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Pacifism as Pathology

The Bloody Legacy of American Exceptionalism

American Herald Tribune

February 9, 2016

by Vanessa Beeley

 

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Exceptionalism: the condition of being different from the norm; also:  a theory expounding the exceptionalism especially of a nation or region.

There are many theories surrounding the origin of American exceptionalism. The most popular in US folklore, being that it describes America’s unique character as a “free” nation founded on democratic ideals and civil liberties. The Declaration of Independence from British colonial rule is the foundation of this theory and has persevered throughout the often violent history of the US since its birth as a free nation.

Over time, exceptionalism has come to represent superiority in the minds and hearts of Americans. Belief in their economic, military and ideological supremacy is what has motivated successive US governments to invest in shaping the world in their superior image with little or no regard for the destruction left in the wake of their exceptional hegemony.

In considering itself, exceptional, the US has extricated itself from any legal obligation to adhere to either International law or even the common moral laws that should govern Humanity.  The US has become exceptionally lawless and authoritarian particularly in its intolerant neo-colonialist foreign policy.  The colonized have become the colonialists, concealing their brutal savagery behind a veneer of missionary zeal that they are converting the world to their form of exceptionalist Utopia.

Such is the media & marketing apparatus that supports this superiority complex, the majority of US congress exist within its echo chamber and are willing victims of its indoctrination. The power of the propaganda vortex pulls them in and then radiates outwards, infecting all in its path.  Self-extraction from this oligarchical perspective is perceived as a revolutionary act that challenges the core of US security so exceptionalism becomes the modus vivendi.

Superbowl Military

Above: US military propaganda and Superbowl 50 [Source]

Just as Israel considers itself the chosen people from a religious perspective, the US considers itself the chosen nation to impose its version of Democratic reform and capitalist hegemony the world over. One can see why Israel and the US make such symbiotic bedfellows.

“The fatal war for humanity is the war with Russia and China toward which Washington is driving the US and Washington’s NATO and Asian puppet states.  The bigotry of the US power elite is rooted in its self-righteous doctrine that stipulates America as the “indispensable country” ~ Paul Craig Roberts: Washington Drives the World Towards War.

So why do the American people accept US criminal hegemony, domestic and foreign brutal tyranny & neo-colonialist blood-letting with scant protest? Why do the European vassal states not rise up against this authoritarian regime that flaunts international law and drags its NATO allies down the path to complete lawlessness and diplomatic ignominy?

The psychological term “Gaslighting” comes from a 1944 Hollywood classic movie called Gaslight.  Gaslighting describes the abuse employed by a narcissist to instil in their victim’s mind, an extreme anxiety and confusion to the extent where they no longer have faith in their own powers of logic, reason and judgement. These gaslighting techniques were adopted by central intelligence agencies in the US and Europe as part of their psychological warfare methods, used primarily during torture or interrogation.

Gaslighting as an abuser’s modus operandi, involves, specifically, the withholding of factual information and its replacement with false or fictional information designed to confuse and disorientate. This subtle and Machiavellian process eventually undermines the mental stability of its victims reducing them to such a depth of insecurity and identity crisis that they become entirely dependent upon their abuser for their sense of reality and even identity.

Gaslighting involves a step by step psychological process to manipulate and destabilize its victim.  It is built up over time and consists of repetitive information feeds that enter the victim’s subconscious over a period of time, until it is fully registered on the subconscious “hard disk” and cannot be overridden by the conscious floppy disk.  Put more simply, it is brainwashing.

“Overall, the main reason for gaslighting is to create a dynamic where the abuser has complete control over their victim so that they are so weak that they are very easy to manipulate.” ~ Alex Myles

Victims of Gaslighting go through 3 stages, disbelief, defence and depression.

The first stage depends upon trust in the integrity and unimpeachable intentions of the abuser, a state of reliance that has been engendered by the abuser’s artful self-promotion and ingratiating propaganda.  Once this trust is gained, the abuser will begin to subtly undermine it, creating situations and environments where the victim will begin to doubt their own judgement.  Eventually the victim will rely entirely upon the abuser to alleviate their uncertainty and to restore their sense of reality which is in fact that of the abuser.

The second stage, defence, is a process by which the abuser isolates the victim, not only from their own sense of identity but from the validation of their peers.  They are made to feel that their opinion is worthless, discredited, down-right weird.  In political circles they would be labelled a conspiracy theorist, a dissident, a terror apologist.  As a consequence, the victim will withdraw from society and cease to express themselves for fear of ridicule, judgement or punishment.

This stage can also be compared to Stockholm Syndrome where a hostage or captive is reduced,by psychological mind games, back to infantile dependency upon their captor.  Narcissistic abuse bonds the victim to the aggressor via trauma.  Stockholm Syndrome bonds the victim to the aggressor via regression to an infantile state where the abuser/aggressor becomes the “parent” who will rescue the victim from imminent annihilation.  Both methods tap into the victim’s survival mechanisms to gain and maintain control.

The final stage is depression.  A life under the tyrannical rule of a narcissist drives the victim into a state of extreme confusion.  They are stripped of dignity & self-reliance.  They, ultimately exist in an information vacuum which is only filled by that which the abuser deems suitable or relevant.  This can eventually invoke symptoms of PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder]. Flashbacks, constant apprehension, hyper vigilance, mind paralysis, rage and even violence.  The process is complete and the victim has been reduced to a willing accomplice in the abusers creation of a very distorted reality.

We are currently seeing the transformation of US exceptionalism into an abusive Narcissism.  The gargantuan apparatus of mind bending and controlling is being put into hyper drive by the ruling elite.  We are inundated with propaganda that challenges our sense of reality but only after being “tenderized” by the fear factor.  Fear of “terror”, fear of war, fear of financial insecurity, fear of gun violence, fear of our own shadow.  Once we are suitably quaking in our boots, in comes the rendition of reality that relieves our anxiety.  If we challenge this version of events we are labelled a conspiracy theorist, a threat to security. We are hounded, discredited, slandered and ridiculed.  We are isolated and threatened.

Wars are started in the same way.  Despite the hindsight that should enable us to see it coming, the process swings into motion with resounding success. The ubiquitous dictator, the oligarch who threatens to destroy all that the US and her allies represent which of course is, freedom, equality & civil liberty all wrapped up in the Democracy shiny paper and tied with the exceptionalist ribbon.

Next the false flag to engender fear, terror and to foment sectarian strife. The support of a “legitimate” organic, indigenous “revolution” conveniently emerging in tandem with US ambitions for imposing their model of governance upon a target nation. The arming of “freedom fighters”, the securing of mercenary additions to these manufactured proxy forces.  All this is sold in the name of freedom and democracy to a public that is already in a state of anxiety and insecurity, lacking in judgement or insight into any other reality but that of their “abuser”.

They don’t realise that NGOs are an integral part of their abuser’s apparatus, operating on the leash of neo-colonialist financing and influence.Then in addition, the Humanitarians are deployed.  The forces for “good”, the vanguard of integrity and ethical intervention.  The power that offers all lost souls a stake-holding in the salvation of sovereign nations that have lost their way and need rescuing.  A balm for a damaged soul, to know they can leave their doubts and fears in such trustworthy hands as HRW, Amnesty International, they can assuage their deep sense of guilt at the suffering being endured by the people of far flung nations because they can depend upon the NGOs to provide absolution with minimal effort on their part.  They don’t realise that NGOs are an integral part of their abuser’s apparatus, operating on the leash of neo-colonialist financing and influence.  NGOs provide the optic through which the abuser will allow the victim to perceive their world and once absorbed into this flawed prism the victim’s own cognitive dissonance will ensure they do not attempt a jail break.

