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FLASHBACK: The Class-Domination Theory of Power

Who Rules America

First published April 2005; updated February 2012

by G. William Domhoff

 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: WhoRulesAmerica.net is largely based on my book, Who Rules America?, first published in 1967 and now in its 7th edition. This on-line document is presented as a summary of some of the main ideas in that book.

 

Who has predominant power in the United States? The short answer, from 1776 to the present, is: Those who have the money — or more specifically, who own income-producing land and businesses — have the power. George Washington was one of the biggest landowners of his day; presidents in the late 19th century were close to the railroad interests; for the Bush family, it was oil and other natural resources, agribusiness, and finance. In this day and age, this means that banks, corporations, agribusinesses, and big real estate developers, working separately on most policy issues, but in combination on important general issues — such as taxes, opposition to labor unions, and trade agreements with other countries — set the rules within which policy battles are waged.

While this conclusion may at first seem too simple or direct, leaving little room for elected officials or voters, the reasons behind it are complex. They involve an understanding of social classes, the role of experts, the two-party system, and the history of the country, especially Southern slavery. In terms of the big world-historical picture, and the Four Networks theory of power advocated on this site, large economic interests rule in America because there are no rival networks that grew up over a long and complex history:

  • There is no one big church, as in many countries in Europe
  • No big government, as it took to survive as a nation-state in Europe
  • No big military until after 1940 (which is not very long ago) to threaten to take over the government

 

So, the only power network of any consequence in the history of the United States has been the economic one, which under capitalism generates a business-owning class and a working class, along with small businesses and skilled craft workers who are self-employed, and a relatively small number of highly trained professionals such as architects, lawyers, physicians, and scientists. In this context, the key reason why money can rule — i.e., why the business owners who hire workers can rule — is that the people who work in the factories and fields were divided from the outset into free and slave, white and black, and later into numerous immigrant ethnic groups as well, making it difficult for workers as a whole to unite politically to battle for higher wages and better social benefits. This important point is elaborated on toward the end of this document in a section entitled “The Weaknesses of the Working Class.”

Moreover, the simple answer that money rules has to be qualified somewhat. Domination by the few does not mean complete control, but rather the ability to set the terms under which other groups and classes must operate. Highly trained professionals with an interest in environmental and consumer issues have been able to couple their technical information and their understanding of the legislative process with timely publicity to win governmental restrictions on some corporate practices. Wage and salary workers, when they are organized or disruptive, sometimes have been able to gain concessions on wages, hours, and working conditions.

Most of all, there is free speech and the right to vote. While voting does not necessarily make government responsive to the will of the majority, under certain circumstances the electorate has been able to place restraints on the actions of the wealthy elites, or to decide which elites will have the greatest influence on policy. This is especially a possibility when there are disagreements within the higher circles of wealth and influence.

Still, the idea that a relatively fixed group of privileged people dominate the economy and government goes against the American grain and the founding principles of the country. “Class” and “power” are terms that make Americans a little uneasy, and concepts such as “upper class” and “power elite” immediately put people on guard. Americans may differ in their social and income levels, and some may have more influence than others, but it is felt that there can be no fixed power group when power is constitutionally lodged in all the people, when there is democratic participation through elections and lobbying, and when the evidence of social mobility is everywhere apparent. So, it is usually concluded by most power analysts that elected officials, along with “interest groups” like “organized labor” and “consumers,” have enough “countervailing” power to say that there is a more open, “pluralistic” distribution of power rather than one with rich people and corporations at the top.

Contrary to this pluralistic view, I will try to demonstrate how rule by the wealthy few is possible despite free speech, regular elections, and organized opposition:

  • “The rich” coalesce into a social upper class that has developed institutions by which the children of its members are socialized into an upper-class worldview, and newly wealthy people are assimilated.
  • Members of this upper class control corporations, which have been the primary mechanisms for generating and holding wealth in the United States for upwards of 150 years now.
  • There exists a network of nonprofit organizations through which members of the upper class and hired corporate leaders not yet in the upper class shape policy debates in the United States.
  • Members of the upper class, with the help of their high-level employees in profit and nonprofit institutions, are able to dominate the federal government in Washington.
  • The rich, and corporate leaders, nonetheless claim to be relatively powerless.
  • Working people have less power than in many other democratic countries.

Before running through this list, it is first necessary to define the term “power” and to explain the “indicators” of power that are used to determine who has it. Later other concepts will be introduced as they are needed. They include “social class,” “upper class,” “corporate community,” “interlocking directorates,” the “policy-planning network,” the “power elite,” the “special-interest process,” the “candidate-selection process,” and a few others. All of these concepts are necessary in order to understand the nature and operation of the “power structure” in the United States.

Power and Power Indicators

Power is one of those words that is easy to understand but hard to define in a precise manner. We know it means “clout” or “juice” or “muscle” or “the ability to make things happen.” We know it comes from words implying the ability to act in a strong, compelling, and direct way, but we also know that power can be projected in a very quiet and indirect manner.

By “power” I mean “the capacity of some persons to produce intended and foreseen effects on others” (Wrong, 1995). This is a very general definition that allows for the many forms of power that can be changed from one to another, such as economic power, political power, military power, ideological power, and intellectual power (i.e., knowledge, expertise). It leaves open the question of whether “force” or “coercion” is always lurking somewhere in the background in the exercise of power, as many definitions imply. However, to say that power is the ability to produce intended and foreseen effects on others does not mean it is a simple matter to study the power of a group or social class. A formal definition does not explain how a concept is to be measured. In the case of power, it is seldom possible to observe interactions that reveal its operation even in a small group, let alone to see one “social class” producing “effects” on another. It is therefore necessary to develop what are called “indicators” of power.

For research purposes, power can be thought of as an underlying “trait” or “property” of a social group or social class. It is measured by a series of signs, or indicators, that bear a probabilistic relationship to it. This means that all the indicators do not necessarily appear each and every time power is manifesting itself. Research proceeds through a series of “if-then” statements: “if” a group or class is powerful, “then” it should be expected that certain indicators of this power will be present. It is especially important to have more than one indicator. Ideally, the indicators will be of very different types so that any irrelevant components in them will cancel each other out. In the best of all possible worlds, these multiple indicators will point to the same group or class, increasing the likelihood that the underlying concept has been measured correctly.

There are three primary indicators of power, which can be summarized as (1) who benefits? (2) who governs? and (3) who wins? In every society there are experiences and material objects that are highly valued. If it is assumed that everyone in the society would like to have as great a share as possible of these experiences and objects, then the distribution of values in that society can be utilized as a power indicator. Those who benefit the most, by inference, are powerful. In American society, wealth and well-being are highly valued. People seek to own property, earn high incomes, to have interesting and safe jobs, and to live long and healthy lives. All of these “values” are unequally distributed, and all may be utilized as power indicators.

Power also can be inferred from studies of who occupies important institutional positions and takes part in important decision-making groups. If a group or class is highly over-represented in relation to its proportion of the population, it can be inferred that the group is powerful. If, for example, a group makes up 10% of the population but has 50% of the seats in the main governing institutions, then it has five times more people in governing positions than would be expected by chance, and there is thus reason to believe that the group is a powerful one.

There are many policy issues over which groups or classes disagree. In the United States different policies are suggested by opposing groups in such “issue-areas” as foreign policy, taxation, welfare, and the environment. Power can be inferred from these issue conflicts by determining who successfully initiates, modifies, or vetoes policy alternatives. This indicator, by focusing on actions within the decision-making process, comes closest to approximating the process of power that is contained in the formal definition, but it must be stressed that it is no less an inference to say that who wins on issues is an indicator of “power” than with the other two types of empirical observations — value distributions and positional over-representation — that are used as power indicators.

The decisional (who wins) indicator is also the most difficult to use in an accurate way. First, it is often difficult to gain access to decision-makers to interview them, much less observe them in action. Second, aspects of a decision process may remain hidden. Third, some informants may exaggerate or play down their roles. Fourth, and not least, people’s memories about who did what often become cloudy shortly after the event. Those are some of the reasons why social scientists often end up relying on written records about key decisions, but they often are not available until years later. So we end up historians as well as social scientists, or depending on historians for much basic information.

In summary, all three of the power indicators have strengths and weaknesses. However, these weaknesses present no serious problem. This is because each of these indicators involves different kinds of information drawn from very different kinds of studies. The case for the power of a group or class should only be considered a convincing one if all three types of indicators “triangulate” on one particular group or social class.

The Social Upper Class

One good starting point for the study of power in the United States, and the one I have preferred as a sociologist (especially in the 1960s and 1970s, when there was far less readily available information than there is now) is a careful consideration of the small social upper class at the top of the wealth, income, and status ladders. This is because the social upper class is the most visible and accessible aspect of the power equation. It is not necessarily the heart of the matter, but it is nonetheless the best place to get a handle on the overall power structure.

By a “social class” I mean a set of intermarrying and interacting families who see each other as equals, share a common style of life, and have a common viewpoint on the world. This general definition is accepted by most social scientists whatever their views on the distribution of power. By the “social upper class,” hereafter to be called simply “the upper class,” I mean that social class that is commonly agreed by most members of the society to be the “top” or “elite” or “exclusive” class. In various times and places Americans have called such people the “high hats,” the “country club set,” the “snobs,” and the “rich.” In turn, members of this class recognize themselves as distinctive. They call themselves such names as the “old families,” the “established families,” and the “community leaders.”

The upper class probably makes up only a few tenths of one percent of the population. For research purposes, I use the conservative estimate that it includes 0.5% to 1% of the population for determining the over-representation of its members in corporations, nonprofit organizations, and the government. Members of the upper class live in exclusive suburban neighborhoods, expensive downtown co-ops, and large country estates. They often have far-away summer and winter homes as well. They attend a system of private schools that extends from pre-school to the university level; the best known of these schools are the “day” and “boarding” prep schools that take the place of public high schools in the education of most upper-class teenagers. Adult members of the upper class socialize in expensive country clubs, downtown luncheon clubs, hunting clubs, and garden clubs. Young women of the upper class are “introduced” to high society each year through an elaborate series of debutante teas, parties, and balls. Women of the upper class gain experience as “volunteers” through a nationwide organization known as the Junior League, and then go on to serve as directors of cultural organizations, family service associations, and hospitals (see Kendall, 2002, for a good account of women of the upper class by a sociologist who was also a participant in upper-class organizations).

These various social institutions are important in creating “social cohesion” and a sense of in-group “we-ness.” This sense of cohesion is heightened by the fact that people can be excluded from these organizations. Through these institutions young members of the upper class and those who are new to wealth develop shared understandings of how to be wealthy. Because these social settings are expensive and exclusive, members of the upper class usually come to think of themselves as “special” or “superior.” They think they are better than other people, and certainly better able to lead and govern. Their self-confidence and social polish are useful in dealing with people from other social classes, who often admire them and defer to their judgments.

For research purposes, the important thing about these social institutions is that they provide us with a starting point for systematic studies of power. For example, these class “indicators” allow us to determine which economic and political leaders are and are not members of the upper class. Put another way, class indicators allow us to trace members of the upper class into the economic, political, and ideological power systems of the society.

Starting with these class indicators, we can show that the upper class is nationwide in its scope. This is because there is “overlapping” membership among the many social clubs around the country. A person from Chicago, for example, might belong to clubs in New York, Boston, and San Francisco, implying that he or she interacts with upper-class counterparts in those cities. By comparing dozens of club membership lists, we have been able to establish the “density” of this club network. (See the pages on the Bohemian Grove for findings on social cohesion and a photo essay; and for a wonderfully detailed and colorful portrait of what one of these clubs is like, see this memoir of going to the Links Club in New York City, which is one of the most central clubs in the social club/corporate executive network.)

Similarly, the alumni lists of exclusive private schools reveal that their students come from all parts of the country. The summer addresses of those members of the upper class who are listed in in-group telephone books called blue books and social registers show that people from all parts of the country mingle together at secluded summer resorts that have been upper-class watering holes for many generations.

But here we must enter our first caution. The class indicators are not perfect. Some members of the upper class do not join clubs, or list in a social register, or reveal their school affiliations in such sources as Who’s Who in America that we have to rely on for much of our information. We cannot trace such people through the power system. They are counted as not being upper class when they really are. On the other hand, there are local, or scholarship children (often people of color) at some prep schools who are not members of the upper class, and some honorary members of social clubs are not upper class. They are counted as upper class when they really are not. In large-scale studies, these two kinds of mistakes tend to cancel each other out, so in general we obtain an accurate picture. But it is true that the class indicators could be wrong on specific individuals. They are useful for group studies, not for identifying individuals.

Cautions aside, there is no doubt that there is a nationwide upper class in the United States with its own distinctive social institutions, lifestyle, and outlook. There is also no doubt that most of these people are active in business or the professions, and that all of them are very wealthy. Their great wealth is obvious, of course, from the large sums that it takes to maintain their homes and their style of life, but systematic studies also show that the wealthiest families are part of the social institutions of the upper class. Combining our studies with findings by economists on the wealth and income distributions, it is possible to say that the upper class, comprising 0.5% to 1% of the population, owns 35-40% of all privately held wealth in the United States and receives 12-15% of total yearly income. In short, the upper class scores very high on the “who benefits” power indicator.

The wealth and income of members of the upper class certainly imply that the upper class is powerful, but they do not demonstrate how power operates. It is therefore necessary to turn to studies of the economy to gain further understanding of the American power structure.

The Corporate Community

Major economic power in the United States is concentrated in an organizational and legal form known as the corporation, and has been since the last several decades of the 19th century. No one doubts that individual corporations have great power in the society at large. For example, they can hire and fire workers, decide where to invest their resources, and use their income in a variety of tax-deductible ways to influence schools, charities, and governments. The argument begins over whether the large corporations are united enough to exert a common social power, and then moves to the question of whether they are still controlled by members of the upper class.

The unity of the corporations can be demonstrated in a number of ways. They share a common interest in making profits. They are often owned by the same families or financial institutions. Their executives have very similar educational and work experiences. It is also important for their sense of unity that corporate leaders see themselves as sharing common opponents in organized labor, environmentalists, consumer advocates, and government officials. A sense of togetherness is created as well by their use of the same few legal, accounting, and consulting firms.

However, the best way to demonstrate the unity among corporations is through the study of what are called “interlocking directors,” meaning those individuals who sit on two or more of the boards of directors that are in charge of the overall direction of the corporation. Boards of directors usually include major owners, top executives from similar corporations or corporations located in the same area, financial and legal advisors, and the three or four officers who run the corporation on a daily basis. Several studies show that those 15-20% of corporate directors who sit on two or more boards, who are called the “inner circle” of the corporate directorate, unite 80-90% of the largest corporations in the United States into a well-connected “corporate community.”

Most social scientists agree that corporations have a strong basis for cohesion. However, there is disagreement over their relationship to the upper class. Some theorists, the pluralists, say that members of the upper class used to dominate corporations, but not any more due to their increase in size, the need for highly trained and specialized executives, and the decline in family ownership. Thus, there is an upper class of rich families with one set of interests and a group of professional business executives who have their own interests and power base. Members of the upper class have power based on their wealth, and corporate executives have organizational power.

Contrary to this claim of a division between owners and managers, I think there is strong evidence for the idea of great overlap in membership and interest between the upper class and the corporate community. The wealthiest and most cohesive upper-class families often have “family offices” through which they can bring to bear the concentrated power of their collective stock ownership, sometimes placing employees of the office on boards of directors. Then too, members of the upper class often control corporations through financial devices known as “holding companies,” which purchase a controlling interest in operating companies. More generally, members of the upper class own roughly half of all corporate stock . Then too, upper-class control of corporations can be seen in its over-representation on boards of directors. Several past studies show that members of the upper class sit on boards far more than would be expected by chance. They are especially likely to be part of the “inner circle” that has two or more directorships. According to the “who governs” power indicator, the upper class still controls the corporate community. Thus, we can conclude that the upper class is rooted in the ownership and control of the corporations that comprise the corporate community. We can say that members of the upper class are for the most part a “corporate rich” who continue to be involved in the business world as investors, venture capitalists, bankers, corporate lawyers, and top executives.

