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The Right’s New Clothes – Are the Latin American Youth

A network of Conservative Think-tanks & Foundations from the United States, such as Koch, Cato & Templeton, are financing young Latin Americans to fight Left Governments and defend old positions with a new language

Brasil Wire

June 15, 2015

By Marina Amaral

 

“The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.” – John Kenneth Galbraith.

 

Original version in Portuguese at Agência Pública. English Translation for Brasil Wire by Angela Milanese. Republished under Creative Commons license.


Our body is the first private property we have. It is up to each of us to decide what to do with it,” says a young blonde woman in Spanish with a firm voice while moving gracefully across the stage at the Liberty Forum, which is adorned with the logos of the event’s official sponsors: Tobacco company Souza Cruz, Gerdau Group, Petróleo Ipiranga and the RBS Group (a local Globo TV affiliate).  A sold out crowd at the 2000-seat auditorium of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre (PUC-RS) bursts into laughter and applause for Gloria Álvarez, a 30-year-old Guatemalan daughter of a Cuban father and a mother descended from Hungarian immigrants.

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Glória Álvarez, a star of the Latin American youth. Photo: Fernando Conrado

Gloria, or @crazyglorita (55,000 followers on Twitter and 120,000 on Facebook) rose to stardom among Latin American rightwing youth at the end of last year, when a video shot at the Ibero-American Youth Parliament held in Zaragoza (Spain), in which she attacks Latin American “populism,” went viral. At the Liberty Forum, the most high profile event promoted by Brazil’s rightwing, Gloria and the former Republican governor of South Carolina, David Bensley, are the only two people – among the 22 Brazilian and foreign speakers – scheduled to deliver keynote speeches at the three-day event, called “Roads to Freedom.”

A radio broadcaster for 10 years, now hosting her own TV show, Gloria is a captivating showoman. She addresses the audience with ease, which is mostly made up of PUC-RS students, one of the best and most expensive universities in southern Brazil. “Who here calls themselves conservative or libertarian, raise their hands,” she asks the audience. When she sees a roomful of raised hands, she relaxes. “Ah, ok,” she replies. Alvarez is the young leader of the National Civic Movement (MCN), a small Guatemalan organization that sprung up in 2009 in the wake of movements that unsuccessfully demanded the impeachment of the social democrat President Álvaro Colom. Her mission, she explains, is to teach her ideological peers how to “charm and seduce people on the left and how to defeat the bearded and beret-cladded Che Guevara crowd.”

The first lesson is to use “#PopulismovsRepública,” a hashtag she created to overcome the “obsolete division between right and left.”

“An intellectually honest leftist must recognize that the only way out is employment and a modern, 21st century rightwinger must recognize that sexuality, morality and drugs are individual problems. He is not the moral authority of the universe,” she continues, amid thunderous applause.

There should be no guilt, neither moral nor social, she teaches. The message is individual freedom, youth “empowerment,” low taxes and a minimal state – the agenda of the neoliberal right (in economic terms) across the world. “Wealth is not transferred, ladies and gentlemen. Wealth is created, starting in each one of your little heads,” she says. In the same vein, Gloria also criticizes social welfare programs for the poor, affirmative action programs for women, blacks, people with disabilities, even the very concept of minorities. “There are no minorities. The smallest minority is the individual and he is best served in a meritocracy.”

“There is a truth that every human being must reach to find peace, if they don’t want to live as a hypocrite. All of us, seven-and-a-half billion human beings inhabiting this planet, are selfish. This is the truth, my dear friends in Brazil. We are all selfish. Is this bad? Is this good? No, it’s just the reality,” she says categorically. “There are people who don’t accept this truth and come up with this wonderful idea: ‘No! [Gloria shouts, imitating a man’s voice] I will build the first unselfish society!’ Be careful, Brazilians, be careful, Latin America! Those wise guys are like Stalin in the Soviet Union, or Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un in North Korea, Fidel Castro in Cuba or Hugo Chávez in Venezuela. Why do we keep following those hypocrites like sheep?  Because [Gloria grimaces and imitates a frail woman elderly voice] they teach us that it’s wrong to be selfish and that to think of ourselves is a sin. How many of you haven’t heard someone say we need a good man who doesn’t care only for himself,” she says, bending as she speaks, and then standing up to regain her proud upright posture.

“Look, gentlemen, unless it’s a Martian, this man does not exist, never existed and never will exist.”

Frantic applause.

But, she explains, the “champions of freedom” also bear their share of responsibility. They do not know how to communicate their ideas, or how to use technology to “empower citizens” and “liberate” Latin America. If you keep discussing macro-economics, GDP and so on, “we will lose the battle. We need to learn with the populists and talk in a way that people understand, make them identify with what we’re saying,” she explains. “And let me give you another piece of advice. Since they say that us, conservatives are damned exploiters,” she quips ironically. “I’ve found a wonderful way to define the concept of private property, which makes the leftists go like ‘wow!’”

“Private property is what we amass in our lifetime, starting with our first properties: body and mind.” The past, she explains, isn’t the same to everyone, so this amassing is personal. She continues, “This humanizes us, gives us, disgraceful conservatives, a bit of a heart.”  Laughter. Applause.

“There are people who want the right to health care, education, work, housing. The UN even wants to establish a human right to internet access,” she scoffs disdainfully, even though she had just declared that technology is the key to changing the world. “Imagine that, in this auditorium, some of you want the right to education, others the right to health care, and others want the right to housing. So if I give you education, everyone here will pay for it, and you will be VIPs, while they will be second-class citizens. If I give them health care, everyone in this auditorium will pay for their health, and they will be VIPs. If I give them houses, I will take from you to provide houses for them, and they will be the VIPs. This isn’t social justice, this is inequality before the law,” she concludes, again amid laughter and applause.

