Archives

Foundations

Global False Witness – Targeting Nicaragua

Tortilla con Sal

August 2, 2017

 

“Models attend Alexander Soros Foundation’s Global Witness ‘Unmasked’ Gala on July 7, 2012 in Bridgehampton, New York.” Source: Getty Images [Further reading].

Global Witness is a well-established environmental and human rights non-governmental organization based in Britain. As with many other similar organizations, its reports often figure in news media as authoritative sources on international issues. Ever since the 1980s and, increasingly so, after the turn of the century, the status of NGOs as trustworthy information sources on foreign affairs has become increasingly untenable as they have been more and more co-opted by corporate interests and governments to promote the Western elites’ neocolonial global policy agenda.

In the case of Nicaragua, in 2016 Global Witness produced a brief, flawed and unreliable account of land conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region in a report called “On Dangerous Ground”. In June 2017, they produced a report called “Defenders of the Earth”, with a section on Nicaragua even more poorly researched and false than the previous one.Three main reasons stand out to dismiss the latest Global Witness report on Nicaragua as unreliable and in bad faith.

Firstly, the report itself is clearly biased and flawed, from even a cursory analysis of its references and their sources by anyone familiar with Nicaragua. Secondly, the organization’s human and material resources all come from a very narrow managerial class and corporate funding base, overwhelmingly advocating the foreign policy positions of the United States government and its allies. Thirdly, the history of Global Witness clearly indicates its categorical bias in favor of NATO country governments’ policy positions in the countries that figure in its reports and too its systemic defense of the very corporate capitalism whose destructive effects Global Witness superficially and selectively criticizes.

Global Witness sources on Nicaragua

Before looking at the text of the false Global Witness attack on Nicaragua, it is worth looking at the sources they identify in their footnotes, of which there are 23, composed of a total of 44 references. For anyone familiar with Nicaraguan politics and society since the war of the 1980s many of the sources are wearily familiar and readily identifiable as anti-Sandinista, for example, the virulently anti-Sandinista La Prensa newspaper. Some of the references are duplicates and some disguise the fact that while apparently distinct, ultimately the information they provide comes from one single source. (Here’s a link to the relevant spreadsheet for anyone interested in a more detailed analysis.)

Of the 44 references, some of which are duplicates, not one represents the view of the Nicaraguan authorities or others criticized in the report or any source sympathetic to them. 16 references are to sources inside Nicaragua politically opposed to the Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. 25 of the sources are external to Nicaragua but with a long record identifying them as ideologically opposed to the Sandinista government. Of those 25 sources, one might argue that the Washington-based Interamerican Commission for Human Rights or the EFE Spanish language news agency are impartial, but their record is indisputably biased against Nicaragua’s Sandinista authorities.

For all but imperialist ideologues, the Paris based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has been discredited in particular, most recently, by its flagrant partisan bias in favor of NATO country government policies attacking the populations of Libya and Syria. One source, a reference to the law authorizing Nicaragua’s Canal, is completely neutral. Only one media source, El Nuevo Diario, is generally independent. Two references are to sources within the Western environmental scientific lobby, which has its own set of highly questionable biases, prejudices and neocolonial hypocrisy.

Methodology”

As if by way of justifying this desperately unfair selection of sources, Global Witness also offer an account of what they call their “methodology”. They aver, “We have recorded data about the cases using the HURIDOCS Event Standard Formats and Micro-Thesauri, an approach which is widely used to manage and analyse material of this nature.”

That Global Witness claim is demonstrably untrue. Whatever their aspirations they certainly did not use the HURIDOCS approach.

HURIDOCS (Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems, International) is a European NGO established in 1982 to facilitate networking between human rights organizations around the world. HURIDOCS says its ?specific role in this capacity-building process lies in improving access to and the dissemination of human rights information through more effective, appropriate and compatible methods and techniques of information handling. HURIDOCS recognises that we live in an age of tremendous advances in information and communication technologies. There is the need to master these technologies to aid us in our human rights work. At the same time, we must be conscious of the fact that the technologies to be applied should be appropriate and responsive to the main focus of the mandates of human rights organisation”

HURIDOCS exposition of their approach includes the following definitions:

Fact-finding is the process of identifying the violations in one event, and establishing the facts relevant to these violations. Fact-finding and investigation are terms that are used interchangeably.

Documentation is the process of systematically recording the results of an investigation or fact-finding in relation to an event or number of events. Fact-finding and documentation are organically related and should not be viewed as separate processes.

Monitoring is closely observing a given situation in society over a long period of time to see whether human rights standards are met. To carry out monitoring, investigation and documentation of a large and/or representative number of events are conducted.”

Global Witness are not in compliance with the HURIDOCS approach because their practice in their reporting on Nicaragua demonstrably violates all of these definitions.

Their fact-finding or investigation is so heavily biased as to make it impossible for them to establish the facts. Consequently, thanks to this gross fact finding bias, their documentation is partial, often inaccurate and categorically incomplete. Nor do they show any sign of having done due diligence in monitoring consistently over time via ” investigation and documentation of a large and/or representative number of events” or the context of those events in Nicaragua.

Other theoretical considerations

Apart from these chronic procedural failures, other theoretical considerations cry out for clarification.

Global Witness say, “This report is based on research on killings and enforced disappearances of land and environmental defenders, who we define as people who take peaceful action to protect land or environmental rights”.

But in a bitter property dispute between competing communities, clarifying who is defending whose rights becomes a fundamentally important question. Certainly in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, unscrupulous Miskito community leaders are themselves involved in provoking these property disputes by illegally selling land to rural families migrating in search of a better life. Miskito gangs have attacked and murdered many such people, a factor not even mentioned by Global Witness. They completely evade the issue of identifying in a responsible, proportionate way whose rights are being violated.

Similarly, Global Witness state, “cases were identified by searching and reviewing reliable sources of publicly online information”. But  Global Witness obviously used heavily politicized criteria for deciding what is a reliable source, because not one single reference in their report on Nicaragua gives the Nicaraguan authorities’ side of the story and only one reference can fairly be described as ideologically independent. That renders completely incredible the phony Global Witness claim to systematic research.

They claim their investigation is systematic because “We set up search engine alerts using keywords and conducted other searches online to identify relevant cases across the world.” However, in the case of a small country like Nicaragua, a genuinely systematic search can readily be done covering a much wider range of sources than those accessed by Global Witness without recourse to modish, geeky “search engine alerts”. The poverty of sources evident in the report’s footnotes make Global Witness’s procedure look ridiculous.

Global Witness claim they “verify” the results of their investigation because “Where possible, we checked with in-country or regional partners to gather further information”. But they only cross-checked with ideologically and politically biased organizations, apparently using the same highly questionable, politically compromised sources they cite in their report.

Karl Popper, philosophical darling of the Open Society ideology embraced by Global Witness, explained over 50 years ago in “Conjectures and Refutations”  that verification is essentially authoritarian. He argued that a truly scientific investigation requires conjecture and falsification, a search for errors rather than for  justification.

If one goes along with Popper, it should surprise no one that Global Witness uses an essentially authoritarian methodology. Self-evidently, their job is not to discover the facts or to impartially establish the truth via a hypothetic-deductive Popper-style process , but to project a manipulative version of events justifying ideologically loaded interpretations favored by their corporate funders, an inherent bias understandably unacknowledged by Global Witness.

Nor is it surprising to learn from their account of their methodology, “While we have made every effort to identify and investigate cases in line with the methodology and criteria, it is important to add that our research mostly relies on public information and that we have not been able to conduct detailed national-level searches in all countries.”

That is not true either. Global Witness did not make “every effort” to investigate cases in line with their alleged methodology and criteria because they are flagrantly out of compliance with the definitions advanced by HURIDOCS.

A broader range of sources

Nor is is true that they were unable to conduct a detailed national-level search in the case of Nicaragua, because they could easily have included references from sources that contradict much of the information in the Global Witness report. The following is a brief sample of many other relevant sources, gleaned in a few hours searching on the Internet :

 

Even this very limited sample of sources, put together from just a few hours searching on the Internet, gives a very different picture to the one presented by Global Witness. So it is false of Global Witness to suggest they lack the resources to be able to stress test and falsify the version of events they have published in their report. Given the tremendous resources and the numerous skilled, experienced, talented people working at Global Witness, only abject intellectual dishonesty explains their failure to report faithfully on Nicaragua

Incoherent claims

Be that as it may, based on their cynically biased sources and their absurdly deficient methodology, Global Witness proceed in their report to make the following claims:

* 11 defenders killed in 2016 – making Nicaragua the most dangerous country in the world per capita

But, as independent journalist John Perry and others have pointed out, none of those people killed can fairly be described as having being killed for defending the environment. They were in property disputes and all of them were killed either directly or indirectly  in the course of those property conflicts. This is true in particular of the case cited by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) , that of Bernicia Dixon Peralta, her husband Feliciano Benlis Flores and their 11 year old son Feliciano Benlis Dixon. Perry mentions some of the context. More context of the property disputes in the RAAN can be found herehere and here. Not a single person mentioned by Global Witness died in Nicaragua for defending the environment in the way that someone like Berta Cáceres did. Even so Global Witness have tended disingenuously to implicitly compare the situation in Nicaragua with that in Honduras, in particular with Berta’s murder.

The bad faith with which they do so is clear from the second claim in their report on Nicaragua:

* 10 of those murdered were indigenous people, with most killed in conflicts with settler communities over land. Meanwhile rural ‘campesino’ defenders faced threats, harassment and attacks, including for opposing the construction of an inter-oceanic canal.

Global Witness fails to make clear that groups from the indigenous Miskito people, whom Global Witness inaccurately portray as defenseless environmental defenders, are themselves guilty of murderous attacks against migrants settling land which in many cases the migrants apparently believed they had bought legitimately. Furthermore, the Global Witness report deliberately and falsely confuses the very specific situation of these property conflicts in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast with protests over the possible displacement of communities along the still to be exactly defined route of the proposed Inter-oceanic Canal 300 kilometers to the south. Global Witness unscrupulously frame their distorted version of events in the two regions to give the impression that in both cases the Nicaraguan authorities may in some way be directly or indirectly responsible for the violence.

In fact, even the New York Times has acknowledged in their otherwise generally hostile anti-Sandinista reporting that the Nicaraguan authorities do what they can with limited resources to protect the rights of indigenous peoples in the Northern Carribean Autonomous Region.

The situation along the route of the Canal is very different from that in the RAAN. Protests against the Canal are exploited by Nicaragua’s political opposition and groups participating in the protest demonstrations have damaged property and attacked police officers. In relation to this situation, completely separate from the property disputes more than 300km to the north, Global Witness claims:

* Activists were increasingly criminalized: foreign environmentalists were expelled, community leaders arrested and legislation passed restricting freedoms of speech and association.

However in the very next paragraph, the report quotes anti-Canal activist Francisca Ramirez saying, ““We have carried out 87 marches, demanding that they respect our rights and we have had no response. The only response we have had is the bullet.”

Thus, the Global Witness allegation that rights to freedom of association are restricted is immediately contradicted by Francisca Ramirez declaring her group has organized over 80 public demonstrations to express their views.

Similarly, Ramirez claims “The only response we have had is the bullet.” But, in the next paragraph, we learn “a member of her community lost an eye and another was shot in the stomach”.

Thus, after 87 demonstrations, some of which supposedly involved many thousands of participants and in which “The only response we have had is the bullet”, Ramirez cites precisely two people suffering serious injury and only one of them with a gunshot wound. Ramirez omits that the protesters on the marches she organizes go armed with machetes and home-made mortars. They block highways, intimidate ordinary people going about their business, damage property and attack police officers.

In no Western country would that be tolerated without, to put it mildly, a robust response from the police and security forces. Even so, Global Witness promote Francisca Ramirez’s account as if she and her movement were non-political and non-violent, which they are not. But Global Witness excludes those facts.

Likewise, as John Perry has pointed out, the foreign environmentalists expelled from Nicaragua were involved in a suspicious incident involving a small explosion. Again, a reasonable question to Global Witness is why they excluded this highly relevant information given that in Britain or the United States any foreigner, especially any non-white foreigner, involved in such a suspicious incident would face prosecution and a potential jail term under those countries wide-ranging anti-terrorist laws.

Inaccuracies and falsehoods

Mixed in with these disingenuous, incoherent claims, Global Witness also allege, presumably as supporting context, that the proposed Canal “would force up to 120,000 indigenous people from their land”. This outrageous falsehood is sourced from the pro-NATO, right-wing dominated European Parliament, but is categorically contradicted by the relevant multi-million dollar Environmental and Social Impact report by the extremely prestigious ERM company based in the UK. The falsity of that claim is further confirmed by the Canal concessionary HKND company’s representative Bill Wild who argues that the route of the Canal has been altered to take local concerns into account in such a way that fewer than thirty indigenous families will be directly affected.