In this state of oppressed consciousness the victim accepts what they are told.  They accept that the US can sell cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia that obliterate human beings and lay waste to essential civilian infrastructure in Yemen.  They accept that the US financially, ideologically & militarily supports the illegal state of Israel and provides the arsenal of experimental weapons that maim and mutilate children and civilians on a scale that is unimaginable.  They accept that a crippling blockade of the already impoverished and starving nation of Yemen is “necessary” to resolve the issues of sectarian divisions that only exist in the minds of their Congressional abusers.

The majority of Americans accept mass murder under the pretext of the right to protect, because their ability to form rational and reasoned opinions has been engineered out of them.  This is now the definition of US exceptionalism.  It is their ability to manipulate the world into accepting their lawlessness and global hegemony agenda.  In seeking to impose its own image upon our world the US has drifted so far from its founding principles, one wonders how they will ever return to them.  They have employed a recognised form of torture to ensure capitulation to their mission of world domination which entails the mental, physical and spiritual torture of target civilian populations.

In conclusion, the US has indeed achieved exceptionalism.  The US has become an exceptional global executioner and persecutor of Humanity.  Imperialism is a euphemism for the depths of abuse the US is inflicting upon the people of this world.

Our only hope is to break the cycle of abuse with empathy for the victim and with appreciation for the years of brainwashing that precedes their agonizing passive-aggressive apathy towards crimes being committed in “their name”.

This was an email I received recently from one courageous young American girl whose epiphany is testament to the resilience and survival instinct of the human spirit.

“My name is Caroline and I am a 22 year old US citizen. I only fairly recently discovered the truth about Empire/NATO’s activities in Syria and Libya and so many other countries (thanks to writers like Andre Vltchek, Cory Morningstar, Forrest Palmer). I am sickened when I remember that I signed some of those Avaaz petitions and I feel horrified at knowing that I have Syrian and Libyan blood on my hands. I want to believe that I’m not “really” guilty because I really thought (as I had been told) that I was not doing something bad at the time, but still, what I did contributed to the suffering of those people and I want to do something to atone in at least some small way, even though I probably can’t “make up” for what I did or erase my crime.

If it’s not too much trouble, could you please tell me what you think I should do, if there is anything?”

She deserves an answer…

 

 

[Vanessa Beeley is a photographer, writer, peace activist and volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. She was recently invited to be on the steering committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement.]

Mammon’s Mania

A Culture of Imbeciles

February 9, 2016

by Jay Taber

change paris2

 

In a culture of imbeciles — assaulted by advertising, and fed on fantasies – the pursuit of authentic life, liberty and happiness faces the formidable obstacles of complacency and wishful thinking. As this toxic commercial onslaught on our collective psyches becomes pandemic — and pandemonium ensues — the plague of profit prophets threaten to plunge the planet into a state of total chaos. At that point – and events indicate it isn’t far off — no amount of reason can save us, leaving panic and hysteria to reign.

 

Download: Imbeciles Guide to the Spectacle1
[First published as ‘Part 1: The Concept of the Spectacle’ in Anselm Jappe’s Guy Debord, University of California Press, 1999. This edition published by Treason Press, February 2004]

 

 

 

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

Pathways to Spectacle | Consumerism as “Activism”

Wrong Kind of Green

February 7, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

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

 

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“Tesla’s Model S is powering our US-based Save Our Swirled Tour, aimed at bringing climate action – and free ice cream! – to people’s doors all across the country in partnership with Avaaz.” — Ben & Jerry’s Website, May 27, 2015

 

Consumption As Religion 5

Bottom Illustration: “To Change Everything, We Need Everyone” illustration. Source: Ben & Jerry’s website.

Ben & Jerry’s (Unilever) is in partnership with United Nations, 350.org, Avaaz and BICEP (a coalition of more than 20 leading consumer brand corporations created by divestment campaign partner Ceres). Campaigns include Save Our Swirled campaign and the recent Pathway to Paris campaign. Ben & Jerry’s is also a client of the Avaaz sister organization, Purpose Inc. – the for-profit marketing firm.

 

Pathways to Spectacle

“Purpose also has roots in Avaaz.org a global movement boasting 25 million subscribers worldwide, which Jeremy co-founded. We work with partners with a social mission, ranging from the ACLU to Ben & Jerry’s, to inspire mass participation and build movements for social change.” — Forging Ahead with the Food Revolution, September 26, 2013

Pathway to paris ben & jerrys
PathwayToParis_2016_Poster_Web_v7

 

The cult of consumerism, through which 350, Avaaz and Purpose adherents identify with their brand, is similar to religion, in that becoming a follower is an act of faith. By unquestioningly accepting the propaganda as truth, they form beliefs that comprise the doctrine supporting this ideology of false hope.

It is not unlike hierarchical religion, in that it is patronizing of the believers, who desire to remain infantile in their psychological and financial dependencies. Political illiteracy reinforces this relationship.

It is, to say the least, unhealthy.

 

“As the lead developer, you will be joining a startup team of hyper-committed food-interested people evangelizing a better food system through an exceptionally beautiful user experience.” — Purpose job posting for a Lead Developer for “The Food Movement” – a Purpose Start-up/ Incubation

 

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YouTopia

Social engineering in the digital age is amazingly simple for those who have the money and media at their disposal. Wall Street’s Mad Men can easily herd millions of progressives via social media to support catastrophic environmental policy, war, and crimes against humanity. Sold as conservation, “humanitarian intervention”, or development, globalization can then be marketed as a progressive choice, albeit leading to totalitarian corporate control of all life.

The driving force behind privatization through social engineering is the non-profit industrial complex, funded by Wall Street derivatives, and disbursed through tax-exempt foundation grants. Hundreds of millions have been invested by these foundations in the last decade to convince progressives that war is peace, conformity is unity, and capitulation is resistance.

 

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Slogans like “350”, “New Economy”, and “Sustainable Capitalism” are promoted by Mad Men via foundation-funded front groups, and echoed by media, thus generating enough noise to overwhelm critical judgement. Symbols that appeal to progressives’ emotional vulnerabilities, like rising sun logos used to symbolize hope and change, are recycled to mean “This Changes Everything”, thus creating the impression that neoliberal reform is socialist revolution.

 

Coming soon: YouTopia: A Documentary About Social Engineering in the Digital Age

 

Further Reading:

 

 

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

 

FARC-EP : The Politically Illiterate

FARC-EP Colombia, Peace Delegation

Libya 360

January 25, 2016

“Spectacle is the sun that never sets over the empire of modern passivity.” — Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

 

Global hegemony has developed mechanisms to introject and naturalize political illiteracy

 

By Julián Subverso, member of the Peace Delegation of the FARC-EP
@Subverso_FARC

 

Despite of multiple civil wars, rebellions and struggles waged from various Colombian social sectors in specific moments of history, a large portion of the population,  primarily in urban sectors, consciously or unconsciously,  practice political illiteracy, which is  reinforced and disseminated by both the national dominant class and global imperialism.

The aversion towards reading, the rejection of curiosity, the desire to know what is happening in the world and ambivalence towards the press, the radio or news reporting on the most important political, social and economic events concerning not only one´s country but also concerning neighboring or distant countries, is a habit rooted in contemporary societies, and it is not by accident.

