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Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part VI
Part six of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar
September 16, 2013
+++Note from the author: The bulk of research for this investigative report was conducted from 2012 to March of 2013. New alliances/affiliations that have since materialized may or may not be reflected at this time.
Image: U.S. President Barack Obama with Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello.
Introduction | By Jay Taber at Intercontinental Cry:
In his seminal study Science of Coercion, Christopher Simpson observed that communication might be understood as both the conduit for and the actual substance of human culture and consciousness. As Simpson noted, psychological warfare is the application of mass communication to modern social conflict.
In the U.S. Army War College manual on psychological warfare, the stated objective is to destroy the will and ability of the enemy to fight by depriving them of the support of allies and neutrals. Some of the methods used in the manual are sowing dissension, distrust, fear and hopelessness.
In the decades since these publications were first published, a new form of psywar has emerged in the form of false hope. With unlimited funding and organizational support from foundations like Ford, Rockefeller, Gates and Soros, U.S. Government propaganda now has a vast new army of non-profits that, along with corporate media and academia, serve as both a third wing of mass consciousness and a fifth column for destabilization campaigns worldwide.
As Cory Morningstar captures The Simulacrum in her multi-part series on the non-profit industrial complex, domesticating the populace is a fait accompli, and the only question remaining is what will happen if and when capitalist activism is seen for what it is. By following the money from aristocratic derivatives to embodiments of false hope like Avaaz, MoveOn, and Change, Morningstar steps through the looking glass to expose how NGOs have become a key tool of global dominance using social media as a means of social manipulation.
When the smoke generated by phony progressives clears, all that is left is an industrial wasteland of false hope and real threats. When the betrayals of NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are known, we can finally begin to exercise our responsibilities. Until then, programs like Democracy Now remain little more than adult versions of Sesame Street for the toy Che brigades.
[The article above, titled “Through the Looking Glass,” was published by Intercontinental Cry on September 11, 2012. Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, an author, a correspondent to Fourth World Eye, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project.]
At the helm of the non-profit industrial complex are the NGOs that make up the Soros network. At the helm of this matrix, we find the organization Avaaz residing over the complex, with key players replicating their ideologies throughout the global matrix. Avaaz has morphed into the quintessential gatekeeper of the oligarchy. This particular segment of this investigative report will focus on requisite information about and intrinsic alliances of the key people who co-founded and comprise Avaaz, as well as many key sister/partner organizations and affiliates of Avaaz; the founders; Res Publica, GetUp and MoveOn, and the new up and coming Purpose, Globalhood, and SumOfUs. The next segment, part VII of this investigation, will delve into the newly emerging trend of corporate media/NGO partnerships in which Avaaz could be considered the test-model for the imperialist/capitalist powers that be.[Further reading: Part I, Section III]
Avaaz was founded by Res Publica, described as a global civic advocacy group, and Moveon.org, “an online community that has pioneered internet advocacy in the United States.” The Service Employees International Union and GetUp.org.au were also publicly recognized as founding partners of Avaaz: “Avaaz.org also enjoys the partnership and support of leading activist organizations from around the world, including the Service Employees International Union, a founding partner of Avaaz, GetUp.org.au, and many others.” [Further reading on the formation of Avaaz can be found in Part II, Section I of this investigative report.]
In the public realm, Res Publica is said to be comprised primarily of an affiliation of three key individuals; Tom Perriello, a pro-war (former) U.S. Representative who describes himself as a social entrepreneur; Ricken Patel, consultant to many of the most powerful entities on Earth and the long-time associate of Perriello; and Tom Pravda, a member of the UK Diplomatic Service who serves as a consultant to the U.S. State Department.
Res Publica states that Avaaz is currently its primary project: “Res Publica’s primary current project is www.AVAAZ.org, a global on-line community that already has over 3.5 million members, including citizens from every country on the planet.” It appears that Avaaz has been Res Publica’s principal undertaking since2006. [Note that Patel claims Avaaz membership now exceeds 20 million as of March 2013.]
Prior to this, Res Publica concerned itself with “catalyzing a resurgence of the prophetic and progressive religious voice in America” through its “Faithful America” campaign. In 2004, co-founders Patel and Perriello, working with the National Council of Churches (among others) launched Faithful America; an online movement-building social media initiative that would serve to be the religious version of MoveOn.org. [“FaithfulAmerica.org is using the internet to connect up faith communities and individuals and enable a ‘viral’ form of activism that allows ideas and actions to spread rapidly. Within its first six weeks, ‘FaithfulAmerica.org’ had attracted over 100,000 members. In its first 6 months, it raised over $400,000 for progressive religious campaigns.”] As with MoveOn, and Avaaz, Faithful America is also a recipient of grants (two grants of $400,000 in 2008) from the George Soros Open Society Institute. Patel is also a former director of Faith in Public Life (launched in 2006), which acquired Faithful America in 2007.