Overall, ERM reckons that up to 7210 families or around 30,000 people are likely to be displaced along the whole route of the Canal, over 270 kilometres. The scandalously untrue figure quoted by Global Witness is propaganda from Nicaragua’s political opposition who are exploiting Ramirez’s quasi-celebrity status among Western environmentalists to amplify overseas the marginal support for their unpopular position against the Canal in Nicaragua. That fact is reflected in the incoherence of the arguments set out by Ramirez and her backers in Nicaragua’s political opposition.

If 120,000 people were really going to be displaced by the proposed Canal then the figure of 30,000 protestors from around the country the same political opposition regularly quote to describe national opposition to the Canal just does not add up. Quoting that same opposition figure, Global Witness state, “Francisca has rallied campesino groups from around the country who will be adversely affected by the canal to call for a meaningful say in its development. In June 2015, 30,000 people gathered for an anti-canal protest – Francisca organized 40 trucks so her community could attend.”

In Nicaragua, the cost of hiring a truck or a bus to carry 60 people or a similar amount of material goods on a round trip of 100km is around US$120, while a round trip of 300km costs about US$175. So hiring 40 diesel-guzzling trucks and buses with their drivers will have cost a minimum of US$4000. But Ramirez is an impoverished mother of five from a similarly impoverished community. Even if only one quarter of the more than 80 protests Ramirez says she has helped organized involved similar costs, the total amount involved runs into tens of thousands of dollars just for Ramirez’s community. Whatever the exact financial accounting, Ramirez is clearly supported by a great deal more than her own resources and those of her community.

Even so, Global Witness completely evade the obvious conclusion to be drawn from that incoherence implicit in their report. Namely, that Francisca Ramirez, far from being a simple altruistic community organizer defending her home is in fact a savvy political opposition activist promoting an inaccurate image of herself as well as concealing her real political agenda. Ramirez alleges that she and her family have been attacked and harassed. Supposing those accusations are true, no convincing evidence points to involvement of the government or the security forces and certainly not the HKND company in charge of planning and building the Canal. That contrasts with the situation of activists in Honduras or Guatemala who can in most cases offer reliable details with corroboration from witnesses to identify their assailants.

The press report cited by Global Witness contains no credible evidence from Ramirez except her say so, no corroborating evidence, no witnesses. Likewise the report’s reference to Frontline Defenders’ advocacy for Ramirez links to a summary profile including the false opposition propaganda, repeated by Global Witness, that the proposed inter-oceanic Canal has been imposed without consultation. But in fact preliminary consultations took place in July 2014 and subsequently a continuing consultative process has developed both before and after the publication of ERM’s Environmental and Social Impact Study, which recommended improvements to the consultation process which both HKND and the government accepted.

The Study did also criticize the handling of the expropriation issue and recommended that international standards be applied to any expropriation of land (reckoned to total 1359km2 of dry land out of Nicaragua’s total  area of 139,375km2) that may eventually be decided. Those ERM recommendations were accepted by the  government and HKND, and the subsequent consultative process has led to several important changes in the precise route of the Canal and to more detailed environmental studies which have been one reason for the delay in the Canal’s construction.

Frontline Defenders’ advocacy of Ramirez, cited by Global Witness, is based on her own account of events with no apparent attempt at corroboration despite the role of Ramirez as a front person for an anti-government campaign openly supported and facilitated by Nicaragua’s political opposition. In the course of framing their benign, heroic account of Francisca Ramirez, Global Witness present an account of the Canal’s origins and procedural progress which repeats virtually word for word the extremely hostile and systematically disingenuous interpretation of Nicaragua’s political opposition.

Garbage in – Garbage out

Winding up their version of the falsehoods, disinformation and propaganda copied from Nicaragua’s political opposition, Global Witness assert, “Resistance to the canal takes place against a terrifying backdrop of multiple murders in indigenous communities elsewhere in the country which have stood up against the arrival of agricultural settlers and demanded the government guarantee their land rights. Even requests by the Inter-American human rights system haven’t spurred the government into protecting community activists from being disappeared, mutilated and murdered.”

But, as is clear from reviewing a wider selection of sources of information in relation to the complicated land situation in Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean Coast, indigenous people themselves are responsible for murderous violence and their own leaders are implicated in corrupt land dealings. It is simply untrue to label the murders as being generically the result of attacks on community activists in the sense in which that term is commonly understood. The general consensus is that the Nicaraguan government has done more than any government in the region, with the possible exception of Venezuela, to protect indigenous people’s land rights with almost a third of the national territory designated as indigenous peoples’ communal land. Global Witness’s allegations on that score are demonstrably inaccurate and grossly unfair.

Similarly, the suggestion that the Canal protest movement is vulnerable to the kind of murderous violence prevalent in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region is egregiously false. The protesters themselves have used violence and intimidation against the general population to carry out their protest actions, so far, thankfully, with no fatalities.

In summary, the Global Witness report in its section on Nicaragua uses politically and ideologically prejudiced sources which could readily have been supplemented with sources offering a contradictory account. The sources used themselves do not always corroborate the claims made in the report. Apart from the ideological bias, various substantive inaccuracies render the report extremely unreliable. The report’s conclusions are flawed because its initial premises are false – Garbage In, Garbage Out.

It remains true that there are serious property conflicts in Nicaragua’s Northern Caribbean Autonomous Region which the government is attempting to address despite a lack of administrative, judicial and security resources, against an intricate social, economic and political context and also the constantly changing opportunistic interaction of corrupt business interests with local indigenous peoples’ leaders, and unscrupulous local officials.

In the case of Nicaragua’s proposed Interoceanic Canal, it is true various issues, including the issue of expropriation, have to be clarified. Protestors claim they want dialog, but Francisca Ramirez sets the precondition that the Canal be scrapped.

The Canal’s critics never acknowledge that Nicaragua is already suffering chronic environmental degradation. The government and many environmentalists argue that the Canal will provide Nicaragua with the resources it needs to reforest deforested areas, better manage its water resources and reverse the current deterioration in Lake Nicaragua, while at the same time helping to reduce poverty.

Foreign and national environmentalists offer no viable proposals to enable Nicaragua to reverse the socio-economic and climate processes already driving accelerating environmental degradation in the country.

Protestors against the Canal exaggerate the number of people likely to be displaced by its construction and often dishonestly claim people affected by displacement will not be compensated. Meanwhile, they themselves are among those responsible for the environmental degradation that will definitely get progressively worse without the resources the Canal is projected to provide.

Corporate funders and the elite NGO revolving door

Featured photo in the Washington Life Magazine (“The insider’s guide to power. philanthropy and society since 1991”) by Tony Powell. Global Witness CEO Gillian Caldwell (far right) sits beside Manana Freyre. Freyre is the 20th General Counsel and Senior Vice President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States. [Source] Berim Fellows Program. Hendi Residence. November 21, 2014.

Manana Freyre, Gillian Caldwell. Photo by Tony Powell. Berim Fellows Program. Hendi Residence. November 21, 2014. “WASHINGTON LIFE is the premier luxury-lifestyle magazine in the National Capital Region, published since 1991 by well-connected life-long Washingtonians who have exceptional insight into the community. Through our established social networks, loyal readership base and long standing relationships, WASHINGTON LIFE offers its advertisers a unique way to target discerning consumers.”
 

Few plausible explanations except intellectual dishonesty offer themselves for the desperate failure of Global Witness, firstly to adequately research the issues involved or, secondly, supposing they in fact did so, to acknowledge the complexity of the issues they examine. Global Witness frankly explain in their financial statement for 2016, they had income of over US$13 million. So they do not lack resources. Similarly, their Board, their Advisory Board and their CEO are all very experienced, smart, talented people. So even if they depend on younger inexperienced staff to do the research, their senior staff presumably review the product before publication. Lack of experience is not a reasonable explanation for the report’s glib dishonesty and inaccuracy.

A review of Global Witness funders reveals that for 2016 the two biggest funders were the Open Society Foundation of George Soros associated with the numerous so called color revolutions in support of NATO country government foreign policy objectives and the Omidyar Network of Pierre Omidyar whose links with US intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton are well known. Less well known is Omidyar’s support for NGOs that fomented the successful right wing coup in Ukraine. The complete list of Global Witness funders is available in the financial statement for 2016 on their web site. That document reports that in 2016 Global Witness received US$3.4 million from the George Soros Open Society Foundation, US$1.5 million from Pierre Omidyar’s Omidyar Network, US$840,000 from the Ford Foundation and over US$3 million from various European NATO governments plus Sweden.

All of these funding sources are unrelenting ideological opponents of Nicaragua’s Sandinista government. A broad pro-NATO bias is very clear in the composition of the Global Witness Board and Advisory Board and CEO. Their profiles make clear they are almost all luminaries from the Western elite neocolonial non governmental sector, while many have a strong corporate business background as well. Just as there is a revolving door between government and corporate business and finance in North America and Europe, so too there is also a revolving door within that region’s elite NGO sector, a sector very clearly serving NATO country foreign policy goals.

Cory Morningstar has exposed the pro-NATO global political agenda of organizations like US based organizations like Avaaz and Purpose. In the case of Global Witness, their Board member Jessie Tolka is also a board member of Purpose and too of 350.org: Current Global Witness CEO Gillian Caldwell was also a very successful Campaigns Director of Sky1, now merged into 350.0rg. Cory Morningstar argues, “the most vital purpose of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) has not been to destroy the ecocidal economic system that enslaves us while perpetuating and ensuring infinite wars. Rather, the key purpose of the NPIC is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose from being dismantled. Hence the trillions of dollars pumped into the NPIC by the establishment.”

Confirmation of Cory Morningstar’s argument can be found in the history of Global Witness itself. For example on Libya, despite their superficial anti-corporate gloss, Global Witness relentlessly apply NATO country government criteria here and here. Also on Ukraine, Global Witness project the same anti-corporate message while simultaneously reinforcing NATO country government propaganda. Global Witness has also received US National Endowment for Democracy grants in Cambodia and in Liberia.

Also, a decade ago, writers Keith Harmon Snow and Rick Hines questioned Global Witness’ corporate links in relation to the “Blood Diamonds” controversy and the organization’s role in relation to De Beers and also Maurice Templesman’s diamond companies. No doubt more thorough research would reveal information casting similar doubt on Global Witness’s integrity and independence.

Conclusion

This latest Global Witness report in relation to Nicaragua is  important because it is so readily falsifiable. It thus presents a clear litmus test : no news and information media can use the Global Witness report’s material in relation to Nicaragua without compromising their credibility.

The bias and inaccuracies in the section on Nicaragua in the Global Witness 2017 report call into doubt the integrity of the whole report. No news or information media interested in accuracy or honest reporting can conscientiously rely on Global Witness as a source without thorough cross checking and systematically comparing, contrasting and evaluating information from sources giving a different account of the events and issues in question.

Global Witness is neither independent nor trustworthy. It clearly has a strong but unacknowledged neocolonial political agenda promoting the regional policy goals of NATO country governments, while, conversely, attacking governments and other regional actors opposed to those goals.

NGOs like Global Witness, International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, Transparency International and so many others, self-evidently fabricate psychological warfare inputs serving NATO country government policy, itself shaped by the same corporate elites that fund the class of NGOS of which Global Witness is a part.

They operate as the soft, extramural arm of NATO country governments’ foreign policy psychological warfare offensives, targeting liberal and progressive audiences to ensure their acquiescence in overseas aggression and intimidation against governments and movements targeted by NATO. To that end, they deceitfully exploit liberal and progressive susceptibilities in relation to environmental, humanitarian and human rights issues.

Their psychological warfare role supporting the NATO government’s aggressive destabilization of Ivory Coast, Libya and Syria in 2011, of Ukraine in 2014,  and the NATO country government’s low intensity war against Venezuela ever since 2013, as well as the campaign against Cuba over five decades, has been unmistakable.

More broadly their systemic ideological role is very obviously to protect and defend global corporate capitalism while superficially and selectively questioning and criticizing some of its worst abuses. Cory Morningstar’s insight bears repeating “the key purpose of the non-profit industrial complex is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose”.

The coverage of Nicaragua in the latest 2017 Global Witness report is a text book example of that sinister fact.

The Pygmalion Virus in Three Acts [2017 AVAAZ SERIES | PART II]

August 3, 2017

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

Act One

In Greek mythology, Pygmalion was a sculptor who carved a statue of a beautiful woman out of ivory. A statue so beautiful, that Pygmalion fell in love with it. The symbolism in the play by George Bernard Shaw is premised on Henry Higgins falling in love with his own creation. [Source]

+++

According to The B Team report, Keith Tuffley manages the day-to-day operations of The B Team.

