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The “Purpose” of “Consumer Activism” & COP21 – “We Mean Business”

Wrong Kind of Green

December 11 2015

We Mean Business Logo

 

“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.” — Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

The most critical of ecological nightmares – the key driving forces of climate change, those being first world consumption:

 

Interwoven with exploitation of Earth and her most vulnerable citizens and sentient beings, the continued genocide of Indigenous peoples as the caretakers of our lands and forests, the continued meltdown of Fukushima, are problems from a different world, a different lifetime.

They have no place amongst the negotiations led by 1% of the Earth’s population creating 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

The ultimate goal of course has now been achieved, the non-profit industrial complex (and those it feeds) having not only succeeded in establishing the global acquiescence for a third industrial revolution under the guise of “clean energy”, it manufactured a global demand – saving a suicidal economic system teetering on the verge of collapse. Rather than recognizing this is a  unique and rare opportunity in our history to allow and ensure this lethal economic system fails, all radical resistance (as activism) is now passé. In vogue is “activism as choice” for what technological solutions (i.e further consumption/growth) can “save” the humans species (of privilege).

On September 15, 2014, one week prior to the People’s Climate March in New York, Inside Climate News published the article Only $1 Trillion: Annual Investment Goal Puts Climate Solutions Within Reach. From the article:

“Leading up to the UN Climate Summit next week in New York, business groups and investors who manage trillions of dollars published reports and held meetings to call for action. Last week, investment groups publicized the creation of We Mean Business, an umbrella organization of investors urging world leaders to agree on a plan for fighting climate change.”

From the Climate Group (incubated by Rockefeller as in-house project that later evolved into a free-standing institution) website:

“The Climate Group is a proud partner of We Mean Business – a coalition of organizations working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses and investors.”

The founding partners of We Mean Business are:

  1. Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)
  2. CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project)
  3. Ceres
  4. The B Team (founded by Richard Branson)
  5. The Climate Group
  6. The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG)
  7. World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) [Further reading: http://bit.ly/1lBgbU0]

Together these organizations represent thousands of the worlds most powerful corporations and investors.

We Mean Business Network partners:

  1. Asset Owner Disclosure Project (AODP)
  2. CEBDS
  3. Climate Leadership Council (CLC)
  4. WWF Climate Savers
  5. EPC, Japan-CLP
  6. National Business Initiative
  7. Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)
  8. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)
  9. United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI)

We Mean Business working partnerships were formed with the following organizations:

  1. Carbon Tracker
  2. Carbon War Room
  3. Climate & Clean Air Coalition
  4. Climate Markets & Investments Association
  5. E3G
  6. Forum for the Future
  7. Global Alliance for Energy Productivity
  8. International Emissions Trading Association
  9. Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC/Ceres)
  10. Rocky Mountain Institute (now partnered with the Carbon War Room)
  11. The Business Council for Sustainable Energy
  12. The New Climate Economy
  13. The Shift Project
  14. United Nations Global Compact
  15. World Bank Group
  16. World Resources Institute

[Further reading: Building Acquiescence for the Commodification of the Commons Under the Banner of a “New Economy”]

Ceres, a founding member of We Mean Business is a key partner of the 350.org divestment campaign which was created in consultation with the organizations “friends on Wall Street“. Ceres, 350,org, B Team, Avaaz, The Climate Group, We Mean Business and CDP are all “Earth to Paris” partners. (“Earth To Paris, a coalition of partners helping to drive awareness about the connection between people and planet as well as the need for strong climate action, announced it will host “Earth To Paris—Le Hub” a two-day, high-impact, live-streamed summit on 7 and 8 December in Paris during COP21 — the United Nations climate conference to deliver a new universal climate change agreement.”) [Source]

The ideologies espoused by “We Mean Business” are transparent in the following (01:40) interview with Avaaz & Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans by We Mean Business.

“We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.” — Jeremy Heimans, Purpose, 2011

September 15, 2014, This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe:

“What you are about to witness is the global mobilization of “consumers” to be ushered into the green economy, without SAYING it is the green economy. The climate parade in NYC, coinciding with the release of 350’s Naomi Klein’s new book, is the launching pad.

 

The kings and queens of hegemony have rolled the dice and placed their bets on Avaaz, 350.org and Naomi Klein (350.org board member) to usher in the illusory green economy under the guise of a so-called “new economy.” Their winning bet is that author Naomi Klein’s latest book will be the vehicle that ignites their new economy, and thus “changes everything.”

 

It is not by accident that foundation-financed “progressive” media and those within the non-profit industrial complex are heavily promoting Klein’s upcoming book release with multiple side events. It is not by accident that Avaaz’s latest petition titled The Global People’s Climate March has strategically modified the This Changes Everything book title to “Join to Change Everything” and “To change everything, it takes everyone.” Note the similar language employed by WWF: “To change everything, we need everyone.”

The fact that the Peoples Climate March was designed and orchestrated as a mass mobilization social engineering experiment financed by the oligarchs to”change everything” (expand capital and existing power structures) is captured in the (01:40 minute) video titled We Mean Business Momentum:

“And hundreds of thousands of people marched in New York City and all across the world. The momentum became contagious.”

 

The dystopian focus on perpetual growth via consumption as the solution to climate change is clear in the following We Mean Business video (3:40). Also note the reference to “Natural Capital” which is code for the global privatization of nature via payments for ecosystems services (PES) which is currently being implemented into policies behind closed doors.

“It won’t be about sacrifice. It will be about a new era of clean abundance.” — Steve Howard, Ikea

Activist Kevin Hester writes: “It is always worth looking for pearls of truth where the hubris and arrogance of the spin doctors lets them down… ‘the future of consumer activism’ … there you have it, the scam laid bare, they can never disown the market.”

This begets the question: is “the future of consumer activism” (under the guise of a “new economy”) already here?

sacrilege-2 (2)

Klein OECD

Photo: 24 November 2015: Naomi Klein (left) and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In January 1998 Mexican President Zedillo appointed Jose Angel Gurria as Minister of Finance. “One top official at Nomura Securities summed up Wall Street’s euphoria upon hearing of Gurria’s appointment. ‘He’s one of ours.’” Gurría also negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which came into force on January 1, 1994. [Further reading: Our “Man in Mexico” and the Chiapas Massacre]

Indeed the foundation has been laid. After all, Naomi Klein’s book and film project (financed by the same oligarchs who bestow billions of dollars upon the non-profit industrial complex) was not made available for free in an exclusive online format. The book, a #1 international bestseller is being translated into 25 languages. Millions of books, driving and flying to international climate events/parades, social metrics, and a multitude of other foundation financed “activist” activities, all assist in the propping up of a capitalist economic system that is “flying at close to stall speed“. 

+++

[Further reading: The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

 

COVID-19 as a Weapon. The Crushing of the Disposable Working Class – by Design

April 13, 2020

 

By Cory Morningstar

 

[Due to the urgent need for the dissemination of this information, the following research is being presented in a simple concise format, similar to a timeline.]

 

“The largest economic transformation in the history of mankind”

 

The arrogance and brutality of the ruling class – is nothing less than breathtaking.

Let’s begin.

April 9 2020, Business Insider: “Many Americans will not have jobs to return to after the coronavirus pandemic ends, according to former US presidential candidate Andrew Yang”:

“Many Americans will not have jobs to return to after the coronavirus pandemic ends…”

 

“We’re going to see something like 10 years of change in 10 weeks…”

 

“The fact is right now this virus is the perfect environment for companies to get rid of people, bring in robots and machines, and figure out how they can operate more efficiently.”

 

“Universal basic income is going to become the topic, not just here in the United States, but Spain’s adopting a version of a minimum income. Legislatures around Europe are all very, very much focused on this.”

 

“We’re going to see the progressive Amazonification of our economy as Amazon’s one of the only businesses out there that’s hiring more and more. You’re seeing more robots are in grocery store aisles cleaning after we all supposedly go home…”

 

“One thing I’ve been saying is that we’re going to see something like 10 years of change in 10 weeks, because businesses are being put in a position where it makes sense to speed up a lot of the automation that they were considering investing in.”

 

“The fact is right now this virus is the perfect environment for companies to get rid of people, bring in robots and machines, and figure out how they can operate more efficiently.”

 

“My kids are at home just like everyone else’s kids and they’re getting taught online…they’re going to be many, many families that actually make a different determination where they actually say, “Hey, this online thing is working well.”

 

“If you can find a way to, frankly, make yourself useful from afar, that’s going to be something that unfortunately we all have to think about more and more.”

 

“I think at this point it’s actually going to need to be a bit higher than that, because the $1,000 a month is enough for baseline needs for at least most of us, but the economy is going to become even more inhuman and punishing, both during this crisis and afterwards.”

 

“… I’d be looking at something higher than $1,000 a month that would be more robust & helping people not just be able to meet their needs, but also have a real path forward.”

 

“we’re going to be dealing with the consequences of this crisis for years to come, and we need a Marshal Plan style initiative to rebuild the country… helping create that vision for what America in 2022, 2023, is going to look like after we have a vaccine in place.”

March 31 2020, Business Insider: “RESTAURANT APOCALYPSE: More than 110,000 restaurants expect to close up forever in the coming weeks, with millions out of work and the industry’s future uncertain.”

And while the Amazonification of our economy ploughs full steam ahead, independent shops and services are pounded into dust, while public services are shut down, opening the door for further privatization. While prepping the citizenry for coming and required “certifications”, the deliberate and violent contraction of the economy continues. The decimation of small enterprise with monetary wealth directed, again, upward. McDonald’s, Starbucks and Walmart (“essential services”) remain open while small business is forced to remain closed. On April 13 2020, Amazon announced they would hire Amazon will hire an additional 75,000 workers to keep up with its soaring volume of online sales.

 

Andrew Yang, Twitter, April 9, 2020: "Investors pay for returns not jobs."

Andrew Yang, Twitter, April 9, 2020: “Investors pay for returns not jobs.”

 

"Wow. Pope Francis today: 'This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage.' Game-changing."

“Wow. Pope Francis today: ‘This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage.’ Game-changing.”

 

A brilliant idea: We all live on $1,000 a month – when Klaus Schwab, Andrew Yang, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Bezos, et al. – live on $1,000 a month. The rich are dangerous, calculating, insane hypocrites.

April 12 2020, Business Insider: “Pope Francis says it might be ‘time to consider a universal basic wage’ in Easter letter”:

“In an Easter letter to leaders of prominent social movements, Pope Francis suggested that it might be time for countries to consider a universal basic wage.

 

“This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out,” The Pope wrote in his letter.

 

Over a dozen countries are implementing or experimenting with some form of temporary or permanent universal basic income in response to the current economic devastation and massive unemployment.”

Feb 28 2020, Business Insider:

“The pope has joined forces with Microsoft and IBM to create a doctrine for ethical AI and facial recognition. Here’s how the Vatican wants to shape AI.”

The Pope’s collaboration with corporate giant Microsoft and the Vatican Bank is deep into social impact investing. Citizens on UBI [Universal Basic Income] will still require privatized public services – a massive impact market. [Source]

Impact investing is predicated on turning people into investments as human capital. [Further reading]

Middle class? They’re coming after you too.

Oct 18 2019, Slate MoneyBox, Andrew Yang Keeps Talking About the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What the Heck Is That?:

“Yang likes branding. He calls his marquee policy idea—a UBI of $1,000 a month—a “freedom dividend.” …And lately, he can’t stop talking about “the fourth industrial revolution.”

 

“The fourth industrial revolution is the shorthand Yang now uses to describe the wave of massive technological change that he believes has decimated manufacturing employment and will soon automate away millions of American jobs.”

 

“The fourth industrial revolution is now migrating from manufacturing workers to retail, call centers, transportation, as well as to white-collar workers like attorneys, pharmacists, and radiologists…”

 

“In a World Economic Forum video from 2016, experts offered up predictions such as ‘Our bodies will be so high-tech we won’t really be able to distinguish between what’s natural and what’s artificial…'”

 

“It’s self-serious, Star Trek–style sci-fi for people who wear expensive suits and maybe have an endowed lab at Harvard. These are the intellectual waters Yang swims in, and that’s disconcerting. Aside from the fact that these conferences tend to be pretty intellectually bankrupt”—even JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has joked that “Davos is where billionaires tell millionaires about what the middle class feels”—they by definition reflect the interests and values of the global capitalist class.”

June 20 2019, World Economic Forum: “Can UBI survive financialization?”:

“Following this pattern, by providing a stable income stream and thus a reliable form of collateral, paid by the state, UBI would strengthen and even create financial markets, particularly for consumer credit, mortgages, and pensions. Far from serving as a revolutionary route to freedom from the whip of the market, UBI may end up yoking all citizens to rentier capital through indebtedness.”

Jan 31 2019, Wrench in the Gears, “Good Guy in Davos? Not So Fast”:

” This panel and the viral video clips flying around the internet are a brand-building exercise for Bergman’s neoliberal snake oil. If UBI is implemented in the current climate of austerity, economic precarity, and social entrepreneurship, you can be sure payments will be linked to digital identity to track “impact.” That $1,000 a month distribution will be just enough to scrape by. But hey, you’ll be able to sell personal data if you want more than gruel for dinner. Check out the Netherlands’ foray into personal data curation via the DecodeProject.eu here. It’s being run in partnership with NESTA, the global impact innovation unit out of the UK.”

March 26 2020, The London Freepress: “Keep it quiet, but universal basic income is coming”:

“You think that after six months or a year of this we will just go back tamely to the old economic rules? I rather doubt it.”

 

The rise of fascism & the 2nd World War required the creation of the full welfare state… The current emergency may be fostering the rise of ideas previously seen as too radical to contemplate…”

July 31, 2017, World Economic Forum, “We should let the robots take our jobs – and then pay us all a basic income”:

“As developments in artificial intelligence and robotics advance, there is going to be a severe and swift disruption of many working classes.”

 

“UBI, an economic proposition in which a sum of money is regularly paid to a population, could be a vital bulwark against the unintended consequences of automation in the workforce.”

 

“Companies will profit significantly from workforce automation, so the private sector will be able to afford shouldering this burden, while at the same time still making greater profits.”

 

“After all, a full-time human has needs: 30 minutes for lunch each day, vacation and sick time, toilet breaks, and health benefits, to name a few. Meanwhile, an automated worker would only require an initial installation and the occasional repair or upgrade.”

 

“The BCG report stated that a human welder today is paid around $25 an hour (including benefits) versus the equivalent operating cost of around $8 for a robot.”

 

“In 15 years, that gap will widen even more dramatically,” the report states. “The operating cost per hour for a robot doing similar welding tasks could plunge to as little as $2 when performance improvements are factored in.”

 

“This trend will only continue to accelerate. McDonald’s, an early pioneer of automation, is already replacing human workers with automated kiosks. They expect a 5% to 9% return on investment in just the first year; in 2019 they expect this return to balloon to double digits.”

 

“And this is only one sector: PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that 38% of US jobs will be in danger of being replaced by automation by 2030.”

 

“Companies that automate their workforces should be taxed on these new massive profits, and some of the resulting capital given back to workers by the government in the form of UBI.”

 

“While the idea of a UBI is popular—Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates have all championed it—how exactly would a universal basic income be engineered?

 

“Large swaths of laborers are going to lose their jobs, leading to unprecedented levels of unemployment.”

That moment has arrived.

March 18 2020: Over 500 academics and public figures called on governments to implement universal basic income via an open letter: “It is time for governments to enact emergency universal basic income, ensuring that everyone in their jurisdiction has enough money to buy the food and other essentials they need to survive.”

 Close to 50% of all U.S. jobs may be automated this decade. Globally? Over 50% by 2055. A disposable working class.

Close to 50% of all U.S. jobs may be automated this decade. Globally? Over 50% by 2055. A disposable working class.

 

McKinsey places the number of jobs to be replaced by automation at close to 50% by 2030. The COVID-19 virus provides an opportune moment to push the envelope of automation forward.

April 9 2020: “Global statistics reported by UNESCO reveal that since the last week of March roughly 1.7 billion students from pre-primary to tertiary education levels are out of school, affecting 91.3 percent of all enrolled learners and including every student in 188 countries that have mandated nationwide closures. With most schools set to remain closed through the rest of the current academic year, the scale of these closures is unprecedented in the history of world capitalism.”

We must recognize we live in a capitalist economic system that serves capital first & foremost. Further, it is imperative to recognize that the UN & UN agencies, inclusive of the WHO (WEF/Gates), exist in name only. The WEF is at the helm of a consolidation of global power.

We must recognize we live in a capitalist economic system that serves capital first & foremost. Further, it is imperative to recognize that the UN & UN agencies, inclusive of the WHO (WEF/Gates), exist in name only. The WEF is at the helm of a consolidation of global power.

 

January 2020, World Economic Forum: “The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

March 2020, McKinsey & Co: “Beyond coronavirus: The path to the next normal”:

“The crisis will reveal not just vulnerabilities but opportunities to improve the performance of businesses. Leaders will need to reconsider which costs are truly fixed versus variable, as the shutting down of huge swaths of production sheds light on what is ultimately required versus nice to have. Decisions about how far to flex operations without loss of efficiency will likewise be informed by the experience of closing down much of global production. Opportunities to push the envelope of technology adoption will be accelerated by rapid learning about what it takes to drive productivity when labor is unavailable. The result: a stronger sense of what makes business more resilient to shocks, more productive, and better able to deliver to customers.”

April 4, 2020: “This pandemic has optimized the “testing” of robots and drones in broad daylight …Zoom’s video conferencing platform has detonated in popularity as stay-at-home commands have cleared the globe and some of the credit for having the option to keep up with demand goes to automation…’We have automation set up so we can rapidly scale our foundation, the network as well as the compute infrastructure with next to no human intercession’… the organization is getting enthusiasm for purchasing robots to clean office spaces, production floors, retail locations, grocery stores, airports, lodgings and cafés.” [Source]

March 23 2020, CNBC, “Inside the hospital in China where coronavirus patients were treated by robots”

“The idea of humanoid robots taking jobs previously done by humans may feel dystopian, but in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, robots can free up human hospital medical staff and limit the possibility virus spread…

 

For a time in March, “a previously human-run field hospital located inside Hong Shan Sports Center located in Wuhan was converted … into a robot-led field hospital staffed entirely by robots and other smart [Internet of Things] devices,” CloudMinds CEO and founder Bill Huang tells CNBC Make It, in a statement…

 

Called HARIX (Human Augmented Robot Intelligence with eXtreme Reality), “this AI platform, synced with smart bracelets and rings worn by patients, was able to monitor patient vital signs (including temperature, heart rate, blood oxygen levels), allowing doctors and nurses outside the facility to monitor all patient vital information remotely on one interface…”

April 7, 2020: Morningstar: “Spain to become first European country to introduce Universal Basic Income”.

Jan 26 2018, World Economic Forum, “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World Global Agenda”:

“… with some economists suggesting that automation could potentially replace over half of all jobs by 2055… the disruption to workers’ lives will be significant.”

Sep 24 2019, António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations:

“And we must look at the 2030 Agenda not through the prism of the economy of the last decade, but the economy of the next decade, seizing the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and safeguarding against its dangers.”

Here it is important to note that also on March 11, 2020, the World Economic Forum announced a partnership with the WHO (a UN agency) to form the COVID-19 Action Platform – a task-force comprised of over 200 corporations at launch, which as has “soared to 726“, as of March 28, 2020. This is in addition to the World Economic Forum partnership with the United Nations on June 13, 2019. This is the consolidation of global power, happening in real time.

April 7 2020, CNN: “Grocery stores turn to robots during the coronavirus”:

“Walmart, the country’s largest retailer & private employer, will have Brain Corp’s self-driving robots in 1,860 of its more than 4,700 US stores by the end of the year.”

 

“Workers manually picking, bagging and delivering is costly for grocers, and employees picking orders can clog up aisles.”

 

“Takeoff Technologies… has seen a double-digit increase in orders since the crisis began. “Robots handle a majority of the leg-work when fulfilling orders, meaning there is limited contact with grocery items… The process is “well suited” for social distancing.”

