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Pacifism as Pathology

Wanderer, Wondering Wonders of the Wonderful

Nature Bats Last

July 1, 2017

by Serena Marie Raphael

 

Image: Pretty & Putrid on Tumblr

 

I have a lot of beliefs and I live by none of ’em. That’s just the way I am. They’re just my beliefs. I just like believing them. I like that part. They’re my little “believies.” They make me feel good about who I am. But if they get in the way of a thing I want, or I want to jack off or something, I fuckin’ do that.

~ Louis CK

Iset myself a creative-writing challenge, one just as senseless and mismatching as this culture. I wanted to exercise my mind, in a society promoting mediocrity. A place where nothing is well thought-out and we do whatever the fuck we want. Believies be damned. We’ve had commercial environmentalism since my grandparents, all the beliefs in the world made absolutely no difference. We lived by none of them. We grew the way we wanted and got off on the human prosperity because of it. The hippies traded me in for a few dollars more.
I’ll craft my emotions around the lies my culture taught me, to the “dictionary word of the day”.Divagate
1: to wander; stray.
2: to digress in speech.
E: I divagate without discipline–my mind runs all over …

Further reading, I learn its late 16th century Latin divagat- ‘wandered about’. When I think of the two together, I see the wrong turns, missed signs, poor judgment our morals digressed to accommodate mutated ideals. The wandering, aimless steps we take in pursuit of an endless walk to nowhere important. The stray wishful thinking fools, floating down the dreamer’s drool with no awareness of the cliffs edge. As we plummet over, now hurtling to the rocky, jagged floor below. Impact is imminent. There will be blood.

We’re the lost Western youth of Imperial civilisation. We’ve been abused, monetised, sacrificed, jailed, left for dead as economic road kill. I see once wild animals balancing on balls for applause, whipped into cultural submission for the industrial cause.

Afraid of the consequences, wandering outside the lines terrifies us. They keep us under spot light, obsessively searching for youth willing to test the electric fence. Keeping us dumb, or we will learn how to turn a door latch with our posable thumbs. Civilised expectations, the mental barricade from physical freedom. Revolutionary organisations with merchandise made by factory slaves in far away, imaginary lands where iPhones grow on trees.

Try to run, they will see you. Try to think, they will hear you. They will kill you. We’ve seen it happen to our elders. We’ve witnessed social executions of professors who dare to teach us our radical capacity as anarchists .

They dangle “hope snares”, traps perfectly set for catching frustrated and questioning youth. They set them up at indoctrinating facilities such as universities. Glossy print, celebrity endorsements and feel good bubbly words as the tasty bait.

They corral the strays in green graffiti pens. Force-feeding them bullshit. Fattening them up, milking them of spirit, money and energy.

How well they did, too! Impressive puppet masters.

We have all the environemtal™ organisations spouting the economically modified rhetoric, yet they dillusionally promote mining for solar panels as solutions to a predicament. I’ll repeat, predicament. They have beliefs of planetary conservation, while advocating for the very set of living arrangements driving two hundred species to extinction per day.

I now question everything I’ve ever learnt, and I’m continuously let down by my educators and mentors. They are self centred and drunk on personal importance and usually overdosing on arrogance once they’re told more than once they’re right. My culture led me so far away from mother. I miss her, I want to know her before I die.

Edward Abbey wrote, “May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.”.

A teacher had done the once-assumed impossible, taught me. Finding a way to leave civilisations talons. It’s inside, it’s with love and living. I will venture out into her wild, her free, her nowhere.

Where I will find myself lost in her majesty. My queen.

Divagating back to the wild, wandering my own trail, venturing as wild as I can possibly go. I want to feel the blood in my feet leak out through my nails, my boots to shred the skin away from my heals. Rain to soak me to my marrow, clothes to bleach under the sun. Salty air to dread my hair, cold nights to bite my toes. The bugs to play on my back and hitch a ride with me, the gumnuts to break my fall. A mosquitoes symphony as the birds sing the chorus line. Until I collapse from exhaustion, I walk on. I want her to punish me. I want her to teach me by subjecting me to all the torture she’s suffered.

Can I take it? Could I withstand the abuse my species has given her? Is not fair. Should I be accepted by her?