It is common knowledge that religion has been used a tool for societal control and conditioning throughout EuroAmerican history.
On the Res Publica website under “Endorsements of Our Work”:
“In 2004, Res Publica helped to catalyze a resurgence of the Progressive Religious Community in the U.S. (see Past Work for more). Here’s what our partners had to say about us: ‘In one year, the Res Publica fellows made themselves almost indispensable to the progressive faith community in the United States. They quickly assessed the problem, formed relationships with key leaders, and helped put in place a plan of action. Their work was unapologetically honest, politically savvy, and heartfelt. They are the best.’ – John Podesta, President and CEO, Center for American Progress, Former White House Chief of Staff to President Clinton”
Res Publica advisory board members include Eli Pariser, Co-Founder and Executive Director of MoveOn.org PAC and co-founder of Avaaz; Zainab Bangura, former World Bank civil society advisor and former board member of George Soros’ Open Society Institute; Anthony Barnett, editor of OpenDemocracy.net; and John Podesta (quoted above), former Chief of Staff to President Clinton and president and founder of the Soros-funded Center for American Progress. In its infancy, the Center for American Progress was heavily invested in building a religious Left movement.
Res Publica serves as an unassuming yet solid foundation for supporting neo-liberal infrastructure, a quiet clearinghouse for initiating projects and ideologies that promote neo-liberal and foreign policy agendas in countries across the globe.
E-advocacy for the Gates Foundation
In 2007, Res Publica completed a research and advisory project on E-advocacy for the Gates Foundation. Under the heading “The Cellular Savior”:
“The mobile phone is changing the way the global south communicates. Even as the number of landlines grows slowly, the growth of mobile phones is sky-rocketing, changing the connectivity potential for the planet…. What these figures indicate is that mobile phones are a great opportunity for e-advocates who want to reach a mass audience, and the applications are endless. [p. 18]
… After the successful implementation of SMS [text messaging] campaigns at the national level, the Gates Foundation might decide to fund an international SMS campaign. Unlike the local SCO partners of the pilot programs, an international campaign would partner with international advocacy organizations with strong technology programs like Greenpeace, Oxfam, and the new international e-advocacy organization Avaaz.” [p. 41] [highlighted text in original document]
The project leader of this E-advocacy report was none other than Ricken Patel, co-founder and executive director of Avaaz.
In 2008, Res Publica allocated $500,000 to the Avaaz project. Res Publica currently receives the majority of its funding from George Soros’ Open Society Institute, which donated $250,000 to the organization in both 2007 and 2008.
Featured on the main page of Res Publica is the International Crisis Group.
Avaaz Founding Board Member: Ben Brandzel
- 38 Degrees.org.uk: Chief Founding Advisor, Director
- AOL Time Warner’s Huffington Post: Blogger
- Avaaz International: Campaign Director
- Avaaz International: Founding Board Member
- Avaaz International: Secretary 2010
- Avaaz International: Treasurer 2008, 2009
- Avaaz International: Trustee 2006, 2007
- Citizen Engagement Lab: Director of Strategic Incubation
- Consultant to NGOs
- Consultant to Political Parties
- GetUp!: Senior Advisor
- LeadNow.ca: Founding Advisor
- MoveOn.org Student Action: Founder
- MoveOn.org: Advocacy Director
- Organizing for America: Director of New Media Campaigns Fundraising
- President Barack Obama: Director of New Media Campaigns and Fundraising
- President Barack Obama: North Carolina Online Campaign Director
- Presidential Campaigns of Howard Dean: Director of Online Engagement
- Presidential Campaigns of John Edwards: Director of Online Engagement
- SumOfUs U.S. Advisory Board Member
- The Athenian School
- Brandeis University
Resides in Berkley, California and Washington, DC
Ben Brandzel is Campaign Director and Founding Board Member of Avaaz. Brandzel has also been cited as secretary and treasurer of Avaaz. As well, Brandzel is a consultant to NGOs and “progressive” political parties globally. Ben serves as Director of Strategic Incubation at Citizen Engagement Lab, based in Washington and Berkeley, California. His task is to conceive, construct and launch new “progressive” online organizing communities in the United States and across the planet.
