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The Collaborative Model Takes Root in Alberta’s Tar Sands

Pictured above (May, 2015) is Tzeporah Berman (first row, third from right). Berman is one of many who contributed to the text of the “Leap Manifesto”, an initiative founded by Naomi Klein‘s “This Changes Everything” project. It is critical to note the almost non-existence of non-anglos in positions of power and decision making (with the exception being photo ops) within the foundation financed “movements”. This institutionalized racism has become so normalized that it goes almost unnoticed unless it is pointed out (as in this instance). The one exception is the only group of people that the state still fears – that of Indigenous peoples. The undermining of Indigenous people by the non-profit industrial complex (350.org, etc.) is well documented. The 2009 COP15 and the 2010 People’s Agreement in Cochabamba, Bolivia, are just two examples of Indigenous undermining, so egregious, that they could easily be considered crimes against humanity.

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A friend sent me an email note two days ago, with the intro line “The NGO’s finally did it!” which caused a moment of terrorized confusion. I didn’t realize it would relate to this, but for the first time ever last November, the province of Alberta has instituted a potential cap on tar sands development. However, this is not the achievement my colleague was referencing. It was more a statement of alarm than laudatory glee.

The cap was alongside several other notable achievements, such as a fairly rapid phasing out of coal (that currently supplies the bulk of the electrical grid across the province) and several economic measures, such as a carbon tax that scares the Ezras right out of your average Levant. All of these things and more were rushed and cobbled together in the short time since Notley took office. Timing was clearly a factor in order to take these proposals to Paris as a triumphal delegation to the UN Climate talks. In the short term, many of these things may seem very hopeful. But it has also been leaked that there was another part of how the tar sands portions of the plan were drawn up.

There were secret talks that involved some of the perhaps expected Big Green players (ForestEthics, Environmental Defense, Equiterre and the Pembina Institute) meeting with Big Oil. The reason it was leaked? Some oil companies are upset that the other oil companies negotiated without them. Small world, I guess.

Wait a minute, everybody.

Are we not noticing something far more troubling than previous backroom negotiated deals? This time around the deal was not to be public at all. Ever. It stands to good reason that since this one was not to be released specifically, perhaps there are others as well.

The corporations involved are among the biggest players in all of the tar sands: Suncor, Cenovus, CNRL and Shell Canada. Suncor is the largest Canadian energy company and has been a major backer of (among other green groups) the Pembina Institute for many years. Shell, always trying to play the greenwash game, has been targeted by Greenpeace direct actions in the past, yet collaborates with the WWF elsewhere, and hired James Hoggan as a consultant, despite (or rather, because of) his leading role with the David Suzuki Foundation.

As far as those groups and individuals who were previously embarrassed by leaks over potential tar sands “fireside chats” and politically eviscerated over concerns about the now-defunct Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement announcement, rather than learn a lesson to not engage in backroom talks they have instead learned to not tell the public at all.

The Alberta NDP, in a slight twist to the usual narrative, claimed the bulk of the credit (“the win”) at the presser– but the Orange Crush still had no fizzle and were a non-entity on the margins of Alberta’s political landscape when the bulk of these discussions took place.

The head of Shell Canada, president Lorraine Mitchelmore, sheds some serious light on how these talks happened, both in what she says and in what she clearly does not: Interviewed in Macleans (Canada) Magazine, she was asked by Jason Markusoff:

Q: It’s been reported that this work started quite a while ago, with dinners between environmentalists and energy executives. Who was there?

A: I don’t want to say who was there. I want to say that it was some members of industry, and it was some members of the environmental groups, and it was really progressive members in both camps […]

Even after the public realization that the “change in narrative” has been a backroom exercise, she dutifully plays well with others in the corporate sandbox and maintains the Greens anonymity (as best she can), but she does let us realize Big Oil and Big Green began these talks multiple years ago, as “[t]his was happening long before Keystone, so [she] wouldn’t put Keystone as the catalyst for this,” but it has the effect of reducing grassroots activist visibility– and that, too, is the point. When asked what would have happened without this deal?

“Continued conflict. It was going nowhere. What was it going to achieve for Canada, continued conflict? I think that us being on the stage was something that was symbolic for Canadians. I believe that collaboration is something that Canadians do well.”

Leaving aside how “Canadian” it is, collaboration agreements are an expanding, growing industry that is learning from past mistakes. Without collaborative models, there would indeed be far more resistance (“conflict”), more visible community led actions, and a primacy placed on grassroots organizing.

So we now know the lessons learned for energy corporations and for Big Green are essentially the same when it comes to pointed questions about said discussions, fireside beer chats and long table dinners between well-paid foundation-directed environmentalists and oil company executives.

Tired of the backlash from anti-democratic deals being announced? Stop announcing them, but simply cut them in a way that makes the funders happy and let someone else announce an entirely separate result.