True enough, there are many top corporate executives who did not grow up in the upper class. Most CEO’s of major corporations do not come from the upper class. However, they are gradually socialized into the upper class and its values as they move up the corporate ladder; indeed, they are advanced on the basis of their ability to fulfill upper-class goals of corporate expansion and profitability. In return, these rising managers are given the opportunity to buy corporate stock at below-market prices, paid very high salaries, and given other “perks” that make it possible for them to join the upper class economically as well as socially. The end result is a strengthening of the power of the upper class, not a diminution of it.

How Government Policy Is Shaped From Outside Government

The upper class and the closely related corporate community do not stand alone at the top of the power structure. They are supplemented by a wide range of nonprofit organizations that play an important role in framing debates over public policy and in shaping public opinion. These organizations are often called “nonpartisan” or “bipartisan” because they are not identified with politics or with either of the two major political parties. But they are the real “political party” of the upper class in terms of insuring the stability of the society and the compliance of government.

Upper-class and corporate dominance of the major nonprofit organizations can be seen in their founding by wealthy members of the upper class and in their reliance on large corporations for their funding. However, dominance is once again most readily demonstrated through studies of boards of directors, which have ultimate control of the organizations, including the ability to hire and fire top executives. These studies show that (1) members of the upper class are greatly over-represented on the boards of these organizations, and (2) that nonprofit organizations share a large number of directors in common with the corporate community, particularly directors who are part of the “inner circle.” In effect, most large nonprofit organizations are part of the corporate community.

All the organizations in the nonprofit sector have a hand in creating the framework of the society in one way or another, and hence in helping to shape the political climate. The cultural and civic organizations set the standard for what is beautiful, important, and “classy.” The elite universities play a big part in determining what is important to teach, learn, and research, and they train most of the professionals and experts in the country. However, it is the foundations, think tanks, and policy-discussion organizations that have the most direct and important influences. Their ideas, criticisms, and policy suggestions go out to the general public through a wide array of avenues, including pamphlets, books, local discussion groups, mass media, and not least, the public relations departments of major corporations. Their materials also reach government through a variety of means that will be outlined shortly.

It is worthwhile to look a little more closely at the foundations, think tanks, and policy-discussion organizations to show how they function as a “policy-planning network.”

Tax-free foundations receive their money from wealthy families and corporations. Their primary purpose is to provide money for education, research, and policy discussion. They thus have the power to encourage those ideas and researchers they find compatible with their values and goals, and to withhold funds from others. Support by major foundations often has had a significant impact on the direction of research in agriculture, social science, and the health sciences. However, foundations also create policy projects on their own. The Ford Foundation, for example, helped to create a complex network of advocacy groups and funding sources for Community Development Corporations (CDCs) that provide housing and social services in the inner city.

The role of the think tanks is to suggest new policies to deal with the problems facing the economy and government. Using money from wealthy donors, corporations, and foundations, think tanks hire the experts produced by the graduate departments of the elite universities. The ideas and proposals developed by the experts are disseminated through pamphlets, books, articles in major magazines and newspapers, and, most importantly, through the participation of the experts themselves in the various forums provided by the policy-discussion organizations.

The policy-discussion organizations are the hub of the policy-planning network. They bring together wealthy individuals, corporate executives, experts, and government officials for lectures, forums, meetings, and group discussions of issues that range from the local to the international, and from the economic to the political to the cultural. New ideas are tried out in weekly or monthly discussion groups, and differences of opinion are aired and compromised. These structured discussion groups usually begin with a presentation by the invited experts, followed by questions and discussion involving all participants. Such discussion groups may range in size from ten to 50, with the usual group having fifteen to 25 members.

The many discussion groups that take place within the several policy-discussion organizations have several functions that do not readily meet the eye. They are often overlooked by theorists — pluralists and state-autonomy theorists, primarily — who do not believe that the upper class and corporate community have the ability to develop overall policy sophistication and thereby be in a position to influence the government. First, these organizations help to familiarize busy corporate leaders with policy options outside the purview of their day-to-day business concerns. This gives these executives the ability to influence public opinion through the mass media and other outlets, to argue with and influence experts, and to accept appointments for government service. Second, the policy-discussion organizations give members of the upper class and corporate community the opportunity to see which of their colleagues seem to be the best natural leaders through watching them in the give and take of the discussion groups. They can see which of their counterparts understand the issues quickly, offer their own ideas, facilitate discussions, and relate well to experts. The organizations thus serve as sorting and screening mechanisms for the emergence of new leadership for the corporate rich in general.

Third, these organizations legitimate their participants to the media and interested public as knowledgeable leaders who deserve to be tapped for public service because they have used their free time to acquaint themselves with the issues in nonpartisan forums. The organizations thereby help make wealthy individuals and corporate executives into “national leaders” and “statesmen.” Finally, these organizations provide a forum wherein members of the upper class and corporate community can come to know policy experts. This gives them a pool of people from which they can draw advisors if they are asked to serve in government. It also gives them a basis for recommending experts to politicians for government service.

The organizations also serve obvious functions for the experts. First, presenting their ideas and policies to these organizations gives them an opportunity to have influence. Second, it gives them a chance to advance their own careers if they can impress the upper-class and corporate participants.

The policy-planning network is not totally homogeneous. Reflecting differences within the corporate community, there are moderate-conservative and ultra-conservative wings within it. Moderate conservatives favor foreign aid, low tariffs, and increased economic expansion overseas, whereas the ultra-conservatives tend to see foreign aid as a giveaway. Moderate conservatives tend to accept the idea that governmental taxation and spending policies can be used to stimulate and stabilize the economy, but ultra-conservatives insist that taxes should be cut to the very minimum and that government spending is the next thing to evil. Moderate conservatives accept some welfare-state measures, or at least they support such measures in the face of serious social disruption. Ultra-conservatives have consistently opposed any welfare spending, claiming that it destroys moral fiber and saps individual initiative, so they prefer to use arrest and detention when faced with social unrest.

The reasons for these differences are not well understood. There is a tendency for the moderate-conservative organizations to be directed by executives from the very largest and most internationally oriented of corporations, but there are numerous exceptions to that generalization. Moreover, there are corporations that support policy organizations within both camps. However, for all their differences, leaders within the two clusters of policy organizations have a tendency to search for compromise due to their common membership in the upper-class and corporate community. When compromise is not possible, the final resolution of policy conflicts often takes place in legislative struggles in Congress.

The existence of the policy-planning network provides evidence for another form of power possessed by the wealthy few: expertise on social and political issues. It is an important complement to the naked economic power possessed by the corporations.

The Power Elite

Now that the upper class, corporate community, and policy-planning network have been defined and described, it is possible to discuss the leadership group that I call the “power elite.” I define the power elite as the leadership group of the upper class. It consists of active-working members of the upper class and high-level employees in profit and nonprofit institutions controlled by members of the upper class through stock ownership, financial support, or involvement on the board of directors. This does not mean that all members of the upper class are involved in governing. Some are only playboys and socialites; their social gatherings may provide a setting where members of the power elite mingle with celebrities, and sometimes they give money to political candidates, but that is about as close as they come to political power.

Conversely, not all those involved in the power elite are members of the upper class. They are sons and daughters of the middle class, and occasionally, the blue-collar working class, who do well at any one of several hundred private and state universities, and then go to grad school, MBA school, or law school at one of a handful of elite universities — e.g., Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, MIT, Johns Hopkins, University of Chicago, and Stanford. From there they go to work for a major corporation, law firm, foundation, think tank, or university, and slowly work their way to the top.

The idea of the power elite intertwines class theory and organizational theory, two theories which are often thought of as distinctive or even as rivals. The basis for the intertwining of the two theories is to be found in the role and composition of the boards of directors that govern every large profit and nonprofit organization in the United States. It is on boards of directors that the values and goals of the upper class are integrated with those of the organizational hierarchy. Upper-class directors insure that their interests are infused into the organizations they control, but the day-to-day organizational leaders on the board are able to harmonize class interests with organizational principles.

It is important to stress that I am not saying that all experts are members of the power elite. People have to be high-level employees in institutions controlled by members of the upper class to be considered part of the power elite. Receiving a fellowship from a foundation, spending a year at a think tank, or giving advice to a policy-discussion organization does not make a person a member of the power elite. It also may be useful to note that there are many experts who never go near the policy-planning network. They focus on their teaching and research, or work for groups that oppose the policies of the power elite. In short, experts and advisers are a separate group just below the power elite in the pecking order.

power_elite_diagram

With the composition of the power elite clearly stated, it is now possible to show how it dominates the federal government in the interest of the upper class and corporate community.

The Power Elite and Government

Members of the power elite directly involve themselves in the federal government through three basic processes, each of which has a slightly different role in ensuring “access” to the White House, Congress, and specific agencies, departments, and committees in the executive branch. Although some of the same people are involved in all three processes, most leaders specialize in one or two of the three processes. These three processes are:

  1. The special-interest process, through which specific families, corporations, and industrial sectors are able to realize their narrow and short-run interests on taxes, subsidies, and regulation in their dealings with congressional committees, regulatory bodies, and executive departments;
  2. The policy-making process, through which the policies developed in the policy-planning network described earlier are brought to the White House and Congress;
  3. The candidate selection process, through which members of the power elite influence electoral campaigns by means of campaign donations to political candidates.

Power elite domination of the federal government can be seen most directly in the workings of the corporate lobbyists, backroom super-lawyers, and industry-wide trade associations that represent the interests of specific corporations or business sectors. This special-interest process is based in varying combinations of information, gifts, insider dealing, friendship, and, not least, promises of lucrative private jobs in the future for compliant government officials. This is the aspect of business-government relations described by journalists and social scientists in their case studies. While these studies show that the special interests usually get their way, the conflict that sometimes erupts within this process, occasionally pitting one corporate sector against another, reinforces the image of widely shared and fragmented power in America, including the image of a divided corporate community. Moreover, there are some defeats suffered by the corporate rich in the special-interest process. For example, laws that improved auto safety standards were passed over automobile industry objections in the 1970s, as were standards of water cleanliness opposed by the paper and chemical industries.

Policies of concern to the corporate community as a whole are not the province of the special-interest process. Instead, such policies come from the network of foundations, think tanks, and policy-discussion organizations discussed in an earlier section. The plans developed in the organizations of the policy-planning network reach the federal government in a variety of ways. On the most general level, their reports, news releases, and interviews are read by elected officials and their staffs, either in pamphlet form or in summary articles in the Washington Post, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. Members of the policy-planning network also testify before congressional committees and subcommittees that are writing legislation or preparing budget proposals. More directly, leaders from these organizations are regular members of the dozens of little-known committees that advise specific departments of the executive branch on general policies, making them in effect unpaid temporary members of the government. They are also very prominent on the extremely important presidential commissions that are appointed to make recommendations on a wide range of issues from foreign policy to highway construction. They also serve on the little-known federal advisory committees that are part of just about every department of the executive branch.

Finally, and crucially, they are appointed to government positions with a frequency far beyond what would be expected by chance. Several different studies show that top cabinet positions in both Republican and Democratic administrations are held by members of the upper class and corporate executives who are leaders in policy-discussion organizations.

The general picture that emerges from the findings on the overrepresentation of members of the power elite in appointed governmental positions is that the highest levels of the executive branch are interlocked constantly with the upper class and corporate community through the movement of executives and lawyers in and out of government. Although the same person is not in governmental and corporate positions at the same time, there is enough continuity for the relationship to be described as one of “revolving interlocks.” Corporate leaders resign their numerous directorships in profit and nonprofit organizations to serve in government for two or three years, then return to the corporate community or policy-planning network. This system gives them temporary independence from the narrow concerns of their own organizations and allows them to perform the more general roles they have learned in the policy-discussion groups. They then return to the private sector with useful personal contacts and information.

As important as the special-interest and policy-planning processes are for the power elite, they could not operate successfully if there were not sympathetic, business-oriented elected officials in government. That leads us to the third process through which members of the power elite dominate the federal government, the candidate-selection process. It operates through the two major political parties. For reasons to be discussed in a moment, the two parties have very little role in political education or policy formation; they are reduced to the function of filling offices. That is why the American political system can be characterized as a “candidate-selection process.”

The main reason the political system focuses on candidate selection to the relative exclusion of political education and policy formulation is that there can be only two main parties due to the structure of the government and the nature of the electoral rules. The fact that Americans select a president instead of a parliament, and elect legislators from “single-member” geographical areas (states for the Senate, districts for the House) leads to a two-party system because in these “winner-take-all” elections a vote for a third party is a vote for the person’s least desired choice. A vote for a very liberal party instead of the Democrats, for example, actually helps the Republicans. Under these rules, the most sensible strategy for both the Democrats and Republicans is to blur their policy differences in order to compete for the voters with middle-of-the-road policy views, or no policy views at all.

Contrary to what many believe, then, American political parties are not very responsive to voter preferences. Their candidates are fairly free to say one thing to get elected and to do another once in office. This contributes to confusion and apathy in the electorate. It leads to campaigns where there are no “issues” except “images” and “personalities” even when polls show that voters are extremely concerned about certain policy issues. You don’t raise unnecessary issues during a campaign, one successful presidential candidate once said.

It is precisely because the candidate-selection process is so personalized, and therefore dependent on name recognition, images, and emotional symbolism, that it can be in good part dominated by members of the power elite through the relatively simple and direct means of large campaign contributions. Playing the role of donors and money raisers, the same people who direct corporations and take part in the policy-planning network have a crucial place in the careers of most politicians who advance beyond the local level or state legislatures in states with large populations. Their support is especially important in party primaries, where money is an even larger factor than in general elections.

The two-party system therefore results in elected officials who are relatively issueless and willing to go along with the policies advocated by those members of the power elite who work in the special-interest and policy-planning processes. They are motivated by personal ambition far more than they are by political conviction. Still, there are some extremely conservative elected Republicans who often oppose power elite proposals, claiming that such policies are the work of secret communists or pointy-headed intellectuals out to wreck the “free enterprise” system. There also are many Democrats from blue-collar and university districts who consistently oppose power elite policies as members of the liberal-labor coalition. However, both the ultra-conservatives and the liberals are outnumbered by the “moderates” of both parties, especially in key leadership positions in Congress. After many years in Congress the elected liberals decide to “go along to get along.” “This place has a way of grinding you down,” explained one liberal Congressman of the early 1970s in a classic summary of what happens.

Although members of the power elite are far and away the most important financial backers for both parties, this does not mean that there are no differences between the two parties. The leadership levels have intra-class differences, and the supporters tend to have inter-class differences. The Republican Party is controlled by the wealthiest families of the upper class and corporate community, who are largely Protestant in background. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, is the party of the “fringes” of the upper class and power elite. Although often called “the party of the common person,” it was in fact the party of the Southern segment of the upper class until very recently. The power of the Southern Democrats in the party and in Congress was secured in a variety of ways, the most important of which was the seniority system for selecting committee chairs in Congress. (By tradition, the person who has been on the committee longest just about automatically becomes the chair; this avoids conflict among members of the party.) However, the underlying point is that the one-party system in the South and the exclusion of African-Americans from the voting booth until the mid-1960s gave the Southern planters and merchants power at the national level through the Democratic Party out of all proportion to their wealth and numbers. Thus, it is not necessarily the wealthiest people who rule. The nature of the political system also enters into the equation. But the Southern elites are not poor; they are only less rich than many of their Northern counterparts.

The Southerners dominated the Democratic Party in alliance with the “ethnic rich” in the North, meaning wealthy Jews and Catholics who were shunned or mistreated by the rich Protestants. The businesses they owned were often local or smaller than those of the Republican backers, and they usually were excluded from the social institutions of the upper class. These ethnic rich were the primary financial supporters of the infamous “political machines” that dominated Democratic politics in most large northern cities.