Micah White, a senior editor at Adbusters, gained an insider perspective on the “folly” of clicktivism after a brief stint with the Citizen Engagement Laboratory. White states:
“Former and current MoveOn employees have colonized activism internationally with behemoth second-generation clicktivist organizations, like Joan Blades’s MomsRising, Eli Pariser’s Avaaz, and Ben Brandzel’s GetUp and 38 Degrees. It is worth noting that past MoveOn employees communicate via a private email list and thereby accomplish one of their greatest deceits of all: using their organizations as mouthpieces to celebrate each other publicly without disclosing their back-room personal ties. Even those without direct connections to MoveOn often share the common feature of being wealthy technocrats whose startups were bought by a mega-corporation. Into this category fall individuals like Aaron Swartz, early developer of Reddit (now owned by Condé Nast) and founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. And some, like James Rucker, are both former MoveOn employees and rich technologists. Rucker co-founded, with Ian Inaba, the Citizen Engagement Laboratory, also in Berkeley, the umbrella organization that has adopted the ethically dubious approach of using a shared technology platform and overlapping staff to target niches while maintaining the illusion that there is no connection between the subsidiary organizations: ColorOfChange for African-Americans, Presente for Latinos, GetEQUAL for LGBT people and Food Democracy Now! for the organics movement. Many brand names, same company. Clicktivists leverage market segmentation and economies of scale to neutralize real dissent.
Clicktivist organizations grow like the capitalist cancer we are fighting. They choke out the less technically adept organizations and suck up substantial mainstream praise, typically by celebrating each other without disclosing their personal ties. Budgets bloated by philanthropic grants… “asks” watered down… emails written like bus stop marketing… uninspiring, mundane and frankly counter-revolutionary political agendas. Worse still, clicktivists export internationally the de-politicization malware that has decimated the radical left in the United States, transforming countless millions from activists into screen-addicts who want their political change to be as easy as signing an online petition.”
White resigned from Citizen Engagement Lab in disgust.
As well as being a senior advocacy director to GetUp!, Brandzel was an advocacy director for MoveOn, helping MoveOn become the largest electoral network on the internet. Recently, Brandzel has been working with the 1Goal education campaign and at LeadNow.ca as a Founding Advisor.
Ben Brandzel’s knowledge of social media is so knowledgeable that his services were requested by none other than Barrack Obama; Brandzel served as Director of New Media Campaigns and Fundraising for the Democratic Party and Organizing for America (successor organization to the Obama campaign) and the North Carolina Online Campaign Director for Barack Obama. Brandzel was successful in the mobilization of 20 million supporters for Obama. In addition, he worked for the presidential campaigns of Howard Dean and John Edwards (Director of Online Engagement).
Brandzel is also Chief Founding Advisor / Director of the UK’s 38 Degrees.org.uk, an online advocacy organization formed in 2009, which operates in a similar manner to Avaaz.
The 38 Degrees Board consists of Gordon Roddick, co-founder of The Body Shop International; Paul Hilder, former Director of Campaigns at Oxfam, GB, former Campaigns Director of AVAAZ.org and Vice President of Global Campaigns at the for-profit Change.org; Ben Brandzel; Peter Myers(formerly Special Projects at Greenpeace and The Climate Group, a Rockefellers’ incubator for an in-house project that later evolved into a free-standing institution) whose first 12 years of his career were spent in corporate finance; Benedict Southworth (formerly with Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Amnesty International); Henry Tinsley (former chair of Green & Blacks Chocolate, owned by Kraft); and Gemma Mortensen who worked previously in human rights posts for the International Criminal Court,an instrument for enforcing neocolonial interests in Africa.
Brandzel is also a blogger at AOL Time Warner’s Huffington Post, who describe Brandzel as “a leading international practitioner, trainer and writer in the field of progressive online organizing.”
After attending the exclusive Athenian Boarding School, Brandzel attended Brandeis University majoring in Politics, Sociology, and International and Global Studies.
Brandzel, along with his cohorts, has recently taken a position of U.S. Advisory Board Member for SumOfUs.
Purpose: James Slezak
- Australia’s Center for Policy Development: Fellow
- George Soros: Directed an Online Media Strategy in 2004 Elections
- McKinsey & Co: Co: Management Consultant
- NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark: Directed an Online Media Strategy in 2004 Elections
- ONE Campaign: Consultant
- Purpose: Strategy
- United Nations: Consultant for Science Policy
- United Nations: Consultant fort Organisational Change
- University of Sydney
- Cornell University
James Slezak leads business strategy and sustainability at Purpose. According to the Purpose website, he is responsible for scaling the impact and reach of Purpose’s work, including the funding, corporate structure, and growth of the organization. “On sustainability, his work is motivated by the belief that for the movement to be successful, its ambition must go beyond regulating existing business activities – it must rebuild major sectors of the economy…. James has led major projects on sustainability, technology and economic development for McKinsey & Company, including developing green stimulus proposals for the Australian Prime Minister and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.”
