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Pacifism as Pathology

WATCH: Direct Action: Ann Hansen and the Squamish Five

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review via AK Press

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

 

 

 

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

Wrong Kind of Green

December 14, 2016

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

Part 6 – Conclusion

 

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

 

Coloured Devolutions

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

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

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Flood Wall Street marketing: Wear blue. #Other98

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Flood Wall Street marketing: Wear blue. #Other98

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Flood Wall Street marketing: Wear blue. #Other98

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Climate March Delhi India, September 2014. Wear blue.

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Standing Rock marketing. Wear blue. #Other98

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

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

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

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

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Solar Technology  | Marketing in 21st century anthropocentrism

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

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Wind turbine technology | Marketing in 21st century anthropocentrism

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

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

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Avaaz climate campaign

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

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

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

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

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

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CONCLUSION: Manufactured Activism & Rebranding Control of Dissent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Epilogue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding Netwar: Communication, Consciousness, and Social Engineering

Medium

November 14, 2016

By Jay Taber

View story at Medium.com

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

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

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

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

Bloodless Lies

The New Inquiry

November 2, 2016

By Lorenzo Raymond

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Wrong Kind of Green

category: News & Politics

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

11/2/2016

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

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

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

 

The North Dakota Frontlines: Between A Standing Rock And A Hard Place

Wrong Kind of Green

October 4, 2016

by Forrest Palmer with Cory Morningstar

 

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On the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, an indigenous uprising which captured national attention in August 2016 that those in power hope will be naturally extinguished due to time and conventional society’s short attention span on matters such as this (this characteristic best represented by the Occupy movement of a few years ago). The outward reason for the present uproar is the passage of North Dakota portion of the Bakken pipeline through the Standing Rock Sioux reservation that will intersect the area’s sacred burial grounds, and, critically, could pollute the freshwater source of the region’s inhabitants. As the American populace is wholly averse to addressing this to any great degree, the cause of the indigenous being cloistered in these remote, isolated and destitute lands is our desire to not recognize the last remaining reminders of the price that was paid in order to establish this so-called ‘land of the free and home of the brave’.  In particular, this movement has brought to light the fact that the mainstream public is totally ignorant about this particular reservation and the reservation system in general when it comes to the atrocious living conditions of the descendants of those domestically colonized in this country.

To understand the base of the anger residing in the participants of the uprising, it is necessary to take a closer look at the lifestyle of the people on the Standing Rock Reservation

 

These are all the endemic signs of a people who are wholly broken due to centuries of systemic abuses by their conquerors. Therefore, the question isn’t why are the Standing Rock Sioux citizens involved in this rebellion. The question is why is anyone shocked when being pushed past this limit has led to this inevitable outcome. But, just like the proverbial straw that has broken the camel’s back, this current injustice is the catalyst for pushing the rightly aggrieved people past their breaking point as a community.

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As detailed above, what is being unreported and overlooked in this uprising (which is one of the first steps to any revolution, with it yet to be determined if this will be the end result in this occasion) is the fact that life on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation is insufferably toxic and this current maneuver by the state at the behest of private industry will make it worse in the present and increasingly so in the future. But in order to truly ascertain the level of disinterest shown by the United States in its dealings with the government’s internally colonized descendants that currently reside in the grey area between ethnic cleansing and outright genocide, any unbiased individual need look no further than the behavior of United States in its dealings with defeated foes domestically and the ones internationally. As a specific case, the response by the United States in its treaties with the defeated foes of the Third Axis externally after World War II is the direct opposite of that implemented with the internal First Nations tribes. The treaties entered into by the United States with the defeated Axis powers and the resulting policies were totally in line with the promise to rebuild infrastructure that would be installed in the charred remains of Europe due to the war’s decimating effects, even those of its former enemies during the war. As the current successful state of the defeated combatants is a testament to the United States keeping its promise subsequent to its victory, it must be asked why is it that Nazi Germany, Imperialist Japan and Fascist Italy were given preferable treaty terms and the promises held fast to by the United States, which is in stark contrast to the historical treatment of a full-out genocide executed upon the remaining indigenous in this country, who are purported sovereign citizens of the United States.

The reason being is that the Marshall Plan, the United States economic framework of rebuilding Western Europe and Southeast Asia, and its attending policies were beneficial to the economic strength and growth of power of the United States, which allowed it to become the present and primary global entity. Hence, the United States had an economic reason to rebuild the broken shards of these areas that comprised the war theaters. Oppositely, there never has been and never will be an economic incentive for the United States to invest and fortify the reservations or support the people who inhabit them since their prosperity will never be a benefit to capitalism, but a drain on its precarious and ever dwindling resources.