FARK-EP

“Formed on May 27, 1964, the FARC-EP succeeded the rural self-defense groups originally formed by the Colombian Communist Party (PCC) to protect peasant communities from attacks by liberal and conservative government forces. Since then, the USA has backed military operations against the communist forces and continues to do so today (Brittain, 8). The mainstream media attacks on the FARC-EP are well known.” [Source]

Undoubtedly, Etienne La Boétie was right in his discourse on voluntary servitude, but surely global hegemony has developed various modern mechanisms to introject and naturalize this odious and slavish political illiteracy, that makes the poor favor the rich, the oppressed admire the oppressor, and to believe that banal events in the of life of a celebrity from the cultural industrial complex, is more important than the decisions and political events that directly affect their present lives, their future and thus define their historical path.

In Colombia, after the so-called times of “La Violencia” (the violence, TN), the proportion of people living in the countryside and the cities reversed. Today, cities are home to 70% of the population, while countryside houses the other 30%, which like every step taken by the oppressors has a specific purpose that will not be addressed here. Despite that a large majority of that 70% has experienced terrible suffering from poverty, instability, anxiety, hunger and precariousness, they maintain their practice of political indifference towards the very same society whose torment they continue to endure.

Phrases like: “I’m not really interested in politics”, “it is boring”, “ … just don’t get it”, “I care only about my family”, “to each his own”, “every one thinks differently”, “same old, same old”, “I am not a politic person”, “there is no end to this”, “the world will change when it changes… no one changes the world”, etc. are common sentences, deeply entrenched in Colombian society and lead to a religious conformism that frustrates and infects us.

This system of entrenched political illiteracy is not gratuitous;  it was elaborately  executed for many years under an alienating disinformation policy of providing amusement and spectacle to distract and numb critical thought.  The mass media and entertainment industry that were mere propaganda outlets at the service of particular interests, built alternate realities, enemies, idols, villains, all backed by an army of intellectual mercenaries sold to the highest bidder, and by an educational system that presents content that is increasingly distant from criticism, humanism, and social justice, all to render people passive amidst the ruthless land of predatory capitalism, private profit and the uncritical, unquestioning acceptance of the social order, creating the political illiterate.

It is necessary, in order to emancipate our society and achieve well-being and social justice for all Colombians, that we build an education alternative to that created under imperialist operations such as “operación Cacique”, an education that forms human beings, that builds a culture based on permanent criticism not only of society, its decisions and paths, but also critical of our own actions, reconciling and evaluating what is thought and what is done apart from mere formalisms that builds power from its base, a society where the fool is not who reads and actively participates in politics or who wants to enter into discussions regarding social issues, because it is objectively true that fool is the one who doesn’t.

I’m not sure if appealing to an education in the style of the Platonic Paideia, or maybe installing an educational ” dictatorship ” as Marcuse wrote it, or perhaps a pedagogy of the oppressed as Freire taught, or even better, nurturing our selves of all the positive contributions of the great thinkers and successful experiences, thus building our own road, a road in a Colombian way.

What if it is true and necessary in the first instance is to wake up from the slumber  of indifference that global and local power holders made us fall into, awakening to empower ourselves,  our transformative power enhanced and taken to its revolutionary realization.

2016 must be the year of large mobilizations for people, the year of vindications, the beginning of the construction of a truly stable and lasting peace, the year of the constitutional assembly, of political participation of all the sectors of society that have been historically excluded from the public limelight of national events, it must be the year for all those who never thought that peace, sovereignty and social justice for all was possible, to take in their hands, not only their destiny, but together, the destiny of Colombia.

This coming year should be the beginning of the New Colombia, bringing to reality the longing and dreams of millions of forever oppressed and forgotten Colombians, the year of awareness, leaving behind the political illiterate, the guilty incapacity, and building the new Colombia for the power of the people, of individuals with identity who are politically active, because as we have always held, there is no transformation without people.

 


 

La analfabetopolítica

por Julián Subverso, integrante de la delegación de paz de las FARC-EP

A pesar de los múltiples hechos de guerras civiles, rebeliones y lucha de ciertos sectores colombianos en determinados momentos de la historia del país, grandes cantidades de la población, sobre todo en el sector urbano, han practicado consciente o inconscientemente un analfabetismo político alentado y difundido por la clase dominante del país y el imperialismo mundial.

La aversión al leer, el rechazo a enterarse de lo que acontece en el mundo, a la prensa, escuchar la radio o ver noticias que informen sobre los acontecimientos políticos, sociales y económicos más importantes no solo del país que se habita, sino aún más de otros países por más cercanos o lejanos que estén, es un habito que se ha arraigado no de manera casual en las sociedades contemporáneas.

Sin duda Etienne La boétie tenía razón en su discurso sobre la servidumbre voluntaria, pero de seguro la hegemonía mundial ha desarrollado diversos mecanismos modernos para introyectar y naturalizar ese odioso y esclavizante analfabetismo político, que hace que pobres elijan ricos, que oprimidos admiren a los que siempre los han oprimido y que piensen que los banales acontecimientos de la vida de cualquier “estrella” de música, de cine o de cualquier índole de la industria cultural, sea más importante que las decisiones y acontecimientos políticos que afectan directamente su presente, su futuro y el devenir de su historia.

En Colombia después de la llamada época de la violencia, la proporción de personas en el campo y las ciudades fue a la inversa, hoy, las ciudades albergan el 70% de la población, mientras que el campo un 30%, y como todo paso dado por los opresores, tiene una finalidad que aquí no abordaremos; y de ese 70% habitante en las ciudades, una gran mayoría, a pesar de sufrir en carne propia la miseria, la inestabilidad, la zozobra, la incertidumbre, el hambre y la precariedad, viven y practican la indiferencia política en la sociedad que padecen.

Frases como: “no me interesa la política”, “eso es muy aburridor”, “yo no entiendo nada de eso”, “solo me preocupo por mi familia”, “cada loco con su tema”, “todo el mundo piensa diferente”, “eso es lo mismo de siempre”, “yo no soy político”, “el mundo no lo cambia nadie”, “el mundo cambia solo cuanto tenga que cambiar”, etc. son frases que se han arraigado dentro de la sociedad colombiana y que han llevado a un conformismo religioso que frustra y contagia.

Este sistema de analfabetopolítica arraigada no es gratuito, fue elaborado y puesto en ejecución desde hace muchos años bajo la desinformación alienante de diversiones y espectáculos construidos con el fin de distraer y adormecer, de igual manera a través de periódicos, radio, televisión, programas, hoy aglomerados masiva y sistemáticamente bajo los mass media que, funcionando como empresas de publicidad al servicio de intereses particulares, crean realidades, enemigos, ídolos y villanos, sustentado todo esto en un ejercito de intelectuales mercenarios que trabajan al mejor postor y una educación directa e indirecta con modelos y contenidos que se alejan cada vez más de lo crítico, del humanismo y lo social, para instalarse en los despiadados terrenos de la razón instrumental del capitalismo, del lucro privado y la aceptación acrítica del orden social, creando el analfabeto político.

Es necesario, con el fin de emancipar nuestra sociedad y alcanzar el bienestar y la justicia social para todos los colombianos, que construyamos una educación diferente a la creada bajo operaciones imperialistas como la Cacique, una educación que forme seres humanos, no que los adiestre, que construya una cultura basada en la critica permanente no solo de nuestra sociedad, sus decisiones y devenires, sino además crítica con nuestras propias actuaciones, que reconcilie y evalué lo que se piensa con lo que se hace, que salga de los formalismos, que construya poder desde sus bases, una sociedad donde el tonto no sea quien lea o se interese por participar activamente de la política o que quiera entablar conversaciones respecto del acontecer social, pues es objetivamente cierto que el tonto es quien no lo hace.