During the 2004 U.S. presidential elections, Slezak, with financing from George Soros and NATO Supreme Commander Wesley Clark, directed online strategy for a campaign opposing the Bush administration’s foreign policy.
During university, Slezak worked on development economics and game theory. He is a fellow at Australia’s Centre for Policy Development and has hosted community radio shows in Sydney and New York City. Slezak’s technical work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including Science and Nature.
Slezak has been working with the ONE Campaign (Avaaz campaign partner) in Washington to develop a 3-year strategy for increasing “developed-world assistance” to developing nations. The “ONE” board of directors is incredible and must be read in full to truly appreciate the full scale of whose interests such NGOs truly serve. Board members of ONE.org include director of the Bill Gates Foundation’s Europe, Chief Executive Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Senior Advisor to the Open Society Institute and the Open Society Policy Center, former Chief Executive Officer of Viacom Inc., the Managing Director of the World Bank. Read the full Board list here, the Africa Policy Advisory Board here and the “Leadership” Team here.
Many a number of Avaaz affiliates have been groomed by McKinsey & Company and Slezak is no exception.
Slezak is a Management Consultant at McKinsey & Co, where he advises public, private and social sector clients on strategy. Nate Pinsley, Senior Strategist at Purpose.com has also been groomed by McKinsey & Company.
Slezak is a fellow of the Centre for Policy Development. Like many of his affiliates, Slezak has also consulted for the United Nations, in this case on organisational change and science policy.
On the “Living the Promise” Pepsico employee blog, under the title “Inspired Action – New Approaches in Saving the Planet,” you find the following Pepsico highlights featuring Slezak: “To make sure our grandchildren’s grandchildren have a planet to enjoy, it’s time we move past the belief that awareness is the answer. It’s time for action and solutions to come from all of us – not just environmentalists. That’s why we’re asking a few innovative minds to offer their specific solutions for how individuals, small groups and global corporations drive the change needed. It’s not another panel of usual suspects talking about the past. This session will match up experts from different backgrounds to throw their big ideas on the table and work together to mash them into workable solutions. Speakers: James Slezak (Purpose.com), Robert Murray (National Geographic) … Moderated by Scott Henderson (CauseShift)….”
In 2002, MoveOn founders Boyd and Blades hired 32-year-old Zack Exley – a computer programmer and web designer extraordinaire – as MoveOn’s organizing director. In 2003, the Howard Dean presidential campaign hired Exley away from MoveOn for two weeks in order to utilize his skills in Dean’s web campaigns. Exley left MoveOn in 2004 to become Director of Online Communications and Online Organizing for the Kerry-Edwards campaign.
During this time, George Soros absorbed MoveOn into his NGO network, assisting MoveOn with a cash injection of approximately $6 million. In December 2003 Jonathon Soros, son of George Soros, collaborated with MoveOn.org on a controversial campaign while corporate media provided massive amounts of coverage for the organization.
Over the next decade the Soros influence would further span across the globe, as witnessed in The Open Society Foundation for South Africa 2011 report: “The Foundation thanks George Soros for his invaluable and unstinting support, and Aryeh Neier for his guidance and wisdom throughout the time OSF-SA has been in existence.”
In 2006 MoveOn combined its membership list with that of Res Publica (New York City) to launch Avaaz.org. While MoveOn.org remains fully active, Avaaz.org and other NGOs within the Soros network have replaced the focus of Res Publica.
October 5, 2004, Bloomberg: “Like his father, Jonathan Soros has been involved in political activism, working with MoveOn.org …. ”
October 6, 2004, The Standard: “Like his father, Jonathan Soros – who has worked in the private equity group for two years – has been involved in political activism, working with MoveOn.org ….”
October 6, 2004, New York Times: “Jonathan Soros, 34, is better known for sharing his father’s passion for politics, working with MoveOn.org and other advocacy groups.”
It is critical to note that MoveOn keeps the email addresses provided by citizens who sign SignOn petitions (MoveOn is the “parent” organization of SignOn), reserving the right to use them at a later date. SignOn.org (MoveOn) can be considered a key competitor of Change.org.
GetUp was launched in Australia in 2005, by Jeremy Heimans and David Madden, two Australian youth, both graduates of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where they mastered the intersection of technology, new media and U.S. politics. Heimans and Madden went on to be co-founders of Avaaz, inspired by the success of GetUp, the Australian version of its U.S. counterpart MoveOn.org.
As previously noted, MoveOn.org (with Res Publica) founded Avaaz.
