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Pacifism as Pathology
WATCH: COVID-19! Black People Fight Back! Chairman Omali Yeshitela Overview

WATCH: COVID-19! Black People Fight Back! Chairman Omali Yeshitela Overview

Black is Back Coalition

April 19, 2020

 

“The reason this discussion is happening is not because of the numbers of people who are dying – but because who is dying. Because it is something that can also possibly affect white people…”

 

 

“Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the Black is Back Coalitions, sets the tone and sums up the political events such as COVID-19 and upcoming U.S. elections that forces the Coalition to organize the “COVID-19 Pandemic: Black People Fight Back” webinar.” [Running time: 11m:49s]

 

 

[Born in St.Petersburg, Florida, USA Omali Yeshitela is Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party USA and the African Socialist International. Full bio]

Lockdown Therapy for Capitalism

Lockdown Therapy for Capitalism

April 23, 2020

By Hiroyuki Hamada

 

Vogue, Special Edition: Freedom on Hold. The issue has sold out. 

A migrant worker’s child sleeps on a highway in locked-down New Delhi, India, March 29, 2020. On March 30 2020, 8 year-old Rakesh Musahar died of hunger as his family struggled to make ends meet during the lockdown. Rakesh hailed from the Mahadalit Musahar community. He was a ragpicker & sold junk in the market. His father Durga Prasad Musahar was a porter. Rakesh died on Mar 26. His family waited for several hours for local admin. officials to come & make arrangements. However, nobody arrived. Dejected, Durga Prasad & a few other locals finally carried the boy’s body on a cart and cremated him.” [Source] REUTERS – Adnan Abidi

One might think that artists wouldn’t mind being isolated and having more time in studios on account of the current Coronavirus situation.  After all, we spend an enormous amount of time alone, and isolation allows us to have uninterrupted amounts of time to let our imaginations fly.But there are other elements in play when we examine creativity.  For example, it is crucial that we feel safe to expose all our senses to our environment so that we ground our minds properly to our surroundings, harmoniously with all our channels open.

When the “lockdown” started I was at an art residency in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  I lived in a communal setting with twenty other artists and writers.  As soon as public spaces became inaccessible and “social distancing” became the norm at the residency, many of the fellow artists experienced lack of productivity.  I felt an immediate blockage to my making process.

Perhaps, since our society does not make artists’ activities a priority, this might be the last thing one would consider as a serious “problem”.  And to a lesser extent such a concern might be secondary to many artists themselves who will be subjected to enormous economic difficulties.

It is “understood” that this is a “crisis” and we must “fight together“ against our “common enemy” which is the virus.  
But who could blame those of us who are very much suspicious of such a momentum, as we hear “decrees” being issued to dictate our social activities while all instruments of state violence and repression are in place to regulate our behaviors.  
After all we live in the same society which has baselessly demonized Muslims while bombing, colonizing and destroying their countries in the name of “war on terror”.  Young black people have been openly demonized to justify gentrification, mass incarceration, exploitation through substandard labor conditions and so on and so forth in the name of “war on drug” and “tough on crime”.

We know that a “crisis” presents opportunities and tools for the ruling class to shape and perpetuate the social structure.  The system in which they thrive is always “too big to fail” while oppressed people keep failing so that they are safely cornered into hopelessness, cynicism and complacency to the feudal order of money and violence.

Caption: “I’ve joined @voguearabia in the fight against Covid-19 to support their #stayhome campaign, and emphasize the importance of safe habits during the pandemic. #strongertogether

Townships are in lockdown — but many Africans fear hunger more than Covid-19. In South Africa, three people have been killed as police have attacked crowds with whips and rubber bullets for defying a lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Five more were killed in Kenya, including a 13-year-old boy hit by a stray bullet fired by police enforcing a stay-at-home order in Nairobi. In Uganda, soldiers shot and injured two people for riding on a motorbike during a curfew, Population of Kenya: 51.39 million (2018). Deaths with/from COVID19 in Kenya: 14 (April 21, 2020), Getty images, Source

It is not a speculation that there are people who prosper and even benefit during an economic crisis—as smaller business owners struggle, large corporations and banks benefit from huge government subsidies, giving them more power to buy failing small businesses, for example.  And it is a fact that many of those people have enormous economic power to shape the policies that can benefit themselves. It is not a speculation that they would appreciate having strict measures of control against the people by limiting their freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to travel, or by installing means of surveillance, check points and official certifications for activities that might give freedom to the people beyond the capitalist framework.  It is not a speculation that they would benefit from moving our social interactions to the digital realm, which can commodify our activities as marketable data for the advertising industry, insurance industry and any other moneyed social institutions Including education, political institution, legal institution, and financial institution.  Such matters should be seen within the context of the western history being shaped by unelected capitalists with their enormous networks of social institutions.  In fact, private foundations and NGOs are working with governmental organizations and global institutions to implement potentially dangerous policies of draconian measures as well as financialization of our activities for sometime.  According to researchers—Cory MorningstarAlison McDowell and others, the potential impact of the transformation which is about to take place through the Internet, block chain technology, artificial intelligence, and etc. under the banner of the fourth industrial revolution can be devastatingly inhumane to our species’ path.  Examining those matters must not be subjected to being labeled as “conspiracy” and dismissed.

Needless to say, a draconian momentum against the capitalist hierarchy accelerates hardships of “invisible people” who struggle against economic deprivation and social repression.  How do homeless people “stay home”?  How do people in jail practice “social distancing”?   How are people vulnerable to domestic violence protected?   How do small business owners continue to stay in business?  How do poor people survive while public services and spaces are eliminated, while affluent people are stock piling in their generously equipped gated communities.  How do people with addiction stay sober?  How do people with suicidal tendency secure their dwindling connection to humanity?

Food distributed to homeless migrant workers in New Delhi. The painted circles on the ground are to maintain social distancing. Vikram Patel, Harvard Medical School, April 17, 2020:  “Since the first case was reported in late January, there have been (as of 15 April) about 400 confirmed deaths. During this same period of roughly 75 days, if we extrapolate data from recent years on mortality, over 1.5 million Indians will have died due to other causes.” [Population of India: 1.3 billion (2018). Deaths with/from Covid: 603 (April 21, 2020)]

But those discussions are rare among us.  A hint of doubt can trigger those people who are “fighting together”.  Because once our creative minds learn to live safely in an authoritarian framework of draconian rules and decrees, the narrow framework restricts our thoughts and ideas.  Our minds get weaponized to uphold the authoritarianism as a path to “democracy”, “freedom”, “justice” and “humanity”, which have been mere euphemisms to describe blank checks given to the ruling class.  Once people turn into soldiers of the authoritarianism, the path to the ”solutions” is paved by their  relentless adherence to corporate political parties, official decrees and carefully concocted narratives within the capitalist framework.  Our discussions cease to be mutually respectful exchange, instead, they become battle grounds in which dissenting voices are vetted, attacked and eliminated.

A society that can’t sustain artists is a society that kills minds to care, understand, empathize and share.  A society that enforces its imperatives with fear instead of trust in humanity deprives a healthy mechanism to guide itself.

As I see how public sentiment is developing over the virus situation, I must mention one more thing.  There has been a proven method of silencing anti-capitalist voices within our society, used by media, political figures, corporate dissidents and others.  It requires a few steps.

First, amplify the voices of people who willingly sacrifice those who they consider to hold lower positions than they do in demanding their righteous positions within the capitalist hierarchy.  The voices might come from racist nationalists, patriarchal misogynists, flag waving anti-immigrant activists or heartless Trump supporters demanding old people to die during the coronavirus pandemic.  Those people recognize that an aspect or a policy of the establishment will compromise their lives—after all they are also oppressed by the capitalist order.  However, they do embrace the capitalist order in essence.  They do not tolerate sharing their positions with people who they despise.

Second, claim that you are with victims of racism, misogyny or xenophobia, or old people who are vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.

Third, falsely equate an anti-capitalist perspective with that of those political villains.

Forth, dismiss those who are calling out the ruling class agenda as “racist”, “misogynists”, “fascist worshiper” and so on.

This method has been very effective.  I am sure that anyone who has expressed a concern over capitalist domination can recall being labeled as what they actually oppose.

The method achieves a few things at the same time.  First, it obscures the mechanism of capitalist hierarchy. Second, it divides people who should be fighting against the system together—obscuring the meaning of class struggle.  Third, it augments the capitalist hierarchy.  Forth, it vitalizes the political legitimacy of corporate political parties which utilize the division.  Needless to say, the narrative of division is actively generated by corporate political parties as well.

It is imperative that we recognize the predicaments of the people who are most oppressed within our society, while we firmly recognize the dynamics within the capitalist hierarchy, and stay away from being a part of the mechanism which safely turns our predicaments into driving forces of capitalism.

I hope above writing can generate much needed discussions on the topic among us.

[Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. In 1998 Hamada was the recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and in 2009 he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives and works in New York.]

VIDEO PRIMER: The Ecology of Trust Mechanization – For the Fourth Industrial Revolution

April 17, 2020

 

“As populations become more volatile with the roll out of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, digital quarantine will be a powerful method of regulating economic systems and human bodies.” — Alison Hawver McDowell, independent researcher, Wrench in the Gears

This primer, authored by Larry Lohmann, is a basic and essential primer on Blockchain, Bitcoin, and information capitalism.

Why this primer is of critical importance: The future, is now firmly on our doorstep.

The infrastructure and architecture of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is designed by the ruling class; in conjunction with transnational corporations, global finance capital and global institutions. The human population will be controlled “via digital identity systems tied to cashless benefit payments within the context of a militarized 5G, IoT (Internet of Things), and AR (Augmented Reality) environment. The billionaire class has built and is rapidly putting the finishing touches on infrastructure to run human capital social impact markets that will securitize the lives of most people as data streams. The technology that underlies this Fourth Industrial Revolution automation will hasten the death of the planet. The World Economic Forum is advancing a technocratic system of control and domination of humanity and the Earth… Why should we agree to this? It is a profound sickness of Western culture. Hubris. Sick. And totally ignoring the impact our actions have on the natural world around us.” — Alison Hawver McDowel

 

Knowledge is a weapon: Arm yourself.

 

 

Follow Wrench in the Gears: https://wrenchinthegears.com

Larry Lohmann has contributed to numerous scholarly books as well as to journals on land and forest conflicts, globalization, movements, racism, commons, ecology and the discourses of development and economics.

Blockchain Machines, Earth Beings and the Labour of Trust – by Larry Lohmann:

“The last 10 years have seen unprecedented efforts to automate whole new ranges of human and nonhuman activity: trust, recognition, identification, care, respect, translation and interpretation itself. It may be helpful to look at these developments — which include Bitcoin and blockchain — in the light of 19th-century mechanization. Although the new tide of automation recruits technologies that have become available only in the 21st century, it is no less dependent on the living work of human and more-then-human beings. Nor is it any less prone to exhaust or “max out” that work, wreaking ecological destruction and necessitating the organization of new frontiers of extraction. The new mechanization is also entwined with some of the same fantasies and rituals that have animated industrial capitalism since its beginnings.”

Download the parer: BLOCKCHAIN MACHINES, EARTH BEINGS AND THE LABOUR OF TRUST LOHMANN

Resist the Fourth Industrial Repression!

Winter Oak

April 17, 2020

By Paul Cudenec

The First Industrial Repression saw us thrown off the land, forced into crowded towns and cities, used as human fodder for the dark satanic mills of the new steam-powered capitalist world.

The Second Industrial Repression electrified the rule of The Machine. New generations were born who had never tasted freedom. Their lives and their thinking were increasingly dominated by the rhythms of industrial mass production.

The Third Industrial Repression heralded the arrival of computers and robots. Human beings were now expected to meekly conform to these automated norms and functions.

And now we face the onset of the Fourth Industrial Repression (4IR), the most deathly repression of them all…

4IR Fourth industrial revolution on blockchain polygon world map

The 4IR wants to own, control and profit from everything that exists in this world.

Its Internet of Things aims to create a matrix of total connectivity, of which it is the owner.

You, your home, your family, your friends, your relationships and your activities will all belong to the 4IR.

Its technocrats regard you as nothing more than another piece of disposable fleshware, one unit among millions, just another figure on its global balance sheet of exploitation.

The 4IR will track you and always know where you are, whom you are with, what you are doing.

It demands your total obedience. You can have no values, ideals or dreams of your own, only the ones authorised by the system.

Disobedient units are unproductive units.

4IR

The 4IR will know how to spot you, if you even so much as consider stepping out of line. Its predictive policing will quickly identify you as an anti-social element, a pre-criminal, a thought criminal.

It will send out its robots and its drones to neutralise you and protect the safe functioning of the matrix.

Digital identity systems. Militarised 5G. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing.

Cybersecurity Macht Frei!

The 4IR will not tolerate any irresponsible words or behaviour that present a threat to health and safety, to law and order, to resilience and prosperity.

Submission. Sycophancy. Slavery. We’re all in it together, citizen!

Greta1The 4IR wants to scare us into its devouring jaws by pointing to impending disaster and claiming that nobody can save us but itself.

It shows us the misery and disease inflicted by the First, Second and Third Industrial Repressions and insists that the “solution” is a fourth dose of the same deadly industrial poison.

The intelligence of the 4IR is entirely artificial and its dead robot brain cannot smell what we smell, feel what we feel, love what we love.

It coldly ignores the timeless and vital value of people, animals, trees, plants and the whole organic reality of which these form part.

Instead it sees just raw material for its own profit.

It thirsts above all for data, endless floods of data to be collected, processed, sold and transformed into the wealth which buys its total control.

The Fourth Industrial Repression wants to replace everything true and authentic with its replicas, with a reality not so much virtual as entirely fake.

4IReAnd yet its forked robotic tongue tells us that this phoney reality is in fact an “enhanced” or “augmented” one.

The 4IR wants to abolish the lives we have known. It wants to microchip us, lock us up in little cages, and force-feed us chemical food substitutes, laced with feel-good soma.

It cannot tolerate the idea that we might enjoy anything for free, such as sunshine, fresh air and the wild outdoors.

It craves a total monopoly of our experience. Cut off from the real world, from authenticity and liberty, we will have no choice but to buy and consume the poisonous ersatz reality it has carefully manufactured.

The 4IR, like all the other repressions before it, is built on our separation from one another, the destruction of our communities and the undermining of our solidarities.

social_distancing

“Social distancing” is the prerequisite for its seizure of complete power.

