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Podcast: Steve Best – The Politics of Total Liberation

Animal Rights Zone

November 17, 2014

steve-best-in-genoa-july-102

Steve Best is an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso, but he’s perhaps best known as an advocate for the liberation of the earth and all who live on it – humans as well as other animals.

Steve Best has published 13 books and hundreds of articles and has been active nationally and internationally for more than 3 decades, challenging the conventional wisdom on topics ranging from environmentalism to sexual liberation to animal rights. Dr. Best joined Animal Rights Zone to speak about his new book, The Politics of Total Liberation: Revolution in the 21st Century. Audio podcast, approx. 65 minutes.

To listen to the podcast:

http://arzone.ning.com/forum/topics/arzone-podcast-84-steve-best-the-politics-of-total-liberation

Indeed, Western Civilization is in a War

July 20, 2016

By Gerald A. Perreira

libya before and after

Republican, Newt Gingrich, long known for his fascistic views, recently declared that “Western Civilization is in a war”. Truth be told, he is on solid ground. Indeed, Western Civilization is in a war, a war that has been raging since its inception. It has been at war with itself and with the entire non-European world for centuries. Long before anyone heard of Jihadists, Al-Qaeda and ISIL, Western Civilization was at war. Long before Osama Bin Ladin in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Muammar Qaddafi in Libya or Bashar al Assad in Syria, Western Civilization was at war with the entire rest of the world. Western Civilization has mastered the art and technology of warfare. They are the quintessential warlords, despite the fact that they love to attribute this term to non-European leaders, especially Africans. There is no civilization on the face of this earth that has waged war more relentlessly and permanently than Western Civilization – this is not opinion, it is an indisputable historical fact.

European Tribal Wars

Newt Gingrich and his kind need to be reminded of the Hundred-Year’s War (1337 – 1453). This was a European tribal war primarily between the French and the English, with various other European tribes supporting either side. The Hundred Years War claimed the lives of an estimated 3.5 million people. Then there was the Thirty Year’s War (1618 – 1848) involving the majority of European nations. Military historians estimate the death-toll to be at least 8 million. Then we had the two great European tribal wars, erroneously referred to as World War 1 and World War 2, in which the colonized were roped in to fighting alongside the various North Atlantic Tribes. Sadly today, many of us are still fighting on the side of the various North Atlantic Tribes to further the aims of Empire and in the process subjugate and destroy our own peoples. So-called World War 1 claimed the lives of 38 million people, while the other so-called World War – one of Europe’s most genocidal tribal wars left more than 60 million dead.

The West turns on the Rest

After bleeding themselves for centuries, and committing genocide on their own people, they turned on the Indigenous peoples throughout the world committing an unprecedented act of genocide, and then instigated the horrific Trans-Atlantic trade in captured Africans, resulting in the death of untold millions of Africans. This was a war like no other – a war that is still raging on the streets of every town and city in modern day USA, where the descendants of those captured Africans are routinely gunned down by the police in the streets. This year alone, US police have killed at least 136 Africans, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being the latest victims. In 2012, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement released a report titled: Operation Ghetto Storm in which they documented the fact that every 28 hours in 2012 someone employed or protected by the US government killed a Black man, woman or child. This is none other than a war being waged by white corporate America and its racist institutions on the poor and disenfranchised. Following the fatal shooting of 5 police officers in Dallas, Texas on July 7th, President Obama had this to say:

“there’s been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement… I believe that I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events, and that we stand united with people and the police department in Dallas.”

Despite the fact that many of the Africans shot by police in the US have been executed at point blank range, and that a recent victim, Tamir Rice was only 12 years old when he was shot to death in a playground, no US president, including Obama, has ever spoken about the killing of Africans in America in this tone, using appropriately harsh words.

And when 3 more police officers were shot and killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 17th, President Obama had this to say:

“I condemn, in the strongest sense of the word, the attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge. For the second time in two weeks, police officers who put their lives on the line for ours every day were doing their job when they were killed in a cowardly and reprehensible assault. These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop…And make no mistake – justice will be done.

We may not yet know the motives for this attack, but I want to be clear: there is no justification for violence against law enforcement. None… These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one. They right no wrongs. They advance no causes. The officers in Baton Rouge; the officers in Dallas – they were our fellow Americans, part of our community, part of our country, with people who loved and needed them, and who need us now – all of us – to be at our best.”

Anyone reading these statements can see that Barack Obama is clear about whose side he is on in this war. In the face of the horrific statistics regarding the number of Africans shot this year alone by police, let alone decades of police brutality and murder directed against African communities throughout the US, Obama deliberately fails to connect the dots. He dare not. As the Black face of White Supremacy and Western Civilization’s ongoing war, this White House Negro better keep his story straight and keep to his script.

Barack Obama chalks up Major Victory

After all, during his presidency he chalked up a victory for Western Civilization’s war that compares with few others. He authorized and colluded in the brutal murder of Muammar Qaddafi, one of Africa’s finest leaders. He joined with his Western European allies to destroy Africa’s most prosperous country, in a bid to prevent Libya from leading the entire continent to its long awaited destination of a United States of Africa. This was a huge moment for Western Civilization’s war effort, since a United States of Africa, with its own currency, backed by its own gold, would have definitely humbled Western Civilization. It would have brought about a cataclysmic shift in global power relations which is why Muammar Qaddafi was targeted for annihilation.

‘The Returnees’

The two men accused of the police shootings following the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were both ‘returnees’. Micah Johnson was a 25 year old former US Army reservist who had served in Afghanistan, and Gavin Long was a 29-year-old Marine Corps veteran who had served in Iraq. Long received several awards, including the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Navy Unit Commendation Medal. These two young men were trained to be killers in the ongoing, never ending war waged by Western Civilization. Obama needs to tell us: When US forces bomb wedding parties in Afghanistan and entire apartment blocks in Iraq, killing and maiming men, women, children and the elderly – are these attacks not the work of cowards who speak for no one? Have these wars, waged by Western Civilization righted any wrongs? What causes have been advanced by the unleashing of unimaginable terror and genocide on the populations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria to name just a few of the most recent targets of Western Civilization’s ongoing war.

We need to remind Newt Gingrich that those who he charges with the crime of waging war on Western Civilization –‘ the terrorists’ and so-called ‘Jihadists’ – were and continue to be organized, trained, armed and financed by Western Civilization’s intelligence agencies and the intelligence agencies of their allies – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Pakistan. Let us not forget that Ronald Reagan referred to the ‘jihadists’ who were fighting the Soviet troops in Afghanistan at that time, as freedom fighters. In fact, it was Ronald Reagan who popularized the concept of Jihad in western political circles. These same jihadists were the forerunners of Al Qaeda and ISIL and have been used and manipulated by Western Civilization’s intelligence agencies to fight a number of their dirty wars, leaving behind nothing but mayhem and destruction.

After the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the Arabs who fought with the Afghan mujahideen, all of whom were supported and armed by Western Civilization’s various agencies, returned to their respective countries. Armed with their reactionary Wahhabi ideology they launched ‘jihad’ against what they referred to as ‘secular’ regimes. The same regimes that the ‘Jihadists’ saw as ‘secular’ were nationalist regimes, that each, in their own way, opposed Western Civilization’s domination of their country and the region. Western Civilization’s warlords and generals were quick to realize that they could continue their infiltration and manipulation of these groups of ‘jihadists’ to further the aims and objectives of Western Civilization’s Empire. After all, Al Qaeda means the base and refers to the original database created by the CIA when they were backing these so-called jihadists in Afghanistan. It was their base and they had full access to it.

No meaningful analysis can be made of events taking place in 2016 if we do not have knowledge of the past. We must research and study ‘His-Story’ and ‘Our-Story’, in order to be able to devise an effective strategy of resistance. As military strategist and philosopher, Sun Tzu counsels:

“If you know the enemy and you know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and you know Earth, you may make your victory complete.”

Who is to blame?

Newt Gingrich was certainly right – Western Civilization is in a war. What he failed to point out is that every aspect of this war, this global terror and nihilistic violence we are confronted with in 2016 was spawned by Western Civilization’s agenda for global domination. We must remain focused on the real enemy despite the daily bombardment we receive from Western Civilization’s corporate media about the new bogyman. The creation of bogeymen is a strategy they have used since the beginning of their onslaught to distract us from the real enemy – themselves. It would be comical if it wasn’t so tragic to watch on as they attempt to portray Russia and Vladimir Putin as the new evil. I suspect that in the age of the internet, even those who in the past absorbed Western Civilization’s propaganda as if it was gospel truth, are growing weary.

