We Can Overcome 
the Empire 


Bee Gentry

     Civil liberties erode, jobs disappear, health care and energy costs rage out of control... The top one percent of the nation owns as much as the combined total of the lower ninety percent. American families shiver while the major oil and gas companies rack up record profits. The President admits to breaking a law against domestic surveillance and the Justice Department says he had every right to do so... The list goes on and on.

"Now the trumpet summons us again, not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need, not as a call to battle, though embattled we are, but as a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle - a struggle against the common enemies of man - tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself."

John F. Kennedy

     When the Constitution is replaced by Executive Orders and the United States crosses over the brink into Banana Republicanism, it's easy to feel powerless and lose hope.

     TAKE HOPE!!

     There are actions YOU can take.

"Non-cooperation with evil is as much a responsibility as co-operation with good."

Mahatma Ghandi

     Let us remember the lessons of Mahatma Ghandi, the Reverend Martin Luther King, and many other profound teachers through the Ages. Nonviolent solutions are always available. We only need to seek them!

     These tools are available today, RIGHT NOW! They are legal, they are affordable, and we owe it to the future to grasp them and use them TODAY:
  •   Boycotts
  •    Buying American
  •    Sustainability, Simplicity, and Self-Reliance
  •    Visionary Intentions

"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

Benjamin Franklin, July 4, 1776
At the signing of the Declaration of Independence

     Truly, there is strength in numbers. Let us join together now and learn these basic techniques. They aren't difficult but they can make all the difference between Liberty and Death -- or the living death that is Slavery.

     United, using non-violent tools, we CAN overcome!

"You can deter your potential enemy by using his weaknesses against him."

Sun Tzu, "The Art of War"


      When asked to speak on confronting Empire shortly before the Iraq War began in 2003, East Indian activist Arundhati Roy first spoke of Empire as Corporate Globalization and "other subsidiary heads" -- "nationalism, religious bigotry, fascism, and, of course terrorism."

"So this -- all this -- is "Empire." This loyal confederation, this obscene accoumulation of power, this greatly increased distance between those who make the decisions and those who have to suffer them.
"Our fight, our goal, or vision of Another World must be to eliminate that distance." 1

     And having defined Empire in terms of economic and political power, she went on to cite the growing abuses of this power in India, the United States, and around the world. Ultimately, though, she was able to say how the Empire could be confronted and peacefully defeated.

"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness - and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe.

"The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling - their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.

"Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them."

     In speaking, Ms. Roy reminds us again of the power of boycott, a time-honored tool for successfully confronting any opponent who holds us in economic thrall.

     As outlined by Paul Rockwell,
" ...boycotts can change the world. The American revolution began with a boycott -- the Boston Tea Party. The non-violent movement that brought down the British empire included Gandhi's boycott against British textiles. The Montgomery Bus boycott launched the civil rights movement. Led by Cesar Chavez, the United Farm Workers were unionized through arduous national boycotts of lettuce and grapes." 2
     A boycott helped end many decades of South African apartheid. And, let us not forget Lysistrata's comely companions in Aristophanes' play who ended a war in its 21st year by resolutely barring their lovers from pleasure until peace was attained.

     The important message in these reminders is that coins have two sides. The few who wield economic power by selling can only prosper if  the multitudes continue to buy. And, as Lysistrata's story shows, even the least of us have power of some kind.

     EVERYONE can participate in a boycott without laying their lives on the line. And, boycotts against the Empire are underway now, ready for YOU to join.

Phases of Boycott

  1. Recognizing the existence of this effective tool.
  2. The first stage in joining a boycott is learning that this tool is available and that compatible boycotts might already exist.
  3. Choosing goals.

         The second stage is formulating a primary goal or goals -- deciding what you want to accomplish by withholding your support and what support you should withhold to accomplish that goal. For example, Co-op America.org offers several boycotts in support of "green" manufacturing and the elimination of sweatshop labor.

     Many of the current boycotts listed later in this article focus on withholding support from major supporters of the NeoCON regime in Washington. Other goals are listed here, in Strategic Consumer Boycott.

     And, if you can't find an ongoing boycott that matches your goals, Co-op America also offers a Boycott Organizer's Guide to help you define and launch boycotts of your own.

     And then . . .

Take action

     The third stage is withholding support for the boycott targets and most importantly, notifying your targets of your action and stating your goals -- the actions the targets must take or events that must occur in order to stop the boycott. Many of the sites listed below offer form letters, addresses, and so on to make it easier to notify the targets. Combining a boycott with a petition is also effective.

Don't Shop 'Till the Tyranny Stops!

Recommended Boycott Sites

     The following appear to be well-organized sites with lots of information plus resources for letter writing and taking other actions to support the boycott. Visit the sites, choose one for your support, and then ACT! If none of these suits you, keep looking or start your own.

   1. Consumersforpeace.org
   2. Traprock Peace Center

Some Important Distinctions

     As Rockwell and others point out, many of the anti-Bush, anti-war political boycotts initiated outside the United States don't distinguish between the United States government and its citizens. These efforts simply urge "Don't buy American" and offer a variety of French and other alternatives for American goods. The more sophisticated international boycotts focus on the largest American corporations who are also major Republican financiers. Efforts of this type include:

Buy American

     Buying American is the flip side of boycotting goods made by giant supporters of the Empire. Supporting smaller American manufacturers not otherwise involved in boycotts is a viable antidote to American job displacement by NAFTA, CAFTA, WTO, and effective boycotts of the giants. However, buying American isn't as easy as it sounds.