“If everyone in Latin America is entitled to life, liberty and private property, then everyone goes after education, health care and the house they want, without the need of a super-Chávez, super-Morales and super-Correa.” Ovation. Whistles. Before closing her 40-minute speech, Gloria invites the public to challenge the “victimization of Latin-Americans” and “blaming the Yankees” worldview, which undermines self-esteem and the courage to take risks, required by the entrepreneurial spirit. The audience gives her a standing ovation.

Neoliberals and Libertarians

Gloria Álvarez does not really represent anything new. The main difference is the language she uses. The MCN movement receives “funding from some of the largest companies in the traditional business elite,” according to investigative journalist Martín Rodríguez Pellecer, who is the director of the Guatemalan online media site Nómada (an Agência Pública partner). “I came to know, from sources close to them, that one of the companies that support their public campaigns and congress lobbying is Azúcar de Guatemala, an extremely powerful cartel of 13 companies. (Guatemala is the world’s fourth largest sugar exporter). Guatemalan companies, by the way, have investments in Brazilian plants.”

The same can be said about her ideas. Despite their seductive title, libertarians are “a minority segment among the schools of thought that gained influence in the post-war era, in opposition to the Keynesian-inspired interventionist policies,” explains the economist Luiz Carlos Prado, from the Rio de Janeiro Federal University.

After the 1970s oil crisis, pro-market economists such as Friedrich Hayek (Nobel Prize 1974), monetarists from the Chicago school of economics led by Milton Friedman (Nobel Prize 1976) and neoclassicists associated with Robert Lucas, Jr. (Nobel Prize 1995) came to dominate global economic thought, and became known to the public under the single label “neoliberal.” Their concepts were brought to Latin America by the most conservative sectors of American society, represented mainly by think thanks with ties to Ronald Reagan. After losing Republican primaries in 1968 and 1976, Reagan was finally elected president in 1980, with Friedman as a major adviser. The same ideas also dominated the government of Margaret Thatcher (1979-1991) in the United Kingdom.

“The supporters of classical liberalism also supported political freedom, but this school of economic thought called ‘neoliberalism’ advocates non-intervention of the state in the economy, without demonstrating a particular concern for political freedom. In some cases, and without any shame, they allied themselves with dictatorships, such as the military regime of Pinochet in Chile,” says Prado.

Gloria Álvarez’s Guatemala is a good example of how libertarian ideas came to fruition in Latin America. In 1971, “a significant part of the Guatemalan economic elite embraced neoliberalism and adopted it as its political project. That was when they founded the Francisco Marroquin University (UFM),” explains Rodríguez.

“The University was founded by Manuel Ayau, known as El Muso, in allusion to Mussolini. Ayau adopted the fascist, anti-communist platform of the National Liberation Movement [MLN, a Guatemalan political party]. Since then, the UFM has been preparing political and academic cadres trained to discredit the very concepts of government and social justice.”

As a result, Guatemala was transformed into the Latin American country that collects the least in taxes (11% to GDP) and the one that least redistributes them,” he says.

Álvarez studied at UFM and “became a libertarian, but she is a little less conservative than her professors, who are a mix of neoliberalism and Opus Dei [a conservative religious institution]. She declares herself to be an atheist and a supporter of abortion rights. Although she has become a star on the Latin American right, she is a minor figure on the Guatemalan right. She has no political base and is not a political candidate for elected office. I see her more as a libertarian enfant terrible,” concludes Rodríguez.

Libertarians resurfaced with full force in the United States after the 2008 financial crisis (and the subsequent clamor for market regulation) and as a reaction to the election of Barack Obama.

Libertarians preach the supremacy of the individual over the state, absolute market freedom and the unfettered defence of private property. Libertarians claim that the economic crisis, which threw 50 million people into poverty, was not caused by the lack of financial market regulation, but rather by government protectionist policies towards certain sectors of the economy. They also emphatically reject the social policies promoted by the Obama administration. However, a significant portion of libertarians distance themselves from traditional rightwing positions on social issues. In the name of individual freedom, they defend positions usually associated with the left, such as the legalization of drugs and a more tolerant approach towards homosexuals. GOP Senator Rand Paul, a presidential hopeful, is one of the best known faces of the libertarian movement.

“Libertarians that are Tea Party supporters (a radical rightwing faction of the Republican Party) are also associated with think thanks such as the Cato Institute. They make up the post-modern right, represented, for example, by David Cameron in the UK, who modernized the ‘rolling back’ of the welfare state agenda,” says Prado.

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“Who is John Galt?”, “Less Marx More Mises”. Photo: Instituto Liberal do Nordeste

Prado looks amused when I mention Brazilian libertarians, followers of the Austrian school of Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek. “The Austrian school is a very minor strain, even in academia,” he declares. “Who are those libertarians? In Brazil, we have sophisticated economists who follow schools of economic thought, such as the neoclassical school of Nobel Prize winner Robert Lucas and other similar approaches. Rightwing politicians lacking depth, such as Ronaldo Caiado [a senator from the centre-western state of Goiás, affiliated with the Democratic Party (DEM)], and a conservative middle class that reads [popular rightwing columnist] Rodrigo Constantino of Veja magazine,” he concludes.

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Senator Ronaldo Caiado. Photo: Fernando Conrado

Caiado and Constantino are veteran participants of the Liberty Forum in Porto Alegre. The novelty is that the Tea Party’s libertarians are at last able to present themselves, to Brazilian youth, as an attractive new face for the right.