The 4IR wants us all to be on our own, online and in line.

The 4IR empties everything of meaning, particularly words. It says “sustainable” when it means ecocidal. It says “development” when it means destruction. It says “basic universal income” when it means slavery.

When the 4IR talks about “social impact investing” it really means it wants to turn human beings into lucrative investment opportunities.

Human capital. Human cattle.

new deal for nature and people logoWhen the 4IR talks about “a new deal for nature” it really means it wants to privatise the whole living world so as to make the billionaire class even richer than it already is.

When the 4IR demands “biosecurity”, it means the security of its own systems of control against the threat from biological reality. From nature, from life, from us!

The 4IR thinks it is so smart. Its glossy propaganda promises us smart mobility in a smart economy, smart living and smart governance for the smart people of tomorrow.

The smart money is on the 4IR project. The smart money of the smart-arse smart set. Smart is the new smug.

The 4IR employs huge armies of professional liars and gullible fools to spread its  propaganda and scream abuse at all who dare challenge its fearmongering falsehoods.

The 4IR is a death cult which dreams of wiping out everything that is natural, everything that is wild, everything that is free.

Resist the Fourth Industrial Repression!

Fight the 4IR!

 

[Paul Cudenec is the author of The Anarchist Revelation; Antibodies, Anarchangels & Other Essays; The Stifled Soul of Humankind; Forms of Freedom; The Fakir of Florence; Nature, Essence & Anarchy and The Green One. All of these have been published by Winter Oak Press – www.winteroak.org.uk. He is also a member of Shoal Collective, a cooperative of independent writers and researchers, writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism. He has contributed to publications such as Red Pepper, Green Anarchist and The Morning Star. His work has been described as “mind-expanding and well-written” by Permaculture magazine.]

 

 

COVID-19 as a Weapon. The Crushing of the Disposable Working Class – by Design

April 13, 2020

 

By Cory Morningstar

 

[Due to the urgent need for the dissemination of this information, the following research is being presented in a simple concise format, similar to a timeline.]

 

“The largest economic transformation in the history of mankind”

 

The arrogance and brutality of the ruling class – is nothing less than breathtaking.

Let’s begin.

April 9 2020, Business Insider: “Many Americans will not have jobs to return to after the coronavirus pandemic ends, according to former US presidential candidate Andrew Yang”:

“Many Americans will not have jobs to return to after the coronavirus pandemic ends…”

 

“We’re going to see something like 10 years of change in 10 weeks…”

 

“The fact is right now this virus is the perfect environment for companies to get rid of people, bring in robots and machines, and figure out how they can operate more efficiently.”

 

“Universal basic income is going to become the topic, not just here in the United States, but Spain’s adopting a version of a minimum income. Legislatures around Europe are all very, very much focused on this.”

 

“We’re going to see the progressive Amazonification of our economy as Amazon’s one of the only businesses out there that’s hiring more and more. You’re seeing more robots are in grocery store aisles cleaning after we all supposedly go home…”

 

“One thing I’ve been saying is that we’re going to see something like 10 years of change in 10 weeks, because businesses are being put in a position where it makes sense to speed up a lot of the automation that they were considering investing in.”

 

“The fact is right now this virus is the perfect environment for companies to get rid of people, bring in robots and machines, and figure out how they can operate more efficiently.”

 

“My kids are at home just like everyone else’s kids and they’re getting taught online…they’re going to be many, many families that actually make a different determination where they actually say, “Hey, this online thing is working well.”

 

“If you can find a way to, frankly, make yourself useful from afar, that’s going to be something that unfortunately we all have to think about more and more.”

 

“I think at this point it’s actually going to need to be a bit higher than that, because the $1,000 a month is enough for baseline needs for at least most of us, but the economy is going to become even more inhuman and punishing, both during this crisis and afterwards.”

 

“… I’d be looking at something higher than $1,000 a month that would be more robust & helping people not just be able to meet their needs, but also have a real path forward.”

 

“we’re going to be dealing with the consequences of this crisis for years to come, and we need a Marshal Plan style initiative to rebuild the country… helping create that vision for what America in 2022, 2023, is going to look like after we have a vaccine in place.”

March 31 2020, Business Insider: “RESTAURANT APOCALYPSE: More than 110,000 restaurants expect to close up forever in the coming weeks, with millions out of work and the industry’s future uncertain.”

And while the Amazonification of our economy ploughs full steam ahead, independent shops and services are pounded into dust, while public services are shut down, opening the door for further privatization. While prepping the citizenry for coming and required “certifications”, the deliberate and violent contraction of the economy continues. The decimation of small enterprise with monetary wealth directed, again, upward. McDonald’s, Starbucks and Walmart (“essential services”) remain open while small business is forced to remain closed. On April 13 2020, Amazon announced they would hire Amazon will hire an additional 75,000 workers to keep up with its soaring volume of online sales.

 

Andrew Yang, Twitter, April 9, 2020: "Investors pay for returns not jobs."

Andrew Yang, Twitter, April 9, 2020: “Investors pay for returns not jobs.”

 

"Wow. Pope Francis today: 'This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage.' Game-changing."

“Wow. Pope Francis today: ‘This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage.’ Game-changing.”

 

A brilliant idea: We all live on $1,000 a month – when Klaus Schwab, Andrew Yang, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Bezos, et al. – live on $1,000 a month. The rich are dangerous, calculating, insane hypocrites.

April 12 2020, Business Insider: “Pope Francis says it might be ‘time to consider a universal basic wage’ in Easter letter”:

“In an Easter letter to leaders of prominent social movements, Pope Francis suggested that it might be time for countries to consider a universal basic wage.

 

“This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out,” The Pope wrote in his letter.

 

Over a dozen countries are implementing or experimenting with some form of temporary or permanent universal basic income in response to the current economic devastation and massive unemployment.”

Feb 28 2020, Business Insider:

“The pope has joined forces with Microsoft and IBM to create a doctrine for ethical AI and facial recognition. Here’s how the Vatican wants to shape AI.”

The Pope’s collaboration with corporate giant Microsoft and the Vatican Bank is deep into social impact investing. Citizens on UBI [Universal Basic Income] will still require privatized public services – a massive impact market. [Source]

Impact investing is predicated on turning people into investments as human capital. [Further reading]

Middle class? They’re coming after you too.

Oct 18 2019, Slate MoneyBox, Andrew Yang Keeps Talking About the Fourth Industrial Revolution. What the Heck Is That?:

“Yang likes branding. He calls his marquee policy idea—a UBI of $1,000 a month—a “freedom dividend.” …And lately, he can’t stop talking about “the fourth industrial revolution.”

 

“The fourth industrial revolution is the shorthand Yang now uses to describe the wave of massive technological change that he believes has decimated manufacturing employment and will soon automate away millions of American jobs.”

 

“The fourth industrial revolution is now migrating from manufacturing workers to retail, call centers, transportation, as well as to white-collar workers like attorneys, pharmacists, and radiologists…”

 

“In a World Economic Forum video from 2016, experts offered up predictions such as ‘Our bodies will be so high-tech we won’t really be able to distinguish between what’s natural and what’s artificial…'”

 

“It’s self-serious, Star Trek–style sci-fi for people who wear expensive suits and maybe have an endowed lab at Harvard. These are the intellectual waters Yang swims in, and that’s disconcerting. Aside from the fact that these conferences tend to be pretty intellectually bankrupt”—even JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has joked that “Davos is where billionaires tell millionaires about what the middle class feels”—they by definition reflect the interests and values of the global capitalist class.”

June 20 2019, World Economic Forum: “Can UBI survive financialization?”:

“Following this pattern, by providing a stable income stream and thus a reliable form of collateral, paid by the state, UBI would strengthen and even create financial markets, particularly for consumer credit, mortgages, and pensions. Far from serving as a revolutionary route to freedom from the whip of the market, UBI may end up yoking all citizens to rentier capital through indebtedness.”

Jan 31 2019, Wrench in the Gears, “Good Guy in Davos? Not So Fast”:

” This panel and the viral video clips flying around the internet are a brand-building exercise for Bergman’s neoliberal snake oil. If UBI is implemented in the current climate of austerity, economic precarity, and social entrepreneurship, you can be sure payments will be linked to digital identity to track “impact.” That $1,000 a month distribution will be just enough to scrape by. But hey, you’ll be able to sell personal data if you want more than gruel for dinner. Check out the Netherlands’ foray into personal data curation via the DecodeProject.eu here. It’s being run in partnership with NESTA, the global impact innovation unit out of the UK.”

March 26 2020, The London Freepress: “Keep it quiet, but universal basic income is coming”:

“You think that after six months or a year of this we will just go back tamely to the old economic rules? I rather doubt it.”

 

The rise of fascism & the 2nd World War required the creation of the full welfare state… The current emergency may be fostering the rise of ideas previously seen as too radical to contemplate…”

July 31, 2017, World Economic Forum, “We should let the robots take our jobs – and then pay us all a basic income”:

“As developments in artificial intelligence and robotics advance, there is going to be a severe and swift disruption of many working classes.”

 

“UBI, an economic proposition in which a sum of money is regularly paid to a population, could be a vital bulwark against the unintended consequences of automation in the workforce.”

 

“Companies will profit significantly from workforce automation, so the private sector will be able to afford shouldering this burden, while at the same time still making greater profits.”

 

“After all, a full-time human has needs: 30 minutes for lunch each day, vacation and sick time, toilet breaks, and health benefits, to name a few. Meanwhile, an automated worker would only require an initial installation and the occasional repair or upgrade.”

 

“The BCG report stated that a human welder today is paid around $25 an hour (including benefits) versus the equivalent operating cost of around $8 for a robot.”

 

“In 15 years, that gap will widen even more dramatically,” the report states. “The operating cost per hour for a robot doing similar welding tasks could plunge to as little as $2 when performance improvements are factored in.”

 

“This trend will only continue to accelerate. McDonald’s, an early pioneer of automation, is already replacing human workers with automated kiosks. They expect a 5% to 9% return on investment in just the first year; in 2019 they expect this return to balloon to double digits.”

 

“And this is only one sector: PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that 38% of US jobs will be in danger of being replaced by automation by 2030.”

 

“Companies that automate their workforces should be taxed on these new massive profits, and some of the resulting capital given back to workers by the government in the form of UBI.”

 

“While the idea of a UBI is popular—Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates have all championed it—how exactly would a universal basic income be engineered?

 

“Large swaths of laborers are going to lose their jobs, leading to unprecedented levels of unemployment.”

That moment has arrived.

March 18 2020: Over 500 academics and public figures called on governments to implement universal basic income via an open letter: “It is time for governments to enact emergency universal basic income, ensuring that everyone in their jurisdiction has enough money to buy the food and other essentials they need to survive.”

 Close to 50% of all U.S. jobs may be automated this decade. Globally? Over 50% by 2055. A disposable working class.

Close to 50% of all U.S. jobs may be automated this decade. Globally? Over 50% by 2055. A disposable working class.

 

McKinsey places the number of jobs to be replaced by automation at close to 50% by 2030. The COVID-19 virus provides an opportune moment to push the envelope of automation forward.

April 9 2020: “Global statistics reported by UNESCO reveal that since the last week of March roughly 1.7 billion students from pre-primary to tertiary education levels are out of school, affecting 91.3 percent of all enrolled learners and including every student in 188 countries that have mandated nationwide closures. With most schools set to remain closed through the rest of the current academic year, the scale of these closures is unprecedented in the history of world capitalism.”

We must recognize we live in a capitalist economic system that serves capital first & foremost. Further, it is imperative to recognize that the UN & UN agencies, inclusive of the WHO (WEF/Gates), exist in name only. The WEF is at the helm of a consolidation of global power.

We must recognize we live in a capitalist economic system that serves capital first & foremost. Further, it is imperative to recognize that the UN & UN agencies, inclusive of the WHO (WEF/Gates), exist in name only. The WEF is at the helm of a consolidation of global power.

 

January 2020, World Economic Forum: “The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

March 2020, McKinsey & Co: “Beyond coronavirus: The path to the next normal”:

“The crisis will reveal not just vulnerabilities but opportunities to improve the performance of businesses. Leaders will need to reconsider which costs are truly fixed versus variable, as the shutting down of huge swaths of production sheds light on what is ultimately required versus nice to have. Decisions about how far to flex operations without loss of efficiency will likewise be informed by the experience of closing down much of global production. Opportunities to push the envelope of technology adoption will be accelerated by rapid learning about what it takes to drive productivity when labor is unavailable. The result: a stronger sense of what makes business more resilient to shocks, more productive, and better able to deliver to customers.”

April 4, 2020: “This pandemic has optimized the “testing” of robots and drones in broad daylight …Zoom’s video conferencing platform has detonated in popularity as stay-at-home commands have cleared the globe and some of the credit for having the option to keep up with demand goes to automation…’We have automation set up so we can rapidly scale our foundation, the network as well as the compute infrastructure with next to no human intercession’… the organization is getting enthusiasm for purchasing robots to clean office spaces, production floors, retail locations, grocery stores, airports, lodgings and cafés.” [Source]

March 23 2020, CNBC, “Inside the hospital in China where coronavirus patients were treated by robots”

“The idea of humanoid robots taking jobs previously done by humans may feel dystopian, but in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, robots can free up human hospital medical staff and limit the possibility virus spread…

 

For a time in March, “a previously human-run field hospital located inside Hong Shan Sports Center located in Wuhan was converted … into a robot-led field hospital staffed entirely by robots and other smart [Internet of Things] devices,” CloudMinds CEO and founder Bill Huang tells CNBC Make It, in a statement…

 

Called HARIX (Human Augmented Robot Intelligence with eXtreme Reality), “this AI platform, synced with smart bracelets and rings worn by patients, was able to monitor patient vital signs (including temperature, heart rate, blood oxygen levels), allowing doctors and nurses outside the facility to monitor all patient vital information remotely on one interface…”

April 7, 2020: Morningstar: “Spain to become first European country to introduce Universal Basic Income”.

Jan 26 2018, World Economic Forum, “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World Global Agenda”:

“… with some economists suggesting that automation could potentially replace over half of all jobs by 2055… the disruption to workers’ lives will be significant.”

Sep 24 2019, António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations:

“And we must look at the 2030 Agenda not through the prism of the economy of the last decade, but the economy of the next decade, seizing the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and safeguarding against its dangers.”