The alliance between the Southern segment of the upper class and the Northern ethnic rich usually was able to freeze out the policy initiatives of the party’s liberal-labor coalition through its control of congressional committees, although there was a time (1940 to 1975) when labor unions had significant influence on the Democrats. When that alliance broke down on certain issues because the machine Democrats sided with the liberals and labor, then the Southern Democrats joined with Northern Republicans to create the “conservative coalition,” AKA “the conservative voting bloc,” wherein a majority of Southern Democrats and a majority of Northern Republicans voted together against the Northern Democrats. This conservative coalition most often formed around the issues that reflect class conflict in the legislative arena — civil rights, union rights, social welfare, and business regulation. Legislation on any of these issues weakens employers in the face of workers and their unions, so it is not surprising that the conservative coalition is based on the shared interests of Northern and Southern employers. This alliance won far more often than it lost in the years between 1937, when it was formed, and the 1990s, when it disappeared for the simple reason that many of the Southerners had become Republicans.

Once the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was in effect, the Democratic Party was slowly changed because African-Americans in the South were able to vote against the worst racists in the party primaries. The gradual industrialization also was causing changes. As a result of these two forces, Southern whites started to move into the Republican Party, which thus became the party of wealthy employers in both the North and South. In that context, the Democratic Party is slowly becoming what many always thought it to be, the party of liberals, minorities, workers, and the poor.

In summary, the special-interest process, policy-planning process, and campaign finance make it possible for the power elite to win far more often than it loses on the policy issues that come before the federal government. The power elite is also greatly over-represented in appointed positions, presidential blue-ribbon commissions, and advisory committees within the government. In terms of both the “who wins” and “who governs” power indicators, the power elite dominates the federal government.

However, this domination does not mean control on each and every issue, or lack of opposition, and it does not rest upon government involvement alone. Involvement in government is only the final and most visible aspect of power elite domination, which has its roots in the class structure, the nature of the economy, and the functioning of the policy-planning network. If government officials did not have to wait on corporate leaders to decide where and when they will invest, and if government officials were not further limited by the acceptance of the current economic arrangements by the large majority of the population, then power elite involvement in elections and government would count for a lot less than it does under present conditions.

Why Business Leaders Feel Powerless

Despite these various kinds of objective evidence that the power elite has great power in relation to the federal government, many corporate leaders feel that they are relatively powerless in the face of government. To hear them tell it, Congress is more responsive to organized labor, environmentalists, and consumers. They also claim to be harassed by willful and arrogant bureaucrats. These negative feelings toward government are not a new development, contrary to those who blame the New Deal and the social programs of the 1960s. A study of businessmen’s views in the 19th century found that they believed political leaders to be “stupid” and “empty” people who went into politics only to earn a living, and a study of businessmen’s views during what are thought of as their most powerful decade, the 1920s, found the same mistrust of government.

The emotional expressions of business leaders about their lack of power cannot be taken seriously as a power indicator, for that confuses psychological uneasiness with power. Feelings are one thing, the effects of one’s actions another. But it is nonetheless interesting to try to understand why businessmen complain about a government they dominate. First, complaining about government is a useful political strategy. It puts government officials on the defensive and forces them to keep proving that they are friendly to business. Second, businessmen complain about government because in fact very few civil servants are part of the upper class and corporate community. The anti-government ideology of the United States tends to restrain members of the upper class from government careers except in the State Department, meaning that the main contacts for members of the power elite within government are at the very top. There is thus uncertainty about how the middle levels will react to new situations, and therefore a feeling that there is a necessity to “ride herd” on or “reign in” the potentially troublesome “bureaucrats.”

There also seems to be an ideological level to the business leaders’ attitudes toward government. There is a fear of the populist, democratic ideology that underlies American government. Since power is in theory in the hands of all the people, there always is the possibility that someday “the people,” in the sense of the majority, will make the government into the reflection of pluralist democracy that it is supposed to be. In a certain very real way, then, the great power of the upper class and corporate community are culturally illegitimate, and the existence of such power is therefore vigorously denied. It is okay to be rich, and even to brag about wealth a little bit, but not to be powerful or, worse, to flaunt that power.

Finally, the expressions of anguish from individual corporate leaders concerning their powerlessness also suggests an explanation in terms of the intersection of social psychology and sociology. It is the upper class and corporate community that have power, not individuals apart from their institutional context. As individuals, they are not always listened to, and they have to convince their peers of the reasonableness of their arguments before anything happens. Moreover, any policy that is adopted is a group decision, and it is sometimes hard for people to identify with group actions to the point where they feel personally powerful. It is therefore not surprising that specific individuals might feel powerless.

The Weaknesses of the Working Class

There are many democratic countries where the working class — defined as all those white-collar and blue-collar workers who earn a salary or a wage — has more power than it does in the United States. This power is achieved primarily through labor unions and political parties. It is reflected in more egalitarian wealth and income distributions, a more equitable tax structure, better public health services, subsidized housing, and higher old-age and unemployment benefits.

How is it possible that the American working class could be relatively powerless in a country that prides itself on its long-standing history of pluralism and elections? There are several interacting historical factors. First, the “primary producers” in the United States, those who work with their hands in factories and fields, were more seriously divided among themselves until the 1930s than in most other countries. The deepest and most important of these divisions was between whites and African-Americans. In the beginning, of course, the African-Americans had no social power because of their enslavement, which meant that there was no way to organize workers in the South. But even after African-Americans gained their freedom, prejudices in the white working class kept the two groups apart.

This black/white split in the working class was reinforced by later conflicts between craft workers — also called “skilled” workers — and industrial workers — also called mass-production or “unskilled” workers. Craft workers usually tried to keep their wages high by excluding industrial workers. Their sense of superiority as skilled workers was reinforced by the fact that they were of Northern European, Protestant origins and the industrial workers tended to be Catholics and Jews from Eastern and Southern Europe. Some African-Americans were also found in the ranks of the industrial workers, along with other racial minorities.

It would have been difficult enough to overcome these divisions even if workers had been able to develop their own political party, but they were unable to develop such a party because the electoral system greatly disadvantages third parties. Workers were stuck. They had no place to go but the Republicans or Democrats. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the craft workers often supported the Democrats, while the recent immigrant industrial workers tended to support the Republicans. Even when craft and industrial workers moved into the Democratic Party en masse in the 1930s, they couldn’t control the party because of the power of the wealthy Southern planters and merchants.

Nor did the workers have much luck organizing themselves through unions. The employers were able to call upon the government to crush organizing drives and strikes through both court injunctions and police arrests. This was not only because employers had great influence with politicians then, just as they do now, but because the American tradition of law, based in laissez faire (free market) liberalism, was so fiercely opposed to any “restraint of trade” or “interference” with private property. It was not until the 1930s that the liberal-labor coalition was able to pass legislation guaranteeing workers the right to join unions and engage in collective bargaining. Even this advance was only possible by excluding the Southern workforce — i.e., agricultural and seasonal labor — from the purview of the legislation. Further, the passage of the legislation had only limited impact because the industrial unions were defeated almost completely in the South and Southwest. Unions thrived in a few major industries in the North in the years after World War II, but then their power was eroded beginning in the 1970s as the big corporations moved their factories to other countries or lost market share to European and Japanese companies.

Given this history of internal division, political frustration, and union defeat, it is not surprising the American workers continue to accept the highly individualistic ideology that has characterized the United States since its founding. This acceptance in turn makes it even more difficult to organize workers around “bread-and-butter” issues. They often vote instead on the basis of social issues or religious convictions, with those who are deeply religious, opposed to affirmative action, or opposed to gun control voting for the avowedly anti-union Republican Party.

Thus, it is important not to confuse freedom with social power. Between 1962 and the 1990s there was a great expansion in individual rights due to the civil rights, feminist, and lesbian-gay movements, but during that time the ratio of a top business executive’s pay to a factory worker’s pay increased from 41 to 1 to about 300 to 1. American workers can say what they want and do what they want within very broad limits, and their children can study hard in school so they can go to graduate school and join the well-off professional class as doctors, lawyers, architects, or engineers, but when it comes to social power most Americans have very little of it if they are not a part of the power elite.

Community Power

Not all power is wielded at the national level. For more on local power, click here.

Conclusion

The argument over the structure and distribution of power in the United States has been going on within academia since the 1950s. It has generated a large number of empirical studies, many of which have been drawn upon here. In the final analysis, however, scholars’ conclusions about the American power structure depend upon their beliefs concerning power indicators, which are a product of their “philosophy of science.” That sounds strange, I realize, but if “who benefits?” and “who sits?” are seen as valid power indicators, on the assumption that “power” is an underlying social trait that can be indexed by a variety of imperfect indicators, then the kind of evidence briefly outlined here will be seen as a very strong case for the dominant role of the power elite in the federal government.

If “who wins?” on a wide range of government decisions is seen as the only valid indicator of power, and if it is expected that the power elite must win every time, which is the stance adopted by pluralist theorists on the basis of a “strict positivist” view of how power must be measured, then the argument presented here, based on a “soft positivism,” will be seen as less impressive. That’s because those relatively few of us who disagree with the pluralists have not yet had the time and the resources to do enough case studies within the framework of the special-interest and policy-planning processes to show the full range of power elite dominance on policy issues. A good start has been made in this direction, but it will take more to convince the skeptics.


References

Kendall, D. (2002). The power of good deeds: Privileged women and the social reproduction of class. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.

Wrong, D. (1995). Power: Its Forms, Bases, and Uses (2nd ed.). New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers.

 

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 5]

Wrong Kind of Green

December 13, 2016

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

In Part 5 of our series, Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer delve into a collusion between celebrity worship culture and “big green” NGOs. How do beneficiaries of advocacy (such as tribal governments) accept money and favors from corporate energy power players while making celebrity sponsored investment projects and coal-free hedge fund managers, millions of dollars in profits and feel-good prestige? The savior-imperialist complex drives the passion for “sustainable energy investments” while NGOs evangelize non-violent direct action into a worldwide orthodoxy of allegiance. The action combined with a mission rooted in climate change and a “youth voice” is a perfect storm to study how mass movements of well-intentioned citizens can be successfully engineered to support the “new economy” with their consumer activism, monetary contributions and political advocacy.

 

Celebrity Fetish as a Tool of Empire

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

“Actor Leonardo DiCaprio (C) poses for a photo with May Boeve, executive director of 350.org (L) and Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. (R) following a Divest-Invest new conference on September 22, 2015 in New York City.” Getty Images

 

“Any account of celebrities must be predicated on the recognition that ‘the interests served are first of all those of capital.'” — Celebrity Culture, 2006 citing Graeme Turner

 

As Lebanese-Australian professor Ghassan Hage (Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory at the University of Melbourne) demonstrates in his work, accumulation of capital underpins an ideology of race, in which multiculturalism works best when citizens yearn and strive to achieve Whiteness.[1] NGOs (that comprise the NPIC) exploit this psychology to further protect existing power structures. Who better to target and utilize than Indigenous peoples, those deliberately impoverished and exploited by the state – to ultimately protect and expand capital. And to protect and expand the NPIC itself.

One example of this mechanism being utilized is via white celebrity manipulating Indigenous and non-Anglo worship and the acceptable forms of integration and assimilation of the Black bourgeoisie for exploitation. Gandhi replaces Sitting Bull, Leonardo DiCaprio replaces Evo Morales, 350.org replaces the Zapatistas, Akin to Black Skin White Masks – Black Lives Matter (the NGO) replaces the Black Panther Party (past) as well as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (present). Mark Ruffalo replaces Jose Mujica, Bill McKibben replaces Ken Saro-Wiwa, Van Jones replaces Omali Yeshitela, Angela Davis replaces Assata Shakur, Naomi Klein replaces Rosa Parks, Snoop Dog replaces Stokely Carmichael, a sanitized Martin Luther King replaces Malcolm X. Patrice Lumumba is replaced with Bernie Sanders. The Oka Warriors are replaced with Idle No More stripped bare of its teeth. And on and on it goes.

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Omali Yeshitela: “The worldwide leader of the African Revolution who developed the theory of African Internationalism, built revolutionary organization all over the planet and whose analysis and summations have influenced a whole new generation of African resistance today.” [Source]

“I’ve been watching the benefit concert tonight, tribal representation from Standing Rock spoke up in support of the ‘men in blue’ and name dropped Barrack and Michelle as having the tribe’s back, of course drawing applause from the bourgeoisie liberals in the crowd every time. Disappointing to say the least.” — Jeff Cole in response to the Dave Mathews concert sponsored by Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s

To further demonstrate the intertwining of white celebrity and NGO formation, the aforementioned actor Mark Ruffalo is a long-time spokesperson for international NGOs (Purpose #WalktheWalk campaign, Global Green, etc.) and United Nations (Global Goals, etc.). He is founder of the NGO Water Defense as well as co-founder of The Solutions Project.

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Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio promote their investment, The Solutions Project. Kelly Taub / BFA.com

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Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio at an event hosted by The Solutions Project. Kelly Taub / BFA.com

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We Are the Gods Now

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“We are gods. Our tools make us gods.” — Promoter of The Solutions Project, “futurist” and filmmaker Jason Silva [Source: Forbes]

Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio, Elon Musk, Jeff Skoll, etc. etc. want to turn their millions into billions via The Solutions Project (solar industry). Everyone is on board. Consider that there has been no growth in the US for five years while the whole global economy is close to stall speed. The Solutions Project campaign is largely based on continued  social engineering to further ignore reality (framed as negative) and embrace fantasy (framed as positive) exploiting North American celebrity fetish. The introductory Solutions Project video (April 24, 2014) is narrated by “futurist” Jason Silva, (a Fellow at the Hybrid Reality Institute, a research and advisory think tank focused on the intersection of technology trends and geopolitics) who lectures on his belief that “we are the gods now”. The website appears to be designed by Purpose – the for-profit sister org. of Avaaz.

 

 

The Solutions Project is co-founded with Marco Krapels (banker, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Global Markets at Elon Musk’s SolarCity, co-founder of Empowered By Light), Mark Z. Jacobson (Stanford) and film-maker Josh Fox. Investors behind The Solutions Project include The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, The Elon Musk Foundation, The 11th Hour Project, The Sara and Ev Williams Foundation, Skoll Global Threats Fund, The Park Foundation, The Compton Foundation, Wallace Global Fund, The Better Tomorrow Fund, The Cogut Family, Leah Missbach Day and The Schmidt Family Foundation.

Board of directors include Billy Parish (Mosaic Solar), Mark Jacobson and Van Jones. [Full list]

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The Solutions Project graphic

Recently the One Solutions Project launched the Fighter Fund which will garner loyalty from community groups such as Native Renewables. For a mere pittance, One Solutions Project and partners will use native efforts to build brand credibility and adoration while simultaneously securing new customers: “The 100% Leadership Fund involves bigger investments and longer-term commitments to organizations across the country. But we need to be able to move money faster and more strategically to keep pace with what is going on with the climate justice movement. The Fighter Fund allows us to do that—and to make riskier frontline bets.” [Source] This is best described as white savior solidarity serving white imperialism.

Philanthropy as a Tool of Empire: Clinton Global Initiative, Rockefeller & the Bush Foundation

“… but these great plains reservations once thought valueless, are the Saudi Arabia of reliable wind energy…”Clinton Global Initiative (referenced video)

On April 5, 2016 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe voted to accept $125,000 from ConEdison for the Oyate community development. [ MOTION: “…TO APPROVE TO ACCEPT THE DONATION OF $125,000.00 FROM CONSOLIDATED EDISON DEVELOPMENT, INC. FOR OYATE/COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT.][ “Consolidated Edison, Inc., commonly known as Con Edison or Con Ed, is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the United States, with approximately $13 billion in annual revenues as of 2016, and over $47 billion in assets.” Source]

“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe received a big donation for privatized housing development. This is the first assistance of its kind for the tribe.” …. ConEdison Development will own the wind project for 30-40 years. They are looking forward to doing more.” — KFYRTV, April 16, 2016

On April 5, 2016 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe also voted to accept 250,000.00 from ConEdison for the tribe’s co-operation for the Campbell County Wind project completed in 2015. [MOTION: “…TO APPROVE THE DONATIONS FROM BOTH COMPANYS, CONEDISON DEVELOPMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $125,000.00 AND FEGAN INC., IN THE AMOUNT OF $125,000.00”]. The 55-turbine wind project in South Dakota is said to power 25K homes. This begs the question – what fossil fuel or nuclear plants became decommissioned after this energy came on line. This answer is, as it will always be: none.

