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Pacifism as Pathology

From Stable to Star – The Making of North American “Climate Heroes”

August 16, 2016

By Cory Morningstar

 

manipulated youth 2

50 Million Shades of Grey

Fifteen years ago, Phil Radforth, former Executive Director of Greenpeace USA founded Powershift to which he served as Executive Director of Power Shift. Powershift was to be “a non-governmental organization dedicated to driving clean energy market breakthroughs and building the grassroots base to stop global warming.” [Emphasis added. Source: Phil Radforth’s Wikipedia profile.] The year was 2001.

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 then senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton attended Step It Up events and issued statements of support for the goals put forward by the newly developed NGO 1Sky. Step it Up then morphed into 1Sky. 1Sky was an incubator project of the Rockefeller Foundation at its inception. [Further reading: Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New 350.org | More $ – More Delusion] At the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative, then President Bill Clinton announced the 1Sky campaign. [Video, September 29, 2007: 1Sky at Clinton Global Initiative published by Step It Up]

“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.” — Clinton Foundation Press Release, Sept 27, 2007

 

“In 2007, Power Shift 2007 committed to bring thousands of young people to Capitol Hill for the largest-ever climate lobby day and equip them with the tools and trainings to increase youth voter turn-out and pressure politicians to offer bold climate solutions.” — Clinton Global Initiative website [Emphasis added]

Prior to the Clinton Global Initiative’s lucrative injection of financing into the Rockefeller incubator 1Sky (which would later merge with 350.org in 2011) also previous to the launch of Step It Up in 2007, there was another predecessor: The Energy Action Coalition.  (“Power Shift 2007-Commitment by Energy Action Coalition | Launched: 2007, Est. Duration: 1 year, Estimated Total Value: $3,000,000.00.”) [ Source: Clinton Global Initiative website]

Power Shift 2007 Clinton Foundation

Manufacturing Pragmatism

Founded June 6, 2004, the Energy Action Coalition was created as an umbrella group for approx. 20-30 NGOs (in the familiar vein of Climate Action Network, TckTckTck/GCCA, and scores of other NGOs). To illustrate its importance as the largest youth advocacy group concerned with environmental issues, Energy Action Coalition co-founder, Billy Parish was cited by the annual ceremony honoring  environmental leaders under 23-year-old ceremony entitled the Brower Youth Awards website as the founder and director of “Earth Island’s first project led by a BYA winner.” [Emphasis added]

Preceding his cofounding of Energy Action Coalition in 2004, Parish founded the Climate Campaign, an umbrella group comprised of 10 student organizations representing about 125 college campuses with the pursuit of “clean energy” as the shared common goal:

“So in 2003, he founded the Climate Campaign, an umbrella group of 10 student organizations representing about 125 college campuses throughout the Northeast. Though these groups may disagree about strategy and philosophy, they’ve settled on a common goal: greater use of wind power and other clean-energy sources on their home campuses.” — Grist, A Spotlight on Young  Enviro  Activists,  August 11, 2004

Parish’s 2003 “Climate Campaign” and personal bio (in addition, a not so subtle personification as white saviour) is also documented on the Ashoka website (Parish is an Ashoka fellow) founded by “social entrepreneur” Bill Drayton.

“Billy and his sister grew up in New York City, where their parents practiced law. He started out at a Montessori school, then went to a small private boys’ school from first grade through high school. He was “a golden child”—teachers loved him. He was a leader and moral compass in school, sports, and social groups. With a strong social conscience, he always stuck up for the underdog. His best friend Jawn was the only black student in his first grade class. The school kept the boys together year after year, because Billy always protected Jawn…

 

He founded The Climate Campaign to bring existing student networks together. Four hundred students from 100 schools attended the first conference. In 2004 Billy founded Energy Action Coalition, which is fiscally sponsored by the Earth Island Institute, an environmental projects incubator.” — Ashoka website  (“This profile below was prepared when William Parish was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.”)

In 2002 Parish left his studies at Yale to pursue his campaigns full time. No time was wasted in the grooming of the oligarchy’s up and coming superstar.  By November of 2005 Parish was featured in Rolling Stone magazine’s issue as their “#1 Climate Hero of the 21st Century” for his work in organizing environmental activism across the country. [Source] Other “climate heroes” chosen by Rolling Stone for this particular feature included CEO of General Electric, Jeff Immelt (“The Profiteer”), Jonathan Lash of World Resources Institute (“The Go-between”, aligning industry with green groups), Amory Lovins (“The Visionary”, key player today for the implementation of payments for ecosystems services), Tony Blair, Al Gore, James Hansen and  Arnold Schwarzenegger among others.

“Anya Kamenetz argues that Millennials are working toward small and achievable goals, rather than pursuing radical, systemic change. She describes the efforts of Billy Parish, the 23-year-old leader of Energy Action, who co-founded the nation’s largest youth environmental coalition as a Yale junior in 2003. Energy Actions conducts national campaigns on clean energy and global warming and claims an email list of 30 000 and member organizations on 1500 campuses. ‘”The next generation of advocates are solution-oriented,” says Parish. “They’re interested in things like biodiesel, etc.” – instead of radical ecology of the ’70s. This pragmatism may seem alien with those that equate youth with uncompromising zeal,” (Kamenetz, 2005: B3) [Source: Dissent and the Failure of Leadership, 2008] [Emphasis added]

Taking the very privileged Parish’s belief system into consideration (as outlined by Kamenetz above), it is little wonder that 50 million dollars would be sought to promote (and more importantly guarantee) pragmatism (and the expansion of capitalism) over radical ecology.  It is little wonder Parish was embraced, coddled and made famous by the oligarchs that funnel billions into the non-profit industrial complex.

In 2006 “Energy Action” was cited as having over 30,000 members. A decade later, Parish cites membership at 300,000, a tenfold increase (Parish “Founded and grew the Energy Action Coalition into the world’s largest youth clean energy organization (300k members)”. [Source]

“By the age of 21, Billy Parish was managing a $5 million coalition of college-aged environmentalists… By the time he was a junior, he had 80 employees and was working with the White House on promoting green jobs.” — Environmental Watch Website, Profile Billy Parish

 

“The coalition, which operates on a $5 million annual budget, is funded primarily by foundations, including George Soros’ Open Society Institute, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Surdna Foundation.” — Journal Sentinel, May 16, 2009

Bill McKibben who partnered with Parish in the Clinton-backed campaign Step It Up ‘07 (2007), cites that he first met Parish in 2002: “When I first met him, he’d just dropped out of Yale. Not because he couldn’t hack it. Because he didn’t think it was as important as fighting climate change. And so he built the Energy Action Coalition, the nationwide student mobilization against global warming.” [Source] (Side note: While at Yale Parish studied sustainable economic development.)

In the January 7, 2006 Grist (not coincidentally, an online website for which McKibben serves on the Board of Directors) article, it was noted that “over 150 activists send letter asking Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to reconsider position” regarding his support of a wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod.  Of those activists, both Parish (identified as Coordinator, Energy Action) and McKibben (identified as author of End of Nature) are listed as 2 of the 150 signatories demanding Kennedy reconsider his decision. Of interest regarding the individual participation of members involved in the NGO complex is that 350.org’s Jamie Henn is also a signatory representing Energy Action. 350’s Jon Warnow (who glaringly has no affiliation listed) and 350.org’s May Boeve (who is listed in affiliation with The Climate Campaign/Middlebury College) are listed as also signatories.