Will she see my being as one of her oppressors, will she see me as her threat or see my wander as my attempt at finding way through the nightmare that is civilisation. Divagate my madness with wandering wonderful.

I cringe at the idea she sees me as one of them, I never meant to be. I do what I can to stay alive. In my captive cage, I educate myself.

I ask questions. I stay open-minded and crack the windows.

Now, I divagate with excellence rather than privileged mindlessness.

Wandering fantastically with love and compassion until the end.

 

[Serena Marie Raphael is a 25-year-old Veterinary Nurse inhabiting Western Australia: life-long anarchist, radical ponderer, critical thinker, student of life and wilderness.]

 

Not in Front of the Children. Liberal Mediations of the Apocalypse

July 19, 2017

by Chris Shaw

 

Image: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016) – Tumblr

 

Text of a presentation given at the Mediating Climate Change conference held in Leeds
3-5th July 2017

 
Scientific and economic perspectives define the climate change debate. They give credibility to, and are in turn legitimated by, the global climate targets policy regime. The targets regime has, for 20 years or so, operated under the claim that climate change would not be a problem until the planet had warmed by an average of 2°C. That framework has given space and succor for a range of strategies and narratives which equate 2°C of warming with solving climate change.

2°C doesn’t equate to solving climate change but the pretence that it does, and the widespread use of the argument that science has defined 2°C as the dangerous limit (it hasn’t) provide liberal western democracies with the conceptual framework for understanding what sort of problem climate change is.

The liberal mediations element of the title of this presentation refers to the liberal desire to do away with climate change, but in every other respect maintain the existing order. The liberal is as horrified by an eco-socialist response to climate change as it is traumatised by a Trump vision of climate policy. The targets regime represents the liberal political territory designed to keep both those nightmare scenarios at bay. 2°C of warming means the end of coral reefs and I cannot imagine what that means for humanity’s future. But liberal politics would see that as a more acceptable price than anything that interfered with capitalist economics and imperialist foreign policy.

The ‘not in front of the children’ part of the title refers to the growing orthodoxy in climate
change communication that it is

a. best not to talk about the impacts of climate change (doom and gloom) and
b. Ideally it is best not to mention climate change at all, and instead talk about green energy, health etc

Let us briefly turn to WG Sebald writing about the bourgeois desire for order as revealed in the almanacs of 19th century Germany. Here Sebald remarks – apropos the peaceful agrarian visions we are familiar with from 18th century English pastoral landscapes, where peace would reign if people were content with the fruits of their own hard labour – that the educated middle class is wont to articulate its discomfort at the rapid spread of the economy of goods and capital it had itself created and which was now proliferating year on year – and here we may substitute goods and capital for acidifying oceans and Siberian methane bombs.

Or we may reflect on why it is only the middle classes who worry about the apocalypse, an issue which troubled Boris Groys who turned to Derrida for an answer and concluded that the working class have no investment in the middle class future, and all the middle classes fear is the destruction of the libraries, galleries, museums and opera houses whose very existence gives legitimacy and life to their culture.

So where did it all begin and what we going to do about it? Well, those are both intimately interdependent issues.

Mark Greif, in The Age of the Crisis of Man describes the founding of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a world institution entirely devoted to a universalist view of human nature, and the stimulation of a single and universal culture (2015:85). The first Director General, Julian Huxley was a fan of eugenics and so perhaps it is not surprising that this universal human was not imagined to be an African Bushman, an Australian aborigine or even a Chinese peasant but was instead imagined to be the sort of person one might find wandering the halls of UNESCO and other United Nations buildings.

And once you have this vision of the ideal universal human in place it is not too difficult to start imagining a single dangerous limit to climate change that this individual would find acceptable and the social sciences can work with as part of what has been called ‘the over riding liberal vanity of rational improvement.’