 

“In the retail industry, “margin pressure has made automation a requirement, not a choice,” according to McKinsey. ‘Automation will disproportionately disrupt retail.'”

March 25 2020, CNN: “Robots could help us combat future pandemics. Here’s how experts wish they could help us now”:

“Experts agree that robots could take over the “dull, dirty and dangerous” jobs humans are currently fulfilling.

 

Countries such as China have already deployed robots to assist with certain tasks during the pandemic, like taking people’s temperatures…

 

Robots currently used for other applications could be repurposed to handle dangerous tasks that involve a risk of infection. And the coronavirus pandemic serves as a teachable moment…

 

“Robots have the potential to be deployed for disinfection, delivering medications and food, measuring vital signs, and assisting border controls,” …

 

They can be used to take temperatures of people in public areas or at ports of entry, collect nasal and throat samples for testing, act as telemedicine assistants, handle contaminated waste and even monitor compliance with voluntary quarantines.

 

The editorial also addresses remote operations that allow work and socioeconomic functions to continue. The authors call for robotics that could assist with manufacturing or operating power and waste treatment plants, doing the hands-on work and allowing people to remotely operate them.

 

Remote presence robots could also stand in the place of someone in a meeting, basically providing their presence through a video screen.

 

“COVID-19 may become the tipping point of how future organizations operate,” the researchers wrote. “Rather than cancelling large international exhibitions and conferences, new forms of gathering — virtual rather than in-person attendance — may increase. Virtual attendees may become accustomed to remote engagement via a variety of local robotic avatars and controls.”

 

The pandemic is also highlighting a need for assistance and social robots to help those at home, especially the elderly.

 

Social robots can not only monitor patients and make sure they adhere to treatments, but provide much-needed social interactions as well.”

In addition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution 2020 reset, we have the coming “New Deal For Nature” to be implemented at years  end, or perhaps sooner under the pretext of emergency measures. The feigned concern for climate and biodiversity by those that serve them, is, to be blunt, complete bullshit. There is nothing to be found within the Fourth Industrial Revolution dystopia in regard to nature – other than her financialization and objectification. She too will be placed on the blockchain. Here, man’s arrogance is on full display – with plans to cover the Earth’s surface with artificial forests and drone bees, while cordoning off what they have not yet plundered – for their own personal leisure.

Source: UNLOCKING THE INCLUSIVE GROWTH STORY OF THE 21ST CENTURY: ACCELERATING CLIMATE ACTION IN URGENT TIMES, August, 2018 New Climate Economy c/o World Resources Institute

Source: UNLOCKING THE INCLUSIVE GROWTH STORY OF THE 21ST CENTURY: ACCELERATING CLIMATE ACTION IN URGENT TIMES, August, 2018, New Climate Economy (World Resources Institute)

 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the monetization of nature, is being rolled out in lockstep with the deployment of central bank digital currency (CBDC). This is a global transformation of the economic system. Consider nature “valued” at 125 trillion vs. GDP at 85.9 trillion (2018). “Natural Capital” accounting will replace GDP.

 

 

“Coronavirus hysteria provides cover for introducing UBI, a grand theft from the working class…. Notorious fraudster Johann Hari is now touting the UBI scam as an “anti-depressant.”[@cordeliers on Twitter]

April 10, 2020, Newsday: “Pandemic strengthens the case for universal basic income”:

“Subsidizing low-wage work depresses wages by essentially allowing employers to pay less than a livable wage, so EITC-type benefits are at least in part a transfer to employers, rather than workers.”

April 3, 2020, The Wall Street Journal: “Henry Kissinger – The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order”:

“Democracies need to sustain their Enlightenment values. Without balancing power with legitimacy, social contract will disintegrate. Yet the issue of legitimacy can’t be settled at same time as this “plague”….Priorities must be established.”

Nov 15 2016, Socialist Project: “Ontario’s Austerity Government Sets Basic Income Trap”:

“While a progressive Basic Income is not on the cards, its free market evil twin is a real and very dangerous possibility. Under this neoliberal model, an inadequate and dwindling BI payment is provided that absolves low wage employers from the obligation of paying living wages and becomes the only element of social provision left in place. You become a customer shopping in a market place of privatized services. Who could really deny that this right wing version is much closer to presently unfolding reality than the hopes and dreams of left BI enthusiasts?”

Jan 2 2017, Socialist Project: “Basic Income -Progressive Dreams Meet Neoliberal Realities”

“Basic Income, when all is said and done, is a vision for nothing more than the means to be a customer in an unjust society that decides what is for sale.”

 

“It’s really about the commodification of social provision. Your payment may actually be less conditional and somewhat larger but, as you shop through the privatized remains of the social infrastructure, with inadequate means and very few rights, you are dramatically worse off…

 

… it is sometimes asserted that an adequate system of provision must be put in place simply because we are moving toward a “workless future.” In such a society, it is suggested, masses of people who have been displaced will have to be provided for and the capitalists will have to think like Elon Musk, of Tesla Motors and support BI because it is the only sensible and rational solution. To imagine such responsible provision for the future is to place undue faith in a system based on the making of profit. If they won’t stop building pipelines in the face of environmental catastrophe, there’s little reason to expect them to worry too much about sensible solutions to technological displacement. There simply is no post-capitalist capitalism and no social policy innovation that is going to bring it about…

 

I am suggesting that our movements need to challenge, rather than come to terms with, the neoliberal order and the capitalist system that has produced it. For all its claims to be a sweeping measure, the notion of progressive BI is a futile attempt to make peace with that system. In reality, even that compromise is not available. The model of BI that governments are working on in their social policy laboratories will not ‘end the tyranny of the labour market’ but render it more dreadful. The agenda of austerity and privatization requires a system of income support that renders people as powerless and desperate as possible in the face of exploitation and that won’t change if it is relabelled as “Basic Income”.”

When we all start to literally starve (some already have, and many more have been for decades), perhaps then – we will eat the rich.

The question is this? Do you still believe that these people actually give a flying fuck about your health?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution cannot come into fruition without the 5G infrastructure that will run the Internet of Things. “Smart” cities must be understood within the context of global policing and the military industrial complex. Cybersecurity will be the battle space of the twenty-first century.

This is class war.

In closing:

The future, is now on our doorstep: All “human capital” is to be controlled “via digital identity systems tied to cashless benefit payments within the context of a militarized 5G / IoT [Internet of Things]/ AR [augmented reality] environment. The billionaire class has built & is rapidly putting the finishing touches on infrastructure to run human capital social impact markets that will securitize the lives of most people as data streams. The tech that underlies this 4IR automation will hasten the death of the planet. World Economic Forum is advancing a technocratic system of control & domination of humanity & the planet… Why should we agree to this? It is a profound sickness of Western culture. Hubris. Sick. And totally ignoring the impact our actions have on the natural world around us.” – Independent researcher Alison Hawver McDowell, Wrench in the Gears

 

Further reading:

Q: What does Imperial College, the World Economic Forum (WEF), Salesforce, Sinovation Ventures (Chinese technology venture capital), ABB (automation technology), global artificial intelligence (AI), all have in common?

A: Vaccines, emerging markets, gene editing – via the Fourth Industrial Revolution:

https://www.facebook.com/cory.morningstar.5/posts/10163663016445554

Global capital intends to turn our children (& all life) into data commodities. The intent is portfolios of human capital – children as human capital data. All life will be commodified on blockchain, linking behaviour to benefits:

https://www.facebook.com/cory.morningstar.5/posts/10163687281020554

 

[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 and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: They Mean Business [Volume II, Act IV]

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: They Mean Business [Volume II, Act IV]

September 17, 2019

By Cory Morningstar

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent series has been written in two volumes.

[Volume I: ACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT VACT VIAddenda I] [Book form]

[Volume II: An Object Lesson In SpectacleACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT V • ACT VI] [ACTS VII & VIII forthcoming]

• A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign [A Short Story] [Oct 2 2019]

• The Global Climate Strikes: No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline [Oct 6 2019]

 

 

We Mean Business

Above: On February 20, 2019, We Mean Business promoted the “It’s Going to Be Tremendous” podcast series via its Twitter account. The podcast series co-hosted by Christiana Figueres features interviews with We Mean Business CEO Nigel Topping, Greta Thunberg and Jane Goodall. Funding for Global Optimism is provided by We Mean Business.

The founding partners of We Mean Business are Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) (full membership and associate members list), CDP, Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) [1], and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). Together, these organizations represent the most powerful – and ruthless – corporations on the planet, groups salivating to unleash 100 trillion dollars to fuel the fourth industrial revolution.

We Mean Business represents 477 investors with 34 trillion USD in assets. [July 4, 2019]

Above: The We Mean Business co-founders

Nigel Topping is the CEO of the We Mean Business Coalition, a founding member of the We Mean Business board, as well as the former executive director of CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project). CDP is “a global NGO which has brought together 655 of the world’s investors, representing assets under management of over $78 trillion, to engage with over 6000 of the largest public corporations on the business implications of climate change.” [Source] ClimateWorks [Act I] shares the physical address, inclusive of suite, of both the CDP (West, Americas) and the Climate Policy Initiative (CPI). [235 Montgomery Street, Suite 1300, San Francisco, CA 94104][CPI Website][CDP website]

Topping also serves on the boards of several institutions, including the Science-Based Targets Initiative, the Energy Transitions Commission, the Grantham Institute, the London Pension Funds Authority, and Daimler. [LinkedIn]

In order to support the implementation of its work, We Mean Business collaborates with a number of other organizations. The implementation partners of We Mean Business include the World Resources Institute, WWF, the Rocky Mountain Institute, the United Nations Global Compact, and C40 Cities [2] while network partners include the New Climate Economy, Mission 2020, E3G, the United Nations Environment Programme, and the World Bank. [Full list]

Sitting on the We Mean Business Board are Peter Bakker, WBCSD president; Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group; Aron Cramer, CEO of BSR; Steve Howard (co-chair), former chief sustainability officer for IKEA; Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres; Paul Simpson, CEO of CDP; Halla Tómasdóttir, CEO of The B Team; Nigel Topping, CEO of We Mean Business; Eliot Whittington, director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group; and Celine Herweijer (co-chair), partner and global innovation and sustainability leader of PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers).

The We Mean Business Compliance Committee consists of the aforementioned Steve Howard; Bruce Boyd, principal and senior managing director at Arabella Advisors; Elizabeth McKeon, head of strategy at IKEA Foundation; and Michael Northrop, sustainable development program director at Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

The We Mean Business Corporate Advisory Group includes representatives from UltraTech Cement, Mahindra, BT (British Telecom), Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Community Energy England, Unilever, Interface, CLP Group (China Light and Power Co), Iberdrola, IKEA, and Yes Bank. [Source]

The We Mean Business Coalition was launched in 2014 by Steve Howard who had previously set up The Climate Group in 2003.

Howard served as chief sustainability officer (CSO) at IKEA Group having served on IKEA’s Executive Group Management from 2011-2017. In addition to co-chairing We Mean Business, Howard sits on the board of SE4ALL (Sustainable Energy For All) and serves as co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Environmental and Natural Resource Security. [Further reading: Fit for whose purpose? Private funding and corporate influence in the United Nations, Sustainable Energy For All, pp. 86-96]

Above: Image from We Mean Business April 2019 edition newsletter

We Mean Business & Purpose Create the Climate Campaign Lab

 

 

 

New Power: “The ability to harness the connected crowd to get what you want”

 

Jeremy Heimans, co-founder Purpose/Avaaz, B Team expert [Source]

The June 12, 2018 We Mean Business article “Profiles of Paris: Steve Howard on helping business be a force for good” shares the history of those who assisted in the formation of the We Mean Business coalition:

“Hannah and I reached out to others, to leaders at the Climate Group, Ceres, WBCSD, BSR, and CDP, CLG and the B Team. Some of us met at the fringes of Climate Week NYC and then in October 2013, this group of busy people travelled to a small hotel in Wassenaar in the Netherlands to spend a weekend planning something different…”

Howard outlines the assistance in forming We Mean Business provided by three main NGOs: World Resources Institute, Greenpeace, and WWF, as well as two pivotal institutions that assisted, ITUC and the UNFCCC.

“Dominic Waughray [bio] and the WEF team supported us (a lot) at Davos where we met again. (The WEF team through initiatives such as the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders have been hugely effective in promoting business action on climate). We reached out to other business leaders, friends in Unilever, Marks and Spencer, DSM, Swiss Re and others. We talked through our plans with, Andrew Steer at WRI, Kumi Nadoo in Greenpeace, Sam Smith in WWF and Sharan Burrow from ITUC and Christiana Figueres in the UNFCCC. Sam had worked with the Climate seven group of NGOs and was generous with her advice on coalition building. We met as a group with the climate seven. We needed to make sure that if we had a super business coalition on climate change that it was genuinely credible with civil society leaders…”

Howard further discloses that the initial funding for We Mean Business came from IKEA, a founding partner in Macron’s Climate Finance Partnership:

“I spoke at length with Per Heggenes at IKEA Foundation and he could see we had a powerful idea. Per gave me a slot of the limited time at his next board meeting…A few minutes later the board agreed to 20 million Euros…When you have to move fast there is little or no time for mistakes. I asked people I really trusted if they would step up and amongst others Jim Walker bravely agreed to be seconded from the Climate Group as secretariat CEO, and Callum Grieve, who I had worked with on the launch of Climate Week NYC a few years before, stepped in on communications.”

Howard confirms the corporate uptake, not only for Climate Week NYC 2014, but for the People’s Climate March:

“We Mean Business launched at Climate Week NYC 2014. Together with the new IKEA Group CEO Peter Agnefjäll, we joined the Climate March, with other business leaders from Virgin, Unilever, NRG, Patagonia and many others. IKEA colleagues promoted the People’s Climate March on the IKEA home page in twenty countries. We had reached out to business contacts everywhere. Tim Cook from Apple joined us on the Climate Week stage to be interviewed by Christiana Figueres…”

Climate Week NYC 2019 sponsors and partners include, but are not limited to: Salesforce, McKinsey, Bank of America, Unilever, IKEA, ClimateWorks, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Global Citizen (youth and climate activism partner), We Mean Business, and the UN Climate Action Summit. [3] [Source]

Here, Howard’s full disclosure on the relationship with Purpose – the for-profit public relations arm of Avaaz, specializing in behavioural change, “new power” and “ownerless movements” – is striking. Again, we see the theme of corporations and civil society uniting as one under the banner of climate:

“Alongside We Mean Business, Hannah and I had been working with the communications and campaign organisation Purpose to set up a climate campaign lab. We wanted bold breakthrough messages that people would mobilize behind. Purpose were looking at the creation or amplification of ownerless memes and 100% renewable really caught their attention. It got wider traction. And on the final run up to Paris “100% Renewable” got lifted even further and became the call to action for Greenpeace, Avaaz and others. Hundreds of businesses and civil society organisations with the same message so loud and clear you could not miss it.

Howard cites the corporations and monies involved at an early stage, as well as the assistance from Jim Walker, director of partnerships at Sustainable Energy for All. Walker is a co-founder of The Climate Group as well as the founding CEO of We Mean Business. He sits on the advisory board of Energy Unlocked (“Our 2016 EPIC project and platform was supported by ClimateWorks Foundation”), IronOak Energy and Green Collar Foods, and is the executive director of Thirst. In 2014, he established the Climate Mobilization Fund “to assist the IKEA Foundation and others in mobilizing business and civil society action on climate change”:

“At the beginning of 2015, Jim Walker moved to manage the coalition’s funding and Nigel Topping jumped from CDP into the CEO role for the secretariat… As I write this in March 2018, more than 700 companies, with a market capitalisation of over US$15.7 trillion have made more than 1,170 commitments…”

In addition, Walker serves as an advisor to the Purpose Climate Lab. [Source] [Source]

Prior to Paris, the IKEA Foundation doubled its annual funding for the We Mean Business initiative. A press release announcing IKEA’s additional gift of 1 billion EUR “to finance climate action” by 2020 was understood as a means to place “positive pressure” on governments:

“The June before Paris [2015] there was a climate finance meeting of negotiators in Bonn: negotiations were slow. After the decision on We Mean Business, the IKEA Foundation board had just decided to double its annual funding, with an extra 100 million Euros per year going to climate change by 2020. Alongside an IKEA group commitment to a further 600 million Euros into wind and solar energy we had a commitment of 1 billion Euros to finance climate action by 2020. Real, additional money. We announced the 1 billion Euros in Bonn. Yes, the press coverage was good, but we did it for the moment, to put positive pressure on governments.”

In the same way, Greta Thunberg and the climate strikes amplify the “positive pressure” strategy. That is the rationale behind the generous media exposure afforded to the strikes. Rather than the “solutions” appearing top down, they are perceived as being driven by society. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Encouraging the citizenry to bask under the illusion that the ruling elite must answer to the populace, this quickly transforms into a heightened and euphoric feeling of new-found “people power” amongst the populace. It is in this defining moment that the “solutions” waiting in the wings, can finally emerge.

In the following paragraph, Howard is clear that the role of government to accommodate the “new climate economy” is to develop long-term, well-designed policy frameworks which corporations “can plan on and invest in”:

“We went to the Abu Dhabi Ascent: the pre-COP summit in January 2015. The dialogue between ministers and the private sector was a little limited. From memory, I think it was only Paul Polman (who was absolutely relentless on the run up to Paris) from Unilever and myself that spoke in plenary from the business community… For a business leader I made the rare interjection of saying, “you can regulate us, you can price carbon, you can tax us, but make it long, loud and legal.” We needed policy makers to understand, businesses do not like bureaucracy and red tape but they do like long-term well-designed policy frameworks that you can plan on and invest in

 

By the time of Paris the coalition partners were in lock-step. Ed Cameron from BSR (with great support from the policy folk in CLG, CERES and other partners) was working as policy director for the coalition and had worked across the teams to craft a business brief with 8 common policy asks. Business leaders were supported and the forward-thinking business community had a common message for negotiators… Many, many, business leaders worked either on the stage or behind the scenes… “

Acknowledging that “clear solid funding is a massive enabler” of the We Mean Business coalition, Howard recognizes those most involved. In the second paragraph, Howard expresses his gratitude to those belonging to NGOs and institutions:

“My greatest thanks go to the leaders of the partners, to Mindy Lubber [Ceres], Peter Bakker [President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)], Aron Cramer [President and CEO of BSR], Paul Simpson [CEO, CDP], Raj Joshi [The B Team], Keith Tuffley [Managing Partner & CEO The B Team], Sandrine Dixson-Declève [former Director of the EU Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change], Mark Kenber [CEO of The Climate Group] and Helen Clarkson [CEO of The Climate Group]. They took a risk. They took a more challenging path than going alone. Many others across the partners have played key roles, Leah Seligmann [The B Team] and Jean Oelwang [President and Trustee for Virgin Unite and Senior Partner at the B Team], Anne Kelly, Jill Duggan [Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group], Eliot Whittington [Prince of Wales’s UK Corporate Leaders Group], Damian Ryan, Lance Pierce [President of CDP North America] and Maria Mendiluce [WBCSD].

 

Others deserve our thanks for their partnership and encouragement, Andrew Steer at WRI, Kumi Naidoo, then at Greenpeace, Achim Steiner, Dominic Waughray and the WEF team, Sam Smith and colleagues in WWF, the wider climate seven, Sharan Burrow from ITUC for always building bridges and community and Christiana Figueres and the team at the UNFCCC for creating space.”

Inclusive of Dominic Waughray, who leads Global Public Goods (which “seeks to help shape the existing global governance architecture by adapting to today’s multipolar reality and working to encourage more private-sector capital, entrepreneurship and Fourth Industrial Revolution innovation into public-private cooperation”) all of the institutions recognized by Howard, have been disclosed in the Manufacturing for Consent series as the leading institutions behind the elite-sought fourth industrial revolution as a means to reboot the global economic system, coupled with the coming financialization of nature.

Above: We Mean Business, October 5, 2015, Twitter

 

We Mean Business Co-founder – The B Team

 

The B Team, co-founded by Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz (former CEO of Puma SE), was formed and incubated by Branson’s Virgin Unite and partner organizations in 2013.