“A diverse coalition of Americans, including forward-thinking CEOs, evangelical leaders, and college students, is building a hopeful future of clean-energy sources, cutting-edge technologies, and rewarding and high-paying jobs. The installation of the Cape Wind farm will be an important turning-point for this new grassroots movement.”— January 7, 2007, Grist [Emphasis added]

The focus of Parish’s Energy Action Coalition conceptualized in 2003-2004 would become the mobilization of students into a force utilized to implement the annual campaign Power Shift: “the first-ever national youth summit to address the climate crisis” (November 2007). This would be achieved working in partnership with Step It Up, and a cash injection of millions (this is according to the Clinton Global Initiative that announced “working with partners 1Sky will raise $50 million”):

“On November 2, 2007, this commitment hosted thousands of young adults converging on Washington, DC for Power Shift 2007, the first-ever national youth summit to solve the climate crisis…Power Shift 2007 will occur in coordination with over 1,000 actions in communities across the country for Step it Up 2, as well as the first major public launch of the 1Sky campaign, calling for a major governmental mobilization to address global warming.”

step-it-up 2007 poster _240t

The focus on electoral politics (as well as loyalty and obvious ties to the democratic party) is demonstrated in the following paragraph as found on the Clinton Foundation website:

“Provide each participant with comprehensive training and tools to develop campus-wide youth voter coalitions and mechanisms for running large-scale voter registration and mobilization programs around the 2008 elections… For Power Shift, Clinton Global Initiative is an opportunity to think even bigger and expand the scope of its planning, and a platform to tell the world that young people are rising to the climate challenge in new and unprecedented ways and will be a critical force in the 2008 election cycle… Over 200 Workshops and Trainings: Conference attendees will learn best practices for organizing, including: campaign and event planning, voter registration, recruitment, communications and media, public speaking, lobbying, leadership development, and coalition building.” [Source ]

 

“Financial Support for Power Shift 2007 focused on a 2008 strategy [to] allow for the opportunity to work collectively with Rock the Vote, The League of Young Voters, The Student Pirgs New Voters Project, Campus Camp Wellstone, Black Youth Vote, and the Hip Hop Caucus amongst other groups to help expand and grow the power of the youth vote.”

Financial support from unidentified private entities (as suggested in the unspoken, generalized source of the aforementioned $50 million dollars) would fully fund “Power Shift 07”.

“For the last five years, Powershift has been organized by a consortium of large and medium sized environmental organizations. Looking through the list of attendees gives you an idea: WWF, NWF, EDF, NRDC, Common Cause. All of the PIRG’s represented (WISPIRG, WashPIRG, CalPIRG, NJPIRG, MassPIRG) are regional chapters of USPIRG, which by way of the Fund for the Public Interest is connected to the various Sierra Club chapters.” — The Intent of Powershift, 2011

powershift 2007

Above: 2007 Power Shift poster

jessie tolkan clinton

Above: Billy Parrish and Jessy Tolkan (far right) on stage at Clinton Global Initiative in 2008. Tolkan has been featured in Time, Glamour, and Vanity Fair Magazine. Rolling Stone Magazine named her one of the 100 agents of change in America in 2008. She is the former Executive Director for the Energy Action Coalition (having helped organize Power Shift 2007 and subsequent Power Shifts) and State Director of the New Voters Project (“where she helped register more than 130,000 young voters… providing the foundation for the historic youth strategies employed in the 2008 presidential election.” Source: Purpose). Tolkan also held the title of Global Director of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Development for two multi-national automakers. Today she serves on the 350.org board of directors, as well as serving as “Head of Labs & Executive Director” of Here Now, a project of Purpose. [Further reading on Purpose: Under One Bad Sky]

global power shift flyer-en

“Global Power Shift was initiated and is being led by 350.org, a youth-led network co-founded by environmental writer Bill McKibben. We teamed up with a wide range of friends and allies (listed below) from across the international youth climate movement and climate movement more broadly to prepare for the global kickoff event in Istanbul, Turkey in June of 2013, and also to spark rolling national Power Shift events and new campaign mobilizations around the world throughout 2013 and 2014.” [Source

Here it should be noted that the 350.org (also established in 2007) website domain belongs to that of a Jay R. Halfon. Halfon, who serves on the 350.org board of directors, was executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), with over 25 offices throughout New York State, for a decade ending in 1997. [1] An associate of Rockefeller, Jay R. Halfon is also listed as the executive and Director & General Counsel of Sustainable Markets Foundation (SMF). SMF would go on in 2011 and 2012 to help finance the book and film project The Message (now know as “This Changes Everything).

“The Energy Action Coalition comprises 44 member organizations and almost 400 allied organizations and companies.” — Clinton Global Initiative Press Release, September 28, 2007

The Energy Action Coalition (EAC) is said to be comprised of 44 member organizations and almost 400 allied organizations and corporations (2007). Yet, who these members organizations and corporations actually are must be considered unknown by most, as only 18 coalition partners are identified/disclosed on the EAC website. Included are Greenpeace, Green for All, Groundswell, Generation Progress and Responsible Endowments Coalition. [Full list]

In the 2005 document “New Energy for Campuses”, EAC coalition members are identified as: Black Mesa Water Coalition, California Student Sustainability Coalition, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Climate Campaign, Dakota Resource Council, Education for Sustainability Western Network, Energy Justice Network, Envirocitizen, Environmental Justice and Climate Change Initiative, Free The Planet!, Global Exchange, Greenpeace, Indigenous Environmental Network, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund: Project Democracy, National Association of Environmental Law Societies, National Wildlife Federation’s Campus Ecology Program, the student PIRGS, Rainforest Action Network, Sierra Student Coalition, Sierra Youth Coalition, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Southern Energy Network, Student Environmental Action Coalition, Students United for a Responsible Global Environment, Sustainable Endowments Institute, and Youth Environmental Network.

EAC, an incubator project of Earth Island Institute would be classified as an independent501(c)(3) as of July 2014.

“Activist” Clearing Houses

Green Corps:

Many activists will be fully indoctrinated long before they have a chance to fully develop their own thought processes, ideologies and identities. The Green Corps Field School for Environmental Organizing” is where non-profits send their recruits to groom them for “a career in environmental organizing”.  Launched in 1992 by U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), which is funded in part by the Tides Foundation, Alumni/alumna includes Bill McKibben (350), Phil Radford (Greenpeace), Lisa Archer (Friends of the Earth, an NGO which has been represented on the Ceres Board of Directors since inception) and even Ceres senior associates such as Eleanor Fort. Green Corps is explicitly for “college seniors and recent graduates.” Seasoned activists need not apply. It is of interest to note that the aforementioned founder of Power Shift, and Green Corps Alumni, Phil Radforth, serves as a board member of Green Corps.