So I am suggesting the targets regime is a political device and a technology of power designed to perpetuate the interests of the liberal bourgeois. We may want to consider doing away with them or at the very least open up the debate about where to next, given the failure of the targets regime. Let me list those failures;

  • 2°C is too much warming to prevent dangerous climate change
  • It is not a construct or framework which has motivated politicians to act on climate change
  • It is not rooted in any meaningful and engaging vision of humanity’s future, so if a powerful nation doesn’t want to play it can just throw it in the bin
  • It means nothing to the vast mass of humanity, which has little or no knowledge of the targets existence, purpose or meaning

 

Ah well, we have the 1.5°C target some of you might say. Seeing as warming won’t be limited to 2°C then changing the target to 1.5°C, in terms of human welfare, is irrelevant. What should be happening is not an elite discussion of what, if anything should replace the 2°C target but rather, who should decide what if anything replaces the 2°C target.

Conversations

Marshall Berman, tracing the emergence of the Enlightenment and Modernity, tells us of details from Montesquieu’s novel The Persian Letters (1721). Persian immigrants to Paris find, while walking the streets, that women come over to talk to them. The Persians assume the women must be whores, but the women tell them they just want to talk, and there is this new thing, invented by women but bringing both women together, called ‘conversation.’ Later on the Persians learn about the salons and have wonderful conversations there. Or we can look to the account offered by Kristin Ross in Communal Luxury, which demonstrates the importance of talking in generating the movement that created the Paris Commune. The examples of the role of conversation in social progress are legion.

Scotland has the world’s most ambitious climate targets, and wanted a nation wide conversation to build awareness of the radical changes being undertaken. Results of what we found in researching and designing model is

Lesson 1- There is very little scepticism among the public about the fact that the climate is changing. Everyone who participated in these workshops accepted the reality of climate change.

Lesson 2- Ordinary members of the public know enough about climate change to talk about what they want done about it. Though many participants expressed doubts about their knowledge of the subject, when it came down to it they had plenty to say about what changes they want to see happen.

Lesson 3- You don’t need to be a climate expert to have a conversation about climate change. People were able to talk about the challenges climate change poses for Scotland without needing a primer in the science of climate change.

Lesson 4- People really enjoyed taking part in the conversations. They said they never had the chance to talk about these issues in their day to day life, and valued having their opinions listened to.

The take home message for politicians is clear – if you bring members of the public together in an informal setting to talk about climate change, if you approach the topic starting from where people already are in terms of their values, their hopes and their concerns, if you step back and let participants talk to each other, and if you avoid turning the discussion into a lecture about the science of climate change, people will become engaged, will participate and will enjoy having the chance to talk about this topic.

[Download the paper: Not_in_front_of_the_children]

 

[Chris Shaw is a Senior Researcher with Climate Outreach, a Visiting Faculty member of the School of Business, Management and Economics at the University of Sussex and an Associate of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.  He specialises in generating impact for climate policy related research, working at the interface of theory and practice. His expertise is primarily focused on building participatory dialogues between researchers, stakeholders, policy actors and the public.]

WATCH: More Dangerous Than a Thousand Rioters: The Revolutionary Life of Lucy Parsons

March 7, 2017

 

An experimental animated short from Indie Grits alum (and 2014 Helen Hill award winner) Kelly Gallagher:

“In these difficult times, I find myself turning to a woefully underappreciated and under-studied woman named Lucy Parsons.

Parsons was an organizer first and foremost, and she led an inspiring life of revolutionary struggle and solidarity. As a woman of color who was married to a famous white male anarchist, she is often unfairly and frustratingly overlooked in many labor histories. Born in the early 1850s, Parsons moved to Chicago as an adult, where her politics radicalized as she witnessed the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. Parsons began writing for several socialist and anarchist publications while supporting her family as a dressmaker, while also organizing garment workers across Chicago. Parsons would go on to become one of the most powerful voices in the labor movement, helping to found the legendary Industrial Workers of the World. She spent her entire life fighting for the rights of the disenfranchised.

I made this short animated-documentary, as a celebration for and appreciation of Lucy Parsons—but mostly I made it because if we are to find a way forward out of the mess that is coming our way, we will need to actively seek out revolutionary heroes who struggled before us. Those who risked their lives for struggle every day—those who fought tirelessly against the ruling class and the rule of capital.” [Source: The Nation]

 

NEW BOOK RELEASE: Under the Mask of Philanthropy

March 3, 2017

 

“Superb and unsurpassed.” — Christian Parenti

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

underfrontcover

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Why it is Time to Move On from MoveOn.org and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

Black Agenda Report

February 21, 2017

by Danny Haiphong

The revolution will not be subsidized — but well-funded facsimiles of “movements” dominate the political landscape of the U.S. “Left.” MoveOn.org “prides itself for exposing the corporate ties of the Republicans but is perfectly content with the corporate ties of the Democratic Party.” And Black Lives Matter “drew significant interest from a consortium of non-profits after receiving millions from the Ford Foundation and Google in 2015 and 2016.”