Come to the Street, Citizen

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On April 12, the eve of the Forum, Gloria Álvarez made a speech at the second round of nationwide demonstrations against President Dilma Rousseff. Dressed in a sequin shirt featuring the design of the Brazilian flag, in front of about 100,000 people at Paulista Avenue in São Paulo, Álvarez railed against “cursed populism.”  (see video of Gloria’s speech here).  From atop a truck, the leader of the Come to the Street movement (VPR), Rogério Chequer, introduced Álvarez as “one of the greatest representatives of the battle against the populism of the São Paulo Forum.” [The Sao Paulo Forum (Foro de São Paulo) is an annual conference of leftist political parties, social movements and organizations from Latin America and the Caribbean.]

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Among those who led the anti-government protests in March and April, Chequer’s movement was one of the last to take up the cause of impeachment. That delay earned him a public rebuke from the elderly Olavo de Carvalho, a polemical rightwing pundit, who accused him of “toucan wimpiness.” Toucan is the symbol of Brazil’s main opposition party, the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB).

The Free Brazil Movement (MBL), mostly known through the figure of its leader, Kim Kataguiri, which adopted the cause of impeachment from the get-go, broke up with Chequer publicly, publishing pictures of him standing next to PSDB Senator José Serra at the Aécio Neves presidential campaign. PSDB Senator Neves was dubbed a “traitor” for his hesitation in demanding the impeachment of the elected president. They reconciled after a delegation led by Neves and Caiado made a controversial visit to Caracas, Venezuela.

Incidentally, Caiado participated in the opening night of the Liberty Forum. Lacking Glorita’s irreverent grace, the conservative rural senator drew applause from the audience with sound bites against government corruption and references to the São Paulo Forum (video). Caiado also demanded the resignation of President Dilma Rousseff and attacked the Brazilian State Development Bank (BNDES).

Interestingly, his accusations were made under logos of the Gerdau Group and Ipiranga Petróleo (from the Ultra group), which are two of the largest borrowers of BNDES loans, according to data collected by one of Brazil’s largest newspapers, Folha de São Paulo. Between 2008 and 2010, both companies individually obtained more than R$1 billion worth of bank loans.

The southern entrepreneur Jorge Gerdau is one of the creators of the Liberty Forum, established in 1988 with the aim of promoting a debate between various schools of thought. The most important conservative gathering in the country, it nevertheless included, in its first incarnations, guest speakers such as former President Lula of the Workers Party (PT), former Minister José Dirceu, a minister in the Lula administration, and the late Rio de Janeiro state governor and leftist Leonel Brizola.

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It was there that, in 2006, the most prominent rightwing think tank in Brazil – the Millennium Institute – was officially launched. Armínio Fraga (who would have been finance minister if Aécio Neves had been elected) is its best-known figure in the field of economics. Its backers are the Gerdau Group, publishing company Editora Abril   and Pottencial Insurance, which belongs to Salim Mattar, who also owns Localiza Rent a Car.  Suzano Papel e Celulose [paper and cellulose], Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and the Évora group (from the Ling brothers) are also supporters. In 1984, William Ling helped create the Institute of Business Studies (IEE). Comprised of young business leaders, the IEE organized the Forum from the start. His brother Winston Ling founded the Liberty Institute in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, while William Ling’s son Anthony Ling has ties to the group Students for Liberty [Estudantes Pela Liberdade (EPL)], which created the Free Brazil Movement. Hélio Beltrão of the Ultra Group is one of the founders of the Millennium Institute, though he has his own institute as well, the Mises Brazil.

Brazil’s network of neoliberal and libertarian think tanks includes two more entities: The Open Order Institute, which holds youth seminars; and the Centre for Interdisciplinary Ethics and Human Economics (CIEEP) in Rio de Janeiro, linked to Opus Dei. The jurist Ives Gandra, who wrote a controversial opinion piece stating that there is legal basis for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, is a member of its board of advisers.

Like the Millennium Institute, the majority of these organizations have been created recently. The original seed was the Liberal Institute, established in 1983 by Donald Stewart Jr., a civil engineer from Rio de Janeiro, who passed away in 1999. According to “The dictatorship of contractors: (1964-1985),” a doctoral thesis written by the historian Pedro Henrique Pedreira Campos, from the Fluminense Federal University (UFF), Donald Stewart Jr.’s  company, Ecisa (Engineering, Commerce and Industry S.A.), was one of Brazil’s largest construction firms during the military dictatorship. Stewart partnered with Leo A. Daly Company, a US construction business, to build schools in the northeast region of the country, funded by a regional government development agency, known as SUDENE. The participation of an American company in the project was a requirement to get financing from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which operated as a front for the CIA during the cold war era of Latin American dictatorships.

Donald Stewart was also an old friend of a crucial character in this story, Alejandro Chafuen, a 61-year-old Argentinian living in the US. Stewart and Chafuen are members of the exclusive Mont Pelèrin Society, founded by no other than the Guatemalan Hayek. Launched in 1947 in Switzerland, with headquarters in the US, the organization comprises the most committed libertarians. El Muso, the founder of Gloria Álvarez’s alma mater, the Francisco Marroquín University, was the first Latin American to chair the Mont Pelèrin Society, while the University’s current rector, Gabriel Calzada, is a board member, along with the Brazilian Margaret Tsé, the CEO of the Liberty Institute, which is the ideological backer of the Institute of Business Studies.

Meanwhile, the president of the Mont Pelèrin Society, the Spaniard Pedro Schwartz Girón, also actively fosters think tanks associated with the Foundation for Analysis and Social Studies (FAES), a foundation with ties to the Spanish Partido Popular (PP).

FAES, which is chaired by former Spanish Prime Minister José Maria Aznar, promoted the Ibero-American Youth Parliament, the event that catapulted Álvarez into fame. Pedro Schwartz, Alejandro Chafuen and the Colombian Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza, who co-authored the book “The Perfect Latin American Idiot, ” a hit with rightwing youth, attended the Latin America’ panel at the Liberty Forum. Chafuen also took part, discreetly, in the April 12 protests in Porto Alegre. He posted a photograph of the demonstration on his Facebook page. The photo shows Chafuen, dressed in the Brazilian national team shirt, hugging the young Brazilian political scientist Fábio Ostermann. Ostermann is the coordinator of the Free Brazil Moment, which is how the Students for Liberty (EPL) decided to call their anti-government movement.