No sé si apelando a una formación al estilo de la Paideía platónica, no sé si instaurando una “dictadura” educacional como lo escribía Marcuse, o quizás una pedagogía del oprimido como enseña Freire, o mejor, nutriéndonos de todos los aportes positivos de los grandes pensadores y experiencias exitosas, construyendo así nuestro propio camino, un camino a la colombiana.

Lo que si es cierto y necesario hacer en primera instancia, es despertarnos del letargo de indiferencia en el que nos han hecho caer los detentores del poder mundial y local, de espabilarnos, de empoderarnos de nuestra fuerza transformadora hoy potenciada y llevarla a su concreción revolucionaria.

Este año 2016, debe ser el de grandes movilizaciones para pueblo, el de las reivindicaciones, el del inicio de la construcción de una verdadera paz estable y duradera, el año de la constituyente, el año de la participación política de todos los sectores de la sociedad históricamente excluidos del protagonismo del acontecer nacional, debe ser el año en que todos aquellos que nunca pensaron en que la paz, la soberanía y la justicia social para todos era posible, tomen en sus manos, no solo su destino, sino todos juntos, el destino de Colombia.

Este año que comienza debe ser el del inicio de la nueva Colombia, el que traiga a la realidad el anhelo y los sueños de millones de colombianos siempre oprimidos y olvidados, el año de la toma de conciencia, de dejar atrás al analfabeto político, la incapacidad culpable y construir la Colombia nueva de poder popular, de individuos con identidad y políticamente activos, pues como siempre lo hemos sostenido, sin pueblo, no hay transformación.

 

FARC-EP : Mobilization, not Demobilization

 

The DeKlein of Logic. The Art of Conflation

The Art of Annihilation

The following is an excerpt from Part thirteen of the Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

Khrizantemy-Chrysanthemums-Yevgeni-Bauer-Vera-Karalli-(10)-Vera-flower-drop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

+++

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

bono clinton 2007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kiki de Montparnasse, Man Ray (Radnitzky, Emmanuel)

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

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

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

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

Klein:

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

 

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

 

I think the Big Green groups are becoming deeply irrelevant. Some get a lot of money from corporations and rich donors and foundations, but their whole model is in crisis.”

Noblesse oblige indeed.

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

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

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

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

 

 

“Who will be the Bill Gates of ecosystem services?” Read the full article: The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse

 

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

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

 

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

Sakej Ward – Decolonizing the Colonizer

Real News Media

January 13 , 2016

In this speech, Sakej Ward talks about decolonization in relationship to the original people of the land you are living in. He argues that a central aspect of any process of change requires the correct identification of the terms we use to describe ourselves. Ward seeks to dispel the illusions and resulting mistaken relationships that arise from using common labels of Canadians such as “guests”, “newcomers”, “brothers”, or “settlers” that suggest a passivity or undeserved level of innocence. Incorrect labels lead to incorrect relationships.

Ward argues that all of these labels mask the true nature of Canadians; they are occupiers upon indigenous homelands. The labels guests, partners, brothers and newcomers are all pacifist revisionist ways of incorrectly re-constructing the relationship. It starts by ignoring 500 years of genocidal atrocities and refuses to hold Canadians to account for their injustices. The label settler is too historically and politically sterile. Canadians are truly occupiers on our homelands. They need to acknowledge and take responsibility for the colonial crimes that they inherited, they benefit from and continue to impose today if any kind of reconciliation is to occur.

Ward concludes by arguing that European descendants need to trace back their own roots in their own homelands and overcome the trauma and destruction caused by the imperial Roman system that colonized them.

 

[Sakej (James Ward) belongs to the wolf clan. He is Mi’kmaw (Mi’kmaq Nation) from the community of Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church First Nation, New Brunswick). He is the father of nine children, four grandchildren and a caregiver for one. He resides in Shxw’owhamel First Nation with his wife Melody Andrews and their children.]

The King’s Speech (King Leo, that is)

Wrong Kind of Green Op-Ed

January 16, 2016

by Forrest Palmer and Cory Morningstar

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Actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Golden Globe winner, 2016

At the recent Golden Globe Awards, the immensely popular actor Leonard DiCaprio (King Leo for short) was awarded a leading actor award for his recent movie “The Revenant”, a fact based revenge tale of a man seeking retribution towards another man who killed his son, who was half native. As there were heavy elements of the North Amerikkkan native cultures in the movie since the film was set during the time of Western expansion in the 19th century, the movie took a few sparse moments to discuss the destruction of the indigenous cultures by the European at certain points of the movie.

As a result of the tone of this movie that brought him this current accolade, King Leo was compelled to pay homage to the people who helped provide him the background narrative for his recent inconsequential awards show victory. In King Leo’s acceptance speech, he said the following:

“I want to share this award with all the First Nation’s people represented in this film and all the indigenous communities around the world. It is time we recognize your history and that we protect your indigenous lands from corporate interests and people that are out there to exploit them. It is time that we heard your voice and protected this planet for future generations.”

Of course, this was met with a nice round of applause from the almost exclusively white audience at this awards show since Western filmmaking, and Hollywood specifically, is entirely an anglo dominated environment. And the reason that this was such a resounding and overwhelmingly positive response is because nothing will come of it. It is beyond non-intimidating on the face of it to the status quo since there are a sparse amount of indigenous people in this country that are still alive after this most successful genocide. And because the closest these people ever get to “actual” natives is dressing up like one of them for a Halloween costume party or adorning themselves in some sports paraphernalia to support their local sports franchise that uses their likenesses as a mascot, it means nothing in any tangible way to the audience. Hence, there is no reason to fear indigenous infiltration into their exclusively white environment. Even if the entirely exclusive white spheres in Amerikkka threw open the doors and invited every living native person into their environs, the onrush would be a mere trickle of people, if even that.

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September 21, 2014, Indian Country Today Media Network: “Star Power: Leonardo DiCaprio Climate Marches With Natives, and 9 Other Celeb Sightings: While DiCaprio and Ruffalo marched alongside Indian chiefs and Idle No More organizers, the likes of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon strode side-by-side with former Vice President Al Gore, primatologist Jane Goodall and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, among many, many others.

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September 21, 2014, Amazon Watch website: “Our indigenous allies Patricia Gualinga, Gloria Ushigua, Nina Gualinga, Elena Gálvez, and Antonella Calle joined with thought-leaders and celebrity change-makers such as Naomi Klein and allies Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Edward Norton, Sting and Trudie Styler.” 

Yet, this is not the first foray into the intersection of Hollywood and mainstream recognition of indigenous genocide. On March 27, 1973, Marlon Brando won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his part in the movie ‘The Godfather’. As a sign of solidarity regarding the recent indigenous uprising at Wounded Knee as well as the disgusting representation of natives in Amerikkkan cinema, Brando chose not to go to the Oscars that year and sent an indigenous representative, Sacheen Littlefeather, to accept his award if he won that evening. Here is the wikipedia entry regarding this particular incident:

“Brando had written a 15-page speech for Littlefeather to give at the ceremony, but when the producer met her backstage he threatened to physically remove her or have her arrested if she spoke on stage for more than 60 seconds. Her on-stage comments were therefore improvised. She then went backstage and read the entire speech to the press.

The incident provoked the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to rule out future proxy acceptance of the Academy Awards.”

In addition, the response to Littlefeather’s words by the audience was much different than one King Leo received from his assembled audience recently. The video of Littlefeather giving her speech, which can be found on youtube, shows mostly stunned silence, a few applause, but a noticeable amount of boos also.

