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Fundación Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA Part VIII [Final Segment]

February 1, 2016

Part eight of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Fundación Pachamama Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII  • Part VIII [Final Segment] 

 

guayasamin

“Maternidad” by Oswaldo Guayasamin

Cultural Imperialism, Trends & Expanding Markets

“Cultural imperialism is defined as the cultural aspects of imperialism. Imperialism, here, is referring to the creation and maintenance of unequal relationships between civilizations favoring the more powerful civilization. Therefore, it can be defined as the practice of promoting and imposing a culture, usually of politically powerful nations over less potent societies. It is the cultural hegemony [1] of those industrialized or economically influential countries, which determine general cultural values and standardize civilizations throughout the world.” [Source] In this way, Eurocentric NGOs serve as the faux social constructs avec philosophic roots as key instruments of social-class domination.

Cultural imperialism can take various forms, so long as it reinforces cultural hegemony. Ecotourism easily fills the role of an opaque vellum that attempts to cover cultural imperialism.

[C]ultural imperialism promotes the interests of certain circles within the imperial powers, often to the detriment of the target societies … or forms of social action contributing to the continuation of Western hegemony…. Cultural imperialism can refer to either the forced acculturation of a subject population, or to the voluntary embracing of a foreign culture by individuals who do so of their own free will…. According to one argument, the “receiving” culture does not necessarily perceive this link, but instead absorbs the foreign culture passively through the use of the foreign goods and services. Due to its somewhat concealed, but very potent nature, this hypothetical idea is described by some experts as “banal imperialism.” For example, it is argued that while “American companies are accused of wanting to control 95 percent of the world’s consumers,” “cultural imperialism involves much more than simple consumer goods; it involves the dissemination of American principles such as freedom and democracy,” a process which “may sound appealing” but which “masks a frightening truth: many cultures around the world are disappearing due to the overwhelming influence of corporate and cultural America. [Source]

One could quite easily make the argument that Pachamama Alliance is a specialized, elite tourist agency that employs brilliant, emotive marketing strategy targeting today’s wealthy spiritual capitalists – all under the guise of a tax-exempt NGO – in essence, what amounts to a bourgeois front and agreed upon alibi for the shared white guilt espoused by the white saviours.

Kaypocoke

We convince the Indigenous to participate in their own demise by encouraging and teaching them to replicate our models and become consumers. For, as we consumers (formerly known as citizens) lose what little remains (if anything) of our own culture, we seek to not just taste, but devour other cultures … because we, collectively as consumers, have become insatiable in an unprecedentedly ugly way. We long to devour what we have collectively destroyed.

In the book Ecotourism and Conservation in the Americas, Arnaldo Rodriguez remarks that the difference in principles between the community and private enterprise can be so conflicting that, at times, the community prefers to destroy the enterprise, even if it belongs, in part, to them, noting that communities in the Amazonian region are very hesitant to create enterprises where benefits are not distributed immediately and equally, making it very difficult for them to partner with private enterprise.

Rodriguez concluded that community?based ecotourism in the Amazon was subject to an overdose of enthusiasm and that the time and cost involved in partnering with communities is substantial.

One can imagine the difficulty a healthy capitalist would have in appreciating the concept of the sharing of all wealth equally. Private economic “solutions” (which protect the capitalist system at all costs) always protect the Eurocentric, white-privileged mode of life: market-based, deregulated, with ever-expanding commodification.

It is said that today, after a slow and difficult process, 70-86% (reports are conflicting) of the Kapawi Ecolodge (cooks, cleaners, waiters, boatmen and guides, i.e., service industry positions) are Achuar (“32 staff at the reserve and two at the urban offices,” Source). One must ask who holds the remainder of positions (30%). It is likely that the more prestigious, decision-making positions are held by foreigners (espousing and upholding Western ideologies) who are likely paid high wages, in stark contrast to what the Achuar are paid.

As an example, personnel who were contracted outside of the Achuar, such as Kapawi Ecolodge general manager Andres Ordoñez, still maintain their positions today. [Source]

Andres Ordoñez

Ronald Sanabria, Vice President of Sustainable Tourism, Rainforest Alliance (left), and Andrés Ordóñez, General Manager, Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve Source: The Rainforest Alliance 2013 Annual Gala

One “cultural management challenge” for Canodros was that of time, an imaginary concept that keeps the West in a stranglehold of productivity: “In the first six months after the lodge first opened, the Achuar did not appreciate the importance of the concept of time to the guest of the lodge. When guests at the lodge book a tour, the tour guide is expected to be at the designated place at the agreed upon time. When the tour guide is not there, guest satisfaction declines precipitously. This problem was resolved through lots of meetings, and lots of explanation. Canodros provided watches to the employees, but ultimately time is a philosophical concept, and the Achuar could not understand why the outsiders were always in a hurry. Now the Achuar accept the outsiders’ philosophy of time and work within the philosophy….”

Here it is critical to note that the Achuar are/were a dream-based culture. That is, every aspect of their daily lives is lived through the interpretation of their dreams – meaning there is no sense of time, destiny, or fate in their beliefs. [Source] [emphasis added]

Many of the Achuar employed by the Kapawi development must travel several days by foot to get to the lodge. They then work for approximately one month before returning to their community. In a 1999 study it was reported that “[A]t Kapawi, employees work on a 22 day cycle, and off for eight days to help with families and community needs.” If one considers the travel to the lodge takes up to 3 days (one way), the eight days off to help with families and communities is in reality, tantamount to a mere 2 days per month.

Because of the long excursion (4 full days of travel to and from the lodge), it is reasonable to assume that eventually Kapawi employees may decide to purchase a canoe similar to the Kapawi’s motorized canoes (diesel engines and at least one solar: “our canoes are equipped with four-stroke outboard motors“) used for the tourists. Perhaps this is already occurring. It must be acknowledged that prior to the Kapawi development, there was no development whatsoever: no motorized canoes, no generators, no diesel. Upon opening the development, diesel (pollution) to transport, entertain (canoes) and serve (generators) the wealthy was introduced to the communities. The Canodros Tours website boasts that “in addition, the update and improvement of the photovoltaic system was made, which will allow a saving of 1,500 gallons of diesel consumption per year.” The actual consumption of diesel per year is not publicly disclosed. Solar provides 60% of the electricity as of December 2012.

Further to the introduction of diesel into an area formerly free of pollution, airplane flights were also introduced as each and every guest must fly in. The private flight (about one hour each way) over the rainforest is part of the exclusive allure. One blog writer comments that 5 planes were employed to transport her and her group to the Kapawi development.

Does anyone recognize the irony in the development of an “eco” resort that created and perpetuates a new dependency upon fossil fuels among the Achuar? In a development where 1800 visitors are required each year just to break even, the more “successful” the development, the more fossil fuels required to fly in the international tourists. Although the foundation for these developments is said to be “eco-tourism as an alternative economic model to the exploitation of oil,” the eco-tourist developments are in fact absolutely dependent on the further expansion of oil. These developments do not replace the market – rather, they participate in expanding the market.

The number of tourists to visit Kapawi is approximately 550-1000 per annum (the highest reported number found being 1500). The goal of the Achuar, now fully responsible for the corporation, is to increase the number of tourists to 2,000 per year. Perhaps they will achieve this. Perhaps they will achieve 3,000 per year. Yet does this constitute success? More oil, more diesel, more flights, more canoes, more lodges, more dependence on the purchase of outside supplies to accommodate the Euro-American tourist. This represents an unintentional, yet very real, strengthening of the very system annihilating our planet and her most vulnerable peoples; a strengthening of the very system that demands ever-expanding exploitation of pristine living ecosystems and locations such as Achuar territory.

Rainforest Alliance is just one NGO that openly works with capital in “reaching new markets.” In this conference (Innovations in Sustainability and Certification, sponsored by Citibank, May 15, 2013) on the discussion: “Innovations in Travel: Reaching New Markets – Panelists discuss consumer trends towards experiential tourism,” the stage is shared by Andrés Ordóñez, General Manager, Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve, and a consultant for Rainforest Alliance.

Yet another new market (aside from environment markets, certification, REDD – Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation, etc.) is the Ecuadorean Amazon’s “vast network of slow-moving, interconnected river ways.” Recognizing this market, a group is currently designing and constructing a system of solar-powered boats and recharge stations on the rivers of Achuar Territory. [“Our project will not only sustain the welfare of a nation and protect a biodiverse ecosystem, but will also provide an innovative model that can be replicated around the globe.”] To make this venture possible, the group is working with the Pachamama Foundation with a grant from the Foreign Ministry of Finland. Further development in formerly untouched and pristine territories (“new markets”) – as the world burns.

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) is identified as one of the national and international funders that provided the Kapawi Corporation with the bulk of the finance capital for the development of this project, which resulted in the first solar engine canoe announced on June 14, 2012. GIZ is a federally owned organisation. It works worldwide in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development and its mandate is to support the German Government in achieving its development objectives. The GIZ has been criticized on various occasions for being engaged in funding projects and programmes that are violating the human rights of the people actually living in the countries being “developed.” In March 2013, it was criticized by human rights groups for its engagement with Namibia’s Land Reform programmes and policies, that are violating the rights of indigenous peoples as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, by dispossessing Himba people and Zemba off their traditional lands and territories. [Source]

Experiential tourism is a new product of the tourism industry. “Catering to the imaginations of experience-seekers, personalized, customizable or theme innovations that stimulate imagination or cater to fantasies are enticing consumers looking for uncommon experiences. The addition of an unconventional ‘experience’ piques interests and raises the perceived value of a good or service.” This new trend fits well with the 21st century trend of spiritual capitalism.

Recently, the Kapawi development has expanded with a secondary location in the village of Ti’inkias. In the Pachamama Journeys itinerary for June 7-19th, 2014,it states the following: “Head to the nearby town of Shell where we’ll take a 45-minute flight deep into the Amazon rainforest to the Achuar village of Chichirat. After a traditional Achuar greeting with their traditional beverage, nijaamanch (known as chicha) and visit with the local elder and his family, we’ll walk to the Bobanaza river for a beautiful motorized canoe ride down to the village of Ti’inkias.” The cost of this trip, per person, is $3,475.00 not including your flight to Ecuador. An additional charge of $10.00 (per guest) will go directly to the Achuar community.

Such ventures quench incessant desires not unlike heroin or any other self-indulgent drug: a self-absorbed search for the affirmation of one’s superiority. In the age of a starved and toxic Western commodity culture, induced by an acquiescent, pathological, collective insanity, even a taste will suffice.

In the US states of North and South Dakota, the land of the Lakota Indians is under siege due to the intense fracking boom in the Bakkens. And yet US Big Greens do not assist these communities. Why the need to travel thousands of miles to the jungles of the Amazon located in a sovereign state when the natives on the soil we walk upon are under siege? It’s simple: the Lakota are not “exotic,” they are not easily co-opted by the non-profit industrial complex. When Americans collectively acquiesce to the development of Bakken oil to continue rampant consumptive patterns, corporations/foundations/oligarchs need not destabilize their own governments whom they fully control and run.

While in theory (marketing/branding is perhaps more precise) Pachamama voices the necessity for the modern world to heed the vision of the Achuar, in reality they have transferred and continue to transfer Western ideologies, standardization, and values onto the Achuar – slowly altering the Achuar to reflect us. There are no signs whatsoever of the Achuar culture and knowledge influencing the Western mindset or culture in any meaningful way. At the end of the day, the white saviours – the foundations, NGOs and academia – believe that we understand how the world must work better than the Achuar, better than anyone.

If you want to help the Amazon rainforest and her peoples, then help. To name just a few tangible actions, get off the grid, use public transit, transition to a plant-based diet, plant a garden, and stop consuming – separating what is essential to a healthy life from mere wants that are not necessities whatsoever. One thing is certain. Flying to any luxury resort (in the name of ecology no less) will only escalate our accelerating planetary collapse. It is also certain that this kind of consumption guarantees and expands the exploration for and drilling of oil – the very fossil fuel we claim to wish to keep in the ground. Above all, say no to imperialism.

And finally, in an age of Western peak consumption/commodification, let us also share one of the most disturbing displays of our commodity culture, waste and decadence… yet which must be considered correct and beneficial from our perspective and pedestal of whiteness and superiority:

“The children of the Amazon according to their culture and beliefs did not celebrate Christmas, after the entrance of the Catholic Church, this has been changing but with a low impact, and as a company each year we organize a celebration for the children not focused in the Christmas celebration but dedicated to them, in the year of 2010 I had the opportunity to participate in the organization of the event with donations of friendly companies to give the Achuar children a small present. [Source] Dec 11, 2010

 

“On December 15th of 2012 we did at Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve the Christmas party for all the communities, we had more than 250 people that belong to different communities which surround the hotel. It was a day full of emotion and joy, because we did many games not only for children but for adults too.” [Source]

One must wonder if the introduction of Christmas is to “give” to the Achuar or appease the wishes of the tourists.

ChristmasGifts

Photo: “With our co workers in Quito, we organized the program with many games, surprises and the distribution of gifts for the kids that went to Kapawi. After a formal invitation that is transmitted by radio to the communities, around 250 children came with their representatives. We were lucky to have with ourselves a television program cast called Vele Vele Vele helping us with the animation of this main event.” [Source]

Like a Greek tragedy, concerned and well-intentioned citizens (including the majority of self-proclaimed environmentalists and activists) seek the solutions for an unprecedented ecological crisis from the very institutions that have contributed the most to unparalleled ecological devastation, running hand in hand with the ongoing genocide of indigenous peoples on a global scale. The non-profit industrial complex makes palatable the unpalatable on behalf of the establishment, whom they answer to and depend upon for their existence.

Rather than break away from the unprecedented destructiveness of industrialized capital or Western culture, tragically and willingly, we in the North collectively contribute to its re-articulation.

Wealth for the Chosen (Predominantly White) Few

 

tourism

Ecotourism was and continues to be big business. Lead authors in this field have gone on to consult for influential organizations (such as the UN, the Nature Conservancy, USAID, state governments), lecture, found prosperous organizations and opened tourism-related businesses, and become senior fellows of prestigious institutes, professors, directors, and authors of best-selling textbooks and guidebooks. The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), founded in 1990, is the oldest and largest non-profit organization in the world “dedicated to making ecotourism a tool for sustainable tourism development worldwide.” [TIES was founded by Megan Epler Wood who founded the firm EplerWood International in 2003.]

In the mid-1990s, the TIES organization launched a national review of community benefits of ecotourism in Ecuador. Dr. David Western, TIES founding president/chairman, recently appointed as the new Director of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), would insist on bringing his “international expertise” on ecotourism in Kenya to improve community ecotourism development methodologies in Ecuador. The conference that followed (Ecotourism at the Crossroads) was then both funded and managed by KWS in partnership with TIES. [Source] KWS is somewhat notorious for corruption and scandals as well as complicity in “conservation” deals, more recently, one in which Kenya’s Samburu peoples were violently evicted from their land.

Kenya Wildlife Services has become one of the more parasitic NGOs working in partnership with USAID and Nature Conservancy. (“The court has turned a blind eye to the pleas of the Samburu community and allowed these illegalities to subsist. The transfer [of the land to the KWS] is totally unlawful and it’s in flagrant violation of the interests of the Samburu community.” | Source)

“We decided that a national conference could galvanize interest from industry in more community involvement in development on community managed lands. This conference came to be known as Ecotourism at the Crossroads. It was funded by KWS and managed by KWS and TIES…. By the end of 1998, TIES had galvanized national forums on community benefits from ecotourism in two landmark countries, Ecuador and Kenya.” — Community Ecotourism on the Frontiers of Global Development Part 1, part of our special series Ecotourism Then and Now, commemorating the 20th anniversary of The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) |Source

Daniel Koupermann (Amazon guide at EcoTrek, later to be an executive at Canodros and Pachamama co-founder, see Part I ) has established Andean Paths, an Ecuadorian travel company. According to Ecuador Travel Vacations website, Koupermann was “one of the first developers of ecotourism in Ecuador. The designer and builder of Kapawi Eco-Lodge…” This statement is misleading to some extent considering that 140-150 men (the majority Achuar) devoted two years of their lives in building Kapawi. (“He has developed strong relationships with most of the leaders and the powerful shamans in Achuar territory. In addition, he has been involved with yacht operations in the Galapagos Islands, the development of a community-based tourism program on Isabela Island and the implementation of a condor-viewing program in Cajas National Park. He is President of Fundación Pachamama (www.pachamama.org.ec), the Ecuadorian arm of The Pachamama Alliance, (www.pachamama.org) which is a well-known non-profit organization that supports the indigenous groups in the Amazonian Region of Ecuador.”)

Soft Power: Eco-Colonial Tourism

“The historical legacy of colonialism frames tourism in a way that is based on an economy in which the host culture continues to be extracted. Culture tourism is a new form of extractive resource colonialism.” — Devon Peña

 

“The hardest part of the transition process is to change their way of thinking, their culture.” – Miguel Carrera, Kapawi Lodge [Source]

 

“The tremendous lack of communication and trust between indigenous groups and the private sector has been the foremost hurdle for development in Latin American countries. Indigenous organizations have seen private enterprises as abusive institutions eager to exploit indigenous culture and resources. The private sector, on the other hand, tends to consider indigenous people untruthful and indolent. If these misunderstandings are resolved, a new niche for socially responsible development will evolve….” — Arnaldo Rodriguez, Pachamama Founder, 1999

Tourism has always been culturally destructive and exploitative by nature. In most cases, if not all, this seems inevitable. The reality is that when a tourist meets the Achuar, the encounter is a commercial transaction. This cannot be disputed. As the commodity (and main selling feature) within the exclusive “package” being sold is the Achuar people themselves, it would be difficult to argue that the Achuar identity is being commodified, appropriated, and sold for consumption to the bourgeoisie classes.

The production and consumption that ecotourism embodies could only be considered sane in a world of planetary crisis where risk of total annihilation now appears a blasé certainty. The spectacle is of an unbridled privileged class for whom care and regard for future generations is secondary to fulfilling one’s own material desires and ego.

The global economic context of ecotourism is created on a foundation upholding centuries of colonialism, imposed slavery, misery, violence and ethnocentrism. While on the surface the rhetoric ratifies the claim that eco-tourism ensures local participation, autonomy, and global democracy, below the surface, critical social and environmental crises are not only simply and brilliantly re-articulated, they are also being perpetuated.

“It took time but now we are about to select the best [of the Achuar employed by Kapawi] and send them away to learn English and management skills” [Source]

“Equally, the Himba in Namibia survived everything that a hostile arid environment could throw at them for centuries until they became a tourist attraction in the 1970s. Their communities were overrun and many Himba are now beggars and alcoholics. These days, tribes are regularly diminished in the name of economic advancement. The refugee Burmese Kayan women in Thailand, who wear brass coils round their necks, each year attract thousands of tourists, who pay to visit them in their camps. Their communities are disintegrating as alcoholic dependency grows.” [Source]

Could such cultural degradation and disintegration happen to the Achuar?

coke1

2010: Amazon indigenous leaders in Quito to see “Avatar” on the big screen in 3D.

Indeed, signs of disintegration showed themselves almost from inception. In 2004, disintegration was shared by Chalalan, Posada Amazonas, Kapawi (Achuar) representatives. Dire warning signs were documented in a 2003 study group paper titled Lessons in Community-based Ecotourism, funded by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). CEPF is a joint program of l’Agence française de développementConservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. [The role of WWF: In a 2 year study, WWF coordinated the preparation of an Ecosystem Profile for the Caucasus ecoregion with the help of 130 “international and regional experts”.] Private sector partners included De Beers Namaqualand Mines in South Africa, Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union in Ghana and Unilever in the Philippines.

In the paper, the troubling signs (which aptly mirror a deteriorating Western society) were minimized by using the terminology “*perceived threats.” The very real threats/warnings, shared by the Indigenous participants, were documented as follows:

  • Less time with family
  • Distance from family, saving money and they go to the city to have fun instead of returning home to family
  • Less time for family work: in the chacra and house and so now there’s a need to contract labor
  • Customs about family gifts, such as food have disappeared. Family solidarity is missing.
  • The mingas before were more common in the community of Kapawi; now they want money for community work
  • Abandoned children
  • Tourism has taken time away from the Community Council to address other community matters
  • More drunkenness
  • There is a greater number of decisions to make but the process remains slow
  • Greater separation between parents and children
  • Because they work in the lodge, people believe they are richer and so they get charged more for things
  • Now we change money for communal work, with individual contracts, or, alternatively, we pay to get out of communal work obligations.
  • Greater neglect of families
  • Some engage in fewer everyday activities, such as hunting, fishing, farming and extraction because they are waiting for profits from tourism and other opportunities for work.
  • Some have misunderstood how much they were going to benefit from ecotourism, and so they do nothing.
  • Instead of tending to their chacra, etc., there are just waiting for tourism money.
  • Personal interests for developing ecotourism apart from the community enterprise

Aside from the Indigenous peoples in such “experiments” adopting aspects of neoliberalism (erosion of cooperation, rise of competition), we can safely assume that the manifestations of Western culture since this publication of this paper in 2005 have only further amplified.