“Twentieth-century economic growth theory also sees technological change as the main cause of increased production and consumption. In contrast, some ecologically-oriented economists and practically all governments, green political parties and NGOs believe that efficiency gains lower consumption and negative environmental impact. Others doubt this ‘efficiency strategy’ towards sustainability, holding that efficiency gains ‘rebound’ or even ‘backfire’ in pursuing this goal, causing higher production and consumption. Because many environmental problems demand rapid and clear policy recommendations, this issue deserves high priority in ecological economics. If Jevons is right, efficiency policies are counter-productive, and business-as-usual efficiency gains must be compensated for with physical caps like quotas or rationing.” —  Jevons’ paradox, Ecological Economics, July 1, 2005

Here the present angst of the NGOs regarding the seemingly newfound “concern” over particular Indigenous issues (anti-pipeline campaigns/protests to obscure Warren Buffett’s 21st century empire aside) can actually be traced to 2011: a $2 to $3 billion dollar wind project. The “Joint Wind Power Development Project on Tribal Lands“ was officially launched in 2013 by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). The six Sioux Tribes (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Sioux Tribe and Yankton Sioux Tribe) formed the Oceti Sakowin Power Authority which was developed in partnership with CGI, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the Bush Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation, Herron Consulting LLC and Arent Fox LLP. Here it should be noted that the CGI has been a key financier of 350.org (a Rockefeller incubated NGO) from its inception. Following a three million dollar commitment into *Energy Action Coalition the CGI financed Step It Up. Step It Up transitioned into 1Sky, which then merged with 350.org in 2011. [Video:1Sky at CGI] [*Energy Action Coalition was founded by Billy Parish. Parish is a co-founder/CEO of Mosaic Solar. Parish serves on the Board of Directors for The Solutions Project1Sky, as well serving on the U.S. Advisory Council for 350.org.]

“In 2013, six Sioux Tribes in South Dakota committed to the formation of the Oceti Sakowin Power Authority, a Multi-Tribal Power Authority, with the purpose of designating Tribally-owned land for a wind farm and transmission facilities. The Sioux Tribes, through the Oceti Sakowin Power Authority, committed to the creation of the Power Authority and the pre-development phase of a longer-term project to finance, develop and operate a 1,000 MW+ utility-scale wind power and transmission system across the South Dakota Sioux Reservations. The creation of the Power Authority will uniquely allow the Sioux Tribes to own the wind and transmission assets and distribute the surplus revenue to its member Tribes.”

Video: June 21, 2013, Clinton Global Initiative:

 

 

This 1,000 megawatt commercial scale distributed wind farm and transmission system was funded by private grants investments and more than two billion dollars in public power bonds. Here it must be noted that the “new economy” being marketed by the NPIC on behalf on global hegemony is just as much about looting the treasury as it is about the coming financialization of nature via payments for ecosystem services. Consider that in the 1960’s Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) saw an opportunity to meet growing consumption demands in the Northwest vis nuclear power. “It planned a system of five nuclear power plants that would be financed by a public issue of bonds and repaid with sales from the plants. The bonds were issued, but the robust sales that WPPSS had intended never materialized.” Eventually, WPPSS defaulted on $2.25 billion worth of municipal bonds. [Source]

To again emphasize what was stated above, this is best described as white savior solidarity serving white imperialism. Such “progress” is always done at the behest of the same white power structure that has dictated terms of engagement for centuries. This is even more so considering “renewable energy” is anything but clean while the goal of “100% renewable for 100% promises further imperialism, further ecocide and further Indigenous genocide throughout the globe.

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Above: Green Dream Farm  in partnership with Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s and Native Energy  a carbon offset and project development company. The project is financed in part by Green Dream Farm owner Chris Wagner and in part by Ben & Jerry’s through an offset purchase from NativeEnergy. [Source]

NGOs want to “win” for branding purposes and to secure more millions. In the meantime, it’s all about social metrics. Certainly not about centuries of violence and oppression upon Indigenous peoples. Certainly not about the Indigenous peoples being used as lab rats in the Bakken.

Pacifism as Pathology

In the video by Fusion, actor Mark Ruffalo gives a lesson on how Standing Rock “protectors” must behave. Conditioning a warrior culture to be passive in the face of genocide should be considered a crime against Indigenous Peoples and nations everywhere. A white man (in this instance an American with Italian heritage) reframing the moral right to self-defense with “you are that system ” while basking in enormous privilege from the same structural system, reveals a most blatant paternalism. Paternalism redefined as truth – made possible by celebrity fetish.

“The most important thing is that we remain peaceful. That we don’t take up the same system of violence that’s being used against us. Because once you take up that violence you are that system and every social movement where’s been peaceful resistance when they not taken up violence they win. Every time the police hit you with a rubber bullet or mace you or beat you or put you in dog cages and treat you like an animal they lose. Every time the National Guard comes and stands as an extension of the fossil fuel industry and does not fight for the people they lose. They lose when you remain peaceful. And it’s hard. It’s really, really hard. But that’s how you win.”  — Actor Mark Ruffalo

The most important thing is that we defend our lands by any means necessary. That we don’t submit to the system of violence that’s being used against us.

“Because once you take up that violence you are that system and every social movement where’s been peaceful resistance when they not taken up violence they win.” We have a right to defend ourselves. Doing so, by any means necessary is not an act of violence, it is an act of self defense.

“… every social movement where’s been peaceful resistance when they not taken up violence they win.” Where are these social movements that have won solely on peaceful resistance?  They do not exist.

“Every time the police hit you with a rubber bullet or mace you or beat you or put you in dog cages and treat you like an animal they lose.” Let’s tell that to the millions incarcerated by the American prison industry. That they have in fact won. Let’s inform all those who have suffered under police brutality that they can relax knowing they have in fact won.

“Every time the National Guard comes and stands as an extension of the fossil fuel industry and does not fight for the people they lose.” Let’s tell that to the millions murdered by the US military that stands as an extension of the fossil fuel industry and does not fight for the people (unless they are white), that it is the military that has lost.

We lose if we allow ourselves to reject a diverse set of tactics out of a false moral superiority. We lose if we allow our oppressor and accomplices to dictate the rules of engagement. And it’s hard. It’s really, really hard. But that’s how you win.

“Celebrity-driven campaigns can also be seen to work to responsibilize consumers and audiences as agents of change, through their targeting of audiences, publics, and private individuals; this often elides or willfully ignores, the offending structures, corporations, and/or other actors involved …” — Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times, 2013

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“Actor-activist Mark Ruffalo, left, poses with Dallas Goldtooth, of the Indigenous Environmental Network, outside the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. Ruffalo traveled to North Dakota to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its opposition to the Dakota Access oil pipeline. Ruffalo is co-founder of The Solutions Project, which promotes clean and renewable energy.” [Source]

The pacification of civil society and Indigenous resistance is ongoing, intensifying and glaring. It is a taboo subject framed as such by those who protect the current power structures, thereby ensuring the rules of engagement are dictated by the captors. Captivity of mind and thought can be far more powerful than physical captivity. This cannot be understated. When one observes the identical rhetoric coming from the oppressors and the oppressed, it is past time for self reflection and deep critical analysis.

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Above: UpToUs: Not to be left on the sidelines, celebrity Shailene Woodley has also started her own NGO called “Up to Us” where you can “give thanks” to Standing Rock by purchasing a t-shirt.  [“One of the main principles of the Council of Seven Fires/ Oceti Sakowin is non-commercialism. That they actually hammered these principles out upon the historic gathering of tribes, I thought sent a signal that they would be more resolute and not so easily co-opted. They even alerted everyone that none of the many T-shirts that started popping up in September had been sanctioned, and should not be sold in their name.”]

And while we are inundated with NVDA that serves to protect that corporate state, we bear witness to the full militarization of energy on American soil. A military industrial complex that has come back home to its birthplace in the global race for what’s left. [“TigerSwan Security is in charge of the DAPL Intelligence and overall supervisor of the other security companies’… TigerSwan has offices in Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, India, and Latin America.” —Security Firm Running Dakota Access Pipeline Intelligence Has Ties to U.S. Military, Oct 31, 2016]

 

End Notes:

[1] Ghassan Hage, expanding on Pierre Bourdieu’s theory, theorized on the notion that multiculturalism is a “field of accumulating whiteness,” adding that multicultural cohesion exists primarily when Black and Black bodies gain cultural and symbolic capital – by accumulating Whiteness. [White Nation: Fantasies of White Supremacy in a Multicultural Society] Hage aligns a desire for cultural capital with a yearning to accumulate Whiteness, which he ardently differentiates from being White: “‘Whiteness’ is an everchanging, composite cultural historical construct. It has its roots in the history of European colonisation which universalised a cultural form of White identity as a position of cultural power at the same time as the colonised were in the process of being racialised…. As such, no one can be fully White, but people yearn to be so. It is in this sense that Whiteness is itself a fantasy position and a field of accumulating Whiteness.”

 

Next: Part 6 – the final segment of the series.

 

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 1]

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 2]

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 3]

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 4]

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XIII of an Investigative Report] [The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

PODCAST: Deconstructing the Non-profit Industrial Complex [Introduction Episode]

 

Wrong Kind of Green

category: News & Politics

NGOs as a Force for Good? Get the Fuck Outta Here [Introduction Episode]

11/2/2016

This introductory podcast introduces listeners to NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex. Hand in hand with the Rockefellers, George Soros, Bill Gates and other powerful elites, NGOs are meticulously shaping global society by utilizing and building upon strategic psychological marketing, soft power, technology and social media – shaping public consensus, thus acceptance, for the illusory “green economy”, “humanitarian” wars, and a novel sonata of 21st century colonialism. As we are now living in a world that is beyond dangerous, society must be aware of, be able to critically analyze, and ultimately reject the new onslaught of carefully orchestrated depoliticization, domestication of populace, propaganda and misinformation that is being perpetrated and perpetuated by the corporate elite and the current power structures that support their agenda. The non-profit industrial complex must be understood as a mainspring and the instrument of power, the very support and foundation of imperial domination.

Guests: Vanessa Beeley, independent researcher/ journalist and anti-war activist residing in France, Cory Morningstar independent researcher/ journalist focusing on ecology and the NPIC, residing in Canada and Forrest Palmer, electrical engineer, writer/editor for Wrong Kind of Green, residing in Texas, USA.

This is the first episode in a new weekly podcast that focuses exclusively on the non-profit industrial complex as a key instrument of empire in the 21st century.

 

VICE’s Fall From Counterculture Hipster Rag To Neoliberal Government Mouthpiece

MintPress News

September 16, 2016

By

 


MINNEAPOLIS — Disney, Fox News, Bill Maher and former U.S. government officials — seems like a pretty random list, right? Well, they have one surprising thing in common:

VICE.

No, I’m not talking about porn, gambling or drugs.

I’m talking about the multimedia empire that’s leading the mainstream media machine in producing “edgy” reporting behind a hipster, cooler than thou facade.

As a brand, VICE is built around an anti-establishment vibe that’s always feeling the pulse of the fringe. So how did VICE go from producing a niche magazine in Canada focused on street style and sex, to being a bona fide multimedia empire that includes a popular website, growing digital footprint, and partnerships with major corporations?

The shift happened gradually. There was $200 million from Disney and another $70 million from 21st Century Fox that made Rupert Murdoch a major owner. One talk show sponsored by Bank of America, and another hosted by career Islamophobe Bill Maher. World-famous puppet master George Soros, who funds coups in favor of NATO, got his own segment. Throughout all of this, VICE Media expanded by quietly embracing the very corporate and government entities that hold the least credibility with its own, young audience.

While positioning itself as a ballsy, no-holds-barred alternative to the mainstream media, it’s actually become the mainstream media. VICE Media hasn’t just sold itself out to the neocon agenda, it’s also normalized that agenda among its audience through its growing digital platform.

Sure, sure, VICE still bucks the government line on issues like marijuana legalization and does stories on what people wear to get laid.

But on matters of foreign policy, VICE’s tone tends to align with Washington’s maneuverings, including the re-emergence of Cold War narratives pushing “Russia-phobia” and justifying NATO’s aggressive posturing toward Russia in Ukraine and Syria.

And, as Robbie Martin notes in Part III of his documentary series “A Very Heavy Agenda,” “VICE achieved what Fox News’ terrorism fear-mongering could never achieve: fear of Islamic terrorism among young American liberals” to justify more so-called “humanitarian” bombs.

As a news outlet, VICE has become a tool of soft propaganda. Its reporters frequently cite outlets like Voice of America and Voice of Asia, broadcasters which fall under the umbrella of the U.S. state-sponsored Broadcasting Board of Governors that pushes U.S. interests abroad.

VICE, it turns out, is an ideal vehicle for delivering Cold War, interventionist messages to a generation that knows better than to trust the mainstream media or the government. The problem is, that generation doesn’t seem to realize that VICE is the mainstream media and it’s pushing government narratives.

Robbie Martin is here to explain how VICE towing the line of the establishment and how it managed to sell mainstream narratives to its anti-mainstream audience, and why it’s so dangerous.

Watch the full episode of Behind The Headline: Tracking VICE’s Hipster Propaganda; The Death of the Anti-War Left:

 

[Mnar Muhawesh is founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, and is also a regular speaker on responsible journalism, sexism, neoconservativism within the media and journalism start-ups. In 2009, Muhawesh also became the first American woman to wear the hijab to anchor/report the news in American media. Muhawesh is also a wife and mother of a rascal four year old boy, juggling her duties as a CEO and motherly tasks successfully as supermom. Follow Mnar on Twitter at @mnarmuh]

 

All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide

Wrong Kind of Green

September 13, 2016

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

“Soon the parade begins again…all the big shot enviros are looking for their token Indians…this Hunkpapa says to remember this day of infamy…they hate us as well….taken nearly ten years ago, waiting for the right moment…” — Harold One Feather 

If nothing else, the *Bold Iowa video published on August 17, 2016 titled Bakken Pipeline: The New Keystone XL demonstrates that the cat is finally out of the bag amongst liberal left campaigners.

“We got essentially Keystone – only more. Clearly an end run.” — Iowa Bold, August 17, 2016

Background:

May 24, 2016: Construction underway on the *Bakken Pipeline, more recently referred to as the Dakota Access Pipeline: “Energy Transfer Partners has 100 percent of the easements needed for the project in North Dakota, as well as in South Dakota, but it is still awaiting U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit approval for water crossings. Construction has also begun in Illinois, where 99 percent of easements have been obtained, Granado said. About 90 percent of easements are in place in Iowa.” [*For the purpose of familiarity and continuity, the Bakken Pipeline will be referred to as the Dakota Access Pipeline within this report.]

July 25, 2016:

“The Army Corps of Engineers issued permits authorizing the construction of segments of the pipeline in US waters, one of which is under Lake Oahe. The lake is a reservoir behind the Oahe Dam on the Missouri River; it is approx. ½ mile upstream from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation.

 

Although the pipeline will not cross Standing Rock’s land, the tribe claims that the pipeline’s route passes through the tribe’s ancestral lands and other areas of great cultural and spiritual significance. To the Standing Rock, the Missouri River and Lake Oahe are sacred. . . and legally owned by the tribe.