Major funders of The B Team include the Ford FoundationKering GroupGuilherme LealStrive MasiyiwaJoann McPikeThe Tiffany and Co. FoundationThe Rockefeller FoundationUnilever and Virgin Unite.

Other major financial supporters at inception included billionaire Derek Handley (CEO of B Team upon launch) and One Young World co-founded by David Jones. Jones is the former CEO of Havas Media and co-creator of the 2009 TckTckTck campaign. Jones, “B Team expert”, is also the founder of You & Mr Jones, a holding company that is one-part venture capitalist, one-part consultancy and one-part agency. The consultancy arm is Blood “the world’s first brandtech™ group”. Jones is the author of Who Cares Wins and served on the Facebook Client Council. In 2019, You & Mr Jones purchased a majority stake in Oliver owner Inside Ideas Group for an estimated $200m. Oliver’s biggest client is Unilever. [Source]

Above: TckTckTck Flickr: “The Press Conference of the ‘Beds are Burning’ Launch in Paris was well attended as Kofi Annan, David Jones, Mélanie Laurent, Manu Katché and many other supporters of the campaign made their appearance.”

The B Team Leaders are as follows:

  • Arianna Huffington: founder of The Huffington Post, founder and CEO of Thrive Global
  • Christiana Figueres: Convener of Mission 2020, vice chair of the Global Covenant of MayorsClimate Leader for the World Bank, Distinguished Fellow of Conservation International, board member of Climate Works and the World Resources Institute, member of the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health
  • David Crane: investor and strategic advisor
  • Emmanuel Faber: chairman and chief executive officer of Danone
  • François-Henri Pinault: CEO and chairman of luxury brand Kering
  • Guilherme Leal: co-founder of Natura, serves on the boards of WWF Brazil and the United Nations Global Compact
  • Hamdi Ulukaya: founder, chairman and CEO of Chobani
  • Isabelle Kocher: CEO of ENGIE, the world’s largest independent power producer
  • Jochen Zeitz: co-founder and co-chair of The B Team, founder of the Zeitz Foundation, served 18 years as chairman and CEO of PUMA SE
  • Kathy Calvin: president and CEO of the United Nations Foundation, former president of the AOL Time Warner Foundation, previously served in senior positions at AOL, Hill and Knowlton, and U.S. News & World Report
  • Marc Benioff: chairman and co-CEO of Salesforce
  • Mary Robinson: president of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, former President of Ireland from 1990-1997, member of Richard Branson’s The Elders
  • Mats Granryd: director general of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), commissioner on the World Business & Sustainable Development Commission
  • Mo Ibrahim: founder and chair of the MoIbrahim Foundation, founder of Mobile Systems International (MSI) and Celtel International, founding chairman of Satya Capital, (a private equity fund focused on Africa), chairman of TPG-Satya
  • Muhammad Yunus: chairman of Grameen Bank
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: chair of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, former Finance Minister of Nigeria and former managing director of the World Bank
  • Oliver Bäte: CEO of Allianz SE
  • Paul Polman: served in senior leadership roles at both Nestlé and Procter & Gamble prior to becoming CEO of Unilever (2009-2018), appointed to the U.N. Secretary General’s High-level Panel responsible for developing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), founding member of the World Business & Sustainable Development Commission, U.N.-appointed SDG Advocate, leading member of Financing Capitalism for the Long-Term (FCLT), the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate and the Food and Land Use Coalition (which he chairs), counsellor and chair of the Global Advisory Board of One Young World (co-founded by the aforementioned “B Team expert” David Jones), named an Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) for services to business in 2018, a non-executive director of Dow since 2010.
  • Ratan Tata: former chairman of Tata Sons, Tata has been conferred the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, Tata Industries, Tata Motors, Tata Steel and Tata Chemicals. During his tenure, the group’s revenues grew manifold, totalling over 100 billion USD in 2011-12. He serves on the board of directors at Alcoa as well as on the international advisory boards of Mitsubishi Corporation, JP Morgan Chase, Rolls-Royce, Temasek Holdings, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
  • Sharan Burrow: general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), commissioner on the World Business & Sustainable Development Commission, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy observer and advisor
  • Yolanda Kakabadse: president of WWF International from January 2010-December 2017
  • Zhang Yue: chairman and founder of Broad Air Conditioning
  • [B Team Leaders] [B Team Experts] [B Team Founder Circle and Programmatic Donors]

    Above: On February 23, 2017, The B Team and Safaricom announced plans to create The B Team – Eastern Africa

    The B Team experts roster is also extensive. It includes:

  • Alexander Grashow: a senior advisor and lead moderator for the Clinton Global Initiative
  • Heather Grady: senior fellow, Global Philanthropy for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
  • Mindy S. Lubber: president and a founding board member of Ceres, coordinator of Ceres’ Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), founder of Green Century Capital Management
  • Jeremy Heimans: co-founder of Avaaz, co-founder and CEO of Purpose, “a home for building 21st century movements and ventures that use the power of participation to change the world”, advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the ACLU and Google, recipient of the Ford Foundation’s 75th Anniversary Visionary Award, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader
  • Hunter Lovins: president of Natural Capitalism Solutions, author of The Way Out: Kickstarting Capitalism to Save Our Economic Ass – a sequel to the international best-seller Natural Capitalism
  • John Fullerton: founder and president of Capital Institute, active impact investor through his Level 3 Capital Advisors, former managing director of JPMorgan, a director of the New Economy Coalition, full member of the Club of Rome, creator of the “Future of Finance” blog at CapitalInstitute.org, which is syndicated with The Guardian, Huffington Post, CSRWire, and other media outlets
  • John Elkington: founding partner and executive chairman of Volans, a consultancy and think-tank driving market-based solutions to the future’s greatest challenges, signatory to the XR Business initiative, member of the WWF Council of Ambassadors, member of the Advisory Board of The Climate Group‘s Clean Revolution Campaign, serves on Newsweek’s Green Rankings Advisory Board, Kering’s Technical Advisory Board, and the advisory board of The Social Stock Exchange just launched by the UK Prime Minister. He is also identified as a member of the Guardian Sustainable Business advisory panel.

    Above: The B Team website, July 17, 2017: “Earlier this year Virgin Unite shared the news that Christiana Figueres – former UN climate chief and convener of Mission 2020 – had joined Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz (B Team co-founders) as one of the B Team’s newest global leaders.” [Source]

    Above: The B Team website, January 30, 2019: Greta Thunberg, Climate Activist, Kringlaskolan Södertälje, Sweden, speaking at the Session “Preparing for Climate Disruption” at the Annual Meeting 2019 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 25, 2019. Congress Centre – Jakobshorn, Copyright by World Economic Forum / Mattias Nutt [The B Team: To B or Not To B in Davos]

    Above: The B Team, March 27, 2019 newsletter: “On March 15, an estimated 1.6 million students in 120 countries participated in the Global Student Climate Strike, calling on leaders to act with the urgency the climate crisis needs. Inspired and humbled by their courage, our Leaders shared their support and thanked these students for reminding the world what its leaders are accountable for—their future.”

    Above: The B Team Twitter account, March 15, 2019

    Above: The “New Power” advocates: January 22, 2014, Kumi Naidoo, Twitter | From left: Richard Branson, Kumi Naidoo, Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz/Purpose)

    Working as part of the Natural Capital Coalition, The B Team supported the development of “the first global, standard Natural Capital Protocol” in 2016. The protocol creates “a set of tools for corporations to “measure their impacts and dependencies on nature”. These tools will be used to support the global plan to monetise nature (a “new deal for nature”). Because “what you can’t value what you can’t measure”. The protocol was launched in 2016, following pilots by more than 40 corporations including luxury brand Kering (B Team major funder, Kering CEO a B Team expert) and Dow Chemical (Dow CEO a B Team “leader”).

    Above: Natural Capital Protocol partners

    Above: The Natural Capital Coalition

    Above: Finance For One Planet, CoP Financial Institutions and Natural Capital, 2016 [Source]

    The B Team continues to grow and expand its coalition of corporate executives. In 2018, Indra Nooyi, chairman and former CEO of PepsiCo, joined the coalition. More recently, The B Team welcomed Ajay Banga, president and CEO of MasterCard. Another B Team leader is Andrew Liveris, chairman and CEO of Dow Chemical Company. Liveris also serves as a member of The Nature Conservancy’s Latin America Conservation Council, and the Concordia Leadership Council. [Full bio].

     

    Purpose

    Purpose, which worked with We Mean Business to set up its climate campaign lab, creates cause-related campaigns for non-profits, foundations, and corporations. Purpose clients and partners include IKEA, Unilever, and the Ford and Rockefeller foundations, to name a few (see image below).

    One may need reminding that Purpose “movements” are not decrying the more than 300 assassinations of Colombian leaders over the last two years [August 9, 2018, Source], a tragic number which is no doubt higher today. Rather, they are organizing Concordia Summits to facilitate an advancing privatization in Columbia (and the world at large) as they court right-wing politicians and oligarchs. This can best be described as “power in white face”.

    If power dominated through hierarchy and coercion – the emergent “new power” model dominates with influence and persuasion. And while this has been achieved for some decades now by the NGOs comprising the non-profit industrial complex, a growing number of corporations, institutions and states, are now applying it to their business models. The main differences are that first, the organizers remain invisible, and second, the populace is manipulated into believing that they control said movements.

    At the helm of this new model is Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans. Purpose, the PR firm (with many arms) specializes in movement building and behavioural change.

    Heiman’s vision is to organize “people not as citizens but as consumers” so as to further empower corporations and brands that he refers to as “the angels”. Among the firm’s partners are some of the world’s most powerful corporations, foundations and institutions, including The Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, Unilever,  IKEA, General Electric, Starbucks, TED, Oxfam, SEIU, WHO, UNICEF, ACLU, British Telecom, the Concordia Summit and Nike. Collaborators include We Mean Business and The B Team which is registered to the address of Purpose New York.

    Video. Jeremy Heimans & Timms: Kaepernick is New Power’s 6 Billion Dollar Man [Running time: 0:45s]:

    With strong ties and loyalties to many elite institutions and oligarchs, such as Purpose partner the United Nations (where Heimans cut his teeth as in intern in 1999), the Omidyar Network, and Virgin’s Richard Branson (founder of The B Team, The Elders, Carbon War Room, etc.), Purpose now has a global presence with seven international offices operating in New York, San Francisco, London, New Delhi, Nairobi, Sao Paulo, and Sydney. This expansion is in line with new behavioural insight teams, which are steadily proliferating in government buildings across the globe.

    [Further reading: Purpose Goes to Latin America, Part I, August 8, 2018]

    +++

    New Power

    “Whoever mobilizes is going to win. And if you are understanding new power you can end up on top. Welcome to the new power world.”

    The above quote is taken from the marketing video for the book titled New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World–and How to Make It Work for You (released April 3, 2018). The book authored by Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz/Purpose) and Henry Timms (until recently, the CEO of 92nd Street Y, a 143-year-old institution located in New York City) follows their prior publications: New Power: How It’s Changing The 21st Century (2018) and Why You Need To Know and Understanding ‘New Power’ (Harvard Business Review, 2014).

    Timms is the creator and co-founder of Giving Tuesday, “a classic new power movement”. [Source] Giving Tuesday is funded by such giants as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Facebook. In February 2019, it was announced that Timms would leave 92Y for the Lincoln Centre for Performing Arts where he now serves as president and CEO. Timms continues as co-chair of 92Y’s Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact and in guiding Giving Tuesday.

    Former U.S. President Barack Obama accompanied by Melinda and Bill Gates speaks at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeepers event in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Elizabeth Shafiroff

     

    At the 2015 Concordia summit, Heimans and Timms co-moderated a panel. Their session, “Introducing: New Power in a Multi-stakeholder World,” featured an exciting line-up of speakers, each pioneering change in their respective industries in innovative ways.”

    This year, on September 22-24, 2019, the Concordia Annual Summit is set to be “the largest and most inclusive nonpartisan forum” held alongside the United Nations General Assembly. [Source]

    New Power has been named best book of 2018 by the Financial Times, Bloomberg, Fortune, Inc. and CNBC, and Heimans has advised institutions such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google and Unilever. A Harvard University grad and McKinsey & Co. alum, Heimans has addressed the World Economic Forum, the United Nations, TED, and the Aspen Institute. [Source]

    On September 30, 2019, at this year’s World Leadership Forum dinner, the Foreign Policy Association will honor Heimans. Hosted by the Foreign Policy Association and coinciding with the United Nations General Assembly, the World Leadership Forum is one of the foremost public forums on global affairs. Individual admissions can be purchased for 1,000.00 USD. [Source]

    [Further reading: Purpose Goes to Latin America, Part I]

    “The future will be a battle over mobilization.”

     

    Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms, New Power

    Social Good

    The creation of the Social Good Summit (launched in 2012) is attributed to Timms, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ericsson, the United Nations Development Programme, and Mashable.

    Following the Social Good Summit came the launch of the SocialGood “community”. The founding partners of the SocialGood community include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Case Foundation, Caterpillar, Cisco, Enactus, Mashable, the Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Foundation, and 92Y. [Source]

    This year’s speakers at the Social Good summit include Greta Thunberg, Christiana Figueres, founding partner of Global Optimism and former executive secretary of the UN Climate Convention, [ACT II], and Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of Amnesty International, former president/CEO of both Greenpeace and TckTckTck. Also featured is Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. Steiner is a former advisory board member of TEEB – now the Natural Capital Coalition (the financialization of nature under the guise/branding of a “New Deal for Nature”).

    Video: Towards a Global Green New Deal, UN Environment, December 28, 2009 [Running time: 6:20]:

    The video above features Achim Steiner promoting the Green New Deal in 2009. Back then, it was promoted as a solution to save the economy; now, it is promoted as a solution to save the climate. In both instances, its sole purpose has been to inject growth into a global economic system on the verge of collapse. The main difference today is that the Green New Deal encompasses the assigning of monetary value to nature. This will transform the global financial system itself, bringing into existence a new financial accounting system which has taken well over a decade to refine. The Green New Deal is essentially a Trojan horse for the ultimate corporate coup of the commons.

    “Can investment in green industry technologies and nature-based assets help lift the world out of recession? UNEP and its UN partners are confident it can. According to Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of UNEP its already happening. He says getting out of the recession will be a boost to building a new green economy. Environmentally-focused investment represents an historic opportunity for 21st century prosperity and job generation.”

     

    Towards a Global Green New Deal, UN Environment, December 28, 2009

     

    “This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history.”

     

    — Christiana Figueres, UNFCC Executive Secretary, February 3, 2015 Press Conference, Brussels [Source]

    The strategy to exploit the ecological crisis, in order to save economic growth, is not new. After an initial and fairly short-lived backlash against the “green economy” (growth under the guise of green, UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio, 2012), the power elite regrouped. By 2014, Avaaz/Purpose founder Jeremy Heimans would disclose the strategy to “kill green” in order to save it. The green economy was repackaged as the “new economy”.

    “Chakrabarti had an unexpected disclosure. “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal,” he said, “is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all.” Ricketts greeted this startling notion with an attentive poker face. “Do you guys think of it as a climate thing?” Chakrabarti continued. “Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

     

    AOC’s Chief of Change -Saikat Chakrabarti isn’t just running her office. He’s guiding a movement, Washington Post, July 10, 2019

    The Climate Group

    Leading up to the September 2019 media sensation in conjunction with the United Nations Climate Action Summit, the Concordia Summit, and the global climate strikes is Climate Week NYC. This annual event is a project of The Climate Group, co-founder of We Mean Business.

    The Rockefeller Brothers Fund also acts as an incubator for in-house projects which later evolve into free-standing institutions – a case in point being ‘The Climate Group’, launched in London in 2004. The Climate Group coalition includes more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations and sub-national governments, from financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, to media institutions such as Bloomberg to IT conglomerates such as Hewlett Packard. [4]

    The Climate Group functions as the secretariat for the Under2 Coalition, an alliance of state and regional governments. As of 2017, the Under2 Coalition brings together over 220 governments from 43 countries, representing 1.3 billion people and 43% of the global economy. The Climate Group’s initiatives “RE100“, “EP100” and “EV100” are run as part of the We Mean Business coalition.

    Climate Week NYC was founded in 2009 as a partnership between The Climate Group, the United Nations, TckTckTck, the UN Foundation, the City of New York, the Government of Denmark, and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

    Climate Week NYC 2019, taking place September 23-29, is the biggest Climate Week event in the world. This year, there is a predominant focus on youth with Global Citizen as a key partner. Partners of Global Citizen include Citi, P&G, Coca-Cola Africa, Microsoft, Forbes, Havas, and Johnson & Johnson. [Global Citizen Partners]

    Above: July 18, 2019: “Climate Week NYC 2019 is partnering with international advocacy organization Global Citizen for its Youth and Climate Activism Program. The program will reflect the global leadership of young people and its influence on climate action and align with the Youth and Public Mobilization theme of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit.” [Source] Global Citizen partners include P&G, National Geographic and Radical Media.

    “Today’s youth are leading the charge on protecting both people and planet from catastrophic climate change, and through our partnership with Climate Week NYC, we are excited to equip them with the tools and resources to effect more change through the Youth and Climate Activism Program. 2020 will be a pivotal year to catalyze efforts…”

     

    Michael Sheldrick, Vice President of Global Policy and Government Affairs at Global Citizen

     

    “The Youth and Climate Activism Program will bring together a number of events specifically focused on engaging and working with young people seeking to engage in climate action and will be the lead focus for Climate Week NYC 2019.”

     

    Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group

     

    “Young leaders are stepping up across the world, calling on everyone to join them on their mission to create a cleaner and healthier planet for future generations. As business leaders, NGOs, and government officials, we must work together and use our influence to step up and help catalyze impactful change.”

     

    — Suzanne DiBianca, Chief Impact Officer and EVP of Corporate Relations at Salesforce

    Video. Global Citizen Festival 2019, NYC’s Central Park, September 28, 2019 [Running time: 0:30s]:

    “Join Queen + Adam Lambert, Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keys, OneRepublic, H.E.R., and Carole King in NYC’s Central Park … Download the Global Citizen app today to start taking action and earn your free tickets.”

    Above: The Climate Group welcomes Greta Thunberg – its most successful social experiment to date, Twitter

    Above: Teen Vogue climate strike special issue, September 16, 2019

    The sober images of Thunberg, as depicted and shared by the Climate Group, and the media at large, are very much intentional as outlined in the orginal document “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement” published by The Climate Mobilization:

    “The way we respond to threats — by entering emergency mode or by remaining in normal mode — is highly contagious. Imagine the fire alarm goes off in an office building. How seriously should you take it? How do you know if it is a drill or a real fire? Those questions will be predominantly answered by the actions and communications of the people around you, particularly people designated as leaders. If they are chatting and taking their time exiting the building, you will assume that this is a drill. If people are moving with haste, faces stern and focused, communicating with urgency and gravity, you will assume there is real danger and exit as quickly as possible.” [Section: Both Emergency Mode and Normal Mode Are Contagious] [Emphasis in original]

    The American exceptionalism ideology espoused by the Climate Mobilization is shared by many inclusive of the World Business Academy:

    “And if you really want to know how much money a green environment is going to create, I would urge you to look at the economy the United States of America in 1939 in compared to the economy of the United States of America in 1947… it turns out we got really rich by doing the right thing. We mobilized. We saved democracy for the free world and in the process we built the Western democracy that’s been running the world for them ever since. The same or better awaits us if Margaret Klein Solomon is successful and I believe she will be with her efforts at Climate mobilization.”

     

    Rinaldo Brutoco, World Business Academy, introduction for The Climate Mobilization founder, Margaret Klein Salamon, Event: “2019: The Year of Climate Mobilization”, February 2019, [Source]

     

    Climate Week 2017 Sponsors

    Business For Nature

    “…our natural world provides environmental services to our economy worth over $125 trillion annually.”

     

    Business For Nature website

     

    “Business for Nature calls on governments to adopt a new deal for nature and people in 2020.”