In his LinkedIn profile Tuffley states he is “Managing Partner & CEO of The B Team, a not-for-profit initiative headquartered in New York.” (Here, we must again recall that the headquarters as spoken of by B Team affiliates is that of the PR firm Purpose.) He is the former Managing Director and Head of Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs in Australia with over 25 years experience in investment banking, finance, and capital markets. Tuffley is founder & chairman of NEUW Ventures, an impact investing company based in Switzerland. He also serves as Director or Governor on various NGOs including WWF-Australia.

Tuffley is a member of the Corporate Advisory Panel of the World Forum for Natural Capital[Full bio] and is identified as belonging to the “wider project team” of co-founders Polman and Malloch’s Business and Sustainable Development Commission. [Source: BETTER BUSINESS BETTER WORLD, the report authored by the Business & Sustainable Development Commission, January 16, 2017]

The B Team executive committee [1] is comprised of the executive chair (Jochen Zeitz), three senior partners (Jean Oelwang, Joanna Rees and Keith Tuffley) and Managing Director Rajiv Joshi, who “oversees the organisation’s strategy”.

Where White Polar Bears Meet White Helmets

“Ultimately, this is a cultural challenge—linked to our own culture and to wider cultural dynamics. In the good old days, we saw NGOs as leading indicators of change, but today it’s the Millennials, whatever NGOs or networks they may belong to.” — The Stretch Agenda, Breakthrough in the Boardroom [Source]

“Mikael Fraenkel, Rajiv Joshi, Arianna Huffington, Shalini Mehan, Felix Stellmaszek during DLD15 FOCUS Nightcap at Steigenberger Grandhotel Belvédère in Davos on January 21, 2015.” Foto: Hubert Burda Media / BRAUER PHOTOS. Flickr

From the aforementioned Better Business Better World report:

“Rajiv Joshi is a Managing Director and has been with the organisation since its inception. He previously served as Executive Director for the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. Joshi served six years as a Trustee of Oxfam and as a Board Member of CIVICUS. He is currently on the Board of the Centre for Scottish Public Policy, and has served on the Equality and Human Rights Commission and as chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament.”

Joshi has an extensive background pushing forward both the UN Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs/”Global Goals”). He has been groomed by the United Nations, Skoll (2017 Skoll Awardees Convening, 2017 Skoll World Forum) and Branson. From the Skoll website:

“During this time he led global action towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), mobilizing over 173 million people as part of the ‘Stand Up: Take Action’ initiative. He also supported ‘The Elders’ with their Every Human Has Rights campaign and helped spearhead citizen participation in creating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), as co-founder of ‘The World We Want 2015’ platform and founding Chair of the Post-2015 Policy and Strategy Group.”

Let this section serve as an introduction to where 21st century environmentalism (which today is, in reality, anthropocentrism) meets the 21st  humanitarian industrial complex. [Further reading: The Humanitarian Industrial Complex School of Thought | A Fish Analogy] Where white polar bears (the emotive veneer for economic growth, land and resource theft, privatization, the financialization of nature) meet white helmets (the emotive veneer for economic growth, land and resource theft, privatization, war). This is the intersection where today’s anointed “thought leaders” cut their teeth.This is the intersection where today’s anointed “thought leaders” cut their teeth. Akin to the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, today’s so-called environmental leaders and human rights activists are not (yet) genetically engineered, rather they are socially engineered experiments decanted from Harvard, Yale, Rockwood Leadership Institute and other institutions of indoctrination that serve and expand the global hegemony. One could theorize that today’s 21st century activism is a new process of mimesis – the millennial having assimilated into spectacle – far removed from both nature and reality.

“TEDxSkoll on Twitter: #TEDxSkoll TALK: ‘White Helmets @SyriaCivilDef: The Power of Trained Volunteers'”[Source]

Indicative of the accolades and tutelage showered down upon the aforementioned millennial Joshi, today’s thought-leaders are groomed, molded, and managed – specifically to manufacture and mobilise/engineer world views as desired and designed by the world’s most powerful hegemons. Ego, celebrity fetish, access, wealth, luxury are all Western desires that are fostered and cultivated in today’s assembly-line “activists”. Together, these desires, when nurtured, are an opiate that lures, beguiles and hooks the freshly-engineered plastic “activists” that today flourish like cells within the walls of non-profit industrial complex. The complex is the vehicle for the continued expansion of capital markets (infinite growth) and the protection of existing power structures.  Today we witness the world’s richest 300 people having more monetary wealth than the bottom 3 billion people. The same ruling elite invest trillions into the NPIC to ensure this existing power structure not only stays firmly intact, but expands. This is not “philanthropy”, a word created by and utilized by the rich to make theft of labour and commons not just acceptable, but illustrious. Rather, this is the best investment money can buy.

The aforementioned Stand Up and Take Action is an annual global mobilization coordinated by the United Nations Millennium Campaign and the Global Call to Action against Poverty. In addition, the Elders is another Richard Branson NGO, a person who has his tentacles wrapped around an innumerable amount of NGO endeavors owned and sanctioned by the global elite. “The World We Want” is a United Nations SDG campaign.

“Most funding and direction come from the wealthy nations. Often the donors form a conglomerate creating mutual responsibility and considerable ambiguity. CIVICUS, a partnership to promote “civil society” worldwide, is funded by, among others, American Express Foundation, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Carnegie Corporation, Canadian International Development Agency, Ford Foundation, Harvard University, Oxfam, and United Nations Development Programme.” — Joan Roelofs [Source]

 

As the grooming is underscored by the collaboration of mentors and mentees in private and public endeavors, it is of course no surprise to find Rajiv Joshi in the company of Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimens in a We Mean Business video series (since We Mean Business is an NGO founded by The B Team registered to Heiman’s Purpose). However, the following excerpt from the book The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough  demonstrates the unity and alliances of multifarious NGOs that prosper in a highly centralised manner outside of the public spectrum (see excerpt below). Public perception is critical for the brand. Thus, NGOs that serve on the forefront of the manufactured movements make a concerted effort to not publicly align with NGOs openly chasing capital and economic growth. The reality is this: the cherry-picked and highly groomed “leaders” of the world’s most influential NGOs, the ones with the faux radical veneer such as 350.org, Avaaz and Greenpeace, run in the same circles as the openly capitalist NGO models such as the B Team – which run/operate in the same circles as the International Crisis Group. NGOs that publicly promote and accelerate market-based solutions that will only further perpetuate our multiple ecological crises. NGOs that perpetuate the myth of “humanitarian interventions” and spontaneous popular revolutions.

Above: Screenshot from The Myth Gap: What Happens When Evidence and Arguments Aren’t Enough By Alex Evans

Here we witness the social-organizational psychology experts grooming tomorrows “new champions“, “global shapers” and “new power” “thought-leaders” as determined and ultimately dictated by the world’s most powerful elites. In the 21st century, psychology is not only an extremely important tool in influencing public opinion, it is now considered to be perhaps the single and most important tool. The necessity to comprehend the mental processes, desires and social patterns of the populace at large cannot be understated. Working in lock-step with controlled media and the best marketing executives foundation money can buy, today’s faux activists, thought-leaders and media lapdogs are the very mechanisms of modern-day perception.

Consider the following claim by Avaaz that “BBC, CNN and Al Jazeera reported that at one point 40% of the images that were used in their coverage of the Arab Spring were generated by the Avaaz-supported citizens’ journalist network”. (See below screenshot.)

If this claim is verifiable, it is indisputable truth that the establishment is able to use its resources to maneuver, influence and control untold portions of protests. Thus, it is critical to question what is a legitimate protest versus what is a protest  orchestrated by outside influences.

“We’ve trained them. That translates into diplomatic leverage.”— Supremacy by Stealth, Robert Kaplan

As an example of the opacity prevalent in these various movements, the race to implement the financialization of nature (payments for ecosystem services) under the guise of UN’s “Global Goals” is nothing less than frenetic. Yet for all of the ongoing activity, this corporate triumph is being conducted in the background, with zero dissent, due to the fact that at the forefront of the manufactured movements – there is complete silence. Zero opposition. The non-profit industrial complex being the wall that protects and insulates the coup d’état of nature itself.

“Surveying this new landscape, it is clear that the true role of the thought leader is to serve as the organic intellectual of the one percent—the figure who, as Gramsci put it, gives the emerging class “an awareness of its own function” in society. The purpose of the thought leader is to mirror, systematize, and popularize the delusions of the superrich: that they have earned their fortunes on merit, that social protections need to be further eviscerated to make everyone more flexible for “the future,” and that local attachments and alternative ways of living should be replaced by an aspirational consumerism.” — The Rise of the Thought Leader – How the superrich have funded a new class of intellectual, June 28, 2017

[Further reading: From Stable to Star – The Making of North American “Climate Heroes”]

Establishing New Norms: Future Stewards, Pathfinders and Deep Practitioners

Perhaps there is no better snapshot of the congregation of all this grooming of the next generation of NGO leaders than the 2015 Avaaz retreat. This retreat finds The B Teams Joshi in the company of his peers and “movement builders”. Those identified in the aforementioned book excerpt are as follows:

Robert Gass: co-founder of the Rockwood Leadership Institute, former President of ARC International, a global consulting and training company specializing in transformational change with Fortune 500 companies. Robert has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and Organizational Development from Harvard University. [2]

Judith Ansara:  A former facilitator for the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s The Art of Leadership trainings, she has facilitated organizations and leaders Avaaz, Witness and UNICEF. She has taught Transpersonal Psychology at Naropa University and Strategic Communications at the University of Massachusetts. [3]

Maura Bairley: Leads the Organizational Development Team for Move to End Violence, a project of the NoVo Foundation. [4]

Rachel Bagby: A Stanford Law Degree in Social Change and  leadership consultant whose clients include leaders from organizations such as Google, the Sierra Club and Rockwood Institute. [Source]

Radhika Balakrishnan: Faculty director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University. Past experience includes working for the Ford Foundation as a program officer in the Asian Regional Program.

Ian Bassin: Former Associate Counsel to President Obama, General Counsel and Campaign Director at Avaaz, Current director of United to Protect Democracy [“United to Protect Democracy, which draws its name from a line in President Barack Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off…] Signatory to the Economic Security Project. [5]

Dalia Hashad: Attorney and a campaign director at the global advocacy group Avaaz.org. Prior to Avaaz Hashad worked for Amnesty International UK (Director, USA Program) and ACLU  American Civil Liberties Union.

Jamie Henn: 350.org co-founder, Strategy and Communications Director.

“I thought I’d never live to see the day when you could strap on a rocket pack and fly through the air… but then I met Avaaz. They supercharge work across the world, sending campaigns and movements soaring to new heights.” — Jamie Henn, co-founder, 350.org, Avaaz website

Paul Hilder: Avaaz co-founder Paul Hilder is the former Vice President of Global Campaigns for Change.org, a for-profit social venture started in 2006. He is co-founder and Chief International Officer of Crowdpac, “the platform for new politics”. He cofounded 38 Degrees and openDemocracy.net. He played leadership roles at Oxfam, Purpose, Here Now (Purpose) and the Young Foundation. His background in the NPIC and the Middle East is extensive. [6]

Joanna Kerr: Executive Director of Greenpeace Canada. Former Chief Executive of ActionAid International, Policy Director at Oxfam Canada. [7]

Adauto Modesto Junior: Brazil Student Ambassador, Lemann Fellow, at David Rockefeller Center for Latin America Studies, Brazil (Harvard). Served on the Civil Cabinet of the Presidency of the Republic and the Ministry of Finance in Brazil. [Source]

Luis Morago: Campaign Director at Avaaz (Spain). Former head of Oxfam International’s EU Office (2007: “EU institutions are in a unique position to promote the R2P principle and give leadership,” Source] Previously worked on “the concept of rights-based approach in an emergency context” with British Red Cross Society and ActionAid (Research and Programme Learning Officer). [Source]

Heather Reddick: Avaaz Chief Operating Officer, Avaaz. Former Director of Finance & Administration at Let’s Get Ready, International Operations Director at Students for a Free Tibet, and National Operations Director at League of Young Voters. (Avaaz salary in 2014: USD$148,323.00 & USD$5,736.00 misc. expenses)

Carolina Rossini: Coordinates the Brazilian Open Educational Resources Project: Challenges and Perspectives funded by the Open Society institute. [Source] [Source]

Esra’a Al-Shafei: Bahraini civil rights activist, founder and executive director of Mideast Youth and its related projects, including FreeKareem.org  and CrowdVoice.org. Featured at the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative University. Featured in Forbes’ 2014 “30 Under 30” list of social entrepreneurs making an impact in the world. Listed by the World Economic Forum as one of “15 Women Changing the World in 2015.”[8]

Theo Sowa: An independent advisor and consultant, specialising in international social development. An international consultant for NGOs such as as UNICEF, The Stephen Lewis Foundation, The African Union, Department for International Development, and UNDP. Awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in June 2010. [Source]

Tristram Stuart: English author and campaigner.