Following is an excerpt from Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? The book was written by populist conservative, Pat Buchanan. Unlike politically correct liberals, likes of Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton, who never tell it like it is, but rather weave a deceptive narrative to further Western Civilization’s prolonged war; and the likes of Newt Gingrich and his gang who like to throw around words and concepts without having any knowledge whatsoever of the history of Western Civilization; Pat Buchanan, although a staunch defender of Western Civilization, is courageous enough to lay the blame where it rightfully belongs. Perhaps his honesty is motivated by his understanding that the very survival of Western Civilization is in jeopardy if it continues on its present trajectory. In his words:

“We fail to understand what motivated our attackers. They did not come to kill us because they abhor our Constitution, or wish to impose Sharia on Oklahoma. They were over here because we are over there. They came to kill us in our country because we will not get out of their countries. Terrorism is the weapon of the weak who wish to be rid of foreign domination. From Plaines Indians to Afghan mujahideen, from Menachem Begin’s Irgun to the Algerian FLN, from the IRA of Martin McGuinness to the ANC of Nelson Mandela, it has ever been thus. Terrorism is the price of Empire.”

While this self-evident truth is abundantly clear to the rest of us, it is important to note when this truth is finally articulated and documented by one of their own. If this war is ever to end then Newt Gingrich and the rest of Western Civilization must face their own demons.

 

 

[Gerald A. Perreira is a writer, educator, theologian and political activist. He is chairperson of the Guyanese organizations Black Consciousness Movement Guyana (BCMG) and Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP). He is an executive member of the Caribbean Chapter of the Network for Defense of Humanity. He lived in Libya for many years, served in the Green March, an international battalion for the defense of the Al Fateh revolution and was a founding member of the World Mathaba, based in Tripoli, Libya. He can be reached at mojadi94@gmail.com.]

Marilyn Mosby is an Agent of the State

The Burning Spear

June 5, 2015

 

Marilyn James Mosby is an American lawyer, currently the State’s Attorney for Baltimore, Maryland, United States.

Marilyn Mosby is a militant 35-year-old tough-talking prosecutor who has dared to do something no other prosecutor has done since the rash of police murders has been pushed to public view by the resistance cascading over the U.S. since the August 9, 2014 police murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Mosby, an African woman, has captured the imagination and loyalty of thousands of African militants throughout the U.S. who have been moved to action against the police in an intensity unseen in the U.S. since the defeat of the Black Revolution of the 1960s.

Even before she indicted six policemen in the case of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old African man murdered by Baltimore police in April 2015, Mosby had begun to demonstrate her political views.

Mosby protested the July 2013 acquittal of the white murderer of Trayvon Martin and later denounced St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCulloch for failing to indict Darren Wilson for murdering Mike Brown in Missouri.

Many police defenders, political pundits and prosecutors in the U.S. charge that Mosby has acted improperly by quickly indicting six Baltimore cops with an assortment of offenses, including murder.

Right on cue, many Africans have begun to circle the wagons around Mosby, charging her attackers with anti-African bias, which may be true.

Marilyn Mosby is an agent of the State

The real issue for us, however, one that must not be overlooked by the African People’s Socialist Party and any organization that is intent on overthrowing the national oppression and class exploitation of our people, is this: Mosby, the Baltimore prosecutor, is an arm of the State.

Whatever else she is, however nice she may be, regardless of her militant stance, Marilyn Mosby is custodian of an instrument of white colonial State power.

Moreover, lest we are confused, we must also state, emphatically, that the State is an instrument of coercion. It is the instrument through which the white capitalist-colonialist ruling class seeks to have a monopoly on violence—the violence that resulted in the police murder of Freddy Gray and occupies, destroys and controls entire countries and peoples for profit-making and maintaining political advantage.

The State is that power hovering over society required for peace and stability when society is split between those who have what they have through expropriating value from those who do not have because of this expropriation of value.

Why would a slave endure slavery without the use of extreme violence by the slave owner? Why would the colonized allow for their land and resources to be taken and enjoyed by countries and peoples hundreds and thousands of miles away without the use of armies, air forces and armed drones that can destroy their lives at will?

Obviously they wouldn’t. Neither would hungry people simply stand, Styrofoam cup in hand, begging in front of convenience stores filled with food without taking what they need to eat if not for the presence of the State in the form of the police and, in the case of uprisings, national guard troops.

The poverty and despair of our people in the U.S. and the world not voluntary

The condition of poverty and despair experienced by so many of our people within the U.S. and the world is not something that is voluntarily endured. The police, jail, court system and the grand jury are instruments of the State, so is the office of the district attorney currently occupied by Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore.

The question is not whether Marilyn Mosby is a nice or militant or “good” African person, as persons go. The fact is the State and the nature and task of the State do not change no matter the color or gender of its representatives. Rather than entering into a romance with Marilyn Mosby, (which is by definition a romance with the colonial State that is responsible for our condition and the police murders Africans are protesting throughout the U.S.) Africans must struggle to dismantle the colonial State, the main power that stands between our liberation and us.

Everyone genuinely interested in liberation must necessarily be interested in destroying the power of the colonial State over our lives. Everyone, however, is not aware of this. Everyone does not automatically come to understand the issue of the State.

This is why the role of the African People’s Socialist Party is so important. It is our task to extend the discussion of police murder of our people beyond the arena of Barack Hussein Obama and CNN reporters and pundits like Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon.

The African People’s Socialist Party is preparing to govern!

This is why the Party is necessary to lead the struggle for the destruction of the capitalist-colonialist State and the capture of revolutionary black working class State power. The Party must lead the African working class struggle to crush our class enemies and national oppressors and take the lead in restructuring society so it is not based on stealing the labor and resources of the African workers and the laboring masses of the world.

Not every organization, even militant sounding organizations, is interested in destroying the power of the capitalist colonialist State over our lives. Not every organization is preparing to capture revolutionary black working class State power.

Some people and organizations are willing to endure the Marilyn Mosbys, Barack Hussein Obamas and Mandela-Zumas because they are African and not white. While some of this is due to confusion caused by a strategy of white power to disguise and present itself in the face of the oppressed, some Africans are quite clear of the fact that this is neocolonialism.

Neocolonialism is a term coined by Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of independent Ghana.

Neocolonialism is white power in black, brown or yellow face. Neocolonialism became necessary when millions of colonized peoples worldwide became radicalized by the presence of white people exercising oppressive and brutal power over our lives and resources.

Neocolonialism was the result of the white colonizer being forced to resort to indirect rule by declaring some kind of freedom or independence while still maintaining economic control of the society and its resources.

This provides political cover for white power that can now absolve itself from responsibility for the conditions of existence of our people. Politically, neocolonialism finds expression within the petty bourgeoisie, the so-called middle class in our communities.

These are the people who are raised and sometimes bred to adopt the same interests and aspirations of the white rulers. They become self-alienated and are rewarded with a material stake in the continued existence in the oppressive social system.

They become mayors and police chiefs and prosecutors.

Neocolonial entities become extensions of the imperialist State. They are white power in disguise and when they are successful they confuse the people and have us fighting shadows instead of the real problem.

White power in black face will keep us protesting every injury to us for all eternity with no end in sight. Neocolonialism gives the impression of black self-government when, in fact, it is a deterrent to black self-governance.

We in the African People’s Socialist Party, however, are not content to continue protesting every outrage of the imperialist system that cannot help but outrage. We are preparing to govern.

Because we are preparing to govern it is essential to identify the primary, the main instrument of white power that stands between our current state of miserable, violent existence and our liberation—namely the State.

Death to the capitalist-colonialist State!

All power to the people!