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Alejandro Chafuen & Fábio Ostermann

The southerners Fábio Ostermann and Anthony Ling, and the southeasterner Juliano Torres are the founders of the local chapter of Students for Liberty, an organization that plays a crucial role in the network between American conservative think tanks – especially those that define themselves as libertarians – and “anti-populist’’ Latin American youth. Mr. Chafuen, who leads the Atlas Network since 1991, is their mentor.

The Atlas Network (the trade name for the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, adopted in 2013) is a type of meta think tank that specializes in promoting the establishment of libertarian organizations throughout the world. It receives funds from its partner libertarian foundations in the US, or from local entrepreneurial think tanks that are geared toward the fostering of young leaders, especially in Latin American and Eastern Europe. According to its Form 990, which all non-profit entities must file with the IRS, Atlas Network’s revenue in 2013 totalled $ 11,459,000. Resources allocated to programs outside the US were US$6.1 million, of which US$2.8 million were directed to Central America and US$595,000 to South America.

With the exception of the Fernando Henrique Cardoso Institute, all the organizations mentioned in this article are part of the Atlas Network in Brazil, along with Gloria Álvarez’s MCN, the Francisco Marroquin University and Students for Liberty (which was founded inside the Atlas Network in 2012). Furthermore, in addition to the aforementioned resources, there are much more sizeable programs operated by the Atlas Network, which are funded by other foundations.

The discreet charm of Mr. Chafuen

Sitting in the VIP room of the Liberty Forum, Mr. Chafuen rose to his feet to greet Kim Kataguiri, who made a surprise visit. The undisguised glee from this demure gentleman, a libertarian with ties to Opus Dei, was my cue to ask for an interview. The main parts are transcribed below.

Q: How did you get close to Brazil?

A: I started to work with my Brazilian friends of liberty in 1998 with Donald Stewart, and I always remember how lonely he felt in his quest for freedom. To arrive in Porto Alegre on the same day of the protest and see all these people, not all libertarians, but people from different social strata of Brazilian society, arguing things that are very consistent with the essence of a free society, it reminded me of these pioneers. Because, yes, there were so many people on the street, so many souls, it left me pleasantly surprised and wondering what will happen next, and how can we harness the enthusiasm of so many young people to produce lasting change in Brazil.”

Q: What kind of changes?

A: Coming from the outside, it’s difficult to say, it’s unique to each country. Look at Spain today, in which political parties lost ground to new movements, such as Podemos from the left, or their opposite in Catalonia, the Ciudadanos. In the United States, for instance, we have the Tea Party, a spontaneous movement that instead of founding a new party, opted to become a trend within a party, and now all but one of the major Republican presidential candidates identify themselves with the Tea Party and seek its support. Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, they all come from the Tea Party and are pretty much opposed to the traditional republicans. So this is not an answer that a foreigner can give, especially in Brazil, which is a world unto itself, with so many diverse cultures. We can offer some ideas, but it’s up to them, the ones I saw on the streets, the young and the not so young, to attract more members of civil society, and to institutionalize all this.”

I mention to him that, at the Forum, people speak a lot about freedom – without basis in reality – and that they actually compare Brazil to Venezuela.

A: Yes, the situation here is very different from Venezuela, but you must be vigilant. Freedom isn’t lost just like that, from one day to another. Venezuela was one of the most prosperous countries and look what happened. Populism in Latin American weakens institutions. They let entrepreneurs feel free to invest for some time, allow freedom of expression, and then sooner or later they change the rules of the game. Chávez’s first nationalizations and expropriations happened years after he took power. Yes, you have considerable freedom here. But there are some things that pervert freedom, which is the non-compliance with laws, privilege, corruption, and crony capitalism. It’s a false freedom. It’s like putting a fox in the chicken coop and telling them, ‘you are free now.’ Then the problems start [bribery allegations], business owners are required to enter the game, and they end up taking the blame. It takes two to dance a tango, as they say in Argentina.

Q: Are the guys from the Free Brazil Movement strong enough to promote social change?

A: I developed a model to explain how things happen, which has four elements: first – ideas, since human beings think before acting, or at least we should; second – motivation, because economy is motivation; third – action, because ideas without action are just ideas; the fourth is providence or, depending on what your beliefs are, luck. So you get to work with ideas, some leaders emerge, laws change, and that affects society’s motivation…a typical change doesn’t happen overnight. This pressure builds up and suddenly something happens. And then there is a scandal, another scandal, a magazine with courage, some young men from São Paulo decide, “I’ll leave college and fight against it.” [Kim Kataguiri and Renan Haas, from the MBL, recently announced the decision to leave college to devote themselves to the movement.]  And then the movement is out there in the streets. It’s a combination of factors that we have seen at other times in history.

Mr. William Waack [a Globo TV journalist], who got an award here, said to us at a luncheon, before the opening of the Forum, that the only movement he covered that was like this was the fall of the Berlin Wall. He exaggerated a bit, but we don’t know yet what will happen with this movement.

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Globo TV Journalist William Waack receiving award

Q: After the first anti-government protest in March of this year, the Atlas Network published a piece on its site celebrating the crucial role of its partner, Students for Liberty, in the protests against President Dilma Rousseff and the Workers Party in Brazil. Do you feel responsible for this movement?