Farhana Yamin: International lawyer specializing in global climate change law and policy. Founder and CEO of Track 0, Associate Fellow at Chatham House, Visiting Professor at University College London. [Source]

+++

For further proof of strategic and highly organized grooming, consider the We Mean Business, Leaders’ Quest and Mission 2020 (under the direction of The B Teams Christiana Figueres) document Future Stewards – The Case for Partnership and Investment 2016-2020. The document outlines the desired behavioural change strategy to implement the “new economy”. The term “Deep Practitioners” is applied to a cohort of “30 senior leaders of influential private, public and civil society organizations, who are willing to collaborate across sectors and change their own patterns of behavior.” The budget thus far to train “future stewards” is 10 million. In the sample list of participants from the document outlining the “Pathfinders and Deep Practitioners Programs from 2017, we find recognizable names such as Jamie Henn, Strategy and Communications Director, 350.org, former co-director of Greenpeace International’s Global Climate and Energy Program and corporate pet Tzeporah Berman, Grant Advisor, New Venture Fund and Rajiv Joshi, Managing Director of The B Team. As the machine works to churn out the next generation of leaders more beholden to the system than their predecessors yet with better and increased obfuscation, the following quote from the document best summarizes the goals and aspirations of gatherings such as the Avaaz retreats: “Global Influencers will create public and private opportunities for influential leaders to join the collective movement. Committed leaders will increase pressure on their peers to engage – establishing a new norm.”

Here, in these circles, there is no conscious belief in American imperialism, but only American “exceptionalism”, a description that is beyond debate and unquestionable in mainstream circles. Trees, whales and bees no longer exist except as a means of achieving sought metrics. All/any remaining anti-war sentiment having been replaced with the pathological cheerleading of  “coloured revolutions”, exporting “American democracy” and “greening” the military. The NPIC is the vehicle of “transformational change” which can only be honestly described as that which is designed, sought and financed by the world’s most powerful elite. The ideologies underpinning the dream of “ethical globalization” (a term utilized by the group Res Publica),  a globalized “deliberative democracy” has been the said driving force of Avaaz co-founders since their founding of Res Publica. Here, in these circles is where the myth of American exceptionalism is perpetuated. This faux belief, is the tie that binds. Here, in these circles, the power of conformity takes hold.

Nowhere is the role of Avaaz more apparent in the advancement of the Nations Sustainable Development Goals (the financialization  of nature, global in scale) than in the following paragraph written by Patel in 2014:

“The vision put forward by the UN High-Level Panel on the Post- 2015 Development Agenda is a beautiful one, and one I believe the vast majority of people share. But now comes the hard part: getting our governments to get behind this plan, first rhetorically, and then with actual budgets and political will. And to stay behind it until the job is done. To make that happen, we need one of the largest, most comprehensive and sustained political campaigns the world has ever seen. One that captures public imagination like never before. It won’t be a single campaign or coalition that does this, but a vibrant network of governments, NGOs, businesses and individuals that come together around this shared vision and coalesce into fit-for-purpose groups as needed, to seize opportunities and meet threats. These groups will need to use every tactic in the book, because that’s what entrenched interests who oppose progress will be doing. The threads that tie all this together likely won’t be a single brand, but memes and narratives that define and embody the zeitgeist. One popular meme, often offered tongue-in-check, is the idea of saving the world. It’s a narrative deep in our psyche, the theme of many of our most popular epics. But if ever there were a time to use this meme and its power in all seriousness, it’s now. It’s time for a movement to save the world.” —  p. 17, Ricken Patel, Global Development Goals, Partnerships for Progress, 2014

 

Act Two

 

“Establishing “heroes” and “villains” adds a moral element that will advance advocacy efforts.” — “Mobilizing Climate Action, To Paris and Beyond” retreat, March 4–6, 2015, New York

Here it is critical to highlight the “Mobilizing Climate Action, To Paris and Beyond” retreat held March 4–6, 2015, in Tarrytown, New York. As it is here that the hierarchy is laid bare and cannot be contested. The organizer of the retreat was the United Nations [9] with the retreat itself being financially facilitated by foundations (in this instance, the Clarmondial Foundation and The Stanley Foundation). The congregation consists of numerous participants that all play a vital role: corporate financiers that rule the corridors of power by way of their purse strings, public relations and media, and the institutions and NGOs that reside at the helm of the socially influential non-profit industrial complex: the United Nations, World Bank, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, We Mean Business (represented by co-founder Callum Grieve [10]), 350.org (represented by co-founder Jamie Henn) Upworthy (co-founded by Avaaz co-founder Eli Pariser), Avaaz, Here Now (Purpose, sister for-profit arm of Avaaz) World Economic Forum, GCCA (TckTckTck), World Business Council for Sustainable Development (chaired by Unilever CEO Paul Polman), Greenpeace, Unilever, and The Climate Reality Project (founded by Al Gore, co-founder of Generation Investment).

Mobilizing Climate Action, To Paris and Beyond retreat participants:

  • Emad Adly, General Coordinator, Arab Network for Environment and Development
  • Susan Alzner, Officer in Charge, Non-Governmental Liaison Service, United Nations
  • Robert Bisset, Senior Communications Officer, Climate Change, The World Bank
  • Roberto Borrero, UN Programs Coordinator, International Indian Treaty Council
  • Karl Burkart, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation
  • Patty Carnevale, Senior Account Strategist, Upworthy
  • Joel Finkelstein, Communications, Climate Advisers
  • Nick Gaylord, Data Scientist, Idibon
  • Rhys Gerholdt, Communications Manager, Climate and Energy Program, World Resources Institute
  • Callum Grieve, Director of Communications, We Mean Business
  • Michael Hanley, Editorial Director, World Economic Forum
  • Fletcher Harper, Executive Director, GreenFaith
  • Jamie Henn, Strategy and Communications Director and Co-Founder, 350.org
  • Antonio Hill, Executive Director, Global Call for Climate Action
  • Wael Hmaidan, Executive Director, Climate Action Network
  • Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, College of the Marshall Islands, Co-Founder, Jo-Jikum
  • Ruth Jones, Head of Leadership Programme, The Climate Group
  • Iain Keith, Campaign Director, Avaaz.org
  • Amy Keller, Strategic Partnerships, Live Earth
  • Ann Kobia, Advocacy Team, Secretariat, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance
  • Kate Lappin, Regional Coordinator, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development
  • Carina Larsfälten, Managing Director, Global Policy and Strategic Partnerships, World Business Council for Sustainable Development
  • Patricia Lerner, Senior Political Advisor, Greenpeace International
  • Marie L’Hostis, Global Hub Coordinator, action/2015
  • Thomas Lingard, Climate Advocacy and Sustainability Strategy Director, Unilever
  • Tracy Mann, Consultant, MG Limited, and Project Director, Climate Wise Women
  • Michael Mathres, Director, World Climate Ltd.
  • Nelson Muffuh, Head of Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement, Post-2015 Development Planning Team, United Nations
  • Margaret Novicki, Chief, Communications Campaigns Service, Department of Public Information, United Nations
  • Nicholas Nuttall, Coordinator, Communications and Outreach, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • Jonathan Rich, President, JCR Communications
  • Mila Rosenthal, Director of Communications, Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, United Nations Development Programme
  • Naysán Sahba, Director of the Division of Communications and Public Information, Office of the Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme
  • Peter Sargent, Campaigns Director, The Climate Reality Project
  • Dan Shepard, Information Officer, Development Section, Department of Public Information, United Nations
  • Robert Skinner, Executive Director, New York Office Operations and UN Relations, United Nations Foundation
  • Sean Southey, Chief Executive Officer, PCI Media Impact
  • João Talocchi, Campaign Director, Here Now
  • Denise Young, Head of Communications, International Council for Science
  • Stanley Foundation Staff [10]

 

Par for the course, the report includes the standard disclaimer: “Affiliations are listed for identification purposes only. Participants attended as individuals rather than as representatives of their governments or organizations.” This rhetoric is standard across most (if not all) boards that serve non-profit industrial complex. It is best understood as protectionist rhetoric. In reality, participants are absolutely representative of their governments or organizations. Otherwise, they would not have been chosen for, nor would they retain, these lucrative positions.

The purpose of this retreat was preparations for COP21, Paris. 2015 was chosen by the elites as the year to formally implement the necessary policies that would accelerate growth and create new markets. This will be achieved via the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Global Goals) under the guise of environmental protection and poverty eradication. From the report: “Progress on climate change negotiations will take place within the context of broader efforts to establish a sustainable development agenda that addresses the differentiated needs of all countries and provides adequate financing for development projects that will enable growth without negatively impacting the environment and humanity. Therefore, efforts to address climate change will be enhanced by integrating them with the post-2015 development agenda also being negotiated this year.” [Source]

“The retreat will bring together communications and advocacy leaders to discuss how best to communicate about and inspire climate action as an accelerator of sustainable development in the context of the post-2015 agenda.” Mobilizing Climate Action: To Paris and Beyond, Stanley Foundation Website

The “global goals” of the elites requires approx. 90 trillion dollars (90 trillion between now and 2030 that is required for planned mega-infrastructure projects, which is up from initial estimates of $60-70 trillion as of 2015). The Ceres (partner of the “We Mean Business” project, as well as a partner and advisor of the 350.org divestment scheme) “Clean Trillion” campaign “encourages investors, companies and policymakers to invest an additional $1 trillion per year globally in low-carbon energy alone.” The development projects are contingent on furthering extractive industries (all of which are dependent on fossil fuels from cradle to grave). The most important items to note here are the following:

1) the “global goal” to unleash developments projects that “enable growth without negatively impacting the environment and humanity” is a proven and irrefutable oxymoron, and

2) most critically, the main pillar of the “new economy (“global goals”) is the financialization of nature. That is, privatizing and assigning monetary value to all services on the planet that nature provides. Make no mistake, the financialization of nature is the unspoken, yet absolute key goal of the United Nations (in servitude the oligarchy) that today is being implemented behind closed doors.

“Paris is not the end point. It’s a launching pad”, said Robert C Orr, principal policy advisor to the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.” — Paris Meet will be a Launching Pad: UN official, March 8, 2015

 

“Nick Henry, CEO of Climate Action, said: “Climate change not only presents the single largest threat to mankind, it also creates the greatest economic opportunity since the industrial revolution. ” —  Businesses and Investors Pioneering the Green Economy Highlight Multi-trillion Dollar Opportunity in Tackling Climate Change, December 7, 2015

The emphasis at the retreat was the building of societal consensus for the Paris outcome by establishing new climate “leaders” and “subgroups”, the incorporating of “storytelling”, and the further targeting of youth, as identified in the highlights:

Climate change messaging should be reframed and rebranded. Messages of despair ought to be transformed into scenarios for hope and opportunity, particularly in the context of sustainable development.”

 

Increasing mobilization and amplification are critical leading up to COP21. This will include new media strategies as well as outreach to new audiences and advocates.”

 

“Identifying leaders of all kinds in their respective spheres of influence will heighten awareness for newly acknowledged subgroups of climate change actors as well as political leaders; storytelling will incorporate a personal, emotional element of climate change that has been missing from the narrative.”

 

“It is widely agreed that engaging youth is of central importance to encourage future constructive climate action—for the youth of today are the decision makers of tomorrow.”

For anyone who believes local grassroots groups are not prone to be influenced, led or even manipulated by international organizations, the following “broader approach” highlighted in the report demonstrates otherwise: participants acknowledged that the agreed upon broader approach “can then be tailored at the local level so that the varied campaigns are connected”.