 

The Predictable and Pathetic End of Sanders’ “Political Revolution”

World Socialist Website

July 13, 2016

by Patrick Martin

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, is confronted on the Westlake Park stage by Mara Jacqueline Willaford CQ over "Black Lives Matter" issues.  She and another activist took over the rally at this point leading to the Senator leaving the stage, making his way through the crowd which thanked him for coming, and getting in a car and being driven away. Saturday August 8 2015,

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, is confronted on the Westlake Park stage by Mara Jacqueline Willaford over “Black Lives Matter” issues. She and another activist took over the rally, leading to the Senator leaving the stage. Saturday August 8 2015

Bernie Sanders ended his presidential campaign Tuesday, not with a bang but a whimper. The Vermont senator formally endorsed his rival in an undignified prostration before the Democratic Party establishment and Wall Street’s favored presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The unity rally featuring Sanders and Clinton in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, had all the spontaneity and enthusiasm of a going-out-of-business sale. The funereal atmosphere was perhaps fitting, because with the demise of the Sanders campaign, the Democratic Party has demonstrated, for the thousandth time, its historical role as the graveyard of progressive movements and efforts to achieve reform through the capitalist two-party system.

The Sanders campaign has provided a major lesson in politics to millions of young people and workers who rallied to support the Vermont senator because he called himself a “democratic socialist” and because he denounced Wall Street and the domination of US politics by “millionaires and billionaires.”

The mass support for a self-proclaimed socialist shocked the US ruling elite, the Democratic Party establishment, and, no doubt, Sanders himself. It demonstrated that, despite decades of incessant media propaganda against socialism and communism, the experiences of masses of working people and youth are driving them to the left.

This was particularly true among the younger generation. Sanders won by huge margins—70, 80, even 90 percent—among primary and caucus voters under 30 years of age. More than 1.5 million people attended his rallies, with college students and youth of college age predominating.

The Sanders campaign did not create the broad radicalization demonstrated in these figures. The Vermont senator’s bid for the Democratic Party nomination rather served to uncover what was already developing, the product of decades of deepening economic inequality, ceaseless war, attacks on democratic rights and the growing realization that the profit system is leading mankind toward catastrophe.

Once the Democratic primary campaign was fully engaged, however, Sanders’ political task—in the eyes of the US ruling elite—became clear. It was his responsibility to put the genie back into the bottle. He had to deliver his millions of supporters, particularly the youth, to the candidate chosen by the Democratic Party establishment.

In the beginning was the end. From the start of his campaign, Sanders understood the role assigned to him. He abandoned his longstanding pretense to being a political “independent,” and pledged to remain within the framework of the Democratic Party regardless of the outcome of the contest for the nomination.

Throughout the Sanders campaign, the Socialist Equality Party has welcomed the broad shift to the left that it revealed in the thinking of millions of working people and youth, while warning that the Vermont senator would inevitably disappoint his supporters.

We drew attention to two key aspects of the Sanders campaign: his silence on foreign policy and the growing danger of war, and his refusal to criticize the Obama administration for bailing out Wall Street and spearheading the corporate attack on the jobs and living standards of working people, beginning with the 50 percent wage cut imposed on new hires in the auto industry at the insistence of the White House.

Tuesday’s “unity” rally with Hillary Clinton demonstrated both these tendencies. Sanders spoke for 30 minutes without ever mentioning foreign policy, only days after Obama announced an extension of the US military intervention in Afghanistan and approved the dispatch of another 560 US troops to Iraq.

In his tribute to Clinton, Sanders never referred to her four-year tenure as secretary of state, where she was consistently the most hawkish member of the Obama cabinet, instigating the US-NATO war with Libya and advocating even greater US intervention in the Syrian civil war.

As for the Democratic Party’s domestic record, Sanders praised Obama’s actions during the 2008-2009 Wall Street crash. “I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership in pulling us out of that terrible recession,” he said, although Obama and Biden saved the bankers and billionaires at the expense of the working class.

Similarly, Sanders hailed Clinton’s agreement on several minor and meaningless changes in the Democratic Party platform, on health care, student debt and the minimum wage, claiming that the result was “the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”

Clinton’s own remarks at the rally were equally demagogic and deceptive. She denounced “trickle-down supply-side economics” which were responsible for “30 years of a disastrous Republican philosophy that gave the huge breaks to those at the top.” She conveniently left out that those “30 years” included the eight-year administration of her own husband, who followed the dictates of the financial markets no less slavishly than the Republicans.

She pledged to “open the doors to everyone who shares our progressive values,” although the political careers of both Bill and Hillary Clinton have been based on moving the Democratic Party ever further to the right—abolishing welfare, promoting harsh policing and mass imprisonment, deregulating the banks, and generally distancing the Democrats from any association with policies of liberal reform.

In his remarks Tuesday in New Hampshire, Sanders declared that his campaign would continue, in the form of an all-out effort to elect Hillary Clinton president and elect Democratic majorities in the Senate and House of Representatives. To call such an outcome a “political revolution” is, to say the least, a cynical fraud.

The Democratic Party is, like the Republican Party, an instrument of the financial aristocracy that rules America. While the Republican Party generally expresses the ruling class’s appetite for wealth and power in its most unrestrained form, the Democratic Party has long served as the principal vehicle for neutralizing any challenge to the corporate elite from below.

Despite the best efforts of the media, the Democratic Party and the political establishment as a whole, including Sanders himself, the social and economic opposition that found an initial expression in support for his campaign will not disappear. Whoever wins in November will oversee a society riven by social conflict and will implement deeply unpopular policies, including a sharp expansion of war abroad and the attack on the working class at home.

Workers and young people attracted to the Sanders campaign must draw the necessary conclusions. The Democratic Party cannot be transformed and capitalism cannot be reformed. A leadership must be built to unite the developing struggles of the working class in a revolutionary movement against the corporate and financial elite and the profit system they defend.

 

The Call of the Wild

Paul Kingsnorth: ‘We imagine how it feels to be a character, why can’t we imagine how the land feels?’

 

Paul Kingsnorth

July 26, 2016

 

Raja Empat, Papua, Indonesia.

Raja Empat, Papua, Indonesia

We had climbed, slowly, to a high mountain ridge. We were two young Englishmen who were not supposed to be here – journalism was forbidden – and four local guides, members of the Lani tribe. Our guides were moving us around the highlands of West Papua, taking us to meet people who could tell us about their suffering at the hands of the occupying Indonesian army.

The mountain ridge was covered in deep, old rainforest, as was the rest of the area we had walked through. This forest, to the Lani, was home. In the forest they hunted, gathered food, built their homes, lived. The forest was not a recreation or a resource: there was nothing romantic about it, nothing to debate. It was just life.

Now, as we reached the top of the ridge, a break in the trees opened up and we saw miles of unbroken green mountains rolling away before us to the horizon. It was a breathtaking sight. As I watched, our four guides lined up along the ridge and, facing the mountains, they sang. They sang a song to the forest whose words I didn’t understand, but whose meaning was clear enough. It was a song of thanks; a song of belonging.

To the Lani, I learned later, the forest lived. This was no metaphor. The place itself, in which their people had lived for millennia, was not an inanimate ‘environment’, a mere backdrop for human activity. It was part of that activity. It was a great being, and to live as part of it was to be in a constant exchange with it. And so they sang to it; sometimes, it sang back.

When European minds experience this kind of thing, they are never quite sure to do with it. It’s been so long since we in the West had a sense that we dwelled in a living landscape, that we don’t have the words to frame what we see. Too often, we go in one of two directions, either sentimentalising the experience or dismissing it as superstition.

To us, the wild places around us (if there are any left) are ‘resources’ to be utilised. We argue constantly about how best to utilise them – should we log this forest, or turn it into a national park? – but only the bravest or the most foolish would suggest that it might not be our decision to make. To modern people, the world we walk through is not an animal, a being, a living presence; it is a machine, and our task is to learn how it works, the better to use it for our own, human, ends.

The notion that the non-human world is largely inanimate is often represented as ‘scientific’ or ‘rational’, but it is really more like a modern superstition. ‘It is just like Man’s vanity and impertinence,’ wrote Mark Twain, ‘to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.’ We might say the same about a forest; and science, interestingly, might turn out to be on our side.

In recent years, several studies have demonstrated that plants, for example, communicate with each other in ways which seem to point towards some degree of self-awareness. They release pheromones to warn of insect attacks, and other plants respond. They signal to each other using a series of electrical impulses not dissimilar to that of an animal’s nervous system. They send out airborne distress signals to insect predators that feed on the plant-eaters threatening them.