A: Our role [in regard to Students for Liberty] is the power of nurturing. These human beings, we call them intellectual entrepreneurs, people with new ideas who see solutions and decide to invest their capital in them. It’s like in business. So we offer them training programs, try to support them financially, encourage them to be committed, to not be too much of a partygoer. But Atlas does not support political parties. We withdraw our support if there is any partisan interest. We don’t accept resources from the government but we can offer some guidelines, new ideas about a free society, from classical liberalism to libertarianism, from religious to atheists, but it’s up to each person to choose. Many of us in our organization have a very negative view about the top-down approach. So we try to encourage people, help them meet each other. Now, for example, all over the world, people might be asking, ‘can we emulate the Brazilians?’ So we celebrate, but we’re careful not to take credit for the results, for what happens locally.

Q: In Venezuela, an Atlas partner organization, the CEDICE Libertad, and the Cato Institute, which funds Atlas programs for students, allied with local businessmen. They were accused by the Chávez government of fomenting opposition among students.  

A: I am vice president of CEDICE, and this is not true. Every so often, some CEDICE members might have engaged in some political activity. But one thing is political life, the polis; another is to work exclusively with one political party. We have worked with-and received at CEDICE-Leopoldo López [who is in jail] and his party, the Internacional Socialista; María Corina Machado [a former congresswoman] and Antonio Ledezma [the mayor of Caracas, arrested in March amid accusations that he was involved in a coup plot]. The answer is that we cannot give up the fight for freedom and some people get into politics. But the Atlas Network doesn’t get involved in local politics. The battle is not between left and right but between right and wrong. And now if you excuse me, I have to go and get ready for my speech.

Q: One last question, please, to dispel rumours. The ties between the Koch foundation and Students for Liberty, through direct funding as well as funding from other foundations associated with the Koch brothers have aroused suspicions, since the Kochs own oil industries that could have interests in this country.

A: The Atlas Network receives 0.5% in funding from the Kochs. The Students for Liberty, I don’t know. Goodbye.

Students for Liberty and the Free Brazil Movement

The executive director of Students for Liberty (EPL), Juliano Torres, was more forthcoming about the link between the EPL and the Free Brazil Movement, a brand name created by the EPL to participate in street demonstrations without compromising US organizations that are prevented, by IRS rules, from donating funds to political activists. He told me in a phone interview that “several members of the EPL wanted to participate in the 2013 ‘Free Pass’ protests in Brazil but we receive funding from organizations such as the Atlas Networks and Students for Liberty, which are forbidden by IRS rules to get involved in political activities. So we said, ‘members of the EPL can participate as individuals, but not as an organization, to avoid problems.’ So we decided to create a brand name. It wasn’t an organization, just a brand that we could use in the streets, called the Free Brazil Movement. Me, Fábio [Ostermann] and Felipe França, who are from Recife and São Paulo, plus four, five people – we created the logo and the Facebook campaign. Then the demonstrations ended and so did the project. So we were looking for someone to take over; we had more than 10,000 likes on our Facebook page, pamphlets. Then we found Kim [Kataguiri] and Renan [Haas], who made this incredible shift in the movement, with the marches against Dilma and things like that. Incidentally, Kim is a member of the EPL, so he was also trained by the EPL. Many of the local organizers are members of the EPL. They act as members of the Free Brazil Movement, but they were trained by us, through leadership courses. Kim, by the way, will participate in a charity poker tournament that Students for Liberty will organize in New York to raise funds. He’ll be a speaker. He’ll also be a speaker at the international conference in February.”

Torres, who is paid by the EPL, tells me that he has two online meetings per week with American headquarters and that he and other Brazilians take part every year in an international conference, with expenses paid, and in a leadership meeting in Washington. The budget of the Students for Liberty for this year in Brazil should reach R$300,000.

“In the first year, we had approximately R$8,000. In the second year we had about R$20,000, and from 2014 to 2015 it grew considerably. We receive funding from other external organizations too, such as the Atlas Network. The Atlas, along with Students for Liberty, are our main donors. In Brazil, one of our major donors is the Friederich Naumann Institute, which is a German organization. They are not allowed to give money but they pay for our expenses. So there were meetings in the south, in Porto Alegre, and in the southeast, in Belo Horizonte. They rented the hotel, paid for the meeting room, lunch and dinner. There are also some individual donors who make donations to us.”

The launching of the EPL in Brazil took place after Torres participated in a 2012 summer workshop for thirty students in Petropolis, sponsored by the Atlas Network. “Right there, we made a draft, a plan, and then we contacted Students for Liberty to officially join the network,” he says.

After that, Torres went through several training programs at Atlas. “There is one they call MBA, there is a program in New York, and also online training. We recommend to all people who work in positions of a certain responsibility to also go through the Atlas Network training programs.”

The US headquarters was impressed by the results obtained by Brazilians. “In 2004 and 2005, there were about 10 people in Brazil who identify themselves with the libertarian movement. Today, the results we have, within the global network of Students for Liberty, are very good. One way to measure the performance of a region is to look at the number of local coordinators. We have more coordinators than any region, including North America, Africa and Europe, individually. The organization has existed, in the United States, for eight years; in Europe, for four years; here, for three years. So we are getting better results in less time, which provides us with a greater influence in the organization.”

There are two Brazilians (out of ten members) at the International Board of Students for Liberty. This year’s report devotes a page to the protests from the MBL in Brazil. A Brazilian, Elisa Martins, who has a degree in economics from the Santa Maria University, is responsible for international scholarships and young leadership training programs at the Atlas Network.

The programs are carried out in partnership with other foundations, especially the Cato Institute, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation and the Institute of Human Studies, all organizations linked with the Koch family, one of the richest in the world. In the last two decades, the 11 foundations tied with the Kochs poured US$800 million into the American network of conservative foundations. Another important partner is the John Templeton Foundation, another American billionaire. With considerably larger budgets than the Atlas Network, these organizations develop fellowship programs, funded by them and executed by Atlas. An example of these projects is the expansion of the Students for Liberty Network, financed by the John Templeton Foundation, which closed 2014 with over $ 1 million budget.