 

The tribe’s reservation is located in a small section of North and South Dakota, but the original boundaries as defined in the 1851 & 1868 Fort Laramie Treaties were much larger. After the treaties, however, the Black Hills were seized by the US and a series of statutes were passed that further parceled the land. In 1980, however, the Supreme Court held that the lands had been illegally seized from the tribe and ordered the payment of just compensation. The Sioux refused to accept the money, though, because they did not want to relinquish their claim to the land.” [Source]

laramie-treaty-2

laramie-treaty

“This proposed pipeline, it’s going to go right over the 1851 treaty land. That’s what we’re talking about being native domain land. And then of course the powers that be shortened the 1851 treaty down to the 1868 treaty and then said, ‘Here’s what the native people have on what is presently Standing Rock.’ But we’re going by the 1851 treaty land.” [Source]

Construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline began May 24, 2016 (“Union workers have started clearing the path for the North Dakota portion of the Dakota Access Pipeline.”) This  “direct shot” pipeline (frack oil to gulf) similar to the Keystone XL (tar sands to gulf) was proposed by Dakota Access, LLC, a subsidiary of the Dallas, Texas corporation Energy Transfer Partners.  The pipeline commences in the Dakota Bakken and ends in Patoka, Illinois (1, 168 miles – 358 in North Dakota through seven counties, including Mountrail, Williams, McKenzie, Dunn, Mercer, Morton and Emmons at a cost of 3.8-4.8 billion.)

In October of 2014 it was announced that Phillips 66 would own a 25 percent stake in the Dakota Access Pipeline. There is slight irony in the fact Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns shares in Phillips 66. Buffett’s Berkshire first started buying Phillips 66 stock in 2012, increasing its holdings to 14% in February of 2016. Berkshire continues to increase its holding in Phillips 66 from February 2016 to present with its eye on the expansion of oil refineries. Berkshire’s interest in the Dakota Access project (via its 15% holdings in Phillips 66) is insignificant in comparison to the power and profits wielded by BNSF combined with future profits via the rapid expansion of refineries. However, one thing  is clear: Warren Buffett never loses.

In August of 2016 it was announced that Sunoco Logistics Partners would be assisting in the financing of the pipeline while Enbridge Energy Partners and Marathon Petroleum Corp. plan to acquire a portion of the pipeline in a $2 billion deal”. [Source]

We must also keep in mind that Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (SRST) and Tribes are the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Sahnish (Arikara)( MHA) are not representative of the remaining treaty tribes. There are over 500 treaty tribes recognized by the US Federal Government. White treachery continues to divide. As an example, MHA sold out to frack oil, while the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has asked tribes to ban fracking located near water sources. [“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Council on Feb. 1, 2011 passed a motion to prohibit hydro fracturing on the Standing Rock Sioux Nation:”THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the (Tribal Nation) prohibits in perpetuity any hydraulic fracturing (fracking) or any other process that is toxic on lands adjoining the (name of aquifer) aquifer or its tributaries, or flowing water that has the potential to channel to the (name of aquifer) aquifer and water resources, lakes, underground springs, and wetlands where tribal citizens reside on or near the (Tribal Nation).”]

“We have learned from the land-grab activities that occurred in the early days of the Bakken oil boom on the Fort Berthold Reservation, where hundreds of millions of dollars were lost due to unethical practices by groups/corporations/companies claiming to streamline the negotiating process for the leasing agreements of tribal member allotees. Many members were scammed into lease agreements, only to receive a fraction of the profits that were to be yielded from their lands. We do not wish to see this happen to our members here on Standing Rock.” — [Standing Rock Nation’s Policy Statement on Oil and Fracking, August 12, 2014][Source]

In 2014, lessors obtained the rights to 200,000 acres in the Standing Rock Sioux Nation reservation and surrounding county areas for oil and gas exploration in. (Teton Times)

Refineries, Nuclear and Rail

While all eyes focus on Dakota Access, it is critical to observe what is not being brought to the public’s attention. As another pipeline inches toward completion, in the background simultaneously, refineries are set to expand in the Bakken (at minimum five to start), while future plans to construct small modular nuclear reactors in the Bakken to power shale oil steam extraction are not spoken of. Further, stalling on pipelines which would reduce transport costs, secures rail profits for BNSF. [“As an oil refining company, Phillips 66 is in the one aspect of the oil industry that can benefit from falling oil prices. The drop in prices means that Phillips can buy the crude it refines more cheaply. And it profits from the fact that the price of gas hasn’t fallen as much as the price of oil has. Phillips’ refining profits actually rose last year to $2.6 billion from $1.6 billion in 2014. Source: Warren Buffett’s $1 billion bet on oil, February 5, 2016]

“This project will take trucks off the road and provide a safe alternative to crude by rail.” Commissioner Chairwoman Julie Fedorchak said. — PSC issues permit for Dakota Access Pipeline, January 20, 2016

 

The line, which can carry 470,000 barrels a day, is projected to be in service in the fourth quarter. It gives North Dakota drillers, who have relied in part on pricier rail shipments, access to U.S. Gulf Coast and Midwest markets.” — Woman Who Killed Keystone XL Battling New Pipeline Project (Bloomberg, August 31, 2016) [Emphasis added]

 

The project will also address transportation strains in the Upper Midwest created by the dramatic increase in crude oil production in North Dakota. A lack of rail cars to move grain out of South Dakota has magnified the problem. Tariffs on grain railcars have increased from $50 to nearly $1,400 per car. These cost increases can carve up to $1.00 from every bushel of corn shipped. The Bakken Pipeline will help ease transportation shortages for agriculture and other industries. Energy Transfer Website [Emphasis added]

The purpose of the Dakota Access pipeline is to increase production of both the tar sands oil and the Bakken frack oil. BNSF trains will take the “frackenstein” mix to the highest bidder. Grain cannot complete in what is essentially a BNSF monopoly. One must note that there is no pipeline used exclusively for the caustic Bakken frack oil. The oil that causes bomb train tankers to blow up into fiery infernos resembling hell on Earth.

“They are holding the line against construction of a pipeline that would carry highly flammable, fracked oil from the Bakken oil fields in that state to Illinois. The pipeline would go under the Missouri River…” [Emphasis added] [Source]

Why is it that we can demonize the transportation of these dirty resources via a singular pipeline,  while ignoring the harmful effects of the extraction upon those most vulnerable? Understanding that this constitutes what is perhaps unprecedented ecocide while furthering the ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples, while at the same time knowing full well that industry is banking on massive increases of the production of fracking oil in the coming decades.

The answer is as simple as Jane Kleeb’s response: “We welcome pipeline infrastructure (not in the Sandhills or that crosses the Aquifer) to ensure ND and MT oil is getting to U.S. markets.” [Source: Bakken Oil Business Magazine, Nov/Dec 2012, Jan 2013 issue] Kleeb’s honesty (albeit within a private communication) is refreshing in comparison to her many alliances. The non-profit industrial complex wants the oil getting to U.S. markets. After all, the privilege of those who comprise the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) – absolutely depend on it. Why people insist on believing anything otherwise is the result of the best marketing and social engineering that money can buy. Who and what the Bakken frack oil destroys – is of no interest.

bnsf-railway-map

The poignant reality is this: if Americans (including some Indigenous leaders) weren’t beguiled and ultimately “derailed” by the elite’s cherry-picked representatives (Mckibben et. al. ) who continually campaigned to instill the gross misconception that the state (focusing on U.S. president Barack Obama) had empathy for Indigenous struggles and ecological devastation, citizens and indigenous peoples may have had a chance to stop the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipelines while they were still on the drawing board. Of course hindsight is 20/20.

Perhaps the most glaring elephant in the room that escapes all discussion, is the fact that for the continuation of the voracious western consumptive lifestyle, the oil must come from somewhere. It isn’t the Indigenous peoples who are reaping the rewards. Rather, like those in the Congo who mine the coltan for our technology, they are the ones paying the price, with their lives. The race by liberals to attach themselves to the Dakota Access resistance as a means of directing the movement in less confrontational ways (as has always been the case) tells us to focus on environmental impacts and climate change (without ever looking in the mirror), while the real issue is this: full out, continued genocide of Indigenous peoples with the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation being ground zero for this experiment being carried out with no legitimate opposition whatsoever from the “progressive left”.

“Right now the Rosebud reservation, the Cheyenne River reservation, the Pine Ridge reservation and my Standing Rock reservation represent five of the 10 poorest places or counties in the United States, according to the 2010 Census. Our state of being is not our fault. We did not cause this. United States lawmakers and their policies caused this. Why?? Greed – and now again, even what little we have left is under attack.” Standing Rock Sioux tribal chairman

bakken-and-rez-map_zps7faaae08

Foundation funding ensures the NPIC does not oppose the Bakken frack oil boom – the lifeblood of Buffett’s BNSF. Well over 30 million dollars has been funnelled through the Buffett family NoVo foundation into the Tides foundation – a key foundation which doles money out for pipeline campaigns to carefully selected NGOs within the NPIC. Incidentally, NoVo has become the number one financier of the Tides Foundation. [Source]

fort-b-reservation-2

One should wisely note the silence that money can buy within the NPIC considering that even the corporate/conservative media such as The New York Times and The Washington Post have published series on the Bakken frack oil boom and its corrupting influence on the social fabric of Indigenous peoples. Consider that the North American opposition to the Keystone XL (an extension of an already existing pipeline that delivered/delivers oil from the Canadian tar sands to the US) campaigned on the possibility of spills of crude in the Nebraska Sandhills. While in reality, beyond possibility, there were at least 1,100 spills in North Dakota’s stretch of the Bakken during 2011. And although fracking has been protested elsewhere, mainly due to the greatest force of today’s western environmentalism — “not in my back yard”, the Bakken, has developed as it has without so much as creasing the nation’s political discussion. [Source]

 “Anne Marguerite Coyle is an eagle biologist, and just before the boom, she tagged eighteen juvenile golden eagles as part of a routine monitoring effort. All are now dead or gone. In one case, a drilling rig landed close to one of the eagles’ nesting sites, so when that bird disappeared, she asked people nearby what had happened. “Oh, somebody shot that one,” they said. Gunplay, the roads, the rigs, the noise, the trucks, the off-duty oil workers on ATVs, the general disregard for anything living that is the consequence of industrializing a once-wild landscape — these make it impossible to pinpoint oil’s role in the eagles’ fate. But if they weren’t killed by oil, they were likely killed by the things oil brings with it.” ­ — The price of North Dakota’s fracking boom, Harpers, March 2013

 

“This is the last of what my people have. Our people have survived so many things in history. The methamphetamine use, the heroin use, is just another epidemic like smallpox and boarding schools. And the last of the last are going to have to survive. And I want to be in the front lines because that was my vow — to protect my people.” — Tribal police Sgt. Dawn White, Dark Side of the Boom, September 28, 2014

 

“But there is a dark side to the multibillion-dollar boom in the oil fields, which stretch across western North Dakota into Montana and part of Canada. The arrival of highly paid oil workers living in sprawling “man camps” with limited spending opportunities has led to a crime wave — including murders, aggravated assaults, rapes, human trafficking and robberies — fueled by a huge market for illegal drugs, primarily heroin and methamphetamine.” — Dark Side of the Boom, September 28, 2014

Human Trafficking

human-trafficking-bakken

A Shared Hope International’s billboards,in the Bakken region put up to raise awareness about child sex trafficking. [Source]

Lost on most Americans is the fact the human trafficking now rampant in North Dakota, is yet another violation by the white man of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with the Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho. Article XI 4th condition: “They will never capture, or carry off from the settlements, white women or children.”

From the human trafficking report “Sex for sale in the Bakken:

From a distant site, supply negotiates with demand.
“I have a little girl.”
“How old is she? Do you have a place to host?”
“13 and yes I have a place to host.”
“Can I hook up with her tomorrow when I get off work?”
“Sure, got cash?”
Lakey says he doesn’t want to use a condom.
“That’s fine.”
And they talk in text shorthand, buyer and seller, about younger girls.
“What age is ur youngest you have?”
“I have younger, but they’re not as experienced as my 13-year-old. I got a 10-year-old in training but I don’t think she’s quite ready.”
Lakey asks to see a photo, and he discusses paying $5,000 for the 10-year-old girl.
For “it,” he says. For owning “it.”
He asks how the seller recruits girls to work for him. How do you keep “the product” from running? He agrees to pay $250 for sex with the 13-year-old.

To add insult to injury, only in the most patriarchal of societies, would the exploited, rather than the predator/perpetrator, be prosecuted. While it is reported that this is slowly changing (agencies state they are now more focused on investigating the traffickers rather than focusing on the continued practise of sting operations targeting and arresting women), in what can only be described as a cesspool, the trafficking, violence and exploitation of women and minors is only going to worsen and accelerate.

ndarrests1

“They treat Mother Earth like they treat women. They think they can own us, buy us, sell us, trade us, rent us, poison us, rape us, destroy us, use us as entertainment and kill us. I’m happy to see that we are talking about the level of violence that is occurring against Mother Earth because it equates to us. What happens to her happens to us.” — Lisa Brunner, White Earth Ojibwe, Program Specialist for the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center [Source] [From the conference entitled, “Protect the Women and Families from the KXL [Keystone Pipeline system] Violence! Say no to Man Camps in Oceti Sakowin Territory!”]

As the Dakota Access gains media attention we witness the very NGOs and NGO “leaders” who have until only recently turned a blind eye to the Indigenous resistance, beginning to latch on like the leeches they are. We’ve touched briefly upon the discourse from increasing numbers of refineries, and Bakken frack oil which ensures continued Indigenous genocide, anomie/social collapse, meth addiction, alcohol abuse, lateral violence, sex trafficking, suicide, poisoned water and soil… the list is long and incomplete.

Willful blindness to the Bakken frack oil also ensures and protects foundation money, BNSF profits, as well as western lifestyle and privilege to 21st century anthropocentrists who brand themselves as “activists”. The ideologies, cultures and aspirations between these two sets of people – North American anthropocentrists (largely white) and North American Indians – could not be more different.

The highly financed NPIC (to the tune of trillions) has quietly begun the necessary task of co-opting a meaningful and legitimate movement. That being the “indigenous led resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline.” This attempt for full co-optation must be considered a given for all legitimate resistance movements for the following reasons:

1) when there is an interest from public and media (which can then provide a means to further brand recognition and feign credibility/legitimacy by the NGO attaching itself to a particular uprising)

2) when a grass roots movement has the potential  to harm or change current power structures, such as economic growth, and/or threaten future decisions that have already been decided upon by elites

Enter #NODAPL

One would be hard pressed to find on any website such extensive NVDA (non-violent direct action) dogma as found on the #NoDAPL Solidarity website (created on August 29, 2016 by Nick Katkevich, noted liberal strategist who is the co-creator of the group FANG – Fighting Against Natural Gas). Especially in light of this website being meant to be interpreted as representative of Indigenous resistance. Yet, Indigenous peoples do not espouse NVDA as an ideology – this is the ideology belonging to and peddled by the NPIC. The fact is, Indigenous peoples retain a deep-rooted (and enviable) warrior ideology – deeply ingrained in the Indigenous culture. This is what the NPIC seeks to destroy. Because of the arrogance and paternalism of those within the NPIC, they even believe they will be successful in doing so. This site is sponsored by Rising Tides North America (RTNA), which can be identified under the “Friends and Allies” (North America) section on the 350.org website. Many view RTNA as a sister org. to Rainforest Action Network, with a more radical veneer, the common link being Scott Parkin: “Scott Parkin is a climate organizer working with Rainforest Action Network, Rising Tide North America and the Ruckus Society.” (see the multitude of Ruckus documents/links on screenshot below). [Source]

nodapl-nvda

Further irony arises when one takes note of the Martin Luther King quote on the “indigenous led resistance” website (see screenshot above). Ask yourself why Indigenous resistance would choose to quote MLK (a long-time favourite co-opted and sanitized icon of the NPIC), rather than a quote from their own warriors.