“One of the main challenges of our work is finding a balance between respecting the Achuar culture and way of living, while at the same time having them respect the needs of the business. You have to be patient and have limits. Often things come up. Someone comes from community, misses his family, or needs to go hunting. They tell me, ‘You white people need money, but I don’t need it.’ Then they take a machete and just go in the forest. I’ve had cases when I have to go and do a job for them.” — Gabriel Jaramillo, longtime administrator at Kapawi

 

“No-one yet knows whether today’s children, armed with 21st century skills, will still want to preserve their traditional way of life.” [Source]

The socially appeasing terminology “monitoring impacts” has given licence to implement and study the further expansion of globalized markets under industrialized capitalism, Western influence and its effects on Indigenous populations and cultures – via NGOs.

“Eco-tourism is a transformative policy of inclusion and democratization, as well as a product of racialized justification for modernization, in which marginalized peoples are subject to a new dependency and a new colonialism.” – The PostColonial Exotic, Marketing the Margins

Competition to gain access to Western commodities (guns, etc.) has created tension, disputes and violence between neighbouring Indigenous tribes for many decades. It is telling that for almost two years after Canodros signed the contract with the Achuar, tensions and dissatisfaction arose due to a key misunderstanding. The Achuar were under the impression that Canodros was an NGO. (“The company assumed the role of an NGO, and people from the communities went for books and medicines.” “One of the first areas for disagreement was that the Achuar thought Canodros was a NGO and should provide health care and other services.”) Thus, the Achuar (in thanks to conditioning of the missionaries and non-profits) were expecting that “gifts” would commence after signing the contract. It took at least two years of dialogue before this misconception was resolved. This perhaps shows that it is merely healthcare and very basic services (education, agricultural support, etc.) that the Achuar/Indigenous desire. Indeed, one researcher estimated that the said need for monetary income was probably less than $300 per family, per annum (Rodríguez, 1996).

Perhaps the greatest threat to the oligarchs is that with left-leaning governments gaining power, these governments will be (and increasingly are) finally able to provide these basic needs – thereby making the acceptance and embracing of imperial non-profits and missionaries obsolete. No imperial NGOs/missionaries on the ground effectively means no access. Thus, ensuring people’s basic needs are met (which is only possible when states are sovereign and free from foreign interference) must be considered an invaluable and key tool against destabilization efforts by imperial forces.

If neocolonialism is defined as the practice of using capitalism, globalization, and cultural forces to control a country (usually former European colonies in Africa or Asia) in lieu of direct military or political control, then surely REDD and carbon market mechanisms fall under this definition. Further, if such control can be economic, cultural, or linguistic, by promoting their own culture, language or media in the colony, corporations embedded in that culture can make greater headway in opening the markets in those countries, so surely ecotourism can also fall under this term.

Going yet further, if neocolonialism can be considered the end result of relatively benign business interests leading to deleterious cultural effects, then surely this applies to Indigenous populations all over the planet that have, via good intentions and misplaced trust, tragically been manipulated, thus succumbing to the jaws of predatory institutions such as USAID, Conservation International, the World Bank, etc., and now live with the consequences slowly taking hold.

In the spirit of role-playing, once again, imagine this same scenario where it is the Arabs “helping” the Achuar. Imagine the Muslims were teaching the Achuar adults and children Arabic. It is safe to conclude that such a scenario would unleash an angry outcry from the Western world, where the falsehood of Euro-American superiority and racism are invisibly woven into the very fabric of society. This begs the question (or perhaps it answers the question) as to why these concepts/developments, initiated and guided by Euro-Americans, are embraced and applauded by the global community, with no objections to be found.

Let it be noted: we object.

The Irony

“So it is clear to us that imperialism is not a product of capitalism; it is not capitalism developed to its highest stage. Instead, capitalism is a product of imperialism. Capitalism is imperialism developed to its highest stage, not the other way around…. Finance capital, the export of capital, monopoly, etc., are all articulations of a political economy rooted in parasitism and based on the historically brutal subjugation of most of humanity…. This is not something that only happened a long time ago. The world’s peoples are suffering the consequences of capitalist emergence even now…. Today’s white left is also locked into a worldview that places the location of Europeans in the world as the center of the universe. It always has.” — Omali Yeshitela

The left does not wish to acknowledge that under an industrialized capitalist system, everything depends on infinite expansion of capital – capital with far higher value than the interests of the people. The supremacy of capital ensures alternative political processes (as we witness in ALBA states: Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela and several Caribbean countries) are counteracted on both the national and international level by international / corporate media, international capital, and the oligarchy that seeks to subdue sovereign states and lock them within the confines of imperialism.

Until there is a global conversation as to how we are going to achieve a true virtual zero carbon existence in the near-term future, judging Venezuela, Ecuador, or any other petro-state is nothing but denial, ignorance or bravado. All roads lead to the Global North and to the US specifically, with the entire infrastructure entirely dependent on oil, gas and coal. Vulnerable states can give up their resources with their own conditions, or by force. Citizens of the Global North are not about to give up their Western lifestyles, which is tantamount to giving up one’s privilege.

Consider that “America’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 105 percent. Ecuador’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 23 percent. The real problem lies in those who run the economy, who run the society, because they protect the interests of the financial capitalists. It’s the capital, financial capital in particular, that runs the economy. The real problem is that the capital owns the society, it owns the people.” [Source]

And as the US administration continues to demonize Venezuela, millions of US citizens have to choose between paying the heating of their homes or covering other basic needs. The irony is that in order to help, the government of Venezuela implemented a programme, in collaboration with state-owned oil company PDVSA’s largest subsidiary CITGO, which provides heat to 500,000 US citizens annually. The program was initiated in 2005. [Published on Dec 13, 2013 teleSUR] Video (running time: 1:28)

 

 

Coming full circle back to Pachamama Alliance’s co-founder John Perkins, the message from Perkin’s link on his Dream Change website to “buycott” is most profound:

“Have you ever wondered whether the money you spend ends up funding causes you oppose?”

For once we agree.

We consider the closure of the U.S. Fundación Pachamama by the Ecuadorian government a small victory against imperialism and a victory for all Ecuadorians. We applaud all governments taking measures to do the same. Anyone who is against imperialism / colonialism should support such efforts.

The future of capitalism (strengthened or dismantled?) will be determined by the collective resolve bound with struggle against parasitism and imperialism. Yet perhaps the best determining factor of whether or not we succeed in dismantling and obliterating capitalism will be our smashing of the pedestal within the ivory tower, upon which capitalism depends for its survival.

One could argue that the authors of this paper demonstrate paternalism in rejecting the notion that the Achuar were/are free in all decision-making capacity and have embraced Western values of their own free will. There is no doubt that these dynamic men, women and communities embody an ethical intelligence far exceeding any intellect claimed by the Euro-American. That being said, an ethical intelligence is no match for the pathology espoused by defenders of and believers in a predatory capitalist system dependent upon infinite growth, where white “values” embodied in the global economy are forever sacrosanct and must/will always dominate and prevail.

The colonization of Latin America has never ended. Like a chameleon, it simply changes its colours. Like a parasite, it simply changes its hosts.

One may argue that Western writers/thinkers/activists/citizens have no right to make judgments on whether or not such cultural influences and shifts, brought on by projects teeming with ethical and philosophical conflicts, are to be tolerated or accepted. Yet this line of debate effectively shuts down the urgent need to look at these interactions under a much needed critical light, thereby effectively securing and protecting the very hegemonic power structures that slowly erode and deteriorate autonomous nations via soft-power manipulation.

In real life, we call this well-orchestrated genocide.

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I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

Yet if I tell you that capitalism must be defeated, you smirk and walk away.

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

Yet you acquiesce to the voice of the colonizer while you dismiss the Indigenous voice with an unspoken superiority.

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

Yet you accept that the words and thoughts of Indigenous Peoples must be conveyed by way of white mouths.

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

Yet I witness your acceptance of blatant, highly financed, white paternalism.

I hear you cry, “Save the Amazon!!!”

And I know you are a liar.

 

END

 

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

Edited with Forrest Palmer, Wrong Kind of Green Collective.

HEART OF DARKNESS

Wrong Kind of Green

January 22, 2016

By Jay Taber

New World Order—Same Old Crimes

Robinson-SG-COP21-NOV2015

November 2015: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with Mary Robinson and Ricken Patel, Executive Director of Avaaz at “One Heart One Tree: Lighting of the Eiffel Tower”. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

In terms of relevance to the indigenous nations often referred to as the Fourth World, the rollouts from the COP21 gathering of UN member states, Wall Street-funded NGOs, and the global financial elite resemble colonial initiatives undertaken as a result of similar 19th Century gatherings to carve up the world for capitalism. Then, as now, indigenous territories and resources were targeted for expropriation through coercion, with Africa being a prime target.

cop21

Photo: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (fourth from left) and Christiana Figueres (centre), Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), meet with “Civil Society Leaders” at the Le Bourget-Paris exhibition site, for Cop21. From left: Jagoda Munic, Chairperson, Friends of the Earth International; Ricken Patel, President and Executive Director, Avaaz; Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation; Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International; May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org; Wael Hmaidan, Director, Climate Action Network International; and Bridget Burns, Administrator on Climate, Global Gender and Climate Alliance.

As statements emanating from COP21 by Wall Street-driven entities like the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition were tailored to seduce the naïve into believing that First World consumption of indigenous territories and resources for luxury goods could continue unabated under the pretext of saving the planet, the agenda of the financial elite at Paris was to subsume human rights to the all-encompassing ‘clean energy’/New Economy regime.

Global Goals -PrivateProperty

A look at the ‘clean energy’ Ponzi scheme — led by magnate Bill Gates, and promoted by Havas – reveals two key attributes of the plan are 1. Expanding nuclear power development and 2. Privatizing public process and policy. Indeed, privatization of the planet, which led to the indigenous revolution in Bolivia and elsewhere, is a core component of the Natural Infrastructure for Business launched at COP21.

lithium mexico

“Clean” energy: Lithium mining in Mexico

While the allure of the ‘clean energy’ chimera is appealing to First World consumers of electronics and energy storage devices such as electric car batteries, the Fourth World reality in Africa, Asia and South America – where resources for these technologies are mined — is one of utter devastation. Indeed, it has been convincingly argued that the recent misadventures of AFRICOM, NATO, and the UN in Libya, Mali and the Great Lakes region of Africa are aimed at securing these minerals for the US and the EU.

mckibben patel AOSIS-Press-Conference

COP15, 2009: Bill McKibben of 350.org, Ambassador Antonio Lima of Cape Verde (Vice-President of AOSIS), and Ricken Patel, Avaaz Executive Director

The NGOs and PR firms behind the social engineering used to drum up support for Wall Street’s privatization plan — Avaaz, Havas, Purpose and 350 — are key to saving the planet for the financial elite. While their choreography of the climate drama has resulted in lots of moral theatrics, the failure of 21 years of lobbying and protesting suggests something more serious is needed. Organizing for political power requires challenging these Wall Street-funded fronts. ‘Civil society’ does not equal NGO.

Creating Failed States | Next up: Burundi

The White House

 

Office of the Press Secretary

 

For Immediate Release

 

November 23, 2015

 

“President Obama today issued a new Executive Order (E.O.) declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Burundi.”

Power and Kagame

Left: U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power. Right: “Butcher of the Great Lakes”, Paul Kagame | “The US based Kagame lobbyists, including the US Ambassador to the UN – Samantha Power – are responsible for the crisis we see in Burundi.” – Dr. Charles Kambanda, Great Lakes Post

The African Great Lakes region (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda) is rich in mineral wealth. East/West superpower competition for these minerals — used in consumer electronics — has prompted the United States military to arm rebels and dictators alike, as well as to increase the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) presence in the region.

Burundi tweet 3

On July 6, 2015, the U.S. State Department announced that Tom Perriello will serve as President Obama’s special envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa. On November 6, 2015, the State Department announced that Perriello was alarmed by Burundi government violence.  On November 8, 2015, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, in response to the Burundi government offer of amnesty to insurrectionists, warned of Rwanda-like government massacres.

Samantha-Power-John-Kerry-68th-Session-UN-0OZG7CMnM5Ol

Above: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks with United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power during the United Nations Security Council meeting (photo: (Sept. 18, 2014 – Source: Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images North America)

As noted by Charles Kambanda, a former professor at the University of Rwanda, what really is happening in Burundi is that multinational corporations are seeking to create a failed state — as they did previously in the Congo — in order to plunder the resources of the region. Avaaz*, an NGO co-founded by Perriello, has called on the UN, US and EU to send in the troops–much like it did in Libya and Syria.

*Avaaz was initially funded in 2006 by George Soros (a currency speculator convicted of insider-trading) through his Open Society Institute.

THE PURPOSE OF AVAAZ: CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

Avaaz (initially financed by convicted inside trader George Soros) is the Blackwater of PSYWAR–mercenaries posing as missionaries. The non-profit Avaaz works closely with its for-profit arm and PR firm Purpose. As a social media NGO, Avaaz promotes campaigns to undermine governments hostile to US hegemony, especially in South America, Africa and the Middle East.

Perriello1

Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Congressman Tom Perriello with war criminal, General David Petraeus (far left). Under this Flickr photo the caption reads: “Passing the Baton, United States Institute of Peace” [2009] [Photo: Jon-Phillip Sheridan | Source] [In July, 2011, “General David Petraeus was approved as CIA Director by both the Senate Intelligence Committee and then the full Senate, whose vote was an astounding 94-0, astounding because this is a man who was deeply implicated in war crimes, including torture.” Source]

The core cadre of Avaaz – Tom Perriello, Ricken Patel, Tom Pravda, Jeremy Heimans, David Madden, Eli Pariser and Andrea Woodhouse — have working relationships with the UN and World Bank, and coordinate with US-controlled institutions like the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council. When challenges to US hegemony arise — such as in Bolivia, Libya, Syria, Burundi and Congo — Avaaz and Purpose create campaigns to discredit and destabilize these independent governments.

tom p and kerry

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry releases the 2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) outlining the strategic priorities to be pursued by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with USAID Acting Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom, and Special Representative for the QDDR and Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC on April 28, 2015. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

With the US-controlled NATO as the de facto military enforcement arm of the UN, the interests of Wall Street merge with the Pentagon and U.S. State Department to thwart challenges from regional bodies like the African Union. Public support in the US and EU for murdering indigenous African leaders like Lumumba and Gaddafi is aided by Wall Street control of media, especially social media, which positions Avaaz as a key player in Neoliberal imperialism.

Avaaz Hate Campaign

Above: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad demonization campaign by Avaaz. Avaaz The Behavioural Economics of Hatred: SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire

This conspiracy to commit crimes against humanity is well-documented, but not well-known. Most consumers of social media are under the illusion that the UN is an honest broker, and that the Wall Street fronts Avaaz and Purpose are somehow ‘grassroots’. Working with increasingly corrupt NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch — essentially owned by Soros — Avaaz and Purpose create the illusion of advocating for human rights, which, in turn, serves as pretext for economic sanctions by the IMF and military invasions by NATO.

Ironically, the mass murders and warlords that NATO and the UN use as justification for invasion are often armed by the US and EU, which begs the question—Who is really committing crimes against humanity, the gangsters on the ground, or the manipulators of public opinion?

Imperial Social Media: Avaaz and the Arms Merchants

avaaz burundi

Avaaz Hones In On Burundi as Next U.S. Fait Accompli

Promoting the imperial social media fad of equivocating on US and NATO invasions that destroy entire societies, ostensibly because the current head of state is ruthless or corrupt, Avaaz apologists neglect the growing list of countries where these invasions have made things worse. Indeed, I am at a loss to find a country in my lifetime (1952-present) where US military aggression — either directly or through proxy mercenaries and US-financed and trained death squads — made things better.

Of course, if you look at militarism as a market-oriented strategy, then making war or creating armed mayhem is just part of doing business. With the crippling financial sanctions available to the US through the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, invasion is just for show — part of the expected social spectacle — that routinely transfers wealth from the U.S. Treasury to Wall Street and the military industrial complex.

Given the US influence at the UN Security Council, any country seeking to conduct its governance, diplomacy and trade independent of the US and EU risks destruction. The evidence can be seen in the chaotic, murderous aftermath reigning in these unfortunate societies, and in the tsunami of refugees seeking asylum. Meanwhile, the revolving door between the arms merchants, the Pentagon and the State Department is now open to NGOs like Avaaz and its PR firm Purpose.

Obama&Perriello

Image: U.S. President Barack Obama with Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello

burundi map

The Empire’s War against Burundi: War Propaganda in Preparation for an R2P “Humanitarian Intervention”

Kerry & Tom P

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry releases the 2015 Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) with USAID Acting Administrator Alfonso Lenhardt, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom, and Special Representative for the QDDR (and Avaaz co-founder) Tom Perriello at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC on April 28, 2015. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Annihilating Tribal Society

West Pap. Tribes 1

Modern states, through international institutions (i.e. International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and NATO), routinely annihilate peaceful tribal societies. As the dominant modern state, the United States combines these institutionalized enforcement tools with its war-making capacity to expropriate tribal territories and resources for the benefit of the market sector (i.e. energy, consumer electronics, and the military industrial complex). This collusion between US and EU-dominated institutions and markets is what led to the genocides in the Great Lakes Region of Africa (Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda) as well as in the Balkans.

If fascism is defined as a rationalization of theft through coercion, then it fits the US/EU model exercised in Central and South America, Africa and Asia, where tribal societies (i.e. Maya, Hutu, and West Papuans) are annihilated or displaced to facilitate access to their resources. Aided by imperial social media networks (i.e. Avaaz, Purpose, and Amnesty International), war against tribal societies and independent states now manipulates public opinion to support this institutionalized aggression.

Tom P and Kagame

Meeting with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame (R) and Tom Perriello, US Special Envoy for Great Lakes Region- Kigali, 19 August 2015

Kagame Obama

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame (R) walks past US President Barack Obama (2nd R) as US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and National Security Advisor Susan Rice (C) look on during a “Peacekeeping Summit” at the United Nations headquarters on September 28, 2015 in New York. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN

John+Kerry+Paul+Kagame+President+Obama

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gives the thumbs-up to participants in the “Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping” with National Security Advisor Susan Rice (R), U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power and Rwandan President Paul Kagame during the 70th annual UN General Assembly at the UN headquarters September 28, 2015 in New York City. Source: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

THE REIGN OF THE INTERNET

In the 1973 film The Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord described the total domination of the industrialized capitalist economy over the psyche of 20th Century humankind, and the resulting separation of modern urban society from reality. Represented in images projected by the bureaucratic state, the assumption of this unreal role of urban consumers enables the ruling class to control consciousness. Today, that separation from reality is so complete that the economy of war – including genocide and mass displacement of indigenous peoples – is largely unchallenged, despite the fact that consumer demand created by the spectacle of advertising is complicit in these crimes against humanity.

War for the resources required to fulfill consumer demand of luxury goods like automobiles and electronics is now accepted as normal, shrugged off by hyper-consumers as an unfortunate but inevitable consequence of progress. Unlike the spontaneous resistance by students and marginalized sectors of urban society to this total bureaucratic domination in the 1960s, consumer reaction to mass murder and dispossession in the 21st Century is itself choreographed by the ruling class. Controlling consciousness through mass communication via the Internet has created what the French philosopher Debord described as A Culture of Imbeciles, “in which advertising has become the only factor”.

The ongoing social disintegration of industrial civilization that produces pseudo-citizens signing online petitions created by ruling class entities like Avaaz, Purpose and 350, is indicative of the unbridled power of seamless spectacle, begun in the era of television, and culminated in the reign of the Internet. Controlling Consciousness through public relations has generated a ‘discursive monoculture’, where self-organized democratic renewal is unimaginable. Communication in this environment has become what the American cultural critic Neil Postman described in 1985 as Amusing Ourselves to Death. Thirty years later, and contrary to Postman’s assertions, technology has substituted itself for human values.

 

 

 

[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. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website:www.jaytaber.com]

 

Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part VII of an Investigative Report]

The Art of Annihilation

February 9, 2015

Part seven of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Fundación Pachamama Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII  • Part VIII [Final Segment]

 

A Playground for the Rich

“No other industry so flagrantly prospers off of colonialism – none penetrates and threatens Indigenous cultures so deeply.” — Is the Sacred for Sale: Tourism and Indigenous Peoples

  zoe2013-10-04-amazontan

Above: Zoë Tryon, ambassador for Amazon Watch and Fundación Pachamama. Photo from the article “Escape From the Amazon: A Gringo Adventure,” October 7, 2013

Zoe went on to explain that she had done the ritual with over 100 people. ‘What people?’ I asked. ‘Mainly Jewish bankers who had come to exorcise their Wall Street demons and mommy issues,’ she replied in a matter of fact wayA glimpse into further insanity and the western commodity culture that now permeates the Achuar ethnicity is beyond embarrassing. June 6, 2008, The Daily Mail: “Looking at Zoë (Tryon), she is the physical embodiment of this linking of worlds, dressed today for our three-hour canoe ride to the Achuar village in a designer dress by Wheels and Dollbaby (an Australian label she is keen to let me know is stocked in Harvey Nichols), wellington boots and chunky jungle-made jewellery. The respect she has gained among the Indigenous people is remarkable; the Achuar president tells me that he regards Zoë as his people’s ambassador: ‘She is our mother and our sister. We want her to prick the conscience of the world and awaken them to the importance of the rainforest and its people.'”