“No older, more mature people–who might ask questions, or who might know more than their trainers–need apply. Green Corps has become the de facto frat house for millennial enviro-staffers.  There’s an interesting story to be told here, in terms of understanding where the movement is today and where it’s headed.” David Orr, long-time environmental organizer

Tides: The Opportunity Agenda:

Another example of a well-established grooming institution is The Opportunity Agenda (“Building the National Will to Expand Opportunity in America”), another project of Tides Center. “Moving Hearts, Minds, and Policy for Lasting Change” is polished linguistics for what amounts to behavioral change/modification projects:

To advance the impact of the social justice community, we shape compelling narratives and messages; build the communication capacity of social justice leaders through training and resources; and engage with artists, creatives, and culture makers as powerful storytellers to shift the public discourse. We believe in the power of communication and collaboration to drive lasting change. Let’s work together to move hearts and minds to drive lasting policy and culture change, and to expand opportunity for all.” – The Opportunity Agenda: “Building the National Will to Expand Opportunity in America”[Emphasis added]

The “Creative Change Alumni” of The Opportunity Agenda (through 2014) includes those such as Jamie Henn, 350.org (2013), Eli Pariser, Upworthy, MoveOn.org, Avaaz (2009) and Open Society Foundations Advisory Board Member, Andrew Boyd, Beautiful Trouble (2011, 2012 and 2014). The process is akin to gold panning with prospective recruits representing “material” and those cherry-picked as the gold: “The process basically consists of placing the material that you want to process into your pan and shaking it in a left to right motion underwater to cause the gold, which is heavy, to work its way down toward the bottom of your pan. At the same time, the lighter materials, which are worthless, are worked up to the surface of the gold pan where they can be swept away. The process of shaking and sweeping is repeated until only the heaviest of materials are left-namely the gold and heaviest black sand.” Artists and those with interest in social or environmental justice who may exude charismatic appeal to the mainstream are discovered and molded by programs and training created/financed by our dominating oligarchs. The “Creative Change Alumni” is comprised of those who it is believed can be successfully developed, nurtured and fostered by those at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex. The strategic cultivating of neoliberal ideologies is carried out under the guise of empowering tomorrow’s leaders.

“The Opportunity Agenda is pleased to recognize the philanthropic and volunteer contributions of foundations, corporations, and individuals who have helped us during our launch phase.  We also want to thank the many communications and media consultants, social justice leaders, and nonprofit organizations who have agreed to partner with us as we advance our mission to build the national will to expand opportunity for all.”

The Opportunity Agendas’ Foundation and Institutional Supporter list is extensive. This demonstrates the vital importance (thus ongoing extensive commitment) in overseeing the development of “activism” and said “movements”.  Institutions who finance this particular clearing house include Carnegie Corporation of New York, Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundations. [Full List]

Bower Youth Awards:

Another “activist” clearing house venue is The New Leaders Initiative (NLI) home to the aforementioned Bower Youth Awards (“the premier North American awards honoring bold young environmental leaders”) created by the Earth Island Institute in honour of David Brower (“NLI honors the legacy of David Brower – firebrand environmentalist, community activist, and founder of Earth Island Institute.”) As of 2010, Earth Island Institute’s total net assets were $7.1 million. Previous selection committees have included Bill McKibben and Thao Pham, executive director of the Clif Bar Family Foundation.

“The New Leaders Initiative (NLI) grows environmental leadership by raising the profile of young emerging environmental leaders in North America, celebrating their achievements, and providing them with the skills, resources, and relationships to lead effective campaigns and projects.” — Brower Youth Awards Website

 

In addition to a $3,000 cash award and an all expenses paid trip to the San Francisco Bay Area to attend the awards ceremony, winners receive ongoing support and mentoring from Earth Island Institute  staff and other environmental leaders.” — National Education Foundation Grants and Awards

 

“Since 2000, the Brower Youth Awards has recognized 86 exceptional leaders with a cash prize, a high-energy week of activities in San Francisco, and ongoing leadership support. NLI also offers mentoring and project sponsorship to rising young leaders.” — Brower Youth Awards Website

Past Bower Youth Award winners include 350.org’s most recognized staff members, such as previously mentioned Billy Parish (2004, age 22) who would go on to serve on 1Sky’s Board of Directors as well as 350.org’s U.S. Advisory Council, John Warnow (2007), 350.org Web Director and Co-Founder, and May Boeve (2006), 350.org political strategy and partnerships coordinator, as well as a co-founder and current executive director.

May Boeve Vouge

Above: Boeve follows in the footsteps of her 350.org counterpart Naomi Klein, appearing in the November 3, 2015 issue of Vogue. Incidentally, Mindy Lubber, president and founding board member of Ceres (350 divestment partner) is also featured in the same issue. “But what appears as a natural property of the charismatic celebrity is actually produced by discourses of celebrity. (Matt Hills, 2005:151) The capitalist system uses celebrities to promote individualism and illusions of democracy (the ‘anyone can do it’ myth) […] capitalism retains its hold on society, by reducing all human activity to private ‘personalities’ and the inner life of the individual.” (Giles, 2000:19 and 72) [Further reading: McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XIII of an Investigative Report] [The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Above: 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. “In this, these markets of emotion and care come into their own: celebritis politicus is used to sell causes, contributions, concerns and socially responsible consumerism through a competitive market for poverty and enviro-tainment designed to develop, capture, and ‘use’ the fans of this poverty and enviro-tainment towards progressive ends.” — Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times, 2013 [Further reading: McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XIII of an Investigative Report] [The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

Past Brower Youth Award recipients demonstrate the transition from “discovered” activist to paid professional. Examples of this trend include 2000 award winner Ariana Katovich who went on to become Director of Operations at Cutting Edge Capital and Director of Restoration Initiatives at the Earth Island Institute; 2000 award winner Dave Karpf who went on to become an “advocacy expert”; 2000 award winner Matt Ewing who went on to become National Field Director for MoveOn.org.; 2001 award winner Jared Duval who would go on to become a 350.org advocate and author of the book Next Generation Democracy. On and on it goes. The nurtured youth of today’s clearing houses for 21st century environmentalism, which is merely a guise for full-blown anthropocentrism, are the well-intentioned albeit naïve foot soldiers for today’s most powerful oligarchs.

This is not empowerment. This is exploitation, manipulation, social engineering and co-optation – at its best.

Wall Street, Mosaics & The Era of “Enlightened Self-interest”

Parish & Rosen

Photo: Mosaic co-founders Billy Parish (L) and Dan Rosen (R).

The divestment series has demonstrated that more than often the very “activists” hell-bent on the destruction of more nature in pursuit of so-called “100% clean energy” have also set themselves up to be the very benefactors of the “climate wealth opportunities” that the “green energy revolution” promises. Many of the “leading activists”, as manufactured by Rolling Stone and other “alternative” media (also a vital component of the non-profit industrial complex) have ties to the financial sector. Therefore, Parish’s extensive privilege is not an exception, but rather it is the rule which has become normalized as par for the course via neoliberal media.

Billy Parish is son of Michael Parish, “a cum laude graduate of Princeton University and of Yale Law School”. Michael Parish has more than 35 years experience as a partner in several large Wall Street law firms:

“Although the work he has been involved in crosses the range of venture capital, intellectual property and advisory work for major financial institutions, his principal focus has been in the field of corporate and securities law with specialization in finance, mergers & acquisitions, public utility and energy law. He currently serves as the non-executive chairman of the board of Forum Funds, a group of 35 mutual funds headquartered in Portland, Maine managing more than $5 billion in assets… He has written extensively for business and legal publications on Sarbanes/Oxley, energy deregulation, and corporate governance.”   [Full bio]

In 2012 Billy Parish released the book Making Good: Finding Meaning, Money and Community in a Changing World. (“Making Good was co-written with Dev Aujla, prominent social entrepreneur, and outlines a plan for young people to become problem solvers and capitalize on the opportunities that come from today’s global challenges.” Source)

The Green Game

“Our highest priority is to return capital with interest to our investors, so we only put projects up that we think are great investments.” — Billy Parish, March 26, 2013

Parish Ruffalo Green Game

“Getting into the Green Game”: March 23, 2014: Multi-millionaire and over-utilized “celebrity activist” Mark Ruffalo (yawn) & Billy Parish make guest appearances on Fox Business

“[Because] corporations must have physically impossible ‘endless growth’ in order to survive, corporate social responsibility is a myth. The only socially responsible act that corporations can take is to dissolve.” — Adam D. Sacks

Solar Mosaic (now known simply as Mosaic) was founded in May of 2009. It is situated in Oakland, California. The four co-founders are Billy Parish, Arthur Coulston (present at founding meeting of EAC in the summer of 2004, taking on role as Internet Director for EAC), Steve Richmond and Danny Rosen. Richmond, the former Mosaic chief financial officer has created software companies in the past, one of which was sold to Oracle. Richmond previously co-founded @SelectMinds and @DebtGoal. He has a background in strategy consulting and banking. The other partner Rosen is a “clean energy” entrepreneur working in Israel and rural native communities in the Southwest. He was recognized twice by Forbes as “30 under-30” for energy. Further, Rosen is the former VP of Solar Finance at Union Bank and fund manager for Citi Bank, with fourteen years of solar finance experience.

