Neo-Liberalism and the Defanging of Feminism

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded (Excerpts)

Utne Reader

Republished with added images by Warrior Publications 

December 22, 2016

It’s time to liberate activists from the nonprofit industrial complex


New Brunswick Dec 2 fire flag drumPi’kmaq warriors at tire fire blockade during resistance to exploratory seismic testing for fracking, New Brunswick, December 2013.


Excerpts from the book The Revolution Will Not Be Funded

The nonprofit system has tamed a generation of activists. They’ve traded in grand visions of social change for salaries and stationery; given up recruiting people to the cause in favor of writing grant proposals and wooing foundations; and ceded control of their movements to business executives in boardrooms.

This argument—that reformers have morphed into cogs in the nonprofit industrial complex—is explained and explored in the fiery anthology The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, edited by the INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence collective (South End, 2007).

One piece of the puzzle: “Foundations provide tax shelters for wealthy families and thereby take away tax income that could be used for social programs and entitlements,” Andrea J. Ritchie, an INCITE! member, told Make/shift. “And then [the foundations] dole out little bits of money for nonprofits to replace the services that the government no longer funds.”

The book brings together 21 experienced radical activists to explore the shortcomings of nonprofits as movement makers; here are excerpts from three chapters.

—The Editors of Utne Reader

Adjoa Florência Jones de Almeida

Sista II Sista Collective, Brooklyn, New York

What has happened to the great civil rights and black power movements of the 1960s and 1970s? Where are the mass movements of today within this country? The short answer: They got funded. Social justice groups and organizations have become limited as they’ve been incorporated into the nonprofit model. We as activists are no longer accountable to our constituents or members because we don’t depend on them for our existence. Instead, we’ve become primarily accountable to public and private foundations as we try to prove to them that we are still relevant and efficient and thus worthy of continued funding.

In theory, foundation funding provides us with the ability to do the work—it is supposed to facilitate what we do. But funding also shapes and dictates our work by forcing us to conceptualize our communities as victims. We are forced to talk about our members as being “disadvantaged” and “at risk,” and to highlight what we are doing to prevent them from getting pregnant or taking drugs—even when this is not, in essence, how we see them or the priority for our work.

And what are our priorities? Perhaps the real problem is that we don’t spend enough time imagining what we want and then doing the work to sustain that vision. That is one of the fundamental ways the corporate-capitalist system tames us: by robbing us of our time and flooding us in a sea of bureaucratic red tape, which we are told is a necessary evil for guaranteeing our organization’s existence. We are too busy being told to market ourselves by pimping our communities’ poverty in proposals, selling “results” in reports and accounting for our finances in financial reviews.

In essence, our organizations have become mini-corporations, because on some level, we have internalized the idea that power—the ability to create change—equals money.


Zapatistas in formation.  Top: Juan Popoca / Bottom: Ángeles Torrejón

If nonprofit jobs are the only spaces where our communities are engaged in fighting for social justice and creating alternatives to oppressive systems, then we will never be able to engage in radical social change. Would the Zapatistas in Chiapas or the Landless Workers Movement members in Brazil have been able to develop their radical autonomous societies if they had been paid to attend meetings and to occupy land? If these mass movements had been their jobs, it would have been very easy to stop them by merely threatening to pull their paychecks.

In this country, our activism is held hostage to our jobs—we are completely dependent on a salary structure, and many of us spend over half of our staff hours struggling to raise salaries instead of creating real threats and alternatives to the institutional oppression faced by our communities. Meanwhile, the imaginative and spiritual perspective that would allow us to question the “givens” dictated by neoliberalism begins to erode.

Amara H. Pérez

Sisters in Action for Power, Portland, Oregon

Foundations are ultimately interested in the packaging and production of success stories, measurable outcomes, and the use of infrastructure and capacity-building systems. As nonprofit organizations that rely on foundation money, we must embrace and engage in the organizing market. This resembles a business model in that the consumers are foundations to which organizations offer to sell their political work for a grant. The products sold include the organizing accomplishments, models, and successes that one can put on display to prove competency and legitimacy. In the “movement market,” organizations competing for limited funding are, most commonly, similar groups doing similar work across the country. Not only does the movement market encourage organizations to focus solely on building and funding their own work, it can create uncomfortable and competitive relationships between groups most alike—chipping away at any semblance of a movement-building culture.

Over time, funding trends actually come to influence our work, priorities, and direction as we struggle to remain competitive and funded in the movement market. For many activists, this has shifted the focus from strategies for radical change to charts and tables that demonstrate how successfully the work has satisfied foundation-determined benchmarks.

Madonna Thunder Hawk

Cheyenne River Sioux reservation, South Dakota

Women of All Red Nations (WARN) had tax-exempt status once, but we let it lapse. It was too complicated. No one wanted to sit in the office and write reports with time and energy that could be used to advance our movement.

How we organized was different from how activists tend to respond now. We didn’t wait for permission from anyone. We didn’t have people tell us, this is too big of a project for you to do—you should contact the state or some other governing power first. Nowadays, an organization might want to do something more creative, but its board of directors will tell them no. We did not worry if our work would upset funders; we just worried about whether the work would help our communities.

New Brunswick Dec 2 women warriors

Mi’kmaq warriors at a tire fire blockade on Hwy 11, Dec 2, 2013, during resistance to SWN exploratory work for fracking.

Before, we focused on how to organize to make change, but now most people will only work within funding parameters. People work for a salary rather than because they are passionate about an issue. When you start paying people to do activism, you can start to attract people to the work who are not primarily motivated by or dedicated to the struggle. In addition, getting paid to do the work can also change those of us who are dedicated. Before we know it, we start to expect to be paid and do less unpaid work than we would have before. This way of organizing benefits the system, of course, because people start seeing organizing as a career rather than as involvement in a social movement that requires sacrifice.

As a result, organizing is not as effective. For example, we first started organizing around diabetes by analyzing the effects of government commodities on our health: Indian communities were given unhealthy foods by the government in exchange for our having been relocated from our lands, where we engaged in subsistence living, and now damming and other forms of environmental destruction affect our ability to be self-sustaining. Today you can get a federal grant to work on diabetes prevention, but rather than get the community to organize around the politics of diabetes, people just sit in an office all day and design pamphlets. Activism is relegated to events. Many people will get involved for an event, but avoid rocking the boat on an ongoing basis because if they do, they might lose their funding. For instance, if the government is funding the pamphlet, then an organization is not going to address the impact of U.S. colonialism on Native diets because they don’t want to lose funding.

Activism is tough; it is not for people interested in building a career.


Excerpted from The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, edited by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence, South End Press 2007


WATCH: Direct Action: Ann Hansen and the Squamish Five


Thirty-five years ago, in 1982, the financialization and pacification of “movements” was already well underway. The Squamish Five was a group that resisted this co-optation.

The Fifth Estate: “From 2002 our profile of the Squamish Five. Direct Action, or the Squamish Five as dubbed by the media, was a group of self-proclaimed ‘urban guerillas,’ active in the 1980s. These activists were not motivated by any political ideology but rather had become frustrated with traditional methods of activism which they saw as inefficient and futile. The group was implicated in a series of spectacular bombings which made them both wanted outlaws and symbols of protest. Their first target was B.C. Hydro, which had come under fire for spraying pesticides. Second, they bombed Litton Systems, a manufacturer of American cruise missile components. Unfortunately, this operation went horribly wrong; bombs went off before all employees could be evacuated. Ten employees were injured, some seriously. Third, the group bombed Red Hot Video, a pornographic video store which carried overly violent films. Eventually, the group was captured by police in a dramatic confrontation and all were sent to jail. Their sentences varied from six years to life, although all were out of prison by the early 1990s. Twenty years later, Ann Hansen, perhaps the toughest and most committed of them all, reflects on the decisions they made and the consequences that arose.”

Further reading & free download: Direct action: memoirs of an urban guerrilla – Ann Hansen


“From its origins in the Canadian anarchist and counter-cultural milieu of the late 70s/early 80s; to going underground into a clandestine life of arms drills, explosive practice, stealing cars, and (failed) armored car heists; to the massive reaction and surveillance of a State that felt (understandably) very much under attack; to the subsequent “trial by media” of those involved—this is very real, incredible revolutionary “true-crime” tale of unrepentant action.

Four hundred, eighty pages of fast-paced narrative are topped off with Communiqués issued for all the actions and Ann Hansen’s “Statement To The Court Before Sentencing.”

A triumph of storytelling, history, and a very real debate about movement tactics, goals, and vision.

“Hansen’s story is an intense, articulate rendering of her motivations and desire to be part of an effective revolutionary force for social justice.”

Review via AK Press




Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 6 | Conclusion]

Wrong Kind of Green

December 14, 2016

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

Part 6 – Conclusion


To conclude the series, Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer wrap up their deep and thorough analysis of the detour and smokescreens the current and carefully engineered, “clean energy revolution” has traversed. The mass movement meant to corral “millennials” and well-intentioned citizens to get in step with the 21st century is not meant to end the reliance on fossil fuel, only to transform the package. Profits are still reaped but at who’s expense? Manufactured activism thrives at the NGO, corporate and individual level in order to sustain the wolves in sheep clothing who are the Executive Directors, Hedge Fund managers, Philanthropists and private Investors….all profiteers in one sense or another. Corporate warfare is being waged via the most gentle form of soft power. The non-profit industrial complex is the clearinghouse for the distribution of these soft power mechanisms. Collectively, Western society has been conditioned to believe that anthropocentrism is environmentalism and anthropocentrists are environmental activists. It is quite possible that this may be one of the best examples of successful social engineering to date, as financed by the world’s most powerful oligarchs.


Coloured Devolutions

Environmentalism is dead. Today we bear witness to 21st century anthropocentrism.  The goal is no longer to protect nature and all living things. In stark contrast, the goal is to now propel technology at the expense of nature and all living things. A “clean energy revolution”, at the expense of what little remains of nature and non-human life, for the gratification of human desires. In this sense western societies have collectively devolved to the most contemptible depths imaginable. Yet, as a conditioned society, few notice. As always, youth are targeted and groomed, the sacrificial lambs for continued capitalism. [Further reading: From Stable to Starr-The Making of North American Climate Heroes]#HerdingSheep


Wear blue. Wear red. Wear yellow. Photos-ops. Branding. Playful gimmicks for the bored, privileged masses. Those with the highest social metrics receive the most funding. It’s a race. A race to the bottom.


Flood Wall Street marketing: Wear blue. #Other98


Flood Wall Street marketing: Wear blue. #Other98


Flood Wall Street marketing: Wear blue. #Other98


Climate March Delhi India, September 2014. Wear blue.


Standing Rock marketing. Wear blue. #Other98


Wear Red: Red Lines for Climate Actions Manual, COP21, Paris. [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”][Source]





COP21. The above photograph appears in an article titled “Indigenous Peoples Take Lead at D12 Day of Action in Paris – Official response to COP21 agreement”.’s “red” campaign is interwoven into the statement. [Source] The reality is that Indigenous Peoples are used as photo-ops by NGOs to advance an elite and patriarchal agenda that only propels further Indigenous genocide.

 “The process of influencing a mass audience to respond reflexively to induced prompts — like marching in parades or flooding financial districts wearing the color blue — requires looking beyond the civil society fad of I-pad revolution, and examining modern social “movements” as cults. Icons like Klein are as interchangeable as Hollywood starlets, but mass hypnosis of social activists by Wall Street titans using foundation-funded NGO is a troubling development.”— HIJACKING THE ENVIRONMENTAL MOVEMENT, April 25, 2016


The Bishnoi: Eco Warriors Since the 15th Century (India)  – In 1730, 363 Bishnoi men, women and children gave their lives to protect trees from being lumbered to build Maharajah Abhay Singh of Jodhpur’s new palace.




