Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hunger Strike Against Aggression - A Personal Statement

I am now in the 26th day of a hunger strike protesting Japan’s deployment of an armed escort with its whaling fleet. The purpose is to suppress nonviolent activists defending the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary. I have explained the reasons for this fast in a series of blogs posted on:  http://tomfalvey.blogspot.com/
There is little left to say. Now action must speak louder than words.

A number of people have raised legitimate concerns about this tactic. They deserve a response:

The Sea Shepherds themselves oppose my hunger strike as ineffectual and too extreme. They have asked me to stop. I respect their stance. In fact I agree with it from their perspective.

The Sea Shepherds are a life-affirming organization. They have never caused or sustained a serious injury in 34 years, while shutting down numerous pirate whaling and other illegal operations. They do not protest. They nonviolently enforce marine conservation laws when governments fail to do so. Their goal is to protect whales and other endangered species. I have tremendous respect for them and their achievements.

My action has a different nature and purpose. I am protesting Japan’s military intrusion into a whale sanctuary. Japan has sent an armed Fisheries Agency patrol vessel to protect its illegal whaling from any interference. It is inconceivable that they will stand by and do nothing while the Sea Shepherds block their operation. The threat of deadly force in support of a criminal enterprise constitutes armed aggression. All I can do is offer my life to stop such aggression - as have so many before me.

Several specific comments require an answer:

1. You can do more for the whales alive than dead:

This is not about saving the whales. The Sea Shepherds are doing that. I am protesting Japan’s possible resort to force in an international conservation zone. If Japan is willing to kill then I am willing to die.

2. You are committing violence against yourself:

Negative. Japan has deployed the capability to commit violence. I feel a duty to resist. Once the sword is drawn the issue defaults to a brutal contest of wills. Standing up to aggression does not constitute violence even if it has deadly consequences.

Are the protestors in Syria committing violence against themselves? They know that they may be gunned down in the streets. Yet they carry on because their cause is just.

3. Your hunger strike won’t work. You will die in vain:

In general I strongly oppose hunger strikes because it is unreasonable to expect that any government would change its national policy because of an individual’s protest. Thus I would never fast to save the whales, or Prisoners of Conscience tortured to death in some countries, or against any number of other horrors. This goes to a different level. It involves an assault on the very idea of international law. I have discussed the consequences in my previous blogs.

I do not seek to influence the Japanese government itself. It has already committed to violence. I hope to alert American, Australian and New Zealand public opinion to what is at stake in this remote polar ocean. And to encourage those governments to uphold the law. I have verbally made the case as best I can. Now this hunger strike seeks to emphasize the seriousness of Japan’s challenge to a cooperative world order. How others respond is up to them.

4. You are seeking martyrdom:

I do not want to go to heaven. We are each always and fully in the presence of God, or the Tao, if we could only realize it. To throw away the brief and precious gift of life in hopes of gaining ego-credits in some other dimension is absurd and disrespectful.

5. You have gone too far and become a danger to yourself. It is time for the nanny state to intervene with force-feeding:

What I am doing is completely legal. I have given a rational explanation for my action. This protest is a form of political speech protected by the First Amendment.

I will gladly end this fast if Japan withdraws its gunboat without engaging the Sea Shepherd activists. If they don’t, and I eventually fall into a fatal coma, I refuse all feeding or medical treatment unless that condition is met.

A medical model of the human condition is already replacing a religious one. In future people who insist on abstract principles over healthy biological functioning may simply be medicated as delusional. Soft bio-medical coercion, along with genetic manipulation, will probably be the central issue for coming generations. For now the problem remains old-fashioned aggression. Our society still acknowledges my right to resist by choosing death before dishonor.

I want to live. But some things are worth dying for. If necessary I will join the countless individuals who have given their lives for two fundamental principles:

1. Armed aggression on the high seas is unacceptable.

2. The rule of law must prevail.

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