Support For Daniel McGowan // Blog

Why Write?

by Daniel on August 21st, 2007

It’s a question I have been pondering the last two months since I reported to prison and the clock started ticking. Why, indeed? What do I have to say that is new or fresh? Will I bore people with repetitive tomes about my case or the Green Scare? Do people want to read what I write? All these questions haunt me as I put pen to paper attempting to deal with a ton of unexpressed thoughts and emotions made worse by a self-imposed silence during my legal proceedings. Where do I even begin? I doubt at times whether I can handle the release of these emotions—anger, frustration, betrayal, profound sadness. . . I fear that there won’t be a lesson or a neat and clean conclusion to what I write about—that you’ll get to the end and ask, “So yeah, that sucked—what am I supposed to do?” The idea that anyone might think I know also freaks me out.

As in all things though, you learn by doing. You start the journey with that first step, you are that much closer to leaving prison after the first day or month or year. I’m in prison so what sense is there in not trying to make sense of it all, to not risk failing or looking stupid or being wrong. So, I’ve decided to write—to not wring my hands endlessly, scared to release my writings. I’ve even figured out some damn good reasons to write too—I’m going to write because we need to be more flexible in our approach and if I can’t be on the streets fighting my ass off for a better world, well, at least I can speak my truth on these pages. Because we live in a world where people who abuse women rarely go to prison and when they do, go in for a few years while people who destroy the inanimate property of multi-national corporations go in for longer, Because silence is complicity and I won’t be bullied or silenced by prosecutors who brag that I was forced to self-report early because of my website and speaking on Democracy Now, Because I’ve lost some friends and comrades these past years and they can’t, Because I never for a second will accept the label of “terrorist” for trying to call attention to what our species is doing to our planet, and because maybe we can all learn from mistakes I have made.

See, there really are some good reasons to write despite my fears after all. I don’t know what this path of exploration will look like but I’ll do my best to keep digging and fighting.

via Support For Daniel McGowan // Blog.

Daniel McGowan: Court Documents Prove I was Sent to Communication Management Units (CMU) for my Political Speech

The first of the two CMUs was opened quietly, without the public scrutiny required by law, in 2006 in Terre Haute, Indiana; the Marion, Illinois CMU followed in 2008. In fact, at a hearing in my case before I was sentenced, my attorneys argued that giving me the “terrorism enhancement” could result in my designation to a CMU. How right they were! The units are designed to isolate prisoners from the rest of the prisoner population, and more importantly, from the rest of the world. They impose strict limitations on your phone calls home and visits from family and friends — you have far less access to calls and visits than in general population. The communications restrictions at the CMUs are, in some respects, harsher than those at ADX, the notorious federal “Supermax” prison in Colorado. Also, unlike ADX, they are not based on a prisoners’ disciplinary violations. When my wife and loved ones visited me at the CMUs, we were banned from any physical contact whatsoever. All interactions where conducted over a telephone, with Plexiglas and bars between us. Until they were threatened with legal action, CMU prisoners were only allowed one single 15-minute phone call per week.

via Daniel McGowan: Court Documents Prove I was Sent to Communication Management Units (CMU) for my Political Speech.

The origin of the word – Slave – Online Etymology Dictionary

I had always doubted that the word, slave, was the root of the ethnic origin, slavic. It seemed unlikely to me that even a conquered people would refer to their culture with the word.
Turns out I was looking at it backwards. The whites used the word slavic in reference to their slaves. Actually, the similarity in the 2 words just underscores the ancient practice of domination, explotation, and manipulation that the dominant use effectively against external groups, often based on ethnic designations.

slave (n.)

late 13c., “person who is the property of another,” from Old French esclave (13c.), from Medieval Latin Sclavus “slave” (cf. Italian schiavo, French esclave, Spanish esclavo), originally “Slav” (see Slav), so called because of the many Slavs sold into slavery by conquering peoples. This sense development arose in the consequence of the wars waged by Otto the Great and his successors against the Slavs, a great number of whom they took captive and sold into slavery. [Klein] Old English Wealh “Briton” also began to be used in the sense of “serf, slave” c.850….


Balaclava | Lexical Investigations at

I have mispronounced this word so many times.


