the university, Free University Berlin, and after my two diploma degrees I was asked to become a counselor for conscientious objectors. So, I've worked there for twelve years now, for the Ecumenical Center, now in Berlin-Spandau. And before, I was a student, during my student days I was reading Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi and discovered that this tradition of Nonviolence has been almost forgotten in some parts of Europe, especially during the Cold War. And then I tried to find out more about the History and Culture of Nonviolence. And that is the reason why I joined a small group of students to study the nonviolent tradition after all. And when we started with the Gandhi Information Center it was, let's say, a private initiative in 1983 and we were organising an exhibition in Berlin in 1984 in the first months, it was well attended, it was a kind of spiritual counterforce to the Cold War threat, because those days when I was 24 years old, now I am 43 years old, there was the peril of Nuclear War in the center of Europe as a kind of Nuclear War by accident as you can see in the film "Dr. Strangelove" by Stanley Kubrick."
CB: "And this was a great peril and we were all traumatized in a way because we didn't know if such accident would take place. And so we asked ourselves: What could we do to contribute to end the Cold War and to bring about nonviolent social change for Germany, Europe and the World? And so we, of course, recollected the message of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, and during these days I discovered that both of them were gaining a lot of wisdom and insight through the writings of Leo Tolstoy from Russia. That's the reason why this tradition of nonviolence and also Pacifism has become valuable for us. And so we tried to find out means and methods to, let me say, to make this hard confrontation soft and to bring it from 'détente' to the end of the Cold War. The 'détente' policy was a good basis, so we tried to use our methods to meet each other in West and East..."
SB: "Christian, for listeners who may not recall the meaning of the term 'détente' - could you define it for us?"
CB: "It was a way to decrease the tension between East and West by economic 'positive sanctions', one can say, by economic cooperation on the one hand which would be very meaningful nowadays for India and Pakistan and -the second:- by meetings of individuals and representatives of peace groups between West and East. Of course, it was restricted for those in the East, but we could at least go to the oppositional Church groups to speak with them about Tolstoy and Gandhi and so prepare a nonviolent and social political change. And we succeeded, but it was, of course, not so easy for those - mostly students - who were active in these activities. On the other hand, we knew that there was a gap in the public opinion and in the science, academic science, social sciences as I studied, because the nonviolent tradition has not been well represented, and so we were active in research, in education and in action. And in 1990, after the unification of the two German states, we were prepared to build up a Society of Education to continue our activities, and since then we tried to internationalize our activities by international membership. Starting from 1995, we made a focus on international membership, and so two third of our members are coming from more than twenty countries, I think, and these are many participants from India, old and young people, we have more Indian members than German members, but they are corresponding members without any financial obligations. So we are glad to start anew in a way in 1993 with our Manifesto campaign, because it was obvious that there would be a phase of militarization. So, our thought was: It is good to bring out an international text which could be a text of consensus for intellectuals and also common people, unknown or known, famous or not famous, to agree upon. And we developed this text in a one-week-workshop with conscientious objectors, 90 conscientious objectors from 19 nations who were at a meeting in Turkey. We agreed upon this text and then we spread it."
SB: "Christian, before we talk about the text, and I've got it right in front of me and want to share it with the listeners, and thank you for the background, I want to ask you more about the origins of your own work with conscientious objection. If I have my history straight, I believe conscientious objection was, and this may be linked to the origins of conscription, well, perhaps it's not, I suspect one can I don't know enough about the history of let's say the Sumerian and Babylonian kings almost surely dragooned their male subjects into military units just like the Greeks and Romans did, but in the modern era anyway I understand the origins of conscientious objection to have sprung up in Germany, that already in the 1600s, it may even have been earlier, it may have been the 16th century we have the first recorded cases of peasant boys religiously motivated standing up against their feudal lords and refusing to serve under arms. Can you say a little about this - the history worldwide and in Germany?