To further the continuous targeting of youth, the retreat participants identified key targets “to deepen the pool of activists by mobilizing leaders across the world in their respective spheres of influence and reaching out to even more groups of stakeholders”. The two key “international actors” identified to achieve this goal were trade unions and public-private partnerships. [12]

One particular campaign strategy identified in the report was the shared aspiration to develop a “ribbon symbol” (“create a climate change symbol that is equally pervasive and can be used broadly across all public campaigns to escalate collaboration and solidarity.”) Here, one can recall the “Climate Ribbon Campaign” of the People’s Climate March and Cop21 Paris. Although the document identified blue as the sought colour for the ribbons, the end result was red as outlined in the 350.org “Redlines for Climate Actions Manual Draw the Line for Climate Justice” document. [13]

“Symbols are powerful, inspirational and instantly recognizable. When harnessed effectively by companies, symbols can have a strong impact on corporate culture, recruiting, morale and brand longevity.” — Forbes

 

“No matter what action you do, please also share your action on social media?so the rest of the world can see it. Take a photo or video and post on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook (if it’s on Facebook, please make sure it’s public) ­­and then use make sure you add #D12 or #redlines. You can also send an email to socialmedia@350.org

[COP21 – Wear Red. Further reading on the Climate Ribbon Campaign: Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 3]]

“We perceive, understand, and negotiate the world around us by investing meaning in all manner of signs and symbols.” — The History of Logos and Logo Design by Dan Redding

“As people interact with a symbol — whether brand, religious, or otherwise — it gets packed with meaning. It becomes a heuristic of what’s to come.” — Make Your Brand Iconic: The Power of Symbols in Branding, Sticky Branding website

United Nations Development Programme, A Look at the Sustainable Development Goals, 2015

Other essential tasks as highlighted in the report are to “identify business leaders who are willing to take the spotlight and reveal their support for climate change efforts up to and beyond COP21”. This is more than simply greenwashing. Short-term, this is the growing strategy to bring corporate power into the fold of “activism”. The Avaaz partner, Ben & Jerry’s, owned by Unilever and a client of Purpose, is a prime example of this mind-fuck. Long-term, as the  financialization of nature is implemented at a global scale, financial markets and business will be assigned as the new “stewards of national natural capital.” Hence, the transformation (in appearance only) of corporations from psychopathic institutions into our future “stewards of nature” has already commenced.

Here, it is of special interest to note the role of media. Journalists are simply to be trained. From the report:

“Train media and establish a rapid response team: Spend time with media organizations to train them on climate change messaging.”

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, UNFCCC at launch of ‘We Mean Business’ at the Climate Week NYC 2014

The report identifies specific language that can be utilized by all NGOs. Repetitive language has long been key to successful social engineering. Consider the “de facto slogan”, agreed upon by the participants: “together we can, together we must, together we will“.  Examples of the agreed upon terminology have been utilized by the NGOs and can be found in the following excerpts:

“I believe that with clear leadership together we can, and we must, continue to deliver multilateral breakthroughs time after time after time,” — Christiana Figueres, July 18, 2016, former UN climate chief, B Team leader

 

“It will take all of us. But together, we can — and we will — blaze a bright path through this dark day.” — May Boeve 350, November 9, 2016

+++

Here it is critical to reflect upon the “leadership void”, a concern highlighted by those in attendance at this retreat and their allies, such as The B Team. To this end, there are no limits on who or what the elite and market forces are prepared to exploit in order to fill the niches that will further advance their desired agendas. As par for the course for the further expansion of industrial civilization, Indigenous People will, as always, be on the front lines of those most impacted by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Hence, in regard to the aforementioned need of the NPIC to “reach new audiences and advocates”, to have an Indigenous face as an exotic veneer to one’s brand is a marketing achievement of such grandeur, it is fetishized by those that comprise the non-profit industrial complex. An Indigenous face to brand/market the SDGs – is the ultimate acquisition.

Activism is the New Sex – But Sex Still Sells

Photography Dan Martensen, “Xiuhtezcati wears Jeans, belt and bracelets (worn throughout) model’s own.”

“That’s the crux of successful marketing today: activism is in. ‘Our activism is currently mediated by brands,’ says Will Fowler, creative director of Headspace. ‘Brands are allowing people to pat themselves on the back without them personally having to sacrifice anything.'” — Sex Doesn’t Sell Any More, Activism Does. And Don’t the Big Brands Know It, February 3, 2017

Today, selling “environmentalism” utilizes the same successful formula utilized to sell designer blue jeans decades ago – as well as the same formula used to promote white superiority in the mid-1800’s.

“This childish figure, outfitted in a short skirt, with pretty moccasins on its dainty feet and a single feather in its long, flowing hair, represents a quintessential, sexually undifferentiated Indian—although the bare breasts and the bow and arrows strewn along the ground reveal this to be a nonthreatening male Indian. The woman is pointing at a map in a book held open in her lap. Following her gaze, the Indian is also looking at the book, and his posture, more than the unreadable expression of his face, suggests that he is open to, if not exactly eager for, the instruction about to be dispensed.” — White Women’s Rights, evolution, woman’s rights, and civilizing missions, page 23

Consider the case of the 17-year-old Indigenous youth Xiuhtezcatl Martinez made famous by the media, who made his debut in the “environmental movement” at age six. Today, Martinez is the youth director of Earth Guardians, a worldwide conservation organization – an NGO which at COP21 shared the stage at the United Nations with international NGO “leaders” including Al Gore (The Climate Reality Project) and 350.org’s May Boeve. Martinez has been sought by, coddled and courted by those most powerful and influential including Barack Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, The United Nations, Mark Rufallo, Bill McKibben, etc. etc.

At the tender age of 15, Martinez was photographed for a VICE feature (July 11, 2016), with images that deliberately seek to invoke a suggestive, hip prowess. One may recall a very contentious 1980 Calvin Klein ad featuring a 15-year old Brooke Shields (shot by photographer Richard Avedon). What was controversial in 1980 is today lost in a system where sexualisation is used to sell most everything including so-called environmentalism. Jeans yesterday. Faux environmentalism today – both in servitude to capital. The sexualization of children and teens is not so much problematic as it is sought, idolized, and even worshipped by a culture in decline. With almost four consecutive decades of social engineering and conditioning, this exploitation and sexualisation is not only of very little interest, it is rarely, if ever, noticed at all.

“His work has been featured on PBS, Showtime, National Geographic, Rolling Stones, Upworthy, The Guardian, Vogue, Bill Maher, Skavlan, CNN, MSNBC, HBO, VICE, and more. In 2013, Xiuhtezcatl received the 2013 United States Community Service Award from President Obama, and was the youngest of 24 national change-makers chosen to serve on the President’s youth council. He is the 2015 recipient of the Peace First Prize, recipient of the 2015 Nickelodeon Halo Award, 2016 Captain Planet Award and the 2016 Children’s Climate Prize in Sweden. Bill Mckibben of 350.org calls Xiuhtezcatl ‘an impressive spokesman for a viewpoint the world needs to hear.'” —  Earth Guardians Website

“Viewing sexualized images tend to elicit a variety of sensations that lead one to making an association of possible pleasurable outcomes for him/herself.” (Adams 1916)

Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, Earth Guardians speaks at UN Climate Reception – 21 April 2016

 

“Now that you’ve been denied your former way of life, and can only play at being Indian, let me teach you some geography in accordance with our remapping of a wilderness that once was yours.” — White Women’s Rights, evolution, woman’s rights, and civilizing missions, page 23

+++

Rebranding Capitalism. Above: The future is here: Corporations as the new “stewards of national natural capital.”

 

The Final Act

 

At this juncture, we must take a moment to circle back to 2014. In the report (Towards a Plan B for Business, June 2013-June 2016) on page 32 we find the section titled Fostering Collaboration by Joshi. Here, we can examine exactly why the This Changes Everything project (strategically launched in September of 2014 in unison with the People’s Climate March and the UN Climate Summit) was financed by The Rockefellers, Ford, etc. and how they’ve successfully utilized it.

“We can achieve great things when unlikely bedfellows come together, like last December at COP21 when the Executive Director of Greenpeace International, Kumi Naidoo, joined leading CEOs, including The B Team, to call for an ambitious, long-term goal in the Paris Agreement, standing in solidarity with low-lying island communities in calling for ‘1.5°C to stay alive’.” — The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, p. 11 [Source]

The 350.org/Klein slogan This Changes Everything (“to change everything we need everyone”) launched simultaneously with the hype surrounding the 2014 People’s Climate March, served as the foundation to merge corporate ideology with modern day activism – which is now reduced to nothing more than anthropocentrism. This pathology, which has gone largely undetected, is today completely normalized. Full collaboration (and even adoration) of those at the forefront of environmental devastation and exploitation of the most vulnerable, is gradually becoming “the new normal“. This is a prime example of successful social engineering and behavioural change – the foundation of public relations firm Purpose.

“Today’s leaders increasingly recognize that we are all in this together. Transforming the economic system is impossible without enlightened consumers, innovative progressive companies, brave politicians, and visionary civil society leaders working together, putting individual interests aside for collective gain.” — The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, p. 11 [Source]

Here we can also reflect on how those that funded Klein’s This Changes Everything Project – formerly marketed as “The Message” – is successfully utilized by the elites to rebrand capitalism. Following the 2014 People’s Climate March, in which Klein’s book served as an integral part of the “new economy” launching pad, “caring capitalism”, “breakthrough capitalism”, “ethical capitalism”, “compassionate capitalism” and a host of other grotesque and paradoxical phrases sanitizing the word “capitalism” came pouring out of the floodgates. By far the brand with the most money behind it (those present represented one-third of the world’s investable assets, approx. £18tr.) is the Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism (the coalition held its first conference on May 27 2014, just ahead of the release of Klein’s book and The People’s Climate March that would follow approx. 4 months later). This highly orchestrated strategy by the global elite is unsurprising since after all, what brand could be more inclusive to build on the motto of the People’s Climate March “to change everything, we need everyone” than the idea of “inclusive capitalism”? Not sure? Perhaps ask 350.orgs Jamie Henn, “deep practitioner” for We Mean Business, or Klein herself. After all, Klein, deep in the pockets of 350.org, (which merged with 1Sky, a Rockefeller incubator NGO in 2011, when Klein joined the board) has clearly stated: “But I have never said that we need to “slay” “ditch” or “dismantle” capitalism in order to fight climate change.”

It was never about “inclusive capitalism” or other “compassionate forms of capitalism, it was always about saving the global capitalist economic system, which is hovering close to stall speed. With nowhere else to go. Hence, the financialization of nature (natural capital/payments for ecosystem services) that very few within the NPIC speak of (although most are fully aware), is achieving its goal of creating and reaching new untapped markets. This task is at the front and centre of most all institutions, foundations, corporations, investment firms, banks and governments on Earth.

“The Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism was founded in 2014 by Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild. Beside her in this noble task are, according to the Coalition’s website, a Working Group comprised of such luminaries of social justice as Sir Evelyn de Rothschild of E.L. Rothschild, Dominic Barton from McKinsey and Company, Ann Cairns of MasterCard, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles of HSBC, Paul Polman of Unilever, along with CEOs of various pension plans and philanthropic foundations, like the eponymous Ford and Rockefeller foundations.” — Cynthia McKinney, September 15, 2015

 

“Prince Charles, Mr Clinton and Mr Carney will make speeches, along with the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, and Larry Summers, the former US Treasury secretary, who is now a Harvard professor. Panellists include the chief executive of Unilever, Paul Polman; the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, Sir Andrew Witty; Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt; Prudential chief executive Tidjane Thiam; Sergio Ermotti, group chief executive of the investment bank UBS; and Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership.” — London hosts world leaders in debate on ‘fairer’ capitalism, May 26, 2014

Should we be surprised that Klein’s book slogan would be used to advance capital? Should we be surprised that key funders of The Inclusive Capitalism, the Ford Foundation and The Rockefeller Brothers Funds also financed “The Message” project and the This Changes Everything film? [14] Don’t be. It’s all par for the course. This is how the system is designed. This is why today’s “leading activists” are 6-figure jet-setters if not multi-millionaires, or even billionaires. This is why the NPIC exists. It’s not a coincidence that Klein’s book was released in the year that the re-branding of capitalism by the world’s most powerful oligarchs took centre stage. The scripts are written years if not decades in advance by those we pretend to oppose, to advance or implement what we pretend to oppose. Or at least what we would have opposed in another lifetime. Behavioural change works wonders on the collective psyche.

And to illustrate how the next generation of leaders have been schooled in the proper rhetoric, consider Joshi’s vision for the Ford Foundation on “reimagining  capitalism.” Even the task of re-branding capitalism is instead re-framed as redesigning capitalism.

“We believe there is a bright future for business—an inclusive model of capitalism that could really drive sustainable prosperity. It looks like a world in which business has the right aspirations, where we’re celebrating the right kind of leadership and where there’s true accounting.” — Rajiv Joshi on Reimagining Capitalism for the Ford Foundation

In a desire to elicit converts to this project of “redesigning” capitalism,  the “to change everything we need everyone” image accompanying Rajiv Joshi’s “Fostering Collaboration” article (highlighted in The B Team 2013-2016 report) speaks volumes in regards to the propaganda being utilized to appropriate converts to this ultimately benign message of impossible reformation:

Photo Courtesy: Alisdare Hickson, entitled To change everything we need everyone.