The GetUp advisory board includes GetUp’s co-founders Madden and Heimans and Brett Solomon, former Campaign Director of Avaaz and former Executive Director of GetUp.
Founding board members of this “people’s organisation” include/included John Hewson, former federal opposition leader, former Macquarie Bank Executive Director and Trilateral Commission member; Don Mercer, mining chief, former ANZ CEO, past Director of the Australian Institute of Company Directors; and Evan Thornley, a former entrepreneur and politician with a net monetary worth of $53 million.Don Mercer, Chairman of Orica Ltd. and Newcrest Mining Ltd., spent 19 years with Shell International Petroleum Co. Limited.
The national director of GetUp is David Sheikh. David was national vice-president of the United Nations Youth Association.
The full list of the GetUp board of directors is listed in the resource section. [Source: GetUp Annual Report 2005-2006] 
This Australian online political movement became an internationally recognized social movement phenomenon, primarily due to the fact that the organization claims to have more members than all of Australia’s political parties combined.
The sad irony is this; Although GetUp, MoveOn, Avaaz and other such organizations brand themselves as the prominent voice of youth, in reality, the people who fund and directly or indirectly shape such organizations are established, influential voices of the exclusive minority; predominantly rich, middle aged, white males.
The 21st Century Social Movements
Humanitarianism has become the ultimate guise for advancing capitalism
Avaaz promotes the myth of “servant leadership” while willingly collaborating with Imperialist states, globalists, corporate funders/corporate interests and capitalist ideologies. In reality, this demonstrates a very real “corporate leadership” – a corporate leadership whereby Avaaz knowingly strategizes and engages in the purposeful manipulation and cynical exploitation of its members for the benefit of the plutocrats with whom Avaaz aligns itself. Avaaz is not the democratic, ethical forum for social activism it purports to be – rather, Avaaz is a refined, well-greased and well-funded apparatus for extremist political engineering.
With regard to ethics, there is what one would like to believe could constitute a major exception in the group of organizations that produced Avaaz. That is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). This union represents the second largest trade union in America. Often we witness unions demonstratingthat they are interested in issues outside of the imaginary boundaries drawn by governments, as well as issues outside of its own union members’ employment and safety issues. So one must wonder why the SEIU is remaining silent on Avaaz’s opening the door for U.S. Imperialism, when union members in Latin America are calling Avaaz out.
No organization can grow to the size of Avaaz without having acquired the respect of loyal followers for credible campaigns. A key method for building and establishing the required credibility and legitimacy is using campaigns that can quite easily generate a fairly broad consensus, that is, ecological campaigns (rainforest protection), “keeping hope alive” on climate, protection of archaeological sites, signing a Fukushima declaration, demanding aid to areas suffering natural disasters such as Haiti. The list, as well as the scope, seems endless.
Essentially, what we are witnessing today is a global community that has been recruited by means of whales, dophins, bees and polar bears, and is simultaneously being manipulated into a disturbing global cohesiveness forming an unparalleled pro-war stance by demanding foreign intervention against Libya in 2011, and now Syria in 2012.
In the most grotesque of ironies, the Avaaz website, under “Highlights/Peace: Success stories from the Avaaz movement worldwide,” the campaign against Libya is featured with a bright pink banner on the image (below) stating “MASSACRE PREVENTED.”
From the Avaaz site:
UN: Libya No Fly Zone
Libyan Massacre Prevented with help from one million messages to the Security Council.
Our messages called for sanctions, asset freezes, and an internationally enforced no-fly zone to protect civilians in Libya. Our voices got through: the UN Ambassador from the U.S., one of the last hold-outs to back the motion, publicly thanked us for our messages. International action began just as Qaddafi’s tanks encircled the rebel-held city of Benghazi — and is widely credited with preventing a likely massacre of large numbers of civilians.
Let’s look at this again: “International action began just as Qaddafi’s tanks encircled the rebel-held city of Benghazi – and is widely credited with preventing a likely massacre of large numbers of civilians.”
The scope of this statement is hard to grasp. Libya, which prior to the Imperialist-led invasion had the highest standard of living in Africa, was left a country annihilated. Our “international action” left tens of thousands of Libyan civilians – and possibly more than 100,000 – dead.
There can be only four options here: a) The organizers of Avaaz are stupid beyond one’s wildest imagination. b) The organizers of Avaaz are both naïve and ignorant beyond one’s wildest imagination. c) The organizers of Avaaz are psychotic and delusional beyond one’s wildest imagination. d) Avaaz is an integral instrument to hegemony and empire. [The correct answer is D although one could effectively argue the answer E, all of the above, with modest effort.]