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Thus, even though it appears in third place among the backers of Students for Liberty, the Atlas Network, through its partner, raises a considerably larger volume of funds. All major donors of Students for Liberty are also Atlas donors. It is not always possible to know the origin of the money, despite the legal obligation to fill the IRS 990 form. American conservative organizations distribute money through several different channels, making it impossible to know the original source of the money that reaches each the recipient.

Rightwing foundations have been under scrutiny by the media and groups such as Conservative Transparency.

These investigations have exposed questionable use of resources for lobbying in Congress and state governments, and financing controversial causes such as opposition to climate change legislation. In response, in 1999 the foundations created two philanthropic investment funds, Donors Trust and Donors Capital Management. These investment funds do not require donors to disclose their names in the IRS 990 forms. Thus, the Donors Trust is the largest backer of Donors Capital Management (and vice versa). The Koch foundations are the main suspect of pouring money into these funds.

The 2014-2015 Students for Liberty report shows an impressive amount of fundraising: US$3.1 million, compared with only US$35,768 raised when the organization was launched in 2008. US$1.7 million came from foundations, according to the report, which does not detail the amount donated by each institution.

The Charles Koch Institute is listed but according to the report, it provides grants to American students only, while the Charles Koch Foundation, which distributes grants to students through a number of foundations, is not mentioned in the report.

Another Koch family foundation, the Institute of Human Studies (IHS), is a major contributor to student fellowship programs. Only in 2012, it distributed US$900,000 in grants, according to a form submitted to the IRS.

The Atlas Network is one of the IHS’ major partners. The MBL coordinator, Fabio Ostermann, for example, mentions in his résumé that he was a Koch Summer Fellow at the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.  Ostermann is an aid of Representative Marcel van Hattem, a politician from Rio Grande do Sul, affiliated with the Progressive Party (PP) and pointed out by Kim Kataguiri as the only Brazilian politician who fully embraces the MBL’s ideas. The young representative was elected with the financial backing of the Gerdau and Évora groups, the latter belonging to the father of Anthony Ling, who is a founder of the EPL. Van Hattem also took courses at the Acton Institute University, the most religious of the organizations that are part of the Atlas and Koch Foundation fellowship network.

Acton lists combatting “sin” as one of its core principles, stating that the ubiquity of sin requires the limitation of the state.

Maté Party

The Liberty Forum ended in the same way the street demonstrations that preceded it did, with a chanting of “Dilma out,” “PT out.” [PT -Partido dos Trabalhadores, or Workers Party].

Representative van Hattem in a passionate speech, thanked the Forum for his election.

“If I am a representative today, I also owe it to the Liberty Forum,” he said. He then made an interesting distinction between the 2013 demonstrations, which were spontaneous, disorganized and comprised multiple parties; and the 2015 protests, in which “we have an agenda.”

CON7288

The program was modified to include Kim Kataguiri, who was not initially listed as a speaker. Kataguiri was embraced by sponsors such as Jorge Gerdau and Hélio Beltrão, posed for pictures with several fans, as well as his friend Bene Barbosa, who was promoting a book defending the freedom to bear arms. He then went to the auditorium, once again full of students.

Sitting on the couch, Kataguiri waited for van Hattem to list the usual litany of accusations against the São Paulo Forum, the totalitarian power of the Workers Party and “the biggest corruption scandal of the universe.”  Every soundbite and rhetorical red meat was greeted with rousing applause. Van Hattem stirred up the audience, displaying the bond he had established with them, telling them “the avant-garde today isn’t leftist, it’s libertarian.  Well-informed youth go to the streets and ask for less Marx and more Mises. They like Hayek not Lenin. They carry signs with the hashtag #Olavoisright,” [referring to the aforementioned rightwing pundit Olavo de Carvalho].

Van Hattem then left the podium and, walking across the stage, walked towards Kataguiri. “The next step is up to you, but it’s hard. The Brazilian system is averse to new ideas. Today, Kim, the communist congressman Juliano Roso called you a fascist,” he said. And finally, “I just want to conclude by saying that the streets are saying: ‘PT out!’” Applause, screams. The crowd sung in chorus, “‘Ole, ole, ole, ole, we are on the street just to overthrow the PT’.”

It was the cue for Kataguiri’s entrance. Wearing sneakers and walking around the stage, Kataguiri urged the “neoliberal institutions” to get out of “our neoliberal bubble, our libertarian bubble, our conservative bubble and take the country,” and asserted, “It is time for us to break the monopoly of the leftist youth. We have to change this image of the defender of the free market as an old uncle wearing boots who supports the military regime. We are the opposition. We want to privatize Petrobras. We want a minimal state. Brasília will not dictate the people; the people will dictate Brasília.”

kim

Kim Kataguiri, public figurehead of MBL

Three days after the Forum, Kim Kataguiri left for his March for Freedom toward Brasília, attracting a meager turnout of people, while Gloria Álvarez embarked on a tour that took her from Argentina to Venezuela, effusively reported on her social network. In Argentina, she visited Buenos Aires and Azul, after an invitation by the Argentina Rural Society. Her speeches at the National University in Tucumán were organized by the Federalism and Liberty Foundation, which includes on its international board, the Atlas Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the CEDICE Libertad, and the Ecuadorian Institute of Political Economy.

These organizations are all part of the Atlas Network, as are the other organizations that organized Álvarez’s trip –  Students for Liberty (Bolivia and Ecuador), the CEDICE (Venezuela), and the Foundation for Progress (Chile).

The most interesting thing about Álvarez’s trip, however, was not mentioned on her social network, or even in Chilean newspapers. On April 23, she and dissident Cuban blogger Yaoni Sánchez met with the conservative former President Sebastián Piñera after they delivered speeches at the Adolfo Ibañez University in Viña del Mar.