A glimpse into some of those who visit the Achuar territory can be easily accessed via the internet. In one such article, a guest of “the honorable” Zoë Tryon’s tribal journeys (Tryon formerly resided with Pachamama co-founders, Lynne & Bill Twist) is refreshingly both candid and vulgar, summarizing the full ignorance of an average American traveler. The very traveler we are to believe will be “transformed” by their experience and have their conscience “pricked” (Awakening the Dreamer so to speak) prior to flying back home to save the world. On October 1, 2013, Zoë’s guest to the jungle writes:

“Nick was a billionaire real estate mogul from LA who was going through a divorce from his actress wife…. He told me that his trip to the jungle was a ‘spiritual’ quest…. I told him I was there on a spiritual quest to boost my Facebook and Twitter ‘cred’ and that I hoped to get a bikini shot underneath a waterfall. Zoe went on to explain that she had done the ritual with over 100 people. ‘What people?’ I asked. ‘Mainly Jewish bankers who had come to exorcise their Wall Street demons and mommy issues,’ she replied in a matter of fact way…. The next morning, the shaman got in his canoe and paddled home…. ‘I need to get out of here.’ ‘Where do you need to go?’ she laughed. ‘Back to Quito. To a mall. I need a manicure. A pedicure. I need ice cream. I need Zara and diet coke.’ She looks at me like I’m not serious and then realizes I am totally serious. We organize a plane and I anxiously wait at the end of the dirt runway until it got there. Four hours later we were finally eating ice cream and having our nails done.”

In 2012 Tyron established her own non-profit, One of the Tribe, establishing partnerships with U.S. based Amazon Watch, Fundación Pachamama and Creative Visions. Tyron also serves as an Ambassador for Amazon Watch and Fundación Pachamama.

CK-ZOE59

Above: Zoe Tyron relaxing at Kapawi Eco Lodge. Photograph:Clare Kendall

The rare exclusiveness, for those who can afford it, is not lost on the elite, rather it is marketedContact with the Earth’s last remaining and most isolated Indigenous peoples must be considered an extraordinary privilege. One could argue that for the elite few who experience such a rare “encounter,” there is little to differentiate between this encounter and most all other colonial conquests in Earth’s history. The rare exclusiveness, for those who can afford it, is not lost on the elite, rather it is marketed: “We will have the rare privilege of interacting with the Achuar People in the early stages of their contact with the modern world.” [Source] The exclusivity and desire of the Euro-American elite is heightened with the understanding that they are among the chosen few to experience, perhaps for the last time, what little remains of pristine nature and Indigenous cultures. The very same pristine nature and Indigenous cultures the West has been destroying for centuries via predatory industrialization and the rabid genocide of Indigenous peoples. Such tourists, having just stepped into the Anthropocene, comprise the very, very few who will encounter the exotic and bear witness to the living vanishing prior to planetary ecological collapse. Not unlike witnessing the last rhino on Earth or any other last remaining species to walk the planet – this “rare privilege” of interaction must be considered one of many ultimate accomplishments for the bourgeoisie’s own personal “bucket list.” The more rare the spectacle, the higher the cost, the more coveted the experience becomes.

As citizens who were spoon-fed the myth of American exceptionalism, it seems likely that collectively, we as Euro-Americans have become so desperate to escape ourselves, we now find ourselves attempting to latch onto Earth’s last authentic living/breathing cultures. Simply for no other reason than we can no longer tolerate who we have become. The atrocities committed in our names have become far too egregious for any respectable citizen to further hide behind a feigned ignorance and blindness. Thus, starved for true meaning, the “otherness” of Earth’s living ecosystems and authentic Indigenous cultures is not internalized or understood – rather, it is voraciously consumed.

It is critical to note that interaction between foreign women and local men has been known (and documented) to cause community conflicts (Tapuy, 1996). One can safely assume bikini-clad foreign women being guided in canoes (by Achuar men) for leisure creates such conflict (and most likely intense jealousy) considering it has been documented that valuable time spent away from families and family responsibilities causes stress and conflict amongst many of the Achuar families/communities. Further, it has been documented that the Achuar are very jealous people, which is said to be a common trait in their culture. To understand the emotions that such selfish actions will undoubtedly evoke, yet still choose to fulfill one’s own personal wants and interests, is beyond the pale.

Cannibal Tours

Cannibal Tours

“[The film] affords a glimpse at the real (mostly unconsidered or misunderstood) reasons why ‘civilised’ people wish to encounter the ‘primitive.’ The situation is that shifting terminus of civilisation, where modern mass-culture grates and pushes against those original, essential aspects of humanity; and where much of what passes for values in western culture is exposed in stark relief as banal and fake.” — Dennis O’Rourke

Of course one does not have to read hundreds of papers via academia (another sector targeted and utilized by foundations/oligarchs) in an attempt to understand how members of isolated tribes might actually feel as fetishized “subjects” of fascination by the middle/upper class, predominantly white tourist. In some rare instances, the “subjects” speak for themselves with their thoughts, insights and feelings, unedited – shared by way of film. Such is the case in the understated masterpiece “Cannibal Tours” in which the interview of a village elder by the name of Camillus is woven throughout the film. Director Dennis O’Rourke (now deceased) communicates the commodification of human interactions (and relations) by simply filming people in their natural state. The raw honesty captured, in particular the thoughts of Camillus (unknown – 1987), is so tender and veracious, the film is almost unbearable to watch. Feelings of confusion, discontent and frustration as felt by the local native people are transparent; the superiority and ignorance of the tourist, demonstrated in effortless candour, is ugly and biting.

 “The commodification of human relations is highlighted through such photography of the locals, whereby the tourists (‘equipped with their essential “weapon”-camera’) assign monetary values to the interactions with the locals by payments. This action also introduces the element of power inequality between tourists and the natives, whereby the tourists are viewed as the one with monetary power, and the power to ‘control’ the locals, even to the extent that the locals, in the attempt to meet the tourists’ expectations, will alter certain elements of their cultures or rituals just to cater to the tourists’ likings. Through such examples, the notion of ‘re-colonisation’ can be seen whereby the whites (tourists) are seen as the wealthy and powerful group, whereas the locals are seen as the powerless with little wealth, that they have to rely on the money gained through tourism to keep their economy going.” — Commodification of culture and human relations [Source]

Although the documentary is filmed in Sepik River in Papua New Guinea (released in 1988), almost 30 years later we can recognize parallels. Note the scrappy Coca-Cola truck situated in the village (27:20). Just as Coca-Cola, having conquered the globe, has ventured into isolated jungles in the quest to unearth new untapped markets (as market share must grow indefinitely), industrialized/globalized and parasitic capitalism, having also conquered the globe, must also find new markets. As a response to this predatory economic system, we witness the targeting and sophisticated seduction of the last peoples remaining in isolation – within pristine natural settings, ripe for commodification. Note the face-painting (formerly reserved for traditional ceremonies), turned into a marketing component and an exotic novelty for the Euro-American tourist. Today, Indigenous peoples are rapidly abandoning their enviable subsistence economies – in exchange for impromptu, makeshift markets on the airstrips as the wealthy tourists descend. In a desperate attempt to sell their wares, they are in pursuit of the greenback – the greenback, backed by nothing.

“[A] Luxury top class tourist lodge with opportunity to encounter Achuar culture” — Trip Advisor Website

One could argue that since the filming of this documentary, the Euro-American has become more enlightened, with ecotourism NGOs and managers more cognitive of “politically incorrect” behaviour. Yet New York Times art critic Ken Johnson disagreed with such an assumption. Johnson once stated that if Voltaire were still around to tell the story of globalization, two of his principal character types would be “the enlightened, transnational citizen of the world and his imbecilic twin, the tourist.” It is crystal clear which character type the movie Cannibal Tours captures, yet what is not clear is the fact that under the system of industrialized capitalism, in tandem with Western ideologies of privilege and consumerism sweeping the globe, the choice of which type of traveller one wishes to emulate has already been decided.

“O’Rourke’s camera shoots the whole of a social relation that is taking over the world, the relation between the seeing and the seen. This double anthropology subtly shows how connoisseurship and condescension are linked, and how little the Western tribe of tourists understand their own culture.” — Camera Work Website

Cannibal Tours – Dennis O’Rourke’s 1988 documentary (Running time: 1:08:06)

Cannibal Economics

“The desire for profit without exploitation runs so strong, like that for ‘true love,’ even intellectuals can trick themselves into finding it where it does not exist, where… it can never exist.” — Cannibal Tours by Dean MacCannell

Consider the following study notes on Posada Amazonas eco-lodge, built in 1998. It is owned by the Indigenous Ese-Eja community of Infierno (Peru) in partnership with Rainforest Expeditions:

“[A] capitalist mindset has not only been introduced to Infierno but […] it also in some ways has been imposed upon them… this paradigm shift among community leaders whose conversations now include discussions of cost benefit analyses, product quality control, and marketing niches. The ethnographic literature also suggests a connection between ecotourism and the adoption of the Ecologically Noble Savage paradigm… this paradigm shift stemming from the commodification of the rainforest where the previous practical traditional use has been transformed into an instrumental tool for conservation and commodification for sale…. [There is] evidence not only of the adoption of the Ecologically Noble Savage stereotype in the Community, but the people’s active appropriation of it.” [Source: Take a Picture with a “Real Indian”: (Self-) Representation, Ecotourism, and Indigeneity in Amazonia, 2011]

In other words, evidence suggests that today, many formerly isolated Indigenous have learned (taught via the Euro-American) to successfully exploit the West’s idea/stereotype of the “ecologically noble savage” and effectively manipulate the tourists thereby fulfilling the exact function of branding and marketing agencies. In effect, the ecologically noble savage persona/stereotype is a growing commodity created specifically for foreign consumption, via ecotourism.

Kapawi: A Gift of Debt

“Neither the travel company nor the Achuar made a profit, and in 2008 Canodros transferred ownership of the lodge back to the Achuar. The future of this eco-jewel is now at risk.” [Source]

“Allí está el progreso, confía, sin embargo, por ahora extrañan el aporte mensual que Canodros les entregaba puntualmente hasta el 2007, por el arriendo de su territorio.” — April 18, 2010

“It has been enormously successful as a social experiment, and as a means of attracting external funding for conservation, health, communications, transportation and education, but not as a money-making venture….” [1]

According to a World Bank resource document (written by Nature Conservancy in partnership with USAID), the Kapawi development commenced with a stunning initial investment of USD $1.8 million by USAID.

While the document states clearly that “logging, oil exploitation and intensive agricultural projects had not been developed in the area when the Kapawi project was initiated in 1994 (Koupermann, 1997),” it is also quite clear from existing documents that many Achuar were convinced/came to believe that the ecolodge was the only way forward if the tribes were to resist oil development from destroying their communities.

“As my Achuar friend Domingo Peas said, ‘We are not business people, we never did it in the past… but we must learn in order to protect our territory and our forest,’ says Paulina Rodriguez, operations manager of the Kapawi Ecolodge and Reserve.”

There is no doubt that the descriptive and emotive text coupled with the sensual, prototypical rainforest imagery (utilized to “sell” Kapawi) conveys to the audience that it is only by way of ecotourism, and ecotourism alone, that the Achuar can continue their mission of conservation. This is in stark contrast to the fact that the Achuar practised truly sustainable conservation for centuries before colonization began only decades ago. This constructed message is also in stark contrast to the fact that tourism has greatly contributed to and continues to exacerbate an ever accelerating planetary climate crisis.

According to the El Universo newspaper (ironically founded by El Universo heir Perasso who conceptualized the Kapawi development with Kouperman):

“Pachamama, a vital ally: Pachamama Foundation, dedicated to accompany the Indigenous peoples in defense of their territory, is supporting the tourism operation in Kapawi since its inception eleven years ago. ‘We will continue to work with them when they take control of the ecolodge, for which they provide training and alternatives for sustainable development,’ said Belen Paez, executive director of the Ecuadorian arm of this entity headquartered in San Francisco (California, USA). In addition, the German Reconstruction Bank allocated 3.5 million euros (about $ 4.9 million) to the sustainable development of the Achuar people, a portion of which will be for Kapawi.” [El Universo, October 21, 2007, Source. Emphasis added.]

It is not clear where or how the 3.5 million euros designated to the sustainable development of the Achuar people (a portion for Kapawi) by The German Bank for Reconstruction (Kredietanstalt für Wiedraufbau – KfW) was spent … or how it was/is to be re-paid. [Note that the bulk of this loan appears to be for “the zoning and protection of Indigenous territories, via Fundação Nacional do Índio (FUNAI) applied in the framework of ‘debt-for-nature swaps’ (e.g., in Ecuador).”] It is critical to note that the normalized concept of “debt-for-nature swaps” – “offered to” the very resource rich/poverty stricken states who have suffered under centuries of colonization and gross exploitation – must be considered the most nefarious of injustices. [From 2004-2011, KfW funded €3.58 million for the Tropical Forest Conservation Morona-Pastaza project in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and the Nacionalidad de los Achuar en Ecuador (NAE). Source]

 “The western economy has eroded the traditional economy. An example is in the sale of chichi [a homemade drink]. Now, many Achuar are less inclined to work or support each other without pay.”

The Kapawi development appears to have transitioned from a Western-perceived independence and freedom, to a global and very real indebtedness, liability and perpetual servitude. Considering that the results mirror our very own entrapment within the industrialized capitalist system, it is safe to assume that this was the plan from inception.

“With up to 45% of their total income coming from direct employment in Kapawi and a further 21% deriving from handicraft sales (Rodriguez 2000:3), ecotourism is now a vital factor in the local economy. The problem is that while the community may eventually be able to control the enterprise, it has no control over the market. If Canodros, the company managing and financing Kapawi, with its experience and connections in the travel business, cannot bring in the tourists it needs in order to break even, it is unlikely the Achuar will be able to, especially when faced with growing competition from other operations in the region and in neighboring countries.” [1]

It is publicly stated of the Kapawi development that “the initiative’s board is composed of five people – representatives of Achuar com­munities both from the province of Pastaza and from the province of Motona Santiago, and a President of the Achuar Nation of Ecuador (NAE) – all of whom are Achuar. The board meets every six months to carry out an analysis of the project.” [Dec 20, 2012] However, again, the reality appears to be somewhat different.

“Mr Crespo is also on the board of the Kapawi Lodge, an internationally famous, pioneering tourism project. Deep in the Ecuadorean Amazon, rainforest warriors from the Achuar people now manage a luxury ecotourism resort, supported by the board.” World Finance Website

On The Business Year website, it is disclosed that economist and director general of Analytica, Ramiro Crespo, is currently Vice-President of the Paideia Foundation and Director of the Kapawi project. [“After receiving a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland, Ramiro Crespo went on to pursue a Master’s in Economic Development at Georgetown University. He was an economic commentator for four years at Radio Bolívar. In addition to holding the position of Director General of Analytica, he is currently Vice-President of the Paideia Foundation and Director of the Kapawi project.” The Business Year – October 2012 | Bio]

Analytica is an investment bank in Ecuador specializing in debt restructuring, research, mergers and acquisitions, and trading. Analytica also sponsors a university in Quito, Universitas Equatorialis, offering degrees in environmental engineering, with Fundación Natura, the local chapter of the World Wildlife Fund.

“Analytica is among the hundred most important companies in the world in 2010 according to British magazine World Finance. Recognition ‘World Finance 100’ list rigorous nomination and selection, Analytica places with companies like Apple, BMW, ING Bank, Citigroup, Coca-Cola and Toyota. Between 35 institutions worldwide including HSBC, Deutsche Bank and Citigroup, Analytica is the only company in the list of a country in Latin America specializing in financial services. The merit of the professional team of Analytica evidence the increasing sophistication of regional financial sector. The premiere was announced in Davos, Switzerland, during the World Economic Forum meeting held in late January 2011. The annual list of the best companies and individuals in the year, ‘World Finance 100’ accompanies the publication of the World Finance Magazine, January / February 2011, essential source for global investors with its look to emerging markets.” Analytica Website

The amount of debt that Kapawi has incurred (so it appears) could be staggering even by Western standards. Consider that Pachamama administers Aerotsentsak, the airline corporation created, operated and eventually to be owned by FINAE. The costs associated with maintaining an airport, airplanes and an airstrip, even if small, must be intense. What of the original loan ($1.9 million) by USAID? What of the money invested by Conodros Tourism Corporation? What of the 3.5 million euros allocated by the German Bank for Reconstruction (KfW)? Was this withdrawn as initially agreed upon when the project was “given” fully to the Achuar approximately four years ahead of schedule? [“After this period, Canodros will withdraw all investment and the Achuar will manage the entire operation.”][Source] As part of the contract that would allow Canodros to transfer full ownership to the Achuar four years earlier than originally agreed upon, Conodros agreed to create a two-year trust fund and pay for extensive upgrades/renovations. [2] That Conodros would invest a further substantial amount of money in Kapawi – in order to terminate a contract – suggests that ending the partnership, even at a significant cost, was still a far better business transaction than maintaining the contract for four more years.

A sad irony is that the bulk of the monies received [3] from the Kapawi development (before being “given” full ownership) were spent on the never-ending maintenance of the airstrip and the school/education (“The School of Ecotourism”). Further, for four full years, the little monies allocated to the Kapawi communities were taken by one family. [“Because of the poor use of funds (40% for the community of Kapawi), and because of people who took advantage of the Achuar trust, good faith and naiveté, there is money [missing] from four years, and no one knows how or on what it was spent.”][Source]

“Meager profits flow back into the surrounding Achuar communities, which have been able to build schools; they allow lodge guests to visit.” – Travel and Leisure

Today Kapawi is desperate to increase the volume of wealthy tourists, whom they are now dependent upon. New high-end excursions that added to the resort’s itinerary include “Private Canoe River Cruise by Candlelight,” “Romantic Ceremony at Kapawi,” “Achuar Wedding in the Community,” and the “Natem Ceremony.” [Natem ceremony: “Interestingly, a day before, the shaman mentioned that he is now a catholic, which is [an] oxymoron.” Source]

It would appear that, tragically, the Achuar Indigenous peoples (among countless other Indigenous communities no doubt), in good faith yet via coercion, have inadvertently subjected themselves to loss of full control over their territories. One must contemplate how these massive bank loans are secured, considering the only asset (albeit most valuable) the Achuar could offer as guarantee would be pristine rainforest/land. Through heavy debt and financial obligations and a relatively new, strategically developed dependence on the global economy (via the necessity for an infinite stream of wealthy foreign tourists), Indigenous communities now participate in the continued colonization, or in the case of REDD (the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program), the neocolonialization of Indigenous resources and people.

“Colonial Mentality” critics argue that “people, once subject to colonial or imperial rule, latch onto physical and cultural differences between the foreigners and themselves, leading some to associate power and success with the foreigners’ ways. This eventually leads to the foreigners’ ways being regarded as the better way and being held in a higher esteem than previous Indigenous ways. In much the same fashion, and with the same reasoning of ‘better-ness,’ the colonised may over time equate the colonisers’ race or ethnicity itself as being responsible for their ‘superiority’…. [I]mportation or continuation of cultural mores or elements from former colonial powers may be regarded as a form of neo-colonialism.” [Source]

“As profit outweighs protection, the sustainability of nature is rewritten as the sustainability of capital; the protection of nature is inverted to be the protection of profits; and the morality of democratic multigenerational planning is transmogrified into the pursuit of competitive advantage in the free market of nature.” Managing the Other of Nature: Sustainability, Spectacle, and Global Regimes of Capital in Ecotourism [Source]

Although it is said (by NGOs and foundation-financed academia) that eco-tourism projects such as Kapawi were conceived as a means to employ the Achuar and to provide revenue to combat the pressures of multinational corporations, one must wonder how this would in fact keep the multinationals at bay, then, or today. Of course, NGOs were not about to say back then what they will not say today nor will say in the future: that the key reason for involvement is ultimate control of the land and soft-power colonization of the people with their integration into the industrialized capitalist system. Like the multinationals, corporate NGOs also froth at the mouth over the prospect of exploiting these same territories – the NGOs financed by the very same multinationals, via tax-exempt foundations. Like circling vultures, the rapacious capitalists – even the self-proclaimed “compassionate capitalists” – leave no stones unturned. As discussed prior, if those in power of vulnerable states do not walk the delicate tightrope of somewhat satisfying the insatiable system, they will soon face the consequences of the West taking what they will not give willingly. Nature finds herself surrounded by predatory capitalist pathology.

“An insider who is employed by a leading green group explained to the journalist Johann Hari the motivations: ‘It’s because they will generate a lot of revenue this way. If there are national targets, the money runs through national governments. If there are subnational targets, the money runs through the people who control those forests – and that means TNC, Conservation International and the rest. Suddenly, these forests they run become assets, and they are worth billions in a carbon market as offsets. So they have a vested financial interest in offsetting and in subnational targets, even though they are much more environmentally damaging than the alternatives. They know it. It’s shocking.'” — Some Key REDD+ Players

Consider that if on average there are 1,000 visitors at Kapawi per annum (a number cited in several documents), at an average rate of US$3,000 per tourist, this equates to a revenue stream of $3 million per year. Now consider there is no mortgage, no property tax, no utility bills. One must contemplate why there is no profit. After lawyers, consultants, auditing technologies, eco-services, audits, environ­mental impact assessments, marketing agencies, advertising, tourist agencies, teachers, biologists, experts, accountants, engineers, travel expenses, one must contemplate how much of this income finds its way back to imperial states versus how much remains in the community. The answer is likely a reprehensible one that few wish to acknowledge.

