Common Sentience is an alternative electronic news magazine
which analyzes issues facing the environmental, animal, and peace and justice movements. Deep ecology puts
the general interests of the Earth's inhabitants above the special interests of energy corporations. The
animal rights movement recognizes the right of all sentient beings to life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness. The peace movement works to stop wars before a nuclear holocaust removes mammals, birds and
trees from the face of the Earth. Our mission is to move human society away from a consumer culture based
on ecological destruction, toward a culture which works to meet the needs of all sentient beings.
As the name Common Sentience was inspired by Tom Paine's 1776 revolutionary pamphlet Common Sense, we draw
inspiration from the inscription on the Liberty Bell: "Proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all
the inhabitants thereof." We are radical in the sense that we examine the roots of social,
economic and ecological problems. When people compromise fundamental values in the attempt to arrive at a
"win-win" situation, it is the majority of the Earth's creatures who lose.
In the spirit of deep ecology, which recognizes the interconnectedness of all sentient beings,
Common Sentience is published only on the World Wide Web, both as an alternative to cutting forests
and as a way to relate ideas by the use of links to other pages. On most computers, links appear as
underlined text, typically in blue. Clicking on a link will display another page, or bring up a window
with email or other information. Clicking the "back" button at the top of the new window returns to
the page previously clicked.
Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the
meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal
element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
— Eugene V. Debs, statement to the court which convicted him of violation of the Espionage Act for opposing U.S.
participation in World War I
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Who is the Project for the New American Century?
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled (in Bush v. Gore): "the
individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States," it
was merely confirming the fact that the policy of the U.S. government policy is not set by its citizens. Even if Bush had won
the 2000 election, the true policymakers are not elected, and in many cases not even appointed by elected officials. One of
the major groups setting foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, is the Project for the New American Century (PNAC).
Founded by William Kristol, editor of the News Corporation's Weekly Standard, PNAC has become a major influence on the military policy
of the U.S. government through two of its leading members, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Defense Policy
Board member Richard Perle.
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Patriotic Wars in U.S. History
The September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center has been compared to 1941, but a more
apt comparison is 1914. The loss of innocent life on a single day is comparable to
Pearl Harbor, but the nature of the terrorist attack, and the waging of war against
other countries with no connection to the terrorist attack, are reminiscent of the
assassination of the Archduke of Austria which started the First World War. In
1914 Austrian patriots held the entire Serb nation responsible for the act of a
single terrorist. As Russian patriots came to the defense of their fellow Slavs in
Serbia, patriots in Germany, England, France, the Ottoman Empire, and
eventually the United States joined the war.
As the USA was about to enter the First World War, Emma Goldman described patriotism in the following words:
"Conceit, arrogance, and egotism are the essentials of patriotism. Let me illustrate. Patriotism
assumes that our globe is divided into little spots, each one surrounded by an iron gate. Those
who have had the fortune of being born on some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler,
grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any other spot. It is, therefore, the
duty of everyone living on that chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his
superiority upon all the others."
Ten reasons why animal activists and peace activists should work together
War and animal exploitation are two expressions of the same cultural orientation toward domination rather than cooperation.
We believe that human and non-human animals deserve the same compassion and respect. We must care about the human children who will be terrified, killed, injured, displaced, and orphaned by war.
Peace activists are compassionate people who might over time be convinced to extend their compassion to non-human animals.
Wartime constraints on civil liberties have already and will continue to jeopardize our ability to work for animals.
If we ever wish to gain the support of a critical mass of people, the animal liberation movement cannot afford to remain estranged from social justice movements.
The United States military practices vivisection on a massive scale, testing conventional, chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons on animals.
Military attacks on urban spaces terrify, kill, injure, displace, and bereave companion animals.
Military attacks on rural locations terrify, kill, and bereave farmed animals.
Bombs and biological weapons destroy habitats and poison the environment upon which all animals depend for sustenance.
Bullets, bombs, and biological weapons don't distinguish between human and non-human animals.
A Veteran's View of "Supporting our Troops"
I can sympathize with these young men and women, I can grieve for them and their families, but I cannot,
and I will not, condone any actions they take that result in the death of another human being.
However, I can support them in their battle to hold on to their humanity, as they struggle to resist giving in
to the dehumanizing machines of war, as they struggle to return to us physically and psychologically intact, as
they struggle to come back to us as brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, sons and daughters. I can guarantee
to them that my support for their well-being will run deeper and truer than the superficial rhetoric of those who
have sent them off to war.
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War in the Gulf: An Environmental Perspective
As the the younger Bush Administration, with the support of the U.S. Congress, moves toward escalation
of the bombing of Iraq into full-scale war, it is time to review the Gulf War launched by the elder Bush. As
the 1991 Gulf War was entering its second week, the Political Ecology Group issued an Action Paper analyzing
the war from an environmental perspective.
While the article focused on the effects of the war on humans, news reports at the time were beginning to
show also the massive loss of marine wildlife resulting from oil released into the Gulf by military action. As
U.S. energy policy has not fundamentally changed for decades, much of this article reads as current news. An
abridgement of the action paper is presented here not just as history, but also as a warning of the likely
consequences of a new war in Iraq, under consideration by the current Bush Administration.
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The rapid U.S. military takeover of Iraq was, indeed, a Blitzkrieg ("lightning war"), to
use the term coined by the Nazis. Like the U.S. military today, the Nazis used the latest
in military technology to press their advantage.
As Charles Patterson points out in
Eternal Treblinka, the Holocaust also required nonmilitary technology. A chapter of the book, The Industrialization
of Slaughter, is subtitled The Road to Auschwitz through America. While the automobile industry is often
credited with the invention of assembly-line technology, it actually began with
slaughterhouses. After taking the assembly line from the slaughterhouse to the auto
assembly plant, Ford went on to support fascism. The transmission of the assembly line
from the slaughterhouse to the automobile industry led to Blitzkrieg and gas chambers.