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Photo: Terray Sylvester

To further illustrate the removal of the indigenous from the consciousness of almost all the people internal to the country who aren’t a part of the First Nation communities, the invisibility of the native in comparison to every other non-anglo furthers their collective removal from any discussion in terms of white supremacy and its deleterious effects on internal non-European populations. The closest in proximity to the tangible aspects of impoverishment and oppression of the indigenous in the U.S. would be the black and brown communities, identified as the descendants of the formally enslaved Africans and Latins from south of the U.S. border, respectively. Yet, in this particular instance, the black and brown U.S. citizens reside in a much better position due to the necessity of their particular existences in comparison to the decimated First Nation populations, who are congregated in the farthest outposts of the United States. The fact that black and brown people exist in areas close to the hubs of capitalism of major cities in the United States (as they always have been) and still are a necessary form of labor in an expression of white supremacy by historically doing jobs that anglos were and are unwilling to do means that any uprising these communities participated in would be disruptive to the economic system of capitalism that is the foundation of national prosperity. As the First Nations people reside in land that is far removed from the primary places and industries of which commerce is reliant upon, any comparable disruption in their present areas will have no effect upon the everyday ability of capitalism to function.

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Therefore, unlike every other non-anglo ethnicity in the country that can have some type of effect on the system, the indigenous population can remain isolated and unheard with no means of popular acknowledgement in terms of its ever present painful condition. Tragically, the only reason that this agony is heard to any degree presently and any problems addressed to any facile measure is to allow the dominant culture to not acknowledge that it has effectively decimated the entirety of the indigenous population while at the same time not deal with the guilt (if there would be any) of delivering the final death blow of genocide that has always been the unspoken threat directed at the relative handful of people still residing in the United States. Ultimately, if it wasn’t for this piece of pipeline that will only stretch a few miles into the region of the Standing Rock Reservation, there would be no reason whatsoever to even acknowledge their present protest, let alone do anything about it.

So, the presence of this seemingly spontaneous protest has dual layers to it. On the surface, it is about this singular pipeline and the possible problems that may arise due to its placement in close proximity to their living area.  However, in the same vein as non-violent direct action (NVDA) is based on the civil rights movement in the United States and its perceived success here in this country (although all evidence points to the contrary), many of the singular atrocities that galvanized the black community to utilize this particular means of protest, such as the murder of Emmitt Till and the arrest of Rosa Parks for not sitting in the back of the bus, were mere sparks that set off the powder keg that was already present in society due to the centuries long oppression that preceded them.

Similarly, the pipeline is just the catalyst for addressing inequities that have laid dormant for far too long. This is the layer beneath the surface where the righteous anger residing on the reservation has been fomenting since the natives were forced into this open air prison by the barrel of a gun decades ago. Whether it was this pipeline or some other form of intrusion on the land that the state said was theirs after surrendering as an entire ethnic group in order to not be fully exterminated, the need for capitalism to continuously gobble up everything in its path inevitably led to this current situation, where the natives are a harbinger for all of mankind as the extremities of needed energy accumulation will close on all of us more and more with each passing day whether we choose to accept it or not. And as current flow always follows the path of least resistance, the state has always looked first to the reservation system and its inhabitants to appropriate anything it may need to survive since the continued existence of the indigenous is seen as an inconvenience rather than a necessity by most non-indigenous citizens in this country.

As NVDA is a remnant of the aforementioned much ballyhooed civil rights movement, the response by the state has advanced and evolved while the tactics employed by the ethnic victims in regards to white supremacy has stagnated and remained the same. This is no more apparent than in the current actions by private interests regarding the indigenous uprising. During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the state employed attack dogs on protestors as a response to their marches. In the present iteration of the response, it isn’t the state that has employed these abusive tactics, it is the corporation that now has its paid minions to deliver counterattacks to the movement. ICYMI, a private security company, was employed by the manufacturers of the pipeline, Energy Transfer Partners, to confront the protesters by employing attack dogs to disperse the crowd and put a final end to this perceived effrontery to the dominant culture.

As this is a new wrinkle in the oppression of the masses, the million-dollar question is who or what is supposed to be held accountable for any injuries caused by the use of these tactics by private interests? Is it now a civil matter, even though the state is saying that it is in the public interest to have this land for the pipeline, as the term “eminent domain” is as nebulous term imaginable in masking the interest of private corporations by way of determining land appropriation as an expression of the public good. Can the corporation be taken to civil court for these attacks? As the land is in the grey area of appropriation, is it public or private land at this juncture? These are all legal questions that aren’t being addressed because the hope was that this endeavor would cease all of the ongoing uproar in North Dakota. In addition, these ill-defined forms of accountability make it much more difficult for the aggrieved to seek redress from those in power.

In the end, the most important thing for this uprising is to not just relegate the movement to this pipeline and the leaders must speak honestly about the need to attend to all the inequalities that have been imposed on the natives on this particular reservation and the reservation system as a whole. Of the over 500 treaties that have been entered into between the government and the First Nations people, all have been broken in some form or fashion by the U.S. government.  And these acts of broken treaties have been deemed legal by the same justice system that is supposed to be fair and balanced in its decision making as it purports to be based on an eponymous “rule of law”, something not reliant on the arbitrary positions of man. Yet, the U.S. populace readily believes this when all empirical evidence shows that this is anything but the case. Either the “rule of law” is faulty or our implementation of it is at issue.  More than likely, it is just a nice term utilized by the powers that be to inculcate people into an imaginary belief that when the outcome of a particular case is not to their well being or liking it is because of the weakness of the case and not due to systemic biases related to the arbiters culturally inculcated belief that anglo ethnicity and the attending economic system is more important than any aggrievement of the indigenous.