Here it is important to note that also on March 11, 2020, the World Economic Forum announced a partnership with the WHO (a UN agency) to form the COVID-19 Action Platform – a task-force comprised of over 200 corporations at launch, which as has “soared to 726“, as of March 28, 2020. This is in addition to the World Economic Forum partnership with the United Nations on June 13, 2019. This is the consolidation of global power, happening in real time.

April 7 2020, CNN: “Grocery stores turn to robots during the coronavirus”:

“Walmart, the country’s largest retailer & private employer, will have Brain Corp’s self-driving robots in 1,860 of its more than 4,700 US stores by the end of the year.”

 

“Workers manually picking, bagging and delivering is costly for grocers, and employees picking orders can clog up aisles.”

 

“Takeoff Technologies… has seen a double-digit increase in orders since the crisis began. “Robots handle a majority of the leg-work when fulfilling orders, meaning there is limited contact with grocery items… The process is “well suited” for social distancing.”

 

“In the retail industry, “margin pressure has made automation a requirement, not a choice,” according to McKinsey. ‘Automation will disproportionately disrupt retail.'”

March 25 2020, CNN: “Robots could help us combat future pandemics. Here’s how experts wish they could help us now”:

“Experts agree that robots could take over the “dull, dirty and dangerous” jobs humans are currently fulfilling.

 

Countries such as China have already deployed robots to assist with certain tasks during the pandemic, like taking people’s temperatures…

 

Robots currently used for other applications could be repurposed to handle dangerous tasks that involve a risk of infection. And the coronavirus pandemic serves as a teachable moment…

 

“Robots have the potential to be deployed for disinfection, delivering medications and food, measuring vital signs, and assisting border controls,” …

 

They can be used to take temperatures of people in public areas or at ports of entry, collect nasal and throat samples for testing, act as telemedicine assistants, handle contaminated waste and even monitor compliance with voluntary quarantines.

 

The editorial also addresses remote operations that allow work and socioeconomic functions to continue. The authors call for robotics that could assist with manufacturing or operating power and waste treatment plants, doing the hands-on work and allowing people to remotely operate them.

 

Remote presence robots could also stand in the place of someone in a meeting, basically providing their presence through a video screen.

 

“COVID-19 may become the tipping point of how future organizations operate,” the researchers wrote. “Rather than cancelling large international exhibitions and conferences, new forms of gathering — virtual rather than in-person attendance — may increase. Virtual attendees may become accustomed to remote engagement via a variety of local robotic avatars and controls.”

 

The pandemic is also highlighting a need for assistance and social robots to help those at home, especially the elderly.

 

Social robots can not only monitor patients and make sure they adhere to treatments, but provide much-needed social interactions as well.”

In addition to the Fourth Industrial Revolution 2020 reset, we have the coming “New Deal For Nature” to be implemented at years  end, or perhaps sooner under the pretext of emergency measures. The feigned concern for climate and biodiversity by those that serve them, is, to be blunt, complete bullshit. There is nothing to be found within the Fourth Industrial Revolution dystopia in regard to nature – other than her financialization and objectification. She too will be placed on the blockchain. Here, man’s arrogance is on full display – with plans to cover the Earth’s surface with artificial forests and drone bees, while cordoning off what they have not yet plundered – for their own personal leisure.

Source: UNLOCKING THE INCLUSIVE GROWTH STORY OF THE 21ST CENTURY: ACCELERATING CLIMATE ACTION IN URGENT TIMES, August, 2018 New Climate Economy c/o World Resources Institute

Source: UNLOCKING THE INCLUSIVE GROWTH STORY OF THE 21ST CENTURY: ACCELERATING CLIMATE ACTION IN URGENT TIMES, August, 2018, New Climate Economy (World Resources Institute)

 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, the monetization of nature, is being rolled out in lockstep with the deployment of central bank digital currency (CBDC). This is a global transformation of the economic system. Consider nature “valued” at 125 trillion vs. GDP at 85.9 trillion (2018). “Natural Capital” accounting will replace GDP.

 

 

“Coronavirus hysteria provides cover for introducing UBI, a grand theft from the working class…. Notorious fraudster Johann Hari is now touting the UBI scam as an “anti-depressant.”[@cordeliers on Twitter]

April 10, 2020, Newsday: “Pandemic strengthens the case for universal basic income”:

“Subsidizing low-wage work depresses wages by essentially allowing employers to pay less than a livable wage, so EITC-type benefits are at least in part a transfer to employers, rather than workers.”

April 3, 2020, The Wall Street Journal: “Henry Kissinger – The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order”:

“Democracies need to sustain their Enlightenment values. Without balancing power with legitimacy, social contract will disintegrate. Yet the issue of legitimacy can’t be settled at same time as this “plague”….Priorities must be established.”

Nov 15 2016, Socialist Project: “Ontario’s Austerity Government Sets Basic Income Trap”:

“While a progressive Basic Income is not on the cards, its free market evil twin is a real and very dangerous possibility. Under this neoliberal model, an inadequate and dwindling BI payment is provided that absolves low wage employers from the obligation of paying living wages and becomes the only element of social provision left in place. You become a customer shopping in a market place of privatized services. Who could really deny that this right wing version is much closer to presently unfolding reality than the hopes and dreams of left BI enthusiasts?”

Jan 2 2017, Socialist Project: “Basic Income -Progressive Dreams Meet Neoliberal Realities”

“Basic Income, when all is said and done, is a vision for nothing more than the means to be a customer in an unjust society that decides what is for sale.”

 

“It’s really about the commodification of social provision. Your payment may actually be less conditional and somewhat larger but, as you shop through the privatized remains of the social infrastructure, with inadequate means and very few rights, you are dramatically worse off…

 

… it is sometimes asserted that an adequate system of provision must be put in place simply because we are moving toward a “workless future.” In such a society, it is suggested, masses of people who have been displaced will have to be provided for and the capitalists will have to think like Elon Musk, of Tesla Motors and support BI because it is the only sensible and rational solution. To imagine such responsible provision for the future is to place undue faith in a system based on the making of profit. If they won’t stop building pipelines in the face of environmental catastrophe, there’s little reason to expect them to worry too much about sensible solutions to technological displacement. There simply is no post-capitalist capitalism and no social policy innovation that is going to bring it about…

 

I am suggesting that our movements need to challenge, rather than come to terms with, the neoliberal order and the capitalist system that has produced it. For all its claims to be a sweeping measure, the notion of progressive BI is a futile attempt to make peace with that system. In reality, even that compromise is not available. The model of BI that governments are working on in their social policy laboratories will not ‘end the tyranny of the labour market’ but render it more dreadful. The agenda of austerity and privatization requires a system of income support that renders people as powerless and desperate as possible in the face of exploitation and that won’t change if it is relabelled as “Basic Income”.”

When we all start to literally starve (some already have, and many more have been for decades), perhaps then – we will eat the rich.

The question is this? Do you still believe that these people actually give a flying fuck about your health?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution cannot come into fruition without the 5G infrastructure that will run the Internet of Things. “Smart” cities must be understood within the context of global policing and the military industrial complex. Cybersecurity will be the battle space of the twenty-first century.

This is class war.

In closing:

The future, is now on our doorstep: All “human capital” is to be controlled “via digital identity systems tied to cashless benefit payments within the context of a militarized 5G / IoT [Internet of Things]/ AR [augmented reality] environment. The billionaire class has built & is rapidly putting the finishing touches on infrastructure to run human capital social impact markets that will securitize the lives of most people as data streams. The tech that underlies this 4IR automation will hasten the death of the planet. World Economic Forum is advancing a technocratic system of control & domination of humanity & the planet… Why should we agree to this? It is a profound sickness of Western culture. Hubris. Sick. And totally ignoring the impact our actions have on the natural world around us.” – Independent researcher Alison Hawver McDowell, Wrench in the Gears

 

Further reading:

Q: What does Imperial College, the World Economic Forum (WEF), Salesforce, Sinovation Ventures (Chinese technology venture capital), ABB (automation technology), global artificial intelligence (AI), all have in common?

A: Vaccines, emerging markets, gene editing – via the Fourth Industrial Revolution:

https://www.facebook.com/cory.morningstar.5/posts/10163663016445554

Global capital intends to turn our children (& all life) into data commodities. The intent is portfolios of human capital – children as human capital data. All life will be commodified on blockchain, linking behaviour to benefits:

https://www.facebook.com/cory.morningstar.5/posts/10163687281020554

 

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

History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin. It’s Underwater—and the Consequences are Unimaginable.

History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin. It’s Underwater—and the Consequences are Unimaginable.

The Atlantic

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2020 ISSUE

 

By Wil S. Hylton

 

Mining robots, such as these, will help unlock a subsea gold rush. Source: World Economic Forum

Unless you are given to chronic anxiety or suffer from nihilistic despair, you probably haven’t spent much time contemplating the bottom of the ocean. Many people imagine the seabed to be a vast expanse of sand, but it’s a jagged and dynamic landscape with as much variation as any place onshore. Mountains surge from underwater plains, canyons slice miles deep, hot springs billow through fissures in rock, and streams of heavy brine ooze down hillsides, pooling into undersea lakes.

These peaks and valleys are laced with most of the same minerals found on land. Scientists have documented their deposits since at least 1868, when a dredging ship pulled a chunk of iron ore from the seabed north of Russia. Five years later, another ship found similar nuggets at the bottom of the Atlantic, and two years after that, it discovered a field of the same objects in the Pacific. For more than a century, oceanographers continued to identify new minerals on the seafloor—copper, nickel, silver, platinum, gold, and even gemstones—while mining companies searched for a practical way to dig them up.

Today, many of the largest mineral corporations in the world have launched underwater mining programs. On the west coast of Africa, the De Beers Group is using a fleet of specialized ships to drag machinery across the seabed in search of diamonds. In 2018, those ships extracted 1.4 million carats from the coastal waters of Namibia; in 2019, De Beers commissioned a new ship that will scrape the bottom twice as quickly as any other vessel. Another company, Nautilus Minerals, is working in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea to shatter a field of underwater hot springs lined with precious metals, while Japan and South Korea have embarked on national projects to exploit their own offshore deposits. But the biggest prize for mining companies will be access to international waters, which cover more than half of the global seafloor and contain more valuable minerals than all the continents combined.

Regulations for ocean mining have never been formally established. The United Nations has given that task to an obscure organization known as the International Seabed Authority, which is housed in a pair of drab gray office buildings at the edge of Kingston Harbour, in Jamaica. Unlike most UN bodies, the ISA receives little oversight. It is classified as “autonomous” and falls under the direction of its own secretary general, who convenes his own general assembly once a year, at the ISA headquarters. For about a week, delegates from 168 member states pour into Kingston from around the world, gathering at a broad semicircle of desks in the auditorium of the Jamaica Conference Centre. Their assignment is not to prevent mining on the seafloor but to mitigate its damage—selecting locations where extraction will be permitted, issuing licenses to mining companies, and drafting the technical and environmental standards of an underwater Mining Code.

Writing the code has been difficult. ISA members have struggled to agree on a regulatory framework. While they debate the minutiae of waste disposal and ecological preservation, the ISA has granted “exploratory” permits around the world. Some 30 mineral contractors already hold licenses to work in sweeping regions of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. One site, about 2,300 miles east of Florida, contains the largest system of underwater hot springs ever discovered, a ghostly landscape of towering white spires that scientists call the “Lost City.” Another extends across 4,500 miles of the Pacific, or roughly a fifth of the circumference of the planet. The companies with permits to explore these regions have raised breathtaking sums of venture capital. They have designed and built experimental vehicles, lowered them to the bottom, and begun testing methods of dredging and extraction while they wait for the ISA to complete the Mining Code and open the floodgates to commercial extraction.

At full capacity, these companies expect to dredge thousands of square miles a year. Their collection vehicles will creep across the bottom in systematic rows, scraping through the top five inches of the ocean floor. Ships above will draw thousands of pounds of sediment through a hose to the surface, remove the metallic objects, known as polymetallic nodules, and then flush the rest back into the water. Some of that slurry will contain toxins such as mercury and lead, which could poison the surrounding ocean for hundreds of miles. The rest will drift in the current until it settles in nearby ecosystems. An early study by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences predicted that each mining ship will release about 2 million cubic feet of discharge every day, enough to fill a freight train that is 16 miles long. The authors called this “a conservative estimate,” since other projections had been three times as high. By any measure, they concluded, “a very large area will be blanketed by sediment to such an extent that many animals will not be able to cope with the impact and whole communities will be severely affected by the loss of individuals and species.”

At the ISA meeting in 2019, delegates gathered to review a draft of the code. Officials hoped the document would be ratified for implementation in 2020. I flew down to observe the proceedings on a balmy morning and found the conference center teeming with delegates. A staff member ushered me through a maze of corridors to meet the secretary general, Michael Lodge, a lean British man in his 50s with cropped hair and a genial smile. He waved me toward a pair of armchairs beside a bank of windows overlooking the harbor, and we sat down to discuss the Mining Code, what it will permit and prohibit, and why the United Nations is preparing to mobilize the largest mining operation in the history of the world.

Until recently, marine biologists paid little attention to the deep sea. They believed its craggy knolls and bluffs were essentially barren. The traditional model of life on Earth relies on photosynthesis: plants on land and in shallow water harness sunlight to grow biomass, which is devoured by creatures small and large, up the food chain to Sunday dinner. By this account, every animal on the planet would depend on plants to capture solar energy. Since plants disappear a few hundred feet below sea level, and everything goes dark a little farther down, there was no reason to expect a thriving ecosystem in the deep. Maybe a light snow of organic debris would trickle from the surface, but it would be enough to sustain only a few wayward aquatic drifters.

That theory capsized in 1977, when a pair of oceanographers began poking around the Pacific in a submersible vehicle. While exploring a range of underwater mountains near the Galápagos Islands, they spotted a hydrothermal vent about 8,000 feet deep. No one had ever seen an underwater hot spring before, though geologists suspected they might exist. As the oceanographers drew close to the vent, they made an even more startling discovery: A large congregation of animals was camped around the vent opening. These were not the feeble scavengers that one expected so far down. They were giant clams, purple octopuses, white crabs, and 10-foot tube worms, whose food chain began not with plants but with organic chemicals floating in the warm vent water.