The non-profit industrial complex has become an omnipresent feature of US society. Soon after college, it became increasingly clear to me that non-profits made up the majority of employment and activist opportunities for college-educated youth. My first employment opportunity came within the private non-profit LIFT, which partnered with a number of monopoly corporations to provide social service assistance on a volunteer basis. Like Teach for America, LIFT utilized college volunteers with little to no training and gave post-graduate students AmeriCorps stipends to supervise volunteers in place of professional social workers. After three months of grueling hours and little pay, it was time to leave LIFT and try something new.The next stop was a Community Action Program (CAP). CAP agencies have their roots in the first wave of non-profits as legal entities in the United States. They sprouted from federal funds administered by the War on Poverty programs of the Lyndon Johnson era. These agencies provided essential anti-poverty services and were often run by community members themselves. However, the purpose behind CAP agencies was far from benevolent. Johnson and his ruling class masters sought to subvert and break the independent character of the Black liberation and anti-imperialist movements of the period by turning “tax-eaters” (Black Americans) into “tax-payers.” The underlying motivation of non-profits to turn revolutionary movements into lucrative career opportunities has existed since their inception.

This is not to say that non-profits have not gone through significant changes since the War on Poverty. In the last forty years of neo-liberal capitalist crisis, CAP agencies have become nearly non-existent due to a shortage of federal funds. Housing programs have suffered chronic underfunding as a result of consistent reductions in the size of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), beginning in the Reagan era. HUD was stripped of 77 percent of its budget authority from 1978-1983. The CAP agency that I worked for eventually shut its doors due to a default in a private bank loan in 2014. The loan was taken out to keep the agency viable in the midst of dwindling federal and state funds. Hundreds of homeless individuals and families lost vital housing assistance and thousands more lost access to emergency transportation, food, and legal services.

The demise of CAP agencies stems from the shift in federal responsibilities to the private non-profit sector as part of the US capitalist state’s drive to maximize the profits of the ruling class in the neo-liberal era. This can be seen in the massive scab labor force produced by Teach for America, bankrolled by Goldman Sachs. It is also apparent in the correlation between the increase of non-profits in the arena of homelessness and the reduction of available public housing units in cities across the country. Non-profits give corporate donors an avenue to receive additional tax-free privileges with an added public relations boost. Much of the money donated is returned two-fold through tax breaks and further speculation in the housing, education, and healthcare sectors increasingly made possible by an environment of privatization.

Non-profits have also been deployed by their ruling class funders to privatize social movements. An array of tax-exempt organizations has arisen to channel popular resistance into acceptable means of protest. During Occupy Wall Street, the non-governmental organization (NGO) CANVAS took center stage at many of the New York City rallies. The Black Lives Matter movement drew significant interest from a consortium of non-profits after receiving millions from the Ford Foundation and Google in 2015 and 2016. These interventions have blunted the messaging and activities of organizations sucked into the non-profit industry while leaving genuine activists without the resources to sustain consistent political activity.

The influence of the non-profit industrial complex is evident in the protests against President Donald Trump. The non-profit MoveOn.org has taken on a leadership role in the protests. This author attended a local sanctuary city rally where every sign carried by protesters possessed the “MoveOn.org” label. It is clear that the folks at MoveOn.Org have been playing a key role in the resistance against Trump. But who is behind the MoveOn.org brand and whose interests does the organization serve?