Leave it to white “leftists” to retain their unwavering belief they have the right and superior knowledge to manage/shape how Indigenous struggles should be led. This is the same “left” (funded by the establishment) that has failed at virtually everything except for the main task assigned by the elites they kowtow to: keeping current power structures intact.

dakota-org

And yet…

Although the white left would never believe it to be true, the Indigenous Peoples have a wisdom and knowledge the Euro-Americans lack altogether. They are not part of our depraved society. So why would wise people succumb to the whims of the NPIC? There is perhaps a very good reason why the tribes standing with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are not opposed to the white left saturation who will never fail to rush in front for the cameras: to place them in front to stop the bullets from being fired (“Don’t Shoot”). Indigenous peoples have been subjected to horrendous racism since the first European colonizers arrived, which continues to this day. The reality being white activists have no fear of being shot and killed by police regardless of their actions, whereby the same actions are opportunities for the state to kill natives, blacks and minorities.

For media sensation and photographs that will travel the globe, those at the helm of the NPIC ensure that publicly, Indigenous Peoples most always appear in the forefront – all while strategizing behind closed doors to take leadership. When they cannot do so, they vacate the movement, work to marginalize and if possible bury, the legitimate work they were unable to take over. The 2010 People’s Agreement (Cochabamba, Bolivia), led by Indigenous peoples, is an excellent example of just this. The white man has proven incapable of involvement if he is not soon in charge. He has proven himself incapable of following, learning, listening… standing behind. Keeping his mouth closed. The ugly reality is that these are racist, fascist organizations, only there to protect current power structures and count bodies. Social media metrics are far more important than disposable people.

“When the Enviros show up, their literature and banner is strung up against the wall. We are pushed into our place. Most have had a bad taste from wasicu hypocrisy.”  — Harold One Feather

Those at the helm of the NGOs that comprise the NPIC will not be joining land defenders that are willing to die to protect their land, people, culture and ancestry. For these cowards, the brand is too valuable, the price too high. The warrior culture too strong (unruly savages!) to contain. Instead they will throw a few crumbs and send their well-intentioned youth followers as the sacrificial lambs to test the waters. The Indigenous that live within the Bakken are the only credible organizers in opposition to the frack oil developments. It is an understood but unspoken reality that within this resistance, people are going to die.

“Much of the camp’s rhetoric is of the “Non-violent Direct Action” type. Lock your arm to this piece of deconstruction equipment and take a picture with a banner for Facebook. But the Warrior Culture that is so rich in Lakota memory seems to counter a lot of the liberal, non-violent, NGO types. Comrades saw what happened in Iowa, heard about the $1,000,000 in damage and got inspired. I wouldn’t say that it was publicly celebrated because the camp’s tactic of “Non-violence” is the image they want to perpetuate. Like I said, it is a tactic… not everyone thinks that is what we need to dogmatically stick to. It is one thing to use Non-Violence as a rhetorical device in corporate media to spread your inspirational actions but it is another thing to preach it as your dogma in your private circles and use it to stop material damage to the infrastructure of ecocide. I see the former being invoked much greater than the latter.” — A CONVERSATION ON THE SACRED STONE CAMP, Sept 4, 2016

One may also wonder about the Pledge of Resistance being “organized” by the CREDO corporation: “Many thanks to our friends at CREDO who organized the Pledge of Resistance against Keystone XL—the Bakken Pipeline pledge borrows liberally from their work.” Bold Iowa, Source]

ran-credo-kxl

Above poster from the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance, 2013

All eyes ON one (single) pipeline.

All eyes OFF the acceleration of genocide of Indigenous peoples in the Bakken.

All eyes OFF Bakken fracking oil.

north-dakota-crude-pipelines

Hero Worship in Death Cult

jane-kleeb

Sacred beliefs appropriated for the creation of white savior celebrity: Several of our Lakota and Dakota relatives have had visions and dreams. They have been visited in a spiritual sense and have been told that there is a black poisonous snake trying to come among us. Our relatives have said this. [Source] Image: Bold Nebraska and director Jane Kleeb are featured on the cover of the July/August 2015 issue of Omaha Magazine. Photo by: Bill Sitzmann. Snake trainer: Andy Reeves with a Black Mexican Kingsnake

Bloomberg, August 31, 2016,  Woman Who Killed Keystone XL Battling New Pipeline Project:

“One of the most prominent voices among opponents of Keystone XL is now taking on the battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has faced hurdles in North Dakota and Iowa. After organizing grassroots efforts against TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL through Bold Nebraska, an activist group, Jane Fleming Kleeb has turned her attention to Energy Transfer Partners LP’s project. Bold Nebraska has since evolved into Bold Alliance, a group led by Kleeb, that focuses on corporations “threatening land and water,” she said in a telephone interview…

The protests thus far are unlikely to have meaningful impact on the timeline of construction, said Ethan Bellamy, an analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. in Denver. The worst-case scenario “would be getting a pipeline that is 99.9 percent complete, only to have the all important last 1,000 meters stopped because of a legal fight,” he said.

Jane Kleeb, recently elected as Nebraska’s Dem Party Chair, is founder and CEO of Bold Nebraska (founded in 2010) with an annual salary from her organization of US$100,000.00. In 2016 Kleeb announced the formation of an umbrella group, Bold Alliance, which would include chapters in three other states to start. Kleeb now refers to herself as Bold Nebraska director and Bold Alliance president.

Seed money for Kleeb’s organization was provided by the late Richard Holland. [Source]

Holland, “the Nebraska advertising executive who helped link up one of the great partnerships in business history, the one between Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett and his deputy, Charles Munger.”

“As one of Buffett’s earliest investors, Holland reaped gains that made him and his wife, Mary, among Omaha’s wealthiest people and most generous philanthropists. While their net worth wasn’t public, their private charitable foundation reported assets of $158.8 million in 2014. — Richard Holland, Who Paired Buffett With Munger, Dies at 95, August 11, 2016

 

“He was a wonderful friend and partner for 60 years and an outstanding citizen both in respect to local and national activities.” — Warren Buffett [Source]

Bakken Oil Business Magazine, Nov/Dec 2012, Jan 2013 issue:

BNSF has been hauling Bakken crude out of the Williston Basin area for over five years. ‘In that time, we have seen the volume increase nearly 7,000 percent, from 1.3 million barrels in 2008 to 88.9 million in 2012, said Dave Garin, BNSF group Vice President of Industrial Products….

 

I received the following response from Jane Kleeb after contacting her about Bold Nebraska’s oppositional stance to the KXL pipeline’s new suggested route through Nebraska: ‘We are waiting for all the conservative politicians who say they care about property rights and family farmers and ranchers to actually give a damn and stand up against this pipeline. We welcome pipeline infrastructure (not in the Sandhills or that crosses the Aquifer) to ensure ND and MT oil is getting to U.S. markets.”

 

The leg from Cushing, OK to the Gulf Coast refineries has already been approved by the states through which it is being laid, as it did not require presidential approval and does not run through Nebraska. On March 12, 2012, President Obama personally announced his approval of “fast tracking” the southern leg of the KXL pipeline to relieve pressure on the WTI crude oil inventories for shipment to the Gulf Coast. Construction has started and is expected to be completed sometime in late 2013….

 

The main contributor to Bold Nebraska is Dick Holland, who has financially supported this progressive political movement in its opposition to the KXL pipeline. Bold Nebraska’s NIMBY approach will only cause further delays in completing the KXL.

Mr. Holland is a good friend of Warren Buffett, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and one of the world’s most successful investors. Any delay in the process by the U.S. State Department in recommending approval for the completion of the full route of the KXL by the President of the United States, will solely benefit the BNSF.

Bold Nebraska is 501(c)4 social welfare non-profit, which makes it exempt from federal income tax. It is not required to disclose investors, nor are donations to the organization tax deductible. [“If you are a donor looking to influence election but do not want to reveal your identity, the 501(c)(4) is an attractive option through which to send your cash.” Source] Bold Nebraska is an affiliate of ProgressNow (another 501(c)(4) group). Founding board members include Wes Boyd, founder of MoveOn.org (Avaaz co-founder) and Rob McKay, chairman of the board of the Democracy Alliance ). It has received funding from the Tides Foundation, the Tides Advocacy Fund (yet another 501(c)4 group), New Venture Fund and Cloud Mountain Foundation.

Kleeb, a former MTV correspondent is also the former director of Change That Works Nebraska and former executive director of Young Democrats of America. Joining liberals before her, the April, 2013 Rolling Stone magazine (a mainstream publication assigned with the task of manufacturing celebrities as chosen by elite foundations) featured Kleeb under the heading: The Fossil Fuel Resistance: Meet the New Green Heroes, Jane Kleeb: The Keystone Killer.

Kleeb’s spouse, Scott Kleeb is the former CEO and President of Energy Pioneer Solutions. It is reported that Scott Kleeb owned 29 percent of Energy Pioneer Solutions, as did Jane Kleeb.

On May 12, 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported that “A $2 million commitment arranged by the nonprofit Clinton Global Initiative in 2010 went to a for-profit company part-owned by friends of the Clintons”.  Prior to this, in 2006 Scott Kleeb lost bids to represent Nebraska in congress. In 2008 he was the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate seat in Nebraska but was defeated.

kleeb-and-clinton-image

The Real Black Snake: The Bakken Frack Oil

The Fort Berthold reservation “has  only six field officers responsible for monitoring more than 1,300 oil wells scattered across more than 1,500 square miles of reservation. Those wells pump out more than 386,000 barrels of oil every day, accounting for a third of all oil produced in North Dakota – the nation’s No. 2 oil producer.” — Tribal Environmental Director: ‘We Are Not Equipped’ for N.D. Oil Boom, May 16, 2015

ndakota3-slide-show-slide-osvo-superjumbo

An oil tanker truck and tanker train cars on the reservation. Wells there are pumping about 386,000 barrels of oil a day, a third of North Dakota’s output. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times, 12, 29, 2014 [In North Dakota, a Tale of Oil, Corruption and Death Where Oil, Corruption and Bodies Surface.]

mha-refinery

The site for a planned oil refinery on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Its future is being newly debated with the change in tribal government. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times, 12, 29, 2014 [In North Dakota, a Tale of Oil, Corruption and Death Where Oil, Corruption and Bodies Surface.]

“In one case, the surface water intake 14 feet below surface carried BTEX compounds into the Water Treatment Plant resulting in a Treatment Plant shutdown. Benzene was above the EPA’s National Primary Drinking Water Standard Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL). The oil appears to readily disperse as observed during both test conditions and these incidents….Rapid dispersion in flowing water is likely to occur under turbulent conditions.” — Bakken Shale Crude Oil Spill Evaluation Pilot Study, April, 2015

The Fort Berthold Indian Reservation sets a standard on drilling locations. The state and society (as silence must be interpreted as acquiescence) has sacrificed the people of Fort Berthold to live as lab rats (another callous western invention) to determine the full effects of breathing and drinking frack poisons. This shares similarities to a long list of depraved experiments conducted by the US government on non-anglos such as the Tuskegee Experiment. This particular experiment was, a study carried out between 1932-1972 by the U.S. Public Health Service which deliberately allowed the natural progression of untreated syphilis in African-American men under the guise of receiving free health care from the United States government. [Source] One must also be mindful of the fact that in siege warfare, routing an enemy in a stronghold is to poison his water, then he will surrender without a fight. Further, frack poisons will make it to the surface. BNSF is the connection between this hidden devastation.

“The mineral leases offered by the oil industry brought sudden wealth to some of the 14,000 members of MHA Nation. Since fracking took off in 2008, the tribes have collected hundreds of millions of dollars in oil money, but most of the wealth flowed to those who owned property with oil under it. Life for many of the rest remains bleak. — Tribal Environmental Director: ‘We Are Not Equipped’ for N.D. Oil Boom, May 16, 2015

The Dakota Access will mean increased production in both the Bakken frack poison fields and the Alberta tar sands. Many within mainstream activism have been calling Dakota Access the KXL end run, built in tiny pieces. One must consider if this could be classified as a competition as to which nation can sustain oil overproduction: Russia, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and China control the Middle East oil.

When the STOP KXL campaign was launched onto the public in February of 2010 – all eyes that should have been on fracking the Bakken shale and the plans for Buffett’s rail dynasty that would transport it (via BNSF) were instead glued to a phony Keystone XL campaign that not only stopped nothing, but annihilated an entire social structure of Fort Berthold Indigenous Peoples along with their health and poisoned Earth’s ecosystems, while at the same time making Buffett/BNSF billions.

Ensuring the Invisible Remains Invisible

The reframing of the Bakken Pipeline as the Dakota Access by the NPIC now underway (via the continued repetition of the chosen later) must be examined  as a carefully amended campaign strategy. This minor amendment, that few would take note of strategically, reframes the focus in one simple stroke, by making what could (and should) be the focus of environmentalists and social justice activists – the Bakken itself – instantly invisible. When the name Bakken is removed from the equation (campaign) – so are all references to the devastation happening in the Bakken to the Indigenous peoples and all life. When Dakota Access becomes #NoDAPL – an uprising is effectively changed into a logo, then channeled into a social metrics campaign where only numbers count. Within the NPIC, framing and language are everything.

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Above: The original NGO slogan.

ecowatch

Above: Following what becomes an Indigenous rights story in national media “Stop the Bakken Pipeline” becomes “Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline with the emphasis on the hashtag #NoDAPL.

iowa-bakken

The above poster/meme is one of the more honest ones.  In summary, it’s fine for Indigenous peoples to live and breathe the devastation arising from the Bakken oil fields – but do not dare bring such  devastation and poison to the white man’s doorstep. Collectively, Euro-Americans accept that the Indigenous peoples must pay for the white man’s  privilege and western lifestyle – however high the price.

The Sacagawea Pipeline

New Inside 4col temp

There is a lesser known pipeline being resisted that has not captured the attention of the NPIC. The Sacagawea Pipeline, under construction, is located in Fort Berthold. Lake Sakakawea is the drinking water source for many western North Dakota cities, including those who live on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Lake Sakakawea covers approximately 243,000 acres of water, 125,000 acres of land and 1,500 miles of shoreline.

The Sacagawea Pipeline Company is developing the 91 mile Sacagawea pipeline to deliver crude from points in McKenzie and Dunn Counties south of the river to points north of Lake Sacagawea. Sacagawea Pipeline Company is a joint venture between Paradigm Energy Partners, *Phillips 66 Partners, and Grey Wolf Midstream.” Grey Wolf Midstream is an affiliate of Missouri River Resources, a Three Affiliated Tribes chartered energy company in North Dakota. The Three Affiliated Tribes are the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Sahnish (Arikara) (MHA). [*Buffett’s firm Berkshire Hathaway now owns 14% of Phillips 66 shares, making it Bershire’s sixth largest holding. Source: Warren Buffett’s $1 billion bet on oil, February 5, 2016]

This pipeline, which is reported as nearly complete, is now under investigation by federal pipeline regulators “after former contractors said the pipeline was installed under the lake without being properly inspected. The current contractor maintains the pipeline was inspected and the allegations are false claims being made by workers who were fired.” [Source]

The Sacagawea Pipeline is pictured under construction on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in Mountrail County, N.D., near Lake Sakakawea. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

The Sacagawea Pipeline is pictured under construction on Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016, in Mountrail County, N.D., near Lake Sakakawea. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

One may question why there is growing resistance against the Dakota Access pipeline yet apparently none against this one: “The Laborers Union, which supports the Dakota Access Pipeline being constructed by union contractors, questioned last week why pipeline opponents are so vocal about that project but not speaking out about the Sacagawea Pipeline.” [Source]

It’s fair question. The Standing Rock Sioux Nation sought an injunction based on the claim that the project will damage sites of cultural and historical significance. Contamination of Lake Sakakawea would leave those most vulnerable with no fresh water source.