For biologists, this was more than curious. It shook the foundation of their field. If a complex ecosystem could emerge in a landscape devoid of plants, evolution must be more than a heliological affair. Life could appear in perfect darkness, in blistering heat and a broth of noxious compounds—an environment that would extinguish every known creature on Earth. “That was the discovery event,” an evolutionary biologist named Timothy Shank told me. “It changed our view about the boundaries of life. Now we know that the methane lakes on one of Jupiter’s moons are probably laden with species, and there is no doubt life on other planetary bodies.”

Shank was 12 years old that winter, a bookish kid in North Carolina. The early romance of the space age was already beginning to fade, but the discovery of life near hydrothermal vents would inspire a blossoming of oceanography that captured his imagination. As he completed a degree in marine biology, then a doctorate in ecology and evolution, he consumed reports from scientists around the world who found new vents brimming with unknown species. They appeared far below the surface—the deepest known vent is about three miles down—while another geologic feature, known as a “cold seep,” gives rise to life in chemical pools even deeper on the seafloor. No one knew how far down the vents and seeps might be found, but Shank decided to focus his research on the deepest waters of the Earth.

Scientists divide the ocean into five layers of depth. Closest to the surface is the “sunlight zone,” where plants thrive; then comes the “twilight zone,” where darkness falls; next is the “midnight zone,” where some creatures generate their own light; and then there’s a frozen flatland known simply as “the abyss.” Oceanographers have visited these layers in submersible vehicles for half a century, but the final layer is difficult to reach. It is known as the “hadal zone,” in reference to Hades, the ancient Greek god of the underworld, and it includes any water that is at least 6,000 meters below the surface—or, in a more Vernian formulation, that is 20,000 feet under the sea. Because the hadal zone is so deep, it is usually associated with ocean trenches, but several deepwater plains have sections that cross into hadal depth.

Deepwater plains are also home to the polymetallic nodules that explorers first discovered a century and a half ago. Mineral companies believe that nodules will be easier to mine than other seabed deposits. To remove the metal from a hydrothermal vent or an underwater mountain, they will have to shatter rock in a manner similar to land-based extraction. Nodules are isolated chunks of rocks on the seabed that typically range from the size of a golf ball to that of a grapefruit, so they can be lifted from the sediment with relative ease. Nodules also contain a distinct combination of minerals. While vents and ridges are flecked with precious metal, such as silver and gold, the primary metals in nodules are copper, manganese, nickel, and cobalt—crucial materials in modern batteries. As iPhones and laptops and electric vehicles spike demand for those metals, many people believe that nodules are the best way to migrate from fossil fuels to battery power.

The ISA has issued more mining licenses for nodules than for any other seabed deposit. Most of these licenses authorize contractors to exploit a single deepwater plain. Known as the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, or CCZ, it extends across 1.7 million square miles between Hawaii and Mexico—wider than the continental United States. When the Mining Code is approved, more than a dozen companies will accelerate their explorations in the CCZ to industrial-scale extraction. Their ships and robots will use vacuum hoses to suck nodules and sediment from the seafloor, extracting the metal and dumping the rest into the water. How many ecosystems will be covered by that sediment is impossible to predict. Ocean currents fluctuate regularly in speed and direction, so identical plumes of slurry will travel different distances, in different directions, on different days. The impact of a sediment plume also depends on how it is released. Slurry that is dumped near the surface will drift farther than slurry pumped back to the bottom. The circulating draft of the Mining Code does not specify a depth of discharge. The ISA has adopted an estimate that sediment dumped near the surface will travel no more than 62 miles from the point of release, but many experts believe the slurry could travel farther. A recent survey of academic research compiled by Greenpeace concluded that mining waste “could travel hundreds or even thousands of kilometers.”

Like many deepwater plains, the CCZ has sections that lie at hadal depth. Its eastern boundary is marked by a hadal trench. No one knows whether mining sediment will drift into the hadal zone. As the director of a hadal-research program at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, in Massachusetts, Timothy Shank has been studying the deep sea for almost 30 years. In 2014, he led an international mission to complete the first systematic study of the hadal ecosystem—but even Shank has no idea how mining could affect the hadal zone, because he still has no idea what it contains. If you want a sense of how little we know about the deep ocean, how difficult it is to study, and what’s at stake when industry leaps before science, Shank’s research is a good place to start.

Ifirst met shank about seven years ago, when he was organizing the international mission to survey the hadal zone. He had put together a three-year plan to visit every ocean trench: sending a robotic vehicle to explore their features, record every contour of topography, and collect specimens from each. The idea was either dazzling or delusional; I wasn’t sure which. Scientists have enough trouble measuring the seabed in shallower waters. They have used ropes and chains and acoustic instruments to record depth for more than a century, yet 85 percent of the global seabed remains unmapped—and the hadal is far more difficult to map than other regions, since it’s nearly impossible to see.

If it strikes you as peculiar that modern vehicles cannot penetrate the deepest ocean, take a moment to imagine what it means to navigate six or seven miles below the surface. Every 33 feet of depth exerts as much pressure as the atmosphere of the Earth, so when you are just 66 feet down, you are under three times as much pressure as a person on land, and when you are 300 feet down, you’re subjected to 10 atmospheres of pressure. Tube worms living beside hydrothermal vents near the Galápagos are compressed by about 250 atmospheres, and mining vehicles in the CCZ have to endure twice as much—but they are still just half as far down as the deepest trenches.

Building a vehicle to function at 36,000 feet, under 2 million pounds of pressure per square foot, is a task of interstellar-type engineering. It’s a good deal more rigorous than, say, bolting together a rover to skitter across Mars. Picture the schematic of an iPhone case that can be smashed with a sledgehammer more or less constantly, from every angle at once, without a trace of damage, and you’re in the ballpark—or just consider the fact that more people have walked on the moon than have reached the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth.

The first two people descended in 1960, using a contraption owned by the U.S. Navy. It seized and shuddered on the descent. Its window cracked as the pressure mounted, and it landed with so much force that it kicked up a cloud of silt that obscured the view for the entire 20 minutes the pair remained on the bottom. Half a century passed before the film director James Cameron repeated their journey, in 2012. Unlike the swaggering billionaire Richard Branson, who was planning to dive the Mariana in a cartoonish vehicle shaped like a fighter jet, Cameron is well versed in ocean science and engineering. He was closely involved in the design of his submarine, and sacrificed stylistic flourishes for genuine innovations, including a new type of foam that maintains buoyancy at full ocean depth. Even so, his vessel lurched and bucked on the way down. He finally managed to land, and spent a couple of hours collecting sediment samples before he noticed that hydraulic fluid was leaking onto the window. The vehicle’s mechanical arm began to fail, and all of the thrusters on its right side went out—so he returned to the surface early, canceled his plan for additional dives, and donated the broken sub to Woods Hole.

A 3-D model of the Mariana Trench
A 3-D model of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on Earth. Most of what we know about its topography has been gathered by sonar. Only three crewed expeditions have reached the bottom. (Data Design Co)
The most recent descent of the Mariana Trench was completed last spring by a private-equity investor named Victor Vescovo, who spent $48 million on a submarine that was even more sophisticated than Cameron’s. Vescovo was on a personal quest to reach the bottom of the five deepest trenches in the world, a project he called “Five Deeps.” He was able to complete the project, making multiple dives of the Mariana—but if his achievement represents a leap forward in hadal exploration, it also serves as a reminder of how impenetrable the trenches remain: a region that can be visited only by the most committed multimillionaire, Hollywood celebrity, or special military program, and only in isolated dives to specific locations that reveal little about the rest of the hadal environment. That environment is composed of 33 trenches and 13 shallower formations called troughs. Its total geographic area is about two-thirds the size of Australia. It is the least examined ecosystem of its size on Earth.Without a vehicle to explore the hadal zone, scientists have been forced to use primitive methods. The most common technique has scarcely changed in more than a century: Expedition ships chug across hundreds of miles to reach a precise location, then lower a trap, wait a few hours, and reel it up to see what’s inside. The limitations of this approach are self-evident, if not comic. It’s like dangling a birdcage out the door of an airplane crossing Africa at 36,000 feet, and then trying to divine, from the mangled bodies of insects, what sort of animals roam the savanna.All of which is to say that Shank’s plan to explore every trench in the world was somewhere between audacious and absurd, but he had assembled a team of the world’s leading experts, secured ship time for extensive missions, and spent 10 years supervising the design of the most advanced robotic vehicle ever developed for deepwater navigation. Called Nereus, after a mythological sea god, it could dive alone—charting a course amid rocky cliffs, measuring their contours with a doppler scanner, recording video with high-definition cameras, and collecting samples—or it could be linked to the deck of a ship with fiber-optic cable, allowing Shank to monitor its movement on a computer in the ship’s control room, boosting the thrusters to steer this way and that, piercing the darkness with its headlamps, and maneuvering a mechanical claw to gather samples in the deep.

I reached out to Shank in 2013, a few months before the expedition began. I wanted to write about the project, and he agreed to let me join him on a later leg. When his ship departed, in the spring of 2014, I followed online as it pursued a course to the Kermadec Trench, in the Pacific, and Shank began sending Nereus on a series of dives. On the first, it descended to 6,000 meters, a modest target on the boundary of the hadal zone. On the second, Shank pushed it to 7,000 meters; on the third to 8,000; and on the fourth to 9,000. He knew that diving to 10,000 meters would be a crucial threshold. It is the last full kilometer of depth on Earth: No trench is believed to be deeper than 11,000 meters. To commemorate this final increment and the successful beginning of his project, he attached a pair of silver bracelets to the frame of Nereus, planning to give them to his daughters when he returned home. Then he dropped the robot in the water and retreated to the control room to monitor its movements.

On-screen, blue water gave way to darkness as Nereus descended, its headlamps illuminating specks of debris suspended in the water. It was 10 meters shy of the 10,000-meter mark when suddenly the screen went dark. There was an audible gasp in the control room, but no one panicked. Losing the video feed on a dive was relatively common. Maybe the fiber-optic tether had snapped, or the software had hit a glitch. Whatever it was, Nereus had been programmed to respond with emergency measures. It could back out of a jam, shed expendable weight, guide itself to the surface, and send a homing beacon to help Shank’s team retrieve it.

As the minutes ticked by, Shank waited for those measures to activate, but none did. “There’s no sound, no implosion, no chime,” he told me afterward. “Just … black.” He paced the deck through the night, staring across the Stygian void for signs of Nereus. The following day he finally saw debris surface, and as he watched it rise, he felt his project sinking. Ten years of planning, a $14 million robot, and an international team of experts—it had all collapsed under the crushing pressure of hadal depths.

“I’m not over it yet,” he told me two years later. We were standing on the deck of another ship, 100 miles off the coast of Massachusetts, where Shank was preparing to launch a new robot. The vehicle was no replacement for Nereus. It was a rectilinear hunk of metal and plastic, about five feet high, three feet wide, and nine feet long. Red on top, with a silvery bottom and three fans mounted at the rear, it could have been mistaken for a child’s backyard spaceship. Shank had no illusion that it was capable of hadal exploration. Since the loss of Nereus, there was no vehicle on Earth that could navigate the deepest trenches—Cameron’s was no longer in service, Branson’s didn’t work, and Vescovo’s hadn’t yet been built.

Shank’s new robot did have a few impressive features. Its navigational system was even more advanced than the one in Nereus, and he hoped it would be able to maneuver in a trenchlike environment with even greater precision—but its body was not designed to withstand hadal pressure. In fact, it had never descended more than a few dozen feet below the surface, and Shank knew that it would take years to build something that could survive at the bottom of a trench. What had seemed, just two years earlier, like the beginning of a new era in hadal science was developing a quixotic aspect, and, at 50, Shank could not help wondering if it was madness to spend another decade of his life on a dream that seemed to be drifting further from his reach. But he was driven by a lifelong intuition that he still couldn’t shake. Shank believes that access to the trenches will reveal one of the greatest discoveries in history: a secret ecosystem bursting with creatures that have been cloistered for eternity in the deep.

“I would be shocked if there aren’t vents and seeps in the trenches,” he told me as we bobbed on the water that day in 2016. “They’ll be there, and they will be teeming with life. I think we’ll be looking at hundreds or thousands of species we haven’t seen before, and some of them are going to be huge.” He pictured the hadal as an alien world that followed its own evolutionary course, the unimaginable pressure creating a menagerie of inconceivable beasts. “My time is running out to find them,” he said. “Maybe my legacy will be to push things forward so that somebody else can. We have a third of our ocean that we still can’t explore. It’s embarrassing. It’s pathetic.”

While scientists struggle to reach the deep ocean, human impact has already gotten there. Most of us are familiar with the menu of damages to coastal water: overfishing, oil spills, and pollution, to name a few. What can be lost in the discussion of these issues is how they reverberate far beneath.

Take fishing. The relentless pursuit of cod in the early 20th century decimated its population from Newfoundland to New England, sending hungry shoppers in search of other options. As shallow-water fish such as haddock, grouper, and sturgeon joined the cod’s decline, commercial fleets around the world pushed into deeper water. Until the 1970s, the slimehead fish lived in relative obscurity, patrolling the slopes of underwater mountains in water up to 6,000 feet deep. Then a consortium of fishermen pushed the Food and Drug Administration to change its name, and the craze for “orange roughy” began—only to fade again in the early 2000s, when the fish was on a path toward extinction itself.

Environmental damage from oil production is also migrating into deeper water. Disturbing photographs of oil-drenched beaches have captured public attention since at least 1989, when the Exxon Valdez tanker crashed into a reef and leaked 11 million gallons into an Alaskan sound. It would remain the largest spill in U.S. water until 2010, when the Deepwater Horizon explosion spewed 210 million gallons into the Gulf of Mexico. But a recent study revealed that the release of chemicals to disperse the spill was twice as toxic as the oil to animals living 3,000 feet below the surface.

Maybe the greatest alarm in recent years has followed the discovery of plastic floating in the ocean. Scientists estimate that 17 billion pounds of polymer are flushed into the ocean each year, and substantially more of it collects on the bottom than on the surface. Just as a bottle that falls from a picnic table will roll downhill to a gulch, trash on the seafloor gradually makes its way toward deepwater plains and hadal trenches. After his expedition to the trenches, Victor Vescovo returned with the news that garbage had beaten him there. He found a plastic bag at the bottom of one trench, a beverage can in another, and when he reached the deepest point in the Mariana, he watched an object with a large S on the side float past his window. Trash of all sorts is collecting in the hadal—Spam tins, Budweiser cans, rubber gloves, even a mannequin head.