CB:"Yes, it might be interesting that the tradition of the Quakers, the Mennonites and the Church of Brethren - the historical Peace Churches - date back to those old times when these groups were living in Central Europe, then they were sometimes forced to emigrate, for example the Mennonites were emigrating to Russia, but there were also historical Peace Churches - one can say sectarian independent Christians, Christian Pacifists - in several countries, in Russia also where they objected to military service - the Doukhobors for example who were supported by Tolstoy - and these groups later had to emigrate to Canada, to British Columbia, and these groups, almost unknown in Europe, by the way, formed a tradition of conscientious objection to military service, because their originary Christian ethics did not allow them to participate in any activities supporting the military. And this tradition is now quite well-known in England, in the United Kingdom, and the influence of this tradition becomes more and more visible. And the conscientious objectors have been called 'conscientious objectors' when General Smuts in South Africa named the Satyagrahi, the nonviolent resisters of Mahatma Gandhi and his fellow countrymen, so, this was quite interesting: a new modern term "conscientious objector"...
SB: "I see, that's news to me, Christian, that it originates in the modern era with Gandhi's campaign for minority rights in South Africa before he returned to India."
CB: "Yeah, you see, in South Africa when Gandhi was active, these issues were linked with each other and the theologist Leonhard Ragaz from Switzerland wrote about that, and I also was surprised when I read it in an old book from 1930 about the "Gandhi Revolution" (Franz Kobler: Gandhi's Verhaeltnis zur abendlaendischen Friedensbewegung, in: Fritz Diettrich (ed.): Die Gandhi-Revolution, Dresden 1930, pp. 92-110) which I found in an old book store. So, I collected a lot of old books on this tradition which was the basis for our work..."
SB: "I see."
CB: "... so that we could have a good research basis, and we represented some of these dialogues of Gandhi and his contemporaries in the US and in Europe in English and in German languages, so we are publishing books in our Center in the English language, but, of course, if you are doing most of it by yourself, then you do not have the best means in distribution etcetera. But many of these books have been ordered from different countries. And we are glad to present our books to the libraries in Germany and also in the United Kingdom, and we also send some of our copies to US libraries. So, I think, this is just to fill this gap, this gap of research. In the US, I know that the research on historical Pacifism is growing, and I think this is a very good ..."
SB: "Yes, this is a happy development!"
CB: "... a happy development after this threat of the Eighties, I think, more and more interest was growing in becoming aware, but you have your strong tradition of nonviolence linked to the names of the abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison...
CB: "... Adin Ballou, and Henry David Thoreau, and afterwards Martin Luther King jr., Dr. Martin Luther King jr., and the brothers Berrigan for example..."
SB: "Yes, indeed!"
CB: "... You mentioned them in your book, this strong tradition of civil disobedience, the Ploughshare groups, and I think these are all signs of hope, and it's not just important to continue this tradition, but also to recollect the tradition again and again and also to find new approaches."
SB: "Yes, now, you mentioned the importance in your own development, Christian Bartolf, of the new Cold War, of the early 1980s, you mentioned as well that you understand Peace Scholarship, Peace Research to be growing. It seems, indeed, that interest is hightened during times of, well in those days we called them, Super Power tensions, and yet I wanna return to the historical or the earlier historical context: Interestingly even here in the US, since 1973, I believe it is, the United States ended conscription or what in this country is called 'the Draft' and has gone to an all-volunteer force, one would think that maybe conscientious objection under those circumstances would just dry up and disappear. That has not been the case! The Mennonite communities in this country, the Quaker communities, the Hutterites, and the other historic Peace Churches remain important forces for organising around conscientious objection, and I wished I had the figures. Christian, maybe you have seen them, as to the number of servicemen and -women here in the US who have resisted at one stage of their military service or another service in Afghanistan or in Iraq. Do you have any figures or are you familiar with any of the details on the extent to which conscientious objection broadly defined, or other resistance to service even by people already in uniforms, is an issue for the US military today?"