Solar Technology  | Marketing in 21st century anthropocentrism


To prevent the king’s men from cutting down their forest, Bishnoi men, women and children gathered around the trees and hugged them.






Wind turbine technology | Marketing in 21st century anthropocentrism


This tragic event, known as the Khejarli Massacre, is also the first recorded event of the Chipko movement (hugging trees to prevent destruction, or just to love them) in history… long before the 1970s. [Source] Today we chop trees down for “green” biomass, solar and wind projects.



The new environmentalism created by the NPIC. Climate March Delhi India, September 2014. Wear yellow.


Avaaz climate campaign


The above image captures the dreams and aspirations of 21st century anthropocentrism: solar, wind, wealth. Nature is virtually non-existent in the “climate factory” poster. It floats in the background as an afterthought.


Above: style guide: “Focus on people. Whenever possible, use visuals to emphasize that climate is a real, tangible human problem – not an abstract ecological issue.”

Collectively, Western society has been conditioned to believe that anthropocentrism is environmentalism and anthropocentrists are environmental activists. It is quite possible that this may be one of the best examples of successful social engineering to date, as financed by the world’s most powerful oligarchs.

Storytelling has always served as an integral, influential and dynamic component of human development and evolution. Today our stories are being scripted by those in power and used as subtly persuasive but powerful weapons – against ourselves. Whereas in the past environmentalism was the fight to protect nature and non-human life, today’s anthropocentrism serves to protect first world privilege, human life (Anglo) – at the EXPENSE of nature and non-human life (as well as non-Anglo human life). Today storytelling is a key component of behavioural change experts, marketing executives and NGOs who employ effective storytelling to sell us anything they wish, inclusive of death and war. [SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire] Yet, in this sense, we could categorize these soft-power “movements” as those that fall in the category of “colour revolutions”.



Greenpeace and Tcktcktck volunteers raise a wind turbine on the beach at dawn in Durban, South Africa. To send a message of hope for the latest round of UN climate change talks opening here on Monday. Campaigners say Durban must be a new dawn for the international negotiations to agree a fair, ambitious and legally binding treaty to avert climate chaos. They are demanding that politicians stop listening to the polluting corporations and listen to the people who want an end to our dependence on fossil fuels. Africa is on the front line of dangerous climate change, with millions already suffering the impacts through increased drought and extreme weather events, threatening lives and food security.


CONCLUSION: Manufactured Activism & Rebranding Control of Dissent


Militarism and Genocide in Exchange for the Maintaining of Privilege – An Agreed Upon Alibi

Collectively, American citizens have been most tolerant of a buildup of fascism and militarism over the past years and decades. Providing this is carried out in a somewhat covert manner with a charismatic veneer (The Obama administration/democrats) it is not only acceptable, but has resulted in a pro-war “left” that has cheered on (or been silent on) illegal invasions, occupations and coups throughout the middle east and global south. However when the same blatant racism, classism and fascism is carried out by an openly fascist leader (who lacks the political correctness that the imperial-liberal left demands) the same imperial-liberal left brigade cries a river of crocodile tears.

In this same way, American citizens have been most tolerant of the Bakken genocide that feeds their oil addiction and ensures their highly consumptive lifestyle, and most importantly, ensures their privilege remains intact. This is an unspoken known. How many Americans  actually recoiled at the words of Madeline Albright “we think the price is worth it” in response to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children? The ugly truth is, we are willing to participate, to stay silent, provided we are guaranteed the right to pretend otherwise. As just one example consider the ongoing and endless Congo holocaust to service our tech desires. The response is silence. Collectively it is understood and agreed upon that “we think the price is worth it.” We want our technology. New cell phones, computers, renewable energies, electric cars. Like the Obama charisma that created a veneer of fabricated  innocence and American exceptionalism, giving imperial-left liberals full license to ignore the millions that have suffered and died under his murderous administration, the NODAPL gives license to imperial-left liberals to appropriate a similar alibi. We can brand ourselves as moral citizens standing in unity with Indigenous nations, all while we maintain and propel a system that promises further genocide to Indigenous people in the Bakken and throughout the globe.


Win! Credit: Solar Mosaic and US Department of Defense | “The US military knows better than anyone the importance of energy independence,” Mosaic president Billy Parish was quoted in a company press release. “Mosaic is pleased to offer more Americans the opportunity to tangibly support this by investing in rooftop solar energy for military families. As a father, I’m working everyday to create a secure home, nation, and planet for my children.” [Source]

Once again, the NPIC is succeeding at sanitizing a critical discussion that should be centered on Indigenous peoples and an ongoing Indigenous genocide due to colonization, assimilation and industrialization (which NGOs will only further via global campaigns for “clean” energy). Instead of focusing on these issues as well the key issue of sovereignty, the NPIC works to ensure the masses focus on a singular pipeline, a subterfuge to marginalize and reframe all systemic issues. We focus on the transportation method of oil (in this case, again, a pipeline) rather than what is the driving force of oil itself. What we do not touch upon and what is never discussed is the question of who benefits – at the expense of what groups and nations of people are sacrificed. Nor does non-human life enter the discussion, let alone the thought-process whatsoever. This is due to the fact the environmental movement that materialized decades ago is now obsolete. Via the conditioning of our societies and the non-profit industrial complex who work at the bequest of their elite financiers, cultivated “activists” are in truth anthropocentrists. Manufactured “activism” today must be re-defined as full blown anthropocentrism en masse. Today’s 21st century “activism” (anthropocentrism), has nothing to do with the protection of nature, of Earth, or her non-human inhabitants. Further, this “green” anthropocentrism, born of European-American ideologies shaped, molded, and nurtured by elite power structures, is an anthropocentrism that believes in, and caters to white supremacy, even if this belief is subconscious or subtle (aversive racism).

Today’s 21st century anthropocentrism is given more credence when barely an eyebrow is raised by the fact that NGOs now partner with and aid militarism [October 14, 2016: A Cynical Environmentalism: Protecting Nature to Prepare for War] and even produce terrorist factions under the guise of humanitarian assistance. One key question is this: why do we remain blind to the fact that NGOs who push for a new global infrastructure of “clean” energy are financed to further advance imperialism?

October 14, 2016 from the article: A Cynical Environmentalism: Protecting Nature to Prepare for War:

 “Altendorf was speaking on September 5 in Honolulu, Hawaii, at a panel discussion hosted by the US State Department entitled “Department of Defense Conservation: A Good News Story.” The event was held at the US Pavilion of the World Conservation Congress (WCC), a gathering organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This year’s WCC, attended by over 10,000 conservationists, scientists, government leaders, NGOs and members of civil society from 192 countries, also included representatives of the Army, Navy and Air Force who were eager to talk about caring for the natural world.” — A Cynical Environmentalism: Protecting Nature to Prepare for War, October 14, 2016

“By rebranding itself as a guardian of nature, the military improves its own public image and achieves a veneer of unassailability while bolstering its primary mission, which is, of course, the ability to wage war. In reality, war’s brutal and merciless goal of domination and control is the furthest thing imaginable from nurturing or preservation.” [Source]

Remix: : “By rebranding itself as a guardian of Indigenous sovereignty, the non-profit industrial complex improves its own public image and achieves a veneer of unassailability while bolstering its primary mission, which is, of course, the ability to protect current power structures. In reality, the oligarchies merciless goal of domination and control is the furthest thing imaginable from nurturing or preservation.”


Revolution doesn’t always come in the form of a gun nor does enslavement always come by way of man. The 21st century version of colonialism has found a new weapon in NGOs.

The last word goes to Assata Shakur: “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of people who oppressing them.”



The Army Corps Of Engineers having announced a pause in the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline has prompted’s Bill McKibben to declare a “a smashing victory” for Indigenous activists, “one that shows what nonviolent unity can accomplish.” This sentence alone, which further romanticizes “nonviolent direct action” (the key talking point of the entire campaign), prompts critical questions deserving of critical analysis.

On the surface, this appears to be a victory for Indigenous sovereignty (albeit if only temporary). However, a rerouting of the final segment of this particular pipeline (87% completed) is not a victory to the Earth in any way, shape or form. The chair of the Standing Rock tribe was clear in his statement that the rerouting of the pipeline was all that was required to make the situation go away (Oct 28, 2016: “Reroute this pipeline, and this will all go away.”) So why did NGOs – that have never shown any meaningful interest in the welfare or land rights of Indigenous peoples nor their sovereignty, worm their way into this particular Indigenous struggle?

Many questions arise. Was this decision made simply to completely disperse the growing crowds that took many months to mobilize, in order to commence construction at a later date with no remaining resistance? Will the application simply be resubmitted in a few weeks time to be approved under the Trump administration?  Will the protest be utilized to stall the pipeline, protecting the interests of Warren Buffett’s BNSF (crude via rail)? A few thing are certain. One: In a global economy close to stall speed, amidst a world swimming in excess oil, there is no urgency for the completion of this pipeline. Two: Warren Buffett’s BNSF profits are already taking a hit. The completion of the Dakota Access (like KXL) would further impact BNSF profits in a slowing economy. Three: Buffett has funneled well over 30 million dollars through his family’s foundation (NoVo) into the Tides Foundation which then disperses the funds amongst selected NGOs carrying out anti-pipeline campaigns.

Regardless, elite powers including the Clinton Global Initiative, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and the Bush Foundation have a new billion dollar model for rolling out the third industrial revolution under the guise of “clean energy”. The tribes are key. A model for the continued pillaging of the planet, under a protective, if not scared, Indigenous veneer. The capitalists have finally found a use for the Indigenous nations. Continued patriarchy and imperialism repackaged as matriarchal self-reliance. Reflect upon the fact that 90 trillion dollars are required to build the “new economy” infrastructure. The fact that this very industrialization (from 1740 to today) has brought us to the precipice of our own extinction is altogether lost. The race for what little remains of our ruthlessly plundered planet accelerates.

We have entered the 21st century where social engineering via behavioural change expertise has become paramount in shaping whole societies to the desires of global hegemony. Corporate warfare is being waged via the most gentle form of soft power. The non-profit industrial complex is the clearinghouse for the distribution of these soft power mechanisms. The Standing Rock protests have undoubtedly served as an experiment in the study of manipulation, conformity, obedience,  assimilation and neocolonialism. Consider the organizing surrounding the Standing Rock protest has been referred to as “a template” for the future by executive director May Boeve.

This is not to suggest that this campaign was engineered (or co-opted) from inception exclusively for experimental/observational purposes (although this too is possible).  Rather, it is more probable, that once underway it was recognized as a prime opportunity for the NGOs (extensions of elite power) that comprise the non-profit industrial complex, to apply, test and observe methods of manipulation and exploitation following their initial engagement. Although this hypothesis may sound implausible to some, the fact that the NPIC has begun its foray into training programs across the globe, makes such speculation both sound and rational.

Can citizens of other cultures, in other countries, many/most of non-Anglo descent, be coerced to disregard and ultimately disband their own traditions, customs, beliefs, by their own will, in exchange for American ideologies? To achieve this, without force, surely is a most effective method. What better way to observe the successes and failures of such a mission than Standing Rock. A separate and distinct culture, right here on (stolen) American soil.

Akin to the global contagion of both Christianity and Catholicism, can a global belief in “the new economy” as constructed and desired by elite powers also be pounded into the masses? Can the masses be conditioned to live and breathe this ideology like are we breathe – without notice? Can a pathology of pacifism be reconstructed as sacrosanct – where non-obedience to the pacifist dogma would be paramount to the seven deadly sins?

This is sought occupation, not physical, but of hearts and minds. Which will undoubtedly prove far more powerful than physical occupation of lands and citizens via force. Obedience and subservience are in fact the pathway to the “new economy”.  This series has attempted to give readers a glimpse into how this is to be achieved and for what purpose. 