On Dec 30, 2011 Forbes published an article suggesting ” New Financing Models Could Make Solar the Facebook of the Energy Industry” highlighting Solar Mosaic‘s crowd-funding approach to solar.

In 2012, Solar Mosaic raised $3.4 million from venture capital investors and received a $2 million grant from the Department of Energy’s SunShot Incubator Program.

On January 7, 2013, Mosaic made its public launch. Subsequently, Mosaic has been named a top-ten most innovative energy company by Fast Company in 2013 and 2014 and has received two Department of Energy SunShot grants, the Sierra Club’s Trailblazer Award and Verizon Wireless’ Powerful Answers Award. [Mosaic Wikipedia page]

The shift from fossil fuels to clean energy represents one of the largest wealth-creation opportunities of our time… — Billy Parish, Fast Money, April 12, 2014

Mosaic’s Green Game Players

Bruce Ledesma is Mosaic’s Chief Operating Officer. Ledesma is the Former EVP/General Counsel at publicly traded global solar company (SunPower Corp which was sold to Total South Africa) and financial services company (Barra which was sold to Morgan Stanley).

Olaf Janke is Mosaic’s Chief Financial Officer. Janke is the former CFO of Aequitas Capital Management and Fairway America. Investment banker at GE Capital, JP Morgan and Credit Suisse. [Source: Mosaic Executive Team]

More recently, former SolarCity CFO Robert D. Kelly has been named a member of Mosaic’s Board of Directors. Interestingly as the company proposes that it is a socially responsible financial endeavor, SolarCity Corp, the top U.S. rooftop solar installer, purchases Suniva panels, which was discovered to be produced using prison labour. June 10, 2015: “It’s a good product,” SolarCity spokesman Jonathan Bass said in an email. “Suniva’s relationship with Unicor has never been a factor in our decision to use the modules… the mission to provide job training to prepare inmates for successful re-entry to the workforce is admirable.”

As the effort of Mosaic is seen as an environmental boon for the masses, if you peel back the layers, it is seemingly a windfall for the investors by way of institutional subterfuge. In the December 2013 article USA, Power to the People the author writes: “Upon signing the Act in April 2012, President Obama said, “For the first time, ordinary Americans will be able to go online and invest in entrepreneurs that they believe in.”  But the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has still not adopted rules to implement the crowdfunding provisions of the JOBS Act. Until then, Mosaic is working with state regulators to allow the offer of securities to the general public.  Currently, “accredited” investors (i.e., millionaires and institutions) from all over the country can invest with Mosaic, but its projects can be offered to “non-accredited” investors only in California and New York.” [Emphasis added]

This is not likely neither here nor there, and of little concern to Mosaic seeing as 1) Billy Parish’s father, Michael Parish, served for many years as outside Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) counsel to several large public utility corporations and as counsel to the board of those companies, and 2) this rule keeps energy/investment profits primarily in the hands of the wealthy few while “community owned” is the main thrust behind the marketing. The very crux of the venture is holistic branding in the era of “enlightened self-interest” where holistic linguistics frame our parasitic financial systems as new age ecosystems. (Parish: “If we want to see community owned clean energy, we’re going to need a new kind of financial system. We’re going to need to see a system that looks more like an ecosystem.”)

Of course having friends with in high places with manufactured celebrity status and extensive outreach does not hurt one’s aims either. In 2011 350.org partnered with Mosaic Solar for the November 20 “Day of Action”. ” Greenpeace, Bill McKibben, Bloomberg, Forbes, CNN, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, Atlantic, USA Today, CNBC, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, Upworthy, etc. all lend to building Mosaic’s brand and sales. June 17, 2014:

“Among others, 350.org, The Climate Reality Project, Green For All, National Wildlife Federation, Reverb, The Sierra Club, The Solutions Project and World Wildlife Fund will be joining the launch to share Mosaic Places with their communities.” [Source: National organizations join to launch product for the first national #PutSolarOnIt Day of Action]

put-solar-on-it- Mosaic

In April of 2013, Parish would again be given hero status by Rolling Stone in the feature “The Fossil Fuel Resistance: Meet the New Green Heroes” with an introduction written by Bill McKibben. Other “heroes” as named by Rolling Stone include the “who’s who” of the environmental industry: James Hansen, Tom Steyer (“Daddy Greenbucks”), Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr. (“The Minister”,  divestment partner), Jane Kleeb (“The Keystone Killer”, founder of Bold Nebraska), Michael Brune (“The Insider”) and Jeremy Grantham (“The Financial Crusader”). And of course no venture that sells the green economy new economy  would be complete without the blessing of Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans:

“Community renewables projects are also being put together. Heimans cites the case of Solar Mosaic, a US group that attracts investors to invest in a community, and similar organisations are emerging in Australia. Heimans calls it “crowd funding,” and it is the sort of activity he is up to at his new venture Purpose.com. “Not everyone has a roof you can put solar panels on. But you can have a stake in solar without having it on your own roof – it can go on the library or the community centre. And you can get a financial return.” — Why Green is Such a Dirty Word,  May 29, 2012 [Further reading: The “Purpose” of “Consumer Activism” & COP21 – “We Mean Business”]

Parish has outlined (March 26, 2013) that the decision to rename/rebrand Solar Mosaic simply as Mosaic is based on the decision to expand beyond solar projects alone citing wind and electric vehicle infrastructure projects to be considered/sought within the next few years. He adds that the name too has meaning: “It takes lots of different, small pieces together to make something beautiful. And that’s what we’re doing with Mosaic. Enable people to be part of something that can change the world and heal the planet.”

Unfortunately, green energy projects that predominantly serve the North are and always will be dependent upon exploiting those in the global south. The “100% clean energy” revolution (to save the capitalist system now flying “close to stall speed”) cannot and never will “heal” the planet, but only further decimate it. All the good intentions and wishful thinking in the world will not make this fact any less so.
Lithium Mine Australia

Talison Lithium’s Greenbushes Lithium Operations, Australia

“Globally, the investment required to build out this clean energy capacity is $100 trillion….And that doesn’t even include the additional trillions we need to spend to build out our electric car infrastructure, and build out our public transit systems, and rebuild our grid. Simply put, building a new clean energy infrastructure is the biggest business opportunity on the planet.” — Billy Parish, Mosaic Blog, April 12, 2013

lithium mining chile 2

The brine pools and processing areas of the Soquimich lithium mine on the Atacama salt flat. This is the planet’s second largest salt flat, located in the Atacama desert of northern Chile

“In this generation we can shift to clean energy, and we can do it in a way that makes all of us richer, healthier, and happier.” — Billy Parish, Mosaic Blog, April 12, 2013