While on the surface, CBE (community-based ecotourism) projects support traditional knowledge and cooperation, in real-life, Indigenous communities are told they must be competitive as international tourism is pushed as imperative to survival along with other free-market prescriptions. Ultimately this amounts to cultural assimilation – or annihilation. As yesterday’s missionaries instilled the fear of God, today’s modern-day missionaries instill the fear of operating losses. Further, as Lebanese-Australian professor Ghassan Hage (Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory at the University of Melbourne) demonstrates, accumulation of capital underpins an ideology of race, in which multiculturalism works best when citizens yearn and strive to achieve Whiteness. [4]

Considering that foundations such as Rockefeller et al strategize for the protection/expansion of hegemonic power decades in advance, one could reasonably hypothesize that community-based ecotourism was developed and incremented as a deliberate stop-gap measure to control rainforests (via said protection) until a solid economic system/infrastructure for the commodification of all nature was firmly in place. Although such a theory may seem a bit far-fetched, it is not inconceivable considering foundations and “think-tanks” lead in the intense study of, and shaping of, behavioural change. The time involved in commercializing all aspects of society until saturation was achieved amongst the populace (ensuring tomorrow’s “consumers” would submissively acquiesce to an ideology of mass-commodification and privatization) would have been well-understood by foundations and think-tanks alike. Considering the 21st century explosion of land grabs, in tandem with the race to privatize and commodify the Earth’s remaining commons with little focus remaining on ecotourism, such a theory is deserving of further investigation.

DIRECT ACTION –THE ONLY TACTIC THAT HAS EVER WORKED

And although Americans, passive by decades of conditioning, may believe that integration into the industrialized economic system may be the only “solution” against the short-term “temptations” that present themselves when multinationals arrive to plunder for the First World, further reading tells us that the Achuar have far more effective methods than we do. Consider the blog post on February 28, 2008 written by a Kapawi tourist. In the post, the author writes that “Recently, Ecuador’s Minister for Energy arrived here in Achuar territory. He was accompanied with armed men and came representing the Burlington oil company to make an ‘offer’ to buy the Achuar’s land for oil development. The Achaur swiftly refused the deal and to prove their point, kidnapped the Minister for several days before returning him to Quito unharmed. The story went unreported in the national press.” This is not an uncivilized act (as both the colonial and modern-day missionaries would have you believe), rather, it is a no-nonsense act of self-defense. Despite the access to information made possible via the internet, similar success stories of true direct action that are truly effective continue to be grossly marginalized if not censored altogether in most all media. [June 7, 2013: Colombian guerilla group holding Canadian mining executive hostage takes aim at Ottawa; August 27, 2013: Kidnapped Canadian mining exec freed by Colombian rebels (“Last month, Toronto-based Braeval Mining Corp. said it was pulling out of Colombia.”)]

Further, the Achuar’s neighbours to the north, the Targaretti tribes (in the central Ecuadorian rainforest) have managed to stay isolated from industrialized “civilization” (industrialized civilization being the most uncivilized way of living that has ever existed). The Targaretti are the last tribes in Ecuador to refuse contact with Western civilisation and continue to live a traditional and nomadic way of life. One could argue that this tribe has no means of protecting/obtaining legal claim to their ancestral lands (because they have no monetary means of obtaining legal representation, etc.) and that this fact leaves them in a most precarious position, unable to defend themselves against the bulldozers and oil companies who are now encroaching upon their lands. Yet, the simple truth of the matter is that the Targaretti peoples fully understand what privileged Euro-Americans collectively refuse to acknowledge: the state only fears what it cannot control.

“On the one hand, eco-tourism has been presented as a negotiated response to the imperatives of ecological preservation within an ecocidal system of global capital. On the other hand, it is an insidious and largely unsuccessful attempt at articulating the social misery of global capital with(in) distinct cultural and environmental limits.” — Kerala: Exploring Future Frontiers in Tourism Development, 2000 [Source]

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Next: Part VIII (to be published in 2016)

 

EndNotes:

[1] Paper: Community-Based Ecotourism in Ecuador and Its Contribution to the Alleviation of Poverty

[2] As part of the agreement to transfer the Kapawi ownership early, at the end of 2007 Canodros committed to create a trust fund that would hold autonomous assets of US$296,512 with CEKSA (Complejo Ecoturistico Kapawi S.A.) as the beneficiary. This trust was to cover the working capital, the air transportation operation and the payment of labour. The trust fund was to last two years until December 2009 with any funds not dispersed being transferred to CEKSA. As well, Canodros S.A. committed to the reconstruction of the facilities. This additional investment was reported to be US$748,056.05. Reconstruction included new cabin foundations, roofs, complete renovations of bathrooms, repairing the boardwalk, and an updated/improved sewage system. The main assets for Kapawi were also replaced. This included canoes, outboard motors, refrigerators, freezers and kitchen equipment. As well, an update and improvement of the photovoltaic system was undertaken that would allow for a savings of 1500 diesel gallons per year. (The October 2001 appraisal valued Kapawi assets at US$1,036,690 (infrastructure US$826,034; equipment, furniture and household goods: US$210,656.)

[3] Kapawi development income according to a 2003 report published in 2005 (prior to the Achuar being “given” the establishment): (US funds)

  • The income from the $10.00 per guest fee that went directly to Achuar territory based on an average 1,800 tourists amounted to an average of $18,000 per year
  • The income from the monthly rent/concession fee as per agreement by Canodros Tours was approximately $3,400.00 per month which amounted to about $40,000 per year. [This amount was renegotiated and increased to a higher amount in the midst of the contract when the Indigenous noticed a substantial increase in tourists with no increase in payment.]
  • The estimated annual income to Achuar from Kapawi was approximately $58,000 and broken down as follows:
  • 40% ($16,320) to one community: Kapawi (10 Quichua & 13 Achuar families)
  • 40% ($16,320) to one association: Amunday Association of six communities
  • 5% ($2,040) to FINAE for administrative costs
  • 15% ($7,120) shared among 53 Achuar communities

The community of Kapawi spent their money (40%) on:

  • Maintenance of the 800-metre airstrip through manual labour (“work that never ends”).
  • Health: In case of emergency, such as a bad case of malaria, funds are offered, 50% as a loan, and 50% as a donation.
  • Education: $80 per month. The School of Ecotourism in the community of Kapawi can be reached in 50 minutes by canoe from the lodge. They use funds to buy books, pay teachers, and for transportation. [It is not clear who the teachers (teaching tourism) actually are. It is unlikely that the teachers are Achuar.] In this document, Cristina Serrano of Canodros Tourism is cited as the leader/representative of the Ecotourism School.

The community of Amunday Association spent their money (40%) on:

  • $150 monthly to two communities
  • $100 monthly to three communities
  • $30 for education in the School of Education

 

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

 

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

Edited with Forrest Palmer, Wrong Kind of Green Collective.

New World Order—Same Old Crimes

Wrong Kind of Green Op-Ed

December 21, 2015

by Jay Taber

Robinson-SG-COP21-NOV2015

November 2015: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with Mary Robinson and Ricken Patel, Executive Director of Avaaz at “One Heart One Tree: Lighting of the Eiffel Tower”. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas

In terms of relevance to the indigenous nations often referred to as the Fourth World, the rollouts from the COP21 gathering of UN member states, Wall Street-funded NGOs, and the global financial elite resemble colonial initiatives undertaken as a result of similar 19th Century gatherings to carve up the world for capitalism. Then, as now, indigenous territories and resources were targeted for expropriation through coercion, with Africa being a prime target.

cop21

Photo: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (fourth from left) and Christiana Figueres (centre), Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), meet with “Civil Society Leaders” at the Le Bourget-Paris exhibition site, for Cop21. From left: Jagoda Munic, Chairperson, Friends of the Earth International; Ricken Patel, President and Executive Director, Avaaz; Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation; Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International; May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org; Wael Hmaidan, Director, Climate Action Network International; and Bridget Burns, Administrator on Climate, Global Gender and Climate Alliance.

As statements emanating from COP21 by Wall Street-driven entities like the World Business Council for Sustainable Development and the Breakthrough Energy Coalition were tailored to seduce the naïve into believing that First World consumption of indigenous territories and resources for luxury goods could continue unabated under the pretext of saving the planet, the agenda of the financial elite at Paris was to subsume human rights to the all-encompassing ‘clean energy’/New Economy regime.

Global Goals -PrivateProperty

A look at the ‘clean energy’ Ponzi scheme — led by magnate Bill Gates, and promoted by Havas – reveals two key attributes of the plan are 1. Expanding nuclear power development and 2. Privatizing public process and policy. Indeed, privatization of the planet, which led to the indigenous revolution in Bolivia and elsewhere, is a core component of the Natural Infrastructure for Business launched at COP21.

lithium mexico

“Clean” energy: Lithium mining in Mexico

lithium chile

“Clean” energy: Lithium mining in Chile

While the allure of the ‘clean energy’ chimera is appealing to First World consumers of electronics and energy storage devices such as electric car batteries, the Fourth World reality in Africa, Asia and South America – where resources for these technologies are mined — is one of utter devastation. Indeed, it has been convincingly argued that the recent misadventures of AFRICOM, NATO, and the UN in Libya, Mali and the Great Lakes region of Africa are aimed at securing these minerals for the US and the EU.

mckibben patel AOSIS-Press-Conference

COP15, 2009: Bill McKibben of 350.org, Ambassador Antonio Lima of Cape Verde (Vice-President of AOSIS), and Ricken Patel, Avaaz Executive Director

The NGOs and PR firms behind the social engineering used to drum up support for Wall Street’s privatization plan — Avaaz, Havas, Purpose and 350 — are key to saving the planet for the financial elite. While their choreography of the climate drama has resulted in lots of moral theatrics, the failure of 21 years of lobbying and protesting suggests something more serious is needed. Organizing for political power requires challenging these Wall Street-funded fronts. ‘Civil society’ does not equal NGO.

 

FURTHER READING

BREAKTHROUGH BOONDOGGLE

CLEAN ENERGY PONZI SCHEME

COP21: SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE

MARCHING FOR MONSANTO

PRIVATIZATION STRATEGY

RAVE NEW WORLD

WANTED FOR DESTROYING OUR FUTURE: AVAAZ

 

 

 

Climate Opportunists

Skookum

December 18, 2015

by Jay Taber

McKibben paris spotlight

 

 

klein paris spolight

 

True to form, Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein — the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of climate evangelism — are exhorting their mindless followers to double down on ‘activist’ charades in the wake of COP21. Unlike the disgraced televangelists, however, the climate opportunists probably won’t face a Federal grand jury probe or do any time for fraud. As the loyal ‘opposition’ of the financial elite, they will stick with the Wall Street script, keeping their devotees busy whining but ineffective in confronting the power politics of their billionaire paymasters.

 

COP21: Society of the Spectacle

Center for World Indigenous Studies

December 12, 2015

by Jay Taber

Pied-piper-businessman-slide-full

 

We Mean Business, the latest roll-out by the financial elite, is unpacked at Wrong Kind of Green. Joining the Wall Street creations Avaaz, Ceres, Purpose and 350, the goal of We Mean Business is turning citizens into mere consumers. The successful mass mobilization through social engineering — deployed by Wall Street-financed pied pipers like Naomi Klein — indicates they may have already won.

more

The “Purpose” of “Consumer Activism” & COP21 – “We Mean Business”

Wrong Kind of Green

December 11 2015

We Mean Business Logo

 

“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.” — Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

The most critical of ecological nightmares – the key driving forces of climate change, those being first world consumption:

 

Interwoven with exploitation of Earth and her most vulnerable citizens and sentient beings, the continued genocide of Indigenous peoples as the caretakers of our lands and forests, the continued meltdown of Fukushima, are problems from a different world, a different lifetime.

They have no place amongst the negotiations led by 1% of the Earth’s population creating 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions.

The ultimate goal of course has now been achieved, the non-profit industrial complex (and those it feeds) having not only succeeded in establishing the global acquiescence for a third industrial revolution under the guise of “clean energy”, it manufactured a global demand – saving a suicidal economic system teetering on the verge of collapse. Rather than recognizing this is a  unique and rare opportunity in our history to allow and ensure this lethal economic system fails, all radical resistance (as activism) is now passé. In vogue is “activism as choice” for what technological solutions (i.e further consumption/growth) can “save” the humans species (of privilege).

On September 15, 2014, one week prior to the People’s Climate March in New York, Inside Climate News published the article Only $1 Trillion: Annual Investment Goal Puts Climate Solutions Within Reach. From the article:

“Leading up to the UN Climate Summit next week in New York, business groups and investors who manage trillions of dollars published reports and held meetings to call for action. Last week, investment groups publicized the creation of We Mean Business, an umbrella organization of investors urging world leaders to agree on a plan for fighting climate change.”

From the Climate Group (incubated by Rockefeller as in-house project that later evolved into a free-standing institution) website:

“The Climate Group is a proud partner of We Mean Business – a coalition of organizations working with thousands of the world’s most influential businesses and investors.”

The founding partners of We Mean Business are:

  1. Business for Social Responsibility (BSR)
  2. CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project)
  3. Ceres
  4. The B Team (founded by Richard Branson)
  5. The Climate Group
  6. The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG)
  7. World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) [Further reading: http://bit.ly/1lBgbU0]

Together these organizations represent thousands of the worlds most powerful corporations and investors.

We Mean Business Network partners:

  1. Asset Owner Disclosure Project (AODP)
  2. CEBDS
  3. Climate Leadership Council (CLC)
  4. WWF Climate Savers
  5. EPC, Japan-CLP
  6. National Business Initiative
  7. Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)
  8. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)
  9. United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI)

We Mean Business working partnerships were formed with the following organizations:

  1. Carbon Tracker
  2. Carbon War Room
  3. Climate & Clean Air Coalition
  4. Climate Markets & Investments Association
  5. E3G
  6. Forum for the Future
  7. Global Alliance for Energy Productivity
  8. International Emissions Trading Association
  9. Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC/Ceres)
  10. Rocky Mountain Institute (now partnered with the Carbon War Room)
  11. The Business Council for Sustainable Energy
  12. The New Climate Economy
  13. The Shift Project
  14. United Nations Global Compact
  15. World Bank Group
  16. World Resources Institute

[Further reading: Building Acquiescence for the Commodification of the Commons Under the Banner of a “New Economy”]

Ceres, a founding member of We Mean Business is a key partner of the 350.org divestment campaign which was created in consultation with the organizations “friends on Wall Street“. Ceres, 350,org, B Team, Avaaz, The Climate Group, We Mean Business and CDP are all “Earth to Paris” partners. (“Earth To Paris, a coalition of partners helping to drive awareness about the connection between people and planet as well as the need for strong climate action, announced it will host “Earth To Paris—Le Hub” a two-day, high-impact, live-streamed summit on 7 and 8 December in Paris during COP21 — the United Nations climate conference to deliver a new universal climate change agreement.”) [Source]

The ideologies espoused by “We Mean Business” are transparent in the following (01:40) interview with Avaaz & Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans by We Mean Business.

“We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.” — Jeremy Heimans, Purpose, 2011

September 15, 2014, This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe:

“What you are about to witness is the global mobilization of “consumers” to be ushered into the green economy, without SAYING it is the green economy. The climate parade in NYC, coinciding with the release of 350’s Naomi Klein’s new book, is the launching pad.

 

The kings and queens of hegemony have rolled the dice and placed their bets on Avaaz, 350.org and Naomi Klein (350.org board member) to usher in the illusory green economy under the guise of a so-called “new economy.” Their winning bet is that author Naomi Klein’s latest book will be the vehicle that ignites their new economy, and thus “changes everything.”

 

It is not by accident that foundation-financed “progressive” media and those within the non-profit industrial complex are heavily promoting Klein’s upcoming book release with multiple side events. It is not by accident that Avaaz’s latest petition titled The Global People’s Climate March has strategically modified the This Changes Everything book title to “Join to Change Everything” and “To change everything, it takes everyone.” Note the similar language employed by WWF: “To change everything, we need everyone.”

The fact that the Peoples Climate March was designed and orchestrated as a mass mobilization social engineering experiment financed by the oligarchs to”change everything” (expand capital and existing power structures) is captured in the (01:40 minute) video titled We Mean Business Momentum:

“And hundreds of thousands of people marched in New York City and all across the world. The momentum became contagious.”

 

The dystopian focus on perpetual growth via consumption as the solution to climate change is clear in the following We Mean Business video (3:40). Also note the reference to “Natural Capital” which is code for the global privatization of nature via payments for ecosystems services (PES) which is currently being implemented into policies behind closed doors.

“It won’t be about sacrifice. It will be about a new era of clean abundance.” — Steve Howard, Ikea

Activist Kevin Hester writes: “It is always worth looking for pearls of truth where the hubris and arrogance of the spin doctors lets them down… ‘the future of consumer activism’ … there you have it, the scam laid bare, they can never disown the market.”

This begets the question: is “the future of consumer activism” (under the guise of a “new economy”) already here?

sacrilege-2 (2)

Klein OECD

Photo: 24 November 2015: Naomi Klein (left) and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In January 1998 Mexican President Zedillo appointed Jose Angel Gurria as Minister of Finance. “One top official at Nomura Securities summed up Wall Street’s euphoria upon hearing of Gurria’s appointment. ‘He’s one of ours.’” Gurría also negotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which came into force on January 1, 1994. [Further reading: Our “Man in Mexico” and the Chiapas Massacre]

Indeed the foundation has been laid. After all, Naomi Klein’s book and film project (financed by the same oligarchs who bestow billions of dollars upon the non-profit industrial complex) was not made available for free in an exclusive online format. The book, a #1 international bestseller is being translated into 25 languages. Millions of books, driving and flying to international climate events/parades, social metrics, and a multitude of other foundation financed “activist” activities, all assist in the propping up of a capitalist economic system that is “flying at close to stall speed“. 

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[Further reading: The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

 

Arundhati Roy: Things that Can’t be Said, Tamed Tigers & the Missionaries of the “New Economy”

gates frow rich

“Grow Rich – Help Others” – “Indian Children’s Role Model – Uncle Bill: School children wear masks to celebrate the birthday of ‘Uncle Bill’ , the Microsoft founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Bill Gates on the occasion of his 60th birth anniversary celebration in Chennai.” October 29, 2015  [Source]

WKOG admin: In the May 11, 2015 article Life in the Celebrity Circuit author Jay Taber writes:

“The American aristocracy has long fostered activist charades as a prophylactic against democracy, but the wholesale choreography of fossil-fueled puppets is unprecedented. Arundhati Roy’s blurb on the cover of This Changes Everything is thus particularly disturbing.

I wonder what kind of incentive was provided to Roy. What we know is that Arundhati is bright enough to comprehend Naomi Klein’s fraud, and that her name on the cover of Klein’s book functions as a shield for Naomi, and increases her prestige among the 350 cult.

Roy already has significant prestige herself, so the question is why she would publicly support a vapid sell-out who is undermining what Roy purportedly stands for. Was it bribery, extortion, or a misguided sense that Klein’s Wall Street-funded revolution could be hijacked by socialists? It doesn’t make sense.”

After reading the provocative interview published on November 30, 2015 (excerpts below), Taber’s questions are more compelling than ever. Do “the things we can’t talk about in a civilised society, if you’re a good, domesticated house pet” include discussing the role of appointed “leaders” within the non-profit industrial complex, who ultimately serve to protect both capital and state? We have found that this is a critical issue that no one with far reach on “the left” will touch (Hedges, Pilger, etc.).

“The structure and organisation of the climate cartel can be compared to a toadstool. 350.org is the cap of the fruiting body, very visible, poisonous, and laden with spores, This Changes Everything (TCE); book, social movement, and documentary form the stalk expanding and reinforcing key messages, and TckTckTck/Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA) – a coalition of 20 key international organisations including 350.org, Avaaz, WWF, and Greenpeace form the mycelium stretching vast distances and connecting to other fruiting bodies and other vast networks. The soil it has grown from is the NPIC with it’s phalanx of institutes and think tanks feigning care for the earth while plotting the future for the oligarchs.” —Metrics as a Proxy for Social Change: The Climate Cartel, Impact Funding, and the Abandonment of Struggle [Source]

In the interview below Roy states: “When you look around and see how many NGOs are on, say, the Gates, Rockefeller or Ford Foundation’s handout list, there has to be something wrong, right? They turn potential radicals into receivers of their largesse – and then, very subtly, without appearing to – they circumscribe the boundaries of radical politics.”

So what do we make of Roy’s glowing endorsement of Klein’s book (and film) project financed by the very elites Roy so articulately deconstructs?

Consider that Susan Rockefeller is the Co-Executive Producer of the documentary film This Changes Everything and founding partner of Louverture Films, the production company for the documentary film This Changes Everything in partnership with The Message Productions, LLC / Klein Lewis Productions. The fiscal sponsor of this endeavour was New York-based Sustainable Markets Foundation (SMF). SMF is financed by foundations such as Rockefeller Family Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Energy foundation, Park Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Schmidt, Global Wallace Fund, Tides, etc. In addition, Tides receives millions in funding from Warren Buffett laundered through the Buffett family Fund NoVo. [Source: Financing “The Message” Behind Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ Project]

For now, we will leave the last word to Roy who states in the interview below: “We’re all being managed, and we don’t even know it… They have so much money, they can fund everything, very bad things as well as very good things – documentary films, nuclear weapons planners, gender rights, feminist conferences, literature and film festivals, university chairs…anything, as long as it doesn’t upset the “market” and the economic status quo.”