Scientists are just beginning to understand the impact of trash on aquatic life. Fish and seabirds that mistake grocery bags for prey will glut their stomachs with debris that their digestive system can’t expel. When a young whale drifted ashore and died in the Philippines in 2019, an autopsy revealed that its belly was packed with 88 pounds of plastic bags, nylon rope, and netting. Two weeks later, another whale beached in Sardinia, its stomach crammed with 48 pounds of plastic dishes and tubing. Certain types of coral like to eat plastic more than food. They will gorge themselves like a kid on Twinkies instead of eating what they need to survive. Microbes that flourish on plastic have ballooned in number, replacing other species as their population explodes in a polymer ocean.

If it seems trivial to worry about the population statistics of bacteria in the ocean, you may be interested to know that ocean microbes are essential to human and planetary health. About a third of the carbon dioxide generated on land is absorbed by underwater organisms, including one species that was just discovered in the CCZ in 2018. The researchers who found that bacterium have no idea how it removes carbon from the environment, but their findings show that it may account for up to 10 percent of the volume that is sequestered by oceans every year.

Many of the things we do know about ocean microbes, we know thanks to Craig Venter, the genetic scientist most famous for starting a small company in the 1990s to compete with the Human Genome Project. The two-year race between his company and the international collaboration generated endless headlines and culminated in a joint announcement at the White House to declare a tie. But Venter’s interest wasn’t limited to human DNA. He wanted to learn the language of genetics in order to create synthetic microbes with practical features. After his work on the human genome, he spent two years sailing around the world, lowering bottles into the ocean to collect bacteria and viruses from the water. By the time he returned, he had discovered hundreds of thousands of new species, and his lab in Maryland proceeded to sequence their DNA—identifying more than 60 million unique genes, which is about 2,500 times the number in humans. Then he and his team began to scour those genes for properties they could use to make custom bugs.

Venter now lives in a hypermodern house on a bluff in Southern California. Chatting one evening on the sofa beside the door to his walk-in humidor and wine cellar, he described how saltwater microbes could help solve the most urgent problems of modern life. One of the bacteria he pulled from the ocean consumes carbon and excretes methane. Venter would like to integrate its genes into organisms designed to live in smokestacks and recycle emissions. “They could scrub the plant’s CO2 and convert it to methane that can be burned as fuel in the same plant,” he said.

Venter was also studying bacteria that could be useful in medicine. Microbes produce a variety of antibiotic compounds, which they deploy as weapons against their rivals. Many of those compounds can also be used to kill the pathogens that infect humans. Nearly all of the antibiotic drugs on the market were initially derived from microorganisms, but they are losing efficacy as pathogens evolve to resist them. “We have new drugs in development,” Matt McCarthy, an infectious-disease specialist at Weill Cornell Medical College, told me, “but most of them are slight variations on the ones we already had. The problem with that is, they’re easy for bacteria to resist, because they’re similar to something bacteria have developed resistance to in the past. What we need is an arsenal of new compounds.”

Venter pointed out that ocean microbes produce radically different compounds from those on land. “There are more than a million microbes per milliliter of seawater,” he said, “so the chance of finding new antibiotics in the marine environment is high.” McCarthy agreed. “The next great drug may be hidden somewhere deep in the water,” he said. “We need to get to the deep-sea organisms, because they’re making compounds that we’ve never seen before. We may find drugs that could be used to treat gout, or rheumatoid arthritis, or all kinds of other conditions.”

Marine biologists have never conducted a comprehensive survey of microbes in the hadal trenches. The conventional tools of water sampling cannot function at extreme depth, and engineers are just beginning to develop tools that can. Microbial studies of the deepwater plains are slightly further along—and scientists have recently discovered that the CCZ is unusually flush with life. “It’s one of the most biodiverse areas that we’ve ever sampled on the abyssal plains,” a University of Hawaii oceanographer named Jeff Drazen told me. Most of those microbes, he said, live on the very same nodules that miners are planning to extract. “When you lift them off the seafloor, you’re removing a habitat that took 10 million years to grow.” Whether or not those microbes can be found in other parts of the ocean is unknown. “A lot of the less mobile organisms,” Drazen said, “may not be anywhere else.”

Drazen is an academic ecologist; Venter is not. Venter has been accused of trying to privatize the human genome, and many of his critics believe his effort to create new organisms is akin to playing God. He clearly doesn’t have an aversion to profit-driven science, and he’s not afraid to mess with nature—yet when I asked him about the prospect of mining in deep water, he flared with alarm. “We should be very careful about mining in the ocean,” he said. “These companies should be doing rigorous microbial surveys before they do anything else. We only know a fraction of the microbes down there, and it’s a terrible idea to screw with them before we know what they are and what they do.”

The Clarion-Clipperton Zone is a deepwater plain wider than the continental United States. When the Mining Code is approved, more than a dozen contractors could begin commercial extraction there. (La Tigre)

Mining executives insist that their work in the ocean is misunderstood. Some adopt a swaggering bravado and portray the industry as a romantic frontier adventure. As the manager of exploration at Nautilus Minerals, John Parianos, told me recently, “This is about every man and his dog filled with the excitement of the moon landing. It’s like Scott going to the South Pole, or the British expeditions who got entombed by ice.”

Nautilus occupies a curious place in the mining industry. It is one of the oldest companies at work on the seafloor, but also the most precarious. Although it has a permit from the government of Papua New Guinea to extract metal from offshore vents, many people on the nearby island of New Ireland oppose the project, which will destroy part of their marine habitat. Local and international activists have whipped up negative publicity, driving investors away and sending the company into financial ruin. Nautilus stock once traded for $4.45. It is now less than a penny per share.Parianos acknowledged that Nautilus was in crisis, but he dismissed the criticism as naive. Seabed minerals are no different from any other natural resource, he said, and the use of natural resources is fundamental to human progress. “Look around you: Everything that’s not grown is mined,” he told me. “That’s why they called it the Stone Age—because it’s when they started mining! And mining is what made our lives better than what they had before the Stone Age.” Parianos emphasized that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which created the International Seabed Authority, promised “to ensure effective protection for the marine environment” from the effects of mining. “It’s not like the Law of the Sea says: Go out and ravage the marine environment,” he said. “But it also doesn’t say that you can only explore the ocean for science, and not to make money.”The CEO of a company called DeepGreen spoke in loftier terms. DeepGreen is both a product of Nautilus Minerals and a reaction to it. The company was founded in 2011 by David Heydon, who had founded Nautilus a decade earlier, and its leadership is full of former Nautilus executives and investors. As a group, they have sought to position DeepGreen as a company whose primary interest in mining the ocean is saving the planet. They have produced a series of lavish brochures to explain the need for a new source of battery metals, and Gerard Barron, the CEO, speaks with animated fervor about the virtues of nodule extraction.

His case for seabed mining is straightforward. Barron believes that the world will not survive if we continue burning fossil fuels, and the transition to other forms of power will require a massive increase in battery production. He points to electric cars: the batteries for a single vehicle require 187 pounds of copper, 123 pounds of nickel, and 15 pounds each of manganese and cobalt. On a planet with 1 billion cars, the conversion to electric vehicles would require several times more metal than all existing land-based supplies—and harvesting that metal from existing sources already takes a human toll. Most of the world’s cobalt, for example, is mined in the southeastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where tens of thousands of young children work in labor camps, inhaling clouds of toxic dust during shifts up to 24 hours long. Terrestrial mines for nickel and copper have their own litany of environmental harms. Because the ISA is required to allocate some of the profits from seabed mining to developing countries, the industry will provide nations that rely on conventional mining with revenue that doesn’t inflict damage on their landscapes and people.

Whether DeepGreen represents a shift in the values of mining companies or merely a shift in marketing rhetoric is a valid question—but the company has done things that are difficult to dismiss. It has developed technology that returns sediment discharge to the seafloor with minimal disruption, and Barron is a regular presence at ISA meetings, where he advocates for regulations to mandate low-impact discharge. DeepGreen has also limited its operations to nodule mining, and Barron openly criticizes the effort by his friends at Nautilus to demolish a vent that is still partially active. “The guys at Nautilus, they’re doing their thing, but I don’t think it’s the right thing for the planet,” he told me. “We need to be doing things that have a low impact environmentally.”

By the time i sat down with Michael Lodge, the secretary general of the ISA, I had spent a lot of time thinking about the argument that executives like Barron are making. It seemed to me that seabed mining presents an epistemological problem. The harms of burning fossil fuels and the impact of land-based mining are beyond dispute, but the cost of plundering the ocean is impossible to know. What creatures are yet to be found on the seafloor? How many indispensable cures? Is there any way to calculate the value of a landscape we know virtually nothing about? The world is full of uncertain choices, of course, but the contrast between options is rarely so stark: the crisis of climate change and immiserated labor on the one hand, immeasurable risk and potential on the other.

I thought of the hadal zone. It may never be harmed by mining. Sediment from dredging on the abyssal plains could settle long before it reaches the edge of a trench—but the total obscurity of the hadal should remind us of how little we know. It extends from 20,000 feet below sea level to roughly 36,000 feet, leaving nearly half of the ocean’s depths beyond our reach. When I visited Timothy Shank at Woods Hole a few months ago, he showed me a prototype of his latest robot. He and his lead engineer, Casey Machado, had built it with foam donated by James Cameron and with support from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, whose engineers are hoping to send a vehicle to explore the aqueous moon of Jupiter. It was a tiny machine, known as Orpheus, that could steer through trenches, recording topography and taking samples, but little else. He would have no way to direct its movements or monitor its progress via a video feed. It occurred to me that if Shank had given up the dream of true exploration in the trenches, decades could pass before we know what the hadal zone contains.

Mining companies may promise to extract seabed metal with minimal damage to the surrounding environment, but to believe this requires faith. It collides with the force of human history, the law of unintended consequences, and the inevitability of mistakes. I wanted to understand from Michael Lodge how a UN agency had made the choice to accept that risk.

“Why is it necessary to mine the ocean?” I asked him.

He paused for a moment, furrowing his brow. “I don’t know why you use the word necessary,” he said. “Why is it ‘necessary’ to mine anywhere? You mine where you find metal.”

I reminded him that centuries of mining on land have exacted a devastating price: tropical islands denuded, mountaintops sheared off, groundwater contaminated, and species eradicated. Given the devastation of land-based mining, I asked, shouldn’t we hesitate to mine the sea?

“I don’t believe people should worry that much,” he said with a shrug. “There’s certainly an impact in the area that’s mined, because you are creating an environmental disturbance, but we can find ways to manage that.” I pointed out that the impact from sediment could travel far beyond the mining zone, and he responded, “Sure, that’s the other major environmental concern. There is a sediment plume, and we need to manage it. We need to understand how the plume operates, and there are experiments being done right now that will help us.” As he spoke, I realized that for Lodge, none of these questions warranted reflection—or anyway, he didn’t see reflection as part of his job. He was there to facilitate mining, not to question the wisdom of doing so.

We chatted for another 20 minutes, then I thanked him for his time and wandered back to the assembly room, where delegates were delivering canned speeches about marine conservation and the promise of battery technology. There was still some debate about certain details of the Mining Code—technical requirements, oversight procedures, the profit-sharing model—so the vote to ratify it would have to wait another year. I noticed a group of scientists watching from the back. They were members of the Deep-Ocean Stewardship Initiative, which formed in 2013 to confront threats to the deepwater environment. One was Jeff Drazen. He’d flown in from Hawaii and looked tired. I sent him a text, and we stepped outside.

A few tables and chairs were scattered in the courtyard, and we sat down to talk. I asked how he felt about the delay of the Mining Code—delegates are planning to review it again this summer, and large-scale mining could begin after that.

Drazen rolled his eyes and sighed. “There’s a Belgian team in the CCZ doing a component test right now,” he said. “They’re going to drive a vehicle around on the seafloor and spew a bunch of mud up. So these things are already happening. We’re about to make one of the biggest transformations that humans have ever made to the surface of the planet. We’re going to strip-mine a massive habitat, and once it’s gone, it isn’t coming back.”

 

[Wil S. Hylton is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. He has published cover stories for many outlets including The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, Esquire, Harper’s, Details, New York, and Outside.]

The Gift that Keeps on Giving To the Ruling Elite: Cognitive Dissonance

Solarian

October 12, 2019

By Guy Crittenden

 

 

It’s been interesting defending my article on Solarian.ca “Not This Kind of Green” on social media.

After I shared the article on Facebook a number of people attacked the post, invariably confounding my invitation that people read Cory Morningstar’s superb multi-part series “The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg” with the idea that Morningstar or myself are somehow criticizing the young woman at the center of the recent media phenomenon.

This is ironic, as one of Morningstar’s arguments is that the young pig-tailed girl’s role in fronting the campaign — and her promotion to superstar status by the media and various NGOs, foundations, and political actors (when so many other activists have been sidelined or even jailed) — is to cause  and prevent meaningful debate.

This is a challenging subject to discuss; people come to the table with pre-existing world views, values and assumptions. In order to really grasp Morningstar’s intention, a progressive person (for example) might need to set aside the elements of their own confirmation bias in order to understand that the writer is not making common cause with right-wing reactionary criticisms of Thunberg and unpleasant attacks on the young woman from a personalized “hater” perspective but instead offers a savvy critique of monopoly capitalism and the contemporary network of non-profit agencies, lenders, military equipment suppliers, and deep state agencies that has cooperated on such projects as selling wars around the planet and making perpetual war a reality, expanding the surveillance state to Orwellian proportions, installing an explicitly Neo Nazi government in Ukraine, and a fascist government in Honduras (note that eight out of ten asylum seekers who show up a the US-Mexico border are from that country), and the attempted coups d’etat against socialist governments in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Syria and other countries.

It’s easy to throw sand in skeptical eyes, also, by deflecting to dead-end win/lose arguments about whether global warming is or is not happening, and the extent to which human activity is causing it. Slogans like “climate change denier” are useful agitprop in that regard; ergo, we have environmental specialists with Ph.D.’s who find they can’t converse about this without being shouted down, if their questions waver even slightly from the orthodoxy. I myself have a boundless interest in learning the truth (whatever it is); orthodoxies? Not so much. (To put it another way, I dislike orthodoxies even if they happen to be right about something.)