CB: "Well, I know that the US Forces are so-called volunteers, but you know that conscription is a system which is not just a legal system but also an economic system so that in countries where conscription was abolished there is still a system of economic conscription, that people from the poorer segments of the population go to the military to have a regular income, et cetera. So, that's the reason why conscription is a part of the military system and it's a method of recruitment, from Napoleon via Bismarck to Hitler this had been used, and the democracies adopted the same methods after the Second World War. And only because of the Pacifist and anti-militarist opposition to the Vietnam War in the US it has been abolished in 1974, I think, and President Carter, Jimmy Carter who received the Nobel Peace Prize re-introduced registration which was not a good basis to calm down the Pacifist opposition for all times in the US. That's the reason why there is still the danger to re-introduce conscription in times of war."
SB: "Yes! You may know, Christian, that in the US registration for the selective service, for the draft is coerced in an economic way. So, if a young man, I believe once you reach 18, you need to register for the draft. If you fail to, you are not qualified for financial aid, for loans and grants and other financial support to attend college."
CB: "That's the reason why I think our "Manifesto against conscription and the military system" first of all does not affect only countries which still keep up the legal system of conscription, but also those with the Anglo-Saxon model of economic conscription that is still in effect, for example, in the US or in India. And on the other hand, I think that the Manifesto will also be of great importance after the end of conscription, of the legal system of conscription throughout the world, because it is opposing the military system."
CB: "And that is the reason why I could foresee a kind of development that also European states would transform their military to a professional army more and more, and that's the reason why we started with this Manifesto - not to slow down this process or to accelerate this process - but to have a basis for opposing the military in future and in presence, of course, but 'opposing' does not mean to be subversive in an illegal way, but it is now important to have a clear manifest Declaration which has been supported by many famous and many good-willing people and that is the reason why our Manifesto is growing day by day and week by week and month by month and year by year - after ten years now. And congratulations, Steve, that you are the first, really the first who is interviewing me for a radio programme, throughout the world. That is a pity that the media did not want to realize the fact that such a Manifesto is, has existed and it is almost the same fate of the old two manifestoes which we were quoting which have been signed in 1926 and 1930 by very famous humanists like Gandhi, Einstein, Freud and many famous writers: Upton Sinclair, H.G. Wells; and these old manifestoes have all almost been forgotten, that is the reason why we had to find these old texts..."
CB: "... and that was, let me say, a challenge. You know that there are groups like the War Resisters International or the International Fellowship of Reconciliation ..."
CB: "... which are working for Peace, for secular and religious groups, on an international scale. They are supporting conscientious objectors world-wide ..."
CB: "... and one should contact them to ask them if there is a high number of deserters of the US army now. I cannot respond to that question, but I know that even those groups did not keep such an archive where it was very easy to find these old texts. So, we had to find them in the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, for example, one text, one text we found in the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam. And so we put these pieces together. One text I found in a book about Romain Rolland, the famous French writer, who inspired the first of these manifestoes in 1919, after the First World War ..."
CB: "... he was a Pacifist, he had a correspondence with Rabindranath Tagore from India, the Indian writer who received the Nobel Prize for Literature, and there I found this first English language translation of the 'Declaration of the Independence of the Spirit' in 1919. So, I was asking myself why this has not been done before. All what we have done is to, let me say, do what should have been done before, nothing new ..."
CB: "... but to bring these pieces together!"
SB: "Yes, for us, Christian, many of our listeners, of course, these declarations are, in the American slang, no-brainers, in other words, they are just obvious, they're clear, they don't require explanation or even much contexting, but, of course, they are up against a militarist culture that, you know, wants to ignore them and bury them, and thus make the peace researcher's work so difficult just to resurrect the documents. We've got a few seconds, Christian, before we take a break, and I have that Pete Seeger tune you were looking forward to, I'm pleased to say, but just in a few seconds, if you can wonder about, I don't know if it's irony or the paradox of the esteem with which Western Society holds such figures as Einstein and Freud, two of the signers of these manifestoes you mentioned. These men are considered the giants, you know, of 20th century Western civilization and, yet, we celebrate as if it were only a small part of the contributions made by people like Freud and Einstein. Is it just a kind of conscious forgetting or intentional exclusion that we forget that Einstein and Freud were Socialists and Pacifists? Or is it that part of it that just kind of falls away accidentally? What is your understanding of it?"