The meeting with the ex-president was reported on twitter by a former minister of the Piñera administration, the economist Cristián Larroulet. He posted a photo – the only photo in which Álvarez and Sánchez appear together – with the caption, “President Piñera with Yoani Sánchez and Gloria Álvarez, two examples of Latin American women fighting for freedom.” Larroulet is the founder of the think tank Liberty and Development, a natural partner of the Atlas Network.

Ioni

 

Toxic Philanthropy – The Spirit of Giving While Taking

Institute for New Economic Thinking

December 10, 2018


America’s new “philanthrocapitalists” are enabling social problems rather than solving them

 

Anew breed of wealthy do-gooders armed with apps and PowerPoints claim they want to change the world. But with their market-oriented values and often-shortsighted prescriptions, are really they going to change it for the better?

Or change it at all?

Anand Giridharadas, who has traveled first-class in the rarefied realm of 21st-century “philanthrocapitalists,” harbors serious doubts. In his acclaimed book, “Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World,” the business reporter and former McKinsey consultant exposes the willful blindness of bright-eyed social entrepreneurs and TED-talking executives who, having drunk their own late-stage capitalist Kool-Aid, are now ready to serve us all. Compliments of the house.

Doing Good, Masking Bad

British novelist Anthony Trollope once observed, “I have sometimes thought that there is no being so venomous, so bloodthirsty as a professed philanthropist.”

Legendary short seller Jim Chanos, who teaches business students to spot fraud, understands why: when he scrutinizes a company for signs of shady activity, one of the things he looks for is an uptick in philanthropy— a strategy business ethics professor Marianne Jennings has named as one of the “seven signs of ethical collapse” in organizations. Chanos refers to the ruse as “doing good to mask doing bad.”

Such cynical public relations gambits are familiar enough to New Yorkers using Citi Bike, the public-private bike share system funded by Citigroup, whose misdeeds helped spark the global financial crisis of 2007-8. Or visitors to the Sackler Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, named for the family whose members own Purdue, the pharmaceutical company that fueled America’s opioid crisis through deceptive marketing of the addictive painkiller OxyContin.

But another sort of deep-pocketed philanthropist is harder to pin down. The harm she causes seems less direct; her motives more lofty. This type is fond of touting “win-win” solutions to social problems and tossing out terms like “impactful” and “scalable” and “paradigm-shifting” —the kind of lingo fed to business school students in lieu of critical thinking. Members of this group nevertheless refer to themselves as “thought leaders.”

These would-be benefactors of humanity tend to like former president Bill Clinton, whose Clinton Global Initiative became the ultimate road show for eager converts to what Giridharadas calls the faith of “win-winnerism,” i.e. “I’m doing great in this racket, and so can you.” Inhabiting Silicon Valley start-ups, venture capital firms, think tanks, and consulting companies in large metropolitan areas, philanthrocapitalists speak reverently of global poverty, but rarely touch down in places like Appalachia or rural Mississippi.

They are people like John Mackey, the chief executive of Whole Foods Market, whose book “Conscious Capitalism” is the bible for those aspiring to the win-win faith. In his formulation, CEOs are not simply the heads of companies, but transcendent beings that find “great joy and beauty in their work, and in the opportunity to serve, lead, and help shape a better future.” Mackey’s philosophy is one in which the beneficiaries of commerce should dedicate themselves to social improvement because they are obviously the best equipped to do the job. The public is meant to humbly follow.

This last bit, as Giridharadas shrewdly points out, may be far more radical than the old trickle-down philosophy of yesterday’s winners, who lobbied the government to get out of their way so that the bounteous by-products of their cutthroat activities could descend unimpeded to the poor. The new winners want something even more audacious: to replace the role of government as guardian of the common good.

Giridharadas presents searching conversations with well-educated, often well-meaning people floating above and apart from the lives of ordinary Americans, wishing to ease their consciences but failing both to clearly see the problems of society and to notice, for more than a nagging moment, the ways in which their own lives are financed by the fruits of injustice. They end up embracing a warm-and-fuzzy vision of changing the world that leaves brutal underlying structures securely in place.

The author has said what few who have traveled in this world have said plainly, lest their passport be revoked: the efforts of philanthrocapitalists are largely disruptive, rather than beneficial, to public life.

You can see it in the kind of ideas they embrace. Lecture slots at Davos don’t get doled out for discussing the need to expand popular, time-tested programs like Social Security and Medicare that are proven to reduce poverty and economic inequality. Such sensible fare is not nearly “innovative” or exotic enough—and besides, it might require the wealthy to pay additional taxes. Better are schemes like universal basic income that tend to favor elite interests (such as continuing to pay workers inadequate wages) or creating technological solutions like the one offered in the book by a young win-winnerist: an app that charges workers to manage the unpredictable cash flow caused by erratic work schedules.

And what of campaigning to outlaw the exploitative business practice that causes the problem in the first place? Notsomuch.

Talking about victims plays well on the philanthrocapitalist circuit, but pointing out perpetrators is largely forbidden. You can wow the crowd by peddling for-profit schemes to help the poor, but you won’t get the same applause by calling to jail criminal executives. Yet, as Giridharadas makes clear, even the fanciest app will not erase the feeling among ordinary people that the system has been captured by a small group of the rich and powerful—a feeling that drives them away in disgust from establishment politics and makes them very angry indeed.

What the philanthrocapitalist has a hard time admitting is that meaningful structural change involves a lot more than an app and a PowerPoint. It means taking on financialized corporations that engage in stock market manipulation to enrich shareholders rather than investing in workers and products that are actually useful to human beings. It requires fixing a regressive tax system in which the wealthy pay less on their investments than working people pay on their earned income. It means empowering workers and taking on the coercive hierarchies of wealth and power that are locking into place a dual economy where the affluent become so removed from the struggles of the majority that they hardly speak the same language.