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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Understanding Netwar: Communication, Consciousness, and Social Engineering


November 14, 2016

By Jay Taber

View story at

To effectively fight fascism, one must understand netwar (networked psychological warfare). In 2013, I compiled Communications in Conflict — a free download booklet, with everything you need to know on the topic.

I recommend browsing the index titled Resources for Activist Scholars. It has lots of links to books, manuals, papers and reports about real life examples that illustrate the points made in the booklet.

For a list of relevant articles, I suggest the Netwar Reader compiled at Public Good Archives. It’s the best there is.

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

United Against Hate or Hate being United?

The Wall Will Fall

November 13, 2016

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer


If Americans are seriously “united against hate” – why haven’t they united across the country against the murder/occupation/destabilizations of Haitians, Syrians, Libyans, Iraqis, Yemenis, etc. etc. – all carried out/expanded under the democrats? Trump hates and it’s ugly. Obama and Clinton kill but it’s beautiful and heroic – glazed over and black-washed by the imperial liberal left and black bourgeoisie.

One can say without hesitation that (co-founder of Avaaz) has absolutely seized the opportunity to drum up democratic support while gathering further aid and loyalty to their own brand. One can say the same for (a for-profit NGO that collects and sells data via online petitions). Where coloured revolutions financed by the U.S. have always occurred on foreign soil, the current uprising against Trump (sparked by NGOs) is not only unprecedented, but quite different. A coloured revolution is usually carried out to overthrow a leader that is not complying to the dictates of imperialist states to some or full extent. But in this case, both Trump and Clinton (if she had been elected) will fully serve the elites to the extent of their power. Both will serve imperialism as imperialism is the foundation of the “American dream” (in reality a nightmare). Neither will serve the people. Both will accelerate the ongoing destruction of the planet at breakneck speed.

Trump is no Chavez. Trump is appalling. Clinton is no Kirchner. Clinton is a monster. What is fascinating is that there was no public outrage directed at Obama, the likes of which we are now seeing directed at Trump. Nor, if Clinton were elected, would we see any such display of outrage directed toward her. Hatred toward Trump is easily understood. But where was/is the hatred and disdain toward Obama and Clinton? Why is the imperial liberal left blind to the blatant racism and murder carried out by the Democrats under the Obama administration? Is the imperial liberal left simply happy to turn a blind eye if charisma and political correctness can hide the ugly truth, realities and facts? Why do Americans still believe in elections when living under a fascist corporatocracy?


Image: The Slow Burning Fuse

In summary: MoveOn et al created the spark for protests (MoveOn organizing 200 protests across the nation within a 2-hour time frame) – but it was easy to ignite because of the hatred (self-inflicted by the way) of Trump. The liberal masses were the powder keg. Trump was the fuse. The spark was lit during the election season. The lit fuse hit the powder keg on election night. Now, in unison, the NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex reverberate the following messages in the echo-chamber (insert the name of any NGO where the name Avaaz appears.): “To win this fight, we need to be bigger and stronger, to deepen our connection and commitment. So today, we launch our first formal membership drive. Click below to become an Avaaz member, and let’s get serious about $aving the world.”

[“ Civic Action is a 501(c)(4) organization which primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on important national issues. Political Action is a federal political committee which primarily helps members elect candidates who reflect our values through a variety of activities aimed at influencing the outcome of the next election. Political Action and Civic Action are separate organizations.”]




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

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

May the Earth Tremble at Its Core

Zapatista Army for National Liberation

November 9, 2016


Photo credit: (AP Photo/Moyses Zuniga, File)

To the people of the world:

To the free media:

To the National and International Sixth:

Convened for the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the National Indigenous Congress and the living resistance of the originary peoples, nations, and tribes of this country called Mexico, of the languages of Amuzgo, Binni-zaá, Chinanteco, Chol, Chontal de Oaxaca, Coca, Náyeri, Cuicateco, Kumiai, Lacandón, Matlazinca, Maya, Mayo, Mazahua, Mazateco, Mixe, Mixteco, Nahua, Ñahñu, Ñathô, Popoluca, Purépecha, Rarámuri, Tlapaneco, Tojolabal, Totonaco, Triqui, Tzeltal, Tsotsil, Wixárika, Yaqui, Zoque, Chontal de Tabasco, as well as our Aymara, Catalán, Mam, Nasa, Quiché and Tacaná brothers and sisters, we firmly pronounce that our struggle is below and to the left, that we are anticapitalist and that the time of the people has come—the time to make this country pulse with the ancestral heartbeat of our mother earth.

It is in this spirit that we met to celebrate life in the Fifth National Indigenous Congress, which took place on October 9-14, 2016, in CIDECI-UNITIERRA, Chiapas. There we once again recognized the intensification of the dispossession and repression that have not stopped in the 524 years since the powerful began a war aimed at exterminating those who are of the earth; as their children we have not allowed for their destruction and death, meant to serve capitalist ambition which knows no end other than destruction itself. That resistance, the struggle to continue constructing life, today takes the form of words, learning, and agreements. On a daily basis we build ourselves and our communities in resistance in order to stave off the storm and the capitalist attack which never lets up. It becomes more aggressive everyday such that today it has become a civilizational threat, not only for indigenous peoples and campesinos but also for the people of the cities who themselves must create dignified and rebellious forms of resistance in order to avoid murder, dispossession, contamination, sickness, slavery, kidnapping or disappearance. Within our community assemblies we have decided, exercised, and constructed our destiny since time immemorial. Our forms of organization and the defense of our collective life is only possible through rebellion against the bad government, their businesses, and their organized crime.

We denounce the following:

In Pueblo Coca, Jalisco, the businessman Guillermo Moreno Ibarra invaded 12 hectares of forest in the area known as El Pandillo, working in cahoots with the agrarian institutions there to criminalize those who struggle, resulting in 10 community members being subjected to trials that went on for four years. The bad government is invading the island of Mexcala, which is sacred communal land, and at the same time refusing to recognize the Coca people in state indigenous legislation, in an effort to erase them from history.


The Otomí Ñhañu, Ñathö, Hui hú, and Matlatzinca peoples from México State and Michoacán are being attacked via the imposition of a megaproject to build the private Toluca-Naucalpan Highway and an inter-city train. The project is destroying homes and sacred sites, buying people off and manipulating communal assemblies through police presence. This is in addition to fraudulent community censuses that supplant the voice of an entire people, as well as the privatization and the dispossession of water and territory around the Xinantécatl volcano, known as the Nevado de Toluca. There the bad governments are doing away with the protections that they themselves granted, all in order to hand the area over to the tourism industry. We know that all of these projects are driven by interest in appropriating the water and life of the entire region. In the Michoacán zone they deny the identity of the Otomí people, and a group of police patrols have come to the region to monitor the hills, prohibiting indigenous people there from going to the hills to cut wood.


The originary peoples who live in Mexico City are being dispossessed of the territories that they have won in order to be able to work for a living; in the process they are robbed of their goods and subjected to police violence. They are scorned and repressed for using their traditional clothing and language, and criminalized through accusations of selling drugs.


The territory of the Chontal Peoples of Oaxaca is being invaded by mining concessions that are dismantling communal land organization, affecting the people and natural resources of five communities.


The Mayan Peninsular People of Campeche, Yucatán, and Quintana Roo are suffering land disposession as a result of the planting of genetically modified soy and African palm, the contamination of their aquifers by agrochemicals, the construction of wind farms and solar farms, the development of ecotourism, and the activities of real estate developers. Their resistance against high electricity costs has been met with harassment and arrest warrants. In Calakmul, Campeche, five communities are being displaced by the imposition of ‘environmental protection areas,’ environmental service costs, and carbon capture plans. In Candelaria, Campeche, the struggle continues for secure land tenure. In all three states there is aggressive criminalization against those who defend territory and natural resources.


The Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Tojolabal, Chol and Lacandón Maya People of Chiapas continue to be displaced from their territories due to the privatization of natural resources. This has resulted in the imprisonment and murder of those who defend their right to remain in their territory, as they are constantly discriminated against and repressed whenever they defend themselves and organize to continue building their autonomy, leading to increasing rates of human rights violations by police forces. There are campaigns to fragment and divide their organizations, as well as the murders of compañeros who have defended their territory and natural resources in San Sebastián Bachajon. The bad governments continue trying to destroy the organization of the communities that are EZLN bases of support in order to cast a shadow on the hope and light that they provide to the entire world.


The Mazateco people of Oaxaca have been invaded by private property claims which exploit the territory and culture for tourism purposes. This includes naming Huautla de Jimenéz as a “Pueblo Mágico” in order to legalize displacement and commercialize ancestral knowledge. This is in addition to mining concessions and foreign spelunking explorations in existing caves, all enforced by increased harassment by narcotraffickers and militarization of the territory. The bad governments are complicit in the increasing rates of femicide and rape in the region.


The Nahua and Totonaca peoples of Veracruz and Puebla are confronting aerial fumigation, which creates illnesses in the communities. Mining and hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation are carried out through fracking, and 8 watersheds are endangered by new projects that are contaminating the rivers.


The Nahua and Popoluca peoples from the south of Veracruz are under siege by organized crime and also risk territorial destruction and their disappearance as a people because of the threats brought by mining, wind farms, and above all, hydrocarbon exploitation through fracking.


The Nahua people, who live in the states of Puebla, Tlaxcala, Veracruz, Morelos, Mexico State, Jalisco, Guerrero, Michoacán, San Luis Potosí, and Mexico City, are in a constant struggle to stop the advance of the so-called Proyecto Integral Morelos, consisting of pipelines, aqueducts, and thermoelectric projects. The bad governments, seeking to stop the resistance and communication among the communities are trying to destroy the community radio of Amiltzingo, Morelos. Similarly, the construction of the new airport in Mexico City and the surrounding building projects threaten the territories around Texcoco lake and the Valle de México basin, namely Atenco, Texcoco, and Chimalhuacán. In Michocan, the Nahua people face the plunder of their natural resources and minerals by sicarios[hitmen] who are accompanied by police or the army, and also the militarization and paramilitarizaiton of their territories. The cost of trying to halt this war has been murder, persecution, imprisonment, and harassment of community leaders.


The Zoque People of Oaxaca and Chiapas face invasion by mining concessions and alleged private property claims on communal lands in the Chimalapas region, as well as three hydroelectric dams and hydrocarbon extraction through fracking. The implementation of cattle corridors is leading to excessive logging in the forests in order to create pastureland, and genetically modified seeds are also being cultivated there. At the same time, Zoque migrants to different states across the country are re-constituting their collective organization.


The Amuzgo people of Guerrero are facing the theft of water from the San Pedro River to supply residential areas in the city of Ometepec. Their community radio has also been subject to constant persecution and harassment.


The Rarámuri people of Chihuahua are losing their farmland to highway construction, to the Creel airport, and to the gas pipeline that runs from the United States to Chihuahua. They are also threatened by Japanese mining companies, dam projects, and tourism.


The Wixárika people of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Durango are facing the destruction and privatization of the sacred places they depend on to maintain their familial, social, and political fabric, and also the dispossession of their communal land in favor of large landowners who take advantage of the blurry boundaries between states of the Republic and campaigns orchestrated by the bad government to divide people.


The Kumiai People of Baja California continue struggling for the reconstitution of their ancestral territories, against invasion by private interests, the privatization of their sacred sites, and the invasion of their territories by gas pipelines and highways.


The Purépecha people of Michoacán are experiencing deforestation, which occurs through complicity between the bad government and the narcoparamilitary groups who plunder the forests and woods. Community organization from below poses an obstacle to that theft.


For the Triqui people of Oaxaca, the presence of the political parties, the mining industry, paramilitaries, and the bad government foment the disintegration of the community fabric in the interest of plundering natural resources.