CB: "I think so, it might be a kind of verdict on Pacifism in our public media which is not very pleasant, because the Pacifists - one should know - were a victim group of the Nazis in Germany ..."
CB: "... like Carl von Ossietzky who was a prisoner of Hitler in concentration camp. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1936, posthumously for 1935, and he was a prisoner. So, he was a Pacifist, and he was one of the first who were thrown into concentration camp."
SB: "I was going to say: Among the victims of the Nazi régime, very well known, of course, to our listeners, Pacifists, this might be a new part of their understanding, Pacifists, Conscientious Objectors, were some of the first victims of Hitler!"
CB: "Yes, that's right! And the reason was, he wanted to re-introduce conscription, that was in 1935, that was the basis for him to start the Second World War, and with the collaboration of the generals and officers. And that's the reason why we have not emancipated from the military system so far, because after the Second World War violence has been overthrown by counter-violence, so we are still in the circle, so history has not stopped or ended, we are still in this history of violence ..."
CB: "We should emancipate from it, and this is actually the message of Mahatma Gandhi who said that "Science of war leads one to dictatorship pure and simple. Science of non-violence can alone lead one to pure democracy." (Harijan, 15-10-1938)
SB: "Let's end right there for the first half of the show, Christian, and come back. Yes, you're of course evoking images of the contemporary United States under the Bush régime for many of our listeners. If you've joined us since the top of the hour, my guest this morning is Christian Bartolf with the Gandhi Information Center in Berlin. They're currently pressing forward with their "Manifesto against conscription and the military system" which I share with you, listeners, it is very brief as these things tend to be, it is just less than a page or so long, so I read this to you when we come back after the break, I got a Pete Seeger tune lined up that Christian himself suggested. So, that's coming up next, then a minute or so Public Service Announcements, so, Christian and I will be back in about three minutes or so. You are listening to "On the Barricades", I'm Steve Breyman, this is WRPI, Troy."
If I Had A Hammer (words by Lee Hays, music and sung by Pete Seeger, 1949)
"If I had a hammer, I'd hammer in the morning,
I'd hammer in the evening all over this land.
I'd hammer out danger, I'd hammer out a warning.
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters all over the land.
If I had a bell, I'd ring it in the morning,
I'd ring it in the evening all over this land.
I'd ring out danger, I'd ring out a warning.
I'd ring out love between my brothers and my sisters all over the land.
If I had a song, I'd sing it in the morning,
I'd sing it in the evening all over this land.
I'd sing out danger, I'd sing out a warning.
I'd sing out love between my brothers and my sisters all over the land.
Well, I got a hammer and I got a bell and
I got a song to sing all over this land:
It's the hammer of justice, it's the bell of freedom,
it's a song about love between my brothers and my sisters all over the land."
SB: "And we're back. You're listening to 'On the Barricades'. I'm Steve Breyman. This is WRPI, Troy. With me on the telephone from Berlin is Christian Bartolf of the Gandhi Information Center. We've been talking in the first half of the programme this morning about his work with conscientious objectors and for the revival of the historic Peace tradition associated with the great names of Tolstoy, Gandhi, King and the rest.
I want to apologize, Christian, I could not get the turntable to work on the particular Pete Seeger cut we were looking forward, but I'll try again before the end of the show, but I hope "If I Had A Hammer" satisfied at least part of your Pete Seeger desires this morning.
Again but, listeners, the Gandhi Information Center in Berlin and its associates around the world are currently looking to gather signatures on their "Manifesto against conscription and the military system". Let me read the text to you right here online at the Gandhi Information Center's site. I'll give you the URL for that, if you've got a pen and paper handy, it's a bit of a mouthfull, it's "home.snafu.de/mkgandhi/english.htm": "de" is the German suffix for "Deutschland" - "mkgandhi" for "Mohandas K. Gandhi". So here it is, the "Manifesto against conscription and the military system", again synthesized, as Christian explained earlier in the programme, from a number of its famous historic predecessors.
In the name of humanity,
for the sake of all civilians threatened by war crimes,
especially women and children, and
for the benefit of Mother Nature suffering from war preparations and warfare,
We, the undersigned, plea for the universal abolition of conscription as one major and decisive step towards complete disarmament.