Business As Usual Photo Gallery

“2013 was the year that solar really became mainstream and the future looks primed for more growth.  Across the globe solar panels have sprouted up on rooftops from New York to Fiji as people realize that not only are solar photovoltaic (PV) panels good for the environment, but one’s bottomline as well.  From established companies like Wal-Mart down to the off-the-grid villager in Kenya or the nomadic herder in Mongolia, the promise of solar is an opportunity that no one wants to squander.” — The Mosaic blog

 Parish & McKibben 2013

MoneyShift.” a live online discussion between Billy Parish (Mosaic’s Co-Founder and President), Bill McKibben (Founder of 350.org), and Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, (CEO of Green For All). [Source]

“To create solutions at the scale needed to stop climate change we need everyone to move their money out of fossil fuels and into clean energy. Mosaic is truly helping to make that possible.” —  Bill McKibben, Founder, 350.org

Mosaic McDonalds

Mosaic Solar installation on the roof of the Ronald McDonald House in San Diego – Courtesy Mosaic

Mosaic Militarism

Militarism? No problem: October 2, 2013: “Joining with solar project crowd funding pioneer Mosaic, the US Army, Navy and Air Force aim to fund 12.3 megawatts (MW) of residential rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) power across 547 homes at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, the first joint Army, Navy and Air Force base in the country…  Tonya Johnson, who lives with her family on the base, commented on Mosaic’s partnership with the US Armed Forces: ‘Our nation’s energy sources and our national security go hand in hand. The military is at the forefront of developing and deploying clean energy technologies that support troop readiness and energy independence. I love having solar on my rooftop.'” Image: Credit: Mosaic, US Department of Defense

 

Addendum

On a personal note, there is a direct correlation between spending money and global greenhouse gas emissions resulting in rapidly accelerating climate change. This is why 1% of the planet’s population (meaning anyone who can afford to get on a plane) is responsible for 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions (as noted by Professor Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research) while the poorest 99% emit essentially nothing (Stephen Pacala). (In 2007, Stephen Pacala, the director of the Princeton Environmental Institute stated “The world’s 500 million richest people were responsible for a breathtaking 50 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.”). Under the industrialized economic system and the resulting civilization, the more money (backed by nothing) we spend, the more we tear up the Earth and turn her natural resources into products/capital. Unfortunately, as documentary filmmaker Jeff Gibbs has stated, “the only way to use less oil, is to use less oil.” This elephant in the room is documented in a 2009 paper by professor of Atmospheric Studies at the University of Utah, Tim Garrett. Nov. 22, 2009: ” In a provocative new study, a University of Utah scientist argues that rising carbon dioxide emissions – the major cause of global warming – cannot be stabilized unless the world’s economy collapses….”. Lastly, to put this into perspective, how many people are even aware of the fact that only 5% of the world’s population has ever flown? [Source] (And of course sentient animals, insects, tress, plants, etc. have no use for solar whatsoever, nor have they contributed to the environmental crisis, nor are they placed at the forefront of what is most vital to protect. The most effective but obviously unpopular solution to mitigating the climate crisis would be the eradication of the 1% creating the crisis.)

Mosaic Savings

Above: Mosaic marketing advert. “Not only can you save on your electricity bill for the next 30 years, but you can also increase the value of your home $15,000. The average Mosaic customer saves $67,083 over the life of their solar system without even considering this increase in home value, or the 30% Federal Solar Tax Credit. Add on the increase in home value and the average savings goes up to $82,083! Add on the Federal Solar Tax Credit and it goes up even further. It’s important to act quickly to maximize your savings, as the tax credit is due to expire in 2016.”

Mosaic’s business model is dependent on the borrower making payments, which in turn depends on the power produced and sold. Most solar business models offer no money down, up-front financing with low interest rates for loans as much as 50,000 – for up to 25 years.  The truth is that a 25-year home equity loan (or even ten) at 3% could easily result in one losing their entire home if they hit a rough patch. And sooner or later (likely sooner considering the current economic situation), most average citizens are bound to do so. Further, it is highly unlikely this low rate would be locked in beyond a maximum of five years as a hike in interest rates could bankrupt the companies.

To illustrate the prevalence of these deceitful calculations on an industry wide basis, Sunpower advertises “you can save over $80,000 over the lifetime of your system-that’s almost 140 per month!*” (*Based on home in San Diego CA with $150 per month electrical bill. System financed with 25-year home equity loan at 3% interest.”) Mosaic advertises a similar calculation: “The average Mosaic customer saves $67,083 over the life of their solar system without even considering this increase in home value, or the 30% Federal Solar Tax Credit. Add on the increase in home value and the average savings goes up to $82,083!”

I am highly doubtful about these claims. This is not because I am sanctimonious, but because I personally have a 12 panel, 2.3kW solar installation I installed many years ago when I believed doing so was “the right thing to do”.  However, I’m not in California the sunshine state. I’m in Canada with cold winters and intermittent bouts of snow (proving solar is extremely ineffective in countries where sunshine is not all year around). However, I remain suspect of these “promises” in California and I will explain why.

First of all, consider that under the Ontario Green Energy Act, the contract I signed guaranteed my solar generated energy would be purchased at a rate of 80.2¢/kWh, for twenty years. I tied into the grid because the solar system itself, which cost well over C$20,000 would have cost an additional C$15,000 for batteries which I could not afford. The installation of panels alone was a financial burden I could not afford but went ahead stemming from the deep desire to start the green energy revolution, which was the principle the peers surrounding me at that time campaigned on. (Live and learn. As the old saying goes, hindsight is 20/20)

Now consider the average Utility-Scale Solar Price In US has fallen to 5¢/kWh (Clean Technica, September 30, 2015).

Even at 80.2¢/kWh, the highest amount I have ever received for the energy produced by my panels over the years was just under $400.00 (a sunny month of July if I recall correctly).  My recent payment recently arrived. It was C$27.17. The truth is I’ll be lucky if I ever make back my investment even over 20 years – even with the locked in high purchase rate per KWh. But what if I did have a climate like California with sun dominating my existence?  At $C400.00 per month over 20 years the return equates to C$96,000. But again, that’s at 80.2¢/kWh. At 5¢/kWh, even in the sunniest of states, the return shrinks massively. Based on this information alone, could solar investments that promise huge such returns create a financial bubble?

Enlighten Solar Report January 2016

My monthly report from January 2016.

Enlighten Solar Report July 2015

My monthly report for July of 2015.

But far worse than having a poor investment (my motivation for the solar system was never driven by the desire for profit anyway since the system paying for itself in ten years, as was the promise, was merely icing on the cake), is the realization of what and where all the elements of my panels came from (the fact they were locally made changes little) and the decimation done to the Earth and her inhabitants to do so. For what?  So we can watch Netflix for as long as we want? So we can Facebook 24/7? So my neighbours can plug in their electric leaf blowers to blow leaves off the lawn onto the street? So we can light the cityscape 24/7?  Welcome to the machine.  A machine loved and embraced by many, where people actually believe it is their “right” to pollute and freely consume without consequence. Also disheartening is the fact that every time I read my “monthly energy production report” stating “you have offset the equivalent of one tree” (2, 3, or 5 max…) all I can think of is why I didn’t plant 1-5 trees each month, while conserving my energy use as much as I possibly can, instead of installing a solar system. I should not have pummeled the Earth for more of her stripped away and declining resources. I am guilty. I regret.

