Revolutionary Peacemaking: Using a Critical Pedagogy Approach for Peacemaking with “Terrorists”
The current global political atmosphere is steeped in fear of, and intense rhetoric about, political violence and "terrorism." Amidst this turbulent environment, it is clear that scholars and practitioners need to get beyond the manufactured fear and the hysterical rhetoric, peddled by what we call the corporate-state-military-media complex (or simply, the "power complex"), and instead seek a deeper understanding of political groups that defend or deploy the tactics of economic sabotage (property destruction) or armed struggle in order to change repressive and violent social structures (Best and Nocella 2004; Best and Nocella 2006). Such understanding is important to slow down and reverse the current trend among legislative and policy-making bodies and political leaders who increasingly marginalize, demonize, and exclude radical opposition groups from arenas of debate. Law enforcement agencies and "counterterrorism experts" around the world see no alternative to fierce repression of dissenting groups, but this approach typically backfires, producing even more resistance and multiplying the very tactics it seeks to eliminate.
While of course law enforcement agencies, from their perspective, need to address groups using illegal tactics as criminals, government and police need not always vilify them as terrorists (they may be patriots, populists, or advocates of just causes) and they should attempt to understand the motivations and arguments of people advocating radical social change. Similarly, western capitalist states - the U.S. above all - should refrain from a visceral, unreflective, and politically-motivated demonization of governments or groups opposed to their policies as "terrorist" if they wish to minimize rather than exacerbate tensions and threats by attempting negotiation with dissidents, opponents, and "enemies" before using violence, waging warfare, and violating human rights. In addition, citizens and people everywhere should critically consider the complex histories, social conditions, and numerous points of view that underlie conflicts rather than ignorantly accepting what their governments and media report as "truth."[i]
The heightened state repression since September 11, 2001 has led government and law enforcement to identify a wide range of nonviolent U.S. activists as "terrorists," Without question, some radical groups such as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) do not compromise or negotiate with their opposition (corporate exploiters of animals and the Earth), and they advocate and/or use illegal tactics such as sabotage. Nonetheless, it is a hasty move to equate smashing the windows of a fur store with "terrorism" and "violence," with flying fully-loaded passenger jet planes into the World Trade Center. But such is the crudeness and hysteria one finds routinely in the reactions of corporations, the state, mass media, and much of the public as well (Best and Nocella 2004). Moreover, one must understand that militant resistance inevitably emerges within exploitative and repressive capitalist societies which make the achievement of democracy and justice difficult if not impossible. As the saying goes, "No Justice, No Peace."[ii]
The so-called "war on terrorism" is more accurately viewed as a war against those who threaten the interests of transnational corporate domination and the neo-con quest for world Empire. This phony, duplicitous Orwellian phrase has meaning only as a smokescreen for transnational corporations and the global capitalist class to gain control over oil markets and world resources in general, while crushing anyone who dares to oppose the exploitation of animals, people, and the Earth (or who oppose U.S global military establishment with its black sites, espionage bases, secret military bases, and 725 worldwide bases openly listed by the military). After 9/11, the "war on terrorism" provided the perfect cover for a war on democracy in the form of government, corporate, and law enforcement attacks on civil liberties, free speech, and domestic dissent of virtually all kinds. While flags waved everywhere in a mindless jingoism oblivious to the real causes of 9/11 (e.g., predatory transnational capitalism, U.S. support of Israel and Arab dictatorships, and U.S. military bases in Saudi Arabia), the Bush administration was gutting freedoms, shredding the Constitution, and moving the U.S. ever closer to tyranny.
But the state's tactic can only backfire, for if every dissenting group is branded as terrorist then none are terrorists, and the true terrorists - those who use physical violence against innocents or "non-combatants" for political gain -- become harder to identify.[iii] As U.S. policy has failed miserably in Afghanistan and Iraq, with chaos, anti-American hostilities, soldier casualties, public opposition, and foreign terrorist threats growing, and while the nation's ports, railways, subways, airlines, and nuclear power plants remain vulnerable to attack, the government nonetheless squanders massive resources to persecute dissenting political groups and "domestic terrorist" networks. Students, community activists, Quakers, Food Not Bombs, PETA, Greenpeace, professors overtly critical of the Bush administration or supportive of the Cuba revolution or Hugo Chavez's Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, and even people in vegetarian groups have been surveilled, harassed, prosecuted, arrested, jailed, and smeared as "violent" and demonized as "terrorists."
We write this chapter in a collaborative effort to note that peacemaking is based on working and dialoguing with radicals and militants, a point which many academics, government, and law enforcement agencies so easily forget. We wish to show that revolutionaries often have legitimate goals, needs, and demands which, if not addressed and respected, can prompt them to commit extreme or violent acts. Peacemaking, critical pedagogy, and conflict studies provides a salient literature through which to explore this topic. We argue that conflict transformation is not something we adventitiously choose to do when engaging in peacemaking, rather it must be broached with everyone in conflict situations, especially if they involve or can lead to violent struggles.
We begin with a brief sketch of the current socio-political climate
in the U.S. , and show how the Bush administration's policy hinders
efforts to negotiate or reduce conflict with individuals and groups
that are, on their skewed definitions, "radical", "violent,"
or "terrorists." We then explain the deception and hypocrisy
of the "war on terrorism" and examine the complexity
of "terrorism" as a concept. Finally, we advocate a
position of "revolutionary peacemaking" as a way to
communicate and negotiate with dissidents and radicals; this process,
however, is impeded by the dogmatic and politicized use of the
"terrorist" label, such as glibly peddled by the power
complex and groups across the political spectrum.
The Failure of U.S. Peacemaking
The assault on civil liberties in order to enhance "national security" is nowhere more obvious than with the October 26, 2001 passage of the USA . PATRIOT Act, a legal framework with which the government arrogated to itself unlimited powers of surveillance, search and seizure, detention, and suppression of dissent. A tragedy for America , 9/11 was a blessing for the neoconservative agenda of the Bush administration, as it provided the perfect pretext to impose tyranny at home and pursue Empire abroad.[iv] A motley crew of cold-war hawks, oil barons, evangelical Christians, and dogmatic neocons, the Bush administration seized advantage of the new climate of fear, intensified it in every way they could (through lies, hyperbole, false threats, and manufactured incidents), and declared a phony "war on terrorism" of undefined meaning against amorphous enemies for an unending period of time. In the name of Homeland Security, the government patched together existing laws with new statutes to create the legal machinery for - the greatest Orwellian acronym ever - the "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act," or, the "USA PATRIOT Act."[v]
Just a month after 9/11, the PATRIOT Act, a 342-page tome, was rammed through Congress. In the urgency of the moment, few politicians read it and fewer still dared to challenge it, fearful of being labeled as weak or unpatriotic in dire times - intimidation policies still in effect. Democrats caved in and handed Bush a political blank check.[vi] The mass media, compliant and uncritical, peddled propaganda, spread fear, and championed an ill-conceived and illicit war that incomprehensibly - except from the premise that corporations and neo-cons sought access to oil and territory -- morphed from battling the Taliban in Afghanistan to overthrowing Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Rejecting talks and negotiations, and abruptly ending successful inspections for alleged "weapons of mass destruction," the U.S. pursued the violent path of "shock and awe" bombings, which killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq . From then to now, the Bush team has done everything in its power to confound the facts and to manipulate the public into believing that Iraq, not Al Qaeda, attacked America; and that the epicenter of the war against terror is in Bagdad and surrounding cities, not Kabul, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere; and that if we don't fight Al Qaeda in Iraq, we will have to fight them in LA, Chicago, Boston, and New York..