     What does it mean to buy American? If a Ford is manufactured in Canada with Japanese parts and imported into the United States for sale here, is it more or less American than a Toyota manufactured in Kentucky with Japanese parts for sale here?

     Where does one find American goods to buy? With such a small proportion of the current GDP supplied by manufacturing, primary American products are agricultural goods, higher-end clothing (although some is made on American soil in sweatshops staffed by non-citizens or in American prisons at slave wages), and certain luxury goods such as Coach bags.

     Even looking on the Web, there are few Buy American sites and at the moment their offerings are sparse. Three such sites are:

     Stores catering to Amish and Mennonite customers, such as Lehman's, could be expected to have more American-made goods but one would have to inquire about particular items.

     Even the government's own Buy American laws have been diluted so severely by exemptions as to be virtually worthless: Clearly there is room for improvement in the Buy American arena. We are currently undertaking efforts to locate and publicize additional sources of goods manufacturered in America with acceptable pay rates and working conditions. We will update this article as additional information becomes available.

     And, do remember to support your local industry and agriculture. Attending farmer's markets is a good way to do this. You can also subscribe to community-supported agricultural efforts.

     Other ways to avoid further purchases of directly imported goods are to:
  • Shop local thrift and consignment stores.

  • Participate in free exchanges of goods.

  • Check your local classifieds and Craigslist.org.

  • Participate in bartering.      Some communities have skill exchanges where you can register and trade services with others. Bartering agricultural goods is so entrenched in some rural areas that recipients of unemployment insurance are asked to include eggs, chickens, and similar goods in their weekly income reports.

Practice Sustainability, Simplicity, and Self-Reliance

     These efforts underlie all the other actions outlined previously. If you can make something for yourself or others, you don't need to buy it from anyone. If you simplify your lifestyle, you can "make do or do without," as the old Yankee motto goes. And, if you practice sustainability, you'll be reducing your need for nonrenewable resources supplied by Empire enterprises.

     If you don't already know how, consider learning how to sew, knit, crochet, build simple wooden structures and furniture, solder and weld metal, ferment vinegar and alcohol, preserve foods by canning and drying, and perform other simple manufacturing tasks that were part of everyday life in pioneer America.

     Consider exploring alternative healing with accupressure, herbs, flower essences, homeopathic remedies, and other nonmedical modalities. At the very least, stock a first aid kit with basic antiseptics and wound dressings. If you have pets and/or farm animals, find a sympathetic veterinarian and lay in a supply of antibiotic tablets, ointments, and wormers. Learn CPR.

     Lightwatcher.com has links to a variety of informative sites, including some on voluntary simplicity and alternative medicine.

     Try doing an Internet search on sustainability and you'll see! Also search for permaculture to find sites that support a new world vision along with sustainability. For example: Institute for Local Self Reliance

     Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robins is highly recommended as an informative workbook to help you sort out your life priorities so you can put your money where your heart is. It's also extremely motivational toward achieving financial independence.

Exercise Visionary Intention

     The final tool discussed here grows out of the ancient Perennial Tradition and uses the creative power of thought. Since the Universe is one substance, Mind, that substance can be molded by thought and intention.

     This tool is somewhat controversial. To some, it might seem too religious. To others, it might appear too magical and pagan. Remember, however, even the Christian Bible speaks of having the faith of a grain of mustard seed that enables one to move mountains.

     To use the tool of visionary intention, then, is to begin by finding a quiet place and calming one's mind. The next step is to imagine a new world, a commonwealth, where citizens and their leaders are all dedicated toward a society that endeavors to work in the best interests of everyone. Dog-eat-dog, survival of the fittest materialism is regarded as an aberration. Win-win is the rule and honesty is the best policy. The Golden Rule is the basis of law.  The citizens of this new world try to be as comfortable as possible while respecting the earth and its non-human inhabitants. Utopian? Yes, unabashedly so. But not unprecedented. Jesus spoke of The City on the Hill and the Reverend Martin Luther King came down from a visionary mountain and announced, "I have a dream." 3  In fact, John English's recent novel, The Shift, demonstrates how such a tranquil transformation to a benevolent society could take place.

     The point is to visualize this desirable new world as clearly as you can, to know it is beckoning from the future, and that it has all the good in the Universe behind it, helping it come to pass. Then, give thanks for its existence and know it will manifest.

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." 4

Arundhati Roy

     Use all the other tools above and view with realistic eyes whatever is happening around you, but maintain this vision, INTEND for it to exist, and believe that it can -- no matter how your current view of your situation might contradict that belief. Then, know you've done what you can, maintain balance, and as the Buddhist teaching puts it, "Chop wood, carry water." Truth Will Prevail.


1.  Roy, Arundhati. Address at the World Social Forum, Porto Alegre, Brazil. January 27, 2003.

2. Rockwell, Paul. "No Oil For Blood: A Post-War Boycott In The Making," In Motion Magazine, March 30, 2003. .

3. King, Martin Luther, "I Have a Dream," speech delivered at a Civil Rights demonstration in Washington, DC. August 28, 1963.

4. Roy, Arundhati. Op cit.