The Chinanteco people of Oaxaca are suffering the destruction of their forms of community organization through land reforms, the imposition of environmental services costs, carbon capture plans, and ecotourism. There are plans for a four-lane highway to cross and divide their territory. In the Cajono and Usila Rivers the bad governments are planning to build three dams that will affect the Chinanteco and Zapoteca people, and there are also mining concessions and oil well explorations.


The Náyeri People of Nayarit face the invasion and destruction of their sacred territories by the Las Cruces hydroelectric project in the site called Muxa Tena on the San Pedro River.


The Yaqui people of Sonora continue their sacred struggle against the gas pipeline that would cross their territory, and in defense of the water of the Yaqui River, which the bad governments want to use to supply the city of Hermosillo, Sonora. This goes against judicial orders and international appeals which have made clear the Yaqui peoples’ legal and legitimate rights. The bad government has criminalized and harassed the authorities and spokespeople of the Yaqui tribe.


The Binizzá and Ikoot people organize to stop the advance of the mining, wind, hydroelectric, dam, and gas pipeline projects. This includes in particular the Special Economic Zone on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the infrastructure that threatens the territory and the autonomy of the people on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec who are classified as the “environmental Taliban” and the “indigenous rights Taliban,” the precise words used by the Mexican Association of Energy to refer to the Popular Assembly of the Juchiteco People.


The Mixteco people of Oaxaca suffer the plunder of their agrarian territory, which also affects their traditional practices given the threats, deaths, and imprisonment that seek to quiet the dissident voices, with the bad government supporting armed paramilitary groups as in the case of San Juan Mixtepec, Oaxaca.


The Mixteco, Tlapaneco, and Nahua peoples from the mountains and coast of Guerrero face the imposition of mining megaprojects supported by narcotraffickers, their paramilitaries, and the bad governments, who fight over the territories of the originary peoples.


The Mexican bad government continues to lie, trying hide its decomposition and total responsibility for the forced disappearance of the 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers College in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero.


The state continues to hold hostage: compañerosPedro Sánchez Berriozábal, Rómulo Arias Míreles, Teófilo Pérez González, Dominga González Martínez, Lorenzo Sánchez Berriozábal, and Marco Antonio Pérez González from the Nahua community of San Pedro Tlanixco in Mexico State; Zapotec compañero Álvaro Sebastián from the Loxicha region; compañeros Emilio Jiménez Gómez and Esteban Gómez Jiménez, prisoners from the community of Bachajón, Chiapas; compañeros Pablo López Álvarez and the exiled Raul Gatica García and Juan Nicolás López from the Indigenous and Popular Council of Oaxaca Ricardo Flores Magón. Recently a judge handed down a 33-year prison sentence to compañero Luis Fernando Sotelo for demanding that the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa be returned alive, and to the compañeros Samuel Ramírez Gálvez, Gonzalo Molina González and Arturo Campos Herrera from the Regional Coordination of Community Authorities – PC. They also hold hundreds of indigenous and non-indigenous people across the country prisoner for defending their territories and demanding justice.


The Mayo people’s ancestral territory is threatened by highway projects meant to connect Topolobampo with the state of Texas in the United States. Ambitious tourism projects are also being created in Barranca del Cobre.


The Dakota Nation’s sacred territory is being invaded and destroyed by gas and oil pipelines, which is why they are maintaining a permanent occupation to protect what is theirs.

For all of these reasons, we reiterate that it our obligation to protect life and dignity, that is, resistance and rebellion, from below and to the left, a task that can only be carried out collectively. We build rebellion from our small local assemblies that combine to form large communal assemblies, ejidal assemblies, Juntas de Buen Gobierno [Good Government Councils], and coalesce as agreements as peoples that unite us under one identity. In the process of sharing, learning, and constructing ourselves as the National Indigenous Congress, we see and feel our collective pain, discontent, and ancestral roots. In order to defend what we are, our path and learning process have been consolidated by strengthening our collective decision-making spaces, employing national and international juridical law as well as peaceful and civil resistance, and casting aside the political parties that have only brought death, corruption, and the buying off of dignity. We have made alliances with various sectors of civil society, creating our own resources in communication, community police and self-defense forces, assemblies and popular councils, and cooperatives; in the exercise and defense of traditional medicine; in the exercise and defense of traditional and ecological agriculture; in our own rituals and ceremonies to pay respect to mother earth and continue walking with and upon her, in the cultivation and defense of native seeds, and in political-cultural activities, forums, and information campaigns.

This is the power from below that has kept us alive. This is why commemorating resistance and rebellion also means ratifying our decision to continue to live, constructing hope for a future that is only possible upon the ruins of capitalism.

Given that the offensive against the people will not cease, but rather grow until it finishes off every last one of us who make up the peoples of the countryside and the city, who carry profound discontent that emerges in new, diverse, and creative forms of resistance and rebellion, this Fifth National Indigenous Congress has decided to launch a consultation in each of our communities to dismantle from below the power that is imposed on us from above and offers us nothing but death, violence, dispossession, and destruction. Given all of the above, we declare ourselves in permanent assembly as we carry out this consultation, in each of our geographies, territories, and paths, on the accord of the Fifth CNI to name an Indigenous Governing Council whose will would be manifest by an indigenous woman, a CNI delegate, as an independent candidate to the presidency of the country under the name of the National Indigenous Congress and the Zapatista Army for National Liberation in the electoral process of 2018. We confirm that our struggle is not for power, which we do not seek. Rather, we call on all of the originary peoples and civil society to organize to put a stop to this destruction and strengthen our resistances and rebellions, that is, the defense of the life of every person, family, collective, community, or barrio. We make a call to construct peace and justice by reweaving ourselves from below, from where we are what we are.

This is the time of dignified rebellion, the time to construct a new nation by and for everyone, to strengthen power below and to the anticapitalist left, to make those who are responsible for all of the pain of the peoples of this multi-colored Mexico pay.

Finally, we announce the creation of the official webpage of the CNI:


Chiapas, October 2016

For the Full Reconstitution of Our Peoples

Never Again a Mexico Without Us

National Indigenous Congress

Zapatista Army for National Liberation

Translation source: Enlace Zapatista


Bloodless Lies

The New Inquiry

November 2, 2016

By Lorenzo Raymond


This is an Uprising, a widely celebrated new book about how social movements change history, distorts their histories to celebrate non-violence

The black revolt of 2014 was a turning point in how Americans discussed the use of force in social movements. In the pages of the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates acknowledged that “violence works.” Rolling Stone and the Huffington Post echoed much the same sentiment. Laci Green–a YouTube star and one of the “30 most influential people on the Internet,” according to Time–posted a popular video drawing favorable comparisons between the Ferguson riots and the revolution depicted in The Hunger Games. This sea change was led by the movement itself as African American youth in Ferguson rejected Al Sharpton and other older leaders, partly due to disagreement on strict nonviolence.

Mark Engler and Paul Engler, This Is an Uprising. Nation Books. 2016. 368 pages.
The notable exceptions to this trend were those who spoke for the state. These parties advocated for nonviolent action in a most conspicuous way. On the eve on the announcement of the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, the killer of Mike Brown, Attorney General Eric Holder solemnly intoned that “history has shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence.” In an ABC interview on the same day, President Obama urged that the “first and foremost” responsibility for Americans reacting to the verdict was to “keep protests peaceful.”

It shouldn’t be necessary to remind people of major public discussions from two years ago, but America is a notoriously forgetful nation. And when it comes to matters of protest, politics, reform, and revolt, many people are invested in this kind of forgetting. The stated purpose of Mark and Paul Engler’s new book This Is an Uprising (2015) is to work against this historical amnesia. The Engler brothers profess to build “a healthy movement ecology [which] preserves the memory of how past transformations in society have been achieved.” This is a worthy goal, and the brothers appear well-placed to realize it: one is a professional community organizer while the other is a fixture of progressive publications including Dissent and Yes! Magazine. The book has been praised effusively by lefty celebrities, including Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein, as the new authoritative text for mass civil disobedience. Yet rather than building on the nuanced understanding of street tactics that developed in the wake of Ferguson, the Englers selectively distort social movement history in a blind commitment to a particular kind of direct action.

The opening chapters are an introduction to the modern history of tactical pacifism as embodied in the practice of Martin Luther King’s Birmingham campaign and, later in the 1960s, by the theories of political scientist Gene Sharp. The authors contend that both these figures abandoned religious nonviolence to develop a rational, realist praxis known as “civil resistance,” not “pacifism.” The principle reason for this name change is that Gene Sharp rejected the P-word, arguing that the term only applied to private individuals operating from spiritual inspiration. The Englers affirm that Sharp’s “politics of nonviolent action” are distinct from pacifism because the latter is essentially apolitical.

What the Englers fail to acknowledge, however, is that virtually all the 20th century activists whom Sharp and his school hold up as role models did call themselves pacifists. A.J. Muste, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King, and even Daniel Berrigan (who for a time defied strict Gandhism by fleeing imprisonment after an act of property destruction) all called themselves pacifists. When scrutinized, the switch from “pacifism” to “nonviolent action” appears to be a case of re-branding in response to the poor reputation pacifism had among young people by the end of the 1960s. This was hardly the first time pacifism was renamed rather than critically challenged: Leo Tolstoy referred to the use of civil disobedience without violence as “non-resistance.” Gandhi rejected that name, but employed essentially the same strategy; Tolstoy and Gandhi exchanged correspondence and agreed on practically all points.

In the 21st century, the term du jour is “civil resistance” and sometimes “people power,” yet the method’s founding father is still considered to be Gandhi. It also seems significant that in spite of “breaking from the earlier traditions of moral pacifism,” as the Englers put it, many of the major proponents of civil resistance, from Gene Sharp to George Lakey to Bill Moyer to Chris Hedges, come from highly religious backgrounds.

In addition to a re-branding, “civil resistance” is also a misbranding. The term is adopted from Thoreau’s 1849 essay “On Resistance to Civil Government,” but his use of “civil” referred to the type of domestic government being resisted, not to the method of civility deployed. Thoreau himself later said that John Brown’s violent lack of civility was the best thing that ever happened to the abolitionist movement.

These contradictions aside, the Englers trace how “civil resistance” has become increasingly accepted in mainstream political science. To demonstrate this, they introduce us to Erica Chenoweth, now one of the most celebrated social movement theorists working in the field. Chenoweth got her start producing the widely cited study Why Civil Resistance Works (2011) in collaboration with Maria J. Stephan of the U.S. State Department. According to the Englers, the study proved that “nonviolent movements worldwide were twice as likely to succeed as violent ones.” But the sample size of the study is far too narrow to prove such a sweeping claim. There are no civil rights or labor struggles included in the Chenoweth data set, which is focused exclusively on regime change. And, as Peter Gelderloos pointed out in his book The Failure of Nonviolence (2013), the outcomes of the nonviolent revolutions cited by Chenoweth have little to do with social justice or liberation. At best they replace one oligarchy with another, with no radical change in social relations or even net gains in quality of life.

At one point, the Englers note that the same political science prize that Chenoweth won–the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award–was previously bestowed on Henry Kissinger. This, for them, is the height of irony: Chenoweth is, after all, the opposite of the Kissingers of the world. But while they may represent different sides of the aisle in terms of American political divisions, Chenoweth’s work is, in many ways, just as useful to the U.S. empire.

At the height of the Cold War, the government used Kissinger’s work to justify the “hard power” of the arms race and violent intervention against communist regimes. Today Chenoweth’s work helps to justify–and in this case, mystify–Obama’s “soft power” agenda of “democracy promotion” exercised through seemingly benign agencies like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP)–the former organization was recently caught covertly organizing against the Castro government in Cuba. And while direct U.S. government involvement with pacifist academics is a relatively new development–emerging in the mid-2000s, around the same time that Gelderloos first observed that “nonviolence protects the state”–their financial relationship goes back at least to Gene Sharp’s first doctoral work in the late 1960s, which was funded by the Department of Defense.