Whatever the reason for these decisions, the fact of the matter is that Einstein once famously said that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. As such, there can be nothing more insane than expecting redress from the same justice system that has deemed 500 instances of broken treaties over a span of centuries to all of a sudden change course in this given instance regarding the ongoing pipeline conflict. Hence, this movement must be utilized as a tool to recognize, respect and ultimately implement the indigenous stated goals of self-determination, decolonization and self-government.

It is going to take a concerted effort that goes beyond a simplified NVDA that was used to allow black people the “privilege” of doing acts that are in hindsight trivial things, such using the same bathrooms as white people. The old stale tactics of the past can’t be used as the goals aren’t the same in this instance (self-determination from people who aren’t looking for integration as they want to be recognized as a sovereign nation within a nation) as those previously attempting to be obtained during the civil rights movement (an assimilationist integration based off of a wholly acknowledged acceptance regarding non-anglo inferiority by both oppressors and oppressed). To use sports as an analogy, this is akin to using a baseball bat on a soccer field or utilizing a hockey stick during a basketball game.

As this is the case, the strategy employed by the modern indigenous can’t be the same as those who preceded them in this country.  As Cuba famously utilized its guerrilla strategy in assisting African nations in their battles to end European colonialism, the devices employed by the First Nation members must be different than anything ever employed previously.  What is to stop the indigenous from aligning their interests with MEND in the Niger River Delta, whose enemy is also the multinational corporations trespassing on its land? This is another organization that is going through the same issues as the Standing River Sioux and numerous other tribes, like the Black Hill Sioux and their land being destroyed by uranium mining and coal mining on the Black Mesa plateau that has disaffected the water source of the Hopi and Navajo tribes. In addition, there needs to be a network of groups who have the same interests who must now band together with a common goal which is to stop the continuous encroachment of private interests in their particular domains at one level, as well as to address the fact that this will invariably be all of us.

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When all is said and done, this protest in North Dakota is the only portion of this conflict that is for the good of the public as the pipeline itself is anything but a benefit to humans or any other life form, no matter what portions of the mainstream society profess in this regard.  By any measurement of what is beneficial to the continuance of sentient beings on this Earth, the uprising in North Dakota is one of the few relevant ongoing acts presently. Although near-term human extinction (NTHE) is almost a certainty at this point, whatever portion of life that can be salvaged, be it human or otherwise, must start somewhere and it has to be at the grassroots level since the expectation that any portion of the establishment will save us is beyond insane when all evidence to this juncture has proven otherwise.

Ultimately, the First Nation members need to use this as a catalyst for an overall change in their collective living circumstances. Their problems reside in having their entire existence totally dependent on the goodwill of a white power structure that still sees them as savages. This structure, whose continuance is dependent on institutional racism, only gives a nod to the indigenous when they dress like them, use them as mascots or talk about the fact that their members’ great, great, great grandma was a First Nation member or something to that effect. Other than those few useless nods to the people and culture, the systemic need is to keep them isolated, weak and emaciated on a reservation where the only thing to be done is take the resources under their feet and relegate them to eternal impoverishment and disenfranchisement.

As the pipeline is a mere conduit of the resource that flows through its vessels, the uproarious response by the First Nations community is the conduit of the centuries long anger which as has been internalized on these outposts of human despair. We can only hope that the rupture of  First Nation emotions will make all of the previous pipeline fissures pale in comparison.

 

Wildlife Conservationists need to Break out of their Stockholm Syndrome

Global Policy

August 30, 2016

by Margi Prideaux

 

Instead of fighting a destructive economic system, international conservation NGOs are bonding with its brutality.

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“A male polar bear starved to death as a consequence of climate change. This polar bear was last tracked by the Norwegian Polar Institute in April 2013 in southern Svalbard. Polar bears need sea ice to hunt seals, their main prey. The winter of 2012-2013 was one of the worst on record for sea ice extent. The western fjords on Svalbard that normally freeze in winter remained ice-free all season.” Ashley Cooper/Corbis [Source: Polar Bears on Thin Ice]

Conservationists like me want a world where wildlife has space, where wild places exist, and where we can connect with the wild things. Yet time after time, like captives suffering from Stockholm syndrome, wildlife conservation NGOs placate, please and emulate the very forces that are destroying the things they want to protect.

Despite our collective, decades-long, worldwide commitment to protect wildlife, few indicators are positive. The Red List that’s issued by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature now includes 22,784 species that are threatened with extinction. Habitat loss is the main problem for 85 per cent of species on the list.

The number of African rhinos killed by poachers, for example, has increased for the sixth year in a row. Pangolins are now the most heavily poached and trafficked mammals on the planet. One third of the world’s freshwater fish are at risk from new hydropower dams. Two hundred amphibians have already gone and polar bears are probably doomed. Human beings are simply taking too much from the world for its rich diversity to survive.