 

Protest signs at the Climate Strike action at Queen’s Park, Ontario. Photo by Guy Crittenden

Morningstar’s article series points out that an elite socio-political structure is poised to usurp the broad environmental movement at a critical juncture. No same person would argue we’re not in some kind of crisis. Ecological collapse is certainly underway, hence the disappearance of bees and the so-called “insect apocalypse.” This year the Pacific salmon fishery collapsed in a way that was eerily reminiscent of the Atlantic cod fishery. I could list many other situations, from overfishing and finning of sharks or the bleaching of coral reefs to the imminent extinction of orang-utans as their rainforests are converted into plantations for palm oil and other mono-culture crops. Manmade climate change is a significant narrative thread that’s interwoven with all these issues. An adult conversation is needed about exactly what’s happening and a broad and (very) democratic discussion is needed about optimal solutions — the kind of discussion that’s practically impossible in the current climate, especially with state and corporate media acting as stenographers for agencies like the CIA and the Pentagon.

Awareness is growing that we need to determine what will replace monopoly capitalism, for which the tragedy of the commons is practically baked in. This will involve close scrutiny of the decades of neoconservative and neoliberal policy that’s eroded civil society, enriched elites, inflicted financialization and austerity on domestic and foreign populations, converted much of the former industrial heartland of the United States and the UK into dystopias, and has refashioned the NATO countries (and others) into perpetual war economies. This is precisely the conversation that the aforementioned elites don’t want us to have. This is precisely the conversation against which a clever propaganda narrative is being constructed, utilizing the image of an idealistic young woman. And this is precisely the conversation Morningstar is attempting to instigate.

[John Pilger’s documentary film The New Rulers of the World (2001) meticulously examines how multinational corporations moved in on Indonesia and — in a pattern that’s repeated itself in countless countries from Greece to Jamaica, from Chile to Libya — looted the economy via extractive projects that benefit those companies and international lenders, while greasing the palms of the local ruling class, and do nothing for ordinary citizens who are stuck with staggering public and private debt, and in many cases live in shantytowns. The role of the non-profit sector and NGOs in austerity and neocolonial schemes is poorly understood by the public.]

And so, for that reason, I’m sharing this excellent article from artist and writer Hiroyuki Hamada. “In Defence of Cory Morningstar’s Manufacturing for Consent Series” supports Morningstar’s contention that oligarchic forces are seizing on the climate change narrative (and situation) to eventually implement policies, programs and technocratic solutions that constitute a Hail Mary Pass in perpetuating the very system that gave rise to the climate crisis in the first place.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “To a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” Similarly, to people mentally conditioned to accept the limited lines of reasoning and possibilities offered within hierarchical capitalism and neo-colonialism, with all their state-sanctioned violence, every environmental problem is a nail for which the obvious solution is an IMF/World Bank-funded megaproject, with bottom-up subsidies flowing to transnational corporations and authoritarian governments loyal to Washington. Australian journalist John Pilger made an excellent documentary — The New Rulers of the World — about how this all works, in the context of the economic colonization of Indonesia. If you like the mega projects described there, that benefited foreign companies and political elites while doing nothing for ordinary people (many of whom live in shantytowns and are now the subject of  austerity programs), you’re going to love what those same elites construct in the name of fighting climate change, all with your consent obtained via propaganda.

If you find this suggestion offensive, if you can’t get past your love of Greta Thunberg to seriously entertain these ideas, consider that perhaps the propaganda is working as intended.

 

 

[Guy Crittenden is an environment and business journalist and award-winning book author (The Year of Drinking Magic: Twelve Ceremonies with the Vine of Souls, Apocryphile Press) based in Innisfil, Ontario, Canada and Principal of Crittenden Communication. Contact Guy at guy@crittendencommunication.com]

The Global Climate Strikes: No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline

The Global Climate Strikes: No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline

October 6, 2019

By Cory Morningstar

 

 

The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent series has been written in two volumes.

[Volume I: ACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT VACT VIAddenda I] [Book form]

[Volume II: An Object Lesson In SpectacleACT IACT IIACT IIIACT IVACT V • ACT VI] [ACTS VIII & IX forthcoming]

• A 100 Trillion Dollar Storytelling Campaign [A Short Story] [Oct 2 2019]

• The Global Climate Strikes: No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline [Oct 6 2019]

 

 

Financial Times, September 16, 2019

 

No, this was not co-optation. This was and is PR. A brief timeline:

  • 2009: G20 gathering in London: The world’s major economies come together to stem the global financial panic triggered by the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market in the US (and subsequent unprecedented bailouts for corporations and banks). They assure society that they will establish a more stable growth path going forward.
  • 2009: UN works on the prospect of a Global Green New Deal to reboot the global economic system. It simultaneously works on tools to assign monetary value to all nature, global in scale, with the goal of creating new markets (TEEB – later to be absorbed by the Natural Capital Coalition).
  • 2009-2019: In the years that followed the 2009 assurances to contain panic in markets and salvage a battered financial system, growth – crucial to keeping the capitalist economic system afloat – failed to find a firm footing.
  • 2011: IMF: “We have entered what I have called a dangerous new phase… today, we risk losing the battle for growth. With dark clouds over Europe, and huge uncertainty in the United States, we risk a collapse in global demand. This challenge could not be more urgent. In our interconnected world, we are all on one boat. Any thought of decoupling is a mirage.” — The Path Forward—Act Now and Act Together, opening address to the 2011 Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, managing director, International Monetary Fund
  • 2014: Global economy continues to spiral downward. “Capitalism is in danger of falling apart”, Al Gore, Generation Investment, The Climate Reality Project
  • 2014: Purpose (PR arm of Avaaz): Language of “green economy” is killed in order to save “green economy”. They will build it, but they won’t say they are building it.
  • 2014: People’s Climate March. The march was organized by GCCA/TckTckTck (co-founded by 20 NGOs including 350.org, Avaaz, Greenpeace), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Climate Nexus (a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors), 350.org (incubated by the Rockefeller Foundation), the Rasmussen Foundation and USCAN.
  • 2014: We Mean Business is launched. Created with the assistance of many including then UNFCCC executive secretary Christina Figueres, Purpose (PR arm of Avaaz), and Greenpeace.
  • 2015: Global Youth Summit takes place (Keynotes: UN Figueres, Kumi Naidoo Greenpeace, 350.org McKibben), Climate Strike website is created.
  • 2015: The Paris Agreement largely attributed to Christina Figueres comes into fruition. [Further reading: This Changes Nothing – Clive L. Spash]
  • 2015: Mission Innovation (Breakthrough Energy, Bill Gates, Richard Branson et al.) partners with 23 states and the EU. Similar coalitions and partnerships follow (Under 2C, The Climate Group, etc.).
  • 2017: World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab: “Capitalism is in crisis”
  • 2018: A teleconference led by a 350.org/Fossil Free representative with Climate Reality Project (Al Gore’s NGO) proposes a large climate march. Greta Thunberg partakes in this call as well as others that transpire. The idea of a strike is presented. Thunberg is receptive
  • May 2018: Ingmar Rentzhog, founder and CEO of We Don’t Have Time, is featured at a climate event with Greta’s mother Malena Ernman.
  • June 2018: Greta Thunberg social media accounts are created.
  • Summer/Fall 2018: The Green New Deal (promoted by UN in 2009) is resurrected.
  • July 2018: The Climate Group, co-founder of We Mean Business, promotes This Is Zero Hour climate strikes in the US utilizing the hashtag #WeDontHave Time [“Join the youth revolution!”]
  • August 20 2018: Greta sits on a sidewalk with a sign. Rentzhog discovers “the lonely girl”. We Don’t Have Time, partner of The Climate Reality Project, and Global Utmaning (Global Challenge) are interconnected by board relationships.
  • August 20 2018: On the first day of strike, the third person to respond to the “lonely girl” plight on Twitter is We Mean Business co-founder Callum Grieve. He adds the hashtag #WeDontHaveTime and tags five additional accounts: The Climate Museum, Youth Climate March LA, This is Zero Hour Ft. Lauderdale, Greenpeace International, and the UNFCCC, the “official Twitter account of UN Climate Change”.
  • We Mean Business

    We Mean Business represents 477 investors with 34 trillion USD in assets. [July 4, 2019]

    We Mean Business Founding Partners

    The founding partners of We Mean Business are BSR, CDP, Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group, The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG), and the WBCSD. Together, these organizations represent the most powerful – and ruthless – corporations on the planet, groups salivating to unleash 100 trillion dollars to fuel the fourth industrial revolution – pushed by the World Economic Forum.

    We Mean Business Co-founder Callum Grieve

    Grieve is the co-founder and director of Counter Culture, a brand development firm specializing in behavioural change campaigns and storytelling. He also created Climate Week NYC for The Climate Group. Grieve has coordinated high-level climate change communications campaigns and interventions for the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and several Fortune 500 companies.

    Behavioural Change Campaigns and Storytelling

    Grieve also manages the Every Breath Matters campaign founded by Christiana Figueres, the former UNFCCC Executive Secretary credited with the Paris Agreement. Every Breath Matters “champions” include Leonardo DiCaprio and Greta Thunberg.

    World Economic Forum UN Partnership Effective June 13, 2019

    The co-founder of Counter Culture is head of climate initiatives at the World Economic Forum, and former campaign director of the We Mean Business RE100 initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP.

  • August 20 2018: Also on the first day of the strike – the “lonely girl” plight is shared Sasja Beslik, international financial expert (WEF), head of Sustainable Finance, Nordea Bank.
  • Fall 2018: New Deal for Nature and Voice For The Planet campaigns commence. Exploiting an increasingly anxious citizenry, utilizing emotive images and language, these campaigns are in fact, not to “save nature”, rather, they are to monetize nature, global in scale.
  • September 1 2018: Only 12 days after her first day sitting on a sidewalk, Greta is featured in The Guardian.
  • September 2018: The largest-ever philanthropic investment to combat climate change is announced by ClimateWorks, largest recipient of climate philanthropy in the world.
  • September 26 2018: Thunberg appears at a seminar organized by The Climate Reality Project and Global Utmaning (Thunberg’s father denies any relationship or affiliation with Global Unmanning).
  • September 26 2018: The Climate Finance Partnership – a vehicle for blended finance – is unveiled at the One Planet Summit.
  • October 31 2018: Launch of XR global expansion is highlighted by The Guardian and endorsed by an array of liberal celebrity signatories.
  • XR global expansion takes place in partnership with The Climate Mobilization Project.
  • January 3 2019: “Global economic growth ‘now in free fall'”
  • January 2019: Christiana Figueres brings Greta Thunberg to Davos where they share accommodations.
  • January 2019: International media amplifies “The House is on Fire” Thunberg speech delivered at WEF. The message and delivery mirror the stratagem laid out in The Climate Mobilization (XR partner) paper “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement.” (“Imagine there is a fire in your house.”)
  • January 2019: Davos, Switzerland – “Standing outside in the pitch-black cold at the World Economic Forum on January 23, 2019, a panel including Future Earth and partners announced to a live audience their intent to launch an Earth Commission.”
  • February 2019: Joint event with European Commission president and Thunberg where it is announced that 25% of the EU budget will go to climate change initiatives. Unbeknownst to the public, this decision was made in 2018.
  • July 2019: Business For Nature is launched. The coalition founders are We Mean Business, the World Economic Forum, The Nature Conservancy, WWF, the Natural Capital Coalition, the World Resources Institute, the IUCN, The Food and Land Use Coalition, Confederation of Indian Industry, Entreprises pour l’Environnement (EpE), Tropical Forest Alliance, and the International Chamber of Commerce.
  • August 2018 to Summer 2019: An international media assault on the populace featuring Greta Thunberg, adored and promoted by the ruling classes, corporations, institutions, World Bank and finance – this is coupled with apocalyptic media saturation. In effect – the multiple ecological crises which have been increasing over decades, is now being fully exploited as a means to manufacture consent. Corporations and institutions seek 100 trillion dollars for “climate solutions”. The unlocking of pensions is identified as a prime target.
  • August 2018 to Summer 2019: The emergence of a green fascism. Those criticizing the said solutions or “movements” designed by the ruling class for our collective consumption are ridiculed and subjected to hate.
  • August 2018 to Summer 2019: Western “environmentalism” creates demand for the further plundering of the planet in order to “save” the climate – in essence, a globally mobilized de facto green lobby group. The planned “climate” infrastructure eyes the Global South. The scale is massive: equates to the building of a New York City – every single month for the next forty years. Despite the fact that this cannot be squared with protection of biodiversity or the climate, the populace clamours for those in power (who are responsible for the crisis) to “do something” and align with the suicidal Paris Agreement.
  • February 20 2019: We Mean Business and Global Optimist (founded by Christiana Figueres, funded by We Mean Business), highlight the reaction to the climate campaign now well underway: “People are desperate for something to happen”.
  • April 2019: The Rockefeller Foundation closes its 100 Resilient Cities initiative, joins the Atlantic Council to launch a new center. [Explored in Volume II, Act VII]
  • June 13 2019: The World Economic Forum – representing the richest and most powerful people on the planet – forms a partnership with United Nations.
  • July 2019: “US philanthropists vow to raise millions for climate activists” – The Climate Emergency Fund is launched. Serving on the board is 350.org founder Bill McKibben and Margaret Klein Salamon founder and executive director of The Climate Mobilization (partner to Extinction Rebellion) and author of the paper “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement.”
  • September 2019: Greta Thunberg sails across the ocean in a yacht to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit organized and led by We Mean Business and the World Economic Forum (now partnered with the United Nations).
  • September 16 2019: The Financial Times unveils its largest campaign since 2009: The New Agenda – a re-booting of the capitalist system
  • September 18 2019: Conservation International and the *Food and Land Use Coalition finance the “Natural Climate Solutions” promotional video featuring Guardian’s Monbiot and Greta Thunberg. The video reaches more than 1 billion people in less than 24 hours. [*Member foundations include ClimateWorks, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, Good Energies, and Margaret Cargill.]
  • September 19 2019: WEF releases promotional video featuring Greta Thunberg for “Voices For The Planet”. This is the WEF-WWF campaign for the financialization of nature, global in scale (payments for ecosystem services) that accompanies the “New Deal For Nature” promoted by WWF, CI, The Natural Capital Coalition, TNC, etc.. Supported by Greenpeace, 350.org, etc. who are not yet publicly promoting it.
  • September 20 2019: Global Climate Strikes take place.
  • September 2019: Many smaller NGOs, including those from the Global South oppose the WEF-UN Partnership. Avaaz, Greenpeace, 350, etc. are conspicuously absent from the signatories.
  • September 26 2019: The UN calls for a Global Green New Deal (bailout).
  • September to October 2019: Arnold Schwarzenegger arranges a Tesla for Greta to tour Canada and visit Standing Rock reservation.
  •  

    Take Away Points

    We dance to the tune of our oppressors

     

    “The ruling class exists, it’s not a conspiracy theory. They operate as a class, too. They share the same values, the same sensibility and in Europe and North America they are white. They act in accordance with their interests, which are very largely identical. The failure to understand this is the single greatest problem and defect in left discourse today.”