Then, allies from other eNGO’s (often people who have worked for ostensibly conflicting organizations) can celebrate what was negotiated secretly without even truly allowing the public to know that negotiations happened in the first place. Big Oil is very good already at guarding market secrets, discussions with Big Green can simply fall under the trade secrets mentality.

There is a history to this new approach, a minor victory of sorts in fact. In April of 2010, Dru Oja Jay was the first to report on attempts to hold private talks with tar sands producers in the Dominion:

Ten representatives each from tar sands operators and high-profile environmental groups were invited to the “informal, beer in hand” gathering. The David Suzuki Foundation, Environmental Defence Canada, Forest Ethics, Pollution Probe and Tides Canada were among the invited environmental groups.

Merran Smith of ForestEthics was listed without affiliation, as was Tzeporah Berman, who worked to privatize BC’s rivers as director of PowerUp Canada, and who is slated to start work this month as Greenpeace International’s Climate Campaigner. Among invited oil companies were Shell, ConocoPhilips, Total and Statoil. Leading tar sands investor Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) was also on the guestlist.

The event would be, the invitation explained, “an opportunity for a few ENGOs and a few companies to share their thoughts on the current state of relations and explore ideas on how a deeper dialogue might occur.”

Three days later, Raynolds sent a second email, cancelling the gathering, owing to “the level of tension” between “a subset of companies and a subset of ENGOs.” The follow-up email specified a legal dispute. Sources in Albertan environmental circles suggested pressure to cancel came from threats to expose the meeting publicly. (emphasis added–MS)

“I personally believe we all need to find a way to create the space and conditions necessary for deeper and meaningful conversations to find some solutions,” wrote Raynolds, explaining the cancellation. “I do hope that in the coming months, we can work to create those conditions.”

…and create those conditions they did. In light of that prior result of such talks, it goes to further reason that these discussions have shown in part the expanding of the relationship in 2015 that began in 2010. Faced with the rejection and unpopularity of anti-democratic secret negotiations when announced, further secrecy was layered upon secret talks by these organizations. Sources from environmental struggles today allege a role played directly by Greenpeace in assessing these deals, to get a “victory” in Alberta.

We essentially now have reason to believe that modern capital-driven organizations will make concessions on issues as large as pipelines and caps and more without even telling the public that there was a process they were not involved in. ENGO’s acting with a distrust of the public that rivals the Harper administration.

ForestEthics itself began almost entirely as a vehicle to carve out such a collaborative agreement and lay the framework for this model in the Great Bear Rainforest of BC (accepting far less protection than grassroots groups and independent scientists wanted, shunting aside indigenous nations in the process and eliminating democratic oversight all in one fell swoop). One of the other signatories to the GBR deal and also apparently a non-signatory observer to the new tar sands deal was Greenpeace. The organization still has an official position calling for the “phasing out” of the tar sands and as such cannot publicly be seen to pledge no resistance to export (or any) pipelines, but in the days following the Alberta climate plan?

Mike Hudema of Greenpeace was talking up the plan thusly:

This announcement is a major victory for people and communities that have long raised concerns about growing tar sands emissions. With the announced cap the government has finally set a limit on tar sands extraction. The days of the infinite growth of the tar sands are over and investors should take note.

So what part of the deal are investors told to take note of, exactly? Well, we do know some of the points. Total tar sands development can add more than another one million barrels per day of tar sands gunk to the grid. Put in perspective, tar sands were pumping at around 1.2 million barrels a day before Greenpeace parachuted into Alberta in mid 2007.

Slightly less than 2 million barrels are extracted from the various deposits of bitumen in Alberta today, meaning that in the last 8 years– 8 years of development with:

*Massive economic backing, some of the largest investments in human history all pulled together

*Federal and Provincial governments that facilitated every single project that came forward

*Record high global prices of crude, alongside one of the strongest Canadian dollars in history

*The global attention of nearly every major energy company from China to the Middle East to the UK

*In these 8 years Tar sands projects– mining and in-situ– added some 3/4 of a million barrels (roughly the equivalent of three of the giant mines at full operating capacity) to the global grid.

Since that time of the tar sands gold rush we have seen:

Peak in oil prices brought down by financial collapse spreading around the globe and Saudi Arabian oil reserve dumps

Massive development of other technologies such as fracking to take alternative investment dollars,

The removal of the most outwardly pro-oil governments at all major levels in North America,

The gutting of the loonie.

At the current rate of expansion, and the current level of resistance to further sprawl based on tar sands, the idea of getting to 3 million barrels a day would need major subsidization to make it even partially practical. It is not, and in a reminiscence of the Protected Areas Strategy in the Arctic North, what is announced to be a limit is actually a promise to investors to make things economical and operate business as usual for possibly another pair of decades.