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A close up of Katiti the Pangolin  ©Christian Boix

None of this is news to people in the conservation movement. The reality of devastation has been apparent for many years, which should prompt some soul-searching about why we are failing.

The main reason is that we are allowing the market to dictate conservation while ignoring the very people we should empower.

Communities everywhere know their non-human kin—the animals that live among them. We know the seasons we share, and what grows when and where. We know the ebb and flow of life in our shared places. For some, those vistas are forests. Others look out to the sea, and some on endless frozen horizons. These are not empty places. They are filled with wildlife with which human beings commune.

But if wildlife are local, the impacts of human activity on them are unquestionably global, and they require global management. Industrialized fishing, mining, forestry and mono-agriculture raze whole areas and replace diversity with a single focus. The illegal international trade in exotic species provides a path for the unethical to hunt, kill, package and commodify animals and plants. The market’s quest for resources and power floods, burns and devastates whole landscapes.

For the last two decades, the conservation movement of the global North has believed that little can be done to counterbalance the might of this vast economic system, so the reaction has been to bond with it and accept its brutality—to please it and copy its characteristics. In the process, organizations in this movement have developed the classic symptoms of psychological capture and dependence through which victims develop a bond with, and sympathy for, their captors.

I’m being deliberately provocative here by evoking Stockholm syndrome because it clarifies the crucial point I want to make: I believe that the conservation movement’s unhealthy relationship with the global economic system exacerbates harm to both people and wildlife.

NGOs in Europe and North America raise money from philanthropists, corporations and other donors to arrange or establish protected areas that extend over large, pristine and fragile lands in Latin America, Asia and Africa. The public in the global North flock to their ambition, hoping it will lock precious places away from harm and raising even more money in the process. But this support turns a blind eye to the inconvenient fact that these areas exclude local communities—people who have lived for millennia beside flamingos and tigers, orangutans and turtles and who are just as wronged by big business and globalization as are wildlife.

These agencies also court the market by selling ‘adoption products’ and ‘travel experiences’ to these protected areas. They smooth out the ripples from their messages so that their supporters’ sensibilities are not offended. They deflect attention away from harmful corporations. They expand their marketing departments and shut down their conservation teams. They adopt the posture and attributes of the very things—capitalism, consumerism and the market—that destroy what they seek to protect.

Hence, their capture-bond is informing how they see the world. In their efforts to please and emulate the market they fail to look for the broader, systemic causes of elephant poaching or killing sharks for their fins. They trade stands of forests for agreements with corporations and international agencies not to campaign against dams that will flood whole valleys. They defend sport hunting by wealthy western tourists as legitimate ‘conservation’.

For example, the Gonds and the Baigas—tribal peoples in India—have been evicted from their ancestral homelands to make way for tiger conservation. Tourist vehicles now drive through their lands searching for tigers, and new hotels have been built in the same zones from which they were evicted.

Or take Indonesia, where massive illegal deforestation has burned and destroyed huge areas of precious rainforest. Even though a court order and a national commission have compelled the government to hand ownership of the forests back to the people who live there, the corporate sector is resisting. At times they hide behind their NGO partners through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a global, multi-stakeholder initiative that includes many conservation NGOs as members.

International NGOs have scuppered efforts to control polar bear trophy hunting in the Arctic while they benefit from lucrative corporate partnerships for other areas of polar bear conservation. A major project run by Conservation International in the Ankeniheny-Zahamena Corridor of Madagascar has restricted villagers’ use of their traditional forests for food harvesting in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and NRG Energy are all members of the organisation’s Business & Sustainability Council.

Even worse is the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), which stands accused of breaches of OECD Guidelines on the Conduct of Multinational Enterprises and of the UN Declaration on Human Rights. The complaint in question alleges that WWF has financed and supported ecoguards that have brutally displaced the Baka tribespeople who have traditionally lived in the area now declared as a national park in Cameroon, while turning a blind eye to the destruction of the Baka’s way of life through logging, mining and the trafficking of wildlife.

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Stephen Corry, the director of Survival International (which in this case is blowing the whistle on another NGO), has this to say:

“WWF knows that the men its supporters fund for conservation work repeatedly abuse, and even torture, the Baka, whose land has been stolen for conservation zones. It hasn’t stopped them, and it treats criticism as something to be countered with yet more public relations.”

Writing on openDemocracy, Gordon Bennett argues that NGOs might avoid toxic situations like this if they undertook proper investigations before committing to new parks and protected areas. I agree, but I also believe that WWF should have supported the Baka people to propose their own solutions to conserving their forests instead of assuming that a park and ecoguards were the answer.

These depressing examples are being replicated around the world. The situation will only get worse as human populations increase. Local communities and wildlife are bound to lose out.

The world is changing, however, and local civil society is on the rise. International conservation NGOs therefore need to think long and hard about their relevance as local groups grow stronger. As more communities gain access to international politics, they will be trampled on less easily by agendas from afar. The challenge is to ensure that they become empowered to look after their own land and the wildlife around them.

