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The DeKlein of Logic. The Art of Conflation
The following is an excerpt from Part thirteen of the Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part I • Part II • Part III • Part IV • Part V • Part VI • Part VII • Part VIII • Part IX • Part X • Part XI • Part XII • Part XIII
Chrysanthemums (translit. Khrizantemy; 1914): a “conflation of art, performance, and death” [Source]
With the 350.org divestment movement and Klein at the helm, in addition to its in partnership The Guardian (who has also partnered with Klein personally outside of 350.org) and endorsement from the UN, 350.org et al have a position in the media to create mobilizations on cue, simply by calling out on its army of divestment students, now global in scope. On the This Changes Everything website it should be noted that within Klein’s bio, 350.org continues to be referred to as a global grassroots movement. Disregarding the fact that 1Sky (which merged with 350 in 2011) was an incubator project of the Rockefeller Foundation; it is still an NGO whose annual incomes exceeds millions; and rewards staff with six-figure salaries. Due to its now global size (not to mention its oligarchic origins), 350.org is very far removed from the true concept of grass roots. The word disingenuous, in regard to this claim, is an immense understatement.
verb from ‘conflate’
occurs when the identities of two or more individuals, concepts, or places,
sharing some characteristics of one another, seem to be a single identity
— the differences appear to become lost.
2007: “Former President Bill Clinton and musician Bono appear on stage during ‘Giving – Live At The Apollo’ presented by the MTV and Clinton Global Initiative at the Apollo Theater on September 29, 2007 in New York City.”
2008: “U2 singer Bono speaks with Al Gore during the opening session of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on Sep. 24, 2008, in New York City. Gore attended the fourth annual meeting of the CGI, a gathering of politicians celebrities, philanthropists and business leaders to discuss pressing global issues.” (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)
In the October 12, 2007, CNN article The Bono-ization of Activism, Klein (rightly) criticizes the “Bono-ization” of the protest movement:
“…the new style of anti-poverty campaigning, where celebrities talk directly with government and business leaders on behalf of a continent (such as Africa) is another form of “noblesse oblige” where the rich and powerful club together to ‘give something back.’ “They are saying we don’t even need government anymore, it’s the replacement of nation states with corporate rule — this Billionaires Club, including Bill Clinton that gets together to give a little something back.”
And yet, eight years later, Klein has fully immersed herself in this same (yet even more powerful) “Billionaires Club”, having replaced nation states with corporate rule. If anyone could be characterized as embracing “another form of ‘noblesse oblige’” it is Klein, the 350.org NGO she serves, and the climate cartel they run with—inclusive of Wall Street.
In 2007, Bill McKibben launched the national ‘Step It Up’ campaign (Clinton Global Initiative Commitment 2007) targeting members of the U.S. congress to be ‘real leaders’ on climate change. Presidential candidates including Senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton attended Step It Up events and issued statements of support for 1Sky’s goals. Step it Up then morphed into 1Sky. 1Sky was an incubator project of the Foundation at its inception. [Further reading: Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New 350.org | More $ – More Delusion] At the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative, then President Clinton announced the 1Sky campaign. [Video, September 29, 2007: 1Sky at Clinton Global Initiative published by Step It Up][Clinton Foundation Press Release, Sept 27, 2007: “Working with partners 1Sky will raise $50 million to advocate for a simple set of goals and policy proposals to improve the federal government’s policies on climate change.”]
Four years (2011) after voicing very strong criticisms of the anti-poverty campaign’s engagement with Bill Clinton, a campaign that coincided with the 2007 Step It Up and 1Sky alliances with the Clinton Foundation, Klein would choose to serve on the 350.org board of directors as it officially merged with 1Sky.”
Klein: “What’s complicated about the space that Bono and Geldof (Bob Geldof, founder of Live Aid) are occupying is that it’s inside and outside at the same time — there’s no difference. What’s significant about the Seattle movement (the WTO protests in 1999 and 2000) is that it’s less the tactics but the fact that it identifies that there are real power differences, winners and losers in this economic model.”