     

    — John Steppling

     

  • Climate change is real – but capitalism is the crisis.
  • The structure of the system is working exactly as it is designed to. The NPIC exists to insulate the current power structures and capital itself.
  • Economic growth is sacrosanct – to those in power, and those it serves. Economic growth trumps all priorities including life itself.
  • The Thunberg campaign belongs to the ruling class, not to the people.
  • A decade of social engineering (“together”) has effectively erased class analysis, which is a massive blow, and even a betrayal, to the working class and peasantry.
  • The West is under the rule of a corporatocracy, therefore voting is a massive distraction and spectacle that will never solve or mitigate our ecological crisis.
  • The same system that created the crisis will not and cannot now rectify the crises. The same people that protected and defended this system will do anything and exploit anyone to keep it intact.
  • The NGOs comprising the NPIC must be isolated, shamed and abandoned. The exact methods they use against radical activists and radical grassroots groups. Without the support of the people, they lose all power and influence (and then funding).
  • A litmus test must be placed on all organizations that claim to fight for ecological and social justice: They must be united in opposition to imperialism/colonialism, militarism, white supremacy and patriarchy – all leading drivers of climate change and ecological devastation.
  • Capitalism will destroy everything in its path. Either we kill capitalism, or capitalism will kill us.
  •  

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

    Colorado’s Scripted Environmentalism is an Impostor for the Real Thing

    Colorado’s Scripted Environmentalism is an Impostor for the Real Thing

    Boulder Weekly

    September 27, 2019

    Joel Dyer

     

    By 2011, when my family came face to face with fracking, Colorado was already 40,000 wells into “responsible oil and gas development.” At that time, politicians, industry and various Democratic Party front groups tightly controlled how people and communities were allowed to object. That tight control allowed wells to be drilled in a predictable and orderly way under a grand project former Governor Bill Ritter and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) called the New Energy Economy.

    Around 2012, a few communities broke from that scripted model of environmentalism. Longmont enacted a fracking ban. Although primarily a ban on a drilling technique, many of us in Lafayette misinterpreted Longmont’s ban as expansive, community-led civil disobedience for the environment and took off from there. Nonetheless, this first shot across the bow drove new ballot initiatives, organizing and protest that the political class just wasn’t used to. The situation got bad enough that then Governor John Hickenlooper, after joining the COGA lawsuit against Longmont in 2013, was effectively run out of that town by a group of 300 angry residents.

    The place was never the same again. That said, the political forces behind oil and gas attempted to rein in rebellious communities and force them back to the original script.

    At every stage, little grassroots efforts like our own East Boulder County United were attacked over and over for pointing out how this process of political weakening, aka scripted environmentalism, works and to what effect. Behind it all is the state’s compulsion to force people back to the political class’s original definition of “environmentalism”:

    1) A subservient and codependent relationship with the Democratic Party

    2) Activism dominated by professionals, who are in continual need of funding sources

    3) Demands that rely for resolution on the same system that created the ecological disaster Colorado has become.

    4) An acceptance that environmentalism is a negotiation between the political class, industry and communities around the terms by which environmental exploitation will take place.

    These elements are as much the nature of scripted environmentalism today as they were in 2011. In fact, 2011’s version of state-sanctioned environmentalism, which was referred to as the “Colorado Model” by political and industry insiders, was and still is being exported nationally.

    Nearly all environmental groups now work within this model. And now that the state is turning the corner on approving another 6,000 drilling permits, the “important” people are once again acting from a pre-2012 script. “The Colorado oil and gas wars are over,” is the new refrain of current Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Boulder Representative K.C. Becker. Unfortunately, it’s a line from a play about promoting the free flow of investment money and oil profits — not saving the environment.

    There is deep political toxicity on the shale. The Boulder political class and its allies need to erase their long partnership and complicity with the oil and gas industry. That is why grassroots groups like East Boulder County United are so deeply opposed to what is happening. We are informed by history, educated by it, and must now act because of it. It’s my opinion that there’s no turning back for the Democrats or the rest of the world, Colorado included. The political class better get used to losing the narrative and make way for the people. The global environmental apocalypse is only going to make this battle far sharper.

     

    [Cliff Willmeng – is a real activist]

    American Psychopathy

    American Psychopathy

    September 20, 2019

    by John Steppling

    “American Psychopathy”

     

     

    American Psycho (1991) by Bret Easton Ellis

     

    “Not only are we not going to have wars between major powers in this era of fascist upsurge (of course, as will be discussed, we shall have other wars), but, by the same token, this fascist upsurge will not burn out through any cataclysmic war. What we are likely to see is a lingering fascism of less murderous intensity, which, when in power, does not necessarily do away with all the forms of bourgeois democracy, does not necessarily physically annihilate the opposition, and may even allow itself to get voted out of power occasionally. But since its successor government, as long as it remains within the confines of the neoliberal strategy, will also be incapable of alleviating the crisis, the fascist elements are likely to return to power as well. And whether the fascist elements are in or out of power, they will remain a potent force working toward the fascification of the society and the polity, even while promoting corporate interests within a regime of globalization of finance, and hence permanently maintaining the “partnership between big business and fascist upstarts.”

     

    – Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik (Monthly Review, July 1st, 2019)

     

    “The poor shall inherit the earth or there will be no earth left to inherit.”

     

    – John Bellemy Foster (Monthly Review, 2019)

     

    “The people want wholesome dread. They want to fear something. They want someone to frighten them and make them shudderingly submissive.”

     

    – Ernst Rohm (Hitler’s chief of the SA)

    There seems to be two branches of what I see as a drive toward global domination, global hegemony, by the ruling class. One is the Trump phenomenon and the narratives and political actions that accompany his presidency (often in the background). Second is the new ruling corporate control of environmentalism.

    I quote Cory Morningstar a lot and that is with good reason. Its nearly impossible to pull quotes from her work because there are too many choices. Read the entirety of it.

    There is a lot to read and it might be useful to start at the end, with the most recent material, and work backwards. But I will return to this. The linkage between Trump’s cartoon presidency and the corporate takeover of environmentalism is anchored in recognizing the magic thinking involved, but more, to stop and recognize that the manufacturing of narratives here is really about a manufacturing of obedience to authority. Especially in our post modern (sic) epoch, *institutional authority*. And to see that Trump is only carrying out policy sanctioned and supported by the ruling class (and perfectly amenable to the DNC). Now one need look no further than Hollywood to see the outlines of narrative change. The rehabilitation of fascism is everywhere. In everything. The normalizing of fascist style helps normalize and make coherent the presidency of Don Trump.

    Much has been written about the CIA and Department of Defense infiltration of Hollywood. There are numerous obvious storytelling staples; the problems in any global situation are the result of a few bad apples or rogue agents. It is never that the institution is corrupt or intentionally causing death and suffering.

    “The content of film and television is directly, regularly, and secretly determined by the US government, led by the CIA and Pentagon. More visible since the 1980s is what we identify as a distinct genre: ‘national security cinema’—namely, those films that follow self-serving official histories and exalt in the righteousness of US foreign policy. ( ) National security entertainment promotes violent, self-regarding, American-centric solutions to international problems based on twisted readings of history. However, even those products that don’t meet such a lamentable yardstick are still to some degree designed to recruit personnel and, in doing so, must adhere to the desired self-image of the national security state. ”

     

    – Matthew Alford, Tom Secker (National Security Cinema – Government Control in Hollywood)

    There is a constant pro war slant to nearly all films that even indirectly touch on U.S. politics and/or the government. The first given is that war is inevitable and when involving the U.S. military it is a necessary and beneficent activity. There is a tacit and often openly direct support and praise of mass surveillance — even on ordinary citizens or citizens of friendly nations. The world is depicted as if threat existed on every corner and such trifles as torture or political manipulations are both routine and absolutely crucial to keep you, the viewer, safe. The message is always that new dangers are unprecedented and unique. Civil liberties are treated with the same contempt Obama showed for them. The exaggeration of threat, in fact, runs through nearly everything in mass media. There is also an exaggeration of the abilities of the surveillance industry (one aspect of the new magical thinking).

    But the really pernicious aspect of government influence in media comes in more subtle forms. The most prominent of which is the normalizing of not just illegal military or CIA activity, but the normalizing of and encouragement to fawn before authority, to trust said authority, and to feel OK about one’s own attraction to those knee high Nazi jack boots, or the shiny nickel plated Sig Sauer 9mm the hero is fondling. So routine is the seduction of the audience with technologies of violence that it passes without comment. Directors and DPs automatically default to having the camera caress the gun, tank, rifle, or uniform. This extends to domestic U.S. police forces, too. It is allowable to show sadistic cops on occasion because sadism itself is acceptable, and even sort of sexy. It is allowable to show the U.S. interfering in the political elections of foreign sovereign states because any nation not the United States (and U.K.) will benefit from said interference. And here another branch of this propaganda should be noted ( which will segue nicely back to Trump and environmentalism) and that is white supremacism. The single constant in narratives from Hollywood is that of American exceptionalism. And really, the examples are just too numerous to list. The ideological footprint of ruling class values is indelible and unchanging. Wealth is a virtue and the rich are responsible, and when they are not they are punished by others in the 1%. Just like the new corporate environmentalism, the message is, let the ruling class decide.

    The values of the ruling classes in the U.S. and U.K. are always evident if one only looks. (So much has changed since those emigre German Jewish directors fled to Hollywood in the 40s). And of course lip service is, to a degree, paid to fairness and equality, but never to any idea of economic equality or social influence. That is the province of the very rich and aristocratic. Which is why I find it so curious that many of the left (pseudo or soft left) don’t even blink when those with honorifics before their name, with royal titles, issue proclamations about climate change or overpopulation or new Green corporate solutions. These are always white people, mind you. I mean African Kings don’t count. Tribal elders don’t count. The British aristocracy are very big on preserving their privileges at game preserves and France remains a colonial administrator in its former African holdings (see Uranium mining). But more than that, of course, the ruling class is the face of the new environmentalism. Unless its an Asperger’s fifteen year old who increasingly (and painfully) appears in distress and cognitive confusion. This is not an attack on Greta, that attack is being carried out by the white billionaire faces of western capital. But I will be accused of attacking her, and that in itself is an aspect of how the new propaganda works.

    Which reminds me, where are all the black (African or otherwise) climate experts? The only one, really, is Warren Washington. The new Green feels very white. Facing monumental problems of pollution, both on land and perhaps especially in oceans, people have retreated to very non political positions that are either a kind of Hollywood disaster apocalypse fantasy, or new age smart phone Gaia anthropomorphism. I wrote before about the demand that everyone submit to the consensus- – meaning not that the earth is getting warmer or even why, but the moral hand wringing and outrage at those not submitting. The demand is that one join in the outrage and alarmism. The very term *denialism* suggests the typical bourgeois response to anything disruptive of their privilege. The constant outpouring of articles, in mainstream glossy magazines (and their cyber equivalents) and news outlets are always framed a certain way. A recent social media post by Keith Harmon Snow on a lay out in National Geographic laid it out this way..

    “With help from National Geographic and Proctor and Gamble (P&G), you can save the world. ACTIVATE. Be a good Global Citizen.

     

    This is corporate greenwashing and corporate capitalism steering or creating “social justice” movements that will serve capitalism, while expropriating true social justice and true social justice movements, and thereby diffusing and destroying any valid legitimate meaningful POTENTIAL social movements. P&G is a nasty chemical/pharmaceutical/medical industrial giant responsible for Toxic carcinogenic products, price-fixing, palm oil monoculture plantations, child slavery, media propaganda, testing on animals, false advertising and massive pollution and other forms of destruction of the environment. Did you know that P&G produced the first home radio and TV serials, and because P&G was known for manufacturing detergents, these became known as “Soap operas”?

     

    This is racist white supremacist whitewashing. Using images of smiling indigenous people, in full (airbrushed) color, in their natural or unnatural environments, for malicious propaganda purposes. Propaganda = perception management. National Geographic is a racist corporate platform that cannot ever be trusted. (Pretty pictures, though; though generally and almost always decontextualized).”

    The entire thrust of the new corporate and billionaire backed projects on climate action are there to preserve a hierarchical status quo. It is to rescue Capitalism itself. And the implications of much of it are near genocidal. I think it is not an accident that the grave problems of industrial pollution (just think the waste sites for cyber technology) are relatively forgotten in these narratives from the ruling class. Those waste sites are in the poorest countries on earth, they are not outside Bethesda,Maryland or in Connecticut. And these new marketing campaigns, employing massive guilt inducing techniques of persuasion, have created a fairly safe and morally superior niche psychic space for the haute bourgeoisie to look down on the problems that their class created and attribute them to either the poor, or just the anodyne *everyone*.

    The term 6th Mass Extinction gets a lot of usage. Its a marketers dream, actually. In fact the first time I heard that term I thought, wow, that is gonna have traction. If you just said oh, we’re all going to die off in a half century you would not garner this kind of following. But give it a kind of pseudo brand, specify it, make it special — not just extinction, but SIXTH mass extinction….and the white boogie class will fall over themselves salivating. Its pure seduction. Its like a kind of generalized identification with something bigger than you. Even though its also a sort of pessimism selfie. It sounds smarty pants to say, too. Oh we’re in the SIXTH mass extinction don’t you know.