While it is certainly of the best news that the Notley plan also includes the removal of coal fired electrical generation across Alberta, this combined with further de facto unbridled expansion of the tar sands themselves will mean two giant changes to the physical landscape are set to come about:

One: There will now be a massive introduction planned of nuclear energy. Even with the reports of the ongoing melting of Japan into the sea (Fukushima is still destroying the largest ocean on earth, we just stopped paying attention to it as it is happening) multiple nuclear reactors discussed during the first tar sands boom times of 2002-2008 will be revisited and pushed. Just ask James Hansen, a brilliant scientist who is being asked to be a sociologist when it comes to solving the climate crisis. His take is the same as Big Green: Never mention powering down or reducing consumption, that is a non-starter for “modern” capitalist Canada.

Two: this is a spectacular means to allow BC to expand the growing fracking footprint that is in the Northeast of the province, for shipment to Alberta as a “cleaner” source of the power needed to build up tar sands operations. And to produce the fracking gas means that the giant Site C dam on BC’s Peace River will provide the energy to frack to provide the energy to mine for tar sands.

Perhaps the key point is that this will mean a better situation for the investors than exists currently. Their DNA is still made up of seeing any regulation as a restriction on profit, but they have been granted at least another decade of developments at the rate of acceleration we have been accustomed to over the last several years. The Athabasca river and the forested areas of all four major tar sands regions in Alberta will continue to get poisoned or disappeared outright.

The tar sands free for all will continue but with the caveat that many will think it is now regulated. But the earth knows no law but natural law and climate markers know no future endeavour announcements. There is no savings account for the climate.

The collaborative model of developers (corporations), “stakeholders” (in particular First Nations governments subject to the Indian Act), “environmentalists” (NGO’s who receive foundation-directed money to achieve funder-driven objectives) and governments (provincial and federal) has been in place in Canada for a couple of decades now. In point of historical fact the birth of ForestEthics essentially took place to create a situation that has since become almost a template for social control and political license given to developments that prior to the agreements were unpalatable and unpopular in the extreme.

While sidelining indigenous representation either in whole or in part, such collaborative models gain little and surrender the kitchen sink. More importantly than their horrible ecological impacts, however, are the wholesale anti-democratic means of coming into being, and their quite conscious role in subverting, blunting and silencing resistance that exists. The President of Shell just announced that was why she was involved– like a linesman at a hockey game, just trying to contain conflict.

There have been many watershed moments on the advancement of the collaborative model in the past, starting in the 1980’s in the US (heavily funded by the Pew Foundation and later, Pew Charitable Trusts, et al) and advancing to cover not only BC, Alberta and many Canadian provinces, but the Arctic as well setting up similar collaborative models to effectively give away the mostly undeveloped giant lands of what get called the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon.

Perhaps most disastrously, the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement was celebrated by 9 pro-development eNGO’s alongside multiple forestry companies, but was denounced as anti-democratic and an attack on sovereignty by most indigenous voices. It ultimately failed under its own weight.

At this late day when environmental discourse should be prominently louder and more uncompromising than ever, now collaboration is moving in to save capitalism from itself. And using silence to do so.

Don’t take my word for it. Ask Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta.

“I’m hopeful that these policies, taken overall, will lead to a new collaborative conversation about Canada’s energy infrastructure on its merits, and to a significant de-escalation of conflict worldwide about the Alberta oilsands…”

Various tar sands pipelines, from Line 9 in Ontario to Kinder Morgan’s proposed expansion in greater Vancouver, have seen large grassroots opposition. With either fly-by-night, media grabbing appearances from Big Green with little to no support provided or the most deafening silence possible, people have gone to prison in many cases without seeing any help emerge from Big Green.

The NDP, once elected in Alberta, made achieving their climate deal one of the most important immediate goals. In order to go to Paris for UN COP discussions happening now– standing alongside the Federal Liberals saying “Canada is no longer obstructionist,” having a deal between greens and government as well as energy corporations in international venues is extremely important. For that, even with no tangible difference on the ground, Environmental Defence executive director Tim Gray (based in Toronto) explained their willingness to help: “We were more than happy to help them track toward something that could get support from elements of the environmental community as well as the business community, and that is what happened.”

But what else has happened? Tar sands operations elsewhere around the world must still be prevented from ever getting off of (or out of) the ground as well.

Operations of other tar sands projects around the planet will once again have the great example of “responsible tar sands developments” apparently requested by Notley. Some of the international projects have stalled and been shelved but nowhere have they yet been killed.

The shroud of secrecy around Ottawa has changed, even if that is mostly a public relations exercise that will lose the shine very quickly. Falsely or not, people hold a belief that far less secrecy is the order of the day. But in terms of the unaccountable results of foundation-directed eNGO’s, they have moved into new territory of deception, no longer telling after what used to only be hidden before.