In similar fashion, the space that 350.org and the NPIC “are occupying is that it’s inside and outside at the same time – they are part and parcel of the same elite power structures Klein criticizes. There’s no difference.” Like Bono’s Live Aid that Klein condemned, the divestment campaign, that Klein actively promotes, deliberately avoids the fact that “there are real power differences, winners and losers in this economic model.” (i.e. the divestment model)
“Klein believes when celebrities such as Bono engage in talks with world leaders at forums such as Davos they are legitimizing the structures in place, and the inequalities that arise from these structures, rather than promoting any radical change; “The story of globalization is the story of inequality. What’s been lost in the Bono-ization is ability to change these power structures. There are still the winners and losers, people who are locked in to the power structures and those locked out.” [The Bono-ization of Activism]
The official Road to Paris website cites Klein is one of the top twenty influential women in respect to this year’s “Road to Paris, United Nations, Conference of the Parties” (with McKibben being cited as one of the top influential men). Like Bono lending legitimacy to Davos, Klein’s and McKibben’s luminary (and manufactured) status is being fully utilized in the same fashion: legitimizing the structures in place, and the inequalities that arise from these structures. While Klein spoke to Bono’s legitimizing of globalization and inequality, 350’s partnership with the United Nations is stealth marketing that serves to whitewash the United Nations pivotal role as part of the finance/credit cartel subverting state sovereignty and undermining Indigenous autonomy. [Absence of the Sacred]
Failure to publicly expose and condemn the third pillar of the new economy, that of the commodification of nature via implementation of ecosystem services accounting, not only legitimizes the current power structures in place, but expands and insulates them beyond reproach. The inequalities that arise from this one single, and most critical, false solution (of many) not only legitimizes inequalities, it guarantees the finish line for the ongoing genocide of the world’s Indigenous peoples—nothing less than total annihilation. The NPIC, as the third pillar of contemporary imperialism,  which Klein has submerged herself in, ensures current power structures are not only kept intact, but strengthened and insulated.
Of course, this is not the first time 350.org has taken to subverting state sovereignty and undermined Indigenous autonomy.
“Bono’s Red initiative is emblematic of this new Pro-Logo age. He announced a new branded product range at the World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland last year called Product Red. American Express, Converse, Armani and Gap were initial partners, joined later by Apple and Motorola. The corporations sell Red branded products, with a percentage of profits going to Bono approved causes. In this Pro-Logo world there is an irony of consuming to end poverty. Perhaps an even bigger irony: through initiatives like the Red card, consumer culture and branding is buying a stake in anti-globalization and alleviating poverty movement.”
The global divestment campaign (as was the Stop the KeystoneXL! campaign) is emblematic of the increasingly sophisticated, 21st century Pro-Logo age. Today, Bono’s 2008 branded product range promoting his ‘Product Red’, has been replaced in the public realm, with the divestment campaign’s ‘Fossil Fuel Free’ Funds and portfolios (while in the background, hedge funds and private investments comprise the portfolios of the ultra wealthy). Responsible Endowments Coalition, Energy Action Coalition, Sierra Student Coalition, As You Sow, Better Future Project, Better Future Project (financed by Wallace Global Fund) and Ceres were initial partners, joined later by the Guardian and the United Nations. In this “capitalism vs the climate” world, there is a strengthening/expanding of capital markets to counteract capitalism. Perhaps an even bigger irony: through initiatives like the global divestment campaign, investment (which furthers consumption/consumer culture) and branding is buying a stake in the anti-capitalist and environmental movements.
“What they’ve tapped into is a market niche. There’s nothing that’s inherently wrong with these initiatives except when they make radical claims that it’s going to end poverty. There’s a long history of radical consumption — what’s pretty unbelievable about this (the Red Label) is that they say it’s revolutionary and it’s going to replace other forms of politics.” [The Bono-ization of Activism]
What the divestment campaign has tapped into is a market niche. While the future will bear witness that there is /was everything inherently wrong with the divestment (dis)course, the framing that the campaign is in service to the fight against climate change, is more than insulting. Remix: There’s a long history of “radical” consumption — what’s pretty unbelievable about this current version (the divestment campaign) is that they say it’s revolutionary and it’s going to replace other forms of politics.