The Non-Profit Industrial Complex Finally Finds “Success”
After decades of failure by the “environmental movement,” after Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations have failed one hundredfold to the point of global cataclysmic ecological collapse, to the delight of, and as predetermined by their funders, today, within one year’s time, NGOs have proven they do actually possess the capacity to do something very well. While there have been virtually no meaningful successes for either citizens or ecology in decades, NGOs as the primary agents for building public cohesion in demanding wars against sovereign countries have been a tremendous success. Orwell is rolling in his grave.
Avaaz Co-founder: Andrea Woodhouse
- Avaaz International: Co-Founder
- Government of Indonesia: Adviser
- Institute for State Effectiveness: Associatet
- United Nation: Consultant
- Win Back Respect: Co-founder
- World Bank: Consultant
- World Bank: Country Officer
- World Bank: Team Leader
- London School of Economics and Political Science
- University of Oxford: Balliol College
Resides in New York
Avaaz co-founder Andrea Woodhouse is a consultant to both the United Nations and the World Bank. Woodhouse is a social entrepreneur having founded two social ventures, Avaaz and Win Back Respect, “a foreign policy advocacy group that ran a $5 million media campaign during the 2004 U.S. presidential election promoting ‘a more multilateral foreign policy’ and ran an advocacy tour with General Wesley Clark.”
Woodhouse’s specialties are fragile states, conflict, crisis recovery, community development, justice reform, governance and corruption. Woodhouse has consulted for the United Nations Executive Office of the Secretary General (EOS) analyzing UN institutional arrangements in peacebuilding and advised the Secretary General’s office on achieving greater clarity, predictability and accountability in UN support to priority peacebuilding areas (mediation; electoral assistance; mine action; rule of law; disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; and security sector reform). For the World Bank, Woodhouse has designed guidance for analyzing the social impacts of disaster. As well, Woodhouse also peer-reviewed a report: “Civilian Capacity in the Aftermath of Conflict” for the Peacebuilding Support Office. For the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Woodhouse has reviewed of UNDP’s contribution to peacebuilding.
As Country Officer for the World Bank, Woodhouse represented the World Bank in Myanmar through the ASEAN Humanitarian Task Force, part of the Tripartite Core Group (ASEAN, UN, government). Woodlouse consulted for the World Bank on conflict, crisis recovery and state building issues in Aceh after the peace deal and in Afghanistan and Sri Lanka during periods of worsening conflict.
Woodhouse worked for the Institute for State Effectiveness in an advisory role. Her work included an analysis of state-building in Nepal focused on citizenship and inclusion. Woodhouse also advised Ashraf Ghani’s UN Secretary-General bid.
Woodhouse was adviser to the Government of Indonesia, advising Alwi Shihab, the Indonesian cabinet minister in charge of coordinating the international humanitarian response to the Indian Ocean tsunami.
Woodhouse was a Team Leader and Consultant to the World Bank, establishing “Justice for the Poor,” a pro-poor justice reform program that now operates in Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and Kenya. Prior to this, Woodhouse worked on the Kecamatan Development Program, designed an anti-corruption strategy and ran a study on village corruption in Indonesia.
Woodhouse’s university studies included international relations, politics and economics.
Avaaz Co-founder: Paul Hilder
- 38 Degrees: Board Director
- Article1.org: Trustee
- Avaaz International: Campaigns Manager
- Avaaz International: Co-founder
- British Council: Sri Lanka, Colombo, TC
- British Council: Teaching Centre Manager
- Change.org: Vice President of Global Campaigns
- Contentious Citizens:Author
- Middle East Policy Initiative Forum: Senior Policy Consultant
- Middle East Policy Initiative Forum: Senior Policy Director
- Open Democracy:
- Open Democracy: CoFounder
- Open Democracy: COO
- Oxfam: Campaigns Manager
- South East England Development Agency: Strategy Adviser / Venture Capital Analyst
- SumOfUs: Advisory Board
- The Young Foundation: Fellow & Project Director of Transforming Neighbourhoods
- Young Foundation: Fellow
- King’s College, Cambridge
- Resides in London, England
Until recently, Avaaz co-founder Paul Hilder was employed by Oxfam in the position of campaigns manager (including the GROW and Robin Hood Tax campaigns). Hilder previously worked in the same role for Avaaz and has written about online social activism for the Guardian. Like his Avaaz co-founder Ben Brandzel, he is a board member of the British organization ’38 Degrees’, as well as a co-founder of the organization. Hilder also co-founded Open Democracy in 2000, where he served as Chief Operating Officer. This organization is prominently featured on the Res Publica homepage.