Signaling the tyranny to come, Bush proclaimed to the nation and world at large that, "If you're not with us, you're against us." Before the rubble of the World Trade Centers had been cleared, the U.S. took a qualitative leap toward becoming a police state whose enforcers had virtually unlimited powers matched by zero degrees of accountability. No one was spared. Thousands of foreigners were rounded up, jailed, and/or deported without evidence of wrongdoing. Thousands more abroad were corralled and herded into compounds such as Guantanamo Bay where they languished in legal limbo.[vii] Courtesy of Attorney General Alfred Gonzalez, torture policies were drafted, approved, and implemented, as the CIA captured hundreds of "enemy combatants" - a nifty new label which stripped captives of all rights -- and detained them in secret torture camps throughout Europe, where many were killed or disappeared altogether.[viii] International treaties like the Geneva Convention were flouted.[ix]
Laws and agencies used to monitor suspected foreign spies and
criminals (e.g., the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) were
redeployed for domestic policing. The government built massive
surveillance systems to monitor the communications of every citizen,
as Big Business fully cooperated with Big Brother.[x] Bush rejected
even the most minimal review laws as obstacles to catching terrorists,
and ordered illegal, warrantless wiretaps on thousands of U.S.
citizens' phone calls and email communications, far more than
initially realized or admitted.[xi] Demonstrators and activists
of all kinds became targets of surveillance and persecution, and
dissent in many forms was criminalized under the new category
of "domestic terrorism." The PATRIOT Act endowed the
state with powers such as to conduct clandestine searches of one's
home or office and to gain access to one's "private"
records, including student and medical data and details of library
research. While demanding open access to citizens, the government
also cloaked itself in secrecy, by withdrawing presidential papers
and historical records from the public domain and restricting
citizen use of the Freedom of Information Act.
The Challenge of Peacemaking
Although the turn of a century may often bring optimism hope for a brighter tomorrow, the 21st century began as a time of war, violence, and terrorism on a global scale, with as social, economic, health, and environmental problems mount to ever-higher levels of crisis. In response to aggressive capitalist globalization policies that are devastating the Earth, animal species, and humans on a global scale, intense forms of resistance are mounting against the great endorsers of corporate domination such as the U.S. and the U.K., as evident in the alter-globalization movement and, indeed, in Islamic Jihadism as well.[xii]
In conditions that foster political dissent and warfare, there is a need for peacemaking with revolutionary groups in order to prevent violence and to establish a cooperative resolution for all disputing parties, if and when possible (Kriesberg 2006). Many governments believe that mediating or negotiating with radicals who use tactics of "violence and "terrorism" legitimates and emboldens them, but typically repression of opposition groups exacerbates conflicts far more sharply. Mediation is not about winning or losing, but rather attempting to reduce conflicts (especially when catastrophic terrorist attacks or nuclear weapons are involved), to reconcile differences, and to promote fairness and peace as much as possible (Winslade & Monk 2000).
Consider the lamentable fact that Cuba , which has not posed a threat to the U.S. since the Soviet missile crisis showdown in 1963, has nonetheless for the last four decades been officially identified as a rogue nation. In this era of global capitalism and its vast, porous markets, trade and travel embargoes against Cuba remain firmly in place. Only due to its ideological rigidity and primal fear of "socialism" does the U.S. maintain this irrational and archaic stand, whereas the conflict could be easily resolved were the U.S. to abandon its own hostile policies and intractable outlooks. Such decades of fear and rigidity have, in recent years, been followed by the emergence of Latin American attempts at regional integration as a defense against U.S. imperialism, led by Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez.
In general, the rules of US foreign policy are:
* First, make no concessions to terrorists and strike no deals;
* Second, bring terrorists to justice for their crimes;
* Third, isolate and apply pressure on states that sponsor terrorism to force them to change their behavior; and
* Fourth, bolster the counterterrorism capabilities of those countries that work with the U.S. and require assistance.[xiii]
Because the U.S. and other governments will not negotiate with militant groups or "enemy" states, the peacemaker is not supported and can be seen as a traitor or supporter of revolutionary ideology (as the USA PATRIOT Act defines any efforts to "assist" a terrorist group as itself a terrorist action and the media, Republican Party, and Bush Administration to this day continue to stigmatize critics of the invasion of Iraq or efforts to build a garrison state as traitors and collaborators).[xiv]
We realize the following example is absurd, but sometimes absurdities can capture elements of truth needed to put current historical events into perspective. What would happen if a Canadian scientist, working in a basement laboratory at the University of Toronto, happened upon a scientific discovery that allowed the Canadian military to develop a super-weapon and become the world's most dominant military force? And what if, moreover, this weapon was deployed successfully against the U.S. military in a Canadian offensive designed to occupy the United States until it eliminated its scientific resources so it would be rendered incapable of ever creating a like weapon, but under the pretext of installing a universal healthcare plan (the argument being that not having such a plan was the moral equivalent to murdering millions of innocent, uninsured civilians)? Would there be armed U.S. civilian resistance to such an occupation? Surely there would be. Right-wing reactionary groups, along with left-wing militant groups, communitarians, and libertarians would fight hand-in-hand to drive out the occupiers, while some admittedly might welcome the occupiers as liberators. The Canadian government would lump all of these ideologically divergent resistance fighters as 'insurgents" or "terrorists." Would that mean that none of these groups would have any legitimate claims to attacking the occupying Canadian forces? We are merely trying to make the point here that the occupiers have the official means to define who the terrorists are.
Following our own hermeneutic counsel, we can try understand the U.S. position that there is no resolution to the Al Qaeda threat other than the military solution of total extermination of the radical Islamic "enemy" (which of course, they never forget, is far more diverse and widespread than just one group), given the unyielding resolve of jihadists to kill as many U.S citizens as possible, to overthrow "corrupt" Arab governments, and to impose draconian Sharia law throughout the world. But rather than weaken or destroy groups such as Al Qaeda through the military option, the failure of the U.S. to recognize the legitimacy of jihadist complaints (such as regard U.S. imperialism) and the causes of their violent campaigns, to dialogue with the Islam community as a whole, and to make necessary policy changes, the U.S. pursued a senseless invasion of Iraq and thereby whipped up anti-America hatred, exacerbated the terrorist threat to its citizens, destabilized the entire region, and alienated moderate Arabs so that they are more sympathetic to the radicals.
In a world racked by deep, persistent, and ominous conflicts (such as between Israel and Palestine, India and Pakistan , and the U.S. and North Korean and Iran ), it is critical that governments and authorities who want to progress towards peace understand the mission of a peacemaker and the need for a peacemaker. It is imperative that they undertake sincere and authentic diplomacy, and not the type where functionaries such as U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (or proxy "peace ambassador" Tony Blair) fly to a nation for tea, meaningless prattle, arrogant bullying, and tawdry photo opportunities. Emboldened, cajoled, and propped up by naïve neocons and war hawks such as Dick Cheney, Bush's fundamentalist Christian morality divides the world into Good and Evil and morphs into a Manichean politics rooted in dogmatic refusals to deal with "the enemy" in any way except through silence or violence, in sharp contrast to more conciliatory approaches toward foes such as North Korea and Palestine as led by the Clinton and Carter administrations.