The last thing I will say on my own solar installation experience is something of great importance to me that hovers over my every day thoughts. I live in a 1940s bungalow that, over the years, I have naturalized my property to create a fairy tale like forest (illusory or not) in an urban setting. I have rare endangered trees, fruit trees, frogs, toads, birds, and even some snakes as of last summer. It has been a labour of love. My trees (which I am humbled by) continue to interfere with the solar panels. Shade on one panel can result in the transformers (which are no doubt designed to become obsolete in twenty years time when new ones will be required, as will the panels) shutting down the entire system. For this reason, individual transformers were installed (more rare Earth minerals, etc.) But even so, a shaded solar panel is a complete waste of what was stolen/exploited in the making of the panel. So, continually… and ever so reluctantly, with much regret and sadness, I cut back my beautiful trees. I hate this. It makes no sense. Cutting back trees that absorb CO2, clean our air and provide shade, beauty and habitat – to produce solar to offset carbon- simply makes no sense whatsoever. My solution would be to envelop our houses with trees to provide shade that would render air conditioners useless. This is a solution that makes much more sense – but it will never be pursued at scale because it does not accelerate economic growth.

Nature will not negotiate regardless of our wants and desires. Movements built on collective anthropocentrism, privilege and insatiable western consumptive lifestyle will only drive us further, and faster, toward our own annihilation. We ignore our predicament, and attach ourselves to deadly illusions, at our own peril.

End.

 

Morningstar bungalow

 Morningstar Bungalow Circa 2014

 

Endnotes:

[1] The US Public Interest Research Group known as PIRG is a political lobby non-profit organization. The first PIRG was a public interest law firm started by Ralph Nader in Washington, D.C. and was far different from the modern conception of PIRG. The State PIRGs emerged in the early 1970s on college campuses across the country. After students organized on college campuses for nearly 10 years, the different State PIRGs established the D.C. arm, the US PIRG, to advocate for change on the national level. Nearly simultaneously, the PIRGs founded the Fund For Public Interest Research (FFPIR), the fundraising and citizen outreach arm of the PIRGs. Since the early 1990s, the fund has also canvassed for other groups, working very closely with the big green Sierra Club, and many others institutions within the non-profit industrial complex. In the book Activism, Inc: How the Outsourcing of Grassroots Campaigns Is Strangling Progressive Politics in America by Columbia University sociologist Dana Fisher, Fisher writes that the outsourcing of grassroots organizing by groups like the Sierra Club and Greenpeace to organizations like the Fund has led to the decay of grassroots infrastructure and opportunities for involvement on the left. In response to the criticisms by Fisher and others, the PIRG Fund created a website, Canvassing Works. The site includes testimony by former fund staff who have moved into leading roles in other institutions within the non-profit industrial complex and testimony of big greens within the elitist circles, such as Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope and Randy Hayes of the Rainforest Action Network. PIRG also receives Rockefeller foundation money while at the same time stating that they avoid any funding directly from corporations, stating that such funding would restrict their autonomy. No one is in a better position to tap into and influence the impressionable youth across North America than that of PIRG.

 

The Call of the Wild

Paul Kingsnorth: ‘We imagine how it feels to be a character, why can’t we imagine how the land feels?’

 

Paul Kingsnorth

July 26, 2016

 

Raja Empat, Papua, Indonesia.

Raja Empat, Papua, Indonesia

We had climbed, slowly, to a high mountain ridge. We were two young Englishmen who were not supposed to be here – journalism was forbidden – and four local guides, members of the Lani tribe. Our guides were moving us around the highlands of West Papua, taking us to meet people who could tell us about their suffering at the hands of the occupying Indonesian army.

The mountain ridge was covered in deep, old rainforest, as was the rest of the area we had walked through. This forest, to the Lani, was home. In the forest they hunted, gathered food, built their homes, lived. The forest was not a recreation or a resource: there was nothing romantic about it, nothing to debate. It was just life.

Now, as we reached the top of the ridge, a break in the trees opened up and we saw miles of unbroken green mountains rolling away before us to the horizon. It was a breathtaking sight. As I watched, our four guides lined up along the ridge and, facing the mountains, they sang. They sang a song to the forest whose words I didn’t understand, but whose meaning was clear enough. It was a song of thanks; a song of belonging.

To the Lani, I learned later, the forest lived. This was no metaphor. The place itself, in which their people had lived for millennia, was not an inanimate ‘environment’, a mere backdrop for human activity. It was part of that activity. It was a great being, and to live as part of it was to be in a constant exchange with it. And so they sang to it; sometimes, it sang back.

When European minds experience this kind of thing, they are never quite sure to do with it. It’s been so long since we in the West had a sense that we dwelled in a living landscape, that we don’t have the words to frame what we see. Too often, we go in one of two directions, either sentimentalising the experience or dismissing it as superstition.

To us, the wild places around us (if there are any left) are ‘resources’ to be utilised. We argue constantly about how best to utilise them – should we log this forest, or turn it into a national park? – but only the bravest or the most foolish would suggest that it might not be our decision to make. To modern people, the world we walk through is not an animal, a being, a living presence; it is a machine, and our task is to learn how it works, the better to use it for our own, human, ends.

The notion that the non-human world is largely inanimate is often represented as ‘scientific’ or ‘rational’, but it is really more like a modern superstition. ‘It is just like Man’s vanity and impertinence,’ wrote Mark Twain, ‘to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.’ We might say the same about a forest; and science, interestingly, might turn out to be on our side.

In recent years, several studies have demonstrated that plants, for example, communicate with each other in ways which seem to point towards some degree of self-awareness. They release pheromones to warn of insect attacks, and other plants respond. They signal to each other using a series of electrical impulses not dissimilar to that of an animal’s nervous system. They send out airborne distress signals to insect predators that feed on the plant-eaters threatening them.

Underground, meanwhile, are the mycelia: huge fungal networks connecting the roots of thousands of plants and trees. The more mycelia are studied, the more intriguing they appear. Once thought to be a simple means of nutrient exchange, they are now beginning to look like complex systems of inter-plant communication. Mycologist Paul Stamets, who has spent his life studying them, calls mycelia a ‘collective fungal consciousness.’ Ecologist Stephan Harding believes they ‘possess an eerie intelligence, and probably a peculiar sense of self to boot.’

The supposedly secular West still clings to the Abrahamic notion that only humans possess consciousness – or souls – and that this gives us the right or the duty to run the world. The scientists investigating animal and plant consciousness, though, may be taking us back to older ways of seeing by very modern means. Primitive savages who sing songs to the forest may not be primitive or savage after all. They may simply have retained an understanding which human-centred, urban people have forgotten: that the forest is, indeed, alive. And not only the forest. The living world around us may turn out to be much more sentient, aware, conscious and connected than we have allowed ourselves to believe.

As a writer, I wonder what our writing would look like if we took this notion seriously. I wonder, in particular, what our fiction – our stories – would look like. That the world is a machine is one story; that the world is alive and aware is another. The latter story has probably been taken for granted by the majority of human societies throughout history. The former has only really taken root in ours: post-Enlightenment, industrial Western culture, now becoming global culture. The results of it – climate change, mass extinction, factory farming, the usual litany of horrors – should be enough to make us wonder if this story is badly constructed, badly told – or just plain wrong.

How do writers tell stories in the West in the early 21st century? Mostly through novels. The Internet, and the global capitalism it serves so well, may be putting the boot into traditional literary life, but nothing has yet supplanted the novel as the primary form through which long, written stories are brought to us. Rightly or wrongly, we still take novels seriously; we still read them. Some of us still write them, though we’re not always sure why.

But what story do they tell? The novel is an artifact of Western individualism. Novels really came into their own in Europe with the rise of the commercial bourgeoisie; with Empire and global trade, with cities and science and reason, with the notion of humans as primary actors in the world’s drama. The same society that gave us the concept of the world as an inanimate backdrop to human activity gave us the novels which catalogued that story.