And in this, a perfect refinement of the current administrations of progressiveness, done in time for Paris with Suncor hanging out with Environmental Defense to forge forward a brave new path—in France now are the signs of just what kind of administrations people living north of the 49th parallel on Turtle Island can expect: Of social control through farce, and democratic participation as a mass marketed phenomenon. With all the bells and whistles, but please turn off the lights on your way out.

[Macdonald Stainsby is an anti-tar sands and social justice activist, freelance writer and professional hitchhiker looking for a ride to the better world, currently based in Vancouver, Canada. He can be reached at mstainsby@resist.ca]

From TckTckTck, to Air France, to “Earth To Paris”, Havas Worldwide Continues to Hypnotize

Wrong Kind of Green

December 1, 2015

By Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer

paris ad 3

Above: A “Brandalism” poster at COP21 placed within the advertising space of JCDecaux, the number one outdoor advertising company worldwide and official partner of COP21. Jean-Charles Decaux, Co-CEO of JCDecaux: “By contributing innovative solutions to the challenges of the 21st century, JCDecaux can put its expertise and its teams’ collective intelligence to work for long-term growth”. [Press release: JCDecaux_official-partner-of-COP21]

Havas Worldwide, formerly known as Euro RSCG, is one of the largest integrated marketing communications agencies in the world. Clients include Air France, the 2009 Havas creation TckTckTck, and hundreds of the world’s most powerful corporations. More recently, Havas Worldwide is recognized as a convening partner of the COP21 Earth to Paris campaign with international NGOs 350.org, Avaaz, Ceres, the World Bank (via Connect4Climate), media, etc. During a live-streamed summit on December 7th and 8th for the COP21 climate conference, these instruments of empire will deliver ‘a new universal climate change agreement.'”

United Nations Development Programme Press Release, October 29, 2015:

“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.

Experts, advocates, CEOs, and other leaders in Paris will discuss creative and impactful solutions to climate change, while participants around the world take part through multi-language livestreamed video and real-time interactions across multiple social media platforms using the unifying hashtag #EarthToParis.

The convening partners of the Earth To Paris Coalition are United Nations Foundation, GOOD Magazine, City of Paris (Mairie de Paris), Mashable, UNFCCC, National Geographic Jynwel Foundation, UNESCO, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF and HAVAS Worldwide.

Collaborating partners include Action/2015, AFP Foundation, Avaaz, Better World Campaign, Broadcasting Board of Governors, Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Ceres, Climasphere, The Climate Reality Project, Collectively, Connect4Climate– the global partnership program of the World Bank Group, DailyMail.com, Earth Day Network, The East African, El Pais, Enactus, Energy Future Coalition, European Foundation Centre, Fair Observer, Girl Up, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Global Citizen, Global Moms Challenge, GREEN Africa Directory, Helloasso, Impaqto, Love Song to the Earth, Make Sense, The Nature Conservatory, Nothing but Nets, Natural Resources Defense Council, Planeta Futuro, Rainforest Partnership, Rovio Entertainment, Scope Group, Sevenly, Shft.com, Shot@Life, Sister Cities International , +SocialGood, +SocialGood Ghana, Social Good Week, Sustainable Energy for All, SXSW, SXSW Eco, Test Tube, Travel +Social Good, UNA-USA, Universal Access Project, Vice News, Voice of America, We Mean Business and the X Prize Foundation.”

350.org, a co-founder of TckTckTck, is not listed in the above press release yet is a collaborating partner, identified on the Earth to Paris Website partner page.

Earth to Paris

[Website: http://www.EarthToParis.org  | Twitter: https://twitter.com/EarthToParis]

Marching In a Hypnotic State

Havas Worldwide clients include both Air France and Havas creation TckTckTck.

“Havas Worldwide agency BETC transformed Air France into a provider of true well-being with inspired cuisine, rich culture, exquisite fashion, and a certain style…. Air France has created an entire “well-being” experience and embraced digital and social technology as it expands the campaign with Air France Music on iTunes and develops a hypnotizing music-based app for Facebook. Since the campaign began, advertising tracking scores have been outstanding, business class occupancy has hit a record 83 percent, and quarterly revenues saw 16 percent and 12 percent spikes thanks to the advertising.” – Havas Worldwide Website

 

“The subject of climate change was slipping off global agendas, with news coverage waning after having peaked in 2006. People felt confused and helpless… Havas Worldwide’s Social Business Idea® was the simple mnemonic “TckTckTck” – evoking the ticking of a clock counting down and time running out. Tapping the power of open sourcing, we recruited influencers to endorse the campaign, and encouraged advertisers and social media users to adapt and spread the logo. More than 17 million climate allies signed the petition, over 50,000 “TckTckTck” dog tags were sold, and media coverage valued at over $30 million was generated. A custom-recorded song was downloaded more than 450,000 times. – Havas Worldwide Website