In our post-9/11 world of radicalized Islam and suicide bombing there is a more obvious need than ever for peacemaking with revolutionaries. Global political relations are increasingly volatile and unstable, and globalization and militarization (as driven by the U.S. , in particular) creates poverty and animosity, and thereby breeds jihadism, anti-imperialism, anti-Americanism, and terrorism. Peacemaking with revolutionaries is the work done by practitioners who use dialogue, negotiation, education, and other forums that make communication possible in order to resolve conflicts.
There are numerous different peace-oriented positions, including peacebuilding "averting violence by teaching about nonviolence" (Harris 1999), peacekeeping "stopping violence by using force or deterrence" (Harris 1999), peacemaking "resolving conflicts through communication" (Harris 1999), and peace-activism "publicizing acts of violence against activists" (Nocella 2004). The end result of each position ostensibly is peace, but there is a significant difference in the means to this goal. In some cases, for example, peace activists might be protesting against peacekeepers because of the use of violence to enforce control of a protest area. The means of establishing peace differ depending on the position, mandate, or role in the peace community.
It is important to note, however, that peacemaking with dissidents, the disaffected, and revolutionaries will not always be successful in preventing conflict and violence. The raison d'etre of those in positions of power, influence, comfort, wealth, and glory is to maintain and advance those positions and they will typically do so by any means necessary - as the state will harass, imprison, kill, or wage war against any person, group, or nation that it considers a serious threat to its interests. In conditions of realpolitik, powerholders act for selfish not altruistic reasons and they adhere to pragmatic exigencies not moral imperatives. Thus, as nineteenth century abolitionist Frederick Douglass so eloquently emphasized: "The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of struggle ... If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the oceans without the awful roar of its many waters ... Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will."
Serious antagonisms are not the result of intractable psychologies
or differing cultural perspectives, but rather deeply rooted structural
dynamics of exploitation and oppression, such that in many cases
demands for rights and justice cannot be resolved through any
measure short of revolutionary struggle. While groups in conflict,
particularly the dominated group, may accept reform measures as
the easiest path toward their own social improvement, the root
cause of antagonisms such as poverty and oppression is not necessarily
addressed and so problems will persist until there is radical
change in the social class structure.
In the post-9/11 climate, intense controversy brews around the discourse of "violence" and "terrorism." And so the questions arise: Who and what are "terrorists"? And, conversely, who and what are "freedom fighters"? What is "violence," and who are the main perpetuators of it?
The complexities of defining terrorism are often glibly resolved with the relativist cliché that "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." It is true that, depending on the interpreter, violence against an opponent can be seen as "terrorism" or "counterterrorism," as aggressive offense or legitimate defense. To Israel and the U.S. government, Palestinian organizations are terrorists, but Palestinians and their defenders regard their soldiers as freedom fighters opposing a terrorist invasion and occupation of their homeland. In the 1980s, The Reagan administration championed the Contras as "freedom fighters" against the "totalitarian" state of Nicaragua , whereas Nicaraguans reviled them as US-sponsored terrorists who had killed thousands of innocents to overthrow their elected government. Menachem Begin was the leader of the infamous Irgun group that carried out political assassinations, and in 1946 he bombed the British Headquarters in the King David Hotel, killing 90 and wounding 45. Yet he became the Prime Minister of Israel and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1978. Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) used bombs and assassinations in their struggle against apartheid, and thereby were despised as terrorists, and yet in 1993 Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace prize and became an international hero.
While the distinction between terrorists and freedom fighters can sometimes be difficult to discern, often it is palpably clear. It is imperative that we resist corporate, state, military, and mass media definitions and glib conceptual conflations in order to distinguish between freedom fighters (those who defend themselves or others against unprovoked violence and unjust aggression) and so-called "terrorists" (those individuals, groups, or governments who initiate aggressive acts of violence toward others in an attempt to control, exploit, or oppress them). The U.S. attack on the Sandinista government in Nicaragua in 1979 was a clearly unprovoked, aggressive, violent act of war against a nation that posed no threat to its security; it was intended to destroy the government in order to install one more friendly to U.S. "business interests." Toward this goal, the Reagan administration organized and funded the Contras, a rag-tag bang of murder and mercenaries who blew up ports, sought to destroy the economy, and killed tens of thousands of innocent men, women, and children with bombs, grenades, and bayonets.
On an objective and consistent definition of "terrorism," indeed, on the U.S. state's own definition, the U.S. easily qualifies as the world's greatest and most menacing terrorist state, bar none.[xv] Without compelling reason, the U.S. dropped two atomic weapons on innocent civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; from Vietnam (1950-1973), Iran (1953), and Guatemala (1954) to Chile (1973) and Iraq (2002), the U.S. has overthrown governments unfriendly to it and/or democratically elected by its people; it has assassinated political leaders and killed countless millions of innocent civilians. The U.S. never lets minor matters like truth, consistency, ethics, justice, national sovereignty, or human rights impede its imperialist objectives.
"Terrorism" has become an increasingly ubiquitous part of everyday life, and yet the meaning of the term proves to be elusive. This is largely because "terrorism" is a highly loaded, complex, and malleable term whose use and meaning are influenced by emotion, political ideology, and even culture. All too often, its sense depends on who monopolizes the means of communication, as animal and Earth exploitation industries in the US , for instance, shape the definitions of "ecoterrorism" and establish legal and political priorities in their control of Congress.
"Terrorism" is not just a word, but a weapon, for the definition is politically motivated by the corporate-state-military-media complex in the U.S. and elsewhere to target activists and political groups of all kinds. Speakers routinely brand their adversaries as "terrorists" in order to discredit their opponents and avoid inquiry into the conditions that motivate their actions. Immense benefits accrue if you can characterize your opposition as terrorists. If dissenting individuals or groups are successfully demonized as "terrorist," they are painted as fanatics, as people not to be reasoned with, as individuals who need to be dealt with in a harsh or violent way and to whom laws and constitutional rights do not apply. Through stigmatizing one's opponent as "terrorist," people can thereby legitimate their own cause as good and just.
It is important to go beyond the rhetoric and propaganda of the state and media in order to look more deeply into what "terrorism" really is, and, crucially, what conditions cause it and provoke people to "extreme" actions and violence. In many cases, "terrorists" are nothing more than militants and revolutionaries conducting guerrilla warfare for social or political change, working for a just cause in political channels that block peaceful change; in other cases, the "terrorists" under state surveillance are grass-roots activists seeking an end to war, poverty, environmental destruction, or animal cruelty.