Narcissus Redux – To Catch A Glimpse Of Our Beautiful Self No Matter The Cost

In an interview with Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel, December 9, 2011, it is noted that Avaaz was embarking on a 20-year planning cycle. In the same interview, Patel also disclosed that “Avaaz is also studying organizational models not typically followed by civil society organisations – such as Apple and Walmart.”  Note the last sentence cited in the paragraph below: “…thus its potential to influence politics and opinion at a global level is completely unprecedented.”

Interview with Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel, December 9, 2011 [Source:  Pathways to Systemic Change]

The B Team is a shining example of what could be described as a “shell NGO”. A virtual construct with its “headquarters” in the real world, better known as the Purpose public relations firm. An office where the architectural drawings for the further destruction and privatization of nature, are drawn up by The B Team and carried out by the groomed “up-and-comers”. The main institutions that propel the desires of hegemonic power can be recognized throughout reports, founders bios, boards, advisory and executive committees. In the previously mentioned B Team report (2013-2016) honourable mentions include Heather Grady who works at the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and also serves as advisor to The B Team. One of the original founders of The B Team, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the former Minister of Finance of Nigeria and Coordinating Minister for the Economy. She was also Managing Director of the World Bank and Finance Minister and of Foreign Affairs Minister in Nigeria. Currently, she is chair and member of boards including the UN’s Post 2015 Millennium Development Goals High-level Panel, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the ONE Foundation (the brainchild of singer Bono and Microsoft owner Bill Gates). The same report boasts glowing reviews/endorsements for The B Team from those such as Gillian Caldwell, (p. 18) [15] co-founder of 1Sky (A Rockefeller incubator NGO that merged with 350.org in 2011) and current CEO of the elite financed Global Witness. Over and over, we see this interlocking directorate which essentially creates the “ties that bind”.

Perhaps the most sobering analysis and insight as to what drives the non-profit industrial complex itself comes from The B Team’s Joshi himself, as highlighted by the Ford Foundation:

“We live in a world where most of the world’s population doesn’t have the ability to participate in the economy. The opportunity to market your services to the 3.5 billion people who are not currently participating actively in the economy is the biggest economic opportunity of our generation.” — Rajiv Joshi for the Ford Foundation

And this fact is vital.

Although the global economy is nothing less than sacrosanct in the west which is in direct contrast to the 3.5 billion people at the bottom of the food chain, the global economic system, the capitalist economy, the green economy, the new economy – regardless of whatever lovely term is assigned to rebrand it, is completely irrelevant to the well-being of at least half the planet’s human population. They have everything to lose – and nothing to gain. Further, to non-human life, the global economy has zero benefit whatsoever – but only the severest of repercussions. Hence, we are sacrificing all life on Earth, including our own, to serve an economic system that benefits a very small percentage of people (a mere 1-5%) – the same people responsible for the bulk of ecological devastation and the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions. (The approx. 45% that do actively participate do not so much as reap benefit, but are merely and most effectively trapped.)

In the Ford Foundation interview series “#InequalityIs”, Rajiv Joshi speaks to “how inequality hurts business.” This statement is inane – yet in a world now completely conditioned to steady-state insanity, such a ludicrous statement is not only questioned, it is even presented as genius. The capitalist system is built upon, and dependent on the exploitation of those most vulnerable. Exploitation & capitalism – one cannot exist without the other. Joshi’s corporate ideology is so strong, he views short life spans of those most disenfranchised not as unjust in a social justice context, but rather as an impairment to corporate profit. His observation that business cannot thrive in a planet whereby those most affected by inequality have life spans that “are so short that they’re not able to provide the value companies need” is refreshing in its brutally honesty although chillingly cold. Note that in the same Ford Series we find other alleged luminaries, such as May Boeve (Avaaz, Res Publica, 350.org, ), Richard Branson (B Team), and Paul Polman (Unilever, The B Team, We Mean Business, chair of The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), co-founder of the Business and Sustainable Development Commission), and Gloria Steinem (C.I.A.) in amidst Hollywood celebrities and global institutions.

The Ford Foundation (incidentally, one of the main financiers of Naomi Klein’s documentary film This Changes Everything) and the hegemonic realm it resides in, does not give a flying fuck about environmental protection, ecological preservation, mitigation of climate change or social justice. What they care about is creating new avenues whereby they can successfully exploit those not yet fully exploited – under the guise of sustainability and alleviation of poverty. Targeting and preying upon those not living up to their “free market potential” in a global economic system in crisis – a system that continues to barely sustain itself as it is on the brink of collapse.

This “new economic paradigm” extolled by the NPIC is also the very reason for the recent and feigned new “concern” over equality for women – and the manufactured movement designed to access women’s labour for global economic growth and new markets for the expansion of consumer goods. [“Keeping women out of the workplace costs the global economy around US$17 trillion, the head of a leading NGO in Canada has told the International Monetary Fund.” Source] Women represent another source not yet tapped to their full exploitation potential. Another recently identified and now sought solution to expand a suicidal economic system so intertwined and dependent on infinite growth, it will eventually fail at the very moment such growth comes to a grinding halt.

“Furthermore, it seems there exists a significant cognitive dissonance between liberal universalism proclaimed through cosmopolitan humanitarianism, and liberal imperialism expressed through high-sounding principles of humanitarian intervention that, in reality, functions as a vehicle through which all forms of life that do not conform to liberal ideals are eradicated or expelled (McCarthy, 2009: 166).” [Source]

Further, and perhaps even most important, is the recognition that 3.5 billion people “are not currently participating actively in the economy”. This means that all the hype for so-called “green” consumerism, eco-tourism, electric cars, wind turbines, solar, etc. etc. – serve only half the global population –  with only 1% of this population (anyone that can afford to get on a plane) creating 50% of greenhouse gas emissions. Meaning – our race to “save” the Earth today, must be considered “anthropocentrist economics”. We give a fuck about no one and nothing if it should interfere with our privilege in any way, shape or form. The economic system, for which a tiny portion of people are willing to trade nature, all sentient and biological life, and the lives of entire non-Anglo populations – inclusive of children – is sacrosanct. Appointed, falsely labeled environmental leaders that assure us more growth is necessary and can also be “green”, are our gods who conveniently cleanse away the guilt. Those who dare speak out against a fourth industrialization are divisive iconoclasts. In the age of acquiescence and apathy, our collective priorities constitute phones, cars and flat screen televisions . Eco-luxury homes and wood-fired Jacuzzi tubs for everyone. We want it all and more. We want shiny, beautiful, and perfect at any and all cost. Plastic opulence for plastic people. We stare hypnotically into the gleaming screens, in love with our own reflection. Fuck nature, fuck the Congolese, fuck the Earth’s last vestiges of sand and the sand wars we hear nothing about.

Payback is going to be a bitch.

 

End Notes:

[1] “Co-chaired by Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz, the Board of 20 Leaders provides the overall governance for The B Team and sets the high-level strategic direction. An Executive Committee, comprising the Executive Chair Jochen Zeitz, three Senior Partners, Jean Oelwang, Joanna Rees and Keith Tuffley, and Managing Director Rajiv Joshi,

oversees the organisation’s strategy. The Managing Partner & CEO, Keith Tuffley, manages the day-to-day operations of The B Team.”

[2] Robert Gass is co-founder of the Rockwood Leadership Institute, where he designed and delivers “Leading from the Inside Out,” a year-long leadership training for top social change leaders. Graduates of this program form the core of STP’s network. He is the former President of ARC International, a global consulting and training company specializing in transformational change with Fortune 500 companies. Robert has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and Organizational Development from Harvard University. [Full bio]

[3]Judith Ansara:  A former facilitator for the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s The Art of Leadership trainings, she has facilitated organizations and leaders including Search for Common Ground, Center for Community Change, Global Fund for Women, Avaaz, Witness, Just Vision, Spitfire Strategies, UNICEF, the University of Colorado and the City of Boulder. Judith has taught Transpersonal Psychology at Naropa University and Strategic Communications at the University of Massachusetts. [Full bio]

[4] Maura Bairley: Leads the Organizational Development Team for Move to End Violence, a project of the NoVo Foundation and serves as a Plan Consultant with Flexible Leadership Awards Program of the Haas Jr. Fund, the 21st Century Fellows Program of the Pipeline Project, and on CoreAlign’s consultant design team for the Speaking Race to Power Fellowship. [Bio]

[5] Ian Bassin Former Associate Counsel to President Obama, Ian Bassin is General Counsel and Campaign Director at Avaaz, Current director of United to Protect Democracy [“United to Protect Democracy, which draws its name from a line in President Barack Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off, has already raised a $1.5 million operating budget, hired five staffers and has plans to double that in the coming months. They’ve incorporated as both a 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4), allowing them to operate as a nonprofit but participate in some forms of political advocacy as well.”][Source] Signatory to the Economic Security Project. “[M]ost recently a member of the education policy working group for the transition team. He earlier served as the Florida policy director for the Obama Campaign for Change.”[Source]

[6] Paul Hilder bio: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section III

[7] Joanna Kerr: Greenpeace Canada (GPC) as Executive Director. Former  Chief Executive of ActionAid International, a global development organization based in South Africa and operating in 45 countries. Policy Director at Oxfam Canada. Executive Director of the Association of Women’s Rights in Development. Senior Researcher at The North-South Institute. [Source] [Source]

[8] Esra’a Al-Shafei is a Bahraini civil rights activist, blogger, and the founder and executive director of Mideast Youth and its related projects, including CrowdVoice.org.  Recipient of the Berkman Award for Internet Innovation from Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School in 2008 for “outstanding contributions to the internet and its impact on society.” In 2012, she received a Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship for her work on the open source platform CrowdVoice.org.Recipient of the Monaco Media Prize, which acknowledges innovative uses of media for the betterment of humanity. In 2014, she was featured in Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list of social entrepreneurs making an impact in the world. The World Economic Forum listed her as one of “15 Women Changing the World in 2015.” That same year, she won the “Most Courageous Media” Prize from Free Press Unlimited.Selected as a 2017 Director’s Fellows at the MIT Media Lab. [Wikipedia]

[9] [Tracy Raczek, Climate Policy Advisor, Secretary-General’s Climate Change

Support Team, United Nations and Dan Thomas, Senior Communications Officer, Secretary-General’s Climate Change Support Team, United Nations]

[10] Elaine Schilling, Program Assistant, Jennifer Smyser, Director of Policy Programming, Richard H. Stanley, Chair, Board of Directors

[11] Callum Grieve is global director of communication for The Climate Group (co-founder of We Mean Business) and Communications Director at Sustainable Energy For All – ?Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).

[12] “Participants agreed they could expand their current partnerships, reaching out to an increased variety of international actors (e.g., trade unions). They recognized that public-private partnerships in particular can leverage a great deal of influence in the decision-making process to affect policy change.

[13] “Ribbon Tree: What is your red line? We all have things we are not willing to compromise on, we all have things we love too dearly to let be lost to climate change without putting up a fight. Inspired by the Climate Ribbon Project, organize an event where you invite people to answer the question: “What do you love and hope to never lose to Climate Chaos?” Invite them to write their response on a strip of red fabric and hang them on a tree in a public space. Invite people to read out what others have written out loud, to share the sense of what we risk losing if our planet’s ecological limits are crossed. People can also tie the ribbons around their wrist as a reminder of their commitment to organise for climate justice. Invite press, and invite kids ­ they often have the best sense of how big this crisis is and the details we risk losing. Be sure to upload your photos to TheClimateRibbon.org” [Source.]

[14] “This film was supported by major grants from: JustFilms|Ford Foundation, The Seth MacFarlane Foundation, The Schmidt Family Foundation, 11th Hour Project, The Park Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Wallace Global Fund, Vivienne Westwood, Pamela Anderson Foundation, Chorus Foundation, Oak Foundation.” [Source]

[15] “The B Team has played a lead role in making the business case for beneficial ownership transparency, and their strategic interventions have bolstered international efforts to combat corruption at a critical time. Their leadership has been a vital element of our combined efforts to ensure transparency and accountability become the guiding standards for business and  governments around the world.” — Gillian Caldwell, CEO, Global Witness

 

 

 

 

 

The Humanitarian Industrial Complex School of Thought | A Fish Analogy

Wrong Kind of Green

June 29, 2017

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 


The humanitarian industrial complex (HIC) is separate and distinct from the charity/aid industry. The oligarchs, institutions and NGOs that comprise the HIC are not interested in the feeding frenzy they create that takes place below them. They want the whole pie. The want the prize they came for. They want the country they have targeted – in its entirety and nothing less than that.