Underground, meanwhile, are the mycelia: huge fungal networks connecting the roots of thousands of plants and trees. The more mycelia are studied, the more intriguing they appear. Once thought to be a simple means of nutrient exchange, they are now beginning to look like complex systems of inter-plant communication. Mycologist Paul Stamets, who has spent his life studying them, calls mycelia a ‘collective fungal consciousness.’ Ecologist Stephan Harding believes they ‘possess an eerie intelligence, and probably a peculiar sense of self to boot.’

The supposedly secular West still clings to the Abrahamic notion that only humans possess consciousness – or souls – and that this gives us the right or the duty to run the world. The scientists investigating animal and plant consciousness, though, may be taking us back to older ways of seeing by very modern means. Primitive savages who sing songs to the forest may not be primitive or savage after all. They may simply have retained an understanding which human-centred, urban people have forgotten: that the forest is, indeed, alive. And not only the forest. The living world around us may turn out to be much more sentient, aware, conscious and connected than we have allowed ourselves to believe.

As a writer, I wonder what our writing would look like if we took this notion seriously. I wonder, in particular, what our fiction – our stories – would look like. That the world is a machine is one story; that the world is alive and aware is another. The latter story has probably been taken for granted by the majority of human societies throughout history. The former has only really taken root in ours: post-Enlightenment, industrial Western culture, now becoming global culture. The results of it – climate change, mass extinction, factory farming, the usual litany of horrors – should be enough to make us wonder if this story is badly constructed, badly told – or just plain wrong.

How do writers tell stories in the West in the early 21st century? Mostly through novels. The Internet, and the global capitalism it serves so well, may be putting the boot into traditional literary life, but nothing has yet supplanted the novel as the primary form through which long, written stories are brought to us. Rightly or wrongly, we still take novels seriously; we still read them. Some of us still write them, though we’re not always sure why.

But what story do they tell? The novel is an artifact of Western individualism. Novels really came into their own in Europe with the rise of the commercial bourgeoisie; with Empire and global trade, with cities and science and reason, with the notion of humans as primary actors in the world’s drama. The same society that gave us the concept of the world as an inanimate backdrop to human activity gave us the novels which catalogued that story.

Most classic novels in the Western canon are examinations of the human psyche, or the relationships between small groups of people and their societies. They are studies of the individual human mind. But what about the mind of the world itself and how that manifests? If awareness, consciousness, feelings – life – all extend far beyond the human domain, why do novels continue to behave as if humans were the only actors? Why do we turn over the same exhausted soil again and again? What would a novel look like if it were written by someone who sang to the forest, and believed it sang back?

Robert Graves, in his poetic manifesto The White Goddess, wrote that modern poetry’s function was to lay bare the results of humanity’s break from the rest of nature:

 ‘Once a warning to man that he must keep in harmony with the family of living creatures among which he was born … it is now a reminder that he has disregarded the warning, turned the house upside down by capricious experiments in science, philosophy and industry, and brought ruin upon himself and his family.’

The forests fall, the ice melts and the extinctions roll on; but we keep writing love letters to ourselves, obliviousIf this is true of poetry, it is true of fiction too. Perhaps, in a century’s time, any literary critics still clinging to their positions as the seas rise around them will see the work we writers produce today as a useful historical record of our society’s insanity. Because we have cut ourselves off from everything else that lives, and because we don’t believe that it does live, we have ended up talking only to ourselves. We have ended what Thomas Berry called ‘the great conversation’ between humans and other forms of life. We are becoming human narcissists, entombed in our cities, staring into our screens, seeing our faces and our minds reflected back and believing this is all there is. And outside the forests fall, the ice melts, the corals die back and the extinctions roll on; but we keep writing our love letters to ourselves, oblivious.

What might the alternative look like? Perhaps the poets can see this better than the novelists. Robinson Jeffers, poet of the California cliffs, spent his life trying to transcribe the song of the living world and make it fit for human ears. He ends his poem Carmel Point with a prescription:

We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

The ecological crisis we have spawned will ‘unhumanize’ our views for us, whether we like it or not. The notions that only humans matter, or that humans are in control, even of themselves, are unlikely to outlast this century. It seems a good time for writers to become confident as the rock and ocean, and to begin writing about the rock and ocean as if they had a part to play. The novel looks pretty exhausted these days. Could this be its new frontier?

There have always been novels in which the landscape, and the non-human creatures in it, have played a powerful part. Just looking along my limited bookshelf I can see Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure and The Return of the Native, in which the rural landscapes of his still pre-modern Wessex are as memorable as his human characters; Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, whose wild Pennine uplands experience moods as dark as that of Heathcliff; Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, set in a fictional archipelago whose islands are as distinctive as any on our planet; and D. H. Lawrence’s The Plumed Serpent, set in a dark pagan Mexico whose taste lingers in the mind longer than its storyline. More recently, and more locally, fiction by young writers like Ben Myers and Daisy Johnson weave stories around wild English landscapes which act as ominous backdrops to the human stories they tell; stories which seem smaller as a result, and thus more urgent.

A powerful landscape is one thing, though; a sentient landscape is another. A question that has been jabbing at me for some time is: how could a novel be written in which a living landscape was not just a backdrop, but a character: an actor in the drama, rather than its scenery? Are there novels in which non-human places are sensate? In which the mind of the world is made manifest in the places its human characters walk through? Having just tried to write one myself, I have been looking for precedents. So far, I have only discovered two writers who seem to even approach the question.

The first is William Golding, in his 1956 novel Pincher Martin. The eponymous sailor, blown into the sea when his boat is torpedoed during the Second World War, washes up on the only land for miles around: a great, jagged, black rock, which juts above the waves. For the next two hundred pages there is only Martin, the gulls, the anemones, and the rock, which seems, at first, to be simply an inanimate object. But the rock is something more.

It’s hard to explain why without ruining the novel’s startling conclusion, but it’s safe to say that the rock it is also a conduit for a voice, a confessional, a testing ground, a judge. The rock is waiting and watching, and the man on the rock is refusing to be part of it, refusing to believe that there is anything outside his own self. Whether he likes it or not, the rock has a lesson for him, which he is going to have to learn.

Perhaps the writer who has done most to explore the notion of a sensate landscape, though, is Alan Garner. The living, jolting, magical power of places is at the heart of almost everything he has written for the last five decades. A moor, a hill, a ridge, a wood: in Garner’s books these are not ‘landscapes’ but conduits to an older, wilder magic. History tugs at them, and they tug in turn at the feet of the innocent people who happen to walk across them.

In Garner’s 2003 novel Thursbitch, the Pennine valley which gives the book its title links two people separated by time, one in the 18th century, one living today. Garner’s deep knowledge and understanding of the place and its history is typical of his work, but so too is the sense that this landscape is hungry: it wants something; it is almost toying with people. It is as if the place has brought the book’s human actors together for a reason: as if some riddle must be solved, some destiny fulfilled. Ancient, pagan energies seem to emanate from the old valley, drawing people in across time, weaving the threads, constructing a pattern which humans may always be too small to comprehend.

Maybe it is impossible for any of us to ‘unhumanise our views’. Maybe we can only ever speak to, and of, ourselves.Are there other novels, and other novelists, which make the world beyond the human, the land itself, a living part of their story? Maybe there are dozens, which I haven’t come across in my limited reading. If not, maybe the lack reflects a peculiarity of the English-language novel, or of the European novel, or of the rational, liberal, urban middle class minds that tend to write them. Or maybe it is just impossible for any of us, ultimately, to ‘unhumanize our views’, any more than a rabbit could unrabbitize or a worm unworm theirs. Maybe we can only ever speak to, and of, ourselves.

But I’m not so sure. Writing a story is an act of projection. We imagine what it would be like to be this character, to live in this time, to be in this situation, and if we can’t do that well, our books won’t work. If we can do that well, why can’t we make the same imaginative leap and take ourselves out of our humanity? Is it harder to imagine a sensate landscape, or the worldview of another living being, than it is to imagine life on a Martian colony or in a fifteenth century village?

Probably. Still, that’s not a reason not to try. Glorious failures are always more interesting than unambitious successes. And surely the times demand it. ‘The universe is not a machine after all,’ proclaimed D. H. Lawrence, a man who never stopped paying attention to it; ‘it’s alive and kicking.’ Kicking and singing and watching, too. Who will write its story?

 

Paul Kingsnorth’s new novel, Beast, is published by Faber.