While one may not agree with their tactics, one might understand their motivations. It is important to provide an approach for how to comprehend "terrorists" or revolutionaries without demonizing, objectifying, imprisoning, or killing them. In the U.K. , for instance, it is vital to grasp the origins and motivations of vehement anti-Western sentiments in Muslim communities and work to address their concerns; the option is aggravating alienation and transforming moderates into radicals. The Bush administration's demonization of Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as the "axis of evil" (expanded to include Libya, Syria, Cuba, and Venezuela) in order to reduce nuclear build-up threats or tensions in Iraq, shows the grave flaws and consequences of rhetorical excess and intransigent positions.[xvi]
Historically, the state has countered threats to its interests by labeling their opponents as "terrorists" rather than "freedom fighters," thereby preserving the legitimacy of the political hierarchy while discounting the credibility of the group that poses a threat to its authority. In commenting on Irish Republican Army (IRA) "violence," for example, Margaret Thatcher intoned that "a crime is a crime is a crime." She thereby refused to acknowledge the legitimate political motivation, nature, and aims of the organization and their pride and desperation that often leads them to the use of violent tactics. Similar sentiment can be found in contemporary "hate crimes" legislation which criminalizes speech or actions which can be said to be "hateful" to some group. The classification of hate crimes and "terrorists" stems from an ideologically-motivated binary opposition, such that people who are predominately politically right-wing are charged with "hate crimes" and those viewed as left-wing are identified as "domestic terrorists." Interestingly, individuals convicted of hate crimes, violence, or murder often face less punishment and jail time than those convicted of "domestic terrorism."[xvii]
Thus, rather than being a simple linguistic turn, the shift in terminology from "freedom fighter" to "terrorist" should alert us to a deeper understanding of the speaker's interpretation of events. It should also remind us that while there may be a dominant narrative of social change and conflict, there are also alternative interpretations that view political dynamics in dramatically different ways. Acknowledging that the terms "extremist" and "terrorist" have garnered negative connotations -- which preclude finding potential common ground between opponents and exacerbate adversarial relations - and that their meanings are complex and variable should demonstrate the need to construct more accurate and objective definitions of these terms.
For the purposes of this chapter, "revolutionaries" are individuals or groups that seek systemic social change and who often employ illegal actions (e.g., sabotage) or violence (e.g., armed struggle) toward this goal. Peacemaking with revolutionaries -- although directly opposed to the U.S. State Department stance which boasts the right to "make no concessions to terrorists and strike no deals" -- is arguably necessary if events such as the 9/11 attacks are to be thwarted in the future. In Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In (1991), Rodger Fisher and William Ury point out that conflicting parties should not be entrenched in opposing positions. Earnest efforts at negotiation would force them to step out of any rigid policy or framework that would limit communication with conflicting parties.
With this in mind, let us depart from the terminology used in the 9/11 Commission Report and in the official "war on terrorism," and strive to understand "extreme" or "violent" acts from a different vantage point, namely the perspective of militant and revolutionary individuals and groups themselves. Peacemakers must push the envelope and be willing to communicate with all individuals, even those who commit what is popularly termed acts of "terrorism," so as to ensure a more inclusive peace process and potentially longer lasting peace. For violent tactics are motivated by violent conditions and those who want to end violence and "terrorism" must address their root causes.
Unlike reformist approaches that seek change within an existing
set of social arrangements, the demands of the revolutionary political
stance are not realizable within the status quo and require a
new society altogether. While varied in its ideology and tactics,
revolutionary politics is the most extreme position one can take
in working for social change, but it is also one that is necessary
and logical if the struggle grasps oppression as a systemic issue
and seeks to extirpate the roots of domination.
As we have emphasized, one way of dealing with "terrorists" and radicals is to understand their goals and agendas and to find some common ground upon which to build peaceful dialogues, if possible. We say, "if possible," because reason and dialogue cannot resolve all differences (if they could, there would be no conflicts or wars) and some demands and positions - such as divide anarchism and capitalism - are irreconcilable. Moreover, violence is not wrong in all cases, such as when a nation uses military means in self-defense against an aggressor's attack.[xviii] While there are risks in the peacemaking approach and no guarantees it will work, the potential rewards of reducing conflict and violence and promoting greater fairness make it well worth the effort. A key benefit is having a respectful relationship with individuals or groups who have legitimate complaints and to open venues for constructively addressing dangerous social conflicts without using physical armed force. It is thus of utmost importance to identify the cultural and ethical values in such groups that may serve as points of overture for dialogue between them and peacemakers.
For a revolutionary peacemaking approach to begin, the power complex has to be open to hearing and responding to claims for justice, and understanding the logic behind the political slogan, "No Justice, No Peace." Corporations and capitalist nation-states, above all, must realize that their own actions and policies are frequently responsible for the violence directed against them. Of course, as the corporate-state system is not about to voluntarily surrender its interests in exploiting people, animals, and the Earth, and is not likely to respond to logic, reason, and compassion, there are clear limits to dialogue. Upon reaching such an impasse, the revolutionary peacemaking approach much go beyond words in favor of high-pressure actions - such as Gandhi organized against the British Raj - that force power systems to yield to demands for equality, democracy, and justice.
The complex issue of "terrorism" in the 21st century calls for complementary approaches of analysis and transformation. The critical pedagogy approach to peacemaking owes much to its originator, the Brazilian education Paulo Freire. An internationally renowned educator, Freire's storied history of social transformation by means of critical literacy involved working with numerous revolutionary groups worldwide. In examining his seminal book, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, one can understand the importance of striving for an engaging educational experience in the classroom and learning about revolutionary/liberation groups, societies, and collectives.
In the field of conflict studies, however, there has been little contact with critical pedagogy except for a limited engagement with the discipline of conflict transformation. Conflict transformation is rooted in peace churches (Quaker, Mennonite, and Brethren) where rather than separating the conflicting parties or victim and offender, they are brought together, unlike the current U.S. criminal justice system which is based on a retributive approach based on punishment, e.g., imprisonment. Conflict transformation is process oriented and centers on empowerment, restoring, accountability, restoration, and healing divisions. In his pivotal book, Preparing for Peace: Conflict Transformation across Cultures (1995), John Paul Lederach discusses the dual levels of "transformative peacemaking":
In the peacemaking endeavor, there seems to be a certain tension around how to pursue social change, which too often is posed as an either/or contradiction: Is social change fundamentally a process of personal or systemic transformation?
Paulo Freire, whose seminal work on pedagogy will inform numerous aspects of this book, suggests we understand social change as including both. I have found it useful to step back and look at the picture related to Freire's pedagogical framework. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970) he uses literacy, learning to read and write, which seems to be a uniquely individual and personal agenda, as a tool for exploring and promoting social change. He refers to this as conscientization, awareness of self in context, a concept that simultaneously promotes personal and social transformation.
Here I believe is a fundamental paradox in the pursuit of peace. Peacemaking embraces the challenge of personal transformation, of pursuing awareness, growth, and commitment to change at a personal level. ...
In sum, the Freire folly suggests that transformative peacemaking upholds and pursues both personal and systemic change. (p. 19-20)
This systematic transformation at both personal and social levels is critical to developing a peaceful community. A community that has conflicts, but where members are respectful of differing opinions (or at least those that do not seek to harm individuals or destroy community, such as neo-Nazi beliefs) is thus able to manage conflict. The key in Freire's philosophy is that there is a need for the presence of respect for unity in difference and difference in unity.
The approach one adopts for understanding the revolutionary/guerilla group is the most crucial step in opening dialogue for the purpose of peacemaking. For the purpose of understanding one's dialogical subject, we advocate a critical pedagogy approach which recognizes that understanding cannot always be achieved through a rigid barrier of "objectivity." "Critical pedagogy" is a form of education which emerges from critical compassion; it is a transcendence of the emotional and the intellectual; the heart and mind learn to see and know in new ways" (Ledwith p. 181, 2001).