We remember the message of 20th century-humanists:
"It is our belief that conscript armies, with their large corps of professional officers, are a grave menace to peace. Conscription involves the degradation of human personality, and the destruction of liberty. Barrack life, military drill, blind obedience to commands, however unjust and foolish they may be, and deliberate training for slaughter undermine respect for the individual, for democracy and human life.
It is debasing human dignity to force men to give up their life, or to inflict death against their will, or without conviction as to the justice of their action. The State which thinks itself entitled to force its citizens to go to war will never pay proper regard to the value and happiness of their lives in peace. Moreover, by conscription the militarist spirit of aggressiveness is implanted in the whole male population at the most impressionable age. By training for war men come to consider war as unavoidable and even desirable." (1)
"Conscription subjects individual personalities to militarism. It is a form of servitude. That nations routinely tolerate it, is just one more proof of its debilitating influence.
Military training is schooling of body and spirit in the art of killing. Military training is education for war. It is the perpetuation of war spirit. It hinders the development of the desire for peace." (2)
We encourage all people to emancipate themselves from the military system and, therefore, apply methods of non-violent resistance in the line of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, as they were: Conscientious Objection (by conscripts and professional soldiers, in war and peace time), Civil Disobedience, War Tax Resistance, Non-Cooperation with military research, military production and arms trade.
In our age of electronic warfare and media manipulation, we cannot deny our responsibility to act in time, according to our consciences. It is high time to demilitarize our minds and our societies, to speak out against war and all preparations for it.
Now is the time to act, now is the time to create and to live in a way that saves the lives of others.
(1) Anti-Conscription Manifesto 1926, signed among others by Henri Barbusse, Annie Besant, Martin Buber, Edward Carpenter, Miguel de Unamuno, Georges Duhamel, Albert Einstein, August Forel, M.K. Gandhi, Kurt Hiller, Toyohiko Kagawa, George Lansbury, Paul Löbe, Arthur Ponsonby, Emanuel Rádl, Leonhard Ragaz, Romain Rolland, Bertrand Russell, Rabindranath Tagore, Fritz von Unruh, H.G. Wells
(2) Against Conscription and the Military Training of Youth 1930, signed among others by Jane Addams, Paul Birukoff and Valentin Bulgakoff (collaborators of Leo Tolstoy), John Dewey, Albert Einstein, August Forel, Sigmund Freud, Arvid Järnefelt, Toyohiko Kagawa, Selma Lagerlöf, Judah Leon Magnes, Thomas Mann, Ludwig Quidde, Emanuel Rádl, Leonhard Ragaz, Henriette Roland Holst, Romain Rolland, Bertrand Russell, Upton Sinclair, Rabindranath Tagore, H.G. Wells, Stefan Zweig"
So, this again the "Manifesto against conscription and the military system" upon the website of the Gandhi Information Center, Berlin. Just a quick historical note: the two quotes come from earlier related manifestoes: the first the 1926 Anti-Conscription Manifesto, that Christian mentioned, signed by people like Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, Gandhi and Bertrand Russell, the second came from a manifesto entitled "Against Conscription and the Military Training of Youth" that appeared in 1930, signed by people like Jane Addams, again John Dewey, Thomas Mann, Upton Sinclair and other celebrities.
We noted, Christian, right before the break that we remember, that we read the books, we teach, we learn the work of these great thinkers and scientists and humanists today, but we almost universally neglect and forget the importance of Pacifism and Resistance to Conscription and War and the Military System that was part and parcel of their work. In other words, I think it's disingenuous to talk about the literature of someone like Thomas Mann, the Nobel Literature Prize winner, and Upton Sinclair, the science of an Einstein or a Freud without also incorporating their political and conscientious and social thoughts."
CB: "Yes, that's right! You mentioned Einstein and Freud, Sigmund Freud, and both of them had a letter exchange on the question 'Why is there War?'"
SB: "Yes, a famous correspondence!"