+++

animalsindian31

Tiger Approaching a Waterhole, Kotah, c. 1790. Watercolor and opaque watercolor

AlterNet

November 30, 2015

by John Cusack and Arundhati Roy

Excerpt from part 1: John Cusack in conversation with Arundhati Roy.

JC: So, what do you think? What do we think are the things we can’t talk about in a civilised society, if you’re a good, domesticated house pet?

AR: (Laughs) The occasional immorality of preaching nonviolence? (This was a reference to Walking with the Comrades, Roy’s account of her time spent with armed guerrillas in the forests of central India who were fighting paramilitary forces and vigilante militias trying to clear indigenous people off their land, which had been handed over to mining companies.)…

Excerpt from Part 2: “We Brought You the Promise of the Future, but Our Tongue Stammered and Barked” by Arundhati Roy

“Our tragedy today is not just that millions of people who called themselves communist or socialist were physically liquidated in Vietnam, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, not just that China and Russia, after all that revolution, have become capitalist economies, not just that the working class has been ruined in the United States and its unions dismantled, not just that Greece has been brought to its knees, or that Cuba will soon be assimilated into the free market – it is also that the language of the Left, the discourse of the Left, has been marginalised and is sought to be eradicated. The debate – even though the protagonists on both sides betrayed everything they claimed to believe in – used to be about social justice, equality, liberty, and redistribution of wealth. All we seem to be left with now is paranoid gibberish about a War on Terror whose whole purpose is to expand the War, increase the Terror, and obfuscate the fact that the wars of today are not aberrations but systemic, logical exercises to preserve a way of life whose delicate pleasures and exquisite comforts can only be delivered to the chosen few by a continuous, protracted war for hegemony – Lifestyle Wars….

But seriously – what is one couple doing with that much money, which is just a small percentage of the indecent profits they make from the corporation they run? And even that small percentage runs into billions. It’s enough to set the world’s agenda, enough to buy government policy, determine university curricula, fund NGOs and activists. It gives them the power to mould the whole world to their will. Forget the politics, is that even polite? Even if it’s “good” will? Who’s to decide what’s good and what’s not?…

JC: What is the meaning of charity as a political tool?

AR: It’s an old joke, right? If you want to control somebody, support them. Or marry them.
(Laughter)

JC: Sugar daddy politics….

AR: Embrace the resistance, seize it, fund it.

JC: Domesticate it….

AR: Make it depend on you. Turn it into an art project or a product of some kind. The minute what you think of as radical becomes an institutionalised, funded operation, you’re in some trouble. And it’s cleverly done. It’s not all bad…some are doing genuinely good work.

JC: Like the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union)….

AR: They have money from the Ford Foundation, right? But they do excellent work. You can’t fault people for the work they’re doing, taken individually.

JC: People want to do something good, something useful….

bill gates getty

AR: Yes. And it is these good intentions that are dragooned and put to work. It’s a complicated thing. Think of a bead necklace. The beads on their own may be lovely, but when they’re threaded together, they’re not really free to skitter around as they please. When you look around and see how many NGOs are on, say, the Gates, Rockefeller or Ford Foundation’s handout list, there has to be something wrong, right? They turn potential radicals into receivers of their largesse – and then, very subtly, without appearing to – they circumscribe the boundaries of radical politics. And you’re sacked if you disobey…sacked, unfunded, whatever. And then there’s always the game of pitting the “funded” against the “unfunded,” in which the funder takes centrestage. So, I mean, I’m not against people being funded – because we’re running out of options – but we have to understand – are you walking the dog or is the dog walking you? Or who’s the dog and who is you?”

JC: I’m definitely the dog…and I’ve definitely been walked.

tigers

Bengali scroll painting. Painted scroll on paper mounted on cotton. Murshidabad School, Eastern India, 19th C.

AR: Everywhere – not just in America…repress, beat up, shoot, jail those you can, and throw money at those whom you can’t – and gradually sandpaper the edge off them. They’re in the business of creating what we in India call Paaltu Sher, which means Tamed Tigers. Like a pretend resistance…so you can let off steam without damaging anything.

JC: The first time you spoke at the World Social Forum…when was that?

AR: In 2002, I think, Porto Alegre…just before the US invasion of Iraq.

JC: In Mumbai. And then you went the next year and it was….

AR: Totally NGO-ised. So many major activists had turned into travel agents, just having to organise tickets and money, flying people up and down. The forum suddenly declared, “Only non-violence, no armed struggles….” They had turned Gandhian.

JC: So anyone involved in armed resistance….

AR: All out, all out. Many of the radical struggles were out. And I thought, fuck this. My question is, if, let’s say, there are people who live in villages deep in the forest, four days walk from anywhere, and a thousand soldiers arrive and burn their villages and kill and rape people to scare them off their land because mining companies want it – what brand of non-violence would the stalwarts of the establishment recommend? Non-violence is radical political theatre.

JC: Effective only when there’s an audience….

AR: Exactly. And who can pull in an audience? You need some capital, some stars, right? Gandhi was a superstar. The people in the forest don’t have that capital, that drawing power. So they have no audience. Non-violence should be a tactic – not an ideology preached from the sidelines to victims of massiveviolence…. With me, it’s been an evolution of seeing through these things.

JC: You begin to smell the digestive enzymes….

AR: (Laughing) But you know, the revolution cannot be funded. It’s not the imagination of trusts and foundations that’s going to bring real change.

JC: But what’s the bigger game that we can name?

AR: The bigger game is keeping the world safe for the Free Market. Structural Adjustment, Privatisation, Free Market fundamentalism – all masquerading as Democracy and the Rule of Law. Many corporate foundation-funded NGOs – not all, but many – become the missionaries of the “new economy.” They tinker with your imagination, with language. The idea of “human rights,” for example – sometimes it bothers me. Not in itself, but because the concept of human rights has replaced the much grander idea of justice. Human rights are fundamental rights, they are the minimum, the very least we demand. Too often, they become the goal itself. What should be the minimum becomes the maximum – all we are supposed to expect – but human rights aren’t enough. The goal is, and must always be, justice.

BBC answers 4

October 8, 2015, BBC: Can you cost the Earth? Play our fun game and find out.

JC: The term human rights is, or can be, a kind of pacifier – filling the space in the political imagination that justice deserves?

AR: Look at the Israel-Palestine conflict, for example. If you look at a map from 1947 to now, you’ll see that Israel has gobbled up almost all of Palestinian land with its illegal settlements. To talk about justice in that battle, you have to talk about those settlements. But, if you just talk about human rights, then you can say, “Oh, Hamas violates human rights,” “Israel violates human rights.” Ergo, both are bad.

JC: You can turn it into an equivalence….

AR: …though it isn’t one. But this discourse of human rights, it’s a very good format for TV – the great atrocity analysis and condemnation industry (laughs). Who comes out smelling sweet in the atrocity analysis? States have invested themselves with the right to legitimise violence – so who gets criminalised and delegitimised? Only – or well that’s excessive – usually, the resistance.

JC: So the term human rights can take the oxygen out of justice?

AR: Human rights takes history out of justice.

JC: Justice always has context….

AR: I sound as though I’m trashing human rights…I’m not. All I’m saying is that the idea of justice – even just dreaming of justice – is revolutionary. The language of human rights tends to accept a status quo that is intrinsically unjust – and then tries to make it more accountable. But then, of course, Catch-22 is that violating human rights is integral to the project of neoliberalism and global hegemony.

JC: …as there’s no other way of implementing those policies except violently.

AR: No way at all – but talk loud enough about human rights and it gives the impression of democracy at work, justice at work. There was a time when the United States waged war to topple democracies, because back then democracy was a threat to the Free Market. Countries were nationalising their resources, protecting their markets…. So then, real democracies were being toppled. They were toppled in Iran, they were toppled all across Latin America, Chile….

JC: The list is too long….

AR: Now we’re in a situation where democracy has been taken into the workshop and fixed, remodeled to be market-friendly. So now the United States is fighting wars to instal democracies. First it was topple them, now it’s instal them, right? And this whole rise of corporate-funded NGOs in the modern world, this notion of CSR, corporate social responsibility – it’s all part of a New Managed Democracy. In that sense, it’s all part of the same machine.

JC: Tentacles of the same squid.

AR: They moved in to the spaces that were left when “structural adjustment” forced states to pull back on public spending – on health, education, infrastructure, water supply – turning what ought to be people’s rights, to education, to healthcare and so on, into charitable activity available to a few. Peace, Inc. is sometimes as worrying as War, Inc. It’s a way of managing public anger. We’re all being managed, and we don’t even know it…. The IMF and the World Bank, the most opaque and secretive entities, put millions into NGOs who fight against “corruption” and for “transparency.” They want the Rule of Law – as long as they make the laws. They want transparency in order to standardise a situation, so that global capital can flow without any impediment. Cage the People, Free the Money. The only thing that is allowed to move freely – unimpeded – around the world today is money…capital.

JC: It’s all for efficiency, right? Stable markets, stable world…there’s a great violence in the idea of a uniform “investment climate.”

Democracy Masquerade: Uniform investment climate. A phrase interchangeable with Massacre.

AR: In India, that’s a phrase we use interchangeably with “massacre.” Stable markets, unstable world. Efficiency. Everybody hears about it. It’s enough to make you want to be pro-inefficiency and pro-corruption. (Laughing) But seriously, if you look at the history of the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller, in Latin America, in Indonesia, where almost a million people, mainly Communists, were killed by General Suharto, who was backed by the CIA, in South Africa, in the US Civil Rights Movement – or even now, it’s very disturbing. They have always worked closely with the US State Department.

JC: And yet now Ford funds The Act of Killing – the film about those same massacres. They profile the butchers…but not their masters. They won’t follow the money.

AR: They have so much money, they can fund everything, very bad things as well as very good things – documentary films, nuclear weapons planners, gender rights, feminist conferences, literature and film festivals, university chairs…anything, as long as it doesn’t upset the “market” and the economic status quo. One of Ford’s “good works” was to fund the CFR, the Council of Foreign Relations, which worked closely with the CIA. All the World Bank presidents since 1946 are from the CFR. Ford-funded RAND, the Research and Development Corporation, which works closely with the US defence forces.

JC: That was where Dan worked. That’s where he laid his hands on the Pentagon papers.

AR: The Pentagon papers…. I couldn’t believe what I was reading…that stuff about bombing dams, planning famines…. I wrote an introduction to an edition of Noam Chomsky’s For Reasons of State in which he analyses the Pentagon papers. There was a chapter in the book called ‘The Backroom Boys’ – maybe that wasn’t the Pentagon papers part, I don’t remember…but there was a letter or a note of some kind, maybe from soldiers in the field, about how great it was that white phosphorous had been mixed in with napalm…. “It sticks to the gooks like shit to a blanket, and burns them to the bone.” They were happy because white phosphorous kept burning even when the Vietnamese who had been firebombed tried to jump into water to stop their flesh from burning off….

JC: You remember that by rote?

AR: I can’t forget it. It burned me to the bone…. I grew up in Kerala, remember. Communist country….

JC: You were talking about how the Ford Foundation funded RAND and the CFR.

AR: (Laughs) Yes…it’s a bedroom comedy…actually a bedroom tragedy…is that a genre? Ford funded CFR and RAND. Robert McNamara moved from heading Ford Motors to the Pentagon. So, as you can see, we’re encircled.

JC: …and not just by the past.

AR: No – by the future, too. The future is Google, isn’t it? In Julian Assange’s book – brilliant book – When Google Met WikiLeaks, he suggests that there isn’t much daylight between Google and the NSA. The three people who went along with Eric Schmidt – CEO of Google – to interview Julian were Jared Cohen, director of Google Ideas – ex-State Department and senior something or other on the CFR, adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton. The two others were Lisa Shields and Scott Malcolmson, also former State Department and CFR. It’s serious shit. But when we talk about NGOs, there’s something we must be careful about….

JC: What’s that?

AR: When the attack on NGOs comes from the opposite end, from the far right, then those of us who’ve been criticising NGOs from a completely different perspective will look terrible…to liberals we’ll be the bad guys….

JC: Once again pitting the “funded” against the “unfunded.”

AR: For example, in India the new government – the members of the radical Hindu Right who want India to be a ‘Hindu Nation’ – they’re bigots. Butchers. Massacres are their unofficial election campaigns – orchestrated to polarise communities and bring in the vote. It was so in Gujarat in 2002, and this year, in the run-up to the general elections, in a place called Muzaffarnagar, after which tens of thousands of Muslims had to flee from their villages and live in camps. Some of those who are accused of all that murdering are now cabinet ministers. Their support for straightforward, chest-thumping butchery makes you long for even the hypocrisy of the human rights discourse. But now if the “human rights” NGOs make a noise, or even whisper too loudly…this government will shut them down. And it can, very easily. All it has to do is to go after the funders…and the funders, whoever they are, especially those who are interested in India’s huge “market” will either cave in or scuttle over to the other side. Those NGOs will blow over because they’re a chimera, they don’t have deep roots in society among the people, really, so they’ll just disappear. Even the pretend resistance that has sucked the marrow out of genuine resistance will be gone.

 

Read the full article at Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/world/john-cusack-and-arundhati-roy-things-can-and-cannot-be-said

 

 

Truth between the Lines: The “BREAKING: Keystone XL pipeline rejected!” announcement circulated by 350.org

Wrong Kind of Green

November 8, 2015

 

Wrong Kind of Green responses follow 350.org remarks in bold red text. Emphasis have been left as in the original 350.org text.

 

From: Bill McKibben and 350.org’s Keystone XL Team <350@350.org>
Date: Fri, Nov 6, 2015 at 11:17 AM
Subject: BREAKING: Keystone XL pipeline rejected!
Friends,

We just made history together. 4 years to the day after we surrounded the White House, President Obama has rejected the Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline! WKOG: Framing: This introduction implies symbolic state sanctioned protests are effective in the war against genocide.

This is huge. WKOG: This has had no impact on the production of crude oil which continues to break records.

A head of state has never rejected a major fossil fuel project because of its climate impacts before. WKOG: The fossil fuel project was not rejected for its climate impacts. This is simply political posturing as the pipeline is not needed. The sections of the Keystone XL pipeline that were needed were built and put into operation long ago (June 2010, February 2011). Alternate pipelines have been approved with little to no dissent from the non-profit industrial complex. The President’s decision sets the standard for what climate action looks like: standing up to the fossil fuel industry, and keeping fossil fuels in the ground. WKOG: The fossil fuel industry is alive and well (as there remains zero focus on consumption), the fossil fuels are not being kept in the ground. They continue to be produced and brought to the market by rail and alternate pipelines.

“Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.  (Applause.)  That’s important to know.  Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states.  We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore.  We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high.  We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some..” — US President Barack Obama, March 22, 2012 [Source]

Make no mistake: this victory belongs to us, the movement. President Obama’s courage today is a reflection of the courage shown by thousands of people who have sat in, marched, organized, (and opened a lot of emails) across North America against this pipeline. WKOG: Framing Obama as courageous is disingenuous (or delusional) at best. Those who deserve credit, gratitude and respect (those on the front lines) continue to be impacted by pollution, toxins, prostitution, drugs and the many negative aspects of oil booms and industry. This fight started with First Nations in Canada where the tar sands are extracted, and spread to farmers, ranchers and tribal nations along the pipeline route. Since then people from all walks of life have joined hands against Keystone, and the 830,000 barrels per day of destructive tar sands oil it would have carried through the country to be burned. WKOG: The victory does not belong to 350 et al., an arm of the elites by whom they are financed. Rather, the non-profit industrial complex co-opts the legitimate fight of those on the front lines only in to project faux credibility and faux legitimacy. The timing is both strategic and critical as this faux credibility is needed by 350 et al. as they take our hand and lead us to the future of assigning value to nature (payments for ecosystem services or PES) under the guise of climate solutions and a “new economy” as we approach COP21, Paris. Further, the “830,000 barrels per day of destructive tar sands oil it would have carried through the country to be burned” are being transported via rail having resulted in the deaths of 47 people in Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada and two deaths in a separate crude via rail derailment (who join those on the front lines as the invisible). Crude via rail derailments, which have been staggering in number, has also caused untold destruction to our already deteriorating ecosystems.

Together, we have shown what it takes to win: a determined, principled, unrelenting grassroots movement that takes to the streets whenever necessary, and isn’t afraid to put our bodies on the line. WKOG: 350, a multi-million dollar international NGO is not a grassroots movement. This is yet another prime example of co-optation. Only those on the front lines have ever put their “bodies on the line”. The “win”, the “victory” belongs to industry whose rape and pillage continues uninterrupted with a public thinking they have “won”. To believe we have “won” without tackling consumption of fossil fuels and the western lifestyle (which is a detriment to the world), is a win for those who finance the non-profit industrial complex and depend on both expansion of capital and perpetual growth.

Politicians in Washington DC didn’t make this happen. Our movement did. We want to thank everyone who has been a part of this campaign — from calling Congress to getting arrested on the White House fence. WKOG: This move was strategic by both state and industry. It was not the state bending or bowing to the will of the people. This does not mean those on the front lines who fought do not deserve credit. They do. Yet reality and truth must be acknowledged if we are to truly win our struggles and ultimately end genocide. State sanctioned arrests are simply PR for organizations such as 350.org.

You can join us in appreciating everyone who made this day possible by co-signing our thank you card to the movement — we’ll deliver personalized versions of the card with your messages to everyone who has led or attended an action against Keystone XL since 2011. Click here to sign the thank you card to the #NoKXL Movement.

Powered by our organizing, the tide is turning against the fossil fuel industry — every major new project they propose is being met by organized opposition on the ground, and politicians are lining up to stand behind our movement and say that we must keep the vast majority of fossil fuels underground. WKOG: Powered by the organizing of the NPIC at the bequest of their funders, society is assisting in the expansion of capital while being led to believe the opposite. This is true in the case of “renewable energies” which are not clean, are carbon based and carbon dependent (to be used by the wealthy 1% creating 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is to say, anyone who can afford to get on a plane). This is also true of the “new economy” now being implemented, whereby we assign monetary value to Earth’s remaining resources and assign corporations as the new “stewards” of our natural environment. To say “politicians are lining up to stand behind our movement and say that we must keep the vast majority of fossil fuels underground” as the United States leads in the destabilizing, illegal invasions and full out annihilation of sovereign states throughout the Middle East, Africa, and the globe, for oil, rare earth minerals and Earth’s natural resources, is nothing more than dangerous propaganda denying (and at the same time highlighting) racism and class.

Resistance is growing because the fossil fuel industry is more reckless than ever: from Texas where the Southern leg of Keystone XL pumps toxic tar sands, to Alberta where Big Oil foolishly plans to expand its mines, to California where they want to frack during a historic drought, to the enormous coal pits of Appalachia and Australia. WKOG: The intent behind marketing the idea that “resistance is growing because the fossil fuel industry is more reckless than ever” is to lead society to a third industrialized revolution, that of “renewable energy” in a world where growth has stagnated and capitalism, dependent on perpetual uninterrupted growth, is in trouble. Both a global transition to “renewable energies” and payments for ecosystem services create potential mass markets for capitalism to continue unabated. Note that 350 never mentioned the key sections of KXL that were built and in operation until it became common knowledge due to the perseverance of grass roots activists and those on the front lines. Also note that crude via rail was rarely if ever mentioned by the NGOS within the non-profit industrial complex (including 350.org) until after the Lac Megantic tragedy. One can safely assume this is due to the 26 million dollars (2003-2011) funneled into the Tides Foundation (which distributes funds to the tar sands campaigns) via the Buffett families NGO NoVo. Also note zero reference to the enormous lithium pits which are imperative to “renewable energy”.

We have more tools than ever to work with. A strong fossil fuel resistance is already taking shape across the globe. Since we began fighting Keystone XL, the movement for divestment from fossil fuels has grown into a global powerhouse able to move tens of billions of dollars and undercut the social license of the fossil fuel industry. Fracking bans have stopped drilling in towns, counties and now whole states across the country. Communities are seizing their energy futures by demanding 100% renewable power in record numbers. WKOG: Fracking bans were won by the hard work of grassroots groups who resisted the co-optation by the NGOS within the NPIC. NGOs serve their funders first and foremost. Recall that 1Sky (which merged with 350 in 2011) was a incubator NGO of Rockefeller Foundation which, with the United Nations Global Compact has launched a new framework to address climate change. The NPIC is assigned and financed to have society acclimatize and acquiesce to the solutions that protect power and capital. Solutions already designed and agreed upon that patiently await implementation by the elites.

And when world leaders meet in Paris later this year, they’ll do so knowing what our movement can do, and what climate action really looks like: keeping fossil fuels in the ground. WKOG: Bolivia, the G77 and other nations on the front lines of climate change demonstrated what “climate action really looks like” back in 2009 at COP15 when they demanded the radical emission targets necessary in order to keep their citizens alive. These positions were grossly undermined and made invisible by the non-profit industrial complex. In 2010 Bolivia’s Indigenous Peoples were again undermined by 350.org at The World People’s Conference on Climate Change hosted by the state of Bolivia. The declaration traduced by this conference was also buried by the non-profit industrial complex. Further, world “leaders” such as Obama, serve capital not people. They respond to force and threats to capital and growth, not passiveness and admiration. “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” — Assata Shakur

Today we can approach all of our work with new eyes. We know that we can fight, and we can win.