But if the American empire promotes strictly nonviolent movement-building to overthrow its enemies, wouldn’t that demonstrate that it’s as powerful a method as its proponents say it is? The short answer is no. When civil resistance works–and when the U.S. government deploys it abroad–it’s almost always in combination with more violent forms of pressure. To illustrate this, one need look no further than the Yugoslav movement to unseat President Slobodan Miloševi?, which figures prominently in Chenoweth’s famous study and takes up more than thirty pages in This Is an Uprising. In the Englers’ version, this regime change is primarily attributable to Otpor, a “leaderless” student group from Serbia. Otpor promoted nonviolence in the Sharpian model, with an official policy to submit to arrest and abjure any kind of self-defense, even when the police physically abused them. In this way, they won the sympathy of the public and even the Serbian establishment.

But Otpor didn’t operate in a vacuum. Not only did they overthrow Miloševi? in the period when he had just lost a war with NATO, but also, in the midst of Otpor’s campaign, Miloševi? was being challenged by the armed insurgency of the UÇPMB (successor group to the Kosovo Liberation Army). On top of this, militant groups in Montenegro threatened to secede if he was re-elected. The Englers quote Otpor veterans’ claims that the NATO raids undermined the opposition and strengthened the regime, but the record shows that Otpor prospered in the aftermath of the bombing. One prominent civil resistance study acknowledges that “a number of middle and higher-ranking police and army officers made secret pacts with the democratic opposition and helped the movement forward.” Furthermore, Otpor’s victory was not strictly nonviolent: Anti-Miloševi? protesters rioted in October 2000 when the president refused to concede the election. The Englers admit, in passing, that things “got a little out of hand,” but they fail to describe the full extent of the insurrection: not only was there arson and other property destruction in Belgrade, but also the fact that an Otpor supporter killed a civilian by driving over him with a bulldozer.

This cherry-picked example of civil resistance winning its demands occurred in a context where both NATO and an armed guerilla group simultaneously made the same demand. And yet, under today’s political science taxonomy, this is what’s considered a nonviolent victory. Such dubious classification is common in the civil resistance world: Peter Ackerman, the venture capitalist who has funded much of Gene Sharp’s work, once claimed that Ukraine’s Euromaidan movement should be considered nonviolent because only a minority of the protesters threw firebombs and brandished guns.

A good faith argument for pacifist success in such cases would credit the intervening factors as a diversity of tactics supporting a nonviolent core, or attribute it to what is known in social movement theory as the “radical flank effect,” which argues that the presence of radical militants in a social movement helps make the less militant actors seem reasonable and worthy of having their demands met. Yet not only do the Englers undervalue such phenomena, they actively denounce them.

In spite of primarily advocating for nonviolent direct action, the Englers express support for electioneering, stating that while it is a separate tactic, it can complement civil resistance. If they are genuinely non-ideological strategists, they should take the same position towards guerilla activity. But, while the Englers repeatedly speak of the need for movements to “escalate,” they jerk back from any overlap with property destruction. This flinching is excused with a fable of the radical environmental advocacy movement Earth First! in the 1990s. The Englers paint the picture of a movement with a macho fetish for violence that was set right by the influence of the more moderate feminist Judi Bari, who enforced nonviolence and built the populist Redwood Summer campaign of 1990, winning political victories against logging in the Pacific Northwest. This success, the Englers claim, was in marked contrast with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), the monkeywrenching eco-saboteurs who left defected from Earth First! after the rise of Bari.

The ELF is portrayed as a gang of clowns who accomplished nothing besides getting themselves imprisoned. Yet the Englers also tell us that “in the end, Redwood Summer did not produce immediate legislative gains.” The best they can claim for the nonviolent campaign is “a 78 percent drop in logging in national forests.” The ELF began carrying out its arson and sabotage attacks on the logging and tourism industries in the Pacific Northwest in 1996; these years of victory were among ELF’s peak years of activity, when it was clearly functioning as the radical flank of Earth First! But the Englers’ attitude towards militants is eliminationist, not just separatist: the ELF shouldn’t have just left Earth First!, they should have ceased to exist at all. Such absolutism is completely contrary to Bari’s actual policy: “Earth First!, the public group, has a nonviolence code,” she wrote in 1994, “monkeywrenching is done by [the] Earth Liberation Front […] Civil disobedience and sabotage are both powerful tactics in our movement.”

The double standards that the authors apply between violent and nonviolent actors undermine their claims of unbiased pragmatism. When pacifist organizers provoke violent repression, the Englers regard it as a necessary cost of the campaign–“leading proponents of civil resistance emphasize that strategic nonviolent action […] may result in serious injuries and even casualties”–but when black blocs draw repression, it’s completely unacceptable. ACT UP are praised as “desperate, aggressive, and often exceptional young men,” who had the courage to risk “potentially alienating the very people that advocates want to win over.” The ELF, on the other hand, are pictured as fanatics with no strategy. When the civil rights movement employed “often unpopular” tactics, generating “overwhelmingly negative” reaction in public opinion polls, this was admirable; when the Weather Underground and other Vietnam-era militants defied public opinion, they were simply out-of-touch adventurists (even though the latter’s action led to massive troop withdrawals and a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age).

The Englers, it must be noted, have attempted to apply their precepts, not merely theorize them. In the wake of Occupy Wall Street, they helped organize the 99% Spring campaign, a coalition dominated by that aimed to put “hundreds of thousands” of people in the streets to change foreclosure policy. Coalition spokesman and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) executive Stephen Lerner promised to “engage the millions of people we need to do [sic] to build the kind of movement we need at this time in history.” According to him, this was a job that Occupy was not capable of doing without their guidance. In the end, the 99% Spring mobilized a few thousand people–far less than Occupy did nationwide–and had no impact on banking foreclosure policies, which remained abysmal. More recently, the brothers were involved with a nearly identical coalition–Democracy Spring/Democracy Awakening–based around campaign-finance reform. Initially, Democracy Spring seemed more tactically ambitious with a program of organizing mass civil disobedience at the Capitol Building. However, press coverage of the arrests turned out to be so meager that most of the campaign’s supporters were left distraught.

As historians and theorists of social movement, the Englers might have been able to see this failure coming, since they actually describe a precedent for their ineffectual campaigns in This Is an Uprising. In his 1962 project in Albany, Georgia, Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) left a yearlong campaign with no tangible civil rights advances achieved. King had been thwarted by Chief of Police Laurie Pritchett, who capitalized on SCLC’s nonviolent strategy by avoiding any appearance of brutality and de-escalating conflict between police and protesters, thereby pre-empting any dramatic scenes that could draw national attention. King’s reputation within the movement declined until the spectacular victory of the following year’s Birmingham campaign. The Englers spend over twenty pages on Birmingham, promising to demonstrate just why it succeeded while Albany failed, but they never do.

In truth, the Birmingham campaign benefitted from having both a police force and a protest movement that was markedly less peaceful than in Albany. King wasn’t able to get consistent media coverage until after protests became, as Taylor Branch put it, “a duel of rocks and fire hoses.” One of King’s aides, Vincent Harding, later acknowledged that the black youth who came to dominate the campaign’s street action were “the children of Malcom X” and that their escalation to “a burning, car-smashing, police-battling response” marked Birmingham as “the first of the period’s urban rebellions.” Historian Glenn Eskew wrote that “the aftermath of national protest, international pressure, and inner-city riot convinced a reluctant Kennedy administration to propose sweeping legislation that, once passed as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, marked a watershed in race relations.”

Yet these events of the Birmingham campaign are never mentioned in the Englers’ book in any form. It is here that the brothers step into outright dishonesty: they know very well that the scholarly consensus on Birmingham is that the violent protesters made an invaluable contribution (Eskew’s book is one of their sources). Yet in spite of spending a tenth of their book’s text on Birmingham, they refuse to even acknowledge the violent protesters’ existence.

Such historical censorship rationalizes the choreographed civil disobedience that the Englers help organize today, which quarantines “good protesters” from “bad protesters.” This, in turn, enables the same counter-strategy that Laurie Pritchett employed so effectively against King in Albany. What the Englers call “discipline” is actually de-escalation that facilitates police crowd control. Indeed, there is now a fully developed police doctrine known as “negotiated management” based on the avoidance of direct conflict with protesters. The National Lawyers’ Guild official, Traci Yoder, has written that negotiated management “is in many ways more effective […] in neutralizing social justice movements” than overt state repression.

But while the brothers focus on the SCLC at length, they fail to discuss the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who, the brothers passingly admit, pushed SCLC into its most productively confrontational actions. This is not only because the history of SNCC began with Gandhian practice, but also because it rapidly progressed beyond it. Although its militancy is sometimes attributed to Black Power-era missteps, SNCC’s commitment to a genuinely grassroots politics led it to work with openly armed African Americans as early as 1961 in Monroe, North Carolina, as well as with more discreetly armed black peoples all over the South. By spring 1964, SNCC associates in Cambridge, Maryland were having gunfights with the National Guard and one of the group’s advisers, Howard Zinn, noted that the movement had reached “the limits of nonviolence.” But it was crucial that those limits were reached, or there wouldn’t have been a Civil Rights Act.

In spite of its name, SNCC’s principles always had less to do with nonviolence than with organizing from the bottom-up. The group’s guiding light was Ella Baker, arguably the most important African American leader of the 20th century. As many have noted, Baker preached neither strategic nonviolence nor strategic violence. Drawing from her decades of experience, Baker counseled SNCC organizers to distance themselves from institutional power; they might maintain dialogue with the establishment left–trade unions and NGOs tied into what she called “the foundation complex”–but they should be wary of entering into partnerships with them. Instead they should follow the lead of working-class communities on the ground. This repeatedly led SNCC organizers away from nonviolence. Then as now, serious movements make serious enemies (think of the shootings last year in Charleston and Minneapolis) and self-defense quickly becomes paramount for frontline activists. Baker’s longtime friend and biographer Joanne Grant recounted that as pacifism faded away in SNCC, Baker “turned a blind eye to the prevalence of weapons. While she herself would rely on her fists […] she had no qualms about target practice.” At the same time, the failure of peaceful reform logically led oppressed communities towards insurrection.

It is often said that without the guidance of an anti-authoritarian and non-ideological figure like Ella Baker, the Black Power militants of SNCC began to lose perspective. Yet it can equally be said that the pacifists lost their way as well. The cause of social justice in America has been suffering from believing the former but not reckoning with the latter for the past forty years.


[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City. Lorenzo blogs at]


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


Wrong Kind of Green

category: News & Politics

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


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

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

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


LISTEN: The Lies They Tell. The Pitiful State of Environmentalism and its Neoliberalization

Wrong Kind of Green

October 29, 2016

The “New Economy” is Not Inclusive

“The route for real change is not via those who are already totally vested in the growth economy and have gained power through it. Rather look for power amongst those who are disenfranchised by the capital accumulating system. Give them voice. Look to organisations that care for them and if they do not exist, create them. Remember that the vast majority are disenfranchised by the current economic system.”

