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False Hope: The Core Strategy of 350
April 27, 2016
By Jay Taber
Bomb train protest events are good. They help to remind people of the looming threat. Some of the participants might even get involved in politics, where decisions are made. Good for them.
That said, while taking selfies and holding placards is good clean fun that builds camaraderie, it is not the same as getting involved in electing authentic leaders and fighting government corruption. That takes a lot of hard work and sustained commitment over years, even decades.
So protests are a good start, but the point of protest is to do the research, education, and organizing that lead to effective community action and changes in public policy. Symbolic protests that generate delusional expectations, however, are in the long run disempowering. When unrealistic demands go nowhere, protestors become frustrated, cynical, and disheartened.
Social movement entrepreneurs, i.e. 350, know this. Indeed, organizing designer protests and vanity arrests, while making unrealistic demands, is the MO of 350. While disempowering of its followers, it appeals to these pious poseurs by making them feel righteous and forceful, while not asking them to make any real sacrifices. Endless protests and other staged 350 events also dissipate the energy of its followers, leaving them worn out before the real work begins.
The half-truth of the need to stop oil trains sets up 350 followers for the whole lie, i.e. “an end to fossil fuel development and an immediate transition to a renewable energy” that is absolutely infeasible—unless everyone is willing to stop driving cars, flying on planes, and heating their homes, while simultaneously growing all their own food and building their own housing from baked-mud bricks. For Wall Street NGOs, the nature of campaigns is to undermine movements.
The half-truth—whole lie strategy of 350, that promotes magical thinking like ending all fossil fuels is actually a textbook case of psychological warfare. As the core strategy of 350, the false hope of fossil-free renewable energy is complemented by the magical thinking of the end times of capitalism. This popular disinformation, drilled into the minds of 350 followers ad infinitum, is the core of 350 psywar that is essential to the privatization strategy of the financial elite.
You can see it in play with the false hope message that ‘capitalism is dying’. Really? It’s flourishing like never before. Just look at all the executive pay raises and people evicted by greedy slumlords driving up rents with venture capital used for gentrification. A pervasive term from those that flog false hope is ‘late-stage capitalism’, distorting the fact that capitalism is in its prime–stronger than ever. Another phrase false hope agent provocateurs use about this fantasy is that capitalism is now ‘winding itself down from system-level harms’, as though it wasn’t turbo-charged on total control of government institutions and rolling in stolen U.S. Treasury funds.
One of the magical ideas false hope promotes is that capitalism is dying because there is ‘no more profit to extract’. Jesus, where do they come up with this stuff? Capitalists are profiting hand-over-fist on everything from food to water to housing to medicine to energy with no end in sight. Do they think false hope followers aren’t paying rent and utility bills, or having to choose between food and medicine on their meager paychecks or social security benefits?
Lastly, the false hope pipe dream of ‘thriving prospects for all’ while we ‘live in harmony’ after the death of capitalism makes me wonder if they are smoking crack. Of course, they are not; they are preying on the misery of those who are desperate or gullible enough to fall for the core message of false hope, in order for their Wall Street paymasters to plunder what little we have left.
[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted Indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]