If the conservation movement is brave enough to transform the ways in which it works, it can support this process of empowerment and the radical changes that come with it. It can connect with local civil society groups as a partner and not as a decision maker. It can devolve its grip on how conservation is conceived and respond to community ideas and wisdom about protecting the wildlife with which they live.

In this task the conservation movement has a lot to offer. International NGOs are skilled and experienced, and they have access to international processes of negotiation and decision making. If they free themselves from corporate pressures and transform themselves into supporters of local civil society, together everyone is stronger. NGOs can help to project the unpasteurised voices of local communities into the halls of the United Nations.

To do any of these things, however, they must remember who they were before they were captured. It’s time to break free from Stockholm syndrome.

 

 

[Dr Margi Prideaux is an international wildlife policy writer, negotiator and academic. She has worked within the conservation movement for 25 years. Her forthcoming book Birdsong After the Storm: Global Environmental Governance, Civil Society and Wildlife will be released in early 2017.  She writes at www.wildpolitics.co and you can follow her on twitter @WildPolitics.]

 

FURTHER READING:

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

BLACK LIVES MATTER RESISTS UHURU MOVEMENT’S MESSAGE OF BLACK POWER

The Burning Spear

July 14, 2016

 

L-R: Kalambayi Andenet, Yashica Clemmons and Gazi Kodzo; members of the Uhuru Movement.

TAMPA––Black Lives Matter held a demonstration and a march at the Lykes Gaslight Park on July 11, 2016. The demonstration was held in response to the murders of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA and Philando Castillo in Chicago by police. The Uhuru Movement made it a point to be at that demonstration.

The Uhuru Movement did not go to fight racism or to remind anyone that we matter. We went to spread the ideas of African Internationalism, the theory of the African (black) working to the masses of Africans who gathered in search of answers to ending the genocide being committed against us in the form of police murders.

The demonstrators noticed the comrades of the Uhuru Movement as soon as we exited our vehicles and got in formation.

Our large red, black, and green flags were held high as comrades organized themselves behind the banner which showed the picture of Pinellas County sheriff who murdered three African girls––Dominique Battle, Ashaunti Bulter and La’Niyah Miller––in St. Petersburg, FL.

Colonial media reporters flocked to the members of our Movement immediately once they saw our flags, the banner and heard shouts of “Uhuru.”

Gazi Kodzo was interviewed by St. Petersburg’s channel 10 news. He explained our purpose for attending the demonstration.

The comrades of the Uhuru Movement approached the crowd silently, but our presence screamed out to the people that we were an organized, disciplined and uncompromising force for liberation.

Evangelizing African Internationalism at the demonstration

Comrades Kalonde and Muteba circled the crowd, passing out fliers with information about our “3 Drowned Black Girls” campaign.

Protestors held signs with the two recent victims’ names, as well as signs that read “stop police terror.” There was an African man wearing a T-shirt with the words “Am I next?”

They had various speakers who addressed the crowd over bullhorn. One such speaker criticized African people and blamed us for the oppression that we face. He stated that Africans “need to clean around our own yard first.”

The next person to speak was a sister who referenced Dr. King’s message of peace and nonviolence. She stated that the police are here “to protect and serve” and ended almost every statement with “in Jesus name.”

The weak, vague and passive messages came to halt once members of our Movement spoke to the crowd.

Yashica Clemmons, mother of Dominique Battle––one of the three girls who drowned at the hands of the sheriff’s deputies of Pinellas County––told her story after being introduced by comrade Gazi.

Mike Reed, a resident of Tampa, broke down in tears as Yashica spoke. He told The Burning Spear that he was crying because “they don’t give a f*ck about us.”

International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) president Kalambayi Andenet set the crowd on fire after Yashica’s speech.

She delivered a clear, direct message to the demonstrators which educated them on African Internationalism, unlike the speakers before her.

Kalambayi told the crowd, “We [the Uhuru Movement] understand that the system cannot be fixed. We want a new system.”

Her message was so strong and revolutionary that Kelly Benjamin––a white organizer for the Service Employees International Union––attempted to silence her. He attempted to get the African members of his organization to silence her, however they refused.

He then tried to remove Kalambayi himself and take away the megaphone himself. He was met with fierce resistance from our comrades in the Uhuru Movement, as we chanted “let her speak.” The rest of the demonstrators, thoroughly engaged in our revolutionary message, joined into our chanted and demanded that Kalambayi speak.

Benjamin was forced by all the demonstrators to stand down.

Kalambayi continued and encouraged Africans and and white people to join the revolutionary organizations of the Uhuru Movement. “Join a revolutionary organization. That is the only way that Africans will be free,” said President Kalambayi towards the end of her powerful speech.

Benjamin, now red in the face, then attempted once more to silence InpDUM’s President by invading her personal space. He was met with resistance by comrade Aaron, who demanded that Kelly “back up.”

Ultimately, one of the organizers of the march, an African individual, and perhaps one of the members of Kelly’s organization, also aided comrade Aaron in getting the now-enraged Kelly to back down.