Antidemocratic and unaccountable, the new philanthropists emerge in Giridharadas’s cautionary book less as the solvers of social problems than the deluded enablers. The emperor may stand there in his organic underpants waving a pie chart, but in the court of public opinion, it is increasingly obvious that he’s not in the least interested in dismantling his own palace.

 

[Lynn Parramore is Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. A cultural theorist who studies the intersection of culture and economics, she is Contributing Editor at AlterNet, where she received the Bill Moyers/Schumann Foundation fellowship in journalism for 2012. She is also a frequent contributor to Reuters, Al Jazeera, Salon, Huffington Post, and other outlets. Her first book of cultural history, Reading the Sphinx (Palgrave Macmillan) was named a “Notable Scholarly Book for 2008” by the Chronicle of Higher Education. A web entrepreneur, Parramore is co-founder of the Next New Deal (formerly New Deal 2.0) blog of the Roosevelt Institute, where she served as media fellow from 2009-2011, and she is also co-founder of Recessionwire.com, and founding editor of IgoUgo.com. Full bio]

Moment of Truth – the Fight for Hard Net Neutrality Regulation

Disruptive Views

July 20, 2016

by Tony Poulos

 

Over the last few years, John Strand and his firm, Strand Consult, have followed the net neutrality debate and published a number of research notes and 7 detailed reports on the topic. Hard net neutrality rules are in place in some 50 countries even though soft rules are proven to work better to support investment and innovation.

For the last 20 years Strand Consult has published serious, independent research about the telecommunications industry. They are not afraid to say unpopular and embarrassing things about its actors in the industry.

With this free report “The moment of truth – a portrait of the fight for hard net neutrality regulation by Save The Internet and other internet activists” Strand Consult shares its knowledge and offers a free 50 page report detailing how sophisticated global coalitions such as Save the Internet have succeeded to overwhelm seemingly “independent” telecom regulators and implement hard rules.

The report shows that Save The Internet and other internet activists with well-funded, globally coordinated, digitally sophisticated campaigns, have succeeded to deliver hard net neutrality regulations in some 50 countries. Internet activism is an industry; “digital prostitutes” who will lend their support to corporate inspired causes are available for hire; and net neutrality activism receives hundreds of millions of dollars of support from corporate and foundation funders intent on protecting their financial portfolios and business models.

US-based net neutrality activists franchise and broker their activism models and concepts to a variety of activist entrepreneurs around the world. Telecom regulators such as BEREC, FCC and TRAI are both supporters and victims of activist campaigns. They may tout the mails delivered as part of digital campaigns as support for rulemaking, but they also experience increasing lack of credibility, as the activism exposes their lack of political independence.

SavetheInternet.eu website: “In this campaign hundreds of thousands of Internet users banded together from 2013 till 2016 to keep the Internet free and open. Together, we sent a loud, clear message to the European Institutions: protect net neutrality. And it worked! The final rules, which were published on 30 August 2016, offer some of the strongest net neutrality protections we could wish for. So long as these new rules are properly enforced by national telecom regulators, they represent a resounding victory for net neutrality.”

SavetheInternet.eu purports to have delivered some 94,000 mails to BEREC as part of the net neutrality consultation, but based upon access to “20,000” mails Strand Consult received under freedom of information laws, Strand Consult believes the actual number to be only 4,000 – 5,000 mails. Each mail is delivered to the 28 telecom regulators of the EU. Moreover some 30 percent of the mail come from Americans in the USA, not Europeans.

In a battle that has waged for a decade, telecom operators have been outmatched by the net neutrality lobby in funding, coordination, leadership, and impact.  The funding of the Ford and Open Society Foundations to activists alone exceed what the entire telecom industry spends on advocacy on the issue. In the BEREC stakeholder consultation in December 2015, Google had financial support with 7 of the 14 official stakeholder organizations in all three categories (including 3 of the 4 civil society organizations).  Telecom industry representatives were only found in one category.

In a modern democracy, it is important to listen to people and have a debate.  A serious debate should be based on facts and provide transparency. The debate about a free and open internet is important, but self-interested Internet companies such as Google and Netflix have poisoned the debate. They have used their combination of money, public relations spin, and outsourcing of the dirty work to digital prostitutes around the World.

Avaaz website: “Update 12 November 2014|”We won! After a nerve-wracking battle, the delivery of our 1.1 million-strong petition, and hundreds of thousands of emails and calls to key MEPs, the EU Parliament voted for strong Net Neutrality rules. Now the EU governments have the final say — let’s keep up the pressure so they don’t backtrack – sign and tell everyone!”

The net neutrality debate is not about a free and open internet; it is game in which big companies fight their competitors. In the process, users and regulators are abused as tools. BEREC, FCC, TRAI and other regulators has become the naïve victims, having been co-opted by well-funded activists.  The process could be cleaned up with an appropriate return to the facts and academic evidence.

Strand Consult’s goal is to bring transparency to the net neutrality debate and to demonstrate how well-funded, sophisticated global campaigns have succeeded to make hard net neutrality rules in the US, EU, India, and other countries.

Download the free report here: The Moment of Truth

[Tony Poulos is a freelance writer, regular speaker, MC and chairman for the telecoms and digital services industries worldwide. He has founded and managed software and services companies, acts a market strategist and is now Editor of DisruptiveViews. In June 2011, Tony was recognized as one of the 25 most influential people in telecom software worldwide.]

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

 

Avaaz Investigative Report Series 2012 [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VI

Avaaz Investigative Report Series 2017 [Further Reading]: Part I

 

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]

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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]

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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

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

Edited with Forrest Palmer, Wrong Kind of Green Collective.

 

 

 

The 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 support her independent journalism via Patreon.]

[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?