Hilder is Vice President of Global Campaigns for Change.org, a for-profit social venture started in 2006 by Stanford University graduates Ben Rattray and Mark Dimas. Change.org currently employs more than 80 staff members, with offices in San Francisco and Washington, DC, as well as a distributed team of organizers around the world. Ben Wikler (Avaaz Chief Operating Officer) is Executive Vice President of Change.org. (Change.org is discussed in part I, section III of this report.)
Hilder’s reputation as an activist slash “Middle East expert” made him quite a favourite on the international conference circuit as well as in the corporate and “progressive” media. Yet, what is not widely known is the fact that at the same time as he was employed by Avaaz, Hilder also worked as senior policy consultant/director for the Middle East Policy Initiative Forum. The Middle East Policy Initiative Forum embodies collaboration between the Oxford Research Group and Conflicts Forum on an EU-funded report entitled “From Crisis to Opportunity.” Hilder is also a senior fellow of the Young Foundation. [“The Young Foundation brings together insights, innovation and entrepreneurship to meet social needs.”]
Prominent contributors to Open Democracy have included Kofi Annan and George Soros. Open Democracy has been funded by a number of philanthropic organizations, including the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund along with many others.
In 2008 Hilder was a featured guest in the event titled “Taking it global? How can Europe change the world?””As well as facing new security threats, it is widely recognized that many environmental, health, development, trade and other issues are world problems that need global responses. So what should Europe stand for in the world? What can Europe do to promote democracy, decent work and human rights? How can it promote better global governance?”
Hilder is also a Deputy Director for the British Council.
On September 20, 2010 a TED event of “the world’s leading thinkers,” innovators and scientists attended TEDxLondon: “The Future We Make to explore what the future holds for health and development around the world.” Hilder was a featured TED speaker. TED stated that Hilder “has worked on conflict resolution, democracy and social innovation internationally, in particular in Europe and the Middle East. He is the author of Contentious Citizens (Carnegie / Young Foundation, 2007) and a Trustee of the human rights charity Article 1.”
Hilder is also an author (Contentious Citizens, 2007) and recently joined the SumOfUS Advisory Board.
The Avaaz “Core Campaign Team Members”
According to the Avaaz website, the Avaaz “community” is “served” by a small team of global campaigners working in many countries to identify and develop opportunities for members to “take action.” Avaaz states that they also rely on teams of “expert advisors” to help develop their campaigns. Avaaz states they have staff based in Rio de Janeiro, Geneva, New York, London, and Washington, DC. Their core campaign team members are Ricken Patel (Co-Founder and Executive Director, Canada; Heather Reddick, Operations Director, U.S.A and Veronique Graham, Executive Assistant, France. Alex Wilks has moved from Eurodad (European Network on Debt and Development, a network of 58 non-governmental organizations from 19 European countries that works on poverty reduction) to replace Paul Hilder as Campaign Director in the UK.
- Avaaz Operations Director, U.S.A:Heather Reddick
Heather Reddick, Avaaz Operations Director, U.S., was Director of Finance & Administration at Let’s Get Ready, International Operations Director at Students for a Free Tibet, and National Operations Director at League of Young Voters.
- Avaaz Executive Assistant, France: Veronique Graham
Veronique Graham was ICTE Office Manager at International Center for Tolerance Education. She attended Université de Toulouse-le-Mirail (Toulouse II).
- Avaaz Campaign Director, UK: Alex Wilks
Alex Wilks has been a consultant for analysis and strategy; Director at Eurodad; Initiator, editor and blogger at Worldbankpresident.org; Founder and Coordinator at Bretton Woods Project; Campaigns Editor at The Ecologist Magazine, and junior researcher at Jupiter Tyndall Merlin. He attended University of Oxford.
- Avaaz Campaign director, U.S.A: Ben Wikler
Ben Wikler worked for economist Jeffrey Sachs and interned for Sen. Russ Feingold. He also served as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Review of Philosophy. In 2006, Wikler served as press secretary for Sherrod Brown’s U.S. Senate campaign. In March 2007, he became Campaign Director for Avaaz, where he helped grow the organization to over 10 million members. Today Wikler is Executive Vice President at Change.org.
Other Influential Avaaz Players (Past and Present)
“The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.” — Teju Cole
- Avaaz Senior Climate Campaigner U.S.A, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, is Now SumOfUs’s Executive Director and Founder
Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman was the Avaaz Senior Climate Campaigner, U.S. from April to December 2009. Stinebrickner-Kauffman is a consultant for MoveOn.org, the DNC, AccessNow.org and 350.org. In the past, Stinebrickner-Kauffman was a senior political strategist for AFL CIO, electoral director for GetUp!, Director of Analytics and Online Strategy for Alliance for Climate Protection, and analyst for the consulting firm Mellman Group, “whose clients include leading political figures and the nation’s most important public interest groups.”