     

    “How can business deliver for Nature?… promoting policy changes to governments to establish the policy frameworks needed to drive economic changes at scale.”

     

    “THE OCEAN ECONOMY ESTIMATED TO BE WORTH $2.5 TRILLION PER ANNUM”

    New coalitions are forming to assist in the implementation of the financialization of nature. That is, the privatization of nature, global in scale, ushered in under the guise of protecting biodiversity. WWF leads the public charge with the “New Deal For Nature” and “Voice for the Planet” campaigns, while the Natural Capital Coalition, with institutions and NGOs such as the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES – a Natural Capital Coalition partner), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), The Nature Conservancy and Conservation International work in united servitude to corporate power to advance the total capture of nature’s “services”.

    One recently formed coalition is Business For Nature. Launched on July 2, 2019, the coalition founders are We Mean Business, the World Economic Forum, The Nature Conservancy, WWF, the Natural Capital Coalition, the World Resources Institute, the IUCN, The Food and Land Use Coalition, Confederation of Indian Industry, Entreprises pour l’Environnement (EpE), Tropical Forest Alliance, and the International Chamber of Commerce.

    “2020 is a unique opportunity for businesses to call on governments to adopt policies to level the playing field to incentivise the wider business community to act and enable a global transformation.”

     

    Business For Nature website

    The financialization of nature is coming. And while the media and NGOs work overtime to ensure that the citizenry remains focused on Extinction Rebellion antics, the global climate strikes, and the spectacle at large, the “New Deal for Nature” continues to accelerate forward with zero dissent. There is not a single word of opposition, or even reference to its existence from climate “movements” such as Extinction Rebellion or 350.org. Nor is there a single word of dissent from young Thunberg, who is enclosed by those working toward the “New Deal For Nature” campaign that holistically masks the full commodification of the planet’s “ecosystem services” at scale (i.e. new markets).

    Above: John Elkington, founder of Volans, B Team “expert”, and Extinction Rebellion Business signatory

    Momentum is needed. Get your marching boots on. Demand your politicians and governments align with the Paris Agreement – a politically correct suicide pact.

    Business for Nature calls on governments to adopt a new deal for nature and people in 2020 and to adopt policies to change the rules of the economic game to ensure a future in which people and nature thrive together.”

     

    “2020 is a unique opportunity for businesses to call on governments to adopt policies to level the playing field to incentivise the wider business community to act and enable a global transformation.”

     

    The risks create ‘significant opportunities’ … $22.6 trillion opportunity for water infrastructure by 2050″

    The Business for Nature website features the WWF video presentation “Sustainability: The Only Business Plan For Our Planet” (published on May 16, 2019). This video is the condensed version for the longer WWF video presentation “Our Planet: Our Business” (published on June 27, 2019).

    WWF – “Our Planet: Our Business”

    “The global business community can be a powerful force to drive action for nature – find out why we are confident that change is possible. Our Planet: Our Business, a new film for business inspired by the Netflix series Our Planet, is available to watch now.” [Source]

    The Our Planet series launched on Netflix in April 2019. The series – a collaboration between WWF, Netflix and Silverback Films – it  showcases the world’s “rich natural wonders, iconic species and wildlife spectacles that still remain”. Within the first month of its release, the film was watched in over 25 million homes around the world, making it the most successful documentary series ever produced by Netflix. “It was the first series of its kind to carry an important conservation message at its heart.” [Source: WWF].

    But this is not the whole truth.

    A partial truth is disclosed in the April 5, 2019 article “Landmark documentary series Our Planet highlights need for global action to protect nature, says WWF”:

    “WWF is calling on the public to stand up for the planet and is asking global leaders to address our nature emergency by working together to develop a global plan of action, a New Deal for Nature and People… In 2020 we have the chance to put the world on the path to a better future, due to a historic coming together of key international decisions on environment, climate and sustainable development that have the potential to put our planet at the heart of our economic, political and financial systems.”

    The purpose of the series was to carry an important conservation message – with behavioural economics at its heart. That is, to slowly build acquiescence for, and acceptance of, the coming financialization of nature. That is, the grotesque commodification of nature, shrouded behind stunningly beautiful and heart-wrenching emotive images which provoke angst, empathy and urgency while the new financial instruments which will assign monetary value to nature are never spoken of. Senior influencer “Sir” David Attenborough plays a pivotal role for the coming “New Deal For Nature” in servitude to the ruling classes.

    Above: David Phillips, We Don’t Have Time Board of Advisors

    Featured in the WWF promotional video, “Our Planet: Our Business” include Christiana Figueres, Attenborough (face for the New Deal For Nature) and “crude capitalist” Anand Mahindra:

    “My main task as a crude capitalist is to dismiss two myths. The first myth is that there is a trade-off between choosing to do something to improve the climate.”

     

    Anand Mahindra, Chairman, Mahindra Group speaking to Al Gore & company, We Mean Business, January 25, 2018

    In the WWF “new film for business”, we have the long-awaited for introduction of monetizing the natural world, cautiously being introduced to the public:

    “It’s only as we have started to lose things that we have begun to realise the true value of nature. As Earth’s biodiversity drops, things we have taken for granted start to disappear. Clean air and water, the food we eat, the soil it grows in. A benign climate, productive seas. A healthy world provides us and our businesses with all of these for free. But if we were to place a value on them? The services that biodiversity provides for us are estimated to be worth twice as much as the entire globe’s GDP.”

     

    This is not about saving our planet, this is about saving ourselves. We are the chief beneficiaries of our biodiverse, stable home. Our civilisation won’t work without it. To change this situation will require action on an industrial scale, and at an unparalleled speed. We have just ten years to drastically alter our path.”

    To sell the 21st century fairytale that capitalism will be magically reinvented, transformed to be both ethical and sustainable, the hegemonic forces at the helm of the current global economy will require two things: first, segments of the population that have been thoroughly conditioned to swallow assurances defying all logic and physical realities, and second, “narrative[s] around how your products are sustainable and healthy”, with impact stories as well:

    “If you ask any other generation, “What is the purpose of business?” they will say, “What colour is the sky? The purpose of business is to make money.” If you ask millennials that question, forty-seven percent said some version of the purpose of business is to improve society and protect the environment. This is a fundamental sea-change in the way an entire generation thinks about business. It’s going to mean that if you want to attract the top talent and retain them, if you want to win over millennial customers and attract the thirty trillion dollars of capital that’s currently being given to millennials by the baby boomer generation, you’re going to have to have a narrative around how your products are sustainable and healthy. You’re going to have to have an impact story as well.”

     

    Seth Bannon, founding partner of the venture capital firm Fifty Years

    Bannon (quoted above), the WWF chosen conduit to the millennial demographic so desired by the corporate ruling class, explains how capitalism and greed can co-exist to create a better world. There is no need for sacrifice:

    “We’re actually trying to prove that you don’t have to concede on anything. We want to convince the purely greedy capitalists that if all they want to do is make more money, they should still invest in these companies that are solving these big problems.”

     

    Seth Bannon, founding partner of the venture capital firm Fifty Years

    And what is this concession-free solution that will alter the global capitalist economic system – in which violence and exploitation prove necessary in order for the system to maintain and extend its hegemony– to a magically transformed ethical, gentler capitalism? Bannon describes the transformation as a “new conception”:

    “We believe that business as usual, this business that’s meant about purely chasing profits, is on the way out. And there’s a new conception of business that’s going to take its place. That’s about not only generating profit, but actually solving social or environmental issues.”

     

    Seth Bannon, founding partner of the venture capital firm Fifty Years

    In this “new conception of business”, there are no limitations placed upon the industrial economic system:

    “The broad strategy for this new business as usual is clear. We just have to make sure that everything we do, we can do forever.”

    Here, WWF acknowledged the growth imperative within the capitalist economic system – without mentioning the actual capitalist economic system itself. How will the growth issue be resolved while maintaining the very economic system that is absolutely dependent upon it? The answer is revealed in WWF’s point 5 – “reimagine success”:

    “The most damaging element of today’s society is its quest for perpetual growth. ‘We’ve got an economic system that depends upon growing forever. How does that reconcile itself with a thriving planet?’ Growth for growth’s sake will have to lose its attraction. ‘We cannot think of economic success if we’re deteriorating the environment, and I think that has to be in the essence of each person that wants to lead a country, to lead a company.’ The new sustainable economy will readdress this. ‘We need to create economies that allow us to thrive, whether or not they grow. But something can thrive without getting bigger. It’s just thrumming, alive, creating, regenerating, doing well, and it looks great to us and we feel the energy in that.’ Our reinvented model for Business As Usual will ultimately begin to mimic nature. Adapting to thrive within the finite world about it. Indeed, there is no alternative.”

    This poor explanation resembling a new age mantra, is worse than wrong – it is nonsense. Reimagining success will not stop the growth imperative inherently built into the capitalist economic system. There will be no “reinvented model for business as usual” within the capitalist economic system that does not collapse without growth. “The new sustainable economy will readdress this” means, in real terms, “we really have no fucking clue”.

    The last sentence “[i]ndeed, there is no alternative”, as highlighted above, is the lie they want you to believe. Consider that collectively, the populace appears to believe that not only is it possible to colonize another planet, but that we will do so in the not-so-distant future. This is incredible considering the massive odds of and colossal barriers to such an endeavour succeeding. Thus, it is alarming, that this same populace appears not to believe it is not possible to create new societies where necessity is detached from want (superfluous consumer goods). This begs the question – have we been fully conditioned to believe only those that represent hegemonic interests? It is a sound question considering the billionaires of the world are currently petrified of the capitalist system collapsing – while those oppressed by the capitalist system believe it cannot be dismantled. Yet we can dismantle institutions. We can dismantle the capitalist economic system devouring what remains of the natural world – but not if we identify with our oppressors and the very system that enslaves us. It is our natural world and her living natural communities that sustain us. Not industrial civilization – not technology.

    The following film segment leads to an introduction to Greta Thunberg:

    “We have come here to let you know that change is coming, whether you like it or not.”

    Thunberg’s pivotal role in the global campaign to save global growth is found within this dialogue: “So the vital thing the business community needs to do is come together to encourage politicians to set the global frameworks that will accelerate progress to a sustainable world.”

    Featured in the film is Ellen MacArthur. MacArthur is assisting in the building of momentum toward a said “circular economy” having founded the New Plastics Economy initiative unveiled in January 2019 at Davos. The Coca-Cola Company, Danone, MARS, Novamont, L’Oréal, PepsiCo, Unilever, Amcor, and Veolia are the initiative’s Core Partners. Other partners include Evian, Google, H&M, Intesa Sanpaolo, and Nike. New Plastics Economy “Knowledge Partners” include Arup, IDEO, McKinsey, and SYSTEMIQ.

    Above: Sarkozy awards Ellen MacArthur the Légion d’Honneur, 2008 [Yachting World]

    Above: Sarkozy awards Ellen MacArthur the Légion d’Honneur, 2008 [Yachting World]

    Above from left: Ellen MacArthur, Evian’s global brand director, Patricia Oliva, Christiana Figueres, and Stella McCartney, WEF Arctic Basecamp, Davos, 2019Stella McCartney is a luxury lifestyle brand that was launched under the designer’s name in a partnership with Kering. A 2017 report found that “the equivalent of one dustbin truck-worth of textiles is landfilled every second.”

    In the WWF feature, MacArthur assures the viewer there is no such thing as waste: “Waste is just a resource in the wrong place.” Consider this phrase the new mantra for the world’s most powerful yet reformed capitalists intent on business-as-usual rebranded under the guise of sustainability saviours. Here’s hoping we can store all the world’s nuclear waste (i.e. resource in the wrong place) in the front yard of one of MacArthur’s residences.

    While Mahindra of the Mahindra Group highlights his commitment (on behalf of his two hundred and twenty-five thousand colleagues) that “by the year 2040, the entire Mahindra Group of companies would be carbon neutral” (think offsets), Dave Lewis, CEO of Tesco explains the corporation’s commitment to recyclable plastics:

    “WWF narrator: “Even the most complex, global business communities will work to eliminate waste.”

     

    Lewis: “We asked all of our suppliers to tell us exactly which material was in their packaging. And we said, By the end of 2019, we want to take no material into our business that’s not recyclable. Can you manage that? If we do set a standard, most of our suppliers will want to come with us. We can do that. As a responsible business, why wouldn’t we?” (dramatic theme music plays in background)

    There is no plan to largely eliminate plastics.

    Lewis further assures us:

    “For both palm oil and soy, we have sustainable sources for one hundred percent of what we sell within the UK and in Central Europe, and about forty percent in our Asia business. So we have a commitment to get to one hundred percent in total.”

    As discussed within this series, there is no such thing as sustainable palm or soy, produced at industrial scale. There are only billion dollar certification schemes conceptualized by WWF et al. which excel in the art of greenwashing in order to protect and maintain guilt-free consumption in the Global North. Displacement, landgrabbing, and bulldozing biodiversity/death of sentient life are the price those in the Global South must pay for those in the Global North to spread Nutella on their morning toast and other irrelevant things we consume in exchange of our natural world. In the face of a climate emergency with twelve said years to stave off collapse, one cannot be expected to give up Nutella*, Unilever Dove “beauty bars”, and other “essentials” the Global North cannot be expected to go without. [*Ferrero who manufactures Nutella, purchased Nestlé’s U.S. confectionary business in 2018. Halloween in the Global North is a palm oil bloodbath that literally continues unabated.]

    In regard to the decimation of the Earth’s remaining forests (many lost to palm and soy monoculture), the President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvadaro assures us:

    “Now we have shown that it’s possible to reverse deforestation. We’ve done that in the last decades. We reached twenty percent of our coverage with forests, and we managed to increase that to fifty percent, currently.”

    Yet, the September 26, 2018 scientific paper The ephemerality of secondary forests in southern Costa Rica demonstrates that half of Costa Rica’s regrown forests are gone within two decades: “Secondary forests are vital parts of the ecosystem, but in Costa Rica many of them are re-cleared before achieving old-growth levels of biodiversity.” [Source] What is equally grotesque is the fact that no one questions what has happened to the living sentient animals that must have existed in these cleared swathes of forests. In the spectacle, stunning animals and wildlife who many humans empathize with are exploited via (stunning) visuals as a means to create acquiescence and even desire for a global “New Deal For Nature”.

    In real life, utilizing language and framing – the single reference of “biodiversity” creates a collective acceptance of “afforestation”, land acquisitions and theft via “conservation”, and carbon markets (inclusive of REDD+). With the application of a single word, coupled with a false market solution, all conjured images of sentient animals facing ominous peril are instantly saved then filed away. Out of sight, out of mind, out of existence. As Western societies become more and more disconnected from the natural world, it becomes much easier to sell “solutions” that accept the death and subsequent loss of diverse tree communities, insects, amphibians, flora and fauna. This can be witnessed today for climate mobilizations that first and foremost demand “green” energy technologies, technologies which promise the further annihilation of life in the natural world.

    There is certainly more to be deconstructed in the WWF business feature film, but let us digress. One only has to follow the work of Stephen Corry to observe the torture, rape, murder and displacement of Tribal Peoples carried out under the WWF banner of “conservation”. It is well documented and horrific. However, having conditioned society to no longer read beyond 140 characters or so, it is an easy feat to sell the “New Deal For Nature” when your advertising content contains the most beautiful images found in our human existence – the physical planet and all of her life forms.

    Climate change is a direct product of capitalism and will not be mitigated by more capitalism. Ecological devastation, resource depletion, and collapsing ecosystems are all a direct result of capitalism. This destruction of our natural world will not and cannot be halted by more capitalism – regardless of what colour or adjective is placed in front of it.

     

     

    End Notes

    [1] The Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change (CLG), a group hosted by the University of Cambridge’s Programme for Industry, describes itself as comprising “business leaders from major UK, EU and international companies who believe that there is an urgent need to develop new and longer-term policies for tackling climate change.” In September 2008 18 corporate executives signed a letter from the UK CLG to the leaders of the three largest UK political parties — supporting the UK Climate Bill before the parliament and support for the European Union adopting a target of a 30% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. In the letter, the UK CLG stated that, in the context of the European Union Emissions Trading Scheme, it supported including unspecified “existing technologies must be deployed rapidly and a range of new technologies must be brought to market” (E.ON, one of the signatories to the letter, was touting a raft of new power stations it was proposing across Europe as being “CCS-ready”).

    The inclusion of the CEOs of E.ON UK and BAA as signatories to the letter drew a scathing response from Ben Stewart, the Greenpeace communications director. “This is hypocrisy of the purest strain. It’s astounding that E.ON would call for action on climate change when they’re agitating to build Britain’s first coal-fired power stations in decades. It makes an environmentalist’s jaw drop to see the BAA logo on this letter when they’re trying to expand airports across the nation,” he told the Guardian. “This is like Howard Marks [a convicted drug smuggler] calling for a crackdown on pot. If the executives of these companies want action on climate change they should immediately lock themselves in their boardrooms and not come out until Kingsnorth and Heathrow expansion have been dropped.” [Source: Sourcewatch]

    In 2010, The Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change was identified as a partner in the TckTckTck campaign, co-founded by Greenpeace. [Source]

    [2] “C40 Cities connects 96 of the world’s greatest cities to take bold climate action, leading the way towards a healthier and more sustainable future. Representing 700+ million citizens and one quarter of the global economy, mayors of the C40 cities are committed to delivering on the most ambitious goals of the Paris Agreement at the local level, as well as to cleaning the air we breathe. The current chair of C40 is Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo; and three-term Mayor of New York City Michael R. Bloomberg serves as President of the Board. C40’s work is made possible by our three strategic funders: Bloomberg Philanthropies, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), and Realdania.” [Source] In 2011 a formal merger transpired between C40 and CCI’s Cities Program, forged by President Clinton and then Mayor of New York City and C40 Chair, Michael R. Bloomberg. [Source]

    [3] Full list: Climate Week NYC 2019 sponsors and partners include Salesforce, McKinsey, Bank of America, Engie Impact, Unilever, AT & T, Estee Lauder, International Copper Association, Orsted, Exelon, PWC, IKEA, BT, National Grid, TCI Co., ABInBev, Trane, Morrison Foerster, Natixis, ClimateWorks, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, NYC Official Guide, Global Citizen (youth and climate activism partner), We Mean Business, Kigali, Raw, Alchemy Mill, 3Degrees, The New Republic, Nationale Postcode Loteri, UN Climate Action Summit.  [Source]

    [4] The Climate Group: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund also acts as an incubator for in-house projects that later evolve into free-standing institutions – a case in point being ‘The Climate Group’, launched in London in 2004. The Climate Group coalition includes more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations and sub-national governments, including big polluters such as energy giants BP and Duke Energy, as well as several partner organizations, one being that of the big NGO Avaaz. The Climate Group are advocates of unproven carbon capture and storage technology (CCS), nuclear power and biomass as crucial technologies for a low-carbon economy. The Climate Group works closely with other business lobby groups, including the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA). The IETA has worked consistently to sabotage climate action. The Climate Group also works on other initiatives, one being that of the ‘Voluntary Carbon Standard’, a global standard for voluntary offset projects. One marketing strategist company labeled the Climate Group’s campaign ‘Together’ as “the best inoculation against greenwash”. The Climate Group has operations in Australia, China, Europe, India, and North America. It was a partner to the ‘Copenhagen Climate Council’.

     

     

     

     

    Between the Devil and the Green New Deal

    Commune

    Issue 2, Spring 2019

    By Jasper Bernes
     
     

    We cannot legislate and spend our way out of catastrophic global warming.

     

    From space, the Bayan Obo mine in China, where 70 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals are extracted and refined, almost looks like a painting. The paisleys of the radioactive tailings ponds, miles long, concentrate the hidden colors of the earth: mineral aquamarines and ochres of the sort a painter might employ to flatter the rulers of a dying empire.