“Our members find it hard to understand why protesters have targeted a pipeline that’s being built the right way, but we don’t hear a word about the pipeline just installed under Lake Sakakawea that workers say wasn’t properly inspected.” — Kevin Pranis, a spokesman for the Laborers International Union of North America in North Dakota [Source]

What is likely in the case of the late protests against the Sacagawea pipeline is the growing tribal knowledge and concern over the frack oil, as the process pollutes freshwater sources with hazardous chemicals, oil and hydrocarbons, radioactive radon, and biocides – with no process or technique for treating this contaminated water. What is absolute is that it is those who own the media (not coincidentally the same elites that own the non-profit industrial complex) that decide on who and what the media spotlight will shine upon. Native land defenders are essentially ignored, unless it furthers elite interests.

 [Document: Garrison Project – Lake Sakakawea, Oil and Gas Management Plan, North Dakota, 2013]

The Temporary Victory

The irony is that it was none other than Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska who snowballed a campaign against the Dakota Access by establishing a media presence. This is not to say there was no resistance prior to the “arrival” of Kleeb, rather, it is her privilege (and financiers) that allows her to use the media to her advantage while the undercurrent of deep-rooted racism in America ensures little light is shone upon those who are exploited the most. Another fair question is why Bold, 350, Greenpeace, etc. aren’t shining a spotlight on the Sacagawea pipeline. The ugly truth is that it is of no financial or political interest to them.

One could question why Kleeb waited so long to establish media presence with Energy Transfer Partners having already obtained 100 percent of the easements while 22% of the pipeline has “already been welded and lowered into trenches, and three-fourths of the route has been cleared”. [Source]

Consider that although Kleeb was provided a leadership role in the resistance, via the media, she is not a presence at the camp. It is safe to assume that such media presence could secure lucrative funding. After all, that’s the primary driving force amongst NGOs in the NPIC, who share many similarities to ambulance chasing. The definition of ambulance chasing is “a professional slur which refers to a lawyer soliciting for clients at a disaster site”. Employed by the media over time, it later became a derogatory term for direct advertising. This is an accurate description of elite financed NGOs who employ the same tactics. Kleeb appropriates sacred beliefs of the Indigenous by sporting a captive black snake on her arm for personal/celebrity gain, yet one would be hard-pressed to find Kleeb speaking to the plight of those who reside in the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation whose prospects for future generations are grim at best due to the frack oil boom. The real black snake is the fracking – not the pipeline infrastructure – but the toxic fracked crude it transports.

The answer to the question as to why Kleeb waited so long to establish media presence becomes more clear on September 9, 2016: “The Obama Administration Temporarily Blocks the Dakota Access Pipeline | The surprise move came after a federal judge declined to stop the 1,100-mile fossil fuel project’s construction.” Considering the newly elected Nebraska Democratic Party leader Jabe Kleeb, and her partner Scott Kleeb’s very close ties to the democrat party, and her organization’s seed money coming from Warren Buffett’s (Obama’s personal confidant and financial advisor) long-time associate Richard Holland, one could safely theorize that the decision to nix this pipeline was already determined by the elites and its stoppage will be dictated by the state at their behest. Hence, efforts to stop/delay this pipeline (while oil price remains at an all time low amidst a glut) were perhaps no more than theatre to Kleeb and those that started latching on at the late hour. A ruse reminiscent of Keystone XL,  where some are going to win and some are going to lose, but it will be business as usual regardless. With elections around the corner, consider media also threw a bone to accompany the “surprise” announcement:

“Regardless, Dakota Access looks like a tentative success for Native protestors and the climate activists who supported them. It also hints at how actively the current Democratic administration will involve itself in environmental issues, especially when pushed by the climate movement.” [Emphasis added]

In others words, if you weren’t going to vote for Clinton, you should now.

The “surprise” announcement also incidentally honoured 350.org’s campaign that “President Obama could step in any time and say “no” to this whole thing, like he did for Keystone XL.”  In what appears to be a very orchestrated “ending”, in front of the U.S. elections, it’s important to recall that 350.org has access to both Obama and the White House (although one can be certain this is not the only NGO with such access). The reality is, the state does not care about Indigenous people – in America or the world at large, regardless of what the media and NGO circus would have you believe. Indigenous history to present day actions and continued genocide – confirms this to be true without doubt.

The Literal End

“The demons shoot steel lances into our Sacred Grandmother Earth, injecting poisons and explosives, saying leaving a concrete spear will prevent cross contamination between aquifers, including the likely scenario of wellhead abandonment.” – Harold One Feather

From 1947 to 2010, more than 1 million wells were fracked in the Bakken. Industry envisions “an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 wells to frack the Bakken Formation and adjacent stores of oil and gas in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota – up from the area’s current boom of 8,000, one-eighth of which are located on the Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation.” (2014)

google-keystone-screenshot

Keystone XL via Google: located by US HWY 12, west of Standing Rock. Note the new massive grain elevators by the new rail line for a future oil transloading facility.

That the rightful caretakers/defenders of the land which today constitutes the whole of United States, represent the poorest group of people in the United States (five of the top ten poorest places being reservations located in South and North Dakota) – while simultaneously being subjected to the effects of environmental, cultural and social devastation brought on by a billion dollar industry composed of hundreds of thousands of fracking wells (there are 300,000 hydraulically fractured wells in South Dakota alone) – is an abomination beyond compare.

Poverty and health problems are rampant. Average life expectancy is below 60.” — Tribal Environmental Director: ‘We Are Not Equipped’ for N.D. Oil Boom, May 16, 2015

While it is true that tribes such as MHA have partnered with industry, dire poverty, the loss of culture due to the relentless pressure of Anglo assimilation (as well as the necessary inclusion of western values) and social breakdown all contribute to a deep desperation for a better life. No one is in a position to judge the responsive behavior of the native to their collective subjugation.

Compare such dire poverty with those  suffering firsthand the effects of fracking oil to the obscene profits as outlined above, and with those of Warren Buffett: “Annual revenue at the railroad has risen 57 percent, and earnings more than doubled to $3.8 billion since Warren Buffett bought it [BNSF] … As Forbes reported last year: His company, Berkshire Hathaway, purchased Burlington Northern Santa Fe for $34 billion four years ago. FORBES estimates its value has doubled since then. Part of the reason: hauling oil out of the Bakken formation of North Dakota.”(Warren Buffett and the Keystone Decision, November 9, 2015[Emphasis added]

A typical Bakken well is expected to continue producing oil for approx. 45 years. After this time, the well is expected to stop producing oil. Over this “life” cycle, this typical well is expected to yield approx. US $23 million in profit to the producer. In July of 2014 oil production in North Dakota hit a record of 1 million barrels of oil per day – up from less than 200,000 barrels of oil per day in 2007. [Source]

Industry has already drilled several thousand wells in the Bakken and expects 20 to 40 more years of drilling in the region. Industry estimates the Bakken region may see 40,000 to 100,000 more wells drilled in the future. Approx. six years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the Bakken region may contain 3 billion-4.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil. However, with the development of the Three Forks formation, the USGS expects this amount to nearly double. Many in the industry believe these aforementioned estimates are far too low suggesting that up to 96 billion barrels of oil could in due time be pumped out of the Bakken with even higher yields possible as technology improves. [Source]

Bottom line – Indigenous peoples cannot and will not survive this. This is genocide.

 

[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 follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

Further reading:


Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part II

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part III | Beholden to Buffett

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part 1V | Buffett Acquires the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

 

 

 

 

 

Bolivia VP Alvaro Garcia Linera on the ebbing Latin American tide

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

September 9, 2016

 

defending-the-revolution

Defending the Revolution, Venezuela, 2002 [Source]

 

Extracts of vive-president Garcia Linera’s address at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires (May, 27, 2016).

 

We are facing a historical turning point in Latin America. Some are talking about a throwback, about restorers moving forward. The truth is that in the last twelve months, after ten years of intense progress, of territorial diffusion of the progressive and revolutionary governments in the continent, this progress has stalled, in some cases it has given ground, and in some other cases its continuity is in doubt. Wherever conservative forces have succeeded, an accelerated process of reconstitution of the old elites of the 80s and 90s, which seek to take control of the management of the state, is under way.

In cultural terms, there is a determined effort by the media, by NGOs, by organic right-wing intellectuals, to devalue, to call in question, and discredit the idea and the project of change and revolution.

They are targeting what can be considered the golden, virtuous Latin American decade.

It has been more than ten years. Since the decade of 2000, in a pluralistic and diverse way, some being more radical than others, some more urban, some more rural, with very different languages but in a very convergent way, Latin America has experienced the period of greatest autonomy and greatest construction of sovereignty that anyone can remember since the founding of the states in the nineteenth century.

The four characteristics of the Latin American virtuous decade

First, the political aspect: social promotion and popular forces taking over state power, overcoming the old turn-of-the-century debate on whether it is possible to change the world without taking power – the popular sectors, workers, peasants, indigenous peoples, women, the under-classes, have outstripped that theoretical and contemplative discussion in a practical way. They have assumed the tasks of controlling the state. They have become representatives, congresspersons, senators, they have taken office, mobilized themselves, pushed back neoliberal policies, they have taken charge of the management of the state, changed public policies, made amendments to budgets. In these ten years we have witnessed popular, plebeian presence in state management.

Second, the strengthening of civil society: trade unions, guilds, settlers, neighbours, students, associations, started to diversify and to multiply in different areas during this decade. The neoliberal night of apathy and democratic simulation was broken, giving way to the recreation of a strong civil society that assumed a set of tasks in conjunction with the new Latin American states.

As far as the social aspect is concerned, in Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, we witnessed a substantial redistribution of social wealth. In opposition to the policies favouring the ultra-concentration of wealth which turned Latin America into one of the most unequal regions in the world, from the decade of 2000 onwards, driven by the progressive and revolutionary governments, a powerful wealth redistribution process got underway. This redistribution of wealth led to a widening of the middle classes, not in the sociological sense of the term, but in the sense of their consumption capacity. The consumption capacity of workers, peasants, indigenous peoples and subordinate social sectors expanded.

The differences between the richest 10% and the poorest 10%, which was 100, 150, 200 times in the 90s, had been reduced at the end of the first decade of the century to 80, 60, 40, in a way that broadened the contribution – and equality – of the different social sectors.

We have experienced post-neoliberal proposals, which have allowed the state to resume a strong role. Some countries carried out processes of nationalization of private companies or create new public enterprises, expanded state involvement in the economy in order to generate post-neoliberal ways of managing the economy, recovered the importance of the domestic market, recovered the importance of the state as a distributor of wealth, and recovered state participation in strategic areas of the economy.

In foreign affairs, we set up an informal, progressive and revolutionary international at continental level. This allowed for great strides in the constitution of our independence. In this decade, the Organisation of American States (OAS) has been offset by the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR). This represents the evolution of Latin American integration without the United States – without tutelage.

Overall, then, the continent, in this virtuous decade, has carried out political changes: the people’s participation in the construction of a new type of state. Social changes: the redistribution of wealth and the reduction of inequalities. Economy: active state involvement in the economy, the expansion of the domestic market, the creation of new middle classes. Internationally: the political integration of the continent. It is no small feat in only ten years, perhaps the most important years for integration, sovereignty, and independence in our continent since the nineteenth century.

However, we must acknowledge the fact that in recent months the process of diffusion and territorial expansion of the progressive and revolutionary governments has stalled. We are witnessing a comeback of right-wing sectors in some very important and decisive countries in the continent. Obviously, the Right will always try and seek to sabotage the progressive processes. For them, it is an issue of political survival, a question of control and dispute. It is important that we assess what we have done wrong, where we have encountered limits, where we have stumbled – what, in short, has allowed the Right to resume the initiative.

The five limits and the five contradictions of the Latin American virtuous decade

Contradictions within the economy: it is as though we had given little importance to the economic issues within the revolutionary processes. When you are in the opposition, the important things are politics, organization, ideas, and mobilization, along with more or less attractive, credible, structuring proposals. But when you are in government, when you become the state, the economy is crucial. And progressive governments and revolutionary leaders have not always assumed this crucial importance of the economy. Taking care of the economy, expanding redistribution processes, and boosting growth are the pillars of any revolution.

All of Lenin’s writings after War Communism are about the search for ways of restoring the popular sectors’ confidence through economic management, the development of production, distribution and wealth, the deployment of autonomous initiatives by peasants, workers, small and even big businesses, so as to ensure a sound economic foundation for the stability and welfare of the population, given that you cannot build Socialism or Communism in one country; given that economic relations are regulated by the world market, that markets and currencies do not disappear by decree, nor through the nationalisation of the means of production; given that the social and community economy may only arise in a context of global and continental progress. Meanwhile, it is up to each country to resist and create the basic conditions for survival, for the welfare for its people, keeping political power in the hands of the workers. You can make any concessions you want, you can talk to whomever if this helps with economic growth, but you must always guarantee that political power is in the hands of the workers and the revolutionaries.

The discourse must be effective, and create positive collective expectations on the basis of minimum material satisfaction of necessary conditions. If these conditions are not met, any speech, however seductive, however promising, gets diluted.

A second weakness in the economic area: some of the progressive and revolutionary governments have adopted measures that have affected the revolutionary bloc, thus strengthening the conservative one.

Obviously, a government must govern for all – this is the linchpin of the state. But how does one operate in that duality: governing for all, taking all into account, but, first of all, the citizens? No economic policy can obviate the people. When one does this, believing that it will win the support of the Right, or that it will neutralize it, one makes a big mistake, because the Right is never loyal. We can neutralize the business sectors, but they will never be on our side. Whenever they see that the popular side of things is faltering, or when they see weakness, business sectors will not hesitate for a minute to turn against the progressive and revolutionary governments.

You can issue a decree saying that there is no market, but the market will still be there. We can issue a decree putting an end to foreign companies, but the tools for cell phones and machinery will still require universal, planetary knowhow. A country cannot become autarchic. No revolution has endured or will survive in autarky and isolation. Revolution is to be global and continental or it will be a parody.

Obviously, the progressive and revolutionary governments prompted an empowerment of workers, peasants, workers, women, youth, which was more or less radical depending on the country. But political power will not last if it does not go together with the economic power of the popular sectors.

The state is no substitute for workers. It can collaborate, it can improve conditions, but sooner or later it will have to start devolving economic power to the subordinate sectors. Creating economic capacity, building associative productive capacity of the subordinate sectors, this is the key that will decide the possibility of moving from post-neoliberalism to post-capitalism in the future.

The second problem the progressive governments are facing is redistribution of wealth without social politicization. If the expansion of consumption capacity, if the expansion of social justice is not accompanied by social politicization, we are not making common sense. We will have created a new middle class, with consumption capacity, with capacity to satisfy their needs, but they will be carrying the old conservative common sense.

What do I mean by common sense? I mean the intimate, moral and logical precepts by which people organize their lives. It has to do with our intimate basics, with how we stand in the world.

In this regard, the cultural, ideological, spiritual aspects become crucial. There is no real revolution, nor is there consolidation of any revolutionary process, if there is not a profound cultural revolution.

When one is in government it is as important to be a good minister, or member of parliament, as to be a good union, student or local revolutionary leader, because this is where the battle for the common sense is fought.

A third weakness of the progressive and revolutionary governments is moral reform. Clearly, corruption is a cancer that corrodes society – not now, but 15, 20, 100 years ago. Neoliberals are an example of institutionalized corruption for the reason that they turned public affairs into private ones, and they amassed private fortunes by robbing the collective fortunes of the Latin American peoples. Privatizations have been the most outrageous, immoral, indecent, obscene example of widespread corruption. And this we have certainly fought against – but not enough. While restoring as common goods the res publica, public resources, and public goods, it is important that personally, individually, each comrade, President, Vice-President, ministers, directors, members of parliament, managers, in our daily behavior, in our way of being, we never relinquish humility, simplicity, austerity and transparency.

There is an insufflated moral campaign in the media lately. We can make a list of right-wing congressmen, senators, candidates, ministers, who had their companies registered in Panama to evade taxes. They are the corrupt ones, the scoundrels who have the nerve to accuse us of being corrupt, of being scoundrels, of having no morals. But we must insist on showing where we are and what we stand for through our behavior and daily life. We cannot separate what we think from what we do, what we are from what we say.