To examine something critically, one must be able to connect theory and action, while bringing up questions related to the experiences, history, and socio-political formation of different individuals and groups. This will include being aware of such characteristics as economic class, race, gender, sexuality, ability, culture, religion, and so on.[xix] Critical pedagogy is designed to provide various (sociological, anthropological, philosophical, etc.) languages of analysis to students and teachers so that they can begin to understand their experiences and subjectivities. These are constructed through the intersection of a multiplicity of forces linked to the modes and social relations of production, to spaces and places of capitalist production and circulation, to systems of mediation that involve their families, their religious upbringing, their class and racial formations, as well as organizations liked to both the state and civil society.
Basically revolutionary critical pedagogy posits questions (in the spirit of Freire's problem-posing as opposed to solution-giving pedagogy) that include but are not limited to the following: Who benefits from the education system as it now stands? Who stands to profit from existing educational arrangements? Who stands to suffer? In whose interests do existing pedagogical practices serve? What is the relationship between pedagogical practices and education as a system of social mediation and the reproduction of the status quo (i.e., the capitalist system)? What are the limitations of current educational debates? Why are economic rights not discussed in the United States within the larger debates over human rights? How does the education system serve the interests of the military industrial complex? How are students objectively located in distributions of material inequality and how are such inequalities socially and historically organized? Is the redistribution of economic resources from the rich to the poor possible within the capitalist system? Are the transformations needed to elimination oppression and exploitation achievable within the current value form of labor within existing capitalist economic arrangements? What are the limitations of liberal-democratic discourses of social, political, economic and educational equality? How can we use critical education to de-commodify our subjectivities and to fight the military-industrial complex? How can education play a (necessary but, alas, not sufficient) part in social revolution?
Rather than ignoring or abstractly acknowledging the demands
or positions of the revolutionary group, the revolutionary critical
pedagogy approach allows the peacemaker/researcher/educator to
concretely understand the interests, needs, and values that underlie
Understanding the Revolutionary
Liberation theologians such as Michael Rivage-Seul have made the important point that the figure of Jesus the liberator -- that is, the Jesus who was a victim of capital punishment and who expressed solidarity with the victims of poverty, torture, and capital punishment everywhere (including animals) -- was precisely the Jesus whom Ronald Reagan wanted dead, whom Pope John Paul 11 wanted dead, and whom Cardinal Ratzinger (the current Pope Benedict XVI) wants dead. According to Rivage-Seul, they all "wanted the poor robbed of their voice and God, so the elite's own God of the rich might hold exclusive sway (2006 p. 175). While an argument could be made that the true creed of the United States is "Violence Saves," a question has been raised about Latin American revolutionaries in particular: Have they, like the very states that they oppose, used religion to endorse violence?
Religious figures such as Dom Helda Camera and Oscar Romero spoke of a "bloody trinity" of three levels of violence: (1) structural violence, first-level violence, or violence of the "father" (social, economic, political, and military systems and arrangements, codified in law and custom that are responsible for tens of thousands of innocent deaths throughout the world each day); (2) revolutionary violence, second-level violence, or violence of the "son" (responses to first-level or structural violence); and (3) reactionary violence, third-level violence, or violence of the "evil spirit" (the reply by the state to acts of rebellion against structural or first-level violence).
While clearly structural violence prevails in today's imperial regimes and their client states, revolutionary violence is the only violence officially condemned by such states (Rivage-Seul 2007, p. 176). However, revolutionary violence is the only violence that can at least be theoretically justified as, in Rivage-Seul's words, "peasants and workers [seek] to defend their families from aggressions of the rich represented in the first and third levels" (2007, p. 177). Even the figure of Jesus reveals some sympathy for the goals of second-level violence since he was very likely sympathetic to the insurgency against the Roman occupation.
While almost certainly an anti-imperialist, Jesus "distanced himself from second-level violence, as well as from the first as represented by the Roman Empire" (2006, p. 178). According to Rivage-Seul, Jesus understood that second-level (revolutionary) violence would necessarily provoke a reactionary third-level violence and nothing would be changed (as his parable about the absentee landlord and his tenants illustrated). Ultimately, Jesus rebuked the worship of a divinized violence.
Structural violence in the United States is very rarely addressed by the state, but revolutionary violence, especially post-9/11, is rejected out of hand. On this issue, Rivage-Seul's comments are apposite: "the reality is, however, that violence at this level is the most understandable and even the most justifiable, at least from the viewpoint of American history, Just War theory, and perhaps even in the light of Jesus's own sympathies" (2006, p. 181). While Rivage-Seul agrees that the example of Jesus "challenges Christians to implement the practice of non-violent resistance, both as a matter of practicality and spiritual conviction" (2006, p. 181), it nonetheless,
Seems appropriate for First World Christians to insist that Third World resisters adopt strategies and tactics of non-violent resistance in situations where they must actually defend the "least of the brethren" in contexts shaped by extremely violent structures financed by U.S. tax dollars. In any case, Christians living comfortably in the U.S.A. must overcome the impulse to condemn second-level violence while excusing systematic aggression in service to U.S. corporate interests. Perhaps Philip Berryman says it best, "I would assert that people who have not actively opposed the violence of the powerful against the poor, at some cost to themselves, have no moral authority to question the violence used by the poor. (2006, p. 181)
As systems of domination breed forms of resistance, understanding revolutionaries is crucial if one wants to take the next step for humankind, which is building social harmony and lasting peace. In Pedagogy of the Oppressed, the storied Brazilian educator writes:
The earlier dialogue begins, the more truly revolutionary will the movement be. The dialogue which is radically necessary to revolution corresponds to another radical need: that of women and men as beings who cannot be truly human apart from communication, for they are essentially communicative creatures. To impede communication is to reduce men to the status of 'things' - and this is a job for oppressors, not for revolutionaries. (p. 109)
Revolutionaries are unique in how they create and implement their goals, but they live, breathe, and emerge in all cultures, societies, races, genders, abilities, sexuality, and spiritual paths. To understand revolutionaries one must know that they do not act solely on emotions, but rather engage in critical thought to find the best step to achieve liberation; one needs to realize that they are motivated by an acute sense of justice - one that, in principle at least, informs Western "democracies." The study of revolutionaries is crucial for peace because the most violent and oppressive situations usually breed revolutionary resistance. Revolutionaries are the product of a society which experiences oppressive conflict. Revolutionaries are unique individuals for they truly only exist in times of extreme turmoil and disarray.
While Malcolm X said, "education is the passport to the future," Freire took education one step further. Freire does not disagree with what Malcolm X said, but would add that the approach one takes to education is as important as the content. Thus, before one ventures off to become educated about revolutionaries one must decide on the proper or ideal approach to take for research and comprehension. It is thus crucial to approach revolutionary groups, societies, or collectives through a respectful and non-positional lens, which critical pedagogy favors.