    To meet the demands of the Green New Deal, which proposes to convert the US economy to zero emissions, renewable power by 2030, there will be a lot more of these mines gouged into the crust of the earth. That’s because nearly every renewable energy source depends upon non-renewable and frequently hard-to-access minerals: solar panels use indium, turbines use neodymium, batteries use lithium, and all require kilotons of steel, tin, silver, and copper. The renewable-energy supply chain is a complicated hopscotch around the periodic table and around the world. To make a high-capacity solar panel, one might need copper (atomic number 29) from Chile, indium (49) from Australia, gallium (31) from China, and selenium (34) from Germany. Many of the most efficient, direct-drive wind turbines require a couple pounds of the rare-earth metal neodymium, and there’s 140 pounds of lithium in each Tesla.

    It’s not for nothing that coal miners were, for much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the very image of capitalist immiseration—it’s exhausting, dangerous, ugly work. Le Voreux, “the voracious one”—that’s what Émile Zola names the coal mine in Germinal, his novel of class struggle in a French company town. Capped with coal-burning smokestacks, the mine is both maze and minotaur all in one, “crouching like some evil beast at the bottom of its lair . . . puffing and panting in increasingly slow, deep bursts, as if it were struggling to digest its meal of human flesh.” Monsters are products of the earth in classical mythology, children of Gaia, born from the caves and hunted down by a cruel race of civilizing sky gods. But in capitalism, what’s monstrous is earth as animated by those civilizing energies. In exchange for these terrestrial treasures—used to power trains and ships and factories—a whole class of people is thrown into the pits. The warming earth teems with such monsters of our own making—monsters of drought and migration, famine and storm. Renewable energy is no refuge, really. The worst industrial accident in the history of the United States, the Hawk’s Nest Incident of 1930, was a renewable energy disaster. Drilling a three-mile-long inlet for a Union Carbide hydroelectric plant, five thousand workers were sickened when they hit a thick vein of silica, filling the tunnel with blinding white dust. Eight hundred eventually died of silicosis. Energy is never “clean,” as Muriel Rukeyser makes clear in the epic, documentary poem she wrote about Hawk’s Nest, “The Book of the Dead.” “Who runs through the electric wires?” she asks. “Who speaks down every road?” The infrastructure of the modern world is cast from molten grief.

    Dotted with “death villages” where crops will not fruit, the region of Inner Mongolia where the Bayan Obo mine is located displays Chernobylesque cancer rates. But then again, the death villages are already here. More of them are coming if we don’t do something about climate change. What matter is a dozen death villages when half the earth may be rendered uninhabitable? What matter the gray skies over Inner Mongolia if the alternative is turning the sky an endless white with sulfuric aerosols, as last-ditch geoengineering scenarios imagine? Moralists, armchair philosophers, and lesser-evilists may try to convince you that these situations resolve into a sort of trolley-car problem: do nothing and the trolley speeds down the track toward mass death. Do something, and you switch the trolley onto a track where fewer people die, but where you are more actively responsible for their deaths. When the survival of millions or even billions hangs in the balance, as it surely does when it comes to climate change, a few dozen death villages might seem a particularly good deal, a green deal, a new deal. But climate change doesn’t resolve into a single trolley-car problem. Rather, it’s a planet-spanning tangle of switchyards, with mass death on every track.

    It’s not clear we can even get enough of this stuff out of the ground, however, given the timeframe. Zero-emissions 2030 would mean mines producing now, not in five or ten years. The race to bring new supply online is likely to be ugly, in more ways than one, as slipshod producers scramble to cash in on the price bonanza, cutting every corner and setting up mines that are dangerous, unhealthy, and not particularly green. Mines require a massive outlay of investment up front, and they typically feature low return on investment, except during the sort of commodity boom we can expect a Green New Deal to produce. It can be a decade or more before the sources are developed, and another decade before they turn a profit.

    “There is an infinity of worlds in which the GND fails—a million President Sanderses or, with more urgency, Ocasio-Cortezes presiding over the disaster.”

    Nor is it clear how much the fruits of these mines will help us decarbonize, if energy use keeps climbing. Just because a United States encrusted in solar panels releases no greenhouse gases, that doesn’t mean its technologies are carbon neutral. It takes energy to get those minerals out of the ground, energy to shape them into batteries and photovoltaic solar panels and giant rotors for windmills, energy to dispose of them when they wear out. Mines are worked, primarily, by gas-burning vehicles. The container ships that cross the world’s seas bearing the good freight of renewables burn so much fuel they are responsible for 3 percent of planetary emissions. Electric, plug-in motors for construction equipment and container ships are barely in the prototype stage. And what kind of massive battery would you need to get a container ship across the Pacific? Maybe a small nuclear reactor would be best?

    Counting emissions within national boundaries, in other words, is like counting calories but only during breakfast and lunch. If going clean in the US makes other places more dirty, then you’ve got to add that to the ledger. The carbon sums are sure to be lower than they would be otherwise, but the reductions might not be as robust as thought, especially if producers desperate to cash in on the renewable jackpot do things as cheaply and quickly as possible, which for now means fossil fuels. On the other side, environmental remediation is costly in every way. Want to clean up those tailings ponds, bury the waste deep underground, keep the water table from being poisoned? You’re going to need motors and you’re probably going to burn oil.

    Consolidating scientific opinion, the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report projects that biofuels are going to be used in these cases—for construction, for industry, and for transport, wherever motors can’t be easily electrified. Biofuels put carbon into the air, but it’s carbon that was already absorbed by growing plants, so the net emissions are zero. The problem is that growing biofuels requires land otherwise devoted to crops, or carbon-absorbing wilderness. They are among the least dense of power sources. You would need a dozen acres to fill the tank of a single intercontinental jet. Emissions are only the most prominent aspect of a broader ecological crisis. Human habitation, pasture and industry, branching through the remaining wilderness in the most profligate and destructive manner, has sent shockwaves through the plant and animal kingdoms. The mass die-off of insects, with populations decreasing by four-fifths in some areas, is one part of this. The insect world is very poorly understood, but scientists suspect these die-offs and extinction events are only partially attributable to climate change, with human land use and pesticides a major culprit. Of the two billion tons of animal mass on the planet, insects account for half. Pull the pillars of the insect world away, and the food chains collapse.

    To replace current US energy consumption with renewables, you’d need to devote at least 25-50 percent of the US landmass to solar, wind, and biofuels, according to the estimates made by Vaclav Smil, the grand doyen of energy studies. Is there room for that and expanding human habitation? For that and pasture for a massive meat and dairy industry? For that and the forest we’d need to take carbon out of the air? Not if capitalism keeps doing the thing which it can’t not keep doing—grow. The law of capitalism is the law of more—more energy, more stuff, more materials. It introduces efficiencies only to more effectively despoil the planet. There is no solution to the climate crisis which leaves capitalism’s compulsions to growth intact. And this is what the Green New Deal, a term coined by that oily neoliberal, Thomas Friedman, doesn’t address. It thinks you can keep capitalism, keep growth, but remove the deleterious consequences. The death villages are here to tell you that you can’t. No roses will bloom on that bush.

    _____

    Miners in Chile, China, and Zambia will be digging in the earth for more than just the makings of fifty million solar panels and windmills, however, since the Green New Deal also proposes to rebuild the power grid in a more efficient form, to upgrade all buildings to the highest environmental standards, and lastly, to develop a low-carbon transportation infrastructure, based on electric vehicles and high-speed rail. This would involve, needless to say, a monumental deployment of carbon-intensive materials like concrete and steel. Trillions of dollars of raw materials would need to flow into the United States to be shaped into train tracks and electric cars. Schools and hospitals, too, since alongside these green initiatives, the GND proposes universal health care and free education, not to mention a living-wage jobs guarantee.

    Nothing new in politics is ever truly and completely new, and so it’s as unsurprising that the Green New Deal hearkens back to the 1930s as it is that France’s gilet jaunes revive the corpse of the French Revolution and make it dance a jig below the Arc de Triomphe. We understand the present and future through the past. As Marx notes in The Eighteenth Brumaire, people “make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” In order to make new forms of class struggle intelligible, their partisans look to the past, “borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.” The “new” of the Green New Deal must therefore express itself in language decidedly old, appealing to great-grandpa’s vanished workerism and the graphic style of WPA posters.

    Above: 2019 GND poster

    This costume-play can be progressive rather than regressive, insofar as it consists of “glorifying the new struggles, not of parodying the old; of magnifying the given task in the imagination, not recoiling from its solution in reality; of finding once more the spirit of revolution, not making its ghost walk again.” On the contrary, in the wake of the revolutions of 1848, when Marx was writing, the symbology of the French Revolution had the effect of suffocating whatever was revolutionary about the moment. Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, Napoleon the III, was a pure parody of the liberator of Europe. What Europe needed was a radical break not continuity:

    The social revolution of the nineteenth century cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the future. It cannot begin with itself before it has stripped away all superstition about the past. The former revolutions required recollections of past world history in order to smother their own content. The revolution of the nineteenth century must let the dead bury their dead in order to arrive at its own content. There the phrase went beyond the content – here the content goes beyond the phrase.

    We would do well to keep these words in mind over the next decades, to avoid recoiling from real solutions and insisting on fantastic ones. The project of the Green New Deal is really nothing like the New Deal of the 1930s, except in the most superficial ways. The New Deal was a response to an immediate economic emergency, the Great Depression, and not a future climate catastrophe: its main goal was to restore growth to an economy that had shrunk by 50 percent and in which one out of every four people was unemployed. The goal of the New Deal was to get capitalism to do what it already wanted to do: put people to work, exploit them, and then sell them the products of their own labor. The state was necessary as a catalyst and a mediator, setting the right balance between profit and wages, chiefly by strengthening the hand of labor and weakening that of business. Aside from the fact that it involves capital outlays that are much larger, the Green New Deal has a more difficult ambition: rather than get capitalism to do what it wants to do, it has to get it to pursue a path that is certainly bad for the owners of capital in the long run.

    Whereas the New Deal needed only to restore growth, the Green New Deal has to generate growth and reduce emissions. The problem is that growth and emissions are, by almost every measure, profoundly correlated. The Green New Deal thus risks becoming a sort of Sisyphean reform, rolling the rock of emissions reductions up the hill each day only to have a growing, energy-hungry economy knock it back down to the bottom each night.

    Advocates of green growth promise an “absolute decoupling” of emissions and growth, where each additional unit of energy adds no CO2 to the atmosphere. Even if such a thing were technologically possible, even if it were possible to generate zero- or low-emissions energy not only adequate to but in excess of current demand, such decoupling would require far greater power over the behavior of capitalists than the New Deal ever mustered.

    FDR and his coalition in Congress exerted modest control over corporations through a process of “countervailing power,” in the words of John Kenneth Galbraith, tilting the playing field to disempower capitalists relative to workers and consumers, and making new investment more appealing. The state did undertake direct investment—building roads, bridges, power stations, parks, and museums—but did so not in order to supplant private investment but to create “forever a yardstick against extortion,” in FDR’s high-toned phrasing. Government power plants would, for example, disclose the true (lower) price of electricity, barring energy monopolies from price gouging.

    Green New Dealers flag this aspect of the New Deal, since it’s ostensibly so close to what they propose. The Tennessee Valley Authority, a public power company still in operation eighty years later, is the most famous of these projects. Public infrastructure, clean energy, economic development—the TVA brought together many of the elements essential to the Green New Deal. Building dams and hydroelectric power stations along the Tennessee River, it provided clean, cheap electricity to one of the most economically depressed regions of the country. The hydroelectric plants were, in turn, linked up to factories producing nitrates, an energy-intensive raw material needed for both fertilizer and explosives. Wages and crop yields rose, power costs fell. The TVA brought cheap energy, cheap fertilizer, and good jobs to a place previous known for malaria, poor soil quality, incomes less than half the national average, and alarmingly high unemployment.

    The problem with this scenario as a framework for the Green New Deal is that renewables are not massively cheaper than fossil fuels. The state cannot blaze the trail to cheap, renewable energy, satisfying consumers with lower costs and producers with acceptable profits. Many once thought that the depletion of oil and coal reserves would save us, raising the price of fossil fuels above that of renewables and forcing the switch as a matter of economic necessity. Unfortunately, that messianic price point has drifted farther into the future as new drilling technologies, introduced in the last decade, have made it possible to frack oil from shale and to recover reserves from fields previously thought exhausted. The price of oil has stayed stubbornly low, and the US is, suddenly, producing more of it than anyone else. The doomsday scenarios of “peak oil” are now a turn-of-the-millennium curiosity, like Y2K or Al Gore. Sorry, wrong apocalypse.

    “The problem with the Green New Deal is that it promises to change everything while keeping everything the same.”

    Some will tell you that renewables can compete with fossil fuels on the open market. Wind and hydroelectric and geothermal have, it’s true, become cheaper as sources of electricity, in some cases cheaper than coal and natural gas. But they’re still not cheap enough. That’s because, in order to bankrupt the fossil capitalists, renewables will need to do more than edge out fossil fuels by a penny or two per kilowatt-hour. There are trillions of dollars sunk into fossil energy infrastructure and the owners of those investments will invariably choose to recoup some of that investment rather than none of it. To send the value of those assets to zero and force energy capitalists to invest in new factories, renewables need to be not only cheaper but massively cheaper, impossibly cheaper. At least this is the conclusion reached by a group of engineers Google convened to study the problem. Existing technologies are never going to be cheap enough to bankrupt coal-fired power plants: we’d need stuff that is currently science-fiction like cold fusion. This is not only because of the problem of sunk costs, but because electricity from solar and wind is not “dispatchable” on demand. It is only available when and where the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. If you want it on demand, you’re going to have to store it (or transport it thousands of miles) and that’s going to raise the price.

    Most will tell you that the answer to this problem is taxation of dirty energy or an outright ban, alongside subsidy of the clean. A carbon tax, judiciously applied, can tip the scales in favor of renewables until they are able to beat fossil energy outright. New fossil sources and infrastructure can be prohibited and revenue from the taxes can be used to pay for research into new technology, efficiency improvements, and subsidies for consumers. But now one is talking about something other than a New Deal, blazing the way to a more highly productive capitalism in which profits and wages can rise together. There are 1.5 trillion barrels of proven oil reserves on the planet, according to some calculations—around $50 trillion worth if we assume a very low average cost per barrel of thirty-five dollars. This is value that oil companies have already accounted for in their mathematical imaginings. If carbon taxes or bans reduce that number tenfold, fossil capitalists will do everything they can to avoid, subvert, and repeal them. The problem of sunk costs again applies. If you slaughter the value of those reserves, you might, perversely, bring down the cost of fossil fuels, encouraging more consumption and more emissions, as oil producers scramble to sell their excess supply in countries without a carbon tax. For reference, there is about $300 trillion of total wealth on the planet, most of it in the hands of the owning class. The global Gross Domestic Product, the value of all the goods and services produced in a year, is around $80 trillion. If you propose to wipe out $50 trillion, one-sixth of the wealth on the planet, equal to two-thirds of global GDP, you should expect the owners of that wealth to fight you with everything they have, which is more or less everything.

    _____

    Like a thousand-page novel with a MacGuffin or stylistic outrage on every page, the Green New Deal presents a challenge for critics. There are just so many levels on which it will never work. There is an infinity of worlds in which the GND fails—a million President Sanderses or, with more urgency, Ocasio-Cortezes presiding over the disaster. One might write an entire essay, for example, about its political impossibility given the complete saturation of the US state by corporate interests and a party-system and division of powers that lists badly to the right. Another essay about how, even if it were politically possible, outlays on the order of several trillion dollars per year would most likely wreck the dollar, driving up projected costs. An essay about vested interests and the war they’d wage. An essay about how, even if you cleared both those hurdles, the history of recent monetary interventions into the economy–$4.5 trillion injected into the economy during Obama’s tenure by the Fed’s quantitative easing, $1.5 trillion for Trump’s cuts—indicates that the Green New Deal will struggle to encourage corporations to spend this money as intended, on investment in green infrastructure, rather than funneling it straight into real-estate and stocks, as has happened in all these prior cases.

    It’s easy to get lost in the weeds here and lose sight of the essential. In each of these scenarios, on each of these sad, warming planets, the Green New Deal fails because capitalism. Because, in capitalism, a small class of owners and managers, in competition with itself, finds itself forced to make a set of narrow decisions about where to invest and in what, establishing prices, wages, and other fundamental determinants of the economy. Even if these owners wanted to spare us the drowned cities and billion migrants of 2070, they could not. They would be undersold and bankrupted by others. Their hands are tied, their choices constrained, by the fact that they must sell at the prevailing rate or perish. It is the class as a whole that decides, not its individual members. This is why the sentences of Marxists (and Marx) so often treat capital as agent rather than object. The will towards relentless growth, and with it increasing energy use, is not chosen, it is compelled, a requirement of profitability where profitability is a requirement of existence.

    If you tax oil, capital will sell it elsewhere. If you increase demand for raw materials, capital will bid up the prices of commodities, and rush materials to market in the most wasteful, energy-intensive way. If you require millions of square miles for solar panels, wind farms, and biofuel crops, capital will bid up the price of real estate. If you slap tariffs on necessary imports, capital will leave for better markets. If you try to set a maximum price that doesn’t allow profit, capital will simply stop investing. Lop off one head of the hydra, face another. Invest trillions of dollars into infrastructure in the US and you’ll have to confront the staggeringly wasteful, slow, and unproductive construction industry, where laying a mile of subway can be twenty times as expensive and take four times as long. You’ll have to confront the earthen monsters of Bechtel and Fluor Corp., habituated to feeding at the government trough and billing fifty dollar screws. If this doesn’t chasten you, consider the world-historical inefficiency of the US military, the planet’s biggest oil consumer and, unsurprisingly, also the planet’s main oil cop. The Pentagon is an accounting black hole, into which the wealth of the nation is ploughed and from which no light emerges. Its balance sheet is a blank.

    _____

    I suspect many advocates of the Green New Deal know all this. They don’t really think it will happen as promised, and they know that, if it does happen, it won’t work. This is probably why there’s so little concrete detail being offered. Discussion so far has largely revolved around the question of budgeting, with the advocates of Modern Monetary Theory arguing that there is no upper bound on government spending for a country like the US, and tax-and-spend leftists firing back with all sorts of counter-scenarios. The MMT advocates are technically correct, but they discount the power that owners of US debt have to determine the value of the dollar, and therefore prices and profits. Meanwhile, critics of the Green New Deal confine their discussion to the least problematic aspects. Don’t get me wrong, budget items on the order of tens of trillions of dollars are a big deal. But securing the bag is hardly the biggest problem. Implementation is where it really dies, and few advocates have much to say about such details.

    The Green New Deal proposes to decarbonize most of the economy in ten years—great, but no one is talking about how. This is because, for many, its value is primarily rhetorical; it’s about shifting the discussion, gathering political will, and underscoring the urgency of the climate crisis. It’s more big mood more than grand plan. Many socialists will recognize that mitigation of climate change within a system of production for profit is impossible, but they think a project like the Green New Deal is what Leon Trotsky called a “transitional program,” hinged upon a “transitional demand.” Unlike the minimal demand, which capitalism can easily meet, and the maximal demand which it clearly can’t, the transitional demand is something that capitalism could potentially meet if it were a rational and humane system, but in actuality can’t. By agitating around this transitional demand, socialists expose capitalism as an extraordinarily wasteful and destructive coordinator of human activity, incapable of delivering on its own potential and, in this case, responsible for an unimaginable number of future deaths. So exposed, one might then safely proceed to do away with capitalism. Faced with the resistance of the capitalist class and an entrenched government bureaucracy, officials elected around a Green New Deal could safely, with the support of the masses, move to expropriate the capitalist class and reorganize the state along socialist lines. Or so the story goes.