In the 2007 article, Klein argued that Bono’s supporters believed he was being constructive because his camp was engaging with power, which she disagreed with. Yet eight years later Klein has aligned herself with some of the most powerful oligarchs and institutions in the world.
Toward the end of the 2007 article, the author quotes an unidentified activist who stated charity concerts were a way to recorporate the issue. The parallels are striking, for who could disagree that the divestment campaign does perform the exact same function— “a way to recorporate the issue”?
In a single quote that serves to be most prophetic, the unidentified activist added: “It changes nothing.”
Kiki de Montparnasse, Man Ray (Radnitzky, Emmanuel)
Klein’s partnership with the Guardian newspaper, her placating of 350.org’s foundation funding, her chosen decision to remain silent on warmonger NGOs such as 350.org’s strategic partner Avaaz (in large part responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands in Libya , which they seek to be repeated in Syria), her silence on the NPIC undermining of vulnerable states at COP15 (with Greenpeace, 350 and Avaaz being the first signatories of TckTckTck), her acceptance of 350’s undermining of a sovereign state and the world’s Indigenous peoples, her scant, almost non-existent references to the military-industrial complex in relation to its massive (and exempted) contribution to both climate change and ecological devastation (case in point, consider The US Air Force (USAF) is the single largest consumer of jet fuel in the world. The avoidance of this subject is even more unconscionable considering US President Barack Obama is one of the most (if not the most) militarily aggressive US presidents in history, authorizing various airstrikes and military operations in at least seven Muslim countries ); her silence on industrialized factory framing (livestock stats), and her failure to disclose the relation between 350’s KXL campaign and Buffett’s 21st century oil by rail dynasty, etc. — all demonstrate Klein’s own “noblesse oblige”.
Klein’s most glaring “noblesse oblige” is the exclusion of ecosystem services accounting in her international best seller, This Changes Everything. The promotional description reads: “The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism.” The solution is delivered in the next line: “The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed system and build something radically better.” The elites are indeed seizing this existential crisis to transform our failed system—it’s the financialization of the Earth’s commons referred to as “valuing ecosystem services”.
Consider that in a 505 page book written on climate and capitalism not a single chapter, or even a single page explores the most pathological intent of the 21st century. One is tempted to conclude that investigative journalist Klein has simply over-looked another critical issue pertaining to the climate. Or perhaps Klein simply has no knowledge of this scheme. However, the word financialization does garner one vital mention—buried in the acknowledgements: “Two years ago, Rajiv and I were joined by Alexandra Tempus, another exceptional and diligent journalist and researcher. Alexandra quickly mastered her own roster of topics, from post–Superstorm Sandy disaster capitalism to financialization of nature to the opaque world of green group and foundation funding to climate impacts on fertility. She developed important new contacts, uncovered new and shocking facts, and always shared her thoughtful analysis.” (The single reference to ecosystems services within the book is found within one sentence on p 34: “Nor have the various attempts to soft-pedal climate action as compatible with market logic (carbon trading, carbon offsets, monetizing nature’s “services”) fooled these true believers one bit.”)
Further consider that in an Earth Island Institute “Conversation” with Naomi Klein (Fall, 2013) Klein is asked a direct question on monetizing ecosystem services. Interviewer to Klein: “It’s interesting because even as some of the Big Green groups have gotten enamored of the ideas of ecosystem services and natural capital, there’s this counter-narrative coming from the Global South and Indigenous communities. It’s almost like a dialectic.” Klein’s response is not only incoherent, she evades the question altogether:
“That’s the counternarrative, and those are the alternative worldviews that are emerging at this moment. The other thing that is happening … I don’t know what to call it. It’s maybe a reformation movement, a grassroots rebellion. There’s something going on in the [environmental] movement in the US and Canada, and I think certainly in the UK. What I call the “astronaut’s eye worldview” – which has governed the Big Green environmental movement for so long – and by that I mean just looking down at Earth from above. I think it’s sort of time to let go of the icon of the globe, because it places us above it and I think it has allowed us to see nature in this really abstracted way and sort of move pieces, like pieces on a chessboard, and really loose touch with the Earth. You know, it’s like the planet instead of the Earth.