This creates a pathological system. And like the capitalist economic system – dependent on infinite growth – at the expense of ecology and all life, which places the planet itself at the bottom of the food chain – the continuity of perpetual war must also grow infinitely for the entities constructed within this system to thrive (or even survive). This system, like a cancer, must multiply or die.

Let’s think of it in terms of hungry fish. We have three groups of fish:

  1. “biggest most powerful fish”
  2. “big fish”
  3. “small fish”

Groups 1 and 2 represent the HIC. Group 3 represents the charity/aid industry. Some NGOs belong to more than one group. An example would be Avaaz & it’s counterpart Purpose, which belong to both the HIC  and the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) because  of its diverse alliances and activities. These groups of fish are pink in colour to denote the physical and visual aspects of domination that are a prerequisite for power. Many non-pink fish are sadly fixated on striving to assimilate into the pink fish, something they can never attain since the privileges of pinkness itself is becoming more difficult to sustain. Fish that reside in the non-imperial parts of the ocean are brown. They are considered adversaries by the pink fish.

These groups (“big fish”) are NGOs like International Crisis Group, They seek access, recognition and approval from the groups that represent empire (“the biggest, most powerful fish”): World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Council on Foreign Relations, the Rockefeller dynasty, monarchies, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Goldman Sachs, etc. etc. Some of the International NGOs in the “big fish” group are Avaaz, Purpose, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Brookings Institution, Center for American Progress, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Refugees International, etc. These NGOS are all financed by “the biggest, most powerful fish”, and in most all cases (unbeknownst to the public at large) they have also been created by “the biggest, most powerful fish” themselves.

The “big fish” are positioned right below the top tier of the HIC hierarchy. They swim in the same circles as “the biggest, most powerful fish” who are positioned at the very top of the hierarchy. All the fish below dream of finding a position within this group.

The fish positioned at the top of the hierarchy constitute the hegemonic power. The fish on the bottom comprise the bottom feeders. The middle class is a false construct.

The White Helmets are a 21st century NGO hybrid. A combination of soft power (the perception of altruism) and hard power (actual actions outside of the mainstream narrative), terrorism, identity theft, manufactured heroism, violence and celebrity. For a moment, consider the timing of the new superhero movies now flooding the cinemas. For Americans with a pathological fetish for violence and celebrity, these key attributes are a potent cocktail. The White Helmets were constructed exclusively to destabilize the Syrian government, thus it belongs to the HIC. It is a “big fish” and a real-life yet falsely stylized hero organization that whets the appetite of the masses that lust for such a story, be it fictionalized or a reality of our own making. Behavioural changes public relations firms such as Purpose identify this longing and exploit it via a powerful and manipulative 21st century marketing strategy referred to as “storytelling”.

Now think about what happens when “the biggest, most powerful fish” attacks a brown fish in a leadership position, that is minding its own business. The brown fish adversary lives in a specific area in the ocean where nature has provided rich resources with lots of other fish  – and as necessitated under the current global system, the “the biggest, most powerful fish” want it and must acquire it. They don’t respect sovereignty. And being so greedy and wasteful, “the biggest, most powerful fish” never have enough. So they call on the “big fish” underneath them to help launch the attack. This is akin to a psychological pre-strike.

Far in advance to the a psychological pre-strike, the “biggest most powerful fish” instruct the “big fish” to infiltrate and disperse within the targeted area. The big fish are financed to bait and hook naïve brown fish living within the targeted areas utilizing soft power methods (providing laptops, monies, etc.). They target brown fish who have become enamoured with the spectacle and pinkness. They form fish schools financed by the “biggest most powerful fish”. Where there are no existing divisions to exploit, the big fish create them. This creates the pathways necessary to destroy whole cultures from within.

The “big fish”  are tasked with framing  public perception and building/creating mainstream acquiescence. The “big fish”, created and financed by the “the biggest, most powerful fish”, start the mechanisms of war through propaganda. To do this, they also seek assistance from their alliances in both the mass media and the NPIC. They all swim in the same circles. They too are all financed by, owned by, or created by, or have become dependent on “the biggest, most powerful fish”. This symbiotic relationship sets the stage. This is not an attack to destroy the big, powerful fish (now hated and demonized by those that reside in the imperial parts of the ocean) in order to steal the abundance of rich resources, this is a “fishtarian” intervention by the pink fish to save the poor brown fish that live the with the brown fish adversary leader under its “regime”.

Upon the first attack ordered by “the biggest, most powerful fish”, the blood and flesh of the brown fish disperse in the waters. This is where the “smaller but hungry fish” appear. They live in the imperial parts of the ocean and are happy with their subservient relationship to power in that realm since they benefit from it. They are smaller, but hungry – and they have been waiting. If there is no kill from the  “the biggest, most powerful fish” – there is no feast for “the smaller but hungry fish.” These  fish include groups like Oxfam, Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders. These NGOs represent a trillion dollar industry. They are massive corporations with million dollar budgets, huge rents and huger salaries.  And if “the biggest, most powerful fish” are not killing – the “smaller but hungry fish” are not going to be eating.  The pink “small fish” understand full well that the sovereign “poor brown” fish will not be saved, that they will die, that indeed these “interventions” are nothing but a ruse. But, they need the millions of dollars in aid money. In addition, many of these pink fish are Machiavellian in ideology, with any traces of empathy altogether eradicated by their belief that by colour alone, they are superior.

“The biggest, most powerful fish” are the literal lifeline of those constructed below them. And this is why, no matter how grotesque or vapid the killings, the “smaller but hungry fish”, dependent on “the biggest, most powerful fish” – will ALWAYS go along with anything “the biggest, most powerful fish” does. The “smaller but hungry fish” will always look away because their very existence depends on the “the biggest, most powerful fish” killing – infinitely.

If this cycle should ever end – “the biggest, most powerful fish” attacking brown fish adversary – the house of cards will collapse.

But imagine ….

The house of cards as still intact.

What happens to the “biggest most powerful fish” and the “big fish” if the “small fish” were no longer existent?

The “biggest most powerful fish” and the “big fish” would no longer be able to dominate.

And this is why, the “small fish” – that of the aid/charity industry in fin with the mass-media and the NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex must be annihilated. Because these groups are the very foundation that empire cannot exist without. They cannot be reformed.

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.]

Silence in NGO Discourse

Counterpunch

March 13, 2017

by Michael Barker

 

Silences

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) maintain a ubiquitous presence in most peoples lives (whether they realize it or not). It therefore should be a commonsense act that we scrutinize NGO activities to ascertain their exact political function within the “our” neoliberal world order, yet this is not normally the case. In response to this deliberative void, Issa Shivji, a professor of law based at the University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) argues the urgent need for such critical inquiry’s in his useful booklet Silence in NGO Discourse: The Role and Future of NGOs in Africa (Pambazuka Press, 2007). As Firoze Manji observes in the publications foreword: often “dressed up with the verbiage of participatory approaches,” “[o]ver the last two decades, development NGOs have become an integral, and necessary, part of a system that sacrifices respect for justice and rights.” Shivj’s own background, helps inform his work, and in his introduction he notes:

“Before I begin, I must make two confessions. First,my paper is undoubtedly critical, sometimes ruthlessly so, but not cynical. Second, this criticism is also self-criticism, since the author has been involved in NGO activism for some 15 years. Finally I must make clear that I do not doubt the noble motivations and good intentions of NGO leaders and activists. But we do not judge the outcome of a process by the intentions of its authors. We aim to analyse the objective effects of actions, regardless of their intentions.” (p.2)

This is an important point, and so after summarizing some of his criticisms of the NGO community, I aim to to “analyse the objective effects of” Shivji’s booklet in an attempt to determine the limitations of his scathing polemic.

Shivji correctly diagnoses that the rise and rise of the nonprofit sector is closely aligned to neoliberal growth imperatives which “banishe[d] issues of equality and equity to the realm of rights, not development.” In this way, “’rights’ are reduced to the purview of advocacy NGOs, no longer a terrain for popular struggle.” “NGOs by accepting the myth of being non-political contribute to the process of mystification, and therefore objectively side with the status quo, contrary to their expressed stand for change.” While such a troubling discourse had been vigorously challenged both from within academia and on the streets, unfortunately, as Shivji points out: “A large part of the African intellectual elite has been co-opted and accommodated within the neoliberal discourse.” Thus his thesis is “that the sudden rise of NGOs and their apparently prominent role in Africa are part of this neoliberal” offensive. He argues that NGOs merely represent the “continued domination of imperialism… in a different form.”

“Within this context, NGOs are neither a third sector, nor independent of the state. Rather they are inextricably imbricated in the neoliberal offensive, which follows on the heels of the crisis of the national project. Unless there is awareness on the part of NGOs of this fundamental moment in the struggle between imperialism and nationalism, they end up playing the role of ideological and organisational foot soldier of imperialism, however this is described.” (p.29)

According to Shivji, silences in the NGO discourse shield the public from the following five facts: (1) NGOs are very much a part of the neoliberal onslaught on democracy, indeed the “anti-state stance of the so-called donor-community was the real push behind the upsurge in NGO activity”; (2) “NGOs are led by and largely composed of the educated elite” (falling into three categories, those “previously engaged in political struggles,” altruistic individuals who are “morally motivated,” and a mainstream “careerist” elite motivated by personal ambitions); (3) an “overwhelming number of NGOs are donor funded”; (4) “perhaps the most dominant” form of NGOs are donor-driven”; and (5) “[i]ncreasingly the model for the ‘successful’ NGO is the corporation.”

On top of these unspoken and self evident truths, it is clear that the contemporary political landscape is less amenable to human directed social change than in past years. Thus in former years “radical intellectual discourse was integrated with militant activism,” however:

“The NGO discourse in the current period of apparent imperial ‘triumphalism’ eschews theory, and emphasizes and privileges activism. In the African setting in particular, whatever is left of critical intellectual discourse, largely located in the universities, runs parallel to and is divorced from NGO activism. The requirements of funding agencies subtly discourage, if not exhibiting outright hostility to a historical, social and theoretical understanding of development, poverty and discrimination. Our erstwhile benefactors now tell us: ‘just act, don’t think’; and we shall fund both.” (pp.34-5)

Bias against theory within NGOs is manifested in various ways which include the managerial “penchant for project funding,” a single issue focus (which means “its interconnectedness to other issues and the whole is lost”), and finally “issue-orientated and time-limited projects do not allow for any long-term basic research based on solid theoretical and historical premises.” This theoretical detachment from the world around them means that “the ‘common sense’ theoretical assumption of the current period underpinning NGO roles and actions is neoliberalism in the interest of global imperialism.” Here Shivji cites Brian Murphy who writes that: “What the corporate PR manager understands implicitly as economic propaganda, NGO people often repeat as articles of faith.”

“To pretend that society is a harmonious whole of stakeholders is to be complicit in perpetrating the status quo in the interest of the dominant classes and powers. In the struggle between national liberation and imperialist domination, and between social emancipation and capitalist slavery, NGOs have to choose sides. In this there are no in-betweens.” (p.41)

Shivji concludes that: “In spite of these limitation, I do believe that NGOs can play some worth role. But we do have to recognise what we are not.” This may be true, but I would like to suggest that Shivji’s decision to provide no discussion of the imperialist history of liberal philanthropy clouds his readers’ ability to differentiate between obviously manipulative donors like the World Bank, and the US Agency for International Development, and what are often considered (falsely) to be benign donors, like liberal foundations. This is problematic as understanding the long and dirty history of liberal philanthropy is integral to comprehending the deeper phenomena that undergird the imperialist evolution of the NGO-driven change industry.

It is perhaps too much to ask to expect that Shivji should turn on the hand that feeds him, and so in this regard it is important to extend his criticisms by examining the background of his booklets publishers, Pambazuka News. Prefacing his work, the publisher is described as such:

“Pambazuka News is the authoritative pan-African newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa, offering comprehensive weekly coverage, cutting edge commentary and in-depth analysis on politics and current affairs, development, human rights, refugees, gender issues and culture in Africa. It is intended as a tool for progressive social change.” (p.xi)

The Munros Challenge, one of Christian Aid's 70 anniversary events in 2015.  Seventy Munros in all parts of Scotland will be tackled during the year.  Walkers on the South Glen Shiel Ridge in Scotland, 19 September 2015.  The ridge has seven Munros & was the most demanding walk of the Challenge.  (A Munro is a mountain more than 3000 feet (914 metres) in height, named after Hugh Munro, the first person to compile a list of them, in 1891.)  Seventy-year-olds Sue & Barry Petitt were part of the group that completed the 27km route in 11 hours.     [ CE2015 ]

The Munros Challenge, one of Christian Aid’s 70 anniversary events in 2015.