This isn’t just a victory for the climate movement — it’s a victory for everyone who believes in the power of organized people, from the streets of Missouri, to the border crossings of Arizona, to the hills of South Dakota and Nebraska. WKOG: Note that there is not a single reference in this announcement to the crude via rail 21st century empire built by Barrack Obama’s financial advisor and billionaire Warren Buffett (while all eyes were on the KXL). Note not a single reference to the consumption/lifestyles by those of privilege (350 target audience) as though the oil being produced simply has vanishes into mid air after it is produced and delivered to market. Nor does 350/McKibben address the capitalist economic system that perpetuates the consumption and enslaves us all. Via spectacle, 350 et al perpetuate society’s accelerating decline into a culture incapable of employing the critical thought process so desperately needed at this juncture.

Click. Like. But don’t think. It’s divisive.

Together, we’re on the path to real, substantive change.

With joy, and immense gratitude,

The 350.org Keystone XL pipeline fighting team:

Bill, Cam, Clayton, David, Deirdre, Duncan, Jamie, Jason, Joshua, Linda, Matt, May, Phil, Rae and Sara

 

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

The Art of Annihilation

September 24, 2015

Part thirteen of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” Frantz Fanon, in Black Skin, White Masks

 

Prologue: A Coup d’état of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the divestment campaign promoted by the mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalising negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. The public – wholly ignorant and gullible – has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” All corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

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The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse

“…there comes with celebritus politicus a kind of ‘plausible deniability’ – similar to … ‘conspicuous redemption’ – in the context of climate change celebrities – that gets turned into a kind of caring deniability designed to set loose the philanthropic sensibilities and materialities of celebritus politicus that very often work to hide the systematic and subjective violences upon which neoliberal capitalism are based.” — Age of Icons, Exploring Philanthrocapitalism in the Contemporary World, 2013

 

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“We can expect more with her new book, which focuses on climate politics and is due for release in September 2014, well timed to intervene in the debates surrounding the big UN talks in New York. Klein offers an alternative amongst the increasing vogue for capitalist-friendly climate discourse, though her 2011 article Capitalism vs the Climate may be showing its age.” — Road to Paris Website, 20 Women Making Waves in the Climate Change Debate, ICSU website. [1]

Road to Paris 2

Road to Paris 1

“It is a bitter irony of source journalism … that the most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile.” — Lee and Solomon, 1990

Note the above reference to Klein’s book “This Changes Everything” and its September 2014 release date as “well timed to intervene in the debates surrounding the big UN talks in New York.” Indeed, This Changes Everything was the springboard for the “new economy” sought by Wall Street and empire. Note the framing of a new ideology around the word capitalism: “the increasing vogue for capitalist-friendly climate discourse” as well as “capitalist-friendly discourse”.

“Basically your ministers are not people who go in for decisions on the part of people, I don’t know whether you realize it or not…they had been looked upon as saviors.” – Ella Baker [Beyond MLK]

The simple reality that we kill capitalism – or capitalism kills us – does not draw billions in advertising revenue nor does it allow for the obtainment of public acquiescence to the financialization of Earth’s remaining commons. Thus, the framing of capitalism itself is most critical: “[Klein] leaves too much wiggle room for capitalism to escape a definitive condemnation…. She seems clear enough in the analysis that pervades the book that it is capitalism, yet she repeatedly qualifies this position by decrying ‘the kind of capitalism we now have,’ ‘neoliberal’ capitalism, ‘deregulated’ capitalism, ‘unfettered’ capitalism, ‘predatory’ capitalism, ‘extractive capitalism,’ and so on.” [When History Knocks, December 2014]

Capitalist friendly climate discourse has only become increasingly vogue because that’s what global media, on behalf of their owners, wish to sell us. And they have succeeded. The storyline has been swallowed, hook, line and sinker.

Klein’s contributions have not threatened capitalism; rather her efforts are utilized to not only protect it, but strengthen it.

Klein Reformist Capitalism 1

The United Nations Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 document states that “with concerted efforts at all levels, we can achieve the goals and targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020.” (Note again the re-occurring references to the year 2020 in this report.) This is identified as critically important, as the world/UN intensifies its actions to meet the Millennium Development Goals, and “craft a successor agenda for sustainable development, and adopt a meaningful legal climate change agreement – all by the year 2015.”

And although the targets are not being met (the UN did not meet its Millennium Development Goals by 2015, for example; nor did nations adopt a legally binding climate change agreement that impact climate change), it matters little as the key goal is not mentioned in articles (such as those published in the Guardian) that focus solely on biodiversity loss. The Strategic Plan includes a set of 20 targets (the Aichi Biodiversity Targets) [2], most of which are supposedly to be achieved by 2020, with the overarching goal “ultimately aimed at achieving a 2050 vision of a world where biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.”

2015: On the Road to Paris

This Changes Everything: The 2015 TckTckTck

Based on the premise that “in December 2015, the world will get a new climate deal at the COP21 meeting in Paris,” it follows that the UN and those whose interests it serves had a vested interest in ensuring that the campaign “This Changes Everything” superseded the last campaign of this scale, which was the 2009 TckTckTck campaign leading up to COP15 in Copenhagen.

“This Changes Everything, initiated by an independent and growing network of young activists and campaign groups, aims to support the global movement against climate change by building bridges with social justice movements and the science that supports them. We want to raise awareness and participation, launching a wave of protest and direct action in the run up to December’s UN climate summit in Paris – and beyond.” [See screenshot below]

This Changes Everything Campaign Screenshot

TckTckTck was a corporate-driven communications campaign from its very inception. TckTckTck’s gross undermining of the world’s most vulnerable states that fought to defend the Earth will one day be understood as one of the greatest crimes against humanity the world has ever known. The following text is from a press release obtained from Havas advertising:

As its co-founder and co-creator, David Jones has led Kofi Annan’s ‘Tck TckTck Campaign for Climate Justice’ and is Global CEO of Havas Worldwide, running all creative, marketing and design companies throughout the network of more than 300 offices. Kate Robertson is one of the co-founders of the TckTckTck campaign and has been Chairman of the Euro RSCG Group since 2006.”

It is critical to note that 350.org, Avaaz , Greenpeace and Oxfam are the first NGO signatories to have partnered in this effort (as well as founding members of Global Campaign for Climate Action) with many of the planet’s most powerful corporate entities such as EDF (owns/operates three of the world’s top ten nuclear power plants by capacity), Virgin Group and Lloyds Bank. According to Hoggan and Associates Public Relations Firm (a venture of the DeSmog Blog co-founder, Jim Hoggan), during the 5 months of the campaign, TckTckTck and its partners registered 15.5 million names worldwide on an online petition. Also note that GCCA/TckTckTck was the leading NGO behind the 2014 People’s Climate March.

Consider the cunning and exhaustive marketing endeavour to re-frame the corporate global capture of nature’s commons (ecosystem services) as holistic, honest and ethical. Thus, one could reasonably hypothesize that the foundations and institutions that brilliantly strategize for the protection and expansion of hegemonic power would gladly welcome, and far prefer, the “This Changes Everything” campaign. A multi-million dollar “Tck-esque” campaign, financed by the United Nations, is as old and tired as the “green economy.” The patina is damaged. A citizen-led mobilization lends much needed legitimacy – for the most fraudulent agenda to ever be realized by the world’s most powerful psychopaths.

With the 350.org divestment movement and Klein at the helm, in addition to its partnership with The Guardian (which has also partnered with Klein personally outside of 350.org) and endorsement from the UN, 350.org et al have a position in the media to create mobilizations on cue, simply by calling out its army of divestment students, now global in scope. In the This Changes Everything website it should be noted that within Klein’s bio, 350.org continues to be referred to as a global grassroots movement – disregarding the fact that 1Sky (which merged with 350 in 2011) was an incubator project of the Rockefeller Foundation; it is still an NGO whose annual incomes exceeds millions; and it rewards staff with six-figure salaries. Due to its now global size (not to mention its oligarchic origins), 350.org is very far removed from the true concept of grassroots. The word disingenuous, in regard to this claim, is an immense understatement.

The Message

Of course. disingenuous is to be expected when one looks at the financing behind Klein’s This Changes Everything book and film project, formerly referred to as The Message.

Susan Rockefeller is the Co-Executive Producer of the documentary film This Changes Everything and founding partner of Louverture Films, LLC. Louverture is the production company for the documentary film This Changes Everything in partnership with The Message Productions, LLC / Klein Lewis Productions.

The fiscal sponsor of this endeavour was New York-based Sustainable Markets Foundation (SMF). SMF is financed by a multitude of foundations including Rockefeller Family Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Energy Foundation, Park Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Schmidt, Global Wallace Fund, Tides, etc. In addition, Tides receives millions in funding from Warren Buffett laundered through the Buffett family foundation NoVo.

“‘The Message’ is a multi-platform project on climate change. The first part of the project is a non-fiction book expected for release in fall 2014 by Naomi Klein, to be followed by a documentary currently in production. In 2011 and 2012, SMF received donations for and distributed grants to ‘The Message.’ Specifically, in 2011, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund gave SMF $50,000 for ‘The Message,’ Wallace Global Fund gave SMF $75,000 for ‘The Message,’ and Schmidt Family Foundation gave $40,000 to SMF ‘to support development of a film titled, The Message.’

 

“While those donations total $165,000 in 2011, that year SMF gave $112,360 – the difference seemingly represents SMF’s fiscal sponsor fee. The following year, the Schmidt Family Foundation gave SMF $100,000 ‘to support “The Message” film.’” [Source: United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Minority Staff Report, July 30, 2014]

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Photo: Susan Rockefeller at her home on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York, on Sept. 8, 2015. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

“But what appears as a natural property of the charismatic celebrity is actually produced by discourses of celebrity. (Matt Hills, 2005:151) The capitalist system uses celebrities to promote individualism and illusions of democracy (the ‘anyone can do it’ myth) […] capitalism retains its hold on society, by reducing all human activity to private ‘personalities’ and the inner life of the individual.” (Giles, 2000:19 and 72)

NAOMI KLEIN

“Credible celebrity endorsers can be deadly efficient in cutting into the toughest markets and combating the fiercest consumer resistance.” —Celebrity Culture, 2006

 

 

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

 

When promoting her 2000 book, No Logo, in an interview with the Guardian, Klein claimed that Apple and other corporations were selling the consumers’ own ideas back to them (by tapping into their aspirations and dreams). Klein stated: “People are drawn to these brands because they are selling their own ideas back to them. They are selling the most powerful ideas that we have in our culture such as transcendence, and community, even democracy. These are all brand meanings now.” Her observation was dead-on. This begs the question of how an individual, once astute, can 15 years later, be blind to the parallels: an almost identical global marketing scheme now being applied to the populace in order to capture and privatize the natural environment. Today, Wall Street and other corporations are selling back to consumers their own ideas by tapping into their aspirations and dreams.

Just as hopes and dreams can now be bought and sold by advertising moguls, states and corporations, nature will be bought and sold by states and corporations, in large part made possible by the same social media that serves as the gateway for unprecedented manipulation, coercion, social engineering, and distraction. People are drawn to the manufactured illusions and false promises (renewable energy for all, a green utopia, etc.) precisely because they are being sold their very own ideas (embodied in aspirations and dreams). Indeed, as Klein herself stated, “They are selling the most powerful ideas that we have in our culture such as transcendence, and community, even democracy. These are all brand meanings now.” The difference is that Apple and other corporations delivered on ideas embodied in aspirations and dreams via singular consumer products. But the “new economy” that Klein et al advocate for has every intention of delivering on our ideas embodied in aspirations and dreams – in relation to our future within the natural world – by further expanding capital and commodifying the whole of Earth’s natural commons. Klein and her ivory tower cohorts provide the hope and dreams (“The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed system and build something radically better,” said Klein in This Changes Everything) while the world’s most powerful institutions and oligarchs provide the predetermined solutions – “solutions” that the nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC) ensures remain shrouded in darkness behind the façade of solar panels, wind mills and co-operatives.

Some things don’t change. Two things that don’t change are 1) permanent/continual economic growth is a non-negotiable imperative of the capitalist economic system, and 2) capitalists will stop at absolutely nothing to grow/expand their capital. It is only through the acquisition of the labour of “visible minorities,” the oppressed and colonized peoples (via racism, classism, imperialism, colonialism and patriarchy) that the privileged can cling to their belief that the current crisis is somehow salvageable. With this in mind, the strategy is to have a global populace not only simply acquiesce to, but also demand that global leaders roll out “sustainable capitalism” (in other words, payment for ecosystems services, which is marketed, and consequently interpreted by the public, as nothing more than the “new economy,” sold by McKibben, Klein and others under the guise of vogue, capitalist-friendly climate discourse).

This strategy must be considered the most brilliant hoax since Buffett’s KXL. The people taking to the streets, demanding what the establishment decided upon long ago, is surely worth a toast of champagne on Wall Street as the world’s most powerful capitalists laugh all the way to the bank.

The paradox of having been blinded by the spectacle is the cult-esque faith that the new economy will save us, even as it further propels us to complete and absolute annihilation.

“We will tell you what you want to hear. You need not ever look in the mirror. We are your moral alibi. Love us. Protect us. We are you.” —Ivory Tower Saviours

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While Klein writes that “What the climate needs now is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands is unfettered expansion”, her push on divestment promises us the exact opposite. The “renewable energy revolution” (for those of privilege) based upon and dependent upon infinite and unfathomable amounts of steel, cement, aluminum and copper (all to be pillaged from an already exhausted planet), represents just one aspect of a goal grounded in denial. Further, when one takes into account that approx. 70% of all wind turbine supplies are manufactured by just 10 corporations, we can better comprehend a global campaign whose goal is to further empower the technocratic elite classes and strengthen corporate dominance. In the paper Fetishisms of Apocalypse, the author observes the pervasive framing of what mirrors the divestment ideology: “ruling elites have to be persuaded to act in their own interest now… forcing a wholly separate Society to homogenise itself around elite managers and their technological and organisational fixes.”

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Branding the Bourgeoisie

While Oprah Winfrey’s goal/vision is to divert protesters into Martin Luther King’s “strategic” model, Klein’s efforts divert protestors into the establishment’s “strategic” model. Klein’s celebrity partner Russell Brand (at the forefront of the 21st century trend of the bourgeoisie-revolutionary), makes his revolutionary stance clear (This Changes Everything UK, March 28, 2015) when he instructs his followers that “a facility for the will of the people [is] to be represented… so we have the ability to influence the institutions that control us….” Unfortunately, Brand has not been privy to a simple fact articulated by legitimate revolutionary voice, Assata Shakur, who warned long ago that “nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” Brand adds that “if we can’t influence those institutions, then the institutions have to go.” Yet, the reality is that institutions are merely bureaucracies “whose very functions are, first: to make money, and second: to pacify the masses by diverting their discontent into compromises with capital.” [Source] In Brand’s urging to create a facility “so we have the ability to influence the institutions that control us,” he reinforces both the system’s authority and the illusion of democracy.

The following observation is quickly becoming most prophetic as the populace continues to be enraptured by the spectacle:

“These historical distortions aren’t just academic: they affect how we view militancy and moderation today. If activists and supporters aren’t aware of the contribution that rowdy non-nonviolent marches made to the campaign, they might instead chalk it up to King’s horse-trading, and thus submit to elite calls for tighter leadership and a cooling-off period – a course that would undermine the crucial momentum of the movement. (Selma producer Oprah Winfrey has said it’s precisely her intention to divert protesters into King’s ‘strategic’ model.) If they come to associate the archetype of the well-funded, well-connected leader with strategic wisdom, they may find themselves embracing the next faux messianic figure who emerges to channel revolutionary energies into reformism, despite the fact that decades of liberal church leadership have brought real losses to the black community, including rollback of the Voting Rights Act.” Beyond MLK

Poet and writer Ryszard Kapuscinski once offered that “oil is a resource that anaesthetizes thought, blurs vision, and corrupts.” Perhaps this anaesthetization also lends itself to the origins of infinite growth as sacrosanct, coupled with a collective and insatiable thirst for artificial needs and false prophets – which seemingly cannot be quenched. Like the 17th century mad hatters poisoned by mercury, perhaps the thought processes of today’s productivist environmentalists have been anaesthetized, blurred and corrupted – by oil.

Embracing Our Icons of Privilege

“Celebrities are developed to make money.” — Graeme Turner, 2004

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Vogue Magazine (August 26, 2014: “Naomi Klein on This Changes Everything, Her New Book About Climate Change”)

 

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Getty Images

“A high-profile sports star like Michael Jordan or David Beckham can become a one-man super brand (Naomi Klein, 2001), able to move his audiences into new regimes of consumption.” — Understanding Celebrity, 2013

It is not mere coincidence that the progressive left’s most cherished idols are white, privileged, lucratively financed, climate/environmental “activists” that continuously jet-set around the globe. This is the same progressive left addicted to their Starfuck lattes, semi-annual vacations, cottages and shiny new cars. Rather, they love their idols – because they identify with them. Take a day to listen to likes of activists such as Dhoruba bin Wahad, Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin, or Omali Yeshitela, and one quickly realizes that today’s white, privileged, lucratively financed appointed “leaders” are as flimsy, weak and homogenized as a loaf of Wonder Bread.

Even if our progressive left crowd stumbles across radical and critical thinkers – even when facts hit our progressives between the eyes – they do not dismiss their false prophets. Rather, insulated within their own identities and obscured by privilege, the liberal left is quick to dismiss any and all factual information and rush to their idols’ defense. Never before has it been so easy for pied pipers to lead the credulous astray.

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Actress Marisa Tomei, honoree Bill McKibben and wife Sue Halpern arrive at the 23rd Annual Environmental Media Awards and after party, presented by Toyota and Lexus at Warner Bros. Studios on October 19, 2013 in Burbank, California

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350.org co-founder Bill McKibben speaks on stage during the United Nations 2014 Equator Prize Gala at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center on September 22, 2014 in New York City. Partners behind the celebrity-fetishized event include Conservation International, Nature Conservancy, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Foundation, and USAID.

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Honoree Bill McKibben at the 23rd Annual Environmental Media Awards and after party, presented by Toyota and Lexus at Warner Bros. Studios on October 19, 2013 in Burbank, California.

It is not mere coincidence that most liberals admire those that tend to reflect their own lives, those with whom they can identify. Until recently, 350.org board member Naomi Klein lived between two homes in Canada; one home in Metropolitan Toronto and one on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. Klein is an author. Klein is married to a documentary film-maker. She is a jet-setter. Her fan base is somewhat similar in status. The same holds true for McKibben with homes in both the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks: A beautiful custom-built home with panoramic views of red pines on land once owned by the poet Robert Frost (Vermont) complete with a wood-fired hot tub. A second home in Johnsburg, New York, deep in the beautiful Adirondacks [Source]. Cars, travel, famous friends and a good job. Both McKibben and Klein are appointed and given celebrity status by the establishment, in a culture that feeds on celebrity fetish. It is safe to say that everyone who believes in them already lives like them – or wants to live like them. They do not identify with someone like Omali Yeshitela, whose rightful anger is not hidden, and who constantly is subjected to harassment by cops, on behalf of the state. Nor do they identify with any Indigenous radicals other than the tiny token handful who are stamped and certified by the NPIC. How can they identify with Indigenous radicals who face increasing suicide rates, impoverishment, lack of access to clean drinking water, and worse, on a daily basis? The critical thinkers and thought leaders in these unpopular realms would only invoke guilt for the privileged supporters of 350.org, etc. – most with good jobs and ample money and who very much want to keep their aforementioned privilege, good jobs and ample money. The liberal left embraces those who make them feel good and deserving of their privilege.

McKibben 1990 Wood Fired Hot Tub Nixed for Climate

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, February 7, 1990: “Faced with his belief that the world is literally going to hell, McKibben decide not to construct a wood-fired hot tub in his backyard. Instead he bought thermal-pane windows… And so it seems it has come to this…. That forsaking hot tubs and powerful leaf blowers and environmentally unsound communication is simply not enough. We must do more.”

McKibben 2012 Decides on Hot Tub

What a difference a day makes… The Boston Globe, January 22, 2012. “McKibben is no Luddite: His house near Middlebury College has indoor plumbing, a microwave, and a wood-fired hot tub.”

“Clearly activism is not what it used to be. Resistance was never what it was understood to be. And, capitalism is always reinventing itself. The power of capitalism as a global force has always been in the capacity of a system to adapt, incorporate and expand. Yet the prevailing sense that capitalism is undergoing a new phase in relationship to activism and resistance is palpable. [It is] in this shifting, murky, hard to define terrain, that critical consumer studies has emerged as an important new field of study.” — Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times, 2013

The “new economy” promises that this is possible. And that is what people of privilege want (and need) to hear. Who wants to ride a bike or take public transit when you can be seen in your new Tesla wearing your Prada scarf – a latte in one hand and the latest smart phone in the other?

Video: Ac”CLIMATE”izing Society to the “New Economy” featuring “actress” (celebrity) Michelle Rodriguez (running time 1:30)

 

 

Why should the 1% creating 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions give up flying – when you can simply “fly clean,” dismissing the fact entirely that 95% of the world’s population have never flown. (“Air travel hit new records as well: in 2004, 1.9 billion passengers traveled 3.4 trillion kilometers. Yet only 5% of the world’s population has ever flown.” [Source]) With so many innovative consumer products, and collaborations that promise a sustainable future as pitched by the green new economy (designed exclusively for the wealthy), why give up anything at all? It is little wonder that the status quo have fallen in love with the illusion that the new economy will miraculously save us.