 

Sacheen Littlefeather refusing to accept the Best Actor Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando for his performance in “The Godfather” – the 45th Annual Academy Awards in 1973. Liv Ullmann and Roger Moore presented the award.

Since that time, there hasn’t been much mention of the treatment of natives in cinema or even in Amerikkka during Hollywood awards ceremonies or anywhere in the entertainment industry. Before King Leo’s recent speech, the only other blip at a Hollywood awards ceremony was during Kevin Costner’s acceptance speech for Best Picture in 1991 for the film “Dances With Wolves”, his grand opus about one good white man amongst the savages, where the natives were a mere backdrop like any onstage prop to showcase the white character’s overwhelming humanity. Costner threw a few words of thanks to the Sioux community, but nothing of any significance in terms of reparations or acknowledgement regarding even the present plight of the people who he exploited for artistic recognition and monetary success. It was just a perfunctory thank you for Costner’s brief appropriation of their culture for his individual aggrandizement. Nothing more and nothing less. And since it was as non-threatening as you can get, the positive response was approximately twenty years after the previous reaction, which was tepid in the most positive, unbiased description of the scene .

The relaying of non-anglo pain and anguish must always be filtered through the mouth of a white representative, most preferably male.In a sign that this may actually be cyclical in nature, a little over twenty years has passed since ‘Dances With Wolves’ received awards and accolades and a fair amount of revenue for a youthful Kevin Costner. Now, King Leo is at the pinnacle of Amerikkkan Hollywood supremacy and he is the mouthpiece of what is perceived of consciousness from this particularly vacuous and superficial community. Over the past few years, King Leo has positioned himself to be seen as the social conscience of the celebrity elite. But, it is only because of this fact that the message is acceptable. It isn’t the words themselves. It is only the conduit from which they are emanating. The relaying of non-anglo pain and anguish must always be filtered through the mouth of a white representative, most preferably male.

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Actor Leonardo DiCaprio (C) poses for a photo with May Boeve, executive director of 350.org (L) and Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. (R) following a Divest-Invest new conference on September 22, 2015 in New York City.  [ Further reading: September 15, 2014: This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe][Follow up: September 23, 2015 Under One Bad Sky | TckTckTck’s 2014 People’s Climate March: This Changed Nothing]

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Photo: Leonard DiCaprio (L) and ‘s Al Gore, September 2014 [Source: leonardodicaprio via Instagram./ Published: 01/4/2016] [Further reading: The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

Another reason why this is so palatable to mainstream society is that it is not a threat. The only thing King Leo is calling for is just for people in general to recognize the indigenous community. Well, since the indigenous community has been totally destroyed in this country, how are these words going to physically manifest themselves in any tangible way?  This isn’t calling for the sparse few indigenous to get some type or reparations or restitution, as they are housed in some of the worst conditions imaginable in this country that are equivalent to modern day concentration camps. It is just a mere call “to honor” them in some general terms and only so far as it benefits whiteness since King Leo framed it as following ‘the noble savage’ and the mystical aspects of their romanticized existence to be the salve for what is ailing the world. In an homage to the old idiom of wanting your cake and eating it too, you can evidently have the affluence represented by the congregation of the Hollywood elite and also be a spiritual messiah for all that is good in the world. The fictionalization of the world doesn’t just stop once the movie cameras stop rolling.

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United Nations climate change envoy DiCaprio has purchased an island in Belize to build a multimillion-dollar ecotourism resort. The 104-acre Blackadore Caye is to feature 68 guest villas, a mile of secluded beach, and infinity pools. Although prices have yet to be announced, some of the villas will be for sale at US$15 million. According to the National Post, the project will tap into the growing market for upmarket eco holidays.

But, what does King Leo really mean by “save the Earth”? In similar fashion to how King Leo is now co-opting the global indigenous movement and attempting to be the face of the humane Western response, he has long been considered the face of the mainstream celebrity portion of environmentalism (or more honestly, its faux aspects). But, if you look at all of his work for the environmental movement, it has been nothing more than the combination of exclusivity of white privilege, the intense commercialization of all designated renewable resources (renewable in name only mind you) and the exorbitant cost of making this available those at the highest rung of the class and social order.

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Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio at a press conference on Tuesday announcing a new fossil fuel divestment report. At the same event, it was announced that DiCaprio planned to divest his personal and those belonging to his foundation.” (Credit: David Sassoon, InsideClimate News)

So, when King Leo gets on this stage and says these things, he is bringing the entire cache of Western acceptability and respectability that he has been able to amass during his twenty years of success in Hollywood. This in and of itself makes him a non-threat. Yet, as the mainstream media is a byproduct of the anglo power structure, it has totally embraced King Leo’s words as the representation of the most heartfelt plea imaginable for the small, miniscule portion of Amerikkkan society that feels “sorry” for past depredations against the indigenous.

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Secretary of State John Kerry (R) and Leonardo DiCapri, 2014.

Therefore, King Leo will continue to receive a pat on the back from the mainstream as he is doing the job of rectifying the inequities of the past by his current statement. The fact there is no actual list of suggested solutions regarding the past and current oppression of natives is the cause of the ovation shown by the crowd at the Golden Globe Awards and the praise by the members of the liberal side of the media. However, King Leo ever endorsing something that would actually benefit the indigenous here in Amerikkka would cause a much different response. Therefore, if King Leo was to list the actual policy changes that would assist the indigenous and, by extension, affect the privilege of his audience, the applause would inexorably transition from applause to the boos of yesteryear.

And the greatest lie is that King Leo doesn’t know this…or that all of us don’t know it either…

 

 

THE REIGN OF THE INTERNET

Wrong Kind of Green

January 14, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

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

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

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

 

 

[Jay 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 activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website: www.jaytaber.com ]

WATCH: Recognition Politics | A Lecture on Resurgence by Taiaiake Alfred

Video Published December 12, 2015

 

Taiaiake Alfred:

7:50 “The essence of being part of a resurgence movement comes out of that kind of feeling; it’s rooted, it’s accountable, and it’s transformative. […] Those are the three things that I think define the difference between resurgence and the other alternatives out there for what decolonization and colonization [are]; basically recognition politics, and, hate to say it, reconciliation….”

10:03 “Recognition politics is basically the idea that is driving Aboriginal rights, land claims and so forth. It didn’t start out that way. It started out as a strong nationhood movement to get our land back, to have our nations, our laws recognized, and to have them enlivened again and to have them govern our people and govern the lives of our people.”

“But through process of politics and so forth it’s come to be a process of recognizing Indigenous peoples only to the extent that they conform to the basic ideas of the colonial society. And so what you have is an idea that when you have a land claim, or a self-government claim, or you’re negotiating some kind of agreement, or the Supreme Court is considering our presence here and our rights, it’s more a recognition of the fact that we are now a part of Canada, and a recognition of our fact being here, but not any substantial transformative importance to that decision.

And so Glen Coulthard does a really good job of elaborating the problems with this and also I think builds on the notion of this idea of co-optation. About how Canada has structured the whole relationship, the decolonizing relationship in Canada to make it very enticing for people to want to follow that pathway rather than to stand on the strong principles that our ancestors defended our nations on. And so it’s not only intellectually seductive to think that … to be offered the idea of inclusion, recognition, validation, and so forth, but it’s also financially motivated as well in the sense that there’s a lot of programming dollars and a lot of money behind the whole process structured into the negotiation of these recognitions. That’s one element. I’m not going to focus too much on it. Just in jist that’s what it is.