In 2009, global civil society was cleverly seduced into sleeping with the enemy via the TckTckTck campaign. [Further reading: EYES WIDE SHUT | TckTckTck exposé]. In 2014, not one to learn from the past, civil society, would yet again sleep with the enemy. Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA/TckTckTck), an initiative that began in Bali (2007) with a $300,000 funding commitment from the Quebec government, is a “coalition of twenty key international organizations” including Avaaz, 350.org, Greenpeace , Kofi Annan’s Global Humanitarian Forum, OXFAM, WWF, World Council of Churches, Union of Concerned Scientists, Equiterre, Global Call to Action against Poverty (also co-chaired by Kumi Naidoo), and the Pew Environment Group. [Source]

Today, almost 6 years later, living amidst a heavy mental lull bearing much resemblance to Stockholm syndrome, we have chained ourselves to the bed – willing participants in turning ourselves into the enemy’s personal bitch marching across the globe to our own annihilation. [Further reading: TckTckTck: The Bitch is  Back]

“GCCA [Global Call for Climate Action] worked behind the scenes for over a year to prepare for the biggest date in 2014, leveraging every possible asset and contact to rally around the historic Peoples’ Climate March in the run-up to the UN Climate Leaders Summit…. In the preceding months, GCCA convened weekly calls with key partners 350.org, Avaaz, USCAN and Climate Nexus to catalyse activities and identify gaps…. Everything came together on the day as we bore witness to the world’s biggest ever climate march, and inspiring events across the globe, with world leaders, business people, activists, parents and artists walking shoulder-to-shoulder.” — GCCA Annual Report 2014
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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1910)

As the establishment rave in Paris winds down, the chimera of clean energy propels industrial societies toward nuking the future. The new age ghost dance, as an expression of social despair, has led to progressive self-delusion that promises us the world, if only we believe. Stepping through the looking glass, one can examine the metrics of messaging by establishment social media and philanthropy, that, combined, is the driving force of the non-profit industrial complex. [Jay Taber, Rave New World]

Yet, very few are willing to step through the looking glass.

The Architects of the Final Solution will be pleased at the resounding success of their investments in Controlling Consciousness; the whole world is becoming A Culture of Imbeciles. [Jay Taber, Marching for Monsanto]

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Further reading:The Bitch is Back: http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2015/11/28/tcktcktck-the-bitch-is-back/

This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe: September 17, 2014

Under One Bad Sky | TckTckTck’s 2014 People’s Climate March: This Changed Nothing: September 30, 2015

Metrics as a Proxy for Social Change: The Climate Cartel, Impact Funding, and the Abandonment of Struggle: http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2015/11/30/metrics-as-a-proxy-for-social-change-the-climate-cartel-impact-funding-and-the-abandonment-of-struggle/

NGOization: Depoliticizing Activism in Canada

New Socialist

May 25, 2014

By Dru Oja Jay

psf2

Across Canada, movement organizations are preparing for the People’s Social Forum, coming up in August. There’s a buzz of excitement and anticipation in the air as committees elect delegates, and strategies are debated. When hundreds of activists gather in Ottawa in a few months, we will be drawing from a rich, long-simmering cauldron of theoretical discussion and insight issuing from astute on-the-ground observations.

Members of a variety of organizations will gather to debate proposals and hear reports from paid organizers. Thousands will gather in major cities, and crowds ranging from dozens to hundreds are expected in smaller centres. In Kenora, a delegation of Indigenous activists are expected to present a proposal for a major change in the role of First Nations in Greenpeace campaigns. In Montreal, a left tendency within the membership is said to be preparing a resolution that would shift the Council of Canadians’ considerable campaigning clout to align more closely with the explicitly anti-capitalist student movement.

In BC, the Sierra Club will hold a series of general assemblies, bringing together its thousands of members for similar discussions. Canada World Youth, Engineers Without Borders, KAIROS and Amnesty International are holding local meetings to select delegates and discuss priorities. Southern Ontario is aflutter with activity as cross-sectoral workers’ committees meet independently of their unions to discuss strategies to proactively prevent the next plant closure and fight it with broad public support if it goes forward.

The question of which alliances to prioritize building when Canada’s still-nascent social movements gather in August is at the forefront of all these conversations. Which strategies will prevail? Which ideas will move to the fore? The anticipation is building.

Pure fiction?

With the exception of the People’s Social Forum, which is indeed planned for August 21 to 24 in Ottawa, the above scenario is pure fiction. The organizations listed above do have the membership and financial resources to open such spaces and expect people to take an interest, but few of them use that capacity. This is not an arbitrary fact of life; there are material and historical reasons why it is the case.