Benjamin, left without any other option, then begged our comrade Chimurenga for the Megaphone which Kalambayi spoke into.

The comrades of the Uhuru Movement passed out fliers, received petition signatures and even received new member sign-ups from the Africans in the crowd.

Members of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement––the white people who work under the leadership of the Africans of the Movement––also received new member sign-ups.

The Revolutionary Vanguard of the African Working Class

The crowd’s handlers proceeded to corral the demonstrators into the street to march.

Comrades of Uhuru Movement organized into our march formation under the leadership of African National Women’s Organization(ANWO) President, Yejide Orunmila.

The movement moved with razor sharp precision while staying several paces behind the Black Lives Matter demonstrators.

A number of demonstrators who showed up to the protest, were won to the movement and marched with us towards our end goal, instead of being led blindly by the Black Lives Matter group.

The demonstration moved on to “shut down” the highway. Comrade Yejide made the decision for our comrades to not continue in that direction. We turned off and made our way back to the Gaslight Park.

This was a strategic move for us as we are not struggling to be arrested. We are fighting for our freedom.

The Movement did a summation of the march in a nearby parking lot. The people who left the original march to follow the Uhuru Movement remained present for this as well. They united with our politic and our goals and expressed that they will be joining our Movement.

Kenneth Johnson, told The Burning Spear, “The Movement said what needed to be said.”

The Uhuru Movement is a cohesive unit of Africans united under a single political line.

We are always clear that we want freedom. We understand that the State is designed to oppress the African people through violence and terror.

The State is only here to “protect and serve” the interest of the white ruling class––white power.

Black lives won’t matter until we get Black Power. Africans must come into political organization and join the Uhuru Movement and the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP). We have solutions to the oppression that we face as Africans in the U.S. and worldwide. We must work to overturn colonialism, that is the only way that we can prevent police murders.

We urge every African to come into political life, and join the Vanguard of the African working class. Visit JoinAPSP.org.

Black Power Matters!

Join the African People’s Socialist Party

Join the Uhuru Movement!

We are winning!

 

NVDA Training Teaches White Paternalism at Camp Standing Rock

Wrong Kind of Green

September 16, 2016

oka-three-armed-warriors

What the white man seeks to destroy and what the non-profit industrial complex is financed to carry out: the destruction of the Indigenous Warrior culture. This is not news to native people, however, this reality is all but lost on today’s white “left”. Photo: Mohawk Warriors, Oka Crisis, Canada, 1990. Photograph: Armed warriors at Kanesatake during the 1990 “Oka Crisis.” / Gazette John Mahoney (CTY). [Further reading: Part II of an Investigative Report into Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement, September 19, 2011]

The following comment is from a film director who just returned from the camp at Standing Rock. What she witnessed is the historical paternalism that is reminiscent of the ‘Indian schools’ where proper comportment was wholly identified as the ability to assimilate into Anglo structures. We thank this person for recognizing and  sharing what she witnessed. That this took place on native land – shows egotism and white paternalism still very much exists, is being taught/modeled (via NGO “training”/*NVDA dogma), has no bounds – and no shame. (*non-violent direct action)

Camp participant:

“I just returned from the camp at standing rock and I can report that this[referencing the article: All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide] is exactly what has happened. I sat in on the first two non violent action trainings brought into the camp to help teach protestors how to “de-escalate” even to the point of pulling young men (warriors) aside and chastising them (gently of course) for their anger. They were also told not to wear bandanas over their faces but to proudly be identified. A chill went up and down me. The national guard was brought in a couple of days ago to “help with traffic” and now today protestors (called ” protectors”) were arrested by guards in complete riot gear. This will not end well.”

The following is an excerpt from the report: All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide, published September 13, 2016:

Enter #NODAPL Solidarity

One would be hard pressed to find on any website such extensive NVDA (non-violent direct action) dogma as found on the #NoDAPL Solidarity website (created on August 29, 2016 by Nick Katkevich, noted liberal strategist who is the co-creator of the group FANG – Fighting Against Natural Gas). Especially in light of this website being meant to be interpreted as representative of Indigenous resistance. Yet, Indigenous peoples do not espouse NVDA as an ideology – this is the ideology belonging to and peddled by the NPIC. The fact is, Indigenous peoples retain a deep-rooted (and enviable) warrior ideology – deeply ingrained in the Indigenous culture. This is what the NPIC seeks to destroy. Because of the arrogance and paternalism of those within the NPIC, they even believe they will be successful in doing so. This site is sponsored by Rising Tides North America (RTNA), which can be identified under the “Friends and Allies” (North America) section on the 350.org website. Many view RTNA as a sister org. to Rainforest Action Network, with a more radical veneer, the common link being Scott Parkin: “Scott Parkin is a climate organizer working with Rainforest Action Network, Rising Tide North America and the Ruckus Society.” (see the multitude of Ruckus documents/links on screenshot below). [Source]

nodapl-nvda

Further irony arises when one takes note of the Martin Luther King quote on the “indigenous led resistance” website (see screenshot above). Ask yourself why Indigenous resistance would choose to quote MLK (a long-time favourite co-opted and sanitized icon of the NPIC), rather than a quote from their own warriors.