The reconciliation. I think everybody is becoming very familiar with that. I mean when we talk about reconciliation, it kind of builds on recognition, on that whole structure of recognition and Aboriginal rights and so forth. It’s oriented towards inclusion too but in my reading of reconciliation too, it’s Canada’s effort to assuage the guilt of colonization. It’s Canada’s effort to turn the page on Canadian history. It’s Canada’s effort to make the suffering of residential schools the centrepiece of an effort to make us forget that our existence is rooted on the land, in nations and that we are collectivities and that there is a vast injustice still present.

Whether or not individuals are compensated or healed from the experiences and the horrible experiences they had in residential school, it’s Canada’s attempt to make it about cultural survival and healing, which are two things which no one is going to complain about and say shouldn’t happen, but when you stop there and you don’t talk about the land and you only talk about cultural revitalization and healing, it’s a further injustice. Because the root of all of our problems as Indigenous people, as we’ve experienced them growing up in our communities and even in the urban context, is dispossession.

I remember when I worked, I’ve said this many times in public but I always will every time I talk about this and give credit to Rosalee Tizya, a Yukon elder from Old Crow, who used to tell all of us who worked at the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the young people at that time in the nineties, that it’s all about the land. It’s all about the land. So we were talking then about Aboriginal rights, self-government, the origins basically: the nascent idea of reconciliation was hatched in the Royal Commission in all the discussion forums that we had there and recommendations that were put forward. She would always remind us that it’s all about the land. Don’t forget that.

Don’t let them convince you that social justice is a substitute for land justice. Don’t let them convince you that programming dollars and being accepted and being allowed to dress and sing and do your ceremonies and all that is a substitute for your nation’s laws being the laws that govern your territory again. Don’t let that happen.

And not many of us paid attention at that time and I think that now is the time where if we don’t pay attention to that message, everything could be lost for our nations. It’s getting to that crucial point where there’s so little left of our nationhood as it manifests in reality on the ground, on the land, and there’s so much of an overwhelming threat of assimilation through laws and being overwhelmed culturally and all of these things happening to our people and our future generations that if we don’t pay attention to our connection to the land and our rootedness in it intellectually, spiritually and physically, we may not be talking about indigenous nationhood a generation from now. We may not be able to talk about it because it might be a memory for our nations, for our people, for the next generations coming up. So it’s imperative of us younger people, especially younger people, to understand how important and then to begin to live that in a very serious way.”

 

 

[Taiaiake Alfred (Gerald R. Alfred), born and raised in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, is a faculty member at the University of Victoria, and is also the Program Director of the Indigenous Governance Program at the University. His scholarly work focuses particularly on Native nationalism, Iroquois history, and indigenous traditions of government.]

The Postmodern Left and the Success of Neoliberalism

Libcom

January 5, 2016

by Scott Jay

The Postmodern Left and the success of neoliberalism

 

The international Left promotes its own image rather than engaging in the bitter reality of resistance against neoliberalism. It does not need to believe in postmodernism because it is postmodernism.

The rise of neoliberalism across the globe for decades, and its continued resilience since the 2007-2008 financial crisis in particular, forces us to ask why there has not been a more successful resistance against it.

We might start with the changing structure of the working class, especially in the West, and that would be worthwhile, but it is not as though neoliberalism has abolished working class resistance entirely. It is not as though there have not been multiple general strikes in Greece, for example. Additionally, the United States just recently saw a series of urban rebellions against police killing Black people, with buildings set on fire and police cars destroyed in revolt against the conditions imposed upon them by the state. Many of the participants have since been convicted of arson and other crimes and are now serving out years-long prison terms.

The problem is not that militancy is not possible or even at times imminent. Working class people in the US have shown great courage against police terrorism, and in Greece refused to accept yet another round of austerity even with European capital holding their economy hostage.

The alternate question to ask, then, is why has the Left specifically failed to resist neoliberalism?

We might answer this question in dozens of ways, one answer for each Left that exists. But the failure of SYRIZA in Greece to resist yet another wave of austerity measures–in fact to embrace austerity–sharpens and clarifies the problem, posing uncomfortable truths.

That is, perhaps the Left hasn’t failed to resist neoliberalism. Perhaps it has not even tried.

Wasn’t SYRIZA a decade-long project to build up an alliance of radicals in response to the collapse of social democracy into neoliberalism? It certainly seemed so at the time, probably to its participants most of all. And yet the entire project collapsed so immediately and so spectacularly, going from the cutting edge of the international Left to the symbol of all that is wrong with it, in less than a week.

The defining moment of SYRIZA and of the international Left of the current generation occurred in the early morning hours of July 11, 2015. Many histories will forget this detail as just one of many parliamentary sessions, yet this was by far the most significant. In this moment, just days after the spectacular “Oxi” vote by the Greek people rejecting austerity, their parliamentary representatives chose to embrace it. With 149 seats in parliament, only two members of the radical coalition of the Left dedicated to ending austerity found themselves voting “Oxi” along with the people they claimed to represent. It was a stunning moment that no radical should forget for the rest of their life, unless they simply want to repeat these exciting failures over and over indefinitely.

Certainly, the votes improved later in the month, but the collapse of July 11 should not be so easily forgotten. For a brief moment we saw the crux–or one of the cruxes–of the problem of the international Left.

In short, these members of SYRIZA were more committed to the image of SYRIZA as a united coalition of the radical Left than they were in actually opposing austerity when the opportunity to do so was right in front of them. They recoiled from reality and its consequences and embraced the image of what they had built instead. This is the Postmodern Left in practice.

In the face of unrelenting neoliberalism, the international Left has embraced postmodernism, not in theory but in practice, putting style over substance and feel good moments and flashy leaders over the brute reality of resisting capitalist exploitation. The Postmodern Left does not reject metanarratives or objective reality in theory. In fact it embraces the metanarrative of its own centrality to altering the course of history, but when it finds itself at the center of historical development, then history is treated like an ethereal, formless blob that nobody can make any sense of. It simply happens, and no options are possibly available that can shape it. Once the Left is placed in the driver seat, there is no alternative other than to passively participate in the machinations of the system. Anything else is just too difficult

The Postmodern Left avoids building actual power among the poor and the oppressed, instead focusing on self-promotional spectacles which feel like struggle and power but are entirely empty.

The Postmodern Left talks about “class struggle unionism” then carries out pension reform in the name of a balancing the budget and then insist that they never supported any such thing because words are meaningless and have no relationship to objective reality.

The Postmodern Left is detached from reality because it makes its own reality.

The Postmodern Left does not believe in postmodernism. The Postmodern Left is postmodernism.

The material roots of Postmodern Leftism

The Postmodern Left is not the result of the declining relevance of objective reality. On the contrary, it has a solid material base from which it arises, and to which it is shackled, specifically in the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) form. Under neoliberalism, the destruction of social welfare programs and other sources of stability for working class people have been replaced by services granted by NGOs, funded by foundations and governmental grants as well as directly from corporations. This organizational form has extended beyond the service sector and into the Left itself, where protest movement organizations can build up an infrastructure of full-time staff members through many of these same grants. The problem for NGOs, then, is to challenge the status quo without challenging the elite sources which fund the operation. This has proven to be an impossible problem to solve, and instead NGOs have served to reproduce neoliberalism rather than challenge it.

A few examples will illustrate this.

The Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung is a global network of organizations based in Berlin and New York that celebrates the life of Rosa Luxemburg, a Polish revolutionary best known for her role in the German socialist movement as a critic of its support of electoral reformism and imperialism. She was later killed by her reformist comrades when they came to power. Meanwhile, the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung has taken her name while supporting the the United Nations and hailing the electoral victory of Alexis Tsipras after he embraced austerity. Her name has become little more than a tool for garnering funding.