Most classic novels in the Western canon are examinations of the human psyche, or the relationships between small groups of people and their societies. They are studies of the individual human mind. But what about the mind of the world itself and how that manifests? If awareness, consciousness, feelings – life – all extend far beyond the human domain, why do novels continue to behave as if humans were the only actors? Why do we turn over the same exhausted soil again and again? What would a novel look like if it were written by someone who sang to the forest, and believed it sang back?

Robert Graves, in his poetic manifesto The White Goddess, wrote that modern poetry’s function was to lay bare the results of humanity’s break from the rest of nature:

 ‘Once a warning to man that he must keep in harmony with the family of living creatures among which he was born … it is now a reminder that he has disregarded the warning, turned the house upside down by capricious experiments in science, philosophy and industry, and brought ruin upon himself and his family.’

The forests fall, the ice melts and the extinctions roll on; but we keep writing love letters to ourselves, obliviousIf this is true of poetry, it is true of fiction too. Perhaps, in a century’s time, any literary critics still clinging to their positions as the seas rise around them will see the work we writers produce today as a useful historical record of our society’s insanity. Because we have cut ourselves off from everything else that lives, and because we don’t believe that it does live, we have ended up talking only to ourselves. We have ended what Thomas Berry called ‘the great conversation’ between humans and other forms of life. We are becoming human narcissists, entombed in our cities, staring into our screens, seeing our faces and our minds reflected back and believing this is all there is. And outside the forests fall, the ice melts, the corals die back and the extinctions roll on; but we keep writing our love letters to ourselves, oblivious.

What might the alternative look like? Perhaps the poets can see this better than the novelists. Robinson Jeffers, poet of the California cliffs, spent his life trying to transcribe the song of the living world and make it fit for human ears. He ends his poem Carmel Point with a prescription:

We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;
We must unhumanize our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

The ecological crisis we have spawned will ‘unhumanize’ our views for us, whether we like it or not. The notions that only humans matter, or that humans are in control, even of themselves, are unlikely to outlast this century. It seems a good time for writers to become confident as the rock and ocean, and to begin writing about the rock and ocean as if they had a part to play. The novel looks pretty exhausted these days. Could this be its new frontier?

There have always been novels in which the landscape, and the non-human creatures in it, have played a powerful part. Just looking along my limited bookshelf I can see Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure and The Return of the Native, in which the rural landscapes of his still pre-modern Wessex are as memorable as his human characters; Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, whose wild Pennine uplands experience moods as dark as that of Heathcliff; Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy, set in a fictional archipelago whose islands are as distinctive as any on our planet; and D. H. Lawrence’s The Plumed Serpent, set in a dark pagan Mexico whose taste lingers in the mind longer than its storyline. More recently, and more locally, fiction by young writers like Ben Myers and Daisy Johnson weave stories around wild English landscapes which act as ominous backdrops to the human stories they tell; stories which seem smaller as a result, and thus more urgent.

A powerful landscape is one thing, though; a sentient landscape is another. A question that has been jabbing at me for some time is: how could a novel be written in which a living landscape was not just a backdrop, but a character: an actor in the drama, rather than its scenery? Are there novels in which non-human places are sensate? In which the mind of the world is made manifest in the places its human characters walk through? Having just tried to write one myself, I have been looking for precedents. So far, I have only discovered two writers who seem to even approach the question.

The first is William Golding, in his 1956 novel Pincher Martin. The eponymous sailor, blown into the sea when his boat is torpedoed during the Second World War, washes up on the only land for miles around: a great, jagged, black rock, which juts above the waves. For the next two hundred pages there is only Martin, the gulls, the anemones, and the rock, which seems, at first, to be simply an inanimate object. But the rock is something more.

It’s hard to explain why without ruining the novel’s startling conclusion, but it’s safe to say that the rock it is also a conduit for a voice, a confessional, a testing ground, a judge. The rock is waiting and watching, and the man on the rock is refusing to be part of it, refusing to believe that there is anything outside his own self. Whether he likes it or not, the rock has a lesson for him, which he is going to have to learn.

Perhaps the writer who has done most to explore the notion of a sensate landscape, though, is Alan Garner. The living, jolting, magical power of places is at the heart of almost everything he has written for the last five decades. A moor, a hill, a ridge, a wood: in Garner’s books these are not ‘landscapes’ but conduits to an older, wilder magic. History tugs at them, and they tug in turn at the feet of the innocent people who happen to walk across them.

In Garner’s 2003 novel Thursbitch, the Pennine valley which gives the book its title links two people separated by time, one in the 18th century, one living today. Garner’s deep knowledge and understanding of the place and its history is typical of his work, but so too is the sense that this landscape is hungry: it wants something; it is almost toying with people. It is as if the place has brought the book’s human actors together for a reason: as if some riddle must be solved, some destiny fulfilled. Ancient, pagan energies seem to emanate from the old valley, drawing people in across time, weaving the threads, constructing a pattern which humans may always be too small to comprehend.

Maybe it is impossible for any of us to ‘unhumanise our views’. Maybe we can only ever speak to, and of, ourselves.Are there other novels, and other novelists, which make the world beyond the human, the land itself, a living part of their story? Maybe there are dozens, which I haven’t come across in my limited reading. If not, maybe the lack reflects a peculiarity of the English-language novel, or of the European novel, or of the rational, liberal, urban middle class minds that tend to write them. Or maybe it is just impossible for any of us, ultimately, to ‘unhumanize our views’, any more than a rabbit could unrabbitize or a worm unworm theirs. Maybe we can only ever speak to, and of, ourselves.

But I’m not so sure. Writing a story is an act of projection. We imagine what it would be like to be this character, to live in this time, to be in this situation, and if we can’t do that well, our books won’t work. If we can do that well, why can’t we make the same imaginative leap and take ourselves out of our humanity? Is it harder to imagine a sensate landscape, or the worldview of another living being, than it is to imagine life on a Martian colony or in a fifteenth century village?

Probably. Still, that’s not a reason not to try. Glorious failures are always more interesting than unambitious successes. And surely the times demand it. ‘The universe is not a machine after all,’ proclaimed D. H. Lawrence, a man who never stopped paying attention to it; ‘it’s alive and kicking.’ Kicking and singing and watching, too. Who will write its story?

 

Paul Kingsnorth’s new novel, Beast, is published by Faber.

 

 

[Paul Kingsnorth was born in 1972. In the early 1990s, he studied history at Oxford University, where he also became a road protester. This changed his life. After graduating, Paul worked for a year on the staff of the Independent newspaper, which he hated. Following a three year stint as a campaign writer for an environmental NGO, he was appointed deputy editor of The Ecologist… full bio]

 

I’m Still Me. Who Are You?

World News Trust

May 24, 2016

by Mickey Z.

Photo credit: Mickey Z.Photo credit: Mickey Z.

 

“Withdrawing in disgust is not the same thing as apathy.”

In case it’s somehow not painfully obvious to my dedicated detractors*: I couldn’t “just keep doing” what I was doing. 

Yeah, I could’ve kept flashing my dimples as I struggled to push down my ever-increasing doubts and concerns about what we agree to call “activism.” I could’ve kept writing the articles so many of you loved to share and I could’ve kept getting myself invited (and sometimes paid!) to stand at the microphone and articulately reaffirm your beliefs. I could’ve dragged myself and my camera to every single “action” and thus made it that much easier for you to believe we’re “making a difference.” Damn, I could’ve eventually attained Zen Master status in the highest realm of confirmation bias.

I could’ve apologized for this one’s comments and shrugged off that one’s behavior and then watched my likes and shares and followers rise, rise, RISE. I could’ve turned my Facebook page into my own little private fiefdom, an echo chamber of subservient sycophants. Considering where I was a few years ago, all of this (and much more) was well on its way to happening — if I just kept doing what I was doing.