    I’ve always despised the transitional program concept. I think, for starters, that it’s condescending, presuming that the “masses” need to be told one thing in order, eventually, to be convinced of another. I also think it’s dangerous, with the potential to profoundly backfire. Revolutions do begin, often, where reforms fail. But the problem is that the transitional demand encourages you to build institutions and organizations around one set of goals with the hope that you can rapidly convert them to another when the time comes. But institutions are tremendously inertial structures. If you build a party and other institutions around the idea of solving climate change within capitalism, do not be surprised when some large fraction of that party resists your attempt to convert it into a revolutionary organ. The history of socialist and communist parties is reason for caution. Even after the Second International betrayed its members by sending them to slaughter each other in the First World War, and even after a huge fraction split to form revolutionary organizations in the wake of the Russian Revolution, many members of the party and its network of unions continued to support it, out of habit and because it had built a thick network of cultural and social structures to which they were bound by a million and one ties. Beware that, in pursuit of the transitional program, you do not build up the forces of your future enemy.

    _____

    Let’s instead say what we know to be true. The pathway to climate stabilization below two degrees Celsius offered by the Green New Deal is illusory. Indeed, at present the only solutions possible within the framework of capitalism are ghastly, risky forms of geo-engineering, chemically poisoning either the ocean or the sky to absorb carbon or limit sunlight, preserving capitalism and its host, humanity, at the cost of the sky (now weatherless) or the ocean (now lifeless). Unlike emissions reductions, such projects will not require international collaboration. Any country could begin geo-engineering right now. What’s to stop China or the US from deciding to dump sulfur into the sky, if things get hot enough and bad enough?

    The problem with the Green New Deal is that it promises to change everything while keeping everything the same. It promises to switch out the energetic basis of modern society as if one were changing the battery in a car. You still buy a new iPhone every two years, but zero emissions. The world of the Green New Deal is this world but better—this world but with zero emissions, universal health care, and free college. The appeal is obvious but the combination impossible. We can’t remain in this world. To preserve the ecological niche in which we and our cohort of species have lived for the last eleven thousand years, we will have to completely reorganize society, changing where and how and most importantly why we live. Given current technology, there is no possibility to continue using more energy per person, more land per person, more more per person. This need not mean a gray world of grim austerity, though that’s what’s coming if inequality and dispossession continue. An emancipated society, in which no one can force another into work for reasons of property, could offer joy, meaning, freedom, satisfaction, and even a sort of abundance. We can easily have enough of what matters—conserving energy and other resources for food, shelter, and medicine. As is obvious to anyone who spends a good thirty seconds really looking, half of what surrounds us in capitalism is needless waste. Beyond our foundational needs, the most important abundance is an abundance of time, and time is, thankfully, carbon-zero, and even perhaps carbon-negative. If revolutionaries in societies that used one-fourth as much energy as we do thought communism right around the corner, then there’s no need to shackle ourselves to the gruesome imperatives of growth. A society in which everyone is free to pursue learning, play, sport, amusement, companionship, and travel, in this we see the abundance that matters.

    Perhaps breakthrough decarbonizing or zero-emissions technologies are almost here. One would be a fool to discount the possibility. But waiting for lightning to strike is not a politics. It’s been almost seventy years since the last paradigm-shifting technology was invented—transistors, nuclear power, genomics, all date from the middle of the twentieth century. Illusions of perspective and the endless stream of apps notwithstanding, the pace of technological change has slowed rather than accelerated. In any case, if capitalism suddenly finds it within its means to mitigate climate change, we can shift to talking about one of the other ten reasons why we should end it.

    We cannot keep things the same and change everything. We need a revolution, a break with capital and its killing compulsions, though what that looks like in the twenty-first century is very much an open question. A revolution that had as its aim the flourishing of all human life would certainly mean immediate decarbonization, a rapid decrease in energy use for those in the industrialized global north, no more cement, very little steel, almost no air travel, walkable human settlements, passive heating and cooling, a total transformation of agriculture, and a diminishment of animal pasture by an order of magnitude at least. All of this is possible, but not if we continue to shovel one half of all the wealth produced on the planet into the maw of capital, not if we continue to sacrifice some fraction of each generation by sending them into the pits, not if we continue to allow those whose only aim is profit to decide how we live.

    For now, a revolution is not on the horizon. We’re stuck between the devil and the green new deal and I can hardly blame anyone for committing themselves to the hope at hand rather than ambient despair. Perhaps work on legislative reforms will mean the difference between the unthinkable and the merely unbearable. But let’s not lie to each other.

    *Note: An earlier version of the essay stated the emissions of shipping as 17 percent. Thanks to Alyssa Battistoni for the correction.

    [Jasper Bernes is Managing Editor of Commune. He is the author of The Work of Art in the Age of Deindustrialization (Stanford, 2017) and two books of poetry: We Are Nothing and So Can You, and Starsdown. He lives in Berkeley with his family.]

    The Branding of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – By Any Means Necessary [Addendum]

    The Branding of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – By Any Means Necessary [Addendum]

    February 15, 2019

     

    By Cory Morningstar

     

    [ADDENDUM to Volume I, ACT V: The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The New Green Deal is the Trojan Horse for the Financialization of Nature]

    The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent series has been written in two volumes.

    [Volume I: ACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT VACT VI] [Book form]

    [Volume II: An Object Lesson In SpectacleACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT V • ACT VI] [ACTS VII & VIII forthcoming]

    • A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign [A Short Story] [Oct 2 2019]

    • The Global Climate Strikes: No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline [Oct 6 2019]

     

     

     

    Marketing to a key “femographic”, the Green New Deal is both literally and figuratively in Vogue.

    The following Teen Vogue makeup tutorial slash Ocasio-Cortez promotional video can only be understood through the lens of today’s incredible infatuation with superficial self-improvement. The makeup tutorial, now a new industry in itself, has been made popular (bordering on obsessive) with teenagers/youth by mainstream pop idols and celebrities, such as Western culture icons Kylie Jenner and music artist Rihanna.

    The tutorials further enrich the multi-billion dollar cosmetic industry. [Fortune, July 11, 2018: “How 20-Year-Old Kylie Jenner Built A $900 Million Fortune In Less Than 3 Years”] Rihanna’s net worth in 2018 was a reported 210 million USD having launched her cosmetic line Fenty Beauty with Kendo in 2017. Kendo is a subsidiary of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury group. The unprecedented covetousness for cosmetics lauded by celebrity, is also a reflection of unobtainable beauty expectations being marketed to young women.

    “According to the report, global cosmetic products market was valued at around USD 532 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach approximately USD 863 billion in 2024, growing at a CAGR of slightly above 7% between 2018 and 2024… In the U.S, growing Hispanic population is propelling demand for luxurious personal care brands and will escalate during the forecast years.” — Zion Market Research, June 22, 2018

    The following statistic taken from the Ocasio-Cortez campaign team (written by Data for Progress, author of “The Future  of the Party” policy report commissioned by the Justice Democrats) reveals how segments of the Ocasio-Cortez Latinx volunteer base could be effectively exploited to further her popularity with the aforementioned constituency:

    “In particular, Latinx voters are especially concerned about global warming compared to non-Latinx voters—78 percent to 56 percent—and think it should be a priority of Congress–70 percent compared to 52 percent. 45 Across the board, Latinx voters appear to take the issue and the response to global warming more seriously.” — Data for Progress, A Green New Deal policy report, September, 2018 [p. 24]

    Although media is quick to hype Rihanna’s vast combined fortune, few references are made to the fact she is a minority shareholder in her company. Hence, the astronomical profits (the brand grossed $72 million USD in its first month) go to those who own the majority of her company. By marketing black power and feminism, those that garner the vast amount of wealth garnered by Rihanna are Anglo billionaire men at the top of the pyramid.

    Further, although Ocasio-Cortez is presented as the celebrity Latina superstar in the political domain, she too, is placed there, only to serve capital belonging to the power elite. With a documentary film that recounts Ocasio-Cortez’s meteoric rise to stardom having just been purchased by Netflix for a cool ten million, we can expect cosmetic endorsements and cosmetic lines in the not-so-distant future. [February 7, 2019: ” Netflix just bought a film about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It might be the most ever paid for a Sundance documentary.”] In this day and age becoming a brand for corporate merchandise is no longer the death of cool – rather, it is the epitome of cool. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest that in the near future one’s bid for presidency may have more to do with who has the best makeover tutorials on social media than anything to do with housing, healthcare, education or the environment.

    +++

    MSN, February 7, 2019: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared her skincare routine on social media. Sit with four young Latinx campaign volunteers from her congressional district in the Bronx and Queens as they try her detailed instructions and talk about AOC’s impact in their lives.” [Teen Vogue]

    Video: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Campaign Volunteers Try Her Skincare and Beauty Routine | Teen Vogue [5m:48s]:

     

    [Further reading: Barclays: Gen Z: Step aside Millennials, November 8, 2018]

     

     

    [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 and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

    Edited with Forrest Palmer, Wrong Kind of Green Collective.

     

     

    The West has Performed ‘Philosophical Coup’ against the Left

    New Eastern Outlook

    August 2, 2018

    by Andre Vltchek


     

    It has been happening for quite some time, but no one has been paying much attention: Western academia, mainstream media, and the most visible propagandists, were trying to convince the world that 1) ideology has died, or at least became irrelevant 2) in case it did not die, the Left is actually… hold your breath… right-wing!

    Especially the Left that is holding power, particularly in Asia and in Latin America, is being ‘re-defined’ in London, Paris and Washington. The Western propaganda gurus are apparently rejuvenated, lately, as there are great budgets available to them, in the United States, United Kingdom, and elsewhere. They are openly told to go after certain countries, particularly Russia, China and Iran.

    This is an extremely complex but important development. You see, the West has been losing, and so has capitalism and especially imperialism, which is synonymous with neo-colonialism.

    People all over the world had enough. Even certain groups inside the imperialist countries, have had enough.

    The main problem is that after decades, during which philosophy has been locked up, imprisoned, inside the decaying aulas of the toothless universities, most people have lost any idea what really disgusts them; what they are against, and what they desire.

    Philosophy and such deep and essential topics like ‘in what direction the world should be evolving’, are not discussed at UNESCO meetings, anymore, as they are not debated by talk show hosts and ‘public intellectuals’, at least not in open.

    Light pop music, horror movies, the promotion of selfish, often infantile values and desires, never really deeply satisfied the masses, but they damaged them, reducing people’s ability to think freely, to analyze and to make sober and well-informed conclusions.

    ‘-isms’ have been spat at, particularly the left-wing ‘-isms’. Increasingly, the left was smeared and then compared to the extreme right, even with fascism. In fact, pronouncing Communism and fascism in one breath, became tremendously well rewarded. In the West, thousands of ‘thinkers’ and ideologues made a great living doing nothing else than that.

    *

    This essay has been inspired by an exchange with an Irish academic, who called, in his email to me, this publication (NEO – New Eastern Outlook), an ‘extreme right-wing Russian nationalist publication’.

    I exploded, wrote back, clarifying that NEO is a left-wing, internationalist magazine, and that the people who are running it have nothing to do with anything right-wing, whatsoever. But I soon realized that this was not about the evidence, but about something very different.

    Similar, confusing messages are coming from everywhere, whenever I go to Europe or North America, or whenever I tune in to their television or radio channels. Something twisted is being broadcast, day and night. Political reality gets extremely fuzzy. Great left-wing political leaders are called names: demagogues, populists, even worse. And those constant, insane Cold War propagandist comparisons of Stalin and Hitler (any logical comparisons never appear, like Hitler = Churchill, German Nazism = European colonialism, etc.).

    The biggest problem is that a great majority of Western citizens have succumbed to this propaganda. They are not capable of questioning anything related to these issues, anymore, and were they to want to question, they don’t even know where to search for the sources that could effectively challenge the official dogma.

    They are indoctrinated, but they think that they are free. Not only that, they don’t realize that they are deeply conditioned and brainwashed: they actually think that they are in a position to preach, obliged to enlighten others, instructing the world with what they have been taught. And so, they speak and write, get paid for it. They join the U.N., ‘international cultural institutions’ and the NGOs, universities, and they continue spreading all those dogmas developed by the Western ideologues for one and the only purpose: to exploit and to control the world. They do not present these fabrications as theses, but as facts. Of course, there are no facts behind what they are preaching, as there is no hard evidence, but who would search for the evidence, and how? Even the internet is not so easy to navigate, anymore, and Western bookstores are nowhere as diverse as those in China or Russia.

    *

    Back to the main issue: it is essential for the West to discredit socialism, Communism, and also all anti-imperialist movements that are now getting stronger all over the world.

    In fact, many propagandists in London, Paris and Washington, are clearly realizing that the West and its control over the world, is almost finished. The more they are aware of this fact, the more aggressively they go after their adversaries (their jobs often depend on that control, and the privileges of their nation, of course, too).

    Attacking socialists or Communists who are holding power in Asia or Latin America, is not enough, anymore.

    Now the Empire is spreading pessimism, defeatism and dark nihilism, both at home and abroad (please read my latest book:Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism”). “All people are the same”, it says. Sounds nice, but what it means is actually extremely sinister: “All people are maniacal egotists like us, mass murderers like us, and of course, thieves!”

    Terms and definitions get all mixed up, confused. Nothing is defined precisely.

    For instance, when the left-wing governor of Jakarta, ‘Ahok’, began cleaning the most polluted city on Earth, building public transportation, providing the poor with social housing, several Indonesian NGOs paid by the West, as well as countless individuals, began calling ‘Ahok” a ‘right-winger’, because he was evicting petite capitalist street vendors and thugs who were shamelessly blocking the few sidewalks that the turbo-capitalist Jakarta has in its possession. Thugs and street vendors, who flourished during the fascist, anti-Communist dictatorship, have been terrorizing the city and its mainly poor dwellers for decades. But the argument went: “The Governor is against the little people”.

    There was actually a ‘great danger’ that this deeply popular governor could make it to a much higher post, even the highest one in the country. That would be unacceptable, and the servile ‘city planners’, academics and ‘civil society’ groups shamelessly teamed up against him. First, he was discredited (being called right-wing), then accused of insulting religion (Islam) and finally, thrown into prison. He is rotting there until now, for being a true socialist (a word that is even still illegal to pronounce in Indonesia, as it is being connected with Communism).

    The Jakarta scenario is of course no exception. The same is happening in the Philippines. The West and its local lackeys are attacking, with the same twisted ‘logic’ and zeal, countries such as Venezuela, Brazil, but especially China, Iran and Russia.

    To call China by what it really is: ‘Communist (with the Chinese characteristics) and presently the most successful country on Earth”, would be totally unacceptable, anywhere in the West or its ‘client’ states. That would greatly boost China’s popularity. Why? Because even deep in the dark belly of the capitalist and imperialist beast – Europe and North America – the common people actually want something ‘left-wing’, something socialist, even Communist. They were told to hate it, to trash it publicly, and they do. But deep inside, many are still longing for it.

    The Empire knows psychological warfare extremely well: to discredit China, it really has to be called capitalist. Or call it imperialist. Say it is ‘like us’. (“Like us” is definitely not good. The people on all continents hate ‘us’). Say that China is not helping African people by building infrastructure, hospitals and schools (although that is precisely what China is doing, if you ask Africans – something that no Western journo is bothering to do). Say that China is ‘following its own interests’, and that it is doing business (again, these days, a dirty word, except in a few Southeast Asian helplessly corrupt and servile ‘client’ states).

    The same is true when it comes to Russia. The foreign policy of Russia is clearly anti-imperialist. In many ways, it is still that good old Soviet foreign policy – internationalist, egalitarian, based on humanism. Present-day Russian diplomats are brilliant, soft-spoken philosophers. The West can never match them. Therefore, it smears them, their country and everything that it stands for. President Putin is portrayed as some right-wing strongman and lunatic, and Russia as a capitalist state. It is thorough nonsense, as Russia is in many ways, increasingly, similar to its close ally – China. Russia counts on a mixed economy with a great accent on social welfare, and it is a country that is ready to defend and protect those who are brutalized by Western neo-colonialism. It occupies nobody, overthrows no governments. It is increasingly a good, solid and compassionate country, but the more it is, the more demonized it gets. The better it behaves, the more it gets smeared, mostly by being called ‘capitalist’, ‘right-wing’, an ‘oligarchy’. Well, great propaganda barks for sure; the Western demagogues and intelligence officers certainly know their trade.

    Syria, oh how is it being defined by the Western demagogues? How it is being defamed! It is never called by what it really has been for decades – a Pan-Arab socialist state! It’s ‘regime’ (a favorite British derogatory term, which I actually love to use against their own, British fascist, stale, passive-aggressive monarchy) is constantly branded as ‘dictatorial’. You will never hear expressions like ‘socialist’ or ‘internationalist’. You know why? Because, let me repeat it again, these terms, deep inside, evoke sympathy in the ears of people worldwide, even in the hearts of some Westerners, subconsciously.

    ‘Socialist’, ‘serving the people’ – you may smear it, but that is what people really want, and wanted for decades and centuries. That is what they have fought for, were dying for; on the barricades. Some instincts are still there, in people’s hearts, or do you think that they were sacrificing their lives in order to be governed by individuals like Macron or May?

    Therefore, the socialists, not some European pseudo-traitors-socialists, but true socialists and Communists, are constantly branded by the West as ‘populists’, demagogues and often, even as right-wingers.

    This negative, nihilist, depressing propaganda blurs and confuses the people everywhere. It calls white, black, and black, white. It labels Communists as fascists, and then declares that both fascists and Communists are the same.

    Now the people, at least those who are the most exposed to the Western mass media, are ‘unable to commit themselves’ to anything, from political labels, to revolutionary ideals, and even to each other. They go ‘by issues’, arrogantly selfish (hundreds of millions of atomized centers of the universe) in both personal lives and in politics. In London or Paris, not to speak of New York City, those who are believed to be the ‘most educated’, are sadly the most conditioned, indoctrinated and feeble.

    It is quite remarkable that in some parts of the world like Southeast Asia, the West has managed to create an absolutely bizarre West-lookalike-but-not-really-alike ‘upper class’, by injecting an idiotic type of education and cheap ‘cultural values’ (I will address this issue soon, in my upcoming essay). The result is – obedient and soulless countries unable to create anything new and substantial.

    *

    All of this, just in order to prevent the world from following its instincts – from choosing socialism and Communism.

    You see, the task of the Western regime is tremendous: to break, to pervert, the natural reflexes of human beings. Whenever people anywhere in the world have been given a true opportunity, they voted, or fought for, some type of socialism, or Communism.

    Basically, all the countries of Latin America selected, democratically, left-wing governments. And they were overthrown by the West and by their lackeys. It is happening to this day. Millions have been dying in the process.

    In Africa – precisely the same. It began with Patrice Lumumba and his murder, and it never stopped. Fascist monsters and mentally sick individuals were injected from abroad, and paid to govern.

    Asia? Absolute horror: from the socialist Iran in 1950’s to internationalist, Communist Indonesia before 1965, people wanted Communism and got murdered, raped and in the end, robbed of everything. By whom: by the West and its apparatchiks and local spooks from the colonial era. Countries that resisted and won, like China, and Vietnam, are now much better off than others.

    They all wanted socialism, all over the world: The Middle East, too, and yes, Europe as well! It truly takes great discipline and continuous brainwashing, to forget that the US and UK intelligence services prevented Europeans in France, Italy and even West Germany, from voting in Communists after WWII. Nazis were employed to intimidate and to murder left-wing candidates. Then they were shipped to South America, where they either ‘retired’, or began collaborating with the fascist pro-Western regimes. I know it: I spoke, couple of decades ago, to those old beasts who were allowed to escape with their loot of gold teeth from the concentration camps – to Paraguay, Argentina, Chile.

    Destroying the natural human longing for socialism is the main task of the Western regimes, be they ‘constitutional monarchies’ or ‘guided multi-party hoaxes’.

    The result is total global schizophrenia. Intuitively, people desire something, but they are told that it is wrong, and then they are ordered what to desire (unless they want to become unemployable).

    It is the same with love and sex. We, men, are told that our bodies should be longing for certain types of women. Women are instructed what type of man to desire.

    It is the same with jobs, or how people pass their free time: banging into mobile phones, playing degenerate video games, and studying some nonsense at university, just to get a diploma that certifies them as some good future servants of the regime.