“In this, these markets of emotion and care come into their own: celebritis politicus is used to sell causes, contributions, concerns and socially responsible consumerism through a competitive market for poverty and enviro-tainment designed to develop, capture, and ‘use’ the fans of this poverty and enviro-tainment towards progressive ends.” — Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times, 2013

The irony is that while nature requires our colossal consumption to come to a grinding halt, the signals embedded in our messengers and subtexts (celebrities, sponsors, advertising, false hope and minimizing of reality, etc.) ever so subtly and skillfully demand the opposite. Collectively, the cognitive dissonance (in all political spectrums: left, centre and right) stemming from our disregard as a species for Earth’s natural limits guarantees the destruction of the shared biosphere and most likely, all life within it. Adding to this multifaceted psy-war is the fact that if fossil fuels were actually to be removed from the equation, whole societies would quickly collapse and cease to exist. As seductive as clean energy tales are as told by the UN, the NPIC and the media – at the bequest of the oligarchs, on whom they depend – there are no new Lexuses, Toyotas or Teslas, designer clothes, Vanity Fairs or jet travel in a fossil fuel-constrained world. Such desires will have to be wrestled from the hands of the privileged. Voluntary curtailing of consumption by those that consume the most is mere fantasy. Alas, such a fantasy is not only the last thing the elites would wish for, but indeed their greatest nightmare.

“Celebrities offer peculiarly powerful affirmations of belonging, recognition and meaning.” — Chris Rojek

Akin to how Halo cars serve to, first and foremost, capitalize the brand (Bloomberg: “The Beauty and Logic of the Million-Dollar Car”), our celebrity “leaders” are constructed in the same way: to capitalize the “new economy” (or “next system,” etc.) brand. The same holds true for the privileged left – those with purchasing power. The real value is in the association … the tapping into the elite aura emitted by the upper-echelon luminaries who have been appointed as the messengers for the environment. “[T]he everyday drivers of the lower-tier cars get to feel like they’re part of the correct club.” Indeed, “…celebrity culture can be visualized as a form of corporate incarceration, confining consumers in a tight social space in which they can aspire to the Good Life and find gratification only by following the imagined lives of others and striving to emulate them. If this is a prison, then it is one where the prisoners are ‘busily keeping the walls intact.’” [Source]

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Avaaz founder Ricken Patel (left) and Zadie Smith (celebrity/author). PUMA Impact Award, The Times Center, November 13, 2013, NYC (Photo by Lauren Colchamiro)

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Left to right: Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel, celebrity Susan Sarandon, and author/celebrity Zadie Smith for the PUMA Impact Award, The Times Center, November 13, 2013, NYC

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Executive Director of Greenpeace Kumi Naidoo (left) and celebrity/actor Djimon Hounsou (right) at the 3rd Puma Creative Impact Award. Radialsystem V, Berlin, Germany, 13 Nov 2012 (photo: Zucker Kommunikation)

Olivia Zaleski, Kate Dillon, Michael Brune, Summer Rayne Oakes== RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK Hosts the Opening Night Party for The GreenShows ECO Fashion Week== King of Greene Street, NYC== September 15, 2009== ©Patrick McMullan== Photo - WILL RAGOZZINO/PatrickMcMullan.com== ==

Left to right: Kate Dillon, Olivia Zaleski, Michael Brune and Summer Rayne Oakes, at RAN’s Don’t Bag Indonesia’s Rainforest campaign launch at the GreenShows, New York Fashion Week, December, 2009. Prior to his position as executive director working for the Sierra Club, Michael Brune was the executive director of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) for seven years. Prior to his employment at RAN (1998-2010), Brune worked for Greenpeace as a public outreach director. Photo credit: Rainforest Action Network

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Amy Goodman (L) of Democracy Now and Susan Sarandon. PUMA Impact Awards at Times Center, November 13, 2013, New York City. (Photo: Robin Marchant)

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Avaaz and Purpose Inc. co-founder, Jeremy Heimans (far right) in Opportunity Green panel discussion for the “green economy,” with celebrity spokesperson Don Cheadle (second from left) (2011)

As author John Stauber observes: “Liberals need to believe reform is possible, liberal oligarchs need investments, liberal politicians need votes, liberal activists need jobs, and it all is done in acceptance of a corporate oligarchy which needs to make sure no real threat arises to its status quo. So we have many marriages of convenience.”

Those of privilege will not make leaders of non-white activists who identify privilege and whiteness as systemic constructs of an institution structured to maintain and expand the privileges of tyrannical powers – a system, within a structure, that promises nothing more than the acceleration of our global, ecological crisis, unparalleled in magnitude. Nor will those of privilege accept as their mentors those who accurately warn that the very structure and systems that protect and maintain privilege must be dismantled (and other ugly truths we refuse to acknowledge). There is a reason why Indigenous activists such as Kat Yang-Stevens take Rockefellers’ poster boy, Bill McKibben, to task – while 350’s Naomi Klein, in partnership with the Guardian, presents McKibben as a 21st century deity.

The truth is, we’re not going to talk about avoiding the catastrophic temperatures we’ve already allowed to transpire 1) because it is more than likely no longer possible to avoid them and, more importantly, 2) because collectively, the 1% creating 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions will not willingly risk or give up their privilege. The wealthy minority, largely Euro-Americans of the western and northern hemispheres, will never voluntarily stop over-consuming energy – or anything else. The system demands that we continue. A contrived, false belief system rewards us for doing so. All necessary, disruptive, difficult and radical pathways are avoided by embracing illusory fantasies of a world where our privilege stays intact, simply by adding more infrastructure and expanding capital markets. Thus, we embrace the environmental “leaders” that the oligarchs have sanctioned / pre-approved for us, those with whom we, the privileged, identify and made iconic via the media, their most vital asset.

“Spectacle celebrities like Naomi Klein, while raising valid (albeit hypocritical) criticism of the complex, count on infantile consumers to maintain their activist credentials. Serving as proxies for consumer rage, yet asking nothing serious of them as citizens, makes these capitalist activists popular and profitable PR puppets. (I especially love Ms. No Logo’s logos.)” — Degrees of Evil: Savoring the nuances of co-optation, September 6, 2013, Intercontinental Cry

The Art of Conflation

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Chrysanthemums (translit. Khrizantemy; 1914): a conflation of art, performance, and death  [Source]  

 

conflation
verb from “conflate”
occurs when the identities of two or more individuals, concepts, or places,
sharing some characteristics of one another, seem to be a single identity
— the differences appear to become lost.

 

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2007: “Former President Bill Clinton and musician Bono appear on stage during ‘Giving – Live At The Apollo’ presented by the MTV and Clinton Global Initiative at the Apollo Theater on September 29, 2007 in New York City.”

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2008: “U2 singer Bono speaks with Al Gore during the opening session of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on September 24, 2008, in New York City. Gore attended the fourth annual meeting of the CGI, a gathering of politicians, celebrities, philanthropists and business leaders to discuss pressing global issues.” (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

 

In the October 12, 2007, CNN article The Bono-ization of Activism, Klein (rightly) criticizes the “Bono-ization” of the protest movement:

“…the new style of anti-poverty campaigning, where celebrities talk directly with government and business leaders on behalf of a continent (such as Africa) is another form of ‘noblesse oblige’ where the rich and powerful club together to ‘give something back.’ They are saying we don’t even need government anymore, it’s the replacement of nation states with corporate rule — this Billionaires Club, including Bill Clinton, that gets together to give a little something back.”

And yet, eight years later, Klein has fully immersed herself in this same (yet even more powerful) “Billionaires Club,” having replaced nation states with corporate rule. If anyone could be characterized as embracing “another form of ‘noblesse oblige’” it is Klein, the 350.org NGO she serves, and the climate cartel they run with – inclusive of Wall Street.

In 2007, Bill McKibben launched the national ‘Step It Up’ campaign (Clinton Global Initiative Commitment 2007) targeting members of the U.S. Congress to be ‘real leaders’ on climate change. Presidential candidates including Senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton attended Step It Up events and issued statements of support for 1Sky’s goals. Step it Up then morphed into 1Sky. 1Sky was an incubator project of the Foundation at its inception. [Further reading: Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New 350.org | More $ – More Delusion] At the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative, then President Clinton announced the 1Sky campaign. [Video, September 29, 2007: 1Sky at Clinton Global Initiative published by Step It Up][Clinton Foundation Press Release, September 27, 2007: “Working with partners 1Sky will raise $50 million to advocate for a simple set of goals and policy proposals to improve the federal government’s policies on climate change.”]

Four years (2011) after voicing very strong criticisms of the anti-poverty campaign’s engagement with Bill Clinton, a campaign that coincided with the 2007 Step It Up and 1Sky alliances with the Clinton Foundation, Klein would choose to serve on the 350.org board of directors as it officially merged with 1Sky.

“What’s complicated about the space that Bono and Geldof (Bob Geldof, founder of Live Aid) are occupying is that it’s inside and outside at the same time – there’s no difference. What’s significant about the Seattle movement (the WTO protests in 1999 and 2000) is that it’s less the tactics but the fact that it identifies that there are real power differences, winners and losers in this economic model.” [Klein: The Bono-ization of Activism]

In similar fashion, the space that 350.org and the NPIC “are occupying is that it’s inside and outside at the same time” – they are part and parcel of the same elite power structures Klein criticizes. “There’s no difference.” Like Bono’s Live Aid that Klein condemned, the divestment campaign, which Klein actively promotes, deliberately avoids the fact that “there are real power differences, winners and losers in this economic model” (i.e., the divestment model).

“Klein believes when celebrities such as Bono engage in talks with world leaders at forums such as Davos they are legitimizing the structures in place, and the inequalities that arise from these structures, rather than promoting any radical change. ‘The story of globalization is the story of inequality. What’s been lost in the Bono-ization is ability to change these power structures. There are still the winners and losers, people who are locked in to the power structures and those locked out.’” [The Bono-ization of Activism]

The official Road to Paris website cites Klein as one of the top twenty influential women in respect to this year’s “Road to Paris, United Nations Conference of the Parties” (with McKibben being cited as one of the top influential men). Like Bono lending legitimacy to Davos, Klein’s and McKibben’s luminary (and manufactured) status is being fully utilized in the same fashion: legitimizing the structures in place and the inequalities that arise from these structures. While Klein spoke to Bono’s legitimizing of globalization and inequality, 350’s partnership with the United Nations is stealth marketing that serves to whitewash the United Nations’ pivotal role as part of the finance/credit cartel subverting state sovereignty and undermining Indigenous autonomy. [Absence of the Sacred]

Failure to publicly expose and condemn the third pillar of the new economy – the commodification of nature via implementation of ecosystem services accounting – not only legitimizes the current power structures in place, but expands them and shields them from reproach. The inequalities that arise from this one single, and most critical, false solution (of many) not only legitimizes inequalities, it guarantees the finish line for the ongoing genocide – nothing less than total annihilation – of the world’s Indigenous peoples. The NPIC, as the third pillar of contemporary imperialism [3], which Klein has submerged herself in, ensures current power structures are not only kept intact, but strengthened and insulated.

Of course, this is not the first time 350.org has taken to subverting state sovereignty and undermined Indigenous autonomy.

“Bono’s Red initiative is emblematic of this new Pro-Logo age. He announced a new branded product range at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last year called Product Red. American Express, Converse, Armani and Gap were initial partners, joined later by Apple and Motorola. The corporations sell Red branded products, with a percentage of profits going to Bono-approved causes. In this Pro-Logo world there is an irony of consuming to end poverty. Perhaps an even bigger irony: through initiatives like the Red card, consumer culture and branding is buying a stake in anti-globalization and alleviating poverty movement.” [The Bono-ization of Activism]

The global divestment campaign (as was the Stop the KeystoneXL! campaign) is emblematic of the increasingly sophisticated 21st century Pro-Logo age. Today, Bono’s 2008 branded product range promoting his Product Red has been replaced in the public realm with the divestment campaign’s ‘Fossil Fuel Free’ Funds and portfolios (while in the background, hedge funds and private investments comprise the portfolios of the ultra wealthy). Responsible Endowments Coalition, Energy Action Coalition, Sierra Student Coalition, As You Sow, Better Future Project (financed by Wallace Global Fund) and Ceres were initial partners, joined later by the Guardian and the United Nations. In this “capitalism vs the climate” world, there is a strengthening/expanding of capital markets to counteract capitalism. Perhaps an even bigger irony: through initiatives like the global divestment campaign, investment (which furthers consumption/consumer culture) is buying a stake in the anti-capitalist and environmental movements.

“What they’ve tapped into is a market niche. There’s nothing that’s inherently wrong with these initiatives except when they make radical claims that it’s going to end poverty. There’s a long history of radical consumption – what’s pretty unbelievable about this (the Red Label) is that they say it’s revolutionary and it’s going to replace other forms of politics.” [The Bono-ization of Activism]

What the divestment campaign has tapped into is a market niche. While the future will bear witness that there is / was everything inherently wrong with the divestment (dis)course, the framing that the campaign is in service to the fight against climate change is more than insulting. Remix: There’s a long history of “radical” consumption – what’s pretty unbelievable about this current version (the divestment campaign) is that they say it’s revolutionary and it’s going to replace other forms of politics.

In the 2007 article, Klein argued that Bono’s supporters believed he was being constructive because his camp was engaging with power, which she disagreed with. Yet eight years later, Klein has aligned herself with some of the most powerful oligarchs and institutions in the world.

Toward the end of the 2007 article, the author quotes an unidentified activist who stated charity concerts were a way to recorporate the issue. The parallels are striking, for who could disagree that the divestment campaign does perform the exact same function – “a way to recorporate the issue”?

In a single quote that serves to be most prophetic, the unidentified activist added: “It changes nothing.”

manray3

Kiki de Montparnasse, Man Ray (Radnitzky, Emmanuel)

 

Klein’s partnership with the Guardian newspaper; her placating of 350.org’s foundation funding; her chosen decision to remain silent on warmonger NGOs such as 350.org’s strategic partner Avaaz (in large part responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands in Libya [4], which they seek to be repeated in Syria); her silence on the NPIC undermining of vulnerable states at COP15 (with Greenpeace, 350 and Avaaz being the first signatories of TckTckTck); her acceptance of 350’s undermining of a sovereign state and the world’s Indigenous peoples; her scant, almost non-existent references to the military-industrial complex in relation to its massive (and exempted) contribution to both climate change and ecological devastation (case in point, consider the US Air Force (USAF) is the single largest consumer of jet fuel in the world – the avoidance of this subject is even more unconscionable considering US President Barack Obama is one of the most (if not the most) militarily aggressive US presidents in history, authorizing various airstrikes and military operations in at least seven Muslim countries); her silence on industrialized factory framing (livestock stats); and her failure to disclose the relation between 350’s KXL campaign and Buffett’s 21st century oil by rail dynasty, etc. — all demonstrate Klein’s own “noblesse oblige.”

Klein’s most glaring “noblesse oblige” is the exclusion of ecosystem services accounting in her international best seller, This Changes Everything. The promotional description reads: “The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon – it’s about capitalism.” The solution is delivered in the next line: “The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed system and build something radically better.” The elites are indeed seizing this existential crisis to transform our failed system – it’s the financialization of the Earth’s commons referred to as “valuing ecosystem services.”

Consider that in a 505-page book written on climate and capitalism not a single chapter, or even a single page, explores the most pathological intent of the 21st century. One is tempted to conclude that investigative journalist Klein has simply overlooked another critical issue pertaining to the climate. Or perhaps Klein simply has no knowledge of this scheme. However, the word financialization does garner one vital mention – buried in the acknowledgements: “Two years ago, Rajiv and I were joined by Alexandra Tempus, another exceptional and diligent journalist and researcher. Alexandra quickly mastered her own roster of topics, from post–Superstorm Sandy disaster capitalism to financialization of nature to the opaque world of green group and foundation funding to climate impacts on fertility. She developed important new contacts, uncovered new and shocking facts, and always shared her thoughtful analysis.” (The single reference to ecosystems services within the book is found within one sentence on p. 34: “Nor have the various attempts to soft-pedal climate action as compatible with market logic (carbon trading, carbon offsets, monetizing nature’s “services”) fooled these true believers one bit.”)

Further consider an Earth Island Institute “Conversation” with Naomi Klein (Fall 2013) during which Klein is asked a direct question on monetizing ecosystem services. Interviewer to Klein: “It’s interesting because even as some of the Big Green groups have gotten enamored of the ideas of ecosystem services and natural capital, there’s this counter-narrative coming from the Global South and Indigenous communities. It’s almost like a dialectic.” Klein’s response is not only incoherent, she evades the question altogether:

Klein:

“That’s the counternarrative, and those are the alternative worldviews that are emerging at this moment. The other thing that is happening … I don’t know what to call it. It’s maybe a reformation movement, a grassroots rebellion. There’s something going on in the [environmental] movement in the US and Canada, and I think certainly in the UK. What I call the “astronaut’s eye worldview” – which has governed the Big Green environmental movement for so long – and by that I mean just looking down at Earth from above. I think it’s sort of time to let go of the icon of the globe, because it places us above it and I think it has allowed us to see nature in this really abstracted way and sort of move pieces, like pieces on a chessboard, and really lose touch with the Earth. You know, it’s like the planet instead of the Earth.

 

“And I think where that really came to a head was over fracking. The head offices of the Sierra Club and the NRDC and the EDF all decided this was a “bridge fuel.” We’ve done the math and we’re going to come out in favor of this thing. And then they faced big pushbacks from their membership, most of all at the Sierra Club. And they all had to modify their position somewhat. It was the grassroots going, “Wait a minute, what kind of environmentalism is it that isn’t concerned about water, that isn’t concerned about industrialization of rural landscapes – what has environmentalism become?” And so we see this grassroots, place-based resistance in the movements against the Keystone XL pipeline and the Northern Gateway pipeline, the huge anti-fracking movement. And they are the ones winning victories, right? I think the Big Green groups are becoming deeply irrelevant. Some get a lot of money from corporations and rich donors and foundations, but their whole model is in crisis.”

 

Noblesse oblige indeed.

Klein’s contributions have not threatened capitalism; rather her efforts are utilized to not only protect it, but strengthen it.

Perhaps this is the icing on the cake that is the Rockefeller and Clinton 350.org/1Skye project: Participation in the Clinton Global Initiative is by invitation only. The membership fee is $20,000 ($19,000 tax deductible) per year. 2014 annual meeting sponsors include HSBC, Barclays, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, Ford Foundation, Monsanto, Proctor and Gamble, The Rockefeller Foundation, Blackstone, Deutsche Bank, Dow, Exxon Mobil, and others. Clinton Global Initiative University includes McKibben’s Middlebury College within its network. (“These 70 schools have pledged more than $800,000 to support CGI U 2015 student commitment-makers.”) Thus, it is of little surprise to find that in December of 2014, Global CEO cites both McKibben and Klein as those within the top ten list of “inspirational CSR leaders” as voted by their readers.

Identified in the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative membership along with princes, baronesses, heads of states, and CEOs are none other than:

  • Mindy Lubber, President of Ceres (in 2013, Morgan Stanley created the Institute for Sustainable Investing – Lubber serves on the Institute’s Advisory Board, which is chaired by Morgan Stanley’s Chairman and CEO James Gorman), Stern Citi Leadership & Ethics Distinguished Fellow
  • Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation (Chair/president of Greenpeace and TckTckTck aka GCCA, International Advisory Council for 350.org and SumofUs)
  • Billy Parish, Coordinator and Co-Founder, Energy Action Coalition (1Sky Board of Directors)
  • Betsy Taylor, Chair 1Sky Campaign (Ceres Board of Directors, Greenpeace Board of Directors, President of Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions, SumofUs Advisory Board)
  • Lynne Twist, Trustee of The John E. Fetzer Institute (Pachamama Alliance founder)
  • Timothy Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation (Next System Initial Signatory)

 

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Markets and Corporations: The Appointed Stewards of Nature

“Recognizing that public awareness of the economic value of ecosystems and biodiversity and the fair and equitable sharing of this economic value with the custodians of biodiversity are key incentives for the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components ….” [COP 10 Decision X/1, 2004]

Over the last decade, and in particular since Rio+20 in 2012, the goal to implement payment for ecosystem services (PES) has been further developed and expedited by UNEP, the World Bank, the UK Government, TEEB for Business Coalition, WBCSD, and a wealth of other institutional and organizational actors.

The promise of the “new economy,” in which the “biosphere economy” will play a pivotal if not leading role, can perhaps be best understood simply by carefully absorbing the following direct quotes. The quotes are taken from the report titled The Biosphere Economy: Natural Limits Can Spur Creativity, Innovation and Growth – a 2010 paper by Volans, Business for the Environment (B4E) and Tellus Mater. (Volans and Tellus Mater are discussed later in this series). Note that the new economy of ecosystem services, markets and corporate entities will be considered the custodians (as referred to at COP10) or stewards of Earth’s “natural capital.”