Professor Clive L. Spash holds the Chair of Public Policy & Governance at WU in Vienna and is Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Values. He has conducted research on climate change economics and policy for over 25 years and his work in the area includes the book Greenhouse economics: Value and ethics as well as numerous articles. His critique of carbon trading was the subject of attempted censorship while he was a senior civil servant at the CSIRO in Australia. More information can be found at

[Filmed by Nemnövekedés – Degrowth – Published September 9, 2016]



Very Inconvenient Truths: Sex Buyers, Sexual Coercion, &Prostitution-harm-denial

Logos Journal

February 22, 2016

Globalisation has further tilted the imbalance of power between the male punter with his wallet and the woman who rents her vagina for a fee. In France, 85 per cent of prostitutes are immigrants, many without papers, vulnerable to exploitation. In Germany, with its legal super-brothels, it is about two thirds. If demand is not tackled, more will come. Is that something any Western nation should be proud of: an underclass of poor women from Thai villages and Ukrainian towns, imported to service First World penises? – Janice Turner, 2014. [1]


Some pimps, some sex buyers and some governments have made the decision that it is reasonable to expect certain women to tolerate sexual exploitation and sexual assault in order to survive. Those women most often are poor and most often are ethnically or racially marginalised. The men who buy them or rape them have greater social power and more resources than the women. For example, a Canadian prostitution tourist commented about women in Thai prostitution, “These girls gotta eat, don’t they? I’m putting bread on their plate. I’m making a contribution. They’d starve to death unless they whored.” [2]


This self-congratulatory Darwinism avoids the question: do women have the right to live without the sexual harassment or sexual exploitation of prostitution – or is that right reserved only for those who have sex, race or class privilege? “You get what you pay for without the ‘no,’” a sex buyer explained.[3] Non-prostituting women have the right to say “no.” We have legal protection from sexual harassment and sexual exploitation. But tolerating sexual abuse is the job description for prostitution.

One of the big lies is that most prostitution is voluntary. If there’s no evidence of force, then her experience is dismissed as “voluntary” or “consenting.” A sex buyer said, “If I don’t see a chain on her leg, I assume she’s made the choice to be there.” But most prostitution today is what German abolitionists have named poverty prostitution. That means she’s hungry, she can’t find a job, and she doesn’t have alternatives. The john’s payment does not erase what we know about sexual violence, domestic violence and rape. Whether or not it is legal, prostitution is extremely harmful for women. Women in prostitution have the highest rates of rape, physical assault, and homicide of any women ever studied. In a Dutch study, 60% of women in legal prostitution were physically assaulted, 70% were threatened with physical assault, 40% experienced sexual violence and 40% had been coerced into legal prostitution. [4]

In the past decade, after interviewing hundreds of sex buyers in 5 countries (USA, UK, India, Cambodia, and Scotland), we’re looking more closely at behaviors and attitudes that fuel the misogyny of prostitution and we have started to understand some of their motivations. Normative sex buyer behavior includes a refusal to see one’s own participation in harmful activities such as dehumanizing a woman, humiliating her, verbally and physically sexually harassing her, and paying her money to coerce her to perform sex acts that she otherwise would not.

Objectification and commodification are at the root of the violence in prostitution.

Sex buyers don’t acknowledge the humanity of the women they use for sex. Once a person is turned into an object, exploitation and abuse seem almost reasonable.

Sex buyers don’t acknowledge the humanity of the women they use for sex. Once a person is turned into an object, exploitation and abuse seem almost reasonable.

In interviews with sex buyers in different cultures, some chilling examples of commodification were provided. Prostitution was understood as “renting an organ for ten minutes.”[5] Another US sex buyer stated that, “Being with a prostitute is like having a cup of coffee, when you’re done, you throw it out.”[6] Sex buyers commodify and select women on the basis of race/ethnic stereotypes via ethno-sexualization. [7] “I had a mental check list in terms of race,” said a London sex buyer, “I have tried them all over the last five years but they turned out to be the same.”[8] In Cambodia, prostitution was understood this way: “We men are the buyer, sex workers are goods, and the brothel owner is a vendor.” [9] A woman who had prostituted in Vancouver for 19 years explained prostitution the same way that sex buyers did, “They own you for that half hour or that twenty minutes or that hour. They are buying you. They have no attachments, you’re not a person, you’re a thing to be used.” [10]Sex buyers’ lack of empathy

Using his own special logic, the sex buyer calculates that in addition to buying sexual access, money also buys him the right to avoid thinking about the impact of prostitution on the woman he uses for sex. [11] His fantasy is the hassle-free girlfriend who makes no demands on him but is willing to satisfy his sexual needs. “It’s like renting a girlfriend or wife. You get to choose like a catalogue,” explained a UK sex buyer. [12] Sex buyers seek the appearance of a relationship. A number of men explained their desire to create an illusion for other men that they had acquired an attractive woman without payment. “I want my prostitute not to behave like one, said a London sex buyer, “I want them to role play to be a pretend girlfriend. To a third person it looks like we’re in love.” [13] Some men who buy sex want to playact the kind of relationship that they are unable or unwilling to have with non-prostituting women. He may pretend emotional intimacy but the relationship with a woman in prostitution always stops short of emotional mutuality. If they construct an imaginary pleasant emotional relationship with the woman they buy for sex, then they can then retain their opinion of themselves as nice guys. However these men demand extensive and exhausting lies from prostituted women. A survivor wrote to the ‘nice’ sex buyer,

The truth, that you’re so desperate to flee from, is that you are just like a gentle rapist. Your attitude and demeanour does not mitigate what you do. The damage you’re causing is incalculable, but you tell yourself you’re doing no harm here, and you use the smiles of the women you buy as some kind of currency; they allow you to buy your own bullshit…I didn’t want you close to me, never mind inside me. Your arms around me made me want to puke more than your penis ever did…Every moment with you was a lie, and I hated every second of it. Rachel Moran, 2014. [14]

Like other sexually aggressive men, sex buyers lack empathy for women in prostitution. In Scotland, researchers found that the more often men bought sex, the less empathy they had for prostituted women. “I don’t want to know about her,” said a john, “I don’t want her to cry or this and that because that spoils the idea for me.” [15] Men create a sexually arousing version of what a prostitute thinks and feels that has little basis in reality. [16] Against all common sense, most of the johns we interviewed believed that prostituting women were sexually satisfied by the johns’ sexual performances. Research with the women, on the other hand, shows that women are not sexually aroused by prostitution, and over time, prostitution damages the women’s sexuality. [17]

One of the few differences between domestic violence and prostitution is that in prostitution, perpetrators profit from sexual exploitation. Because of the money, prostitution is much more organized than one man’s individual battering of one woman. Beckie Masaki who was director of the Asian Women’s Shelter in San Francisco, spoke about the shock waves that went through the agency when they began to accept women who had been trafficked into prostitution. Previously, they had worked individually with battered women. Now, they were taking in a dozen women at a time. The Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean organized crime groups were not happy with the loss of income. This necessitated increased security precautions for the Shelter.

Sex buyers and sexual coercion

Men’s favorable opinion of prostitution is one of a cluster of attitudes and opinions that encourage and justify violence against women. [18] Attitudes of entitlement to sexual access and sexual aggression, and attitudes of superiority over women are connected to men’s violence against women. Research shows that sex buyers – like other sexually aggressive men – tend to prefer impersonal sex, fear rejection by women, have a hostile masculine self-identification, and are more likely than non-sex buyers to rape if they could get away with it. [19] In Chile, Croatia, India, Mexico and Rwanda, sex buyers were more likely than other men to rape.[20] Men who used women in prostitution were significantly more likely to have raped a woman than men who did not buy sex. [21] In Scotland we found that the more often a john used women in prostitution, the more likely he was to have committed sexually coercive acts against non-prostituting women. [22]

Denial of harms of prostitution

Strip clubs never have mirrors positioned where sex buyers can see themselves, a pimp who managed strip clubs for many years explained. [23] What do they not want to see? Do they want to look away from their predatory maneuvering with the women? Do they not want to see their own foolish suckerhood? Do they want to close their eyes to the lie that the women are attracted to sex buyers? Do they not want to know that while they see themselves as players, men who choose not to buy sex see them as losers? The truth about prostitution is inconvenient for men who buy sex.

A London sex buyer who observed Eastern European women and their “bodyguard,” was an active participant in what was very likely sex trafficking. He commented,

The relationship looked very professional, like a business. Still he instructed them to do things they weren’t entirely happy with. A stern look on his face and a slight raised voice, made me slightly uncomfortable. But after the girl had been talked to by him, she put on a professional face and got on with it. My uncomfortable feeling went away because she did it – she could have walked away from the job.  Melissa Farley, Julie Bindel, Jacqueline M. Golding, 2009. [24]

Sex buyers see, and yet at the same time refuse to see, the fear, disgust, and despair in the women they buy. If she didn’t run out of the room, screaming “help, police! trafficking!” then the sex buyer concludes that she chose the prostitution. Knowing that women in prostitution have been exploited, coerced, pimped, or trafficked does not deter sex buyers. Half of a group of 103 London sex buyers said that they had used a woman in prostitution who they knew was under the control of a pimp. As one man explained, “It’s like he’s her owner.” Another man said: “The girl is instructed to do what she needs to do. You can just relax, it’s her job.” [25] In Romania, researchers interviewed sex buyers, women in prostitution, pimps, and police officers, all of whom agreed that sex buyers “are not interested if the girls are actually trafficked or not but are rather more interested in satisfying their sexual needs.” [26]

Rationalizations for legalizing or decriminalizing prostitution

Laws against sex buyers and pimps are barriers to the business of sexual exploitation. Legalization and decriminalization zone prostitution into areas where it is legal to buy, sell, and be sold for sex. Under these laws, the interests of men who buy sex are represented and pimps are protected.[27]

The argument that legalizing prostitution would make it “safer” is the primary rationalization for legal or decriminalized prostitution. However, there is no evidence for this. Instead, we hear self-serving claims and strongly worded assertions without empirical data. The aftermaths of legal prostitution in the Netherlands and Germany have shown just how bad it can get. As of 2016, 80% of German and Dutch prostitution was under the control of criminal mafias.

The aftermaths of legal prostitution in the Netherlands and Germany have shown just how bad it can get. As of 2016, 80% of German and Dutch prostitution was under the control of criminal mafias.

After legalization in the Netherlands, organized crime spiraled out of control and women in prostitution were no safer than when prostitution was illegal. Mayor Job Cohen closed much of Amsterdam’s legal prostitution in response to organized crime. [28] After legalization in Victoria, Australia, pimps established 95 legal brothels but at the same time, they also established another 400 illegal brothels in Victoria. [29] Instead of decreasing violent criminal involvement, legalization of prostitution has resulted in increased trafficking according to research from 150 countries. [30]Anyone who knows about the daily life of those in prostitution understands that safety in prostitution is a pipe dream. Advocates of legal and decriminalized prostitution understand this but rarely admit it. Still, evidence exists, for example the Sex Workers’ Education and Advocacy Taskforce in South Africa addressed distributed a list of safety tips including the recommendation that while undressing, the prostituting individual should “accidentally” kick a shoe under the bed, and while retrieving it, should check for knives, handcuffs or rope. The SWEAT flyer noted that fluffing up the pillow on the bed would permit an additional weapons search. [31] Understanding the lethal violence directed at women in prostitution, a Dutch legal pimp told a journalist, “You don’t want a pillow in the [brothel’s] room. It’s a murder weapon.”[32] A San Francisco organization advised, “be aware of exits and avoid letting your customer block access to those exits,” and “shoes should come off easily or be appropriate for running in,” and “avoid necklaces, scarves, across-the-body shoulder bags or anything else that can be accidentally or intentionally be tightened around your throat.” [33] Specifications in the Australian Occupational and Safety Codes (OSC) for prostitution illustrate their concern about its dangers. The Australian OSC recommend hostage negotiation training for women in prostitution, utterly contradicting the notion of prostitution as just your average job. [34] The panic buttons in massage parlors, saunas, and brothels can never be answered quickly enough to prevent violence. Panic buttons in legal brothels make as little sense as panic buttons in the homes of battered women.