Decades of professionalization mean that if any of those organizations tried to hold assemblies like this, they would, at least initially, have trouble convincing people to come. Things would likely get off to an awkward start and require skilled and hands-on facilitation. A political culture of participation, collective decision-making and debate is all but missing. Decisions are made in offices and boardrooms, where professionalized staff preside over donors, petition signers and the occasional volunteer rather than a mobilized or empowered membership.

It wasn’t always like this. We don’t need to idealize the past to realize that there has been a concerted push to make what under other circumstance would be movement organizations into centrally-controlled bodies run by trained professionals. Exceptions to this trend are forever popping up: the environmental movement in the 1970s, the antiglobalization movement of the late 1990s, and most recently Occupy Wall Street are a few of the more prominent examples. But none of these exceptions has put an end to the process of bureaucratization and centralization. In fact, the process seems to accelerate when powerful grassroots movements enter onto the scene.

This process has been dubbed NGOization (after the increasingly-ubiquitous form, the Non-Governmental Organization, or NGO). While NGOization has been going on for decades, the concept is just starting to gain in currency beyond a few academics and grassroots organizers.

NGOization, write Dip Kapoor and Aziz Choudry in their edited collection by the same name, is a process of “professionalization and depolitization” which fragments and compartmentalizes the world into “issues and projects.” It works well, they add, “for neoliberal regimes.”

What NGOization precludes and inhibits is movement-building. Centralized control allows for an efficient mobilization of existing capacity, but it doesn’t provide the opportunities for masses of people to have new experiences, build their own ideas, do their own research, or start their own initiatives. It doesn’t provide the possibility of large numbers of people to decide, together, where to focus their energies or when to divide them.

The driving force behind the process of NGOization is not mysterious. Billions of dollars have been provided to Canadian NGOs to provide social services, dig wells in villages in African villages, support marginalized populations, campaign for environmental protection, and alleviate the effects of poverty. The money comes from government (the federal government spends close to a billion dollars per year on development NGOs alone) and private foundations (millions of tax-deductible dollars are spent annually to support environmental campaigns, for example).

But what do foundations and governments get for their money?

Fracking Indigenous Country

new-brunswick-oct-7-rally

Photo: Mi’kmaq – True resistance

Big Green, Sun Media and Elsipogtog

Counterpunch

October 22, 2013

By Macdonald Stainsby

 

If anyone doubted that it’s a good thing that Sun News in Canada has been both going broke and also denied the ability to force their way onto Canada’s basic cable system (vastly expanding their audience and getting themselves included in most homes with television subscriptions by default), the racist rantings of Ezra Levant in response to the recent RCMP attack on the Mi’kmaq community of Elsipogtog ought to clear it up.

Dropping Science: Tzeporah Berman URL-bombed at Vancouver Rally

Vancouver Media Co-op

[Blog posts are the work of individual contributors, reflecting their thoughts, opinions and research]

September 17, 2013

by Crying Wolf

Doing all Greenpeace is good for anymore (guy on the right wasn't *really* in on it)

Doing all Greenpeace is good for anymore (guy on the right wasn’t *really* in on it)

The Tzep The Tzep

 

At the Stand Up for Science Rally in Vancouver yesterday I had to wonder why Tzeporah Berman was speaking. Unless shilling for Campbell’s Lieberal Party and the Stolen Land Olympics is a science, she’s not a scientist. Unless selling out rainforests and their Indigenous and settler defenders alike is a science, she’s not a scientist.

And even though I still have some lingering respect for Dr. Suzuki, and am occasionally cheered by some of the things he has to say about the lunacy of allowing corporations to lead the charge to save the planet they’ve nearly destroyed, I have to wonder how he can allow the foundation that bears his name to take money from “defense” contractors / drone manufacturers, Honeywell and its chair to double dip as a consultant for Royal Dutch Shell (really).

The Problem With the Big Green’s Naomi Klein Gripe

1Sky350.orgKlein

Counterpunch Weekend Edition

September 13-15, 2013

by Macdonald Stainsby

Stockholm Syndrome in a Three Piece Suit

A few days ago a minor shizzle storm erupted on the climate-acting internet. Well-known anti-corporate author and researcher Naomi Klein gave an interview where she made some comments that, apparently, made some of the more corporate and right wing members of the environmentalist establishment elite upset. The problem with the comments, in a nutshell, is that Klein responded to questions about how people are able to go about their day-to-day business without screaming in a panic constantly about anthropogenic climate change.

The comments she uttered that caused the most anguish? Well, I’ve been swimming through this rather heated ocean of replies targeting Naomi Klein. This seems to be the lowest common denominator from the angered voices defending “Big Green.”