Balaclavas and cardigans have more in common than keeping you warm—they both owe their names to the Crimean War. During the Battle of Balaclava in 1854, British troops were underprepared for the cold Ukrainian winter, and unlike their French counterparts, who were allowed to wear as many layers as required to stay warm, the British were expected to adhere to their uniforms. The poor conditions caused a scandal in Britain and motivated civilians to donate money and knit warm clothing for the troops using government-issued patterns and regulation yarn, including a wool cap to be worn under their helmets. The British referred to these caps as Balaclava helmets, and later just called them balaclavas. Troops were also issued button-down woolen jackets, which were named after the Lord of Cardigan, who led their ill-fated charge known as the Light Brigade against the Russians.

via Lexical Investigations: Balaclava | The Hot Word | Hot & Trending Words Daily Blog at

History of the Makhnovist Movement (1918-1921): Chapter 8

I have been struggling with the idea of “partisans” ever since I first heard the term used to dismiss the Makhnovshchina. Calling the insurgents of Ukraine simply partisans is so imprecise. What kind of army tries to comfort and reconcile with enemy combatants as soon as the shooting stops?

The Soviet authorities and their agents often depicted the Makhnovists as pitiless assassins, giving long lists of soldiers of the Red Army and members of the Communist Party put to death by them. But the authorities were always silent about the essential fact, namely about the circumstances in which these soldiers or Party members had been killed. They were always victims of combats started or provoked by the Communists themselves, combats which were forced on the Makhnovists when they were cornered by the Bolsheviks. War is war; there are always victims on both sides. But the Makhnovists understood perfectly that they were making war, not against the soldiers of the Red Army as a group or against any of them individually, but against the handful of rulers who directed this mass, who disposed of them, and who valued the life of a Red soldier only to the extent that it was useful for the preservation of their power. This is why, although they often struggled bitterly against the Red Army units, once the battle was over the Makhnovists related to the soldiers of the Red Army with the same spirit of brotherhood and friendship which characterized relations among themselves.

via History of the Makhnovist Movement (1918-1921): Chapter 8. (P. Arshinov, 1922)

Famine-Genocide of 1932–3

The Holodomor caused an extremely high mortality rate; in some regions it reached 20 to 25 percent of the population. Some villages in Poltava oblast, Kharkiv oblast, and Kyiv oblast were completely deserted by the spring of 1933. Most of their inhabitants perished, but some did manage to escape. In the fall of 1933 the Soviet regime began resettling those villages with Russian peasants, mainly from Orel oblast. Throughout the Soviet Ukrainian countryside agricultural work was barely noticeable. During the spring of 1933 armed detachments protected the state-assigned seed for sowing, and those peasants who were well enough to work the land received minimal rations. Only the first fruits and vegetables of the summer saved those who had managed to survive. But the mass effects of starvation, disease and accelerated mortality, and a falling birthrate became apparent for many years.

The fact that the 1937 Soviet census was officially declared invalid and not released suggests that its results indicated a catastrophic population decline as a consequence of the Holodomor.

The estimates of the number of how many peasants died during the Holodomor vary widely. At the high end the figure of ten million deaths has been cited, mostly by President Viktor Yushchenko. For many years seven million deaths was the number commonly used in the West. In the 1950s and 1960s some Western scholars (Dmytro Solovei, Mykola Prykhodko, William H. Chamberlin, and Vasyl I. Hryshko) estimated that there were three million to four million deaths, while Volodymyr Kubijovyč and Clarence Augustus Manning suggest the losses were two million to three million. In the late 1970s the dissident Ukrainian Helsinki Group suggested a maximum figure of six million victims. In 1981 the demographer Sergei Maksudov (pseud of Alexander Babyonyshev) determined that the population loss in Soviet Ukraine was 4.5 million. Subsequently Jacques Vallin et al essentially confirmed Maksudov’s figures with their estimate of 4.6 million deaths. Further refinements to their work have established a figure of 2.6 million deaths caused by ‘exceptional mortality.’ In 2008 the Institute of Demography and Social Research of the NANU established a figure of 4.5 million deaths: 3.4 million victims of exceptional mortality and 1.1 million non-births.

via Famine-Genocide of 1932–3.