A fourth element that I would not say has anything to do with weakness, is the issue of the continuity of leadership in democratic regimes. In democratic revolutions, you have to live and put up with your opponents. You have defeated them, you have won in discursive, electoral, political, moral terms, but your opponents are still there. This is a fact that comes with democracy. And constitutions establish limits – 5, 10, 15 years – for the election of authorities. How can you give continuity to the revolutionary process when you have to abide by these limits?

They will say: “the populists, the socialists, believe in caudillos”. But what real revolution does not embody the spirit of the time? If everything depended on institutions, that is not revolution. There is no true revolution without leaders or caudillos. When the subjectivity of the people defines the destiny of a country, we are witnessing a true revolutionary process. The issue, however, is how we get on with the process given that there are constitutional limits for the continuity of the leader.

Perhaps collective leadership, building collective leaderships that allow the continuity of the processes, has greater possibilities in a democratic context. This is one of the concerns that must be resolved through political debate. How do we give subjective continuity to the revolutionary leaderships so that the processes are not truncated, nor limited, and can be sustained in historical perspective?

Finally, a fifth weakness that I would like to mention, in a self-critical but propositive way, has to do with economic and continental integration. We have made very good progress in political integration. But every government sees its geographic space, its economy, its market, and when we look at the other markets, limitations arise. Economic integration is no easy matter. You can talk a lot about it, but when you have to check the balance of payments, investment ratios, technological matters, things tend to slow down. This is the big issue. I am convinced that Latin America will only be able to become the master of its destiny in the twenty-first century if it can become a sort of continental, plurinational state that respects the local and national structures of the current states, with a second floor of continental institutions dealing with finance, economy, culture, politics and trade. Can you imagine if we were 450 million people? We would have the largest reserves of minerals, lithium, water, gas, oil, agriculture. We could drive the globalization processes of the continental economy. Alone, we are prey to the greed and abuse of companies and countries from the North. United, we in Latin America would be able to tread firmly in the twenty-first century and mark our destiny.

The tide is on the ebb

We should not be scared. Nor should we be pessimistic about the future, about the coming battles. When Marx, in 1848, analyzed the revolutionary processes, he always spoke of revolution as a process by waves. He never imagined revolution as an upward, continuous process. He said revolution moves in waves: a wave, another wave, and then the second wave advances beyond the first, and the third beyond the second.

Now the tide is ebbing. It will take weeks, months, years, but this being a process, it is clear that there will be a second wave, and what we have to do is prepare for it, debate what have we done wrong in the first wave, where we have failed, where errors have been made, what have we lacked, so that when the second wave happens, sooner rather than later, the continental revolutionary processes can go well beyond the first wave.

We are in for hard times, but hard times are oxygen for revolutionaries. Are we not coming from down below, are we not the ones who have been persecuted, tortured, marginalized in neoliberal times? The golden decade of the continent has not come free. It has been your struggle, from below, from the unions, the universities, the neighbourhoods, that has led to a revolutionary cycle. The first wave did not fall from the sky. We bear in our bodies the marks and wounds of the struggles of the 80s and 90s. And if today, provisionally, temporarily, we must go back to the struggles of the 80s, 90s, 2000s, let us welcome them. That is what a revolutionary is for.

Fighting, winning, falling down, getting up, fighting, winning, falling down, getting up – right up to the end of our life. That is our destiny.

But we have something important in our favour: historical time. Historical time is on our side. As Professor Emir Sader says, our opponents have no alternative, they do not carry a project that can overcome ours. They simply make their nest on the mistakes and envies of the past. They are restorers. We know what they did with the continent, in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador. We know what they did, because they ruled in the 80s and 90s. And they turned us into miserable, dependent countries, they drove us to extreme poverty situations and to collective shame. We already know what they want to do.

We are the future. We are the hope. We have done in ten years what dictators and governments over the last hundred years did not dare to do: we have recovered the homeland, dignity, hope, mobilization, and civil society. So, this is what they run up against. They are the past. They are the regression. We are the ones who move with the historical time.

But we must be very careful here. We must re-learn what we learned in the 80s and 90s, when everything was against us. We must gather strength. We must know that when we go into battle and lose, our strength goes to the enemy, boosting his own, while we are weakened. When it comes to it, we must know how to plan well, to gain legitimacy, to explain, to conquer again the people’s hopes, support, sensitivity and emotional spirit in each new fight. We must know that we have to go into battle again, the tiny and gigantic battle of ideas, in the mainstream media, in the newspapers, in the small pamphlets, at the universities, schools, and the unions. We must know that we have to rebuild a new common sense of hope, of mysticism. Ideas, organization, mobilization.

We do not know how long this battle will be. But let us get ready for it if it lasts one, two, three, four years. The continent is on the move and sooner rather than later it will no longer be a matter of just 8 or 10 countries: we will be 15, we will be 20, 30 countries celebrating this great International of revolutionary, progressive peoples.

 

WATCH: Netflix White Helmets Documentary is Pure Propaganda (Tyranny Unmasked, Trailer Remake)

Tyranny Unmasked

Video published September 7, 2016

(2:21)

The Behavioral Economics of Hatred

“Within George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the purpose of the Two Minutes Hate is to “satisfy the citizens’ subdued feelings of angst and hatred from leading such a wretched, controlled existence. By re-directing these subconscious feelings away from the Oceanian government and toward external enemies (which likely do not even exist), the Party minimizes subversive thought and behavior.” Orwell did not invent the term “two minutes hate” however; it was already in use/utilized in the First World War by British writers to satirize German propaganda.

In a somewhat similar fashion, an economist’s definition of hatred is the willingness to pay a price to inflict harm on others, according to Edward Glaeser, Princeton-educated economist and professor at Harvard.

In an article published in Harvard Magazine titled “The Marketplace of Perceptions,” author Craig Lambert writes:

“The psychological literature, [Edward Glaeser] found, defines hatred as an emotional response we have to threats to our survival or reproduction. ‘It’s related to the belief that the object of hatred has been guilty of atrocities in the past and will be guilty of them in the future,’ he says. ‘Economists have nothing to tell psychologists about why individuals hate. But group-level hatred has its own logic that always involves stories about atrocities. These stories are frequently false. As [Nazi propagandist Joseph] Goebbels said, hatred requires repetition, not truth, to be effective.’”

 

“‘You have to investigate the supply of hatred,’ Glaeser continues. ‘Who has the incentive and the ability to induce group hatred? This pushes us toward the crux of the model: politicians or anyone else will supply hatred when hatred is a complement to their policies.’” [AVAAZ: IMPERIALIST PIMPS OF MILITARISM, PROTECTORS OF THE OLIGARCHY, TRUSTED FACILITATORS OF WAR | PART V]

Further reading: Who Are the White Helmets?


White Helmets Netflix Final

WATCH: The Real Syrian Civil Defence | The Real White Helmets

UK Column

September 8th, 2016

 

UK Column’s Mike Robinson interviews Vanessa Beeley to deconstruct the origins, funding and “Purpose” of the White Helmets.

“For clarification, the White Helmets are literal terrorists who masquerade as humanitarians for press releases and propaganda : these people are guilty of actual war crimes and atrocities, as is evidenced by testimony from the ground in Syria.”

 

Days of Celebration – For Those None The Wiser

Wrong Kind of Green Op-ed

September 8, 2016

by Forrest Palmer with Cory Morningstar

 

 

“Mother Water – don’t they understand that you’re a living being? ” — Hija de la laguna, Peru

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Photo: Beautiful daughter of a fisherman. Kalri Lake, Pakistan.

 

Did you know that last week (August 28 – September 2) was World Water Week in Stockholm?  It is an annual week where the world is focused on global water issues. This is an acknowledgement that there is a problem with freshwater scarcity at a global level and an attempt to address it accordingly by the Western world. As commendable as this is on the surface, when you look underneath the rug of that which is comprised of mainstream acceptance that the environmental problems are worrisome (with water being one of almost countless others), it seems as if these various activities can best be described as giving a pretense that there is some actual work being done to solve the particular problems at hand. To demonstrate the flimsiness of it all, the average person is given a veritable buffet of choices regarding which particular problem he or she wishes to personally address by action.

water week 2015.

Therefore, if you don’t actually concern yourself with water scarcity, yet you feel as if species extinction and poaching is a problem, then you can focus on World Wildlife Day on March 3rd. If you are abhorred by the amount of deforestation being committed in this world, then there is always the International Day of Forests on March 21st. If you have a problem with the amount of wetlands being destroyed globally, then you can always circle the calendar on February 2nd to “protest” this ongoing loss loss (a “click” of a mouse defining the word “protest” in the West). And here are some more days that the average citizen can choose amongst an abundance of “protest” throughout the ongoing year:

  • World Ocean’s Day – June 8th
  • World Population Day – July 11th
  • Ecological Debt Day – September 8th
  • World Soil Day – December 5th

And the list goes on and on and on.

And after all these events that have been devised by the Western world over the past few decades to focus on all the particular issues, there has been little to no action achieved in having any effect on the ever worsening ecocide. Therefore, by any unbiased, honest opinion, these daily, weekly, monthly and even yearly celebrations that happen annually are just superficial attempts at the establishment giving the semblance of action on all the issues that are plaguing us as a species and nature as a whole. It is sloganeering for a sparse number of people in the Western world to feel as if they are collectively being socially responsible in regards to our ongoing quixotic war with the environment that we will inevitably lose in the most spectacular of fashions. The most insidious aspect of these days of recognition is what it does to individualize all of these particular issues to give the participants the idea that they are not interconnected. For example, World Ocean’s Day gives a person the ability to “protest” the dire state of our oceans while continuing to emit carbon throughout his or her daily lives that is the cause of ocean acidification, which ultimately is one of the primary issues plaguing all sea life and its environment.

Hence, there is no discussion about an actual change in the daily lives of people in the Western world or the smattering of nations that are attempting to replicate Western lifestyles and also act as the manufacturing base of the Global North, such as China and India.

To illustrate the fallacious aspects of these endeavors, let’s look on the fatuousness of World Car Free Day, which is upcoming on September 22nd. This is a day set aside for people in the Western world to not use their cars one day of the year as a sign of how carbon emissions are an environmental problem. In 2015, the global carbon emissions were at 32.1 billion tons. Although there are peaks and valleys of this during an entire calendar year, this is still an average of 87 million metric tons of carbon emissions daily.

In order to combat this egregious emission of carbon which is the basis for our ongoing atmospheric catastrophe (represented most problematically in climate change), these handful of events that leave it up to the volition of the average citizen to partake in are portrayed (or more likely perpetrated) as shining a light on the problem as a way of ultimately solving a particular issue. All evidence points to this as being anything but the case.

But in order to digest how futile this type of endeavor is, the focus must be on the amount of change elicited at a granular level on this one day of sacrifice. As the United States is hands down the worst perpetrator of carbon emissions globally per capita, in this instance regarding passenger vehicles, the data for this country will be utilized as the baseline for determining the worst possible case scenario regarding carbon emissions due to the cars and trucks in which usage is only being asked to be temporarily suspended for a single day. To begin with, the annual carbon emissions per car in the United States is approximately 4.7 metric tons per year, which means that the daily emission per car is about .012 metric tons.  This means that for the estimated 253 million passenger vehicles on the U.S. roadways there is a total daily emission of 3.25 million metric tons that the U.S. population is responsible for daily.

Therefore, utilizing the most extreme data available being that of the typical U.S. citizen and extrapolating the .012 metric tons emissions to every driver across the world committed to biking for a single agreed upon day, the most that could ever be achieved by ceasing all passenger vehicle transportation globally (with an estimate of 1.2 billion as of 2014) would be 14.4 million metric tons per day, which is a paltry 14.5% of the total global emissions from all sources.   And to further illustrate how miniscule that amount is regarding a day that is only symbolic and not substantive, the 14.4 million metric tons that could potentially be saved on Car Free Day would only be an infinitesimal .04% of yearly emissions.

By all evidence, this is the definition of the term “a drop in the bucket”.

Consequently, this clearly illustrates how the few moments per year that are utilized to bring a certain level of consciousness to the lay people are wholly useless. In perpetuating these annual events as a salve, it gives the individual participant in the Global North the false reality that he or she is actually making a difference in their singular choices of “protest” regarding what they personally feel is an issue.

The great black American social activist Audre Lorde said ““There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives.”. This is no more true than when it comes to the environment when individual choices of what is considered important have no effect upon the global structures that are causing the profuse amount of carbon emissions (i.e., the economic system of capitalism, the reliance of fossil fuels for perpetual growth, the industrial basis of Western civilization, et. al.). Until we as a global community are willing to tackle all these issues at a macro level, then the choices we make as single citizens make no difference in the grand scheme of things and are only used to afford us the ability to sleep better at night with the false belief that we are being personally responsible.

As a global community our daily micro choices make a small difference and as long as the overwhelming majority have the ability to partake in all the endeavors that are the cause of carbon emissions, then any individual choices not to contribute in the readily available ability to destroy the Earth through Western comforts will be for naught.  As we have had a mountainous number of celebratory events since the first Earth Day in 1972 and have seen carbon emissions climb exponentially during this interval, we can say definitively that these aforementioned events have been ineffectual in any change in the behavior of the people in the Global North who are almost entirely responsible for the voluminous amount of carbon emissions.

On the flip side, very few understand that 50% of emissions come from 1% of the world’s population [Source: page 77, Kevin Anderson, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research)] Thus, one can legitimately argue that with over 7 billion people on our finite planet, only 1%-25% of the global populace actually has the capacity to slow down global warming – as they are the very ones creating it. But rather than dismantle the systems and western consumptive patterns that keep such disparities and horrific conflicts intact, the NPIC successfully creates discourse. They redirect what would be necessary and critical gestures to promote gestures that collectively will not disrupt current power structures, which are then in turn, glorified by media in tandem with the non-profit industrial complex.

An example of this would be turning off the water while brushing your teeth, ignoring the massive waste of fresh water due to industrial agriculture and nuclear. [Consider that thermoelectric power plants, including nuclear plants, make up 40% of freshwater usage in the US, while agriculture is responsible for 80-90% of US water consumption] In doing so, we collectively we keep the wealth in the hands of the few at the expense of others, many who live unbearably. Well intentioned gestures become empty gestures at best as long as we ignore root causes of our multiple and escalating crises. This very minority (the 1%, that is anyone who can afford to get on a plane) are brainwashed into believing further consumption (under the false guise of “green) will alleviate our climate crisis – which in reality – only accelerates it. This can easily be compared to the false solution of offsets – essentially little more than a green-sanctioned licence to continue polluting and destroying ecosystems, while simultaneously exploiting the world’s most vulnerable, in the rapid race to convert all natural resources, blood and sweat into capital. Far from calling these what they are – crimes against humanity and cultural acquiescence to global-scale progenycide – our society recognizes this as just another day on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Ultimately, we are past the eleventh hour of doing what is necessary to address all the social changes necessary to combat our ongoing global environmental catastrophe. Time will tell if this will ever be addressed accordingly. Yet, the doomsday clock keeps on ticking. The question is if anyone is listening.

 

The Continued Branding and Co-optation of MLK

 

“Martin Luther King Jr. stood for revolutionary transformation; he is used today to support policies that he fought against.” [Source: The Co-opted MLK]

 

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Above image from Style Influencers Group: “Activist, Organizer and Baltimore Mayoral Candidate Deray Mckesson as Martin Luther King, Jr., Nick Graham shirt and tie, Stylist’s own ring.”

Style Influencers Group, Connecting Influencers and Brands: “With a network of the most powerful influencers in the digital space, SIG is the best option to connect dynamic brands with high quality content creators. SIG fosters meaningful relationships between consumers and brands by creating organic awareness, driving consumer engagement, and boosting brand loyalty among a multicultural audience with billions of dollars in spending power.”

 

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