    What did they do to people, really? Adults, fathers and mothers, ‘respected’ individuals are moving their fingers all over the phone monitors, playing infantile games and making babyish faces, while taking their own photographs at every corner. European intellectual cinema has collapsed, as well as literature. And everyone is grinning like idiots. And almost everyone is suicidal.

    It is clearly a post-coup situation. It is abnormal.

    Pathological. Almost nobody is happy. Everyone pretends to be happy.

    You see, deep inside, people like to dream about a better world, they like to commit, even sacrifice themselves for another being, or for an ideal, or revolution.

    This insanity which the West has spread, just so its dear capitalism and neo-colonialism stays in control of the planet, will not last much longer.

    Soon, people will realize that there is nothing more glorious than to build his or her country, to improve conditions all over the world, to clean up our environment, to love and to fully commit to that love.

    Before that, however, the lies have to be exposed. White is white and black is black. War is war, peace is peace. Aggressors are aggressors and victims are victims.

    The West has immobilized people all over the world with its filthy, depressing lies. It stares at humans, like a cobra stares at a tiny, poor mouse.

    Soon, I am sure the world will rise and demand the truth! With the truth, the psychological balance will return. People will learn how to dream again. With dreams, the insanity that the West has been spreading, will be confronted. Imperialism will shout, howl; it will try to bite everything that moves, but relatively quickly, it will lose all its power and, hopefully, kick the bucket. I believe in it. Millions are now, again, ready to fight for it.

     

     

    [Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including The Great October Socialist Revolution. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”]

    Building Movement Politics Means Fighting Democrats

    Black Agenda Report

    March 29, 2018

    By Glen Ford

    Building Movement Politics Means Fighting Democrats
     

    In the absence of a renewed, grassroots street offensive against the armed occupation of Black communities, there will be no relief from the daily slaughter.”

     

    Cops “have the right to shoot us, they get away with it every day,” said a despairing Dawnya Walker, one of 300 community residents that descended on Sacramento, California’s city hall to protest the police killing of Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard . The numbers show that Walker is correct: U.S. police enjoy near-absolute impunity to gun down young Black males without any reasonable fear of punishment. Eight years of a Black, Democratic president in the Oval Office made not the slightest dent in that American reality, despite the re-emergence in 2014 of an incipient social justice movement under the heading of Black Lives Matter.

    The youthful insurgency lost momentum — waylaid by the inexorable pull of Democratic Party politics and corporate philanthropy — long before Donald Trump entered the White House and installed a pure Dixiecrat as attorney general. Trumpian malevolence cast an orange chill across Black America. “It has been a long time since any victim was given as much attention as Stephon Clark,” writes Margaret Kimberley, in the current of issue of BAR.

    “We are enveloped in a toxic miasma of Russia-hate that, by sheer weight and repetition, has infested every aspect of American political thought.”

    There is “movement” afoot in the U.S., but it does not “arc towards justice.” Ever since Trump’s electoral victory, the collective national consciousness has been smothered in a maddening fog of manic, industrial-scale propaganda, spewed non-stop by corporate communications conglomerates working hand-in-glove with the most aggressive elements of the surveillance-intelligence “community” and the bi-partisan War Party. We are enveloped in a toxic miasma of Russia-hate that, by sheer weight and repetition, has infested every aspect of American political thought, distorting and subverting even the most progressive-minded “movements” struggling to find a way towards human dignity under late stage capitalism in a profoundly racist country. Voices for peace and social justice are asphyxiated in the pestilential plume — unless they find their own air.

    Damn right, there is a conspiracy — possibly the loudest one in history! — megaphoned by a billionaire-owned media screaming “War, War, War” day and night, fouling the public mind with pure reactionary malice. The duopoly contest has devolved into a dance of death between Donald Trump’s raw white supremacist nationalism and Democratic Party corporate imperial warmongering. Only fools claim there is space for progressive maneuver in the interstices between such forces.

    “The Democratic Party remains under the firm control of the Clinton/Obama forces that reinforced mass Black incarceration in the Nineties and militarized the police in this century.”

    What is needed is clarity among genuine leftists and serious Black liberationists in the face of rampaging reaction. There is no lesser evil in this house of fear and apocalyptic brinksmanship. The Democrats have colluded in a budget whose gargantuan military outlays will inevitably doom what’s left of the U.S. social safety net — that is, if the human race is not annihilated, beforehand. They have replaced and outshouted the John McCain’s and Lindsay Graham’s of the Republican Party in demonizing, not just Vladimir Putin, but every government and movement in the world that resists U.S. lawlessness and aggression.

    The Democratic Party remains under the firm control of the Clinton/Obama forces that reinforced mass Black incarceration in the Nineties and militarized the police at unprecedented levels in this century through the Pentagon’s 1033 program. In the absence of a renewed, grassroots street offensive against the armed occupation of Black communities, there will be no relief from the daily slaughter and the accompanying political evisceration of Black America.

    Yes, it is certain that Trump’s very presence encourages the most swinish elements of the police. But it is also true that the Democrats — including Black Democrats — have controlled the city governments that maintain the police state in Black neighborhoods and relentlessly disperse our people through gentrification.

    “What is needed is clarity among genuine leftists and serious Black liberationists in the face of rampaging reaction.”

    And now it is the Democrats that take the lead in purging the Internet of dissenting political views, under the guise of defending fragile American minds against foreign manipulation. Silicon Valley — the big business sector most supportive of Clinton/Obama Democrats — is thus given license to shape reality in ways that make corporate dictatorship appear both logical and inevitable. Trump’s troglodytes could never finesse such a hijacking of fundamental democratic rights, but the Democrats are pulling it off with alarming speed. There’s nothing “lesser” about this evil.

    When the Democrats got their wish, that Trump win the Republican presidential nomination, they became the predominant party of the U.S. ruling class and the most aggressive defenders of empire. Into Hillary Clinton’s campaign “Big Tent” slivered the dregs of the national security state, for whom peaceful coexistence among nations is anathema. Bernie Sanders cannot purge them from their central position in the party. The World Socialist Web Site reports that “an extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.” By WSWS’s count, if the Democrats capture a majority of seats in the House this November, “candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress.”

    Such a party is incompatible with any domestic social justice agenda — and a threat to the survival of the species. The Left’s job is to disentangle our people from the political clutches of the ruling class and to build independent people’s organizations. The Republicans are a white people’s problem, but Black activists cannot confront the police, the oligarchs or the warmongers without fighting the Democrats.

     

    [BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com]

    WATCH: Weaponized Charity: Haiti Child Trafficking Hub Exposed

    WATCH: Weaponized Charity: Haiti Child Trafficking Hub Exposed

    Èzili Dantò

    August 14, 2017

     

    “The United Nations is by far the biggest harborer of pedophiles in the world. They prey on children with alarming regularity during their many years of UN employment throughout the world.” — Former senior UN official [Source]

     

    Background: “Attorney Èzili Dantò is the most prolific international writer and advocate for Haiti and is internationally known as the foremost legal analyst and commentator/writer of the untold counter-colonial-narrative on Haiti. Dantò wrote a judicial reform agenda for Haiti, advised and supervised on numerous judicial reform projects while working as legal advisor and international foreign consultant to Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide between 1993-1995. Since the 2004 coup d’etat/rendition kidnapping of President Aristide that destroyed Haiti’s democracy and put it under UN proxy military occupation for the US, France and Canada, Attorney Dantò, through her work at Ezili’s Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, has been the leading and most trustworthy international voice in Haiti advocacy, human rights work, Haiti news and Haiti news analysis.”

     

    Èzili Dantò Statement in New Haven Court

    Case 3:09-cr-00207-JBA
    Transcript from Perlitz Sentencing hearing on 12/21/2010, Pages 105 to 115

    ezilidanto

    Attorney Dantò brings an enlarged photo of Haiti philanthropist Pierre Toussaint to Court. Holds up his picture as she makes this statement to The Court

    MS. PATEL: Your Honor,…I do know that based on conversations both with chambers as well as the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, there is an individual from that organization that wishes to address the Court. I don’t know if your Honor’s intention was to hear from Ms. Dantò now or if you would like to deal with the arguments on the upward departure motion.

    THE COURT: I will hear from her…

    MS. DANTÒ: Good afternoon, your Honor.

    THE COURT: Just a moment, please. Yes your name, please.

    MS. DANTÒ: My name is Èzili Dantò. I’m the president and founder of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network.

    First, your Honor, I want to thank you for giving us this opportunity to address the Court.1 And I would like to also say, your Honor, that as Haitians, the Haitian Lawyers Leadership is an organization that was founded in 1994, 16 years ago, and our main purpose is to institutionalize the rule of law in Haiti and to protect and defend the cultural, the civil, the economic and the human rights of Haitians living at home and abroad.

    THE COURT: Would you pull that microphone a little closer to you, please.

    MS. DANTÒ: Can you hear me?

    THE COURT: That’s fine.

    MS. DANTÒ: We take this opportunity, your Honor, to thank you for this unique opportunity not often provided to Haitians to speak for themselves. We also take this opportunity to express our deep appreciation and gratitude of the U.S. government, the prosecuting team, Homeland Security staff, and all authorities, the U.S. investigators who worked so hard to get this case here.

    I have been working on Haiti issues as a human rights lawyer for 24 years. I am a member of both the New York and the Connecticut bars. This is the first time that I’ve had the opportunity to represent Haitians at a level where we can actually speak for ourselves to the injustices that our people are suffering in Haiti. This, first of its kind case, is setting a precedent that is so important to us Haitians. It is warning all who prey on the helpless outside of the United States, masking it with benevolence, that impunity no longer rules.

    Haitians Oct 28, 2009 
    No Bail For Pedophiles – No bail for Douglas Perlitz

    We give special thanks to lead counsel, Assistant United States Attorney Krishna Patel, for all her hard work, along with Stephen B. Reynolds, Richard Schechter, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigator Rod Khattabi. And, your Honor, I’d like to also thank the Haitians who took this case at the — at great personal risk. I think there is a representative here from the Haitian National Police Department Brigade of Protection For Minors, for all of their good work in getting the first, I think in 2009, warrant for the arrest of Mr. Perlitz. I know how difficult that was. So we give maximum respect also to the teachers and employees at Project Pierre Toussaint who first stepped forward to expose Mr. Perlitz at great risk to themselves, their families, and of course the loss of income.

    All the way here — I want to say to especially Margarette, that though I don’t know who you are, but all the way here we heard of the work that you have been doing with the children. Thank you.

    But above all, we are here, your Honor, to support the victims of Mr. Perlitz and to ask you to consider the severest, most maximum sentence and fines being moved against Mr. Perlitz.

    Before I go on, I just want to say that in the courtroom we have some of the prominent attorneys who are with us at the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, attorneys who have traveled great distances to come here and who have practiced law both in New York and in Connecticut. We have Bob Celestin, who is licensed to practice law since 1985, for 25 years. He’s a New York lawyer. He’s been a founding member of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership and one of our board members. We have with us also someone you may know, your Honor, Henri Alexandre, who is also a member of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network, former assistant attorney general, and who is now in private practice. We have also in the courtroom Joseph Makhandal Champagne, another lawyer, the newest member of the Haitian Lawyer Leadership board, practicing law in New Jersey, recently elected as mayor of South Town River, New Jersey.

    Haitians say No Bail for Pedophiles, October 28, 2009

    Our organization, your Honor, is made up of not just lawyers. We started out in 1994 as lawyers, but found that justice in Haiti was for sale and that we had to open up our organization of network to counter a narrative about Haiti that is used to abuse Haitians in many ways. And so, your Honor, we also have with us here this network of people of all races, of all creeds, of all nationalities. Most — a lot of our work is done on Haitian radio, on Haitian Internet, and we have partners and collaborators in Haiti, and I think it was around 2005 that we first heard about this particular case in Cap-Haitien.

    We’ve come here, your Honor, to ask that you give the maximum sentence to Mr. Perlitz. There is, your Honor, an unconscious message and stereotype that allows for this sort of abuse to go undetected for so long, and I want to take the moments that I have to talk about that.

    But first I want to say with respect to these children, what we have here is a man who used good deeds to entice, to persuade, and to serially rape children as young as 11 years old, 12 years old. These are babies who were not being fully formed. But more than that, your Honor, if a minor, if an underaged victim of sexual abuse in the United States, the richest country in the world, who have parents, who have family, who have a stable community, who has the rule of law, well-trained public police professionals, if that minor, underage victim finds it difficult, shameful and intimidating to come forward, imagine how a child on the streets of Haiti who must depend on shelter, who must depend on food from Mr. Perlitz would feel having to come forward.

    This is, to me, the vilest form of abuse. Mr. Perlitz, in exchange for giving the children shelter, giving the children basics, food, stole their innocence, stole their childhood, shredded their soul and made them live in the shadow of victimhood and powerlessness.

    I believe, your Honor, that it is critically important to the healing of these children that Mr. Perlitz is given the maximum sentence for several reasons. First, because he’s only facing one charge, and we know that he has admitted to at least eight minor victims, and that one charge has — the range is from 8 to 19.7, but we know beyond that that there were many, many more victims of Mr. Perlitz.

    And I want to point out how egregious, how vile and arrogant Mr. Perlitz was in his abuse; that even when there was a warrant for his arrest in Haiti, he still managed to see the children in the Dominican Republic. Moreover, your Honor, there are some very good charity workers in Haiti, some very good people whose trust was betrayed here, because unbeknownst to donors — now, I was born in Haiti, but I was raised in Stamford, Connecticut, and I find that, you know, I have talked over the years about this case with some donors, and basically Mr. Perlitz used funds given in good conscience by good and kind and generous U.S. citizens to do the most unconscionable, to barter for sex and prey on helpless children. To give them an environment, supposedly, he was supposed to give them an environment healthier than the street environment, but, in essence, that did not happen.

    “Douglas Perlitz forever scarred, in the vilest way, the most vulnerable of children in the Western Hemisphere. He deserves the maximum sentence.” — Èzili Dantò of HLLN

    It was very heartbreaking for us here as Haitians to sit in this audience and listen to these Haitians speak about the pain, the wound. And I see a maximum sentence, your Honor, as a recognition, a validation of the dignity and value of the lives of these Haitians. Haitians lives should not be so devalued that Mr. Perlitz can say I believe I should have the lowest possible sentence because I was an alcoholic, because I was drunk, because I was abused myself, because I had lost my father. There is absolutely no reason for a man to take an 11-year-old, make him dependent on him and then destroy his soul.

    There are many, many ways, your Honor, to kill someone, and I’ve been doing work, Haiti work for a long, long time, and have come across many predators as well as good people, but definitely many predators who have gone to Haiti because it’s safe for them. It’s a place where the business people turn a blind eye when a Blan, which is the word we use to mean foreigner, to mean a white person, to mean someone who is non-Haitian, brings a child to a restaurant and then goes to a room with that child. Some people turn a blind eye, some of the restaurant people. A lot of people just turn a blind eye because they are making money.

    These children may not be dead physically by the action of Mr. Perlitz, but these children suffered tragedies that have affected Haiti. They’re a part of the uncounted victims of various tragedies that we are going through right now. These children have been both spiritually and mentally killed by this sexual predator. In essence, you know, they are the walking dead. I believe that a maximum sentence will help to heal them, would help to validate them, will help elevate their dignity. And so those are the various reasons that we think a maximum sentence should be given.

    But most importantly, of course, as a deterrence, because as I speak to you right now, I can tell your Honor that in the last five years I’ve dealt with many other cases of similar abuse by charity workers and priests, and not many have gotten to this level. So the deterrence, the message that this can send is beyond measure. The message that giving a maximum sentence can send is to say to those who are in Haiti right now capitalizing on the lack of safety for children, the lack of stability, the lack of resources, is that you may not get away with this. There are judges like Judge Arterton who will look at this situation and who these children can turn to, people like Krishna Patel, who will take this to the maximum.

    So, your ruling, your Honor, will be an international deterrence because it is not — there are many defrocked, there are many other sort of religious folks that when they’re caught in the United States they end up in Haiti or in Africa. One of the statistics you may not know about is that most Haitians know that sexual abuse by foreign tourists, charity workers, pastors and priests in Haiti is a pandemic. Our sources report that out of every ten Haitian families, more than half in Haiti have been molested by either a priest, a missionary or a charity worker. This generation of Haitians, we here, want to put a stop to it, and we’d like to begin here right now with the sentencing of Mr. Perlitz.

    To end, your Honor, there is a Haitian whose name is being used here in vain. There is a Haitian who is I guess the most venerated Black Catholic in the Catholic church. He’s a person that was enslaved, African, who came to New York in 1787. His name is Pierre Toussaint. Pierre Toussaint was a philanthropist.

    He’s the founder of Catholic charitable works in the United States.

    It is his name that Mr. Perlitz, and his reputation, that Mr. Perlitz used to bless his project Pierre Toussaint. And as Haitians we find that to be vile, offensive, and we wanted to stand before you and take back Pierre Toussaint from all this mess because he, in 1787, came as an enslaved African to New York. By the example of his life, he showed what generosity is, what piety is, what the gospel of Christ is, what helping others selflessly is.

    One of Mr. Perlitz’s supporters said that he had such a big heart, Mr. Perlitz, that he had such kindness, that he was, in fact, the face of Christ.

    We respectfully disagree, and we respectfully would like everyone to remember that Pierre Toussaint, whose name is used to grace this mess, was someone who was — actually he founded the first orphanage in New York. His remains are at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick at the moment. He’s been venerated and he’s one step towards sainthood. So, if there was an image of (what divine charity objectively is) in this world, for Haitians and the world in this mess, it would be that of Pierre Toussaint.

    Thank you, your Honor.

    THE COURT: Thank you very much…”

     

    [Èzili Dantò (formerlly colonially named-Marguerite Laurent), is founder and President of the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (“HLLN”), a network of lawyers, scholars, journalists, concerned individuals and grassroots organizations and activists, dedicated to institutionalizing the rule of law and protecting the civil and cultural rights of Haitians at home and abroad. FULL BIO | You can follow her on twitter.]

     

    Well Funded Traditional Owner Splinter Group Continues To Fight Over Land Use Agreement With Adani Mining Company

    Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council

    December 2, 2017

     

    “We, the Wangan and Jagalingou people, are the Traditional Owners of the land in Queensland’s Galilee Basin. Corporate conglomerate, Adani, wants to use our ancestral lands for their Carmichael coal mine. We do hereby firmly REJECT a Land Use Agreement with Adani for the Carmichael mine on our traditional lands. We DO NOT consent to the Carmichael mine on our ancestral lands.We DO NOT accept Adani’s “offers” to sign away our land and our rights and interests in it. We will not take their “shut up” money. We will PROTECT and DEFEND our Country and our connection to it.”

     

    The Wangan and Jagalingou people are the proud Traditional Owners and Native Title Applicants of a vast area of land in central-western Queensland. [Source]

    Commentary by Wrong Kind of Green’s Australian correspondent Michael Swifte:

    “People should be asking the Queensland South Native Title Services about that dodgy vote. They are the brokers on behalf of the W&J (Wangan and Jagalingou) claim group. We should also be asking the National Native Title Tribunal what information they actually collect from Registered Native Title Bodies Corporate and their agents for use in arbitration for disputes over ILUA negotiations. Having spent several hours on the phone with the NNTT trying to ascertain if the ILUA negotiations with the Juru, Birriah, and Jannga peoples over the North Galilee Basin Rail Project corridor I can say with absolute confidence that the NNTT is in no position to effectively arbitrate any conflict over negotiations and voting meetings.

    In a document titled ‘Unfinished Business‘ authored by the very same people who’ve written the installments in the recent New Matilda 5 part series on the W&J Family Council, the QSNTS and the NNTT are identified as active agents in delivering outcomes that favour the Queensland Government and Adani.

