Tag: Robert J. Burrowes

Lament for Humanity: A 50 Year Reflection

Robert J. Burrowes Deeply affected by the death of my two uncles in World War II, on 1 July 1966, the 24th anniversary of the ‘USS Sturgeon’ sinking of the Japanese prisoner-of-war ship ‘Montevideo Maru’ which killed the man after whom I am named, I decided that I would devote my life to working out why human beings are violent and then developing a strategy to end it. The good news about this commitment was that it was made when I was nearly 14 so, it seemed, anything was possible. Now I am not so sure. Here is my report on 50 years of concerted effort to understand and end human violence. In 1966 one of my immediate preoccupations was war. The US genocidal war on Vietnam was raging and, as a sycophantic ally of the United States, Australia had been drawn into it some years previously. Trying to understand what this war was really about was challenging, particularly given the limited (mainstream) sources of information available to me at the time. But I was deeply troubled by another problem too. I had seen a photo of a starving African child in the newspaper when I was ten and I found this most disturbing. Why did adults let children starve? I wondered. And trying to make sense of this by reading newspaper reports or asking those around me was...

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A Friendly Critique of the Break Free Climate Actions

Article – Robert J. Burrowes I have enjoyed reading accounts and seeing photos of those committed and courageous climate activists who participated in the recent Break Free from Fossil Fuels actions conducted at various locations in 13 countries from 4-15 May 2016. See ‘Break Free … A Friendly Critique of the Break Free Climate Actions Robert J. Burrowes I have enjoyed reading accounts and seeing photos of those committed and courageous climate activists who participated in the recent Break Free from Fossil Fuels actions conducted at various locations in 13 countries from 4-15 May 2016. See ‘Break Free from Fossil Fuels’. https://breakfree2016.org/ Much of what was done was creative (some of it demonstrating considerable flair) and, mostly, how it was done reflected a sound understanding off nonviolent principles and dynamics to which virtually all activists adhered. In this regard I must acknowledge the thoughtful ‘action agreements’ signed by participating activists, the conduct of nonviolence education workshops, the police liaison, legal briefings and arrest support, and the widespread recognition that secrecy and sabotage have no part to play in nonviolent actions for them to be strategically effective. My friendly criticism is directed at those key organisers who planned the nonviolent actions without understanding how to make the commitment and courage of those who were mobilised have maximum strategic impact on the ongoing climate catastrophe. I understand that it takes phenomenal...

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The Climate Talks in Paris will Fail: Why

Article – Robert J. Burrowes As expectations build for a global consensus to emerge from the United Nations climate conference in Paris, starting on 30 November 2015, that could agree to taking action to limit any rise in global temperature to 2 degrees celsius, I would like to explain … The Climate Talks in Paris will Fail: Why? Robert J. Burrowes As expectations build for a global consensus to emerge from the United Nations climate conference in Paris, starting on 30 November 2015, that could agree to taking action to limit any rise in global temperature to 2 degrees celsius, I would like to explain why these expectations are misplaced. And what we can do about it. The essence of the problem is that most people and organisations are asking elites to take action on their behalf rather than taking action themselves. Not only is this a fearful and powerless approach, it reinforces the widespread delusions that elites have the power in this regard and that they are responsive to our pleas. Neither of these is true. We have the power and elites only respond when we create the circumstances that compel them to do so. And not otherwise. Hence, it is the action that we take, as individuals, communities and organisations, that generate the outcomes we want. As a nonviolent activist, I have never asked elites (or their...

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Elites Want More Refugees: Why?

Article – Robert J. Burrowes There is much being written about the refugee crisis in Europe at the moment but none of what I have read explains why the problem is occurring and what will need to be done for the problem to be addressed.Elites Want More Refugees: Why? Robert J. Burrowes There is much being written about the refugee crisis in Europe at the moment but none of what I have read explains why the problem is occurring and what will need to be done for the problem to be addressed. Refugees are just one symptom of a deeper crisis. Moreover, like other symptoms of this deeper crisis, the global elite is happy to use this symptom to keep us utterly preoccupied; after all, the immediacy of the refugee problem is all too demanding of our attention and our compassion. Thirty years ago, on 9 September 1985, I tried to resuscitate a baby in the Shagarab East 3 Refugee Camp in Eastern Sudan at the height of the Ethiopian war and famine. As a lifesaver, I had been expertly trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. My attempt to resuscitate this child failed: the doctor advised me that the baby was dead and I watched her mother as I handed the dead child back to her. The mother was, understandably, utterly distraught. And, frankly, I was in considerable emotional pain myself....

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The Global Elite is Insane

Article – Robert J. Burrowes In a recent report titled ‘Working for the Few: Political capture and economic inequality’ Oxfam informs us that ‘Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population’. Their report goes on to recommend that the World Economic …In a recent report titled ‘Working for the Few: Political capture and economic inequality’ Oxfam informs us that ‘Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population’. Their report goes on to recommend that the World Economic Forum, an elite gathering held annually in Davos, Switzerland, take economic and political measures to ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth. And in his explanation of why he attended the recent Forum in Davos, Kumi Naidoo, the Executive Director of Greenpeace International tells us ‘If we manage to shift the consciousness of one CEO or senior political leader, who may do the same with a couple of his peers, then I think it is worth it. It is also worth being there, listening and observing, understanding some of the forces that shape our world and importantly feeding that information back to the rest of Greenpeace and other civil society allies.’ As anyone who pays even the slightest realistic attention to the global elite already knows, the elite’s efforts to maximise its political and economic clout,...

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