DeRay McKesson is an activist who rose to prominence during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, especially in Ferguson, MIssouri. While he is known as an activist, few people can point to what he has accomplished beyond amassing an enormous Twitter following and gaining the accolades of the corporate media. McKesson was also a school administrator associated with Teach For America, a pro-corporate school “reform” organization which weakens teachers’ unions by supplying schools with inexperienced, low-cost and temporary teachers fresh out of college. More recently, McKesson quit his job to become a “full-time activist” working with the Democratic and Republican parties, Twitter and other corporate sponsors to host presidential debates. In short, DeRay McKesson is not really a left-wing militant, but at times he sure looks like one. The problem is, there are so many McKesson’s on the activist scene, typically much less tied to corporate interests than he is, that it can be difficult to discern the difference between a “real” militant and “fake” one.

A group of non-profit organizations recently held a housing and tenants rights conference in Oakland, California. This is a city where two-bedroom apartments regularly rent for $2,000 or more and the Black and Latino working class is rapidly being displaced. One of the sponsoring organizations was recently bargaining with the City of Oakland over a $320,000 contract to oversee Oakland’s Day Laborer Program, which supplies low wage immigrant labor to various employers. Meanwhile, one of the speakers at the conference plenary session declared the enemy to be no less than the capitalist system itself. Recently deposed mayor Jean Quan, who was sitting in the audience and maintains a close alliance with many of the organizers, did not bat an eye at such a statement, and neither will anybody in Oakland City Hall, because this is all just window dressing to create the illusion of radicalism. Nobody who takes $320,000 from the city is going to threaten the political alliances that helped them garner it, no matter how loudly they proclaim their opposition to capitalism.

The Left exists in the general milieu of NGO activism created by such organizations. That is, not all radicals have to succumb to the NGO form, they merely need to adapt to the activism led by NGOs, which is the appearance of militancy, in order to build up a base of support and win reforms, without the substance of militancy, in order to avoid embarrassing important funding sources and allies. In short, the image of something that seems fundamentally revolutionary–Rosa Luxemburg, and the urban rebellions against police terror–can be used by people whose aims are totally compatible with neoliberalism.

The Postmodern Left does not need to take money from the City of Oakland, or even have a tax-free status. It merely needs to confuse such activism as a challenge to the system without identifying its severe limitations. And why would anybody do that? Because this sort of activism is so exciting! And everybody else is doing it. And being the sole figure in the room who says there is something wrong here is a terribly lonely place to be, especially when you are attempting to build a base or recruit people or just mobilize people around anything at all in the hopes that something will be a basis for future struggle. But instead of struggle we get the performance of struggle.

Anybody who attended one of the larger meetings of the British Socialist Workers Party in the past will be aware of the performative aspects of this organization. Having failed to build a workers party during its decades of existence, it must create a performance as though it is a workers’ party, otherwise workers won’t join it, capped off with chanting “The workers united will never be defeated!” Who they are chanting to is unclear. There are no bosses nearby, so it is more likely directed to the workers in attendance, or perhaps just to the party faithful to remind themselves of their commitment to the working class. It is not as though they are not committed–they certainly believe they are–rather the problem is that their commitment is a performance. Rather than build a workers party, they simulate one in the hopes that the workers will join it.

The Postmodern Left is the simulation of a Left, with all of the chants, banners and other paraphernalia of a militant Left with few to none of the acts of resistance. It simulates struggle, basks in the glorious imagery, then wonders why it never achieves victory, which is impossible unless there is an actual battle. Most of the time these battles will end in defeat, so the Postmodern Left accepts the happy illusion over the sad reality. Of course, working class people cannot ignore the bitterness of their own lived reality, but the Postmodern Left generally does not inhabit this world so it is not a problem for them.

On the one hand, Postmodern Leftism has completely failed to challenge neoliberal austerity measures. On the other hand, we can see that full-time staff of the Postmodern Left has done a spectacular job of staving off austerity once we realize that the only jobs they are committed to protecting are their own.

Postmodern social movements

Arun Gupta discussed the postmodern method behind many social movements, describing the People’s Climate March in 2014, a stunning victory of style over substance. He noted that there were “no demands, no targets,and no enemy. Organizers admitted encouraging bankers to march was like saying Blackwater mercenaries should join an antiwar protest. There is no unity other than money.”

How could a march of hundreds of thousands be made so powerless? Because it was run by NGOs committed most of all to continuing their own stream of revenue. All that was necessary was the image of a mass march, the feeling that we are doing something. That this was entirely inadequate to the problem at hand–saving the planet from destruction by capitalism–is not so much a problem if your real goal is to get donations, sell books and set up speaking engagements. In other words, this is not struggle but merely marketing in the form of struggle. It is merely a simulation.

Or, as Gupta described the logic:

Branding. That’s how the climate crisis is going to be solved. We are in an era or postmodern social movements. The image (not ideology) comes first and shapes the reality. The P.R. and marketing determines the tactics, the messaging, the organizing, and the strategy.

One of the most blatant current examples of illusory struggle is the Fight for Fifteen campaign, particularly at the national level, which has led thousands of low-wage workers in strikes against fast food employers. Or have they? One participant describes her experience: “In Miami, I’ve attended Fight for $15 demonstrations in which the vast majority of participants were paid activists, employees of NGOs, CBOs (Community Based Organizations), and union staff seeking potential members.” In fact, many people who have attended these actions will look around and ask, who is really on strike here? There are certainly people who risk their jobs to participate, but in many cases the hundreds of people who attend one of these “strikes” are simply supporters of the idea of low-wage workers striking. The striking workers are far and few between, with a small handful designated as media spokespeople and none others identified at all.

Jane Macalevy is a former staffer with the Service Employee’s International Union (SEIU), the union which runs the Fight for Fifteen in the background, but quietly in order to maintain the image of a worker-led campaign. She has described how illusory this campaign really is: “The problem is that there isn’t any depth to the Fight for 15 campaign. We call it the Berlin Rosen campaign: one hot-shot media firm that’s gotten something like $50 to 70 million from SEIU to paint, through social media, the illusion of a huge movement.”

Berlin Rosen is a public relations firm employed not only by SEIU but also by the current Mayor of New York City and was involved in the bankruptcy of Detroit, the belly of the beast of neoliberalism. They were also employed by the leadership of the United Auto Workers to convince Chrysler employees to accept a contract after these same employees rejected an earlier one that did not go far enough in cancelling the two-tier wage system. In this case, postmodern activism and neoliberalism are one and the same. Berlin Rosen proves, if nothing else, that there is good money to be made in postmodern social movements.

SEIU has since endorsed Hillary Clinton, who does not support a $15 per hour minimum wage. Meanwhile, the most recent Fight for $15 strike ended with appeals to get out the vote in 2016–we can imagine for whom–and has shifted its campaign slogan to “Come Get My Vote.” That is, the movement is being openly positioned to being co-opted by the Democratic Party. This is not usually how a national workers’ rebellion plays out, but might be how a simulated one could be directed.

Richard Seymour described the empty, feel good activism, in which the good feelings of people finally able to express their opposition to the horrors of neoliberalism overcomes the question of what can we do to actually stop these things. Why ask these difficult questions when it feels so good just to finally be marching?

It was, indeed, a joyous occasion [Seymour writes of a march against austerity]. The people thronged into streets barely big enough to contain them, and chanted and sang in notes of cheerful defiance. Those who claim that such events are ‘boring’ are wrong in point of fact, and give the impression of political thrill-seeking. We all had a lovely time. And this was precisely the problem.