Well, I think there is a very deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost.1

This has been called variations of victim blaming. Leaving aside whether the very-well paid executives of corporate-partnered environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) are victims of much, it’s tossed about in several different manners. We are told that the people who are making the decisions about policy for such groups believe staunchly in the science, and are not in denial at all. Really?

Boreal Forest Agreement With Industry: Not One Hectare Of Forest Has Been Protected In Three Years

Boreal Forest Agreement With Industry: Not One Hectare Of Forest Has Been Protected In Three Years

Canadian-Boreal-Forest-Ag-006

The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement” (CBFA) was reached on 18 May 2010. Photograph: Richard Brooks/Greenpeace/EPA.

“Efforts to control corporations’ destructive impacts must have a critique of corporate power at their heart and a will to dismantle corporate power as their goal, otherwise they reinforce rather than challenge power structures, and undermine popular struggles for autonomy, democracy, human rights and environmental sustainability” – Corporate Watch [Britain]

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I

Counterpunch

April 12, 2013

Part one of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Keystone XL Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IV

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement – Investigative Report Series [Further Reading, September, 2011]: Part I Part II  [Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”] Part III [ Unravelling the Deception of a False Movement]

Gloat Like Rockefeller When Watching Trains

buffet

March 5, 2013: Buffett Says Gloat Like Rockefeller When Watching Trains

On Nov 3, 2009, Berkshire Hathaway, the investment vehicle of Warren Buffett, announced its plan to purchase the 77.4 percent of Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) that it did not already own for $26 billion in cash and stock – the largest deal in Berkshire history. The deal, which included Berkshire’s prior investment and the assumption of $10 billion in Burlington Northern debt, brought the total value to $44 billion. Buffett remarked it was a big bet on the United States.

It was TO be a bet that both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, would ensure he DID not lose.

“There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”
– Warren Buffett

Sierra Club, NRDC & Big Greens Thank Obama for Granting Drilling Permits to Almost all the Oil Resources in Alaska’s Reserve

“It’s like saying, without any irony: “Thank you so much for putting poison in my living room, kitchen and bathroom, but sparing my bedroom so my family can still cling to our ‘habitat’ that is ‘conserved’!  Thank you for being so considerate!  We’ll be sure to tell everyone to elect you again!”.  Never mind the contamination to air, headwater, groundwater, rain, the fragmentation of habitat, damage to biodiversity, and the threat of spills in these extremely sensitive ecosystems! – Scientist Maggie Zhou

 

October 30, 2012

Under the Obama administration, for the first time in history, production permits were issued to oil and gas corporations for drilling in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, both onshore and offshore.

Of little surprise, Sierra Club [link], NRDC [link] and other “big greens” are asking American citizens to thank Obama for striking “a needed balance between responsible development and conservation of special areas within the Reserve.” [Direct quote taken from Sierra Club’s “Personalize Your Message” as found on their website, captured in screenshot below]

The Obama administration’s own press release states:

“The approximately 11.8 million acres that would be available for leasing under the preferred alternative – which makes the vast majority of projected oil resources in the NPR-A available for leasing – are estimated to hold approximately 549 million barrels of discovered and undiscovered economically recoverable oil and approximately 8.7 trillion cubic feet of discovered and undiscovered economically recoverable natural gas.” [Emphasis added]

So thank you Obama for eagerly bringing the total destruction of our planet’s climate and ecosystems.  And thank you, professional “environmentalist” sycophants, for, as always, not demanding what is actually necessary. We certainly do not expect these corporate cockroaches under the guise of environmental NGOs to crawl out of their funders’ deep pockets.

Of course this is nothing new. We have witnessed such faux “victories” before. Yet most remain unaware that many of the big greens behind The Tar Sands Action campaign (including RAN, Greenpeace, and the David Suzuki Foundation) are the same organizations that sold out the Boreal Forest in 2008 and 2010. (View this sublime 1 minute video with Greenpeace below or here.)

Most recently we have the “Defend our Coast” campaign (led by Greenpeace, Council of Canadians and 350.org) claiming thatTogether we will stop the expansion of tar sands tankers and pipelines to the West Coast.” [Emphasis added – note the language. There is no plan to shut down the tar sands but only to stop the expansion.]