    There is almost no dialogue about this stuff. There are proclamations. Public life is carried out by proclamation and twitter. Meanwhile the U.S. election season has arrived. And never before, perhaps, has the Democratic Party put on such a pathetic show. Joe Biden can barely speak. Its senile gibberish half the time. The other front runner — and clearly now the candidate of western capital, is Elizabeth Warren. Im wondering how those rimless spectacles will play west of the Rockies. Not well …which is fine because the Democrats don’t want to win this one. This is Trump time. For only a man mentored at the feet of Roy Cohn could so effortlessly usher in the theatrical presentation of full blown fascism to America. Trump normalizes old school fascism. Everything can be blamed on Trump. And that is what the ruling class wants, you see. If Biden has an embolism and Warren turns out to be just too bookish (appearing) then there is always the black cop, Kamala Harris (whose future is likely as a federal DA) or Bernie. Except Bernie doesn’t want the nomination. That’s not his gig. The loud mouthed and utterly opportunistic shill will be what he always was, a ballot bag man for the more telegenic DNC candidates of choice. There is also the potential for a late comer to the DRC party. Too early for AOC (who may be, actually, too dumb for national electoral politics. And that bar has been set very low. Think Dan Quayle) and Chelsea (Clinton not Manning, although…), but its not impossible to think someone out there might provide better optics than Biden or Warren.

    The debates themselves are so idiotic, so inane and nearly literally infantile, that it is hard to gain a clear picture of what the public thinks they are watching. But then the sub-literacy of America is stunning to behold. And perhaps the loss of even the most basic moral coherency among the bourgeoisie is resulting in the stultifying character of the Spectacle these days. The sordid and unsettling saga of cheerleader and killer (er…corpse abuser) Skyler Richardson is sort of the avatar for this era. A society that produces a Skyler Richardson …and one that cannot find the means to deal with her crimes…is a terribly sick place. But then this is also the era of drone assassination on order of the President (Obama) which took the life of a teenage citizen of the U.S. This is the era in which Julian Assange is driven toward complete physical and mental collapse by the state, for releasing the truth to the public while Mike Pompeo brags about lying. An era of wanton wholesale lying at the state level (think the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Syria, Venezuela, North Korea, Iran). Wholesale lying of a kind that the public is now utterly inured to –a lying that is expected and anticipated. A persistent assault of lies and distortions that have all but eroded the very idea of the truth. But then this an era in which transparent visible stupidity is more asset than detriment. And the problem is that crimes and viciousness of those in power …both in the U.K. and U.S. is just not answered. The Grenfell Tower fire is another avatar of class violence today. Boris Johnson (Kipling admirer and open OPEN overt racist) now is the head of state for Great Britain. But he is the shadow of Trump. A pale homunculus version of the Donald. And the hair. I mean, the hair?

    But the vast militarism of the U.S. and its proxies is polluting enormous areas of earth, killing sea mammals and indoctrinating hundreds of thousands of ill educated poor kids to the joys of shooting Arab families, the pleasures of torture, and career building bullying seems to have exceeded all limits of rationality. A military system that teaches hate and racism and xenophobia. A system that tolerates (at the very least) rape. A military that gets something like 5 billion dollars a day to play with. And all those democrats on stage this week, ALL of them signed off on more militarism.

    Someone said to me this week, when I mentioned Bernie’s attack on Maduro and Chavez, ‘well, he has to say that, he’s trying to win an election’. He *HAS* to say it. He is forced to lie. They have a gun to his dog’s head. Or, more likely, that bellowing fool probably believes it. Why does anyone like Bernie? Honestly, I get Liz Warren. The college educated white liberal finds their mirror ideal image in Warren. I get Biden even. He is familiar. And shit, Reagan was senile and barely able to actually speak in complete sentences and yet he was labeled ‘the great communicator’. So senility has its charms for America it seems. But Bernie is so nakedly disingenuous and mendacious. I don’t get it.

    “Transformations in the economic base of the system and its accompanying class structures have changed the conditions for the exercise of power. Political domination is now expressed through a new-style “political class” and a media clergy, both dedicated exclusively to serving the abstract capitalism of generalized monopolies. The ideology of the “individual as king” and the illusions of the “movement” that wants to transform the world, even “change life”(!)—without posing the question of workers and peoples seizing power—only reinforce capital’s new methods of exercising power.”

     

    – Samir Amin (Monthly Review, July 2019)

    The above paragraph is a useful description of contemporary capitalism and a cogent comment on the various new green deals or extinction rebellions etc. And set against the surreal comedy of the U.S. election season, the new Corporate environmentalists are paving the way for normalizing a global state of emergency. If one thinks back just a bit, the Boston Marathon bombing was the front edge for testing how compliant the population might be when their city is being shut down. Totally compliant was the answer. And this is going to be the tactic. Declare a state of emergency that is for your own good.

    “The sober images of Thunberg, as depicted and shared by the Climate Group, and the media at large, are very much intentional as outlined in the document “Leading the Public into Emergency Mode: A New Strategy for the Climate Movement“published by The Climate Mobilization:

     

    ‘The way we respond to threats — by entering emergency mode or by remaining in normal mode — is highly contagious. Imagine the fire alarm goes off in an office building. How seriously should you take it? How do you know if it is a drill or a real fire? Those questions will be predominantly answered by the actions and communications of the people around you, particularly people designated as leaders. If they are chatting and taking their time exiting the building, you will assume that this is a drill. If people are moving with haste, faces stern and focused, communicating with urgency and gravity, you will assume there is real danger and exit as quickly as possible.’”

     

    – Cory Morningstar (ibid)

    Just the title, We Mean Business. None of this, of course, has anything to do with saving life and protecting the planet. None has anything to do with a radical de-militarizing of the Imperialist states. Nobody is suggesting the rich change the way they live. You poor folks, well, yeah, you might have to change a little (and oh, live in a FEMA camp, but not forever….we don’t think). Allow me to just pick one bio here, from Morningstar’s work, to illustrate the fascistic ideology of those driving so much of this new marketed environmentalism. Executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) from 2010 to 2016, is the very privileged Christina Figueres, late of Georgetown and the London School of Economics , an anthropologist and economist who presided over the UN climate negotiations that culminated in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

    “Although meticulous in detail, Figueres biography on her personal website neglects to disclose her royal connection to Costa Rica. On Figueres’ lengthy Wikipedia entry, it is disclosed, in a single sentence, that her father, José Figueres Ferrer, served as President of Costa Rica on three separate occasions. In August 1953, the Guatemalan Communist paper, Octubre, characterized the new president of Costa Rica, José “Don Pepe” Figueres, as an “unconditional servant of American imperialism” and the latest “United Fruit Company President.” Both pro-American and anti-communist, José Figueres supported the 1954 Guatemalan coup d’état overthrowing Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán, President of Guatemala from 1951 to 1954. [Further reading: Resistance and Accommodation: The United States and the Nationalism of José Figueres, 1953–1957.]

     

    Figueres’ mother, Karen Olsen Beck, served as Costa Rican Ambassador to Israel in 1982 and was a member of the Costa Rica Legislative Assembly.

     

    Figueres’ brother José María Figueres also served as President of Costa Rica from 1994 to 1998. In 2013, he co-founded the Global Ocean Commission, an initiative funded by the Pew Charitable Trust, the Adessium Foundation in the Netherlands, and U.S. philanthropic group Oceans 5. Former Greenpeace adviser Simon Reddy would serve as the commission’s executive secretary. [Source] María Figueres serves as chair to the Global Ocean Commission (since rebranded to Mission Ocean) with David Miliband (recently featured on the Global Optimism podcast series), and Trevor Manuel (one of South Africa’s longest serving Ministers of Finance, now Minister in the Presidency and head of the National Planning Commission). The original members of the Global Ocean Commission remain unchanged in 2019 with one member having deceased. Members include John Podesta (chair of the Center for American Progress and a former White House chief of staff and member of the ClimateWorks board of directors), Sri Mulyani Indrawati (managing director and chief operating officer of the World Bank Group), Pascal Lamy (former director-general of the World Trade Organisation) and other high profile individuals. María Figueres is also the co-founder of Ocean Unite. This is important, as the oceans are set to be privatized under the “New Deal For Nature” scheme.”

     

    Cory Morningstar (ibid)

    Again, anti communism, and all the usual fingerprints of U.S. imperial foreign policy. Its like six degrees of fascist separation. And yet I guarantee you will read her quotes in any number of articles on climate change and green new deals. For again, the template has always been, let the ruling class decide.

    Figueres is also a “distinguished member” of Conservation International — along with chairman for Northrop Grumman, and Al Gore, and oh, a former Walmart chairman. Not to mention Figueres married Konrad Von Ritter of the World Bank. But yeah, I’m sure Greta knew all this when she accepted the invite.

    Infantile and intoxicated with an almost masochistic love of authority. That is the average American today. The problem with the new (sic) environmentalism is that it is driven by western interests, and the narrative shaped by western interests. There is more than just a residual racism involved, it is there at the very most basic level. The narratives that are shaping today’s generation are largely the products of Langely and the DoD, and increasingly they feature a nostalgic rehabilitation of fascist style (at first) and now content. Fascism is becoming fashionable. Its cool. And the fascism of Trump is a bit like the McGuffin of this master narrative. Trump’s cartoon twitter fascism is decried while legitimate fascist principles are being more inextricably and quietly baked into daily life.

    The U.S. Imperialist state knows a global crises is coming. And probably the most acute area will be water. When there is a clear unanimity among global capitalists, one should see this as a symptom — and distrust the narrative. Whatever the exact degree of environmental harm due specifically to climate change, there is the undeniable desperation among the ruling elite. And an undeniable crises of pollution. If royalty and billionaires are flocking to exploit the Greta phenomenon (and to help shape that narrative), one should be highly suspicious of the solutions and strategies being offered. The fact that militarism and the packaging industry are relatively ignored in the presentation of the new green movement suggests more suspicion. Instead of *everyone* not using straws or single use plastic bags, how about just stop producing them.

    The ruling class today has doubled down on smearing communism and socialism. The manufacturing of new kitsch demonized bios of Mao or Ho Chi Minh or Thomas Sankara… or even the Black Panthers suggests fear. Substitute Ocasio-Cortez for real socialism, call Bernie a socialist, too, and then pretend much of the new faux left (infiltrated by crack pot LaRouche-ites and various forms of libertarianism) is oppositional and argue with it — the better to disappear real socialist literature (see Google and Facebook censorship). Praise the most innocuous apolitical philosophy (or just the Nazi metaphysics of Heidegger) of post structuralism while, again, disappearing the work of Marx or Lenin and discredit an Adorno or a Gramsci. Or, make sure such work is taken out of context. And in fine arts applaud identity based banality and then disappear the working class voice. And then keep prescribing mind numbing drugs. Reduce public education to simple training in compliance. And keep praising those in uniform. Always.

    “Thus madness reappears in the very posture which pretends to fight it.”

     

    – Guy Debord (Society of the Spectacle)

     

    “Despite this opposition, neoliberal capitalism cannot ward off the challenge it is facing for long. It has no vision for reinventing itself. Interestingly, in the period after the First World War, when capitalism was on the verge of sinking into a crisis, the idea of state intervention as a way of its revival had already been mooted, though its coming into vogue only occurred at the end of the Second World War. Today, neoliberal capitalism does not even have an idea of how it can recover and revitalize itself. And weapons like domestic fascism in the third world and direct imperialist intervention cannot for long save it from the anger of the masses that is building up against it.”

     

    – Utsa Patnaik and Prabhat Patnaik (ibid)

    I keep reading about how unprecedented was Hurricane Dorian. Well, no. The legendary Galveston hurricane of 1900 remains the single greatest natural made tragedy in U.S. History. (and the second greatest was The Okeechobee Hurricane of 1928, and then Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Maria along with the The Chenière Caminada Hurricane of 1893). The environmental crises is real. The marketing of it is not necessary. Why then does it exist.

    Once upon a time they wrote songs about human tragedies. Dylan might be the last songwriter to address tragedy.

    As Sam Collins wrote on the youtube video of Sin Killer Griffin’s recording of Wasn’t it a Mighty Storm, a song about the Galveston tragedy..courtesy of John Lomax…

    “there were many songs. But the one that has endured, deservingly, is called “Wasn’t That a Mighty Storm” – which, from what we know, began life as a spiritual in the black church.

    At least the church seems to be the first place it surfaced into public view. Back in those days, almost every major public event inspired songs, which spread like text messages spread today, so the precise origin of songs is often hard to pin down.

    But “Wasn’t That a Mighty Storm” fit perfectly into the black spiritual tradition – a tale of hardship and trouble and the sometimes inscrutable hand of God with which we troubled sinners in this hard mortal world simply had to live.

    Part of it went like this:

    Galveston had a seawall
    To keep the water down,
    But the high tide from the ocean
    Washed water over the town.
    Wasn’t that a mighty storm!
    Oh, wasn’t that a mighty storm with water!
    Wasn’t that a mighty storm
    That blew all the people away!
    Their trumpets gave them warning,
    “You’d better leave this place.”
    They never thought of leaving
    Till death looked them in the face.
    Death like a cruel master,
    As the wind began to blow,
    Rode out on a train of horses.
    Death calls, you gotta go.

    It was not a happy song. But then, it was not a happy event – and topical songs of the early 20th century thrived on unhappy events. There were literally hundreds of songs about the sinking of the Titanic, dozens about the killer Mississippi floods of 1927.

    The song was apparently first recorded in 1934 by Library of Congress folk song collector John Lomax on a visit to Darrington State Farm, a prison in Sandy Point, Tex.

    Lomax’s recording was by a preacher named Sin-Killer Griffin, with the prison inmates serving as his congregation.

    Sin-Killer was a well-known preacher, with a mesmerizing delivery and full confidence in the name he had given himself. Death was a subject on which he preached frequently.

    Relatively little is known about his life, which makes it all the more intriguing that back in 1889, in Denton, Tex., a “Sin-Killer Griffin” tried to organize black Americans to invade Africa.

    There is some evidence this was the same Sin-Killer Griffin who resurfaced before John Lomax 45 years later, though we have no way of knowing for sure.”

     

    [John Steppling is an original founding member of the Padua Hills Playwrights Festival, a two-time NEA recipient, Rockefeller Fellow in theatre, and PEN-West winner for playwriting. Plays produced in LA, NYC, SF, Louisville, and at universities across the US, as well in Warsaw, Lodz, Paris, London and Krakow. Taught screenwriting and curated the cinematheque for five years at the Polish National Film School in Lodz, Poland. A collection of plays, Sea of Cortez & Other Plays was published in 1999, and his book on aesthetics, Aesthetic Resistance and Dis-Interest was published by Mimesis International in 2016.]

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