The public’s health is a significant component of the safety alleged to be present in decriminalized prostitution. In the 1980s, groups such as the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective (NZPC) capitalized on the AIDS epidemic by focusing on HIV education and harm reduction among those in prostitution. [35] This focus brought in massive funding to the prostitute unions who used it to lobby for decriminalized prostitution.[36]The harm reduction approach of these groups to HIV prevention seems to be based on the assumption that if enough male condoms are distributed then life will be better for everyone. In reality, women want harm elimination (exit from prostitution) as well as harm reduction. And a majority of johns across the globe refuse to use condoms. Epidemiologists have found that high risk for HIV is caused by rape and a large number of sex partners. Neither factor was addressed by prostitute unions.

Although it was promoted as a law protecting sex workers, the NZ government’s own evaluation of its law concluded that after prostitution was decriminalized, violence and sexual abuse continued as before. [37] “The majority of sex workers felt that the law could do little about violence that occurred” and that it was an inevitable aspect of the sex industry. [38] During one year, 35% of women in NZ decriminalized prostitution had been coerced. [39] The highest rate of sexual coercion by sex buyers was reported by women in massage parlor prostitution who were pimp-controlled (described as “managed” by the government). The social stigma of prostitution and mistrust of police persisted after decriminalization. Most women in prostitution did not report violence or crimes against them to the police after decriminalization. [40] Gangs of pimps have waged turf wars over control of prostitution in Auckland, [41] and NZ street prostitution spiraled out of control with some reports of a 200% increase post-decriminalization. [42]

Public misconceptions, rationalization, and denial about prostitution

Public misconceptions about prostitution stem from sex buyers’ and pimps’ cover narratives for the violence perpetrated against women in prostitution. Men’s justifications for other forms of violence against women are remarkably similar to their justifications for prostitution. They blame the victim, viewing women in prostitution as intrinsically different from other women and as morally deficient. Batterers justify beating women by declaring that she asked for it or provoked it. Sex buyers justify prostitution by telling us that she’s getting rich or that she’s simply doing an unpleasant but necessary job like factory work. Sex buyers and sex trade advocates may acknowledge a fraction of the abuse and exploitation in prostitution, but they justify the abuse because the women are alleged to make a lot of money. Once paid for, exploitation, abuse, and rape are disappeared. “All of them are exploited. However, they also have good incomes,” said an Italian sex buyer. [43] A sex buyer described the rapes of a woman by her pimp. But, he said, it was only “Every once and a while, not every week.” [44] If men’s sexual expectations are unmet, rape and prostitution are assumed to be inevitable. Women who fail to provide the sex acts demanded by their partners are then blamed for their partners’ use of women in prostitution. “If my fiancee won’t give me anal, I know someone who will.” [45]

Words that conceal its harm lead to confusion about prostitution: voluntary prostitution which implies that she consented when she had no survival alternatives; forced trafficking which implies that somewhere there are women who volunteer to be trafficked into prostitution; sex work, which defines prostitution as a job rather than an act of violence. The term migrant sex worker implies that both prostitution and trafficking are acceptable. Strip club prostitution has been reframed as sexual expression or freedom to express one’s sensuality. Brothels are referred to as massage parlors, saunas, and health clubs. Older men who buy teenagers for sex in Seoul call it compensated dating. In Tokyo prostitution is described as assisted intercourse. Men who buy women in prostitution are called interested parties, pimps are described as managers.

Pimps and traffickers facilitate denial by misrepresenting it as an easy, fun, lucrative job for the women in it. Women as well as men are pimps. A number of prominent advocates identify themselves publicly only as “sex workers,” although they are managers of women in the sex trade, some are pimps, and some have been arrested for pandering, brothel managing, or trafficking. There is a blatant conflict of interest when individuals who are management/owners/pimps are in the same organization as those who are under their control. The misrepresentation is even more unethical when the brothel owners, managers, and strip club board members hide their affiliations, claiming to represent the interests of sex workers. Hiding beneath the banner of labor unions, pimps appeal to the Left’s sympathies. Yet groups such as the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective, the International Union of Sex Workers (UK), Red Thread (the Netherlands), Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (India), Stella (Canada), and Sex Worker Organizing Project (USA) – while aggressively promoting prostitution as work – do not resemble what most of us think of as labor unions. They do not offer pensions, safety, shorter hours, unemployment benefits, or exit services (which is what 90% of women in prostitution say that they want). Instead, these groups promote a free market in human beings who are used for sex. [46] We have located 12 people from 8 countries who publicly identify as sex workers or sex worker advocates but who have also sold others for sex or who have been implicated in the management of sex trade businesses in various specific ways. All of them promote decriminalized pimping. Many have been arrested for running brothels and escort agencies, trafficking, pandering, interstate prostitution, or living off earnings of prostitution. [47]

How can we respond ethically and appropriately to the existence of prostitution?

The existence of prostitution anywhere is society’s betrayal of women, especially those who are marginalized and vulnerable because of their sex, their ethnicity, their poverty, and their history of abuse and neglect. Prostitution is sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, often torture. Women in prostitution face a statistical probability of weekly rape, like domestic violence taken to the extreme.

The complicity of governments sustains prostitution. When the sex trade expands, women are less likely to compete with men for jobs. When prostitution is incorporated into states’ economies, governments are relieved of the necessity of finding employment for women. Blood taxes are collected by the state-as-pimp in legal and decriminalized prostitution. Banks, airlines, Internet providers, hotels, travel agencies, and all media are integral to the exploitation and abuse of women in prostitution tourism, make huge profits, and are solidified as part of the economy.

If we listen to the voices and analyses of exited survivors – those who are no longer under pimp or sex trade control – they direct us to the obvious legal solutions. Men who buy sex must be held accountable for their predatory aggression. Those in prostitution must be offered real alternatives for survival, and never arrested. Those who profit from prostitution – pimps and traffickers – must also be held accountable. A human-rights based approach to prostitution, recognizing it as sexual exploitation, like that of Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Northern Ireland, would provide safety and hope. In this abolitionist approach to prostitution, sex buyers are criminalized (as are pimps and traffickers) and people in prostitution are decriminalized and are also provided with exit services and job training. But first we have to move past the pimps’ and profiteers’ lies about prostitution. I know we can do that.

To summarize:

  1. The truth about prostitution is often concealed behind the lies, manipulations and distortions of sex trade pimps, managers and others who profit from the business. The deeper truths about prostitution are revealed in survivors’ testimonies, as well as in research on the psychosocial and psychobiological realities of prostitution.
  2. At the root of prostitution, just like other coercive systems, are dehumanization, objectification, sexism, racism, misogyny, lack of empathy/pathological entitlement (pimps and johns), domination, exploitation, and a level of chronic exposure to violence and degradation that destroys the personality and the spirit.
  3. Prostitution cannot be made safe by legalizing or decriminalizing it. Prostitution needs to be completely abolished.
  4. Prostitution is more like being chronically sexually harassed, endangered, and raped, than working in a fast food restaurant. Most women in prostitution suffer from severe PTSD and want to get out.
  5. Sex buyers are predators; they often engage in coercive behavior, lack empathy and have sexist attitudes that justify abuse of women.
  6. A solution exists. It is called the Swedish model and it has been adopted by a number of countries including Sweden, Norway, Iceland, and Northern Ireland.The essence of the solution is: criminalization for johns and pimps; decriminalization for women, and the provision of resources, alternatives, safe houses, rehabilitation.
  7. Prostitution affects all of us, not just those in it.



[1] Janice Turner (2014) “The mood’s changed. Buying sex is just wrong. The Times, London, February 8, 2014.

[2] Moore, C.G. (1991) A Killing Smile. Bangkok: White Lotus Press. Cited in Ryan Bishop & Lillian Robinson (1997) Night Market: Sexual Cultures and the Thai Economic Miracle. New York: Routledge, p 168-9.

[3] Farley, M., Macleod, J., Anderson, L., and Golding, J. (2011) Attitudes and Social Characteristics of Men Who Buy Sex in Scotland. Psychological Trauma:  Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 3/4: 369-383.

[4] Vanwesenbeeck I. (1994) Prostitutes’ Well-Being and Risk. Amsterdam: VU University Press.

[5] Farley, M. (2007) ‘Renting an Organ for Ten Minutes:’ What Tricks Tell us about Prostitution, Pornography, and Trafficking. In D.E. Guinn and J. DiCaro (eds) Pornography: Driving the Demand in International Sex Trafficking. Pp 144-152. Los Angeles: Captive Daughters Media.

[6] Farley, M., Schuckman, E., Golding, J.M., Houser, K., Jarrett, L., Qualliotine, P., Decker, M. (2011) Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex: “You can have a good time with the servitude” vs. “You’re supporting a system of degradation” Paper presented at Psychologists for Social Responsibility Annual Meeting July 15, 2011, Boston.

[7] Marttila, A-M. (2000) Desiring the ‘Other:’ Prostitution Clients on a Transnational Red-Light District in the Border Area of Finland, Estonia and Russia. Gender, Technology, and Development 12(1): 31-51.

[8] Farley, M., Bindel, J. and Golding, J.M. (2009) Men who buy sex: who they buy and what they know. Eaves: London and Prostitution Research & Education: San Francisco.

[9] Farley, M., Freed, W., Kien, S. P., Golding, J.M. (2012) A Thorn in the Heart: Cambodian Men who Buy Sex. Presented July 17, 2012 at conference co-hosted by Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center and Prostitution Research & Education: Focus on Men who Buy Sex:  Discourage Men’s Demand for Prostitution, Stop Sex Trafficking. Himawari Hotel, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

[10] Pornography and Prostitution in Canada: Report of the Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution (1985) 2. Minister of Supply and Services, Canada. p. 376–77.

[11] Spurrell, C. (2006) Who Pays for Sex? You’d Be Surprised. Times Online November 7, 2006.

[12] Farley, M., Bindel, J. and Golding, J.M. , 2009.

[13] Farley, M., Bindel, J. and Golding, J.M. , 2009.

[14] Moran, R. (2014) “An Open Letter to the ‘Good’ Punter” May 19, 2014. Survivor’s View Blog. Prostitution Research & Education.

[15] Farley, M., Bindel, J. and Golding, J.M. , 2009.

[16] Jeffreys, S. (1997). The idea of prostitution. North Melbourne: Spinifex Press.; Plumridge, E.W., Chetwynd, S.J., Reed, A. (1997) Control and condoms in commercial sex: client perspectives. Sociology of Health & Illness 19 (2): 228-243.

[17] Barry, K. (1995). The Prostitution of Sexuality. New York: New York University Press; Funari, V. (1997) Naked, naughty, nasty: peepshow reflections in Nagle, J. (ed.) Whores and Other Feminists. New York: Routledge; Giobbe, E. (1991). Prostitution, Buying the Right to Rape, in Burgess, A.W. (ed.) Rape and Sexual Assault III: a Research Handbook. New York: Garland Press; Hoigard, C. & Finstad, L. (1986). Backstreets: Prostitution, Money and Love. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press; Raymond, J., D’Cunha, J., Dzuhayatin, S.R., Hynes, H.P., Ramirez Rodriguez, Z., and Santos, A. (2002). A Comparative Study of Women Trafficked in the Migration Process: Patterns, Profiles and Health Consequences of Sexual Exploitation in Five Countries (Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Venezuela and the United States). N. Amherst, MA: Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW). Available at

[18] Flood, M., & Pease, B. (2009). Factors influencing attitudes to violence against women. Trauma, Violence, and Abuse, 10, 125-142; Koss, M. P., & Cleveland, H. H. (1997). Stepping on toes: Social roots of date rape lead to intractability and politicization. In M. D. Schwartz (Ed.), Researching sexual violence against women: Methodological and personal perspectives (pp. 4-21). London: Sage.
Available at

[19] Farley, M., Golding, J., Matthews, E.S., Malamuth, N., Jarrett, L. (2015) Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Do Not Buy Sex: New Data on Prostitution and Trafficking. Journal of Interpersonal Violence (August, 2015) 1-25.