CB: "That's right! It was actually the beginning of Peace Research, I would say, in the 20th century, because Einstein proposed a kind of International Criminal Court and also arbitrary courts for the settling of disputes among nations and his idea was according to Immanuel Kant a federation of equal member states, a global federation, of course, and it was a cosmopolitan perspective. So, this utopia, this political utopia which can be very concrete, very real, is still in the minds of people and of all those who want to strengthen the influence of the United Nations, for example, or to reform the United Nations and to overcome all the weaknesses of the first decades. And I would like to remember that Mahatma Gandhi's message was "an international league only when all the nations, big or small, composing it are fully independent. The nature of that independence will correspond to the extent of non-violence assimilated by the nations concerned. One thing is certain. In a society based on non-violence, the smallest nation will feel as tall as the tallest. The idea of superiority and inferiority will be wholly obliterated." (Harijan, 11-2-1939)
CB: "That was his vision in 1939!"
SB: "Yes, think of that, yes, all that long ago, so, to put it another way: Nonviolence is inherently anti-imperialist!"
CB:"Yes, it is so, because actually the basis of wars is always the exploitation of the weaker groups in society and of the weaker nations in the world. And if you want to eradicate the roots of war, then you should, of course, make the world a just place. You know: If you want to bring Justice, you have to start with the Economy and Society, and not with the death penalty."
CB: "That's the reason why justice in the world of an executioner or of executions is not very authentic. Justice should start by those individuals who try to emancipate from this hidden bondage!"
SB: "Yeah, it's barbarism is what it is, it is as old as the Old Testament and earlier. And for some of our societies, including unfortunately especially the one I am broadcasting from, the death penalty remains the ultimate sanction."
CB: "I have another quotation of Mahatma Gandhi - he said: "Democracy to be true should cease to rely upon the army for anything whatsoever. It will be a poor democracy that depends for its existence on military assistance. Military force interferes with the free growth of the mind. It smothers the soul of man." (Harijan, 9-6-1946) That was in 1946. And I think we have not really learned. I was born in 1960, and my father died from the effects of the Second World War. It was 15 years after the Second World War, by the way. That is the reason why I am still under the influence as a half orphan. I know by my personal biography that War cannot bring about anything good. That's the reason why each kind of preparation for War will perpetuate this Military System and it's a system of destruction! And if Gandhi says that military force "smothers the soul of man", it means that our soul has to liberate, you know, it's a message of Freedom actually which we want to send out and if your programme will be heard by U.S. citizens who contributed to the culture of Mankind so tremendously - and I'm not just thinking of the great singers of the Civil Rights' Movement like Pete Seeger or Malvina Reynolds or Joan Baez, I was thinking not only of the anti-militarist and Pacifist singers like Phil Ochs or Richie Havens, Peter, Paul & Mary etcetera, I was thinking of the rich tradition of Nonviolence which has become renewed by Dr. Martin Luther King jr. and the Civil Rights' Movement. And if this lesson will be of importance for the 21st century, then we should start to think of the inspiration which has been absorbed by Martin Luther King. And he learned from Gandhi and Tolstoy! And we have to think how to renew this impulse. And the Manifesto is a kind of, well, modest and very slow renewal of this tradition of Nonviolence, and maybe it will be visible only in a few months or years, because there will be more and more attention focussing on it. But we are not in the position to influence the media, not the mass media. So, I'm very grateful to you that you listen to my voice from the distance."