And I think where that really came to a head was over fracking. The head offices of the Sierra Club and the NRDC and the EDF all decided this was a “bridge fuel.” We’ve done the math and we’re going to come out in favor of this thing. And then they faced big pushbacks from their membership, most of all at the Sierra Club. And they all had to modify their position somewhat. It was the grassroots going, “Wait a minute, what kind of environmentalism is it that isn’t concerned about water, that isn’t concerned about industrialization of rural landscapes – what has environmentalism become?” And so we see this grassroots, place-based resistance in the movements against the Keystone XL pipeline and the Northern Gateway pipeline, the huge anti-fracking movement. And they are the ones winning victories, right?
I think the Big Green groups are becoming deeply irrelevant. Some get a lot of money from corporations and rich donors and foundations, but their whole model is in crisis.”
Noblesse oblige indeed.
Klein’s contributions have not threatened capitalism; rather her efforts are utilized to not only protect it, but strengthen it.
Perhaps the icing on the cake that is the Rockefeller and Clinton 350.org/1Sky project, is as follows: Participation in the Clinton Global Initiative is by invitation only. The membership fee is $20,000 ($19,000 tax deductible) per year. 2014 annual meeting sponsors include HSBC, Barclays, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, Ford Foundation, Monsanto, Proctor and Gamble, The Rockefeller Foundation, Blackstone, Deutsche Bank, Dow, Exxon Mobil, and others. Clinton Global Initiative University includes McKibben’s Middlebury College within its network (“These 70 schools have pledged more than $800,000 to support CGI U 2015 student commitment-makers.”) Thus, it is of little surprise to find that in December of 2014, Global CEO cites both McKibben and Klein as those within the top ten list of “inspirational CSR leaders” as voted by their readers.
Identified in the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative membership along with princes, baronesses, heads of states, and CEOs are none other than:
- Mindy Lubber, President of Ceres, (In 2013, Morgan Stanley created the Institute for Sustainable Investing – Lubber serves on the Institute’s Advisory Board, which is chaired by Morgan Stanley’s Chairman and CEO James Gorman) (Stern Citi Leadership & Ethics Distinguished Fellow)
- Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation (Chair/president of Greenpeace and TckTckTck a.k.a. GCCA, International Advisory Council for 350.org and SumofUs)
- Billy Parish Coordinator, Co-Founder, Energy Action Coalition, (1Sky Board of Directors)
- Betsy Taylor, Chair 1Sky Campaign (Ceres Board of Directors, Greenpeace Board of Directors President of Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions,SumofUs Advisory Board)
- Lynne Twist, Trustee The John E. Fetzer Institute (Pachamama Alliance founder)
- Timothy Wirth President United Nations Foundation (Next System Initial Signatory)
“Who will be the Bill Gates of ecosystem services?” Read the full article: The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse
 “Accordingly, a nonprofit-corporate complex (based in international non-governmental organizations, NGOs) dominating an array of social services, many of which were performed by the state in the past, emerged as the third pillar of the triangular structure of contemporary imperialism during the 1980s. It represents a kind of “Third Way” on the part of capital that privatizes state functions and occupies key strategic points within civil society (co-opting social movements) while seemingly outside the realm of private capital—thereby enabling an acceleration of privatization and reinforcing the hegemony of monopoly-finance capital globally.” [Source]
 500,000 dead, 30,000 in terrorist-run prisons, 2.5 million exiled, tens of thousands of refugees.
[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, Counterpunch, Political Context, 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]