A cursory look into the organization’s finances indicates that MoveOn.org is a loyal servant of the Democratic Party. The organization’s finances from 2015 include large donations of over 250,000 from the organization “J Street” and billionaire Cari Tuna. J Street is a Zionist organization dedicated to developing liberal acceptance to the settler occupation of Palestine among college students. Tuna’s fortunes derive from her marital partnership with co-founder of Facebook Dustin Moskovitz. Tuna spends most of her time as a “philanthropist.” Her donations include a hefty 20 million dollars to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, which was distributed among a consortium of Clinton affiliated PACs. In addition, MoveOn.org is also financed by billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. Soros, despite the conspiratorial machinations regarding his political influence, is well-known around the world as a sponsor of “color revolutions” dedicated to the overthrow of governments that resist the penetration of US monopoly capitalism.

Non-profits are ultimately bound by the interests of their funders. MoveOn.org is no different. The organization’s Democratic Party funding sources have one goal and one goal only: to regain Democratic Party control of all three branches of governance in Washington. First, they hope to remove Trump in order to credit the organization with a temporary, albeit symbolic, victory for the Democrats. The next step is to win control of Congress in 2018. The interests of those supplying funds to non-profits like MoveOn.org are not aligned with the interests of oppressed and working people regardless of how the organization is advertised.

In fact, because big corporate donors control the terms and conditions of “social movement” non-profits, any social movements led by these institutions represent a threat to the independent political power of exploited and oppressed people. MoveOn.org’s mission to transfer power back to the Democratic Party is a familiar act, one that is repeated whenever the Republican Party regains Presidential and Congressional control of the state. Their big corporate donors possess zero interest in stopping the bipartisan crimes carried out by Washington. No petitions have been filed by the folks at MoveOn.org for reparations to nations, such as Libya and Syria, which were completely destroyed by the Democratic Party. MoveOn.org prides itself for exposing the corporate ties of the Republicans but is perfectly content with the corporate ties of the Democratic Party.

ObamaMoveOn

The Democratic Party is the party of Wall Street and war. Obama’s two-term Presidency clarified the Democratic Party’s commitment to US imperialism. MoveOn.org had nothing to say about Wall Street’s cumbersome donations to the Obama campaign or how the Democratic Party facilitated the largest wealth transfer to the 1 percent in US history. MoveOn.org didn’t condemn Obama’s war on whistle blowers nor did it advocate for single payer healthcare when the Democratic Party held majorities in Congress. Neither Obama’s “Grand Bargain” to cut Social Security and Medicare nor his national assault on public education compelled MoveOn.org to take any action against its Democratic Party sugar daddies.

The case of the non-profit MoveOn.org provides an in-depth look into the broader function of non-profit industrial complex. While some individual non-profits administer vital services to the poor and working class, the non-profit industrial complex as a whole possesses a parasitic agenda. That agenda is to break the independent character of working class mobilization and organization, not develop it. Non-profits do this by turning resistance into a career opportunity managed and funded by the 1 percent. The development of an independent, working class-centered movement will require a mass rejection of non-profit funds and structures. Let us remember this as MoveOn.org continues to mobilize its base against the increasingly unstable Trump Administration.

[Danny Haiphong is an Asian activist and political analyst in the Boston area. He can be reached at wakeupriseup1990(at)gmail.com]

Further Reading:

Inducing Consent: MoveOn.org

Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II

Faceless

Ancestral Pride

January 18, 2017

 

(L-R) Mohawk Warriors- "Wizard" smokes through his mask, "Boltpin". Wizard knew how to get media attention. They pulled up in a golf cart, and Wizard took out a knife, began cutting a hole in the vicinity of his own mouth, and then proceeded to smoke a small cigar through it. Kanehsatake  (Oka, Quebec) Media op. Aug. 29, 1990. Photo © Linda Dawn Hammond / IndyFoto.com '90

(L-R) Mohawk Warriors- “Wizard” smokes through his mask, “Boltpin”. Wizard knew how to get media attention. They pulled up in a golf cart, and Wizard took out a knife, began cutting a hole in the vicinity of his own mouth, and then proceeded to smoke a small cigar through it. Kanehsatake (Oka, Quebec) Media op. Aug. 29, 1990.
Photo © Linda Dawn Hammond / IndyFoto.com ’90

 