Leave it to white “leftists” to retain their unwavering belief they have the right and superior knowledge to manage/shape how Indigenous struggles should be led. This is the same “left” (funded by the establishment) that has failed at virtually everything except for the main task assigned by the elites they kowtow to: keeping current power structures intact.

dakota-org

And yet…

Although the white left would never believe it to be true, the Indigenous Peoples have a wisdom and knowledge the Euro-Americans lack altogether. They are not part of our depraved society. So why would wise people succumb to the whims of the NPIC? There is perhaps a very good reason why the tribes standing with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are not opposed to the white left saturation who will never fail to rush in front for the cameras: to place them in front to stop the bullets from being fired (“Don’t Shoot”). Indigenous peoples have been subjected to horrendous racism since the first European colonizers arrived, which continues to this day. The reality being white activists have no fear of being shot and killed by police regardless of their actions, whereby the same actions are opportunities for the state to kill natives, blacks and minorities.

For media sensation and photographs that will travel the globe, those at the helm of the NPIC ensure that publicly, Indigenous Peoples most always appear in the forefront – all while strategizing behind closed doors to take leadership. When they cannot do so, they vacate the movement, work to marginalize and if possible bury, the legitimate work they were unable to take over. The 2010 People’s Agreement (Cochabamba, Bolivia), led by Indigenous peoples, is an excellent example of just this. The white man has proven incapable of involvement if he is not soon in charge. He has proven himself incapable of following, learning, listening… standing behind. Keeping his mouth closed. The ugly reality is that these are racist, fascist organizations, only there to protect current power structures and count bodies. Social media metrics are far more important than disposable people.

“When the Enviros show up, their literature and banner is strung up against the wall. We are pushed into our place. Most have had a bad taste from wasicu hypocrisy.”  — Harold One Feather

Those at the helm of the NGOs that comprise the NPIC will not be joining land defenders that are willing to die to protect their land, people, culture and ancestry. For these cowards, the brand is too valuable, the price too high. The warrior culture too strong (unruly savages!) to contain. Instead they will throw a few crumbs and send their well-intentioned youth followers as the sacrificial lambs to test the waters. The Indigenous that live within the Bakken are the only credible organizers in opposition to the frack oil developments. It is an understood but unspoken reality that within this resistance, people are going to die.

“Much of the camp’s rhetoric is of the “Non-violent Direct Action” type. Lock your arm to this piece of deconstruction equipment and take a picture with a banner for Facebook. But the Warrior Culture that is so rich in Lakota memory seems to counter a lot of the liberal, non-violent, NGO types. Comrades saw what happened in Iowa, heard about the $1,000,000 in damage and got inspired. I wouldn’t say that it was publicly celebrated because the camp’s tactic of “Non-violence” is the image they want to perpetuate. Like I said, it is a tactic… not everyone thinks that is what we need to dogmatically stick to. It is one thing to use Non-Violence as a rhetorical device in corporate media to spread your inspirational actions but it is another thing to preach it as your dogma in your private circles and use it to stop material damage to the infrastructure of ecocide. I see the former being invoked much greater than the latter.” — A CONVERSATION ON THE SACRED STONE CAMP, Sept 4, 2016

One may also wonder about the Pledge of Resistance being “organized” by the CREDO corporation: “Many thanks to our friends at CREDO who organized the Pledge of Resistance against Keystone XL—the Bakken Pipeline pledge borrows liberally from their work.” Bold Iowa, Source]

ran-credo-kxl

Above poster from the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance, 2013

All eyes ON one (single) pipeline.

All eyes OFF the acceleration of genocide of Indigenous peoples in the Bakken.

All eyes OFF Bakken fracking oil.

north-dakota-crude-pipelines

Further reading:

All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide

Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”

 

Erased By False Victory: Obama Hasn’t Stopped DAPL

Transformative Spaces

September 10, 2016

by Kelly Hayes

14067704_1246845795349461_128050987172044891_n
#NoDAPL protesters gather for a boat action in Standing Rock on August 20. (Photo: Kelly Hayes)

 

All Native struggles in the United States are a struggle against erasure. The poisoning of our land, the theft of our children, the state violence committed against us — we are forced to not only live in opposition to these ills, but also to live in opposition to the fact that they are often erased from public view and public discourse, outside of Indian Country. The truth of our history and our struggle does not match the myth of American exceptionalism, and thus, we are frequently boxed out of the narrative.

The struggle at Standing Rock, North Dakota, has been no exception, with Water Protectors fighting tooth and nail for visibility, ever since the Sacred Stone prayer encampment began on April 1.

For months, major news outlets have ignored what’s become the largest convergence of Native peoples in more than a century. But with growing social media amplification and independent news coverage, the corporate media had finally begun to take notice. National attention was paid. Solidarity protests were announced in cities around the country. The National Guard was activated in North Dakota.

The old chant, “The whole world is watching!” seemed on the verge of accuracy in Standing Rock.