SB: "Well, Christian, I guess it's the same difficult road to follow in this case that we Progressives have when trying to build more generally an alternative culture and, of course, the alternative culture we're trying to build is characterized, of course, by Nonviolence. It is a Peace Culture. As a matter of fact here in the Capital region of New York State we had a conference sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance this past Fall called "Toward a Culture of Peace" and another big regional organizing conference in November called "Confronting the Politics of Fear". So, the people within the range of our voices have had some opportunities to engage in this sort of work, and I'm impressed by your recognition of the slow pace of the kind of frustrating work we have to do to propagate and to build a Culture of Peace and, again, to get out once again into the light of day the extraordinary works of these amazing men and women who came before us. But have you then any other suggestions? One thing that comes immediately to mind I believe the leading organisation in this country to counsel and assist those young men and I guess including women, too, today thinking about either resisting registration for the draft or opting out of some particular service or another once already committed to a stand in the military, I believe it's called the Central Committee for Conscientious Objection, I remember the acronym CCCO and I think their website is "www.objector.org" - I did a programme on this some years ago - what I think is the best resource probably in this country on these matters, and, of course, listeners will realize that we have a Fellowship of Reconciliation community right here in Troy at Rosa House (...) In the meantime, Christian, so we've got the Manifesto, we're holding conferences, we're trying to educate us, ourselves, people like you and I are Peace Researchers. We do make some of our own media. You mentioned several times the centrality of the media in getting out the message on this. We've got wonderful resources locally that include this Radio Station, and yet, again, as you say, it's modest, it's painfully slow it seems, our efforts seem so small, so miniature, miniscule even in face of the chorus of Bush's foreign policy that it's, well you know, it's difficult to carry on at some point. Any wisdom that you've come across of your own reading from King or Gandhi or Tolstoy about the difficulty of the Path to Peace and the slowness of the cultural change? What kind of inspiration do you have for us on this matter?"
CB: "Well: "The way of peace is the way of truth...""
SB: "That's Satyagraha!"
CB: ""...Truthfulness is even more important than peacefulness...""
CB: "And: "Indeed, lying is the mother of violence. A truthful man cannot long remain violent." (Young India, 20-5-1926) These are words by Mahatma Gandhi, and I like to quote them, because I think, there's no reason to despair on the Pathway of Truth and Nonviolence, because if you see the results of the mass media, actually it is the danger that people lose their self-confidence in remaining truthful. And this is what we can learn that we should not despair and not become cynical and to encourage our friends and those who we are able to address, and my brother and my mother are warmly greeted by me now, so to encourage them not to become cynical, and all my friends in our Center, they should know that it is first important not to despair and to become cynical. The second is to try to realize that this "Firmness in Truth" (Satyagraha) is the basis and certain fearlessness which is not easy if you have a family..."
CB: "... but if you do not have a family, if you are a student or if you are someone who is walking a new way and who tries to find a new perspective, then it is sometimes quite good to use your capacity to follow the Path of Nonviolence. It is interesting: I visited many countries, because I was invited, not because of commercial activities, but because of non-commercial, non-profit activities..."
CB: "... and this was a great experience for me, I never expected this, and I am not intending to go to any other country, but I think to know that there are quite different ways to know the World better, this is a good experience to share. And I would like to share this experience of, let me say, openness to new ways - and each individual should find her or his new way - and these new ways will add to each other. This is what I think: "The way of peace is the way of truth." - this is the first step, even if it is very hard in our society where so many lies seem to be profitable, but we should try to come back to simple truths, and this is what we can learn from the songs of your great singers: "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan or "What Have They Done To The Rain?" by Malvina Reynolds or "The Universal Soldier" by Buffy Sainte-Marie."
CB: "And I would say, these songs should be heard again, and "If I Had A Hammer" was one of the first songs which influenced me so..."
SB: "Oh, good!"
CB: "... it was a good alternative choice of yours."
SB (laughing): "Excellent! Well, with that we are out of time, Christian, you did leave us with very inspiring words, and again, especially apt, I think, here in Bush's America, the Bush administration, of course, having a very strong allergy to the truth. So our work in getting out the truth is also Peace work as you made clear Gandhi was convinced of. So, Christian Bartolf, I wanna thank you very much for being here this morning!"
CB: "Thank you!"
SB: "And I wish you a Merry Christmas. If listeners want to follow up on the Manifesto and the other fine work of the Gandhi Information Center, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org - and I want encourage listeners to keep it right here (...) You have been listening to "On the Barricades", I'm Steve Breyman, this is WRPI, Troy."
(Responsible parties with opposing viewpoints to those presented in the preceding programme may request equal airtime for rebuttle by contacting WRPI, Troy, at 5182766248. The opinions expressed by WRPI personalities do not necessarily reflect those of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Rensselaer Union of the staff or management of WRPI, Troy.)