What I know on the subject of why I mask up. There are many times when people are at “political” actions or see pics/footage of direct actions pertaining to Indigenous Land Defence or any kind of resistance to the government or corporations and we are masked up. There is always people who take it upon themselves to question you as if they are the grand arbiter of how you can or cannot participate in resistance. They have the gall to ask in the most rude ways “why do you mask up” “are you ashamed of yourselves?” “our ancestors never wore masks” “if your doing nothing wrong why hide” and all of the usual ignorant comments meant to shame or be derisive to Warriors. Despite this being none of their business and the fact that no one has to explain themselves to anyone on the reasons why they are engaging in combatting colonialism, oppression, resource extraction et al; the way they do, they still feel entitled enough to feel owed an explanation. The infuriating part is that when you take the time to explain why people mask up they are deliberately obtuse because its not really the mask they have a problem with, its what you are doing in terms of resistance. Those of us who wear masks are not ashamed in any way shape or form, wearing a mask signals our intent, it does not mean we are afraid quite the opposite. The mask is our true face, the face of a Warrior who is fully awake and aware and knows what they are doing is more than their ego or personal gain, the mask shows that we are committed to our actions, we are aware of the utmost seriousness of our inherent duty to protect the sacred, to protect our children, and their future.

I can only speak for myself but I think this is a sentiment that may be shared by my Resistance Fam. I mask up because when I am on the frontlines not only do I need to protect myself from chemical warfare, I need to protect myself and my family from recognition because of the fascist police state we live in that absolutely revels in its corrupt justice system that’s riddled with racism, they will make you a prisoner of war just for upholding your sacred and inherent right to protect your land and water. The jails have too many of our people and we cannot afford for any more of our people to be incarcerated and part of the industrial prison complex being made a modern day slave. Statistics show that Indigenous People make up a large majority of the population in prisons.

15181663_620319914836730_2715211714080730084_nMore importantly in my mind masking up is an act of love for Mother Earth, it is a way of showing her your deep respect for the honor of protecting her and her body. When your pledge yourself to be a Warrior for Mother Earths Army you leave your identity and your ego behind. You are faceless, nameless and need no glory attached to your battle deeds, after all when you are a Warrior your not in it for selfies or recognition, or you shouldn’t be. The whole reason for fighting is to protect your land and water and your very Mother, you are fighting for the future of your people not to be recognized and have your ass kissed when people see you, that kind of hubris has no place on the frontlines or in Warrior Societies. The duty you are undertaking as a Protector you are ensuring the continuity of your culture, traditions, and your very way of life as a member of your Nation, when you are fighting colonialism, oppression, racism, neocolonialism, resource extraction, the illegal government, and sometimes your own corrupt people it behooves you to show a united front with your warrior brothers and sisters who stand beside you, what better way to do that than to show the world and your enemy that you are all one, connected in a way they will never understand. On the frontline, wherever it may be you are literally facing racists, racist police, and other agencies that’s only agenda is to continue genocide and protect corporations who want to ruin our planet for their greed, in order to safeguard yourself and your comrades masking up is protection for you all.

15392776_10158031307000637_3964962641926776897_oIndigenous Resistance is not about personal identity, from my experience those who want to be the face of the resistance or always in the spotlight are usually involved in a passive form of resistance attached to NGO’s and they are usually making some sort of pay check or compensation for being a “spokesnative” and delivering a narrative that is safe and well within the parameters of acceptable civil disobedience or social justice if you will. They mean well but they are still heavily invested in the status quo, and maintaining good relationships with the colonizers. The difference between these types of Natives and those of us who have dedicated our lives to abolishing colonialism and its avails is that we know we are all one Warrior, we are not looking to maintain relationships with the people who run colonial institutions of any kind because we know they do not respect us or our tactics, nor do we want to be fake with people who think they can further us because in reality we know they do not subscribe to fully decolonizing and are only involved in the age old game of power and control. When we mask up we are looking out for each other and the bigger picture, we are a collective voice and body with the same goal. Our identities are inconsequential to the end result that we are aiming for: The total liberation of our people and our lands.

