Click below to read essays, random thoughts and rants about social change, the nature of power, war and violence, and the wars against Iraq in 1991 and 2003. I’ve also made available a couple of my old zines for downloading.


Social Change


Family praying to missile thinks: "This seems wrong somehow"

No More Revolutions
Real change though social evolution

Permanent revolution is fostered by ordinary people when they change the way they think and live.


Worker with lightbulb in thought bubble

New Ideas
Our dreams have power

The ideas that create a more humanized society will originate, not from giant institutions, but from the grassroots.


Earth hatching from egg

A New World
Amazing things are possible

Increasingly, our institutions are becoming empty shells that will eventually collapse once our belief in them evaporates.


US Capitol

Powerful Institutions
Illusions of permanence

While social and political institutions appear permanent, they are subject to the same weaknesses and vulnerabilities as the human beings that staff their bureaucracies.


Exploding earth

Apocalypse
Living as if there were hope

War, overpopulation and rampant consumerism are a few of the dangers that face humanity. But even if there is nothing that can be done to save us, we can still embrace integrity and truth in our personal lives.


Preacher: "And Jesus saith blessed are those who live in the past."

The Conservative “Revolution”
Turning back the clock

I wrote this many years ago in the midst of the “Gingrich Revolution,” but it seems all the more relevant in the “Make America Great Again” era.


Power


No Power is Absolute
Nature, god and domination

This is more of a mythical story than an essay, based as it is on contested facts and suppositions. Its purpose was to elucidate in schematic form the contrast between power relationships that emphasize egalitarian cooperation and reciprocity with those that value domination and hierarchy.


Man with peace demo obscuring face

The Power of One Life
Small acts of resistance

Individuals and small groups can act as powerful catalysts for major social and political changes. I think this essay may have been partially inspired by The Power of the Powerless, a book written by the Czech dissident Václav Havel.


Astrological symbols

The Power of Belief
Taking responsibility for our convictions

When we believe in something, it becomes true. Our beliefs determine the choices we make in our lives, and our actions help shape the world we live in.


Skeleton praying

The Politics of Fear
Why we do everything

Some brief thoughts on how fear is used to control us.


War and Violence


Terror and Revenge
In the wake of 9/11

Immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks I found myself depressed by the chest-thumping xenophobia, mob mentality and demands for revenge that gripped the American public. Given the alarming lack of dissent and critical thinking exhibited by the mainstream US media, I felt compelled to try to put my feelings into words.


Man throwing Molotov cocktail

Political Violence
Weapons of the weak

Violence often diminishes the power of those who employ it, necessitating the use of more violence in an attempt to gain or maintain control.


Brain asks: Am I human or a reptile?

Born Killers
The myth of innate aggression

This short essay challenges the conventional wisdom that humans are naturally aggressive, violent and war-like.


The Iraq Wars


The 1991 Gulf War
George H.W. Bush and The New World Order

This is a rambling account of my thoughts on the Persian Gulf War, the impact of casualties on public support for interventionist wars, the limitations of military power and the murderous sanctions put on Iraq after the war. Some portions of this piece were written in 1991, with other parts added almost ten years later.


Local Iraq War demo

An Apology to the People of Iraq
On the eve of the 2003 US invasion

I wrote this in the days leading up to the beginning of the Iraq war. I felt compelled to speak out about the impending slaughter of the Iraqi people and take a stand against the insanity that seemed to have overtaken our leaders. A shorter version of this piece was published in the March/April 2003 issue of The Thought.


Iraqi family

Leave Iraq to the Iraqis
On the third anniversary of the Iraq occupation

By 2006 the real US agenda for invading Iraq had become crystal clear. When George W. Bush spoke of “freedom” for Iraq, he really meant freedom for the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, oil companies and other private multinational corporations to control Iraqi markets and natural resources. To put maximum pressure on the administration to withdraw US troops, I felt it was imperative that the worldwide demonstrations planned for March 18, 2006 be massive and widespread.


Iraqi children

Atrocities
The occupation of Iraq

As the Iraq War grinds on, we are seeing an increasing number of reports involving the torture, rape, or murder of Iraqi civilians by US soldiers. This should not surprise us. War is ruthless, cruel and dehumanizing—almost by definition. War brutalizes, and the damage it inflicts on nations penetrates deep into the social fabric of the victors as well as the losers. War does not build nations; it destroys them. Democracy and war are not compatible.


Zines


Download a couple printed zines I produced many years ago.


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Text on this page by James L. VanHise licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Attribution: James L. VanHise – fragmentsweb.org.

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