[20] Heilman, B., Herbert, L., & Paul-Gera, N. (2014). The making of sexual violence: How does a boy grow up to commit rape? Evidence from five IMAGES countries. Washington, DC: International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) and Washington, DC: Promundo. Retrieved from:

[21] Monto, M. A., & McRee, N. (2005). A comparison of the male customers of female street prostitutes with national samples of men. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 49, 505-529.

[22] Farley, M., Macleod, J., Anderson, L., and Golding, J. (2011) Attitudes and Social Characteristics of Men Who Buy Sex in Scotland. Psychological Trauma:  Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 3/4: 369-383.

[23] Prostitution occurs in 99% of strip clubs. Holsopple, K. (1998) Stripclubs According to Strippers: Exposing Workplace Violence. Unpublished Paper; Farley, M. (2004) “Bad for the Body, Bad for the Heart:” Prostitution Harms Women Even If Legalized or Decriminalized. Violence Against Women 10: 1087-1125.

[24] Farley, M., Bindel, J. and Golding, J.M. , 2009.

[25] Farley, M., Bindel, J., and Golding, J.M.2009.

[26] Dragomirescu, D.A., Necula, C., & Simion, R. 2009 “Romania: Emerging Market for Trafficking? Clients and Trafficked Women in Romania.” in A. Di Nicola (ed.) Prostitution and Human Trafficking: Focus on Clients. New York: Springer. p. 160

[27] “The sex work approach to prostitution favors across-the-board decriminalization with various forms of legalization, usually with some state regulation, sometimes beginning with unionization. Its goal is to remove criminal sanctions from all actors in the sex industry so that prostitution becomes as legitimate as any other mode of livelihood.” Catharine A. MacKinnon (2011) Trafficking, Prostitution, and Inequality. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 46: 701-739.

[28] Charter, D. (2008) Half of Amsterdam’s red-light windows close. The Times UK. December 27, 2008

[29] Jeffreys, S. (2003) The legalisation of prostitution: A failed social experiment. Women’s Health Watch Newsletter, 64: 8-11. www.women’

[30] Cho, S-Y., Dreher, A., Neymayer, E. (2013) Does Legalized Prostitution Increase Human Trafficking? World Development 41:67-82.

[31] Farley, M., 2004,  Prostitution Harms Women Even If Legalized or Decriminalized.

[32] Daley, S. (2001) New Rights for Dutch Prostitutes, but No Gain. New York Times. August 12, 2001.

[33] St James Infirmary, 2004, p 172). St James Infirmary (2004 2nd edition) Occupational Health and Safety Handbook. San Francisco: Exotic Dancers Alliance and STD Prevention and Control Services of the City and County of San Francisco.

[34] Sullivan, M. (2007) Making Sex Work: a failed experiment with legal prostitution. Melbourne: Spinifex.

[35] Priscilla Alexander noted that the AIDS epidemic brought with it certain fiscal advantages to those promoting prostitution. Alexander, P. (1996) Foreword. Priscilla Alexander in N. McKeganey and M. Barnard (Eds.) Sex Work on the Streets: Prostitutes and Their Clients Philadelphia: Open University Press.

[36] Jenness, V. (1993) Making It Work: the Prostitutes’ Rights Movement in Perspective. New York: De Gruyter

[37] Prostitution Law Review Committee (2008) Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003. Wellington, New Zealand.

[38] Prostitution Law Review Committee (2008), pp.14 and 57

[39] Prostitution Law Review Committee (2008), page 46.

[40] Prostitution Law Review Committee (2008), 122.

[41] Tapaleao, Vaimoana (2009, May 4). City takes prostitute dilemma to the top. New Zealand Herald.

[42] The New Zealand Prostitution Law Review Committee, 2008, p 118 noted that street prostitution in Auckland more than doubled in just one year, 2006–2007. Other reports in the press place the numbers much higher. “Estimates indicate that the number of street workers in Manukau City may have quadrupled since June 2003….” Manukau City Council, Report of Manukau City Council on Street Prostitution Control http:// Plans_&_Poli cies/mcc-report-on-streetprostitution-aug-2005.pdf.

[43] Di Nicola, A., Cuaduro, A., Lombardi, M., Ruspini, P. (editors) (2009) Prostitution and Human Trafficking: Focus on Clients. New York: Springer.

[44] Farley, M., Schuckman, E., Golding, J.M., Houser, K., Jarrett, L., Qualliotine, P., Decker, M. (2011) Comparing Sex Buyers with Men Who Don’t Buy Sex: “You can have a good time with the servitude” vs. “You’re supporting a system of degradation” Paper presented at Psychologists for Social Responsibility Annual Meeting July 15, 2011, Boston.

[45] Farley, M., Schuckman, E., Golding, J.M., Houser, K., Jarrett, L., Qualliotine, P., Decker, M., 2011.

[46] Cecilie Hoigard (2015) The Presence of Pain in the Debate on Prostitution,Women’s Front of Norway. Available at

[47] Norma Jean Almodovar, USA, International Sex Worker Foundation for Art, Culture, and Education, Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics (COYOTE), convicted of pandering. The executive director of COYOTE/Los Angeles, Norma Jean Almodovar, was convicted of pandering. See AP report in Spokane Chronicle September 27, 1984,,2487624&hl=en; See also AP report in the Register-Guard Eugene Oregon,,6534751&hl=en;

Terri Jean Bedford, Canada, sex worker advocate, convicted of running a brothel. Bedford was one of three applicants, describing themselves as sex workers, who challenged the Canadian laws on prostitution with the goal of decriminalizing prostitution in Canada. See for a description of her 1994 arrest; Also see Toronto Star Archives, Paul Moloney (1994) Sexual bondage parlor raided in Thornhill. Toronto Star Sept 17, 1994 for a description of her arrest for running a bawdy house. “York Region police have seized an astonishing array of sexual bondage paraphernalia in a raid on a modest Thornhill bungalow advertised as Madame de Sade’s House of Erotica. Along with assorted whips, chains, spanking paddles, handcuffs, masks, wigs and boots, police seized a tall throne, stocks, spanking benches, and a black wooden cross with tie-downs for head, arms and feet. Two “dominant” and one “submissive” attendant – ‘Mistress Marie,’ ‘Mistress Morgan’ and ‘Princess’ – provided sessions which allowed for sexual gratification, mostly masturbation, investigators said;”

Claudia Brizuela, Argentina, Association of Women Prostitutes of Argentina, Latin American-Caribbean Female Sex Workers Network, charged with sex trafficking. Claudia Brizuela, a former leader of Asociacion de Mujeres Meretrices de Argentina (AMMAR) and a founder of the Latin American-Caribbean Female Sex Workers Network, was arrested and charged for sex trafficking in 2014. Both sexworker groups were funded by UNAIDS and referenced by Amnesty International in support of its decriminalization advocacy. See Ex dirigente de Ammar procesada por liderar red de trata.(source Anna Djinn);

Maxine Doogan, USA, Erotic Service Providers Union, charged with running an escort agency. Mary Ellen (Maxine) Doogan pimped women out of an escort prostitution agency in Seattle, WA, Personal Touch Escort Service, where she was charged with felony promotion of prostitution and money laundering. She pled guilty to a lesser charge of pimping and was convicted in 1994 of second degree promotion of prostitution. Nature of Action: Prosecution for second degree promotion of prostitution by the statutory alternative means of profiting from prostitution.  Superior Court: The Superior Court for King County, No. 93-1-04076-4, Anthony P. Wartnik, J., on August 8, 1994, entered a judgment on a verdict of guilty;

Robyn Few, USA, Sex Workers Outreach Project, convicted of conspiracy to promote interstate prostitution. Robyn Few was convicted of violating a federal law, conspiracy to promote prostitution. She founded Sex Workers Outreach Project.; Jesse Jardim (2004) Ex-Prostitute Hits the Streets to Decriminalize Prostitution. Daily Californian Jan 29 2004.;

Douglas Fox, UK, International Union of Sex Workers, arrested for living off the earnings of prostitution, advisor to Amnesty International, co-manages escort agency. Douglas Fox was a founder of the International Union of Sex Workers. He has been arrested for living off the earnings of prostitution in a police sting at the escort agency Christony Companions. Julie Bindel (2015) “What you call pimps, we call managers” Byline July 21 2015. Investigative journalist Julie Bindel concludes that the purpose of the International Union of Sex Workers appears to be “to normalise pimping, lobby for an end to laws that criminalise the exploiters in the sex industry, and ultimately to sugar-coat prostitution and present it as a job like any other.” See Bindel, J. (2013) An Unlikely Union: Julie Bindel investigates a world of workers, pimps, and punters. The Gaze. April 2013. (also available from the author);

Eliana Gil, Mexico, Global Network of Sex Work Projects, Latin American-Caribbean Female Sex Workers Network, convicted of sex trafficking. Eliana Gil was arrested in 2014 and convicted in 2015 of sex trafficking. According to victim testimony, with her son she pimped about 200 women in Mexico City. The Latin American-Caribbean Female Sex Workers Network was affiliated with and funded by United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, affiliated with World Health Organization, and cited by Amnesty International

Pye Jakobsson, Sweden, Rose Alliance, Global Network of Sex Work Projects, decade-long board member of a Stockholm strip club where she was also paid to organize the club’s schedule and place new women into the club’s schedule. She engaged in similar scheduling of women and quasi-management activities at a second club (Erostop). Pye Jakobsson acknowledges being on the board of the strip club Flirt Fashion from 2001-2012. “Founder also on board of strip club” January 14, 2013 Kajsa Skarsgård  Commentary; Gerda Christensen (Translation to English: Annina Claesson) “Swedish Rose Alliance – a fraudulent organization,” 2013 Newsletter of Kvinnofronten, the Women’s front in Sweden A survivor who approached Jakobsson at Rose Alliance stated that Jakobsson recruited women to work at the strip club.
Jakobsson was interviewed by a reporter while she was at Erostop, where again her work was described by a reporter as “handling schedules:” “Pye Jakobsson, 32, handles schedules and other things around the strippers at Erostop.” A sex buyer’s review of Erostop from 2007 described acts of prostitution at the club where Jakobsson handled schedules and other things: “Private Show where the girls show pussy and you get jerk off your cost $ 500.”;

Jackie McMillan, Australia, Sex Workers Outreach Project, pornography producer, dungeon club manager and promoter. Jackie McMillan stated that she produced pornography for 10 years McMillan also manages a fetish club in Sydney with her husband Craig Donarski where the Hellfire Club’s employees provide a dungeon/kink experience with bondage, domination, sadism, submission.; https://; Donarski and McMillan received a business award for the Hellfire Club in 2014.;

Maggie McNeil, USA, Sex Workers Outreach Project, owner of New Orleans escort prostitution agency. Maggie McNeil stated, “I owned an escort service. I was a madam.” and “I was the best agency owner in New Orleans”;

Tanja Sommer, Germany, sex worker advocate with Berufsverband erotische und sexuelle Dienstleistungen (BesD), Business Association of Erotic and Sexual services. Manages a dominatrix sex studio and rents out rooms to others in prostitution. Tanja Sommer, in a leading position at the BesD also runs her own dominatrix studio in which other women prostitute. Der Spiegel, “Uncovered” March 28, 2015:
Her colleague Holger Rettig is leader of the UEGD (Unternehmerverband Erotikgewerbe Deutschland- Business Association of Erotic Business in Germany). This organization, consisting only of brothel-owning pimps, helped to found and works closely with the BesD.;

Margo St James, USA, COYOTE, arrest for running a brothel. For a biography of Margo St. James life and arrest, see Alison Bass (2015) Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law, documenting St James’ arrest via interview with her, describing police officer’s statement that she solicited him, her conviction for running a “disorderly house” i.e. brothel, her statement that her roommates were prostituting but St James herself was not prostituting at the time of the arrest.