Building a culture and community of resistance is not an easy task and there will always be negative people that will question anything you do from masking up, to taking action, to how we create economic viability. These types of people will even try to throw the law at you in an attempt to mask their own fear of what a changing world looks like. The anti mask laws that have been passed in KKKanada in June of 2013 carry a 10 year sentence if found guilty, all of this is a tactic and an attempt to prevent us from doing our work as warriors and creating safe sovereign spaces for us all to exist in free from the ever present surveillance from the illegal military occupation commonly known as Canaduh. They can make all the “laws” they want to control us but WE ARE NOT AFRAID of the governments and its citizens attempts to further oppress and suppress us as the true Indigenous People of the lands, we have never surrendered nor have we ceded our rights as Nations. Despite their best attempts to eradicate us off of the face of the earth, control us through residential schools, or break us down with the Indian Act and its racist policies we are not only still here, we are thriving and fighting back. We are prayers made flesh.

14523214_10157797426480637_7164812730644949928_nWe mask up to be free, we mask up to be our most authentic selves, we mask up to protect ourselves, we mask up to protect our loved ones, we mask up for love and out of respect for each other and Mother Earth, we mask up to honor our ancestors, our ancestors wore masks and war paint and so shall we. The mask is not to be feared it is to be revered.

In Love and Rage

Ancestral Pride
Red Warrior Society

For More Info:
https://www.facebook.com/peoplesmediaproject/videos/952058141589924/
https://www.facebook.com/RedWarriorCamp/videos/1772993369619282/
https://www.facebook.com/Westcoastwomenwarriors/videos/591453384390050/

WATCH: Direct Action: Ann Hansen and the Squamish Five

squamish-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review via AK Press

http://libcom.org/library/direct-action-memoirs-urban-guerrilla

 

 

 

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

Wrong Kind of Green

December 14, 2016

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

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

 

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

 

Coloured Devolutions

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

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

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Flood Wall Street marketing: Wear blue. #Other98

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Flood Wall Street marketing: Wear blue. #Other98

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Flood Wall Street marketing: Wear blue. #Other98

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Climate March Delhi India, September 2014. Wear blue.

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Standing Rock marketing. Wear blue. #Other98

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Wear Red: Red Lines for Climate Actions Manual, COP21, Paris. [No matter what action you do, please also share your action on social media so the rest of the world can see it. Take a photo or video and post on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook (if it’s on Facebook, please make sure it’s public)  and then use make sure you add #D12 or #redlines. You can also send an email to socialmedia@350.org”][Source]

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COP21. The above photograph appears in an article titled “Indigenous Peoples Take Lead at D12 Day of Action in Paris – Official response to COP21 agreement”. 350.org’s “red” campaign is interwoven into the statement. [Source] The reality is that Indigenous Peoples are used as photo-ops by NGOs to advance an elite and patriarchal agenda that only propels further Indigenous genocide.

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

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

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Solar Technology  | Marketing in 21st century anthropocentrism

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

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Wind turbine technology | Marketing in 21st century anthropocentrism

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

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

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Avaaz climate campaign

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

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Above: 350.org style guide: “Focus on people. Whenever possible, use visuals to emphasize that climate is a real, tangible human problem – not an abstract ecological issue.”

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

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

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

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CONCLUSION: Manufactured Activism & Rebranding Control of Dissent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Epilogue

The Army Corps Of Engineers having announced a pause in the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline has prompted 350.org’s Bill McKibben to declare a “a smashing victory” for Indigenous activists, “one that shows what nonviolent unity can accomplish.” This sentence alone, which further romanticizes “nonviolent direct action” (the key talking point of the entire campaign), prompts critical questions deserving of critical analysis.

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

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

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

We have entered the 21st century where social engineering via behavioural change expertise has become paramount in shaping whole societies to the desires of global hegemony. Corporate warfare is being waged via the most gentle form of soft power. The non-profit industrial complex is the clearinghouse for the distribution of these soft power mechanisms. The Standing Rock protests have undoubtedly served as an experiment in the study of manipulation, conformity, obedience,  assimilation and neocolonialism. Consider the organizing surrounding the Standing Rock protest has been referred to as “a template” for the future by 350.org executive director May Boeve.

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding Netwar: Communication, Consciousness, and Social Engineering

Medium

November 14, 2016

By Jay Taber

View story at Medium.com

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

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

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

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

Bloodless Lies

The New Inquiry

November 2, 2016

By Lorenzo Raymond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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