And then came today’s ruling, with a federal judge finding against the Standing Rock Sioux, and declaring that construction of the pipeline could legally continue. It was the ruling I expected, but it still stung. I felt the sadness, anger and disappointment that rattled many of us as we received the news. But then something happened. Headlines like, “Obama administration orders ND pipeline construction to stop” and “The Obama Administration Steps In to Block the Dakota Access Pipeline” began to fill my newsfeed, with comments like, “Thank God for Obama!” attached to them.

Clearly, a major plot twist has occurred. But it’s not the one that’s being sold.

To understand that this isn’t the victory it’s being billed as, you have to read the fine print in the presently lauded joint statement from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Army and the Department of the Interior:

“The Army will not authorize constructing the Dakota Access pipeline on Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe until it can determine whether it will need to reconsider any of its previous decisions regarding the Lake Oahe site under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) or other federal laws.”

Note what’s actually being said here, what’s being promised and what isn’t.

What is actually being guaranteed?

Further consideration.

But this next section is a little more promising, right?

“Therefore, construction of the pipeline on Army Corps land bordering or under Lake Oahe will not go forward at this time.  The Army will move expeditiously to make this determination, as everyone involved — including the pipeline company and its workers — deserves a clear and timely resolution.  In the interim, we request that the pipeline company voluntarily pause all construction activity within 20 miles east or west of Lake Oahu.”

So things are on hold at Lake Oahe until the powers that be think it through some more — with no assurances about how they’ll feel when it’s all said and done. The rest is a voluntary ask being extended to the company.

Let’s reflect on that for a moment: A company that recently sicced dogs on Water Protectors, including families, who stepped onto a sacred site to prevent its destruction, is being asked to voluntarily do the right thing.

But the thing is, they probably will. For a moment. Because what’s being asked of them isn’t an actual reroute. Right now, all that’s being asked is that they play their part in a short term political performance aimed at letting the air out of a movement’s tires.

Presidential contender Hillary Clinton was beginning to take a bit of heat for her silence on the Standing Rock struggle. Between Jill Stein’s participation in a lockdown action, broadening social media support for the cause, and the beginnings of substantial media coverage, #NoDAPL was on the verge of being a real thorn in Clinton’s side. And with more than 3,000 Natives gathered in an unprecedented act of collective resistance, an unpredictable and possibly transformational force was menacing a whole lot of powerful agendas.

So what did the federal government do? Probably the smartest thing they could have: They gave us the illusion of victory.

As someone who organizes against state violence, I know the patterns of pacification in times of unrest all too well. When a Black or Brown person is murdered by the police, typically without consequence, and public outrage ensues, one of the pacifications we are offered is that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will investigate the shooting. It’s a deescalation tactic on the part of the state. It helps transition away from moments when rage and despair collide, creating a cooling off period for the public. “Justice” is still possible, we are told. We are asked to be patient as this very serious matter is investigated at the highest level of government, and given all due consideration.

The reality, of course, is that the vast majority of investigations taken up by the DOJ Civil Rights Division end in dismissal – a batting average that’s pretty much inverse to that of other federal investigations. But by the time a case gets tossed at the federal level, it’s probably not front page news anymore, and any accumulated organizing momentum behind the issue may have been lost — because to many people, the mere announcement of a federal investigation means that the system is working. Someone is looking into this, they’re assured. Something is being done. Important people have expressed that they care, and thus there is hope.

So how is this similar to what’s happening with Standing Rock?

It’s the same old con game.

Federal authorities are going to give a very serious matter very serious consideration, and then… we’ll see.

The formula couldn’t be clearer.

As the joint statement says, “this case has highlighted the need for a serious discussion on whether there should be nationwide reform with respect to considering tribes’ views on these types of infrastructure projects.”

Discussion.

How many times have marginalized people been offered further discussion when what they needed was substantive action? And how often has the mere promise of conversation born fruit for those in a state of protest?

But this is a great moment for the Democrats. A political landmine has been swept out of Hillary Clinton’s path and Obama will be celebrated as having “stopped a pipeline” when the project has, at best, been paused. After all, an actual pause in construction, outside of the Lake Oahe area, assumes the cooperation of a relentless, violent corporation, that has already proven it’s wiling to let dogs loose on children to keep its project on track.

But Dakota Access, LLC probably will turn off its machines — for a (very) little while. They’ll wait for the media traction that’s been gained to dissipate, and for the #NoDAPL hashtag to get quieter. They’ll wait until the political moment is less fraught, and their opposition is less amped. And then they will get back to work — if we allow it.

Here’s the real story: This fight has neither been won nor lost. Our people are rising and they are strong. But the illusion of victory is a dangerous thing. Some embrace it because they don’t know better, some because they need to. We all want happy endings. Hell, I long for them, and I get tired waiting. But if you raise a glass to Obama and declare this battle won, you are erasing a battle that isn’t over yet. And by erasing an ongoing struggle, you’re helping to build a pipeline.

 

[Kelly Hayes is co-founding member of The Chicago Light Brigade and an organizer with We Charge Genocide.]