From the SumOfUs website: “SumOfUs’s Executive Director and Founder, Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman, is a dual Australian-American citizen. She has experience with online organizing on four continents and at the global level, including at Avaaz.org, GetUp.org.au, and the AFL-CIO. She was born in Australia, currently lives in Washington, DC and enjoys reading science fiction and playing ultimate frisbee for fun.”
Stinebrickner-Kauffman should have put down her science fiction books and studied climate science prior to COP15 in Copenhagen. The leadership on climate by Avaaz was nothing less than horrific.
February 1, 2012: SumOfUs posts a popular image used by media outlets today to reflect the worker conditions at Chinese “sweatshops.” “Ethical” capitalism is a fantasy embraced and fetisized by the professional left.
- Avaaz German Campaigner Julius van de Laar
Julius van de Laar, a German Campaigner for Avaaz.org, worked for and became a well-known facein the campaign team to elect Barack Obama in 2008 for his new media strategies. Since thenvan de Laar has served as a senior strategist to Germany’s democratic party as well as serving as a consultant to Amnesty International and Avaaz.
- Brett Soloman
Brett Solomon moved to Avaaz, after two years as Executive Director for GetUp!, in 2008. Simon Sheikh was appointed the new National Director at GetUp!, alongside Meredith Turnbull, Director of Operations. Today Solomon is Executive Director at Accessnow.org
Other Avaaz Employees as Listed on the Avaaz Website
- Alice Jay: Campaign Director (Spain) (Also on the SumOfUs EU Advisory Board)
- Alice Wynne Wilson: Media Director (Belgium) Benjamin des Gachons: Global Campaigner (France) (Now Campaigns Director, France, for Change.org)
- David Sievers: Global Campaigner (U.S.)
- Dominick Mach: Membership Correspondence Assistant (U.S.)
- Graziela Tanaka: (Past) Global Campaigner (Brazil)
- Iain Keith: Global Campaigner (UK)
- Luis Morago: Campaign Director (Spain) (former head of EU Advocacy Office and head of EU Office at Oxfam)
- Milena Berry: Chief Technical Officer (Bulgaria) (also Director at Talacon.com)
- Pascal Vollenweider: Global Campaigner (Switzerland)Paula Brufman: (Past) Global Campaigner (Argentina)
- Raluca Ganea: Senior Campaigner (Israel)
The Hope Industry
“I deeply respect American sentimentality, the way one respects a wounded hippo. You must keep an eye on it, for you know it is deadly.” — Teju Cole
For Avaaz, and indeed for the non-profit industrial complex as a whole, the psychological elements within strategic campaigns are the key vital components if “movements” are to successfully manage, and thus control, entire societies. Avaaz, at the top of a hierarchy of sister organizations, is able, with very little risk, to test what campaigns are politically palatable and what trends then develop within the consciousness of the selected members/participants. Organizations such as Avaaz can develop ideologies to further shape and mold movements, thus advancing their own ideologies on a global scale. This particular ideology is based on the false illusion of “green capitalism,” serving the interests of the funders, at the continued expense of the planet, and life itself if so required. A “green economy” as a “new way forward” is a foundation based upon deep denialism and fantasy, one that will absolutely, without doubt, fail in the most epic of ways.
The advertisement sums up the world in which Avaaz, at the helm, will lead in the united effort to achieve. The image is from anHSBC advertisement, which states: “In tomorrow’s global economy, every resource will be counted. HSBC is one of the world’s leading supply chain organisations. We help companies keep tabs on stock across six continents – and five oceans. The future starts today.”
Part VII to be published in 2016
[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Political Context, Counterpunch, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]
”GetUp is run by a small office of staff, interns and volunteers in Sydney. Since September 2008, Simon Sheikh has acted as GetUp’s National Director, replacing previous Executive Director Brett Solomon, who has since moved to Avaaz.org. GetUp was founded in 2005 by Jeremy Heimans and David Madden, two young Australian graduates of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government who have worked at the intersection of technology, new media and politics in the United States. David and Jeremy are now co-founders of Avaaz.org, a new global online political community inspired by the success of GetUp and the U.S. group MoveOn.org. GetUp has a board that advises the staff. The board includes GetUp’s co-founders David Madden and Jeremy Heimans, community organiser Amanda Tattersall, the founder of Rural Australians for Refugees Anne Coombs, Indigenous policy expert, Sarah Maddison and former Executive Director Brett Solomon.” [Source: http://www.getup.org.au/about/faq/#7][http://getup-production.s3.amazonaws.com/145-getup_annualreport_0506.pdf]