What is not mentioned is that Pambazuka News, which is produced and published by Fahamu: Networks For Social Justice, is itself funded by the world’s leading liberal elites, including groups like Christian Aid, the Ford Foundation, and George Soros’ Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa. As history has shown, such elites are quite willing to fund and even promote radical critiques of society (within limited circles at least), if only so they are better placed to co-opt their ideological adversaries more effectively. In fact, Shivji’s fairly superficial critique of NGOs is just the type of work that is typically promoted by reformist elites; while by way of a contrast, more radical criticisms, like for example, INCITE!’s edited book The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond The Non-Profit Industrial Complex (South End Press, 2007), are conveniently ignored.

This is not to say that much useful information cannot be gleamed from Shivji, but we should understand that people who have been embedded in the non-profit industrial complex for a long time are not necessarily the best people to critique it. Therefore, instead of just relying upon elite-dominated universities to provide such criticism we need to turn to the people around us, and work together with them to develop the type of research bodies that will be need to meld theoretical and activist concerns in a manner that can truly promote revolutionary social change.

 

[Michael Barker is the author of Under the Mask of  Philanthropy. He recently stood as parliamentary candidate for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in Leicester East.]

#askwarren Question #9: Are you, Gates Foundation, U2, RED & ONE Campaign Aware of the State Violence Enforcing Your DAPL Investment?

March 8, 2017

Radiant Labyrinth

 

Singer of Irish band U2, Bono (L) poses with Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum annual meeting on January 22, 2016 in Davos to mark the 10 years of (RED).  Launched at Davos in 2006, (RED) has raised $350 million for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, impacting 60 million lives.  / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Singer of Irish band U2, Bono (L) poses with Bill Gates at the World Economic Forum annual meeting on January 22, 2016 in Davos to mark the 10 years of (RED). FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images

#askwarren Are you, @gatesfoundation, @U2, @RED, @ONECampaign aware of the state violence enforcing your DAPL investment?

(Question #9 of 11 #askwarren DAPL Questions. -#1 shows Warren Buffett is invested in a DAPL (Dakota Access Pipeline) staked corporation over $6.3 billion, meaning proprotionately by his largesse Gates Foundation is invested nigh $1.6 billion, whereas Q#8 shows Bono’s ONE and RED are dependent on Gates Foundation funding, and thereby the DAPL investment.)

“#Cringemas it is! –#Cringemas is arms lost to the 1%.”

“Bill Gates surely would have known the #NoDAPL protest suppression was completely off the chain by the time of U2/RED’s 2016 Shopathon [he sits on Buffett’s Board of Directors], just as it’s surely known Sophia’s never going to get a Secret Santa down her chimney. In fact the Guardian’s hit piece targeting Trump as an investor was timed to target the blame after the attack dogs had been deployed. Actually it was right on cue with when police and military moved on the Oceti Sakowin camp141 arrests followed.  The attack dogs were unleashed by private security, but they weren’t the ones who got kenneled. We got to find out who they were and that they weren’t licensed to work in North Dakota and were from out of state and may be criminally liable, but we never get to hear who hires them. The Guardian will only repeat Trump’s nigh bogus connection to the project.

However, in terms of modus operandi (if not involvement), BNSF [which Buffett owns] was already using private police to perform arrests in Washington State at protest blockades and they were already being blockaded there by climate protests. The public was much more aware of the oil by rail issue than the media gave credit.”

“Yet even Bono managed to outdo himself, by getting named Glamour’s Woman of the Year‘ [for ONE’s #povertyissexist] precisely for becoming this sort of paragon of ‘consumer activism’. He literally hijacked feminism and made it #brandfeminism, -merely an adjunct to the philanthrowash of his billionaire benefactors and a philanthrowash the Dakota Access Pipeline, and all of #NoDAPL’s brutality, against womenLots of WomenLots and lots of them. We stand with Sophia.  We stand with the women of Standing Rock.”

Source quotes from “How Bono’s RED became the color of philanthrowashing done right for the Dakota Access Pipeline

Secondary source quotes (article hyperlinks with supplementary news support):

Woman’s Arm May Be Amputated After Horrific Injury At Standing Rock Protests” – Huffington Post article on Sophia Wolansky (actual photo of injury in this article) Video: “Standing Rock Protector’s Arm Blown Off By Police Grenade” – TYT -medical treatment ringing in at over $350,000

Testimony of Vanessa Dundon, who had retina severed by a tear gas grenade. “Standing Rock Protester Shot in Face with Tear Gas Grenade May Go Blind” – TheDailyBeast -#notjustwomen are losing eyes.

Testimony of Floris Whitebull, who was arrested from a prayer circle and kenneled – Josh Fox

Cyndy Coppola is arrested to enforce forcible installation of the DAPL on her own property using eminent domain. – KFYRTV “Iowa Woman arrested on her own property for interfering with DAPL construction” – KFYRTV

Testimony of Caro Gonzales, “Guarding Red Tarantula Woman”, Chemehuivi Tribe” – The Guardian

Testimony of Angie Spencer, Trauma Counselor arrested at the Dakota Access Pipeline Protest – TYT Politics

As for poverty and education? (Seeing as the whole basis of ONE’s current #povertyissexist campaign, #girlscount, is the educational exclusion and unequal poverty rate of girls.)

The Dakota Pipeline Could Devastate Some of the Poorest People in America” – Time

One-in-four Native Americans and Alaska Natives are living in poverty” – PewResearchCenter -has Obama visiting the Standing Rock Reservation in June 2014 -has education statistics for Standing Rock

Poverty Rate for Native American North Dakota women: 35.5% –Source page. The poverty rate for Native American women in the USA by state ranges from 11.7% in Maryland to 43.6% for a high for South Dakota. North Dakota’s poverty rate for Native American women is the third highest in the nation, coming in slightly over 1 in 3. The Standing Rock Reservation where the #NoDAPL protest took place in in North Dakota.

“[Sex trafficking (in Canada, where this is 94% ‘domestic’)] is also something in which indigenous women – and girls – are vastly overrepresented. Aboriginal people make up just 4 per cent of the population, but a study in 2014 found they account for about half the victims of trafficking – Public Safety Canada calls them the country’s “population most vulnerable to exploitation.” – “The Trafficked” – The Globe and Mail

“The U.S. Justice Department reports that sexual violence in American Indian/Alaska Native communities is ‘epidemic.’ Native Americans experience sexual assault at a rate of 2.5 times greater than other races. A third of all Native women will be raped.”

“Forced prostitution of native women also is a problem in oil fields, forestry projects or fracking operations such as the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota [what the Dakota Access Pipeline was constructed to export] and Montana, where transient workers, almost exclusively male, are housed in remote ‘man camps.'” – “Sex Traffickers Targetting Native American Women” – Voice Of America -seems America might be more coy and more lax on determining figures.

ONE: YOU CAN’T RUN A #girlscount #povertyissexist Campaign that is obtaining funding that depends on the enforcement of structural racial oppression that ‘just happens’ to be furnishing PRECISELY THE FORMS OF SEXUAL OPPRESSION YOU PURPORT TO BE AGAINST.

Did you know the present installation of the pipeline is likely illegal, on not one, but two counts? Did you know the Standing Rock Tribe was basically forced at gunpoint to accept unsafe risks to their drinking water?

How can these billionaires qualify this sort of profit making as philanthropy -?

NEW BOOK RELEASE: Under the Mask of Philanthropy

March 3, 2017

 

“Superb and unsurpassed.” — Christian Parenti

“Michael Barker’s historically grounded critique of those most pernicious of political forces, the philanthropic foundations, is superb and unsurpassed. Everyone who is serious about a rebuilt Left that can win should read this book. As Barker shows masterfully the foundations exist to confuse, deflect, and channel away the wrath of the people. By muddying the intellectual waters foundations have been as damaging as police spies and company thugs. They operate by the logic Machiavelli explained, ‘you may hold the fortresses, yet they will not save you if the people hate you…’ Thus the foundations defend capitalism by placating, ameliorating, confusing, and fomenting division.”— Christian Parenti, author of Lockdown America:  Police and Prisons in the Age of Crisis

underfrontcover

un3

Questions about #DefundDAPL, Standing Rock or #NODAPL? – #askwarren

The Radiant Labyrinth

 

ask warren cnbc

CNBC is running the twitter hashtag #askwarren so that the general public can submit questions for Warren Buffett’s interview with them on Monday, February 27th, 2017. I’ve created this page to document and supply real questions with accompanying documented explanations for why they ought to be asked, in order to tweet all of them using the hashtag. The reason for this is to out Mr. Buffett for being a major DAPL investor to the tune of over $6.8 billion, a fact that has been obsequiously omitted by the press. This is in all likelihood because Buffett’s philanthropy protects him since he is responsible for giving Gates Foundation 58% of its stock portfolio. Since Gates Foundation manages the mainstream press via funding, Buffett is avoided in the press. FYI, CNBC, the outfit doing this interview of Buffett is on that funding list of media partners.

Thanks to Buffett’s bankrolling of Gates Foundation in Berkshire Hathaway shares exclusively (Buffett’s holding company) -Gates Foundation is in fact invested in the DAPL’s completion to the tune of nearly $1.7 billlion. This is because over 15% of Berkshire Hathaway’s stock portfolio is invested in majority control of Phillips 66, who has a 25% stake in the pipeline. It is Berkshire Hathaway’s 5th largest holding at over $6.8 billion.

Since the likelihood is that all of these documented, reasoned questions will be ignored, the exercise is intended as a demonstration of how the mainstream media is in fact incapable of negotiating reality to the extent of being nigh completely disassociated from matters of pertinence and relevance.

The main point of reference for questions will be my published article which substantiates all of these financials:

HOW BONO’S RED BECAME THE COLOR OF PHILANTHROWASHING DONE RIGHT FOR THE DAKOTA ACCESS PIPELINE

However the third column will be dedicated to the other spectrum and indeed sordid realm of Buffett’s extreme wealth capitalization, a property he shares with Bill Gates and four other men. Nonetheless, the goal will remain to generate awareness as to why Buffett’s 90 wholly owned Berkshire Hathaway subsidiaries should be subject to a general boycott (you can start with Geico) due to Buffett’s DAPL investment, which is more than twelve times larger than any of the banks maximally financing the Dakota Access Pipeline, the largest of whom rank between $500 and $600 million. Incidentally, Gates Foundation’s investment is three times as large, yet you’ve never heard of this in the (Gates Foundation financed) mainstream media. You never hear about Buffett because, philanthropy. Susan Sarandon called it, but she won’t name the DAPL investor-mainstream media funding connection. I have. It’s the Gates Foundation.

Every piece of substantiation of the Question is hyperlinked under the Question. -Learn something.

#askwarren Why are you & by your largesse @gatesfoundation unconcerned about being major DAPL investors?

#askwarren Were you & @gatesfoundation aware @POTUS’s Memorandum causing the USACE to revoke the EIS probably makes the raid initiated on 2/22/17 to enforce your investment illegal?

#askwarren Are you, @POTUS and co-DAPL investor @gatesfoundation aware that the present DAPL route being enforced by state violence violates the Treaty of Fort Laramie?

#askwarren Are you and co-DAPL @Phillips66Co investor @gatesfoundation aware of their conduct in ND and elsewhere?

#askwarren Are you and co-DAPL @Phillips66Co investor @gatesfoundation aware of DAPL design flaws and inherent risk to drinking water?

#askwarren Has @gatesfoundation’s funding of media partners succeeded in concealing his & your DAPL investment from the boycott?

#askwarren Does the #NoDAPL #boycottbanks campaign know they are being helmed by an organization that receives funding from you, 350.org?

#askwarren Are @RED and @ONECampaign aware your funding of @gatesfoundation means they are DAPL beneficiaries?

#askwarren Are you, @gatesfoundation, @U2, @RED, @ONECampaign aware of the state violence enforcing your DAPL investment?

#askwarren Given enforcement of your DAPL investment is questionably illegal & violates Constitution, why are US taxpayers to foot the bill?

#askwarren Are your beneficiaries (@gatesfoundation, @RED, @ONECampaign) aware going against NA tribes over a Treaty issue isn’t a first for you?

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

Part five of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

Standing Rock Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]:  Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Addendum

 

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.

chairman-omali

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.

solutionsproject-logo

the-solutions-project_2

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

dicaprio-and-ruffalo-slutions-project

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

ruffalo-at-standing-rock

We Are the Gods Now

jason-silva

“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]

the-solutions-project-worldwide

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.

ben-jerrys-native-energy-partnership

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

dallas-goldtooth-2

“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.

up-to-us-standing-rock-tumblr_oc8qwikeld1u7bl8fo1_500

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.