Council of Canadians, working hand in hand with 350.org on this pipeline campaign makes their cautious position clear stating:

“Our campaign is an extension of our ongoing Energy and Climate Justice work. We continue to call on governments to ensure Canadians’ energy security and work to transition off fossil fuels, including the unsustainable development of the tar sands. Limiting additional pipeline capacity will force a slowdown of the current relentless pace of tar sands development. We approach the climate change crisis from a justice perspective, seeking to address its root causes, which include unsustainable production, consumption and trade that are driven by corporate-led globalization. Real solutions to the climate crisis must be based on democratic accountability, ecological sustainability and social justice.” [Emphasis added]

One who has little understanding of the non-profit industrial complex may find it ironic that as far back as 2009 when both climatologist James Hansen and Dr Rajendra Pachauri, former head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) United Nations called for the shutting down of the tar sands. Yet, as the climate crisis has accelerated at a pace that paints the grimmest scenario possible, instead of demanding what is necessary, almost 4 years after the bold statements by both Hansen & Pachauri, largely conservative individuals by most anyone’s standards, the so-called “leaders” of the climate movement “demand” stopping the expansion of/limiting additional capacity of tar sands tankers and pipelines and the stopping of KXL. The Keystone pipeline, by the way, was 2/3rds complete and in operation before the “KXL” campaign even began.

The shock and surprise routine on the pandering to corporate interests by NGOs is getting stale. It is easy to publicly voice one’s disdain of Obama, Romney, the Democrats and Republicans along with all of the different people (Euro-American’s leading the charge) and corporations/industries that are destroying the Earth. Yet the liberal left continues to be silent on the NGOs at the forefront of a dead movement who lead the sheep to the slaughter.

Also dull is the the self absolution that is doled out by the liberal left: “If Obama or Amerikkka would just invest in green energy. If we would just spend more money on green technology.” The liberal left continues to immerse themselves in fantasy. Lying to themselves and each other, when the truth is that there is no renewable energy source that will allow the west to live at the level that we are living today. Further, there is no renewable energy source that is not so carbon intensive in manufacturing that it will not affect the environment and climate. That’s it. End of story. The same person who is shocked at Obama’s decision is the same person who gets up in the morning and subconsciously goes about their daily lives absolved of any person of guilt for any carbon emissions because it is the “corporations that are all the problem”… yes, they are the problem… but the Western man is also.” – Forrest Palmer, WKOG

David Suzuki: A Figure of Left-liberalism — At Its Breaking Point

Image by ‘Mad Love’

Overcoming Doom with Dr. David Suzuki

by Andrew Loewen

The Paltry Sapien

June 25, 2012

Canadians love David Suzuki, and rightly so.

The span of Suzuki’s lifework — from biologist to public broadcaster and environmentalist — testifies to a pivotal paradox of our time. Namely, that the emergence of modern environmentalism and expanding environmental consciousness has coincided exactly with the latticework expansion and penetration of industrial capitalism (and the hollowing of democratic mechanisms). So it is that 20 years after his daughter Severn, then age 12, addressed the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, Dr. Suze says such policy conferences are “doomed.” There’s been no progress. In fact, it’s only gotten worse. There can be no more avoiding the issue: humanity needs a whole new economic system.

Interestingly, Suzuki was recently forced to resign from the board of The David Suzuki Foundation, fearing that his outspokenness (his propensity for saying things that are true) would jeopardize the Foundation’s charitable status (what with the Harper Cons’ full-scale war on environmental and social justice organizations).

In this interview with Amy Goodman (video below) following the inevitable fiasco of the Rio+20 Summit (billed as the largest UN conference in history), Suzuki stands as a figure of left-liberalism — or social democracy — at its breaking point. The technocratic market-oriented efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions such as Europe’s carbon trading scheme, sometimes touted by Suzuki and pragmatists of his ilk, have been revealed not as practical ameliorative steps, but terrible scams. And the vacuous but eloquent Harvard men like Barack Obama celebrated by liberal NGO do-gooders, have, of course, sold them down the river. To be blunt: for all the wisdom and rationality of his science, Suzuki’s Third-Wayist politics, like that of the mainstream environmental movement at large, have been an unmitigated failure if truly combating climate change is the benchmark.

Thus we might see in Suzuki’s forced shift from “charitable” to political “status” a long overdue turn in the right (read: left) direction. That is, while a forced play, Suzuki’s resignation is connected to a broader recognition, however painful, that the “practical” liberal  approach of addressing humanity’s challenges by getting all the smartest wonks together at a conference is worse than fantasy — it’s a catastrophe. There are vested interests, the world is riven by relations of power, and the shape of our future will be determined by the relentless and exterminatory logic of commodification. That is, unless more people, like Suzuki, wake up from their liberal dreaming, and get serious.

I could go on about the content of Suzuki’s remarks in this interview, which continue to express the contortions of someone with conventional political assumptions struggling to reckon with the impossibility of marrying capitalism to environmental sustainability. Some of the old euphemisms and evasions persist. Not yet a full apostate, Dr. Suzuki still cannot get his lips to form that lone little word, like YHWH, which liberals dare not say without qualification: capitalism. But a break has been made. At root, says Canada’s most trusted public figure, the problem we face is not corrupt politicians, oil companies, or denialists. It’s an economic system we must break up with. And I commend Suzuki for beginning to say what those on the far left have been saying for generations.