This is a challenging approach that relies on dialogue and consciousness-raising among all the groups involved. Our own method relies on teaching how, in the words of Ramon Grosfoguel (forthcoming), the racial/ethnic hierarchy of the European/non-European divide "transversally reconfigures all of the other global power structures." In other words, it sets out how the idea of race and racism becomes the organizing principle that structures all of the multiple hierarchies of the world-system. Put another way, our approach argues that the different forms of labor in the global accumulation of capital are assigned according to this racial hierarchy. We are sympathetic to Grosfoguel who argues that,
Contrary to the Eurocentric perspective, race, gender, sexuality, spirituality, and epistemology are not additive elements to the economic and political structures of the capitalist world-system, but an integral, entangled and constitutive part of the broad entangled `package' called the European modern/colonial capitalist/patriarchal world-system. (forthcoming)
Our pedagogy underscores the importance of an anti-racism that at the same time constitutes a radical challenge to an economic system that is based on exchange value, profit, and the rule of the market. In doing so, we seek a different mode of life, which would not seeks the abstract negation of modernity but its "sublation" or absorption (Aufhebung) so that in the process of negation we conserve humanity's best gains in the struggle for a post-capitalist society (McLaren and Jaramillo 2007).
The current dominant approach adopted by Western governments and many transnational NGOs for peace operations is an objectivist and modernist approach that is an insuperable barrier to entering into the revolutionary environment. A critical pedagogy approach will better enable peacemakers to understand the motivations behind and missions of revolutionary actions. Mahmud Abouhalima provides a perfect example of this orientation:
The soul, he said, "the soul of religion, that is what is missing." Without it, Abouhalima said, "Western prosecutors, journalists, and scholars like myself will never understand who I am." He said that he understood the secular West because he had lived like a Westerner in Germany and in the United States. The seventeen years he had lived in the West, Aboualima told me, "is a fair amount of time to understand what the hell is going on in the United States and in Europe about secularism or people, you know, who have no religion." He went on to say, "I lived their life, but they didn't live my life, so they will never understand the way I live or the way I think. (Juergensmeyer 1997, p. 69)
The Relationship Between the Revolutionary and the Peacemaker
Being both a revolutionary and a peacemaker might be difficult for many to imagine, unless understood with figures such as Che Guevara and Paulo Freire in mind. These two stood for both revolution and peace - the latter being possible only through the former - and their politics were motivated from a position of love rather than a place of anger.
Che was absolutely convinced that only a socialist revolution based on an alliance of the workers and peasants could accomplish the permanent liberation of the Americas . The military-bureaucratic apparatus of the bourgeois state had to be destroyed because the politico-military machinery of the state will inevitably betray the people in support of the capitalists. According to Löwy, "the principle of the inevitability of armed struggle" was, for Che, "derived precisely from the sociology of the revolution: because the revolution is socialist it can be victorious only through revolutionary war" (1973, p. 86).
Yet although Che was an architect of guerilla warfare, he both advocated and adhered to standards of respect for the enemy:
Indeed Che, the theoretician of revolutionary war, of the liberating violence of armed struggle; Che, who insisted that "the oppressor must be killed mercilessly," and who believed that the revolutionary has to become an "efficient and selective" killing machine, this same Major Guevara always showed profound and genuine respect for human life. It is because he regarded life as a value that he criticized the ... terrorism which strikes down innocent victims; that he called on the guerrilla fighter to treat kindly the defenseless vanquished; that he urged clemency toward captured enemy soldiers, and categorically declared that a "wounded enemy should be treated with care and respect (Lowy 1973, p. 31).
Löwy makes clear the profound importance Che granted the concept of dignity, with its roots firmly planted within the Latin American humanist tradition. For Che, the "standard of dignity" to which all revolutionaries should adhere is reflected in the words of José Martí: "A real man should feel on his own check the blow inflected on any other man's" (Löwy 1973, p. 32). Löwy writes:
To hold life in profound respect and to be ready to take up arms and, if need be, to kill, is contradictory only in the eyes of Christian or pacifist humanism. For revolutionary humanism, for Che, the people's war is the necessary answer, the only possible answer, of the exploited and oppressed to the crimes and the institutionalized violence of the oppressors ... (1973, p. 32)
Löwy also notes that the problematic of dignity also implied, for Che, the concept of freedom, and this does not refer in any way to bourgeois individualism but rather the liberation of humanity from alienation brought about by the capitalist production process. For Che, the transformation of human beings and the transformation of material conditions coincide, just as there is a dialectical relationship between means and ends.
Despite their divergences, Freire, the peacemaker and nonviolent educator, and Che, the revolutionary and armed leader, remained brothers of the heart - comrades who never met in prison, in the theater of war, or in the arena of pedagogical struggle, but who shared a fraternal bond that opened up their hearts and minds to a similar vision of the world, as it was and as it should be. As intellectual and political comrades, their lives represented the best of what the human spirit has to offer.
It is a feeling of kinship with Freire and Che that has served as the primary motivation for this chapter. In the preface to Peter McLaren's book, Critical Pedagogy and Predatory Culture, Freire writes:
When such a kinship develops we need to cultivate within ourselves the virtue of tolerance, which "teaches" us to live with that which is different; it is imperative that we learn from and that we teach our "intellectual relative," so that in the end we can unite in our fight against antagonistic forces. Unfortunately, as a group we academics and politicians alike expend much of our energy on unjustifiable "fights" among ourselves, provoked by adjectival or, even worse, by purely adverbial differences. While we wear ourselves thin in petty "harangues," in which personal vanities are displayed and egos are scratched and bruised, we weaken ourselves for the real battle: the struggle against our antagonists. (p. x)
Paulo Freire's words about kinship ring true, as do his warnings
about the petty jealousies that infect academics, especially the
small-minded ones (and the academy is replete with them) whose
opportunism is wrapped in charm, whose narcissistic and vainglorious
search for attention and personal gain knows no bounds, and who
will stoop to any level to personalize their criticisms and engage
in acrimonious intellectual assaults or to sell their herringbone
souls for power or fame. Freire would have none of that; he was
a humble man who always put the project of human freedom ahead
of his own personal gain (McLaren 2000; McLaren 2006a; and McLaren
In a world of repressive "war on terrorism" campaigns, growing desperation of the world's peoples, climate change, species extinction, and overall biological meltdown, it is important to recognize that now is the time to brush hard against the grain of teaching and building peace until the full range of revolutionary peacemaking and transformational options are made available so that true dialogue becomes possible The struggle from the standpoint of revolutionary peacemaking is to construct provisional sites for the development of critical human agency.
As revolutionary peacemakers, the principles that guide our development of critical agency are those that the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela have taught us: a commitment to struggle against racial, sexual, gender and economic exploitation; a principled and practical opposition to imperialism (both economic and military); and a celebration of the rich diversity of global human struggle for a socialism for the 21st century. This struggle that will involve democratically organized mass movements dedicated to self-emancipation, direct participatory democracy, and the pursuit of the expansion of human development for the purpose of creating a cultural of freedom, a commitment to communal ownership of social-economic resources, and environment-friendly technologies that will respect and protect the integrity of ecosystems and the bio-cultural lifeworld (McNally 2006).
Revolutionary classrooms prefigure socialism in the sense that they are connected to social relations that we want to create as revolutionary socialists. Classrooms generally try to mirror in organization what students and teachers would collectively like to see in the world outside of schools- respect for everyone's ideas, tolerance of differences, a commitment to creativity and social and educational justice, the importance of working collectively, a willingness and desire to work hard for the betterment of humanity, a commitment to anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-homophobic practices.