“…issues that governments, policy-makers and regulators should be considering as a matter of urgency: 1 Steward national natural capital. Take early steps towards the reshaping and eventual regulation of financial markets and business, based on their role as stewards of ‘national natural capital.’

 

 “This has led the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) to create the concept of tropical rainforests as ‘Eco-Utilities.’

 

“New markets are emerging in the ecosystems space, with marketplace intelligence provided by firms like the Katoomba Group and Ecosystems Marketplace, both part of Forest Trends. The biggest market is for carbon, with the world market growing from $11 billion in 2005 to $32 billion in 2006, $64 billion in 2007, $126 billion in 2008 and being forecast to reach $170 billion in 2010 and $3.1 trillion dollars in 2020, with $1 trillion of that value relating to the USA.”

 

“Other growing ecosystem-related markets include: $3.4 billion of regulated biodiversity offset transactions per year, water ($500 million in 2010), and ‘forest carbon’ ($149.2 million in 2008). Currently, there are at least 40 local water quality market experiments in the USA.”

 

“Mainstream banks already playing into this space include JP Morgan, which bought both the carbon broker Ecosecurities (for $130 million) and the offset intermediary Climate Care. Goldman Sachs is also increasingly active through its GS Sustain, while a steady trickle of new investment firms, among them EKO Asset Management Partners, are being formed to work in this space.”

 

“While most of these markets are still voluntary, and many focus on offsetting business impacts, other experiments are emerging that aim to direct capital flows to sustain ecosystem services. One example focuses on the creation of ‘forest bonds,’ driven by an agreement between UK-based Canopy Capital and the Government of Guyana. The central idea is to channel capital to preserve forest services such as rainfall generation, moderation of extreme weather, carbon storage and biodiversity maintenance. The shape of things to come?”

 

“Already, global economic losses due to the degradation of ecosystems and biodiversity from deforestation alone is estimated to be running at somewhere between $1.9 and $4.5 trillion – every year…. On the positive side of the coin, however, the market opportunities likely to be created by the shift in the prevailing market paradigm are likely to be at least as extraordinary.”

Among the “innovators” tailoring “ecosystem metrics for business” is Gretchen Daily, co-founder of the Natural Capital Project (NCP), a 10-year joint venture of Stanford University with the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund.

Keep in mind that the Nature Conservancy and WWF represent two of the most corporate of all NGOs within the NPIC. The Nature Conservancy is in partnership with Monsanto and Lockheed Martin (to name just two). WWF is partnered with and greenwashes corporations such as Coca-Cola (responsible for the murder of union leaders in Columbia and Latin America) while actively advancing the agenda of Monsanto (invested in by Gates). The “green” capitalists who are proponents of a commodified ecosystem share Monsanto’s and WWF’s disturbing genetic engineering ideology. A said solution as designed by Natural Capital Project is the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVest) software:

“InVEST quantifies the ecological assets in a region – and models how their value will change under alternative scenarios. The metrics developed to assess the biophysical and economic value of ecosystem services are intended for integration into business strategy and policy decisions.” [Shaping Climate-Resilient Development: A Framework for Decision-Making, a Report of the Economics of Climate Change Adaptation Working Group by The ClimateWorks Foundation, Global Environment Facility, European Commission, McKinsey & Company, The Rockefeller Foundation, Standard Chartered Bank and Swiss Re, 2009.]

 

“Introduce natural assets as a key area of value across the C-Suite agenda. Map and understand your company’s critical dependencies on ecosystem services – and the early actions that can be taken to create a better balance between your business and nature. Again, pick high-powered partners, such as Global Footprint Network, the Natural Capital Project, the World Resources Institute, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, TEEB (the Economics of Biodiversity and Ecosystems) project team, or WWF.”

 

“Take Pavan Sukhdev, former managing director of the Markets Division of Deutsche Bank – who later in 2010 will launch the findings of the TEEB study, the acronym standing for ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity,’ an initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The focus of his work – and of a growing number of economists – is the creation in the coming decades of what we will call here the ‘Biosphere Economy.’ And the evidence suggests that this will be as profound in its impacts as the original Industrial Revolution, with the critical difference that this time the economy will be working with the grain of the biosphere, rather than against it.”

‘As NCP economists began preparing to include a value for ‘natural capital’ in Britain’s GDP calculations by 2020,” they recognized this concept as a move that promises to be the greatest change in national accounting practices since their creation 70 years ago. [Source: Whipple, 2012]

The Bank of Natural Capital is an “educational initiative” of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity project (TEEB), the brainchild of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the European Commission; the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety; and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. [5]

Like climate, biodiversity is no longer about ecology – it’s about economics.

“The ‘biodiversity treasure trove’ provides the global economy with an invaluable and extensive potential for innovative products and processes that is still widely untapped.” — Sigmar Gabriel, Environment Minister of Germany, leading up to the Potsdam Initiative [6], March 9, 2007

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Who will be the Bill Gates of Ecosystem Services?

“The financial value at stake is mind-boggling – and the business opportunities likely to be created by the shift in the prevailing market paradigm are astonishing…. Who will be the Bill Gates of ecosystem services?” — The Biosphere Economy, 2010

The February 19, 2015 Stockholm Resilience Centre (Stockholm University) article, Time to Reconnect to the Biosphere, represents a brilliant example of how to skillfully and ever so subtly manufacture public acquiescence for payment of ecosystem services under the guise of ethics:

“Too many consider environmental issues to be an obstacle for development. But the conflict between financial growth and ecological sustainability is nothing but a mental construction…. It is time to realise that societies and economies are integral parts of the biosphere and start working on more adaptive ways of governing our natural capital, not for the sake of the environment only, but for our own development. Poverty alleviation and future human development cannot take place without a wider recognition of nature’s contribution to our well-being, health and security.” — Stockholm Resilience Centre, February 19, 2015

Johan Rockstrom, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre [5], is a leading advocate for the valuation/payment for ecosystem services, the key pillar of the “new economy.” Rockstrom panders to the most powerful foundations, institutions and capitalists on the planet.

The Great Transition Initiative provides an example of how NGOs create the illusion of democracy and feigned concern, as detailed in the August 2014 article Monetizing Nature: Taking Precaution on a Slippery Slope. The article concludes the following: “Even though the trend toward the privatization of public goods has been pervasive over the past decades, we should not acquiesce so easily in allowing the privatization of the most basic public good of all – nature itself. We must meet the grave environmental challenges of the twenty-first century with boldness and prudence, using the precautionary principle, along with the principles of fairness and democracy, to set boundaries that human action must not transgress.”

Such articles give the illusion that NGOs will fight to ensure “democracy” is adhered to, with “boldness and prudence.” The reality is that such fence-sitting articles that feign concern are instrumental in the normalization, slowly over time, of specific language, terminologies and corporate ideologies in order to create acquiescence to further the corporate capture of nature and further the corporate domination of our minds. The objectification of Nature becomes normalized; both anthropocentrism and speciesism are strengthened. This is the identical strategy utilized for creation and gradual acceptance of the carbon trading mechanism REDD/REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries). [Further reading: Fundación Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part II]

When the public became aware of REDD, scores of NGOs spoke out against it, as did the Indigenous people across the globe. Yet while publicly the environmental “movement” appeared to be against REDD, behind closed doors, an army of NGOs and jet-setting climate “activists” were quietly and effectively building public consent, which was being sought by the foundations, corporations and the UN. As the Bolivian delegation stood alone on the world stage opposing carbon markets and REDD/REDD+ (while also developing and presenting alternatives), behind the marketing and branding veneer of the non-profit industrial complex, some realities were made crystal clear: “In September 2011, the 64th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference took place in Bonn, Germany. About 1,500 people from 70 countries turned up. On the third day of the meeting, a remarkable thing happened. Not a single participant at the conference put up their hand to disagree with a declaration which promotes REDD as a carbon trading mechanism.” [Source]

“No one raised their hand to object to a single word in the declaration text. In an email distributing the document, Dodd states that, ‘The Declaration was accepted unanimously by the 1500 NGOs and other stakeholders present.’” Manufacturing Consent on Carbon Trading, Chris Lang

A similar strategy can be identified in respect to divestment.

Lock up the Treasury.

 

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One of the most human-centric beliefs of all those in pursuit of commodifying the commons must be accredited to Julia Gray, Head of Sustainable Development and Environmental Management, Allianz Group, who states: “It is clear that our man-made infrastructures and Nature’s ecological infrastructures are becoming increasingly interdependent.”

Nature’s ecological “infrastructures” (formerly known as ecosystems – and before that, forests, meadows, Nature’s gifts, etc.) have never and will never become dependent – in any way – on manmade infrastructures. Considering the Earth is billions of years old, and humans have been in existence for a mere blink of an eye, such a belief is nothing less than distressing. Yet so is the unceasing belief in the global economic capitalist system that is slowly but surely destroying us. The idea that nature needs humans in any way, shape or form must be considered human narcissism at its most extreme.

Carbon Disclosure Project

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in New York [Source: Unilever website], is cited as an independent not-for-profit organization, formed after an initiative led by the institutional investor community. [Source] CDP has 501(c)3 charitable status through Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in New York and is a registered charity in the United Kingdom. [Source]

According to the Natural Edge Project, the Carbon Disclosure Project began in *2003 with a group of 87 institutional investors with assets of over US$9 trillion under management who wrote to the 500 largest quoted companies in the world, asking for the disclosure of investment-relevant information concerning their greenhouse gas emissions. [Source] [*Other sources show CDP was formed in 2002.]

By 2007, five years after its inception, CDP had morphed into a coalition of over 315 global investors with more than $41 trillion in assets. [Source: Unilever website]

In 2010, CDP was called “The most powerful green NGO you’ve never heard of” by the Harvard Business Review. [Source] A powerful alliance was formed that would engage with international bodies that implement policy described in the following way:

“The four regional climate change investor groups – IIGCC, INCR, IGCC and AIGCC – also announced today the formation of the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change (GIC) to represent the international investment community on climate change policy and investment issues at a global level. The GIC, which will be working closely with other networks including UNEP FI (Finance Initiative), Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), will provide a focal point for engagement with international policy-making bodies.” — Principles for Responsible Investing, UNEP Financing Initiative, November 20, 2012

Note that the five institutions above (IIGCC (Europe), INCR (North America), IGCC (Australia and New Zealand), AIGCC (Asia) and GIC (Global Investor Coalition) are all Ceres NGOs.

By 2014 CDP’s coalition had again more than doubled: “More than 767 institutional investors support the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). In total, these investors manage assets worth more than US$92 trillion, thus owning a stake in the majority of the world’s listed companies with the highest revenue.” [Source: Seimens Press Release]

Paul Dickinson is a co-founder of CDP, with Tessa Tennant and the financier Jeremy Smith. Prior to founding CDP (for which he continues to serve as executive chairman), Dickenson encountered the economist Dr. Hazel Henderson whose statement “turn your deepest purpose into a revenue stream” struck a chord with Dickinson. Dickinson is an author of numerous books, including Beautiful Corporations, which have been translated into six languages. [Source]

April 24, 2012, Ceres website:

“Tessa Tennant, President and co-founder of The Ice Organisation, has been awarded the fourth-annual Joan Bavaria Award for Building Sustainability into the Capital Markets. The announcement was made at Tuesday’s opening reception of the Ceres annual conference, which runs April 25-26 at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel in Boston, MA.”

Also a CDP co-founder, Tessa Tennant’s expertise in investment is extensive. Tennant co-founded The Ice Organisation, which “encourages consumers to purchase more sustainable products and services from a wide range of retail partners, mobilizing mass consumer purchase power to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change”; co-founded the UK’s first equity investment fund for sustainable development in 1988, now called the Jupiter Ecology Fund; is the chair and co-founder of the UK Social Investment Forum; co-founded the Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA) in 2001 and remains on the board; served as a member of the UK Government’s Advisory Committee on Business and the Environment in the early nineties; assisted in the development of the HRH The Prince of Wales’s Business in the Environment initiative, which educates senior business executives on practical ways to integrate social and environmental solutions into their business operations; is chair of the Global Cool Foundation; and served as a World Wildlife Fund UK Ambassador and fellow of the Schumacher Society. [Source: Ceres]

Another CDP co-founder and financier, Jeremy Smith, is a Partner at Berkeley Energy, a private equity firm focused upon renewable energy projects and project developers in the emerging markets. Smith has worked in the investment and clean energy realm since 2000. Prior to Berkeley, Smith gained experience with Tersus Energy, Conduit Ventures, and Gartmore (acquired by Henderson Global Investors in 2011). Smith began his career with Credit Suisse First Boston in the International Mergers & Acquisitions Group. [Source]

CDP corporate partnerships include Siemens, Turkiye Sinai Kalkinma Bankasi, Dell, Hewlett Packard, L’Oréal, PepsiCo, Cadbury Schweppes, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Tesco, Unilever, Lloyds TSB, Amcor, Johnson Controls, Métro-Richelieu, Schneider Electric, NH Hoteles, and Ventas, Inc.

The so-called clean energy economy (recognized as the greatest “climate wealth opportunity” of our time) is in dire need of a massive cash injection. The required magnitude is colossal:

“Financing (of renewable energy) must double by 2020 and double again to $1 trillion by 2030 in order to avoid global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius, reports Ceres, the host of yesterday’s conference…. The goal of quadrupling investment from its current state ‘is the right order of magnitude.’” — Ceres Press Release, January 16, 2014

It is critical to once again note that Ceres has been both a key partner and an advisor to the divestment campaign from inception. In summation, today’s leading social capitalists insist the world must quadruple its investments in “renewable” energy by 2030, which also means that climate change is the greatest opportunity to expand capitalism beyond its current limits.

Why the Oligarchs Have United in Pushing the Divestment Campaign

At a Glance:

 

  • The economic models of the 20th century are now hitting the limits of what is possible.
  • Assigning nature’s resources as monetary assets (ecosystem services/payment for ecosystem services) visible in national accounts and economic strategies is the key to growth in the 21st century.
  • The most vital pillar (of three) identified under the “new economy” is the valuing and mainstreaming of nature’s services (biodiversity) into national and international accounts.
  • Financial markets and business will be assigned as the new “stewards of national natural capital.”
  • Global growth has become stagnant, as identified by global institutions such as McKinsey: Can long-term global growth be saved? (January 2015, McKinsey and Company).
  • The IMF and World Bank Group identify a reduction in the growth of the global economy as a primary risk to the world (October 10, 2014).
  • The “greening of economies,” as recognized by the UN, is not a reduction in global economic growth, rather, it is considered a new engine of growth.
  • Changing the capitalist system is not to be considered (Generation Investment).
  • The three key dates are 2015 (international agreement), 2020 (sustainable capitalism and ecosystem services accounting in place), and 2050 (the Earth’s ecosystems and biodiversity to be fully commodified).
  • The mainstreaming of “sustainable capitalism” is to be in place by 2020 (Generation Investment).
  • Economists have been “preparing to include a value for ‘natural capital’ in Britain’s GDP calculations by 2020.”
  • The ideologies/concept behind the commodification of the commons began in earnest at least 25 years ago and likely far earlier than that.
  • $60-70 trillion over the next decade-and-a-half is required for planned mega-infrastructure projects [Source].
  • The biggest market is for carbon, with the world market growing from $11 billion in 2005 and being forecast to reach $3.1 trillion in 2020, with $1 trillion of that value relating to the USA.
  • A steady flow of new investment firms is expanding to exploit the emerging eco-systems markets.
  • Financing (of renewable energy) must double by 2020 and double again to $1 trillion by 2030; quadrupling investment from its current state is the stated goal.

 

From Part XI: 2 Degrees of Credendum | In Summary, Divestment as symbolism:

 

  • The Do the Math tour, as the precursor to the global Divestment campaign, established and reinforced the false premise that the world retains a “carbon budget” that enables us to safely keep burning for decades to come.
  • Like 1Sky/350, the campaign is top-down, not grassroots up as presented. Not only has this global “movement” been sanctioned by the elites, it has been developed in consultation with Wall Street and financed from inception by the world’s most powerful oligarchs and institutions.
  • The campaign successfully invokes a certain naiveté and innocence due to the said premise (a moral divestment imperative) of the campaign.
  • It provides a moral alibi and evokes illusions of white saviour/moral superiority of those that divest/divest-invest while the very people divesting are those that comprise the 1% creating 50% of all global GHG emissions (anyone who can afford to board an airplane). Shuffling their investments does not change this fact or alleviate/absolve one’s role in accelerating climate change and ecological destruction.
  • Protesting fossil fuels cannot and will not have any effect on fossil fuel consumption, production or destruction without legitimately and radically addressing Annex 1 consumption, economic growth under the capitalist system, human population (specifically in Annex 1 nations), the military industrial complex and industrial factory farming.
  • The chosen campaign of divestment rather than the boycott of fossil fuels in combination with proposed sanctions on fossil fuel corporations demonstrates the insincerity of the campaign and its true intentions as sought (and developed) by its funders.
  • Divestment effectively constructs the moral acceptance of “green” consumption. The global divestment campaign confirms that the “market” can be and is the solution.
  • The campaign constructs and further reinforces the falsehood that there is no need to change either the economic system (beyond reforming capitalism) or dismantle the power structures that comprise it; nor is it necessary to address the underlying values, worldviews, classism, racism, colonialism and imperialism that are driving this physical and psychic
  • It diverts attention away from the proliferation of private investments, hedge funds and privatization – key mechanisms in the “new economy.”
  • It provides a critical discourse to divert attention away from the most critical issue of the 21st century: the commodification of the commons (in similar fashion to how the Stop the KeystoneXL! campaign was instrumental in enabling Buffett’s rail dynasty, only far more critical in significance).
  • It builds on the 21st century corporate pathology “Who Cares Wins,” whereby “kindness is becoming the nation’s newest currency.” The pathology behind this intent is the corporate capture of “millennials” by manipulation via branding, advertising and social media.
  • Direct contact with “millennials” in colleges and universities around the world invokes pre-determined and pre-approved ideologies as sought after/controlled by hegemony while building loyalties: future NGO “members” / supporters, future “prosumers,” future “investors.”
  • The campaign draws attention to the statistic that “just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made emissions” while making no mention that a mere 1% of people are creating 50% of all the global GHG emissions – the very people that comprise their target audience.
  • Although highlighting the fact that “just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made emissions” is critical, this information is being conveyed and utilized only to implement the financialization of nature.
  • The campaign stigmatizes fossil fuel investments which, by default, protect the 1% creating 50% of the global GHG emissions from similar stigmatization.
  • Success is measured by the number of institutions divesting-investing, and “shares/likes” on social media, ignoring the fact that divestment does nothing to reduce emissions as the world burns.
  • The divestment campaign presents a capitalist solution to climate change, presenting, repackaging and marketing the very problem as our new solution. Thus, the global power structures that oppress us are effectively and strategically insulated from potential outside threats.

 

+++

“There is, of course, something contradictory in calculating a price for some­thing you do not wish to trade. Perhaps realising this, one ecological advocate of ecosystems valuation has tried to claim that: ‘Valuing ecosystem services is not identical to commodifying them for trade in private markets’ (Costanza, 2006: 749). That there is no commoditisation, or market-like exchange, implicit in ecosystem services valuation is plainly wrong. As the NRC report states: ‘The use of a dollar metric for quantifying values is based on the assumption that individuals are willing to trade the ecological service being valued for more of other goods and services represented by the metric (more dollars).’ This requires converting ecosystem functions into goods and services, and is clearly identical in approach to a model for trading commodities in a market. — Clive Spash, 2008 [Source]

Akin to those of privilege pretending their screen-addicted children are actually gifted computer geniuses, such are the lies we tell ourselves in order to believe in a system whereby we “benefit” at the expense of others and the destruction of nature.

 

Next: The final segments of this series will be published in 2016

 

 

[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, Counterpunch, Political Context, Canadians for Action on Climate Change and Countercurrents. 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]

 

 

EndNotes:

[1] ICSU’s principal source of “core” income is dues from members and a subvention from the host country, France. The other major sources of income are grants from various organizations and foundations. [Source]

[2] The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, were agreed by the international community in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, and have since been re-affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly and at the Rio+20 summit in 2012. [Source]

[3] “Accordingly, a nonprofit-corporate complex (based in international non-governmental organizations, NGOs) dominating an array of social services, many of which were performed by the state in the past, emerged as the third pillar of the triangular structure of contemporary imperialism during the 1980s. It represents a kind of “Third Way” on the part of capital that privatizes state functions and occupies key strategic points within civil society (co-opting social movements) while seemingly outside the realm of private capital – thereby enabling an acceleration of privatization and reinforcing the hegemony of monopoly-finance capital globally.” [Source]

[4] 500,000 dead, 30,000 in terrorist-run prisons, 2.5 million exiled, tens of thousands of refugees.

[5] The original TEEB study was launched by Germany and the European Commission in response to a proposal by the G8+5 Environment Ministers in Potsdam, Germany in 2007, to develop a global study on the economics of biodiversity loss.

[6] The Environment Ministers of the G8 countries and of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, the European Commissioner for the Environment and senior officials from the United Nations and the IUCN (The World Conservation Union) met in Potsdam in March 2007. The meeting resulted in, among other things, the announcement of a course of action for the conservation of biological diversity and for climate protection: “The clear message of this meeting is that we must jointly strengthen our endeavours to curb the massive loss of biological diversity. It was agreed that we must no longer delete nature’s database, which holds massive potential for economic and social development.” [Source]