    “The W&J argue that their engagements with the native title regime, including through organisations including the NNTT and the local NTRB, Queensland South Native Title Services, have seen the consistent prioritising of state and mining interests over their own interests in exercising meaningful consent in relation to Country.” [p. 26, UNFINISHED BUSINESS: ADANI, THE STATE, AND THE INDIGENOUS RIGHTS STRUGGLE OF THE WANGAN AND JAGALINGOU TRADITIONAL OWNERS COUNCIL 2017]

    +++

    Watch this powerful video and commentary shared by Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Council:

    “Murrawah’s question to ABC Q&A last night… If only they ran it! Instead, there are those who have nothing to do with our country or people, who aren’t correct about what’s been happening to W&J, like Warren Mundine, who get to speak instead of us. If this question was put, he wouldn’t get such a free run at misinforming the community, like he did last night.”

    Youth spokesperson for the W&J Traditional Owners Council, Murrawah Johnson:


    “Adani and the State Government didn’t ‘negotiate’ and achieve the free, prior, informed consent of the W&J people. Instead Adani, backed by the State Government and past NNTT decisions, relied on the threat that they would compulsorily take our land.

     

    The meeting, that all these Adani supporters cite where the purported majority voted for the ILUA 294 to 1, is not a true expression of the W&J Traditional Owners. Over 220 of that meeting’s attendees are people that are not Wangan and Jagalingou people according to our law and custom. They have never been involved in the W&J claim or decision making, and are identified with other people and claims. They were bussed in and paid for at Adani’s considerable expense, while hundreds of the rightful W&J Traditional Owners refused to attend this sham meeting.” [Source]

    How Identity Became a Weapon Against the Left

    Black Agenda Report

    August 30, 2017

    by Briahna Joy Gray

     

     

    Responses to skepticism about Harris have simply dismissed the substance of the analysis, instead suggesting a “targeting” of Harris because of her gender and/or race.”

     

    Having an “identity politics” is incredibly beneficial. Identity politics, which emphasizes the unique concerns of different communities and demographic groups, shows how historical inequities have been distributed across different races, genders, religions, abilities, and sexualities. In doing so, it allows us to better understand how to critique and reform the systems that replicate those inequities. It reveals how the foreclosure crisis disproportionately hurt [1]black home owners, how health issues manifest differently [2] across populations, and how various forms of “hidden taxes [3]” penalize women in professional life. To ignore identity is to ignore injustice. Yet there are risks to viewing the world through the prism of identity. If people are defined by their demographic characteristics, they can be reduced to those characteristics in a way that obscures differences within groups. If “identity” becomes synonymous with “perspective,” dissenting members within the identity group risk having their viewpoints erased and their humanity diminished. And when used cynically, as a political weapon, a simplistic view of identity can allow people of a particular political faction to wrongly imply that they speak for all members of their racial or gender group.

    Kamala Harris is black. She is a lot of other things, too: a person of South Asian descent, a woman, a former prosecutor and state Attorney General, a sitting Senator, and, according to Barack Obama, “the best looking attorney general in the country [4].” (I am your sister in side-eye, Michelle.) Out of nearly 2,000 senators in the country’s history, Harris is one of only ten black Americans and two black women to have held the position. Her personal characteristics and political accomplishments, together with the intelligence and tenacity that propelled her to the Senate, have made her a highly visible prospect for the 2020 presidential race. Already, influential Democrats have shown a strong interest in Harris [5], with prominent former Clinton donors meeting privately with Harris in the Hamptons [6]. The San Francisco Chronicle called her the Democrats’ “Great Blue Hope [7],” and a Guardian writer suggested [8] that the combination of Harris’s race and her centrist platform “could be the party’s solution to its identity crisis.”

    The San Francisco Chronicle called her the Democrats’ Great Blue Hope.’”

    But certain parts of Kamala Harris’s political résumé have led to skepticism from the left. As California’s Attorney General, with responsibilities for overseeing the second largest prison population [9] in the country, Harris’s professional obligation to put people behind bars was seen as being [10] in direct tension with the goals of Black Lives Matter, perhaps the most prominent progressive movement of our time. Harris touted a reform-minded “smart on crime [11]” approach in her prosecutorial role, one that encouraged education and reentry programs for ex-offenders, and in the Senate, she has co-sponsored legislation [12] to improve prison conditions for women. Yet she has also come under heavy criticism from activists for, among other things: defending [13] the state against court orders to reduce its prison population, declining [13] to take a public stand on sentencing reform proposals, attempting to block a court decision [14] requiring the state to provide a transgender inmate with gender reassignment surgery, opposing a measure [15] to require independent inquiries into police uses of force, and obstructing efforts [13] by federal judges to hold California prosecutors accountable for an “epidemic [16]” of misconduct. Harris has been a zealous prosecutor (at times, she said [13], she has been “as close to a vigilante as you can get”), and certain of her policies—like bringing criminal charges [17] against parents whose children miss school—conflict with the efforts of groups like BLM to reduce the reach of the criminal justice system into people’s lives.

    Harris has also drawn scrutiny over the crimes she wasn’t tough on. While serving as Attorney General of California, Harris failed to prosecute now-Treasury Secretary Steven “Foreclosure King” Mnuchin after his OneWest Bank engaged in a notoriously aggressive pattern of home foreclosures. Under Mnuchin, OneWest was a “foreclosure machine [18]” that did everything it could to seize people’s houses, inflicting misery [19] on homeowners while failing to properly review foreclosure documents. Harris’s consumer law division found that OneWest had engaged in “widespread misconduct [20]” in its treatment of borrowers; the investigators urged Harris to “conduct a full investigation of a national bank’s misconduct and provide a public accounting of what happened.” Instead, Harris closed the case, not even pursuing the compromise measure of a civil penalty. As David Dayen writes [21], this “watered-down version of public accountability was seen as the best possible outcome, and Harris didn’t even go for that.” In failing to hold the bank accountable, Dayen emphasizes, Harris was far from alone among state law enforcement officials. Harris was, however, the only Democratic senatorial candidate to whom Steven Mnuchin felt compelled to give a campaign donation [22].

    Harris said she has been ‘as close to a vigilante as you can get.’”

    There are therefore both principled and pragmatic reasons why people on the left might be skeptical of a Harris candidacy. There’s a serious question about whether Harris can be counted on to advance progressive values when doing so might require political sacrifices. But there’s also a question of strategy: from a leftist perspective, it’s unwise to run yet another presidential candidate whose ties to banks could make them “untrustworthy” in an era of low public trust [23] in elected officials. Given the crushing defeat of November 2016 (which was all but predicted [24] by certain insightful progressives), it would seem obviously beneficial for the Democratic Party to listen to progressive criticism early and adapt candidates and their messaging accordingly.

    Yet progressive critiques of Harris were met with swift and unyielding hostility. After a Mic article [25] documented the lack of left-wing enthusiasm for a Harris candidacy, investigative journalist Victoria A. Brownsworth suggested that a better headline for the article would be: “Kamala Harris, biracial senator and former Attorney General of the most populous state, faces misogynist white men defaming her.” (This despite the fact that every critic quoted in the piece was female, and one was a woman of color.) Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden, a close Clinton ally and frequent defender of the Democratic Party, declared [26] she found it “odd” that “these folks” (meaning Bernie Sanders supporters) “have [it] in for Kamala Harris and Cory Booker” in particular. “Hmmmm,” she said, implying that criticisms of Harris and Booker were racially motivated. MSNBC host Joy Ann Reid said the Mic article simply reported the opinions of “3 alt-left activists,” “alt-left” being a term used to brand leftists as racist analogues of the neo-Nazi alt-right. In Cosmopolitan, Brittney Cooper wrote [27] that the left in general, but in particular the “Sanders Left,” “has a black-woman problem,” a charge I’ve addressed[28]elsewhere. Cooper said that those criticizing Harris “think that black women who care about establishment politics lack vision” and that the debate “isn’t about Harris, but about the emotional and political labor that black women are expected to do to save America’s soul.” “Angry white Sanders voters,” she said, must “get off [Harris’s] back.” In large part, responses to skepticism about Harris have simply dismissed the substance of the analysis, instead suggesting a “targeting” of Harris because of her gender and/or race.

    By wielding identity to neutralize political pushback, these commentators were continuing a trend. Throughout the 2016 campaign season, criticism of Hillary Clinton was frequently deflected with claims that her critics were motivated by sexism. And certainly, there were a lot of sexist attacks. Allusions to her husband’s sexual exploits, scrutiny of her appearance, and a perception of the candidate as “untrustworthy” were all rooted, in part, in gender bias. No one can credibly deny that Clinton’s gender has affected the public’s perception of her since the very beginning of her career, including the early political hostility she faced in Arkansas [29]when she refused to give up her maiden name, and the time in 1992 when she was publicly pressured into proving that she liked to bake cookies [30].

    Criticism of Hillary Clinton was frequently deflected with claims that her critics were motivated by sexism.”

    But writing off Clinton’s leftist critics as necessarily motivated by gender bias was sexist in itself. It reduced Clinton to her gender and implied that she had no agency in her own decision-making. Some people had perfectly defensible grounds for seeing Clinton as “untrustworthy,” such her shifting position [31] on subjects like the TPP, welfare “reform,”[32] and NAFTA. Others disapproved of Clinton for her hawkishness [33], her insistence that single-payer would “never ever [34]” happen, her ties to Wall Street, or myriad other legitimate reasons [35]. Those who raised these concerns, however, were often dismissed as either “Bernie Bros” or unpersuadable “deplorables” motivated by bigotry.

    The “Bernie Bro” narrative, which attempted to paint Sanders supporters as disproportionately sexist (and Sanders himself as borderline bigoted) was deeply pernicious and effective. Sanders was vulnerable to this kind of attack: in a world in which personal identity has become a shorthand for “progress” (see e.g. Obama), and “white man” has become an epithet, Bernie’s identity was an easy target. His unflinching support of women’s issues, his history of advocacy for racial justice, his record of support for civil rights and LGBT issues, even his Jewishness were all made secondary to his image as an “angry white male [36].” Sanders was accused of downplaying the political concerns of people of color. Even now, when 73% of African Americans view Sanders favorably [37] (as compared with 52% of white people), he is still treated as having a race problem.

    Since more allies are generally made by engaging one’s critics than dismissing them as biased deplora-bros, the heckling approach was not a politically savvy one. Just as importantly, though, the “bro” stereotype entirely erased the perspectives of countless women and people of color who did not share the center-left political position. The “Bernie Bro” mythology—that progressives are almost exclusively white, male, and young—will not die, no matter how often women and people of color try to speak up to disprove it. In all the words spilled about the uninterrupted whiteness of Sanders supporters, prominent “Bros” like Rosario Dawson, Ben Jealous, Pramila Jayapal, Eddie Glaude, Spike Lee, Killer Mike, Cornel West, and Nina Turner went largely unmentioned. Hillary supporters were appalled [38] that leftists challenged civil rights hero John Lewis’s commitment to Clinton, but it seems civil rights legend Harry Belafonte was considered less sacrosanct—his endorsement of Bernie Sanders was whited-out of the public discourse along with the perspectives of Michelle Alexander [39]and Ta-Nehisi Coates [40]—both of whom are generally considered among the most respected liberal thought leaders.

    The ‘Bernie Bro’ mythology—that progressives are almost exclusively white, male, and young—will not die, no matter how often women and people of color try to speak up to disprove it.”

    One of the most powerful pro-Black Lives Matter messages heard during the entire campaign was a Sanders video [41] featuring Erica Garner talking about her father, but Garner was an inconvenient figure for the narrative. As black progressive Leslie Lee III said[42] in March 2016:

    “Me, myself, and many other POC, people of color, who support Bernie Sanders, feel like we don’t get to be a part of the conversation. We get ignored. We get erased. It’s assumed that the black vote, the Hispanic vote, and everyone is all behind Hillary Clinton and none of us really get Bernie Sanders or like Bernie Sanders.”

    In March of 2016, exasperated Sanders-voting POC even employed the hashtag #BernieMadeMeWhite [42], joking that a love of the band Journey and pumpkin spiced lattes would accrue with our new race status. Other, more sardonic, tweeters celebrated the immunity from police violence their newfound caucacity [43] might bring. Ironically, whiteness—when attributed to blacks—became a punishment rather than a privilege.

    Twitter has been an especially revealing host forum to this ugly friction between identity and ideology: there, unapologetically leftist people of color and women are routinely shouted down [44], called race traitors, self-hating women, or, incredibly, are accused of being white—even by people with white-presenting avatars. Twitter is where you can find a liberal Democrat referring to Our Revolution president Nina Turner as “Bernie’s Omarosa[45].” It’s disorienting to see white (and black) liberals calling leftists of color sellouts, Uncle Toms, “coons,” house-slaves, and well, white people, all in the name of anti-racism. But the Bernie Bro framework tells us that all the racists are at the fringes of the political spectrum, while the middle remains pure. Progressive women or leftists of color therefore present a kind of glitch in the matrix. The solution? Deny our existenceLeftists of color are regularly told—by white liberals!—that we are white and/or secretly racist. And while stories about the sexism Clinton supporters faced online are familiar, the racism and sexism directed by the center against the left are ignored. Purported anti-racist Democrats stayed largely silent as an Islamophobic smear [46] campaign was waged against progressive black Muslim Representative Keith Ellison, one of the ugliest instances of bigotry to come out of the Democratic Party in recent history.

    Leftists of color are regularly told—by white liberals!—that we are white and/or secretly racist.”

    The same kind of hypocrisy could be seen in Gloria Steinem’s inane quip that young women who supported Bernie must be in it for “the boys [47].” A feminist icon struggled so much to make sense of the inconvenient fact that a majority of young women supported [48] Sanders that she fell back on the same basic gender stereotypes she has been fighting since the 1960s. But this is the dissonance created by a certain conception of identity: if we believe that Hillary Clinton is “the candidate of women and people of color,” and “women and people of color” are defined entirely by those identities, it becomes impossible to understand how anyone who shares the identity could reject the candidate. Once the distinction between perspective and identity is erased, voters of color become an undifferentiated hive mind incapable of political independence.

    It’s strange that we’re at the point where this needs to be said: a black politician is not necessarily the best politician to promote black interests, and a female politician will not necessarily serve women’s interests better than a man would. Race produces a set of lived experiences that inform our political perspective, but identity cannot be used as a mitigating factor for political shortcomings. A glance at the unusually diverse 2016 Republican primary field illustrates as much. If we believe that a political candidate’s identity overrides their substantive beliefs and policy prescriptions, then a Ben Carson/Carly Fiorina ticket would have been a progressive dream. Brittney Cooper of Cosmopolitan, in her defense of Harris, makes a good point here: Cooper says that, despite a history of performing the role, black people should not be cast as “the conscience of the nation.” The burden is too heavy for any group, and it certainly exceeds the capacity of any single politician. Belonging to a protected class does not immunize a politician from error, nor should it insulate her from criticism.

    A black politician is not necessarily the best politician to promote black interests.”

    During the 2012 presidential race, Cory Booker went on Meet The Press and defended [49]—of all people—Mitt Romney against criticism of Romney’s work for Bain Capital. Booker, evincing more sympathy for the financial industry than for the disproportionate number of black people affected by the financial industry’s bad acts, told voters to “stop attacking private equity.” Booker was wrong to do so. During the 2016 primary, Representative John Lewis unfairly impugned Bernie Sanders’ character, implying [50] that because Lewis hadn’t personally seen Sanders in the crowd of hundreds of thousands at the 1963 March on Washington, Sanders was probably lying about having gone. Lewis, likewise, was wrong to do so. Democrats defending [51] Hillary Clinton’s support of the 1994 Crime Bill relish pointing out that two-thirds of the Congressional Black Caucus voted in favor of it. But those members, too, were wrong—despite being black. The other members of the CBC, the ones who opposed the bill, were right. Likewise, the contemporary equivalent of that dissenting third—the black voters who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary—should not be erased because other quantities of black people disagree. Any statement about what “black people” think or support automatically discounts the perspective of very large numbers of us, because—as is often said but rarely internalized—black people are not a monolith. Identity is, at best, a loose proxy for a person’s political commitments, and individual identity groups contain incredibly diverse perspectives. Failure to recognize that fact can result in dangerous consequences: it can lead us to support policies contrary to the best interests of a community simply because of optics, and it can turn us into a “firewall” to lean on, rather than a constituency to be won.

    Even worse, because the optics are improved, it can actually become harder to combat the harm posed by in-group bad actors: a black-run [52] police force can be just as harmful to a black community as one headed by whites, but the optics of equal representation can obscure the reality of systemic racism. Hillary Clinton was widely accepted as the best candidate for what are considered “women’s issues,” such as protecting the right to choose and ensuring access to reproductive care, even though Bernie Sanders had a nearly-identical track record [53]. Yet even though Clinton almost automatically received endorsements from Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and other women’s organizations, she chose as her Vice Presidential nominee a senator who had historically been [54] a staunch opponent of abortion rights. As governor of Virginia, Tim Kaine had advocated for adoption over abortion, pushed for abstinence-only education, and even supported a law requiring that minors seeking to end their pregnancies get parental approval. This history would ordinarily have caused outrage among reproductive rights advocates, who see abortion as a non-negotiable issue. (Witness the trouble [55] Sanders got into after [56] giving a speech supporting an anti-abortion mayoral candidate in Nebraska.) But Clinton’s gender insulated her from scrutiny with respect to women’s issues. Those who challenged Clinton’s VP choice on the grounds that it demonstrated a lack of commitment to feminist principles were—ironically—dismissed as “bros,” regardless of our gender. In short: the interest in Hillary as a woman candidate trumped interest in having the best candidate for women.

    Clinton’s gender insulated her from scrutiny with respect to women’s issues.”

    The recent backlash to rumors about Kamala Harris’s potential 2020 candidacy shows how this bizarre and cynical version of “identity politics” continues to be used as a weapon to derail progressives whose record of commitment to racial justice, gender equality, and LGBT issues has historically eclipsed that of the Democratic Party itself. Using identity this way is harmful to the interests of progressive politics. Leftists, particularly leftists of color, are invested in ensuring that the Democratic Party learns from its mistakes. To that end, we are committed to helping the party put forward candidates who are less vulnerable to the types of attacks which dogged Hillary – that she was a corporatist, that she was owned by Wall Street, that she could not be trusted. That is why we question candidates like Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Deval Patrick – all floated as 2020 possibilities in recent weeks. Though each of them has at least one black parent, it is intellectually dishonest to pretend it is that quality, rather than their corporatism, which draws criticism from the left. (And with Nina Turner emerging as the presumptive heiress to Bernie’s progressive leadership, it is increasingly difficult to credibly contend otherwise.) It is natural to be skeptical of an out-group member’s views about a subject important to members of that group—especially when certain race or gender-based factions have historically been in conflict. But the inquiry into whether to listen to a particular critic cannot stop at that critic’s identity.

    Of course, identity still matters, and prejudice operates in subtle and pervasive ways. On one level, my instinct is to agree with those who say all Harris’s critics are racist: the truth is that everyone is racist [57]. But our culture’s conscious and unconscious biases won’t be resolved before 2020, and until they are, we must rely on something more than mere identity to determine the legitimacy of political criticism. It’s fair to ask of a critic: are you able to articulate a reason why you are wary of a candidate? Do, they, for instance, cite the candidate’s conservative “tough on crime” approach to criminal justice, or do they trade in gendered stereotypes, dog-whistles, or vague statements of “feeling” that suggest an ulterior motive? This analytical step is crucial: a critic should not be impugned on the basis of a candidate’s identity, but on the soundness of the critique itself. Nor should a critic be ignored because of their own identity, without anything more. After all: biology is not (political) destiny.

    Harris, Booker, Patrick, Biden, Warren: all deserve scrutiny. So does any other potential candidate. That scrutiny should be applied evenly, in proportion to a candidate’s likelihood of success and the quality of their record. It’s not an act of racism to question whether the Democratic Party should select as its presidential nominee a career prosecutor with a controversial record on misconduct issues. Pretending that these candidates are criticized solely on the basis of race or gender is, in itself, a lesser form of prejudice: it erases their flaws, and flattens their humanity. Treating people as people requires acknowledgment of their imperfections. To err, after all, is human.

     

    [Briahna Joy Gray  co-hosts the SWOTI podcast: https://www.swotipod.com/ – she can be followed on Twitter @briebriejoy]

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