The key, of course, in all of this was the creation of revolutionary praxis, which means developing our capacities and our capabilities through our self-activity. As we change the society around us, we change our selves. Here we stress what Marx identified as "the coincidence of the changing of circumstances and human activity or self-change" (Lebowitz, p. 70, 2006). Here, now, we need to build a society of associated producers that will permit the development of our creative powers (in Marx's spirit of forging "an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all"), and such a struggle will require, in Lebowitz's (2006) terms, "the simultaneous changing of circumstances and self-change" (p. 65). We build new human beings while we build the new society. Lebowitz (2006) writes:
Democratic, participatory, and protagonistic production both draws upon our hidden human resources and develops our capacities. But without that combination of head and hand, people remain the fragmented ... human beings that capitalism produces: the division between those who think and those who do continues- as does the pattern that Marx described in which "the development of the human capacities on the one side is based on the restriction of development on the other side." (p. 65)
In their best moments, the peacemaking of Freire and Che exemplify the characteristics of a revolutionary peacemaker. Although both peacemaking approaches place a profound emphasis on critical literacy and are underwritten by an explicit political project, it is not surprising to find that Freire's project is more systematic, more coherent, more dialogical, and more self-reflexive. Che's pedagogy was more intuitive, but what made Che so remarkable was that this intuition was profoundly counterintuitive. Yet the political project that unites both Che and Freire speaks to mutual concerns (McLaren & Jordán 1999).
Che's anti-dogmatism in the realm of theory (he viewed Marxism as a guide to action, a philosophy of praxis, a theory of revolutionary action) was not unrelated to his pedagogical practice, as he rejected outright the Stalinist cult of authority (which he often referred to as scholasticism) and he claimed it was impossible to educate the people from above. Echoing the question raised by Marx in his "Theses to Feuerbach" (which asked the crucial question, "Who will educate the educators"?), Che stated in a speech in 1960: "The first recipe for educating the people is to bring them into the revolution. Never assume that by educating the people they will learn, by education alone, with a despotic government on their backs, how to conquer their rights. Teach them, first and foremost, to conquer their rights? and when they are represented in government they will effortlessly learn whatever is taught to them and much more" (Löwy 1997).
It should be emphasized, too, that Che's pedagogy is most assuredly dialectical in nature, and grounded in the lived experiences of the oppressed becoming transformed into the "new person" through acquiring a revolutionary consciousness while at the same time living the life (what we might colloquially refer to as "walking the walk") of the revolutionary. This meant for Che, as it did for Freire, that education needs to take on an extra-ivory tower, public sphere role in contemporary revolutionary movements and in politics in general. However, it was not imperative for Che that everyone become a guerrillero/guerrillera. But it was manifestly important that everyone develop a revolutionary consciousness and engage in actions that directly contribute to the furthering of the revolution (McLaren 2000).
In closing, we raise again the foundational question: Is the critical pedagogy approach for peacemaking the most ideal and effective when dealing with revolutionaries for the purpose of opening dialogue? We hope that to some extent this question has been answered and supported with theory. While the critical pedagogy approach is applicable for other situations and cultures, it is never so crucial to use this approach as when dealing in the most intensive conflicts like revolutions.
Of course, this chapter does not attempt to be the final word in critical pedagogy and peacemaking. Rather, it acts as the first balanced and developed work of its kind in the field of peacemaking. Moreover, it realizes that social conflicts often stem from antithetical interests that require oppressors to yield to the oppressed, something they rarely can be persuaded to do. Thus, while peacemaking strategies may fail as competing parties choose the path of violence - as has happened countless times in the conflict between Palestine and Israel - they nonetheless are worth striving for and the first avenue of conflict transformation (Zehr 1995 & Lederach 1995). Without at least efforts at peacemaking, there is no check against violence whatsoever, and societies easily degenerate into chaos, violence, and war.
[back to top]
 This article has been re-published with the permission of Cambridge Scholars Publishing www.c-s-p.org in One World, Many Paradigms: Conflict Resolution Across the Disciplines (2008) edited by Rosenwald, Dr. Mitchell.
[i] For critiques of the submissive and timid role that U. S. corporate media plays, in general and especially after 9/11, see the reports at Censored Stories: http://www.projectcensored.org/.
[ii] One recalls here also the famous words of President John F. Kennedy: "If you make peaceful change impossible, you make violent revolution inevitable."
[iii] For a detailed attempt to criticize state definitions of terrorism and to provide a more adequate account of the term, see Best and Nocella (2004), pp. 361-377.
[iv] On the global ambitions motivating the "war on terror,"
see Michel Chossudovsky, " America 's War for Global Domination,"
at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article5428.htm. See
also Amnesty International's monitoring of how nation states throughout
the world are using the "war on terror" as a cover to
suppress rights: "The War on Terrorism," at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/Summer_/Charting_the_War_on_Terrorism/
[v] On October, 2001, the PATRIOT Act passed in the Senate by a vote of 98 to 1, and in the House by a margin of 357 to 66. The Act had a sunset clause to ensure that Congress would need to reauthorize it, especially sections pertinent to the protection of civil liberties. It was renewed for another four years on March 2, 2006 with a vote of 89 to 11 in the Senate and on March 7 280 to 138 in the House, and subsequently signed into law by President Bush on March 9, 2006. Congress thereby extended some of the PATRIOT Act's most controversial provisions, such as which authorize roving wiretaps, secret warrants for books bought or checked out of libraries, and acquiring individuals' private records from schools, business, hospitals, and elsewhere. After Bush signed the reauthorization of the Act in a public ceremony n March 9, 2006, he then privately issued a "signing statement" (one among many he wrote) that freed him from complying with the Constitution if it conflicted with "security" concerns. The PATRIOT Act is available online at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=107_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ056.107. For a detailed overview of the PATRIOT Act, see: http://www.answers.com/topic/patriot-act. For critical analysis of the PATRIOT Act in terms of its violation of the Constitution and threats to civil liberties, see David Cole and James Dempsey, Terrorism and the Constitution: Sacrificing Liberties in the Name of National Security (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002); Nat Hentoff, The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2003); and Nancy Chang: Silencing Political Dissent: How Post-September 11 Anti-Terrorism Measures Threaten Our Civil Liberties (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002). For online resources, see the Electronic Freedom Foundation (http://www.eff.org/), the Center for Constitutional Rights (http://www.ccr-ny.org/v2/home.asp), and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee (http://www.bordc.org/).
[vi] Amazingly, they repeated this cowardly act once again in August 2007, when Bush successfully bullied them into passing a revision of the FISA law, granting embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, no less, complete authority to initiate warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizen communication with anyone abroad without independent court review whatsoever.
[vii] On the US government's treatment of non-citizens, see "A Deliberate Strategy of Disruption: Massive, Secretive Detention Effort Aimed Mainly at Preventing More Terror," November 4, 2001, The Washington Post, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A36356-2001Nov3. Also see David Cole, Enemy Aliens: Double Standards and Constitutional Freedoms in the War on Terrorism ( New York: New Press, 2005). An illustrative case in point of how the "enemy combatant" label works is the appalling treatment of Jose Padilla. A US citizen, Padilla was arrested in 2002 and charged with involvement in a terrorist plot to set off a dirty bomb in a major US city. Padilla was detained in a military brig without hearing charges against him and deprived of legal counsel. In April 2007, the government continued its prosecution against him, but dropped the enemy combatant charges for lack of evidence.
