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Americans Who Tell the Truth :: Stan Goff

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Robert Shetterly's portrait of Stan Goff
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“The physical reality is that ‘sustainable growth' is an oxymoron. A soft energy landing from the last two hundred years of development will require massive conservation, especially by the overdeveloped countries, and that can only happen in a nongrowth (and therefore noncapitalist) society. The choice is now becoming either capitalism or humanity.”
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Stan Goff
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30 of 100
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Author, Veteran, Anti-war Activist, Feminist (1951—  )

Stan Goff grew up in a conservative, staunchly anti-communist family, which informed his early political ideas. In 1970, he joined the Army, which he would do at several other points in his life. Goff retired in 1996 as a Special Forces Master Sergeant. During his tenure, he was sent to places such as Vietnam, Haiti, Panama, Colombia, and Somalia, participating in part of several different military attachments. Goff would later write that his time spent in Latin America shifted his politics to the left. His experiences, particularly in Haiti, are recounted in his 2000 book Hideous Dream – A Soldier's Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti.

In between terms in the military, Goff studied literature and philosophy at Garland Community College, Henderson State College, and the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Soon after retirement, Goff began a career in activism, studying Marxism and briefly joining the Communist Party USA. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Goff became active as a speaker against an invasion. His status as a veteran gave him credence and popularity with anti-war activists. In 2003, Goff wrote “Bring ‘Em On?” for the online journal Counterpunch. It was a response to the phrase “Bring ‘em on” uttered by President Bush regarding Iraqi guerrillas, and in the article he compared the Iraq war to his experience in Vietnam. He wrote of being told by a fellow veteran that “All Vietnamese were the enemy … this was a race war. Within one month, it was apparent that everything he told me was true, and that every reason that was given to the American Public for the war was not true.” He ended by stating that President Bush's “legitimacy has been eroded as even the mainstream press has discovered that the pretext for the war was a lie. It may have been control over the oil, after all.” The popularity of this article led to his meeting with other veterans and anti-war activists, and soon to the formation of the organization Bring Them Home Now. His 2004 book Full Spectrum Disorder – The Military in the New American Century, critiques US foreign policy. According to the publisher, Goff “depicts the new ‘American Empire' as over-reliant on technology, ignorant of the lessons of history, and backward in the stereotyping of other countries.”

Recently, Goff has included feminism in his studies and writings, particularly how it pertains to war. This re-examination comes together in Sex and War, where he argues that war is not an instinct of man, but rather, “men are made into killers by governments, corporations, and systems of power.” His latest book is a compilation of essays, titled Energy War.

Stan Goff has an extremely active voice on the Internet. He is a frequent contributor on the blog The Huffington Post. He also maintains his own blog called Feral Scholar, and a website at http://home.igc.org/~sherrynstan/. He is also a principal member of the website Insurgent American. It is a website describing itself as a “practical strategic resource,” and defining insurgents as “pretty much anyone who disagrees with the dominant consensus and does even a little bit more than talk about it … we exist to promote a fundamental transformation of power relations within our society.”

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See the full set of Robert Shetterly's portraits at www.americanswhotellthetruth.org.

Tools for Teaching: see the acompanying curriculum materials with suggestions on how to use the portraits and biographies of these American truth-tellers in your classroom.
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Americans Who Tell the Truth ::

Robert Shetterly's series highlights Americans past and present whose dignity, courage, and honesty have shaped this country.

This beautiful coffee-table book is an eloquent collection of portraits and stirring words of these brave citizens from all walks of life.
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