A minimum condition for sentience on the left is an awareness that this protest is itself evidence of at least five years of catastrophic failure. There is something powerfully and stunningly incongruous in the subjectivity of a left marching as if in recreation, when we know we are also mourning for the casualties and the dead. It suggests that we don’t really mean business. It suggests that, rather than wanting to shake the walls and pillars to the earth, we want to grab some ice cream and go home.

What Seymour describes is the problem posed by February 15, 2003, the high point of postmodern activism, when millions around the globe marched against the war in Iraq in possibly the largest day of demonstrations in world history. Millions of people flooded the streets and for many it felt like the most empowering moment of their lives, and yet how little power we actually had. Of course, millions of people have an enormous amount of power, but not when they just stand there on the street, even if they are carrying a banner or wearing a political t-shirt. The Postmodern Left can still be heard, from time to time, saying how we nearly stopped the war in Iraq. Nothing could be further from reality, but reality does not bother the Postmodern Left.

“The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living,” wrote Marx in the 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. In this case, it’s more like a daydream, a fantasy of struggle with all the imagery of resistance and none of its substance. If this is all we can do, and no more, then we are utterly lost.

Some people have been grappling with the problem posed by February 15 for the last decade. Others are perfectly content to repeat this same process over and over again, as it allows them to continue selling books, booking speaking engagements, recruiting people to their organizations and funding their non-profit organizations. These machinations can continue indefinitely and are entirely compatible with the capitalist system. One can make can make quite a satisfying career and lifestyle as a revolutionary of sorts, so long as it is all within the confines of the Postmodern Left.

SYRIZA’s Postmodern Neoliberalism

If this is the age of illusions, then the rise of SYRIZA in Greece must be the penultimate illusion. Sadly, but predictably, the SYRIZA bubble has been popped and we have all been forced back down to reality. Since SYRIZA’s acceptance of austerity, former SYRIZA Central Committee member Stathis Kouvelakis has written a number of autopsies of what was once the SYRIZA dream. In one especially revealing statement, he notes how so many moves by SYRIZA were so contrary to what any radical Leftist would accept.

For example, he notes the acceptance of an early agreement on February 20, 2015, to extend the bailout, well before the July capitulation:

Its first and most immediate consequence was to paralyze the mobilization and destroy the optimism and militancy that prevailed in the first weeks after the January 25 electoral victory. Of course, this downgrading of popular mobilization is not something that started on January 25 or February 20, as a consequence of a particular governmental tactic. It is something that was preexistent in Syriza’s strategy.

This is the exact opposite of what was supposed to happen, but the facade had to be maintained. Kouvelakis then notes the rapid decline of internal democracy in SYRIZA in the last few years.

What we saw being constructed after June 2012 — step by step but systematically — was a party form increasingly leader-centered, centralized, and detached from the actions and the will of the membership. The process went entirely out of control when Syriza went into government.

None of this should be unexpected. These are the well known consequences of electoral strategies, which Marxists have been aware of for a century, since the capitulation of European Social Democracy to World War One and repeated many times since. Yet, eager Marxists the world over looked to SYRIZA as something different, but it was merely the illusion of something different. In the end, it was exactly the same sort of radical electoral strategies of the past, but the appeal that these plucky Marxist intellectuals and activists could take on the European powers was far too seductive. In SYRIZA, the international Left saw itself, and could not imagine that it, too, might collapse in much the same way under similar circumstances.

The problem is that these strategies appeal to a certain brand of Leftist occupying a certain social position–specifically, intellectuals and NGO leaders–including those who have spent their careers explaining the limitations of electoralism. The appeal of electoral glory is simply too great for these people to be withstood against a rock-solid critique of reformism.

After July 11, no serious Leftists can ever, for the rest of their lives, look a prominent left-wing figure in the eye and take their promises at face value. We just cannot take ourselves seriously if we continue to pretend that lofty promises from self-important, self-selected leaders can be trusted. And yet, this is precisely what the Postmodern Left will continue to do, assuring everybody that no, this next project is not an other SYRIZA, even though they almost certainly said the some sort of thing about SYRIZA itself.

Greece has had dozens of general strikes over the last few years and some even predicted that the working class might rise up in response to SYRIZA’s capitulation. There was even a one-day general strike of public sector workers carried out the day that the first round of austerity was approved by the Greek parliament on July 15. Surprisingly, this general strike seemed to have no impact whatsoever on parliament. “The fight is now on,” heralded one breathless commentary announcing the impending strike. “It is not off: it’s the period of shadow boxing that is over.” The strike came and went, but the mere shadow boxing continued.

We are left to wonder whether or not working people can challenge their own governments if even a general strike cannot alter the course of history. There is, of course, an alternate explanation, which is that at least some of these may have been mere simulations of general strikes, turned on and then turned off by the union leadership with little threat of disrupting much beyond halting a days’ work, after which order was fully restored, if it was ever even threatened in the first place.

If we cannot tell the difference between simulation and reality, we risk descending from a healthy pessimism over the current state of affairs into believing that working class struggles can have no impact simply because it deceptively appears that they don’t.

Simulation hits reality

SYRIZA played out like a simulation of Marxist theory. The collapse of social democracy required a new electoral force to take its place. In stepped SYRIZA, an electoral alliance that assured everyone that they were actually going to take on the financial powers in Europe. Marxists around the world who have documented in detail how social democracy has flailed and decayed for decades suddenly believed that yes, this electoral reform project would succeed, and no, there was no reason why it was any different than the failures of the past. Without a “fake” Marxist Left–the Stalinists, reformists and other revisionists of the past–the “real” Marxist Left stepped in to take its place, heralding the dawn of a new age in Europe, for a few exciting months anyway.

It can seem impossible at times to tell the difference between the real and the fake, the simulation and reality, but ultimately we do not live in a postmodern world. We simply live in a world where so many on the Left act as though it is. Nonetheless, all of these simulations do eventually confront the brute material forces of reality, and suddenly the complete inadequacy of the simulated Left–not just in SYRIZA but across the board–is laid bare for all to see. Eventually, a Ferguson or a Baltimore revolts and the irrelevance of the Postmodern Left to the project of organizing working class resistance is made completely clear.

If there is any way out of this rut, it is to reject the spectacle and the simulation in favor of substantive material resistance. The feel good moment of triumph with a hollow center, the exuberant meetings and chants that people remember for the rest of their lives, just might be an obstacle toward building something with actual power. The image of revolt, and even talk of socialism and–hold onto your seats!–“political revolution” coming from the Bernie Sanders campaign for President will go nowhere. It is the courageous act of resistance and the rein of terror that it must face in response from the neoliberal state that transforms a class into a force for rebellion.

In short, if social movements do not directly hurt the people in power–and not just mildly embarrass them–or empower the exploited and oppressed–and not just temporarily mobilize them–then it may not be a worthwhile strategy. It may simply feel like one.

In other words, if it feels good, don’t do it.

We may struggle to see past the illusions from our current vantage point. No doubt, we will find ourselves in the trenches of class war, only to look outside and realize that the entire spectacle has been constructed by a charlatan. This will continue to happen, so long as neoliberal capitalism provides career opportunities for charlatans, as it no doubt will.

There is a great need, then, to breakdown the facade, to no longer allow the false images of resistance that surreptitiously enable neoliberalism and distract from the fundamental project of resistance. The SYRIZAs of the world will insist that this is counterproductive to their project. And that is exactly the point.