[viii] On the Bush administration's secret prisons and use of torture tactics as part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, see "Bush: CIA holds terror suspects in secret prisons," at: http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/09/06/bush.speech/; " United States of America : Below the radar: Secret flights to torture and 'disappearance,'" at:
and Amnesty International background reports at: http://www.amnestyusa.org/Torture/Reports_Statements_and_Issue_Briefs/
page.do?id=1031034&n1=3&n2=38&n3=1052. Also see the ACLU's "Documentation of Deaths" report at:
http://action.aclu.org/torturefoia/released/102405/3128.pdf. Trevor Paglen and A.C. Thompson have written a book-length study on recent CIA torture tactics in Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights ( Hoboken, NJ: Melville House Publishing, 2006). In his article, "American Prison Planet: The Bush Administration as Global Jailer," Nick Turse reports, "U.S. intelligence officials estimated that 70-90% of prisoners detained in Iraq `had been arrested by mistake.' That was also 2004. The next year, it was revealed that, of the large majority of RNC arrest cases that had run their course, 91% of the arrests were dismissed or ended in acquittals" (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15495.htm). Similarly, Washington DC reporter, Justin Rodd, notes that while the National Security Association "sifts through millions of phone records, and the FBI runs down tens of thousands of mostly useless tips, federal prosecutors have only fielded a few hundred cases since 9/11. And even those are mostly chump change: Of 510 cases brought by the Feds in the past five years, they've won only four convictions on terror charges, according to one study" (December 12, "Is the Bush Administration Ignoring War on Terror?," at: http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/mt/mt-search.cgi?search=domestic+terrorism&
[ix] On the Bush administration's contempt for the Geneva Conventions, see the Human Rights Watch report, "Questions and Answers: U.S. Detainees Disappeared into Secret Prisons: Illegal under Domestic and International Law," December 9, 2005, at: http://hrw.org/backgrounder/usa/us1205/index.htm. Also see Kenneth Roth, "Human Rights, the Bush Administration, and the Fight against Terrorism: The Need for a Positive Vision," at: http://hrw.org/editorials/2003/us091803.htm.
[x] On the cooperation of major phone and internet companies
with the government's surveillance program, see Eric Lichtblau
and James Risen, "Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials
Report," The New York Times, December 24, 2005, at: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/24/politics/24spy.html?ei=5090&en=
016edb46b79bde83&ex=1293080400&pagewanted=print. The state also worked with airlines to compile passenger information and placing many citizens on a "no fly" list. On the government's creation of a Terrorist Identity List with the cooperation of the major airlines, see William J. Krouse, "Terrorist Identification, Screening, and Tracking Under Homeland Security Presidential Directive," at: http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/RL32366.pdf,
[xi] For a wealth of resources on Bush's use of illegal (warrantless) wiretaps and government surveillance on the whole, see: http://www.bordc.org/threats/spying.php. See especially the fact sheet at: http://www.bordc.org/threats/nsamyths.php. Also see the American Bar Association's critique of Bush's systematic attack on the Constitution at: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article12294.htm.
[xii] In 1996, for instance, the Zapatistas organized a global "encuentro" during which over 3,000 grassroots activists and intellectuals from 42 countries assembled to discuss strategies for a worldwide struggle against neoliberalism. In response to the Zapatista's call for an "intercontinental network of resistance, recognizing differences and acknowledging similarities," the People's Global Action Network was formed, a group explicitly committed to anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, and ecological positions (see http://www.nadir.org/nadir/initiativ/agp/en/index.htm). For more examples of global politics and networks that report on news, actions, and campaigns from around the world, covering human rights, animal rights, and environmental struggles, see One World (http://www.oneworld.net/), Protest.Net
(http://www.protest.net/), and Indymedia (http://www.indymedia.org/en/index.shtml).
[xiii] U.S. Department of State Counterterrorism Office, Ambassador Francis X. Taylor heads the Office of Counterterrorism and coordinates all U.S. Government efforts to improve counterterrorism cooperation with foreign governments. As the Coordinator, he chairs the Interagency Working Group on Counterterrorism and the State Department's terrorism task forces to coordinate responses to major international terrorist incidents that are in progress. Another primary responsibility is to develop, coordinate, and implement American counterterrorism policy.
[xiv] Indeed, on August 17, 2007, after lengthy and unconstitutional
trial delays and denial of habeus corpus rights, the U.S. government
placed alleged terrorist Jose Padilla on trial finally, but only
to charge him as guilty of the nebulous crime of providing "support"
of foreign terrorism, rather than actually committing a "terrorist"
act, a sentence for which he may get a life sentence. See Adam
Liptak, "Padilla Case Offers a New Model of Terror Trial,"
The New York Times, August 18, 2007, at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/18/us/nationalspecial3/18legal.html?_r=
[xv] On this deconstruction of US concepts and policies as bearing the marks of terrorism rather than freedom, see Noam Chomsky,
[xvi] In contrast to the Bush administration, and provoking their ire, in April 2007 House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assumed the peacemaker position by traveling to Syria -a nation listed by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terror and a home base for the "terrorist" group, Hezbollah -- and conducting dialogues to reduce political tensions with Israel and the U,S.
[xvii]See Steven Best, "The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act: New, Improved, and ACLU Approved," The International Journal of Inclusive Democracy, Vol. 3, #3 (July 2007), at: http://www.inclusivedemocracy.org/journal/vol3/vol3_no3_best.htm).
[xviii] Even here, however, non-violent options are available. Rather than attacking the U.S. (strategically, not a sound idea), the Sandinista government took its case to the World Court, which denounced the U.S. as a "terrorist" nation.
[xix] Critical pedagogy has undergone many developments and transformations over the past several decades. In fact, it is more accurate to talk about numerous critical pedagogies than to suggest there have been several mutations from an original pedagogical gene pool (located somewhere in Paulo Freire's writings). Peter McLaren, for instance, began using a North American adaptation of critical pedagogy, an eclectic mixture of the work of John Dewey, Myles Horton, and the social reconstructionist thinkers who emerged in the US in the 1930s after the great depression, all of which were tacked on to the seminal work of Freire. He tried to integrate more contemporary North American thinkers to this mixture -- including feminist and multicultural theorists, many from the Latina/o and African-American intellectual communities, as well as Gramsci and mostly Western Marxist thinkers (i.e., the Frankfurt School). In more recent times, he entered into readings of and discussions with different critical educational theorists, philosophers and activists worldwide, some of whom come from different traditions but most of whom have a great deal of sympathy for the struggle for socialism. All along, however, Freire was foundational to his development of critical pedagogy. Whereas most North American versions of critical pedagogy are interested in identity formation and representations, but mostly in the cultural arena, McLaren's work has been critical of these approaches and labored to bring the discussion back to the issue of class struggle and the possibilities for revolutionary struggle in the age of neoliberal imperialism (both economic and military). Hence, as in his works, in this essay we use the term "revolutionary critical pedagogy."
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