If I just kept doing what I was doing, I also could’ve avoided the silent treatment, the innuendo, the hypocrisy, the passive-aggressive comments and messages, the character assassination, the vile slander, the trashing, and the public promises of violence (including death threats) that have now become the norm.

I could’ve done all of the above (and much more) — if I were someone else.

Many have said they saw and felt things like light and love and inspiration and justice (and much more) when they met me, heard me speak, read my words, stood with me on “protest” lines, and all that. I dare say what you saw and heard and felt was just another vision of yourself. I was a mirror in which your beliefs and causes and efforts and dreams reflected back as more noble, more badass, and far more attainable. 

If I ever did exude light and love and inspiration and justice (and much more), I still do. But the mirror’s been smashed and now you need someone to blame for the discomfort. How fragile is a belief system if it feels threatened each time anyone expresses doubts or differences? How delicate is a “movement” if it requires its minions to relentlessly police opinions and behaviors?

It’s informative to note that when I utilized my notorious snark and skills and smarts and smile and radically open mind in a way so many of you loved, the adulation and hero-worship and even some monetary donations flowed. When I used those same exact attributes while questioning and exposing and challenging and evolving, I suddenly became “arrogant” and “smug” and “negative” and worse; my personal life was now fair game for public attack. Overnight, the compassionate and justice-minded crowd saw me as worthy of the ugliest contempt they could muster.

News flash: I’m still me. 

I’m no longer sure who many of you are (or ever were) to me, but I’m happy to have moved on. And I’m happy to keep moving and seeking — with or without the contact high of Internet traffic/validation. This is who I am, this is what I do, and this is what I shall keep doing. And I hope some of you will continue to occasionally walk beside me and share your thoughts.

*For the sake of clarity (as if that ever mattered in “activist” discussions) and to pre-empt this essay being conveniently perceived as a “vendetta,” all of the above is not about any one particular group or individual. When I say “detractors,” I’m referring to many former “friends” and “comrades” from within a wide range of “movements,” sub-groups, and activist hive minds.

[Michael Zezima (known as Mickey .) is a writer, editor, blogger and novelist living in New York City. He writes a bimonthly column, “Mickey Z. Says”, for VegNews magazine and he has also appeared on the C-SPAN network’s Book TV program. He is also a regular contributor to Planet Green, ZNet, CounterPunch, OpEdNews, Countercurrents.org, Animal Liberation Front, and other websites.]

 

Divestment as the Vehicle to Interlocking Globalized Capital [McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street: Part XV of an Investigative Report]

April 23, 2016

by Cory Morningstar

 

Part fifteen of an investigative series

 [Part I of this series, McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street, can be found here. Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX, Part X, Part XI, Part XII, Part XIII, Part XIV ]

 

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” — Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

 

The Power of Persuasion | The Confidence Men and their Strategies

 

“It is not every generation that witnesses capitalism give rise to an original and apparently vigorous new form. Private equity is one such new form…. Private equity represents one of 21st century capitalism’s most virulent new forms.” — Inside the Dark Box: Shedding Light on Private Equity, March 2007 [Emphasis added]

 

“The natural resources fundraising market has grown substantially over the past few years, reaching record levels in 2015. Energy-focused funds remain the driving force behind the increased activity, securing more investor capital than ever before despite falling commodity and oil prices.” — Preqin 2015 Fundraising Update

 

luther

“Vendors of the bridge not only counted on the gullibility or greed of their targets; they also appealed to their vanity. Buyers could believe, as Mr. Sifakis put it, that “they had become real men of substance, great capitalists.” – For You, Half Price, NYT, November 27, 2005

What most people are happy to dismiss is the fact that the bourgeoisie do not fund and promote what they cannot control and manipulate for their own benefit. It’s incredible how millions of dollars in funding enables those who benefit (those of privilege) to not ask the obvious questions that follow such “philanthropic gifts” (ie. investments). If any person of sound mind truly believes that Rockefeller et al. are united in financing and promoting a global divestment campaign because they simply wish for a clean world, then this author has a bridge to sell them.

“Were divestment ever to succeed in lowering the valuations of fossil fuel companies, an unintended consequence could be a shift from public markets to private markets… Such a shift could hurt transparency; companies that go private have minimal reporting obligations and they typically become very opaque. This could limit everyone’s ability to engage the management of these companies in a discussion around climate change.” — Harvard Business Review, November 4, 2014

Divestment as the Vehicle to Interlocking Globalized Capital

exxon-1024x787

“The mix of the energy will change with time, and it certainly will not be as dominated by oil and gas,” said BlackRock’s Steenberg. “But rest assured, oil and gas (are) not going away, certainly in this (25-year) time frame, if ever.” — Private equity bets on energy ‘revolution’—in oil and gas, November 17, 2014

 

“According to Palico, some $83 billion in capital has been committed to private equity funds year-to-date, 53 percent more than the amount raised in the same period last year.” — A Record Number of Private Equity Funds Seek Investor Capital, Often for Surprising Strategies, March 9, 2015

Buy low. Sell high. The demand is not going away. The purpose of the above meme is to highlight how irresponsible Exxon is for not investing in renewable energy research. However, it is critical to note the text outlined in blue:”Exxon spent 13.2 billion buying up its own stock in 2014.”

“Discursive monoculture is the result of investment in private equity media, university endowments, and NGOs. The energy industry understands production and consumption cycles, and makes just as much on low prices as high. When the glut from fracking is burned up by frolicking consumers, they’ll double the price again, and make a killing on the divested shares.” — Jay Taber

Hedge Funds

INVESTOPEDIA EXPLAINS ‘Hedge Fund’:

“For the most part, hedge funds (unlike mutual funds) are unregulated because they cater to sophisticated investors. In the U.S., laws require that the majority of investors in the fund be accredited. That is, they must earn a minimum amount of money annually and have a net worth of more than $1 million, along with a significant amount of investment knowledge. You can think of hedge funds as mutual funds for the super rich. They are similar to mutual funds in that investments are pooled and professionally managed, but differ in that the fund has far more flexibility in its investment strategies.” [1]

Make no mistake. Capitalists, oligarchs, plutocrats, monopolies, and oligopolies will preserve and protect their market share and dominance—with every tool they have at their disposal—regardless of consequence. The unsurpassed instrument of choice to facilitate this ideology, has been, and remains today, the foundations (serving as a legal tax-evasion and money laundering apparatus for corporations), and the entities that foundations finance—those being the NGOs and institutions within the non-profit industrial complex, as well as the industrial media complex (both corporate and so-called “progressive”). [2]

“… the ultimate measure of success is the accumulation of capital.” — The Rise of Private Equity Media Ownership, 2009

 

“The capital will go wherever the best risk-return is.” — Ian Simm, founder and CEO of Impax Asset Management Group — Private equity bets on energy ‘revolution’—in oil and gas, November 17, 2014

Considering that foundations such as Rockefeller, et. al. strategize for the protection/expansion of hegemonic power years and, more often, decades in advance:

In the sixty-five years since they began, we’ve funded the work of Golden Rice’s engineers, Dr. Peter Beyer, Dr. Ingo Potrykus, and others for more than fifteen of them… I’m delighted to announce, today, that we will be providing funding to the International Rice Research Institute – which we helped establish almost fifty years ago – to shepherd Golden Rice through national, regulatory approval processes in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. And we hope this is just the beginning.”— Judith Rodin, Rockefeller Foundation, Keynote speech