 

 

[Paul Kingsnorth was born in 1972. In the early 1990s, he studied history at Oxford University, where he also became a road protester. This changed his life. After graduating, Paul worked for a year on the staff of the Independent newspaper, which he hated. Following a three year stint as a campaign writer for an environmental NGO, he was appointed deputy editor of The Ecologist… full bio]

 

NGO’s Are Bad Mkay

consciousness activism

July 10, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations are funded by profit-driven corporations that destroy the planet and the lives of poor and indigenous peoples.

The United Nations likewise cannot be trusted because they also cooperate with multinational mega-corporations that perpetrate systemic violence in the name of predatory capitalism.

A) True

B) False

UNITED-NATIONS-4

 

Monsanto, Bayer, and the Push for Corporate Cannabis

Counterpunch

 

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As detailed in my recent article “The War on Weed is Winding Down,” the health benefits of cannabis are now well established. It is a cheap, natural alternative effective for a broad range of conditions, and the non-psychoactive form known as hemp has thousands of industrial uses. At one time, cannabis was one of the world’s most important crops. There have been no recorded deaths from cannabis overdose in the US, compared to about 30,000 deaths annually from alcohol abuse (not counting auto accidents), and 100,000 deaths annually from prescription drugs taken as directed. Yet cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance (“a deadly dangerous drug with no medical use and high potential for abuse”), illegal to be sold or grown in the US.

Powerful corporate interests no doubt had a hand in keeping cannabis off the market. The question now is why they have suddenly gotten on the bandwagon for its legalization. According to an April 2014 article in The Washington Times, the big money behind the recent push for legalization has come, not from a grassroots movement, but from a few very wealthy individuals with links to Big Ag and Big Pharma.

Leading the charge is George Soros, a major shareholder in Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company and producer of genetically modified seeds. Monsanto is the biotech giant that brought you Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs, dioxin-based pesticides, aspartame, rBGH (genetically engineered bovine growth hormone), RoundUp (glyphosate) herbicides, and RoundUp Ready crops (seeds genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate).

Monsanto now appears to be developing genetically modified (GMO) forms of cannabis, with the intent of cornering the market with patented GMO seeds just as it did with GMO corn and GMO soybeans. For that, the plant would need to be legalized but still tightly enough controlled that it could be captured by big corporate interests. Competition could be suppressed by limiting access to homegrown marijuana; bringing production, sale and use within monitored and regulated industry guidelines; and legislating a definition of industrial hemp as a plant having such low psychoactivity that only GMO versions qualify. Those are the sorts of conditions that critics have found buried in the fine print of the latest initiatives for cannabis legalization.

Patients who use the cannabis plant in large quantities to heal serious diseases (e.g. by juicing it) find that the natural plant grown organically in sunlight is far more effective than hothouse plants or pharmaceutical cannabis derivatives. Letitia Pepper is a California attorney and activist who uses medical marijuana to control multiple sclerosis. As she puts it, if you don’t have an irrevocable right to grow a natural, therapeutic herb in your backyard that a corporation able to afford high license fees can grow and sell to you at premium prices, isn’t that still a war on people who use marijuana?

Follow the Money to Uruguay

Monsanto has denied that it is working on GMO strains. But William Engdahl, author of Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, presents compelling circumstantial evidence to the contrary. In a March 2014 article titled “The Connection Between the Legalization of Marijuana in Uruguay, Monsanto and George Soros”, Engdahl observes that in 2014, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana. Soros is a major player in Uruguay and was instrumental in getting the law passed. He sits on the board of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the world’s most influential organization for cannabis legalization. The DPA is active not only in the US but in Uruguay and other Latin American countries. Engdahl writes:

Studies show that Monsanto without much fanfare conducts research projects on the active ingredient in marijuana, namely THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), in order to genetically manipulate the plant. David Watson of the Dutch company Hortapharm has since 1990 created the world’s largest collection of Cannabis seed varieties. In 1998, the British firm GW Pharmaceuticals signed an agreement with Hortapharm that gives GW Pharma the rights to use the Hortapharm cannabis for their research.

In 2003 the German Bayer AG then signed an agreement with GW Pharmaceuticals for joint research on a cannabis-based extract. In 2007, Bayer AG agreed to an exchange of technology with . . . Monsanto . . . . Thus Monsanto has discreet access to the work of the cannabis plant and its genetic modification. In 2009 GW Pharmaceuticals announced that it had succeeded in genetically altering a cannabis plant and patented a new breed of cannabis.

Monsanto could have even greater access to the Bayer/GW research soon. In March 2016, Monsanto approached the giant German chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer AG with a joint venture proposal concerning its crop science unit. In May, Bayer then made an unsolicited takeover bid for Monsanto. On May 24th, the $62 billion bid was rejected as too low; but negotiations are continuing.

The prospective merger would create the world’s largest supplier of seeds and chemicals. Environmentalists worry that the entire farming industry could soon be looking at sterile crops soaked in dangerous pesticides. Monsanto has sued hundreds of farmers for simply saving seeds from year to year, something they have done for millennia. Organic farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to prevent contamination of their crops by Monsanto’s GMOs.

In Seeds of Destruction, Engdahl quotes Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State. Kissinger notoriously said, “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.” Engdahl asserts that the “Green Revolution” was part of the Rockefeller agenda to destroy seed diversity and push oil- and gas-based agricultural products in which Rockefeller had a major interest. Destruction of seed diversity and dependence on proprietary hybrids was the first step in food control. About 75% of the foodstuffs at the grocery store are now genetically manipulated, in what has been called the world’s largest biological experiment on humans.

Genetic engineering is now moving from foodstuffs to plant-based drugs and plant-based industrial fibers. Engdahl writes of Monsanto’s work in Uruguay:

Since the cultivation of cannabis plants in Uruguay is allowed, one can easily imagine that Monsanto sees a huge new market that the Group is able to control just with patented cannabis seeds such as today is happening on the market for soybeans. Uruguay’s President Mujica has made it clear he wants a unique genetic code for cannabis in his country in order to “keep the black market under control.”

Genetically modified cannabis seeds from Monsanto would grant such control. For decades Monsanto has been growing gene-soybean and GM maize in Uruguay too. George Soros is co-owner of agribusinesses Adecoagro, which planted genetically modified soybeans and sunflowers for biofuel.

Other commentators express similar concerns. Natural health writerMike Adams warns:

[W]ith the cannabis industry predicted to generate over $13 billion by 2020, becoming one of the largest agricultural markets in the nation, there should be little doubt that companies like Monsanto are simply waiting for Uncle Sam to remove the herb from its current Schedule I classification before getting into the business.

In a 2010 article concerning Proposition 19, an earlier legalization initiative that was defeated by California voters, Conrad Justice Kiczenski noted that criminalization of cannabis as both industrial hemp and medical marijuana has served a multitude of industries, including the prison and military industry, the petroleum, timber, cotton, and pharmaceutical industries, and the banking industry. With the decriminalization of cannabis, he warned:

The next stage in continuing this control is in the regulation, licensing and taxation of Cannabis cultivation and use through the only practical means available to the corporate system, which is through genetic engineering and patenting of the Cannabis genome.

AUMA: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

Suspicions like these are helping to fuel opposition to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), a 2016 initiative that would rewrite the medical marijuana laws in California. While AUMA purports to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the bill comes with so many restrictions that it actually makes acquisition more difficult and expensive than under existing law, and makes it a criminal offense for anyone under 21. Critics contend that the Act will simply throw access to this medicinal wonder plant into the waiting arms of the Monsanto/Bayer/petrochemical/pharmaceutical complex. They say AUMA is a covert attempt to preempt California’s Compassionate Use Act, Proposition 215, which was passed in 1996 by voter initiative.

Prop 215 did not legalize the sale of marijuana, but it did give ill or disabled people of any age the right to grow and share the plant and its derivatives on a not-for-profit basis. They could see a doctor of their choice, who could approve medical marijuana for a vast panoply of conditions; and they were assured of safe and affordable access to the plant at a nearby cooperative not-for-profit dispensary, or in their own backyards. As clarified by the 2008 Attorney General’s Guidelines, Prop 215 allowed reimbursement for the labor, costs and skill necessary to grow and distribute medical marijuana; and it allowed distribution through a “storefront dispensing collective.” However, the sale of marijuana for corporate profit remained illegal.  Big Pharma and affiliates were thus blocked from entering the field.

At the end of 2015 (effective 2016), the California state legislature over-rode Prop 215 with MMRSA – the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act of 2015/16 – which effectively rewrites the Health Code pertaining to medical marijuana. Opponents contend that MMRSA is unconstitutional, since a voter initiative cannot be changed by legislative action unless it so provides. And that is why its backers need AUMA, a voter initiative that validates MMRSA in its fine print. In combination with stricter California Medical Association rules for enforcement, MMRSA effectively moves medical marijuana therapy from the wholistic plant to a pharmaceutical derivative, one that must follow an AUMA or American Pharmaceutical Association mode of delivery. MMRSA turns the right to cultivate into a revocable privilege to grow, contingent on local rules. The right to choose one’s own doctor is also eliminated.

Critics note that of the hundreds of millions in tax revenues that AUMA is expected to generate from marijuana and marijuana-related products, not a penny will go to the California general fund. That means no money for California’s public schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure. Instead, it will go into a giant slush fund controlled by AUMA’s “Marijuana Control Board,” to be spent first for its own administration, then for its own law enforcement, then for penal and judicial program expenditures.

Law enforcement and penalties will continue to be big business, since AUMA legalizes marijuana use only for people over 21 and makes access so difficult and expensive that even adults could be tempted to turn to the black market. “Legalization” through AUMA will chiefly serve a petrochemical/pharmaceutical complex bent on controlling all farming and plant life globally.

[Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. Her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her 300+ blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.]

Stranger Than Fiction: How to Keep an Antiwar Movement Down

by Emma Quangel

May 9, 2016

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Imagine, if you will, the year 2016. It is a year of war. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ukraine, Turkey – just a handful in a long list – are under attack. Covert operations angling at “regime change” take place in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The African continent is engulfed in conflict, the threat of “regime change” knocking against even South Africa’s door. The BRICs are threatened, destabilizing. Thousands drown every year in the Mediterranean while millions more flood Europe, desperate for refuge from the violence and poverty that plagues their homelands. The right is on the rise across Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. The global economy is sagging under the weight of its own contradictions.

The United States government, that acts as the hired guns of a global class of jet-setting billionaires, imprisons 2.3 million of its own people. 3.2 per cent of its citizens are under correctional control. The descendants of those once kidnapped and enslaved are particularly tormented – one in three black males in the USA will spend some time in prison. 12,000 children in Flint, Michigan are poisoned by lead in the water. 60,000 people in New York City are homeless. Nearly 1,000 people were killed by the police in the United States last year. Thousands more are tortured – even boiled alive – in US prisons. In the state of Louisiana, black men in chains pick cotton for slave wages while overseers toting shotguns monitor them from horseback. The electoral system is rigged, disenfranchises millions, and offers the same solution, year after year: submit or be crushed.

Imagine, if you will, the year 2016 without a revolutionary movement against such conditions.

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The Black Panther Party was possibly the highwater mark for American revolution in the 20th century because it existed in concert with, and gave guidance to, a broad-based antiwar movement. While the labor struggles of the working class at the turn of the century were integral in improving the lives of millions of Americans and providing a platform for revolutionary socialism, it wasn’t until the radical labor movement started to speak out against the First World War that they were persecuted in full by the government, lynched, deported and imprisoned. Likewise, the Black Panthers were most heavily targeted when they developed a line that connected the suffering of the American people to the suffering inflicted on others by the United States abroad. In both instances, the culprit was imperialism, capitalism made flesh in the form of guns and planes that could stamp out challenges to its hegemony.

That the Black Panther Party even existed should one of the greatest points of pride among radicals in the United States. Indeed, Black Panthers are still on the run from the FBI or languishing in prisons, sometimes for decades under solitary confinement. They were able to serve the people while educating them about the world we lived in. To the Black Panthers, to anyone who would call themselves a dialectical materialist, the idea that the United States Government is an institution that can be reformed is simply absurd. The United States Government, to Marxists, does not exist as a faulty waiter failing to bring free health care and universal housing with the check, but rather, to mediate class conflict in favor of the bourgeoisie – not just in the United States, but worldwide. The Black Panthers saw this, and declared themselves in solidarity with the victims of imperialism. They toured the world, meeting with revolutionaries from North Korea to Vietnam. And this, along with organizing among poor black communities in the United States, is what brought down the wrath of the state on their heads.

It is possible to say that a revolutionary movement in the United States can only exist when there is praxis that recognizes the relationship between oppression in the US and imperialism. I would further venture to say that there can be no praxis without the two elements being present concurrently, and that no honest effort at building a revolutionary movement in the US can be made without recognizing that there must be an antiwar movement to join, and that this antiwar movement must be anti-imperialist.

After all, the wars of today differ greatly from the wars of the early 20th century, the wars that threw Emma Goldman and Big Bill Haywood in jail. We no longer have the draft – the popular rage over Vietnam saw an end to that – and the US spends more time launching air strikes from unmanned drones than digging trenches or preparing for bayonet combat. Likewise, imperialism doesn’t always take place at the end of a gun. The IMF and World Bank, created at the end of World War II, helped to exert influence over economies and governments where a heavier, more direct hand was once required. The creation of NATO and the Cold War made imperialism seem a war of ideologies, rather than the ham-fisted grab at resources that it was. Now, it seems that while American bombs and bullets murder so many worldwide, we are encouraged to side with imperialism as socialists. We are expected to take on the reasoning of George W. Bush and Samantha Power so long as it is dressed up and marketed in a way that pleases us, even if we consider ourselves “Left” leaning politically. Like soda and smartphones, we are exhorted to find identity in our positions, to represent ourselves by our consumer choices.

An alarming trend is on the rise in the United States and in the English-speaking world more generally: the ubiquitous Op-Ed. What was once relegated to just one page of the newspaper (the term Op-Ed meaning something that ran on the page opposite to Editorial) now makes up large sections of online news media. I imagine it is cheaper to pay a freelancer $250 (optimistic!) for their opinion than finance a foreign bureau. Whole TV networks run on an audio-visual version of the Op-Ed. It is a form of news that directly tells its reader how to think about the current events. Many gain their information on a topic simply from reading Op-eds. Today’s columnist and pundit is a TV show, someone that we can tune into on a regular basis for entertainment and flattery. If one show is boring, if you don’t like what they’re saying – simply switch the channel. It doesn’t matter, as all are trying to sell you a ruling class agenda. And, above all else, in our 24 hour news cycle, we are never allowed to present news in a boring way. The VICE lifestyle brand turned global news channel, with its correspondents pulled from content marketing’s central casting, is a prime example of the desire to “sex-up” news by letting opinions lead coverage. It is a way to engage the youth, as it boasts openly, to not only consume brands, but also official narratives, with enthusiasm.

A narrative example from the Op-ed world of news could be as follows: In Syria, democratic protesters are fighting against a brutal regime that slaughters them with impunity. These democratic protesters, now called rebels, are always at risk of being annihilated by state violence and torture because the Western Left has “failed” them.We must all support these rebels and pressure our government to do the right thing,whatever that might be.

Some articles might be run in conjunction, many that might contradict this narrative. We might learn from respected journalists with years of experience and lauded professional histories that things aren’t so simple. We might learn from State Department press transcripts that these brave rebels take quite a lot of money from the US Government. But it doesn’t matter if half of the paper contradicts the other half. When we are told how to read the news, through the eyes of these pundits, we are happily oblivious of whatever facts might contradict our chosen authority. After all, Thomas Friedman is far more influential and famous than some no-name stringer for The Times. Anyone who might disagree with the official narrative, even if they are respected journalists, scholars or activists, are now called conspiracy theorists, “hacks” or worse.

But while journalists are still nominally held to professional standards, the pundit owes no such thing to her audience. After all, this is just her opinion, and she is not expected to have thoroughly researched differing narratives – nor is she obligated to present opposing views, or to present anything evenly – when publishing her Op-ed. This is not unexpected, nor is it dishonest to the job description of a “pundit”. It’s up to the publication to decide how much of its material is news, and how much of it is entertainment packaged as Op-eds.

Yet, there is danger when a pundit or entertainer decides to call herself a journalist without having been subjected to the same standards we would expect from the NYT stringer. Facts are not checked and sources are not vetted. So-called journalists, such as Michael Weiss or Molly Crabapple, rely heavily on anonymous sources who slip them scintillating information or photographs. And yet, I am unsure who these sources are, who has vetted them, and how they did so. Indeed, as this new generation straddles the line between journalist and pundit, the means by which they communicate are themselves in question. My own WhatsApp number is from Iraq, though I have not lived there since October 2015. So, I think it’s natural to ask how these sources are processed, especially if the Op-ed writers posing as journalists are writing whole books based on their testimony, appearing on talk shows as experts, and building careers off promoting wars. While the content may be biased and one-sided, laden with marketing copy and convenient omissions, we should be incredibly wary on how we define, protect, but also how we verify the “source”. Indeed, I wouldask how these pundits find, vet and receive information, but as many already tried to have me fired from my last job for asking such questions, it’s pointless to attempt from my position – though I welcome corrections and inputs from editorial.

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As it stands, The Guardian admitted last week that it had been fed stories on Syria by the UK Home Office operating from behind a PR firm that was operating a Syrian advocacy campaign. Breakthrough Media joins its American agency Purpose (via The Syria Campaign) in pushing advocacy for pro-intervention narratives on the Syria conflict. What is left out of the discussion of whether or not public funds are being used to propagandize war to the tax-paying public is the disclosure of who the freelance “journalists” are that are being paid or otherwise lobbied to write on Syria. We would expect that journalists taking money or in kind contributions from campaign staff disclose such information when writing on the election – why not the same expectation from those who write on foreign policy matters? Perhaps it is because, in the long run, such issues are far weightier than whatever new jab a candidate throws on social media or a cable news talk show. One of the more chilling revelations from The Guardian, one seemingly lifted straight from my book, is that some of the journalists reported they were unaware that they were being utilized in this way.

If we knew that Fred Hampton or Emma Goldman were taking money from public relations firms (who may or may not have been receiving marching orders from governments) when speaking or writing on the wars they opposed, wouldn’t that change the way we see their positions? And certainly, if we were to discover that some of our favorite, cherished personalities who regularly tell us how to read the news were taking money from PR firms, to confuse, mislead, attack or threaten activists who might otherwise try and build a case against the US government’s wars abroad and at home, wouldn’t that be a scandal?

There may be no antiwar movement today because we live in a media environment that seeks to destroy it in its nascence. Andrew Bacevich, in his recent instructive essay for Harper’s called “American Imperium”, makes the case that:

The trivializing din of what passes for news drowns out the antiwar critique. One consequence of remaining perpetually at war is that the political landscape in America does not include a peace party.

Indeed, before there can be a peace party, there must be an antiwar critique. And the “trivializing din” that Bacevich speaks of is not simply drowning out antiwar critique, it is merciless in seeking to destroy and discredit ideas such as the fact that the United States enjoys unprecedented military, economic, ideological and strategic domination over the entire world. Such ideas, when voiced publicly, are met with derision and laughter. As if, with dozens of bases and tens of thousands of soldiers surrounding Russia, one could seriously argue that Russia is imperialist, or an equal threat to world peace as the US. There are no Russian bases and no Russian soldiers garrisoned on our borders. We cannot even know, as the numbers are not publicly available, how many US soldiers and bases are currently in the Middle East – indeed, how many are currently in Iraq and Syria, where much conflict is currently taking place. Whereas before, reliable journalists and their supportive editors might have been successful in discovering such figures, they are now too focused on revenue and survival. This opens wide the door for propagandists who wish to deride and discredit any remaining “Left” antiwar sentiment in the US. Until this is resolved, building an anti-imperialist antiwar movement will remain an uphill battle, even among smaller groups, as subjectivity and sophistry continues to be taught and promoted over objectivity, materialism, serious study and clear thinking.

 

[“Emma Quangel is the woman who bravely contributed to the outing of Nazi murderer/”Last Rhodesian” Dylann Storm Roof’s blog, which probably spoiled Roof’s chances at the inexorably successful—for white supremacists—insanity defense.  After Quangel, an insanity verdict for Roof would be an insanity verdict for the U.S. white supremacist system: which is to say, in lieu of Aristotelian-bourgeois justice, Artaudian ritual magic, a self-reparative exorcism.”]

WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS?

21st Century Wire

June 21, 2016

By Vanessa Beeley

 

Who are the White Helmets? This is a question that everyone should be asking themselves.

A hideous murder of a rising star in UK politics, Jo Cox MP, has just sent shock waves across the world. Within hours of her death, a special fund was established in her name to raise money for 3 causes. One of those causes is the Syrian White Helmets.

Are we seeing a cynical and obscene exploitation of Jo Cox’s murder to revive the flagging credibility of a US State Department & UK Foreign Office asset on the ground in Syria, created and sustained as first responders for the US and NATO Al Nusra/Al Qaeda forces?

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FOLLOW THE MONEY: The White Helmets are just one component of the new NGO Complex.

If this is the case, and I fear it is, the depravity of our government, the US government, the state led media and associated Syria Campaign support groups have reached a new level of perversion of Humanity. The White Helmets have been demonstrated to be a primarily US and NATO funded organisation embedded in Al Nusra and ISIS held areas exclusively.

This is an alleged “non-governmental” organisation, the definition of an NGO, that thus far has received funding from at least three major NATO governments, including $23 million from then US Government and $29 million (£19.7 million) from the UK Government, $4.5 million (€4 million) from the Dutch Government. In addition, it receives material assistance and training funded and run by a variety of other EU Nations.

A request has been put into the EU Secretary General to provide all correspondence relating to the funding and training of the White Helmets. By law this information must be made transparent and available to the public.

There has been a concerted campaign by a range of investigative journalists to expose the true roots of these Syria Civil Defence operatives, known as the White Helmets.  The most damning statement, however, did not come from us, but from their funders and backers in the US State Department who attempted to explain the US deportation of the prominent White Helmet leader, Raed Saleh, from Dulles airport on the 18th April 2016.

“It was unclear whether Mr. Saleh’s name might have shown up on a database, fed by a variety of intelligence and security agencies and intended to guard against the prospect of terrorism suspects slipping into the country.” ~ New York Times

Mark Toner, State Department spokesperson:

“And any individual – again, I’m broadening my language here for specific reasons, but any individual in any group suspected of ties or relations with extremist groups or that we had believed to be a security threat to the United States, we would act accordingly. But that does not, by extension, mean we condemn or would cut off ties to the group for which that individual works for.”


So we come back to the initial question.  Why is the tragic death of a passionate and ambitious politician being exploited? Why are all political parties in the UK endorsing the Jo Cox fund to provide financial assistance for an organisation the UK Government is already funding and training?

Why are the public once more being used as political pawns to further our government’s imperialist objectives inside Syria and their covert, illegal, proxy intervention of a sovereign nation via both terrorist forces and phony humanitarian first responders?

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Phillip Hammond, UK Foreign Secretary meeting White Helmets in southern Turkey

The White Helmets are perhaps being demonstrated to be the most crucial component of the US and NATO shadow state building inside Syria.  Led by the US and UK this group is essential to the propaganda stream that facilitates the continued media and political campaign against the elected Syrian government and permits the US and NATO to justify their regime of crippling economic and humanitarian sanctions against the Syrian people.

If this latest mechanised ‘NGO’ blueprint is successful then we could see it being re-deployed as key to future neo-colonialist projects. The White Helmets are a direct intra-venus line into the terrorist enclaves within Syria, acting as a conduit for information, equipment and medical support to maintain the US NATO forces.

Is this the future of warfare, is this the “swarming” outlined in a 2000 report produced by thebRAND Corporation and entitled: Swarming and the Future of Conflict.

“The emergence of a military doctrine based on swarming pods and clusters requires that defense policymakers develop new approaches to connectivity and control and achieve a new balance between the two. Far more than traditional approachesto battle, swarming clearly depends upon robust information flows. Securing these flows, therefore, can be seen as a necessary condition for successful swarming.”

[Update 22/6/2016] An important “previously unpublished interview with Jo Cox” was released today by Adam Barnett.  In this interview Jo Cox makes a clear statement regarding the way the UK Government should be maximising the use of their assets, the White Helmets, inside Syria:

“Second thing: many organisations, whether it’s the White Helmets or others, have got really creative ideas about how to operate under the siege and civil war conditions. They’ve got really interesting ideas about channelling money, getting aid in, thinking creatively about how they operate, which DfID [Department for International Development] should be listening to. [emphasis added]

And then the third thing is about giving airtime to civil society groups, making sure that they get more time on panels– and making sure this is representative of the diversity of civil society views as well, whether that’s women’s groups, or the White Helmets, or NGOs, or just doctors or people who are literally trying to get on with making society function in response to the humanitarian crisis.”

Is this why we are seeing what is, in effect, crowd funding for  proxy war? Do we really want to look back and be “judged by history” for enabling conflict and state terrorism, violating international law and invading sovereign nations.  Are we prepared to accept the consequences of such actions, consequences that should be taken by our governments alone but are now being diffused outwards to the general public.  Is this an attempt by our government to disassociate themselves from their criminal actions?

To condense our research on the Syria White Helmets, we have collated all relevant articles and interviews below.  We condemn wholeheartedly any senseless murder but we recommend that there is serious public and political re-evauluation of the morality of funding a US NATO organisation established to further “regime change” objectives in Syria.

Mass murder is being committed across Syria and the region by US and NATO proxy terrorist militants. Funding the White Helmets will serve to prolong the suffering and bloodshed of the Syrian people.

UK Column: White Helmets, Humanitarians or Executioners?

Vanessa Beeley speaks to Mike Robinson of UK Column about recent executions of Syrian Arab Army soldiers celebrated by White Helmet operatives.” Watch:


Mint Press: Dissecting the “Humanitarian” Propaganda Driving US Intervention in Syria, Again.

“Speaking to Mnar Muhawesh on ‘Behind the Headline,’ investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley pulls back the curtain on the anti-Assad ‘freedom fighters’ and ‘moderate rebels,’ revealing a carefully calibrated propaganda campaign to drive US intervention in the war-torn country.”Watch:

Hands Off Syria: The Syria White Helmets Exposed as US UK Agents Embedded with Al Nusra and ISIS

Video made by Hands Off Syria in Sydney Australia based upon the research of Vanessa Beeley on the White Helmets. Watch:


Mint Press: US Propaganda War in Syria: Report Ties White Helmets to US Intervention

“White Helmets primary function is propaganda” reported an independent journalist, who tied the group to George Soros and the controversial advocacy group Avaaz.”

Change.org Petition: Do NOT give 2016 Nobel Peace Prize to Syria White Helmets

This petition has currently garnered 1370 signatures. The White Helmets have received over $ 40 million in funding from the US Government [USAID] and the UK Foreign Office despite their claims of being “fiercely independent and accepts no money from governments, corporations or anyone directly involved in the Syrian conflict.”

Sputnik: Soros Sponsored NGO in Syria Aims at Ousting Assad not Saving Civilians

“One of the largest humanitarian organizations operating in war-torn Syria – the White Helmets – has been accused of being an anti-government propaganda arm that encourages direct foreign intervention.”

21st Century Wire: Syria’s White Helmets, War by Way of Deception Part 1

This piece examines the role of the Syria Civil Defence aka,’The White Helmets’ currently operating in Syria and take a closer look at their financial sources and mainstream media partners in order to better determine if they are indeed “neutral” as media moguls proclaim these “humanitarians” to be.

21st Century Wire: Part II. Syria’s White Helmets, “Moderate” Executioners

The NGO hydra has no more powerful or influential serpentine head in Syria than the Syria Civil Defence aka The White Helmets who, according to their leader and creator, James Le Mesurier, hold greater sway than even ISIS or Al Nusra confabs over the Syrian communities. This article explores the White Helmet involvement in terrorist executions of civilians particularly in Aleppo.

21st Century Wire: Humanitarian Propaganda War Against Syria – Led by Avaaz and the White Helmets

“The White Helmets in their haste to point the finger of blame at Moscow, managed to tweet about Russia’s air strikes several hours before the Russian Parliament actually authorized the use of the Air Force in Syria.” ~ Sott.net

UK Column: Syria White Helmets

“Mike Robinson speaks to Vanessa Beeley about the so-called NGO, the White Helmets. Are they really the humanitarian first responder organisation they claim to be?” Watch:

Eva Bartlett: Human Rights Front Groups Warring on Syria

This page will continue to expand as more so-called “Human Rights” groups are outed for propagating anti-Syria war rhetoric and false allegations against the Syrian government and Syrian Arab Army.  As it is, the list of players is quite extensive.  Below, I’ll list the known HR front people and groups (many, if not most, with links to the US State Department and criminals like George Soros).

Ron Paul Institute: Syria the Propaganda Ring

We have demonstrated that the White Helmets are an integral part of the propaganda vanguard that ensures obscurantism of fact and propagation of Human Rights fiction that elicits the well-intentioned and self righteous response from a very cleverly duped public. A priority for these NGOs is to keep pushing the No Fly Zone scenario which has already been seen to have disastrous implications for innocent civilians in Libya, for example.

Dissident Voice: Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators

“But White Helmets primary function is propaganda. White Helmets demonizes the Assad government and encourages direct foreign intervention.”

Prof Tim Anderson: Syrian Women Denounce the White Helmets

“A range of Syrian women have denounced the US-UK funded group the ‘White Helmets’, led by a former British soldier and recently revealed to be financed by USAID. They come from all the country’s communities (e.g. Sunni, Alawi, Druze, Christian) but, like most Syrians, prefer to identify simply as Syrian.”

Khamenei.ir: Interview with Prof. Tim Anderson NATO’s Dirty War on Syria

“The ‘White Helmets’ are a Wall Street creation, funded and led by the US and the UK, to give ‘humanitarian’ cover to the al Qaeda groups they support.”

AlternativeView7:  Syria: White Helmets Exposed

“We live in a world governed by propaganda where the majority of media mouthpieces are gagged by those who own them and only permitted to release information that serves the narrative of the ruling elite or Imperialist powers.”

White Helmets: One of the many suspect Hollywood style promo rescue videos

Please note that the child that is rescued is very clean considering she has allegedly been buried under the rubble of “regime” bombing raids..we do not in any way wish to detract from the heroic work of the true first responders on the ground in Syria, the real Syria Civil Defence and the Red Crescent who are never mentioned in the western media but we do wish to draw your attention to the propaganda methods being employed to amplify US and NATO narratives that are insisting upon “regime change.”

21st Century Wire: We will add to the above articles and interviews as they become available.  Vanessa Beeley has just completed a speaking tour of the UK and Iran during which she highlighted the role of the NGO complex in general and the White Helmets in particular as a new breed of predatory humanitarianism being unleashed against target nations. Videos of her talks will be published as soon as they become available from the AV7 conference and Frome Stop War.

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[Author Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.]

 

Summer Reading: The Myth of Human Supremacy

Seven Stories Press

 

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In this impassioned polemic, radical environmental philosopher Derrick Jensen debunks the near-universal belief in a hierarchy of nature and the superiority of humans. Vast and underappreciated complexities of nonhuman life are explored in detail—from the cultures of pigs and prairie dogs, to the creative use of tools by elephants and fish, to the acumen of caterpillars and fungi. The paralysis of the scientific establishment on moral and ethical issues is confronted and a radical new framework for assessing the intelligence and sentience of nonhuman life is put forth.

Jensen attacks mainstream environmental journalism, which too often limits discussions to how ecological changes affect humans or the economy—with little or no regard for nonhuman life. With his signature compassionate logic, he argues that when we separate ourselves from the rest of nature, we in fact orient ourselves against nature, taking an unjust and, in the long run, impossible position.

Jensen expresses profound disdain for the human industrial complex and its ecological excesses, contending that it is based on the systematic exploitation of the earth. Page by page, Jensen, who has been called the philosopher-poet of the environmental movement, demonstrates his deep appreciation of the natural world in all its intimacy, and sounds an urgent call for its liberation from human domination.

About Derrick Jensen

DERRICK JENSEN speaks on behalf of a younger generation whose sense of impatience and indignation stems from the fact that they, like him, will still be walking this earth fifty years from now. Jensen writes beautifully, asking fundamental questions about our civilization and our species. Activist, philosopher, small farmer, teacher, leading voice of uncompromising dissent, Derrick Jensen holds degrees in creative writing and mineral engineering physics. His books include DreamsEndgame, Volumes 1 and 2As the World Burns, with Stephanie McMillanA Language Older Than WordsThe Culture of Make BelieveWhat We Leave Behind, with Aric McBayThe Derrick Jensen Reader, with Lierre Keith; and Deep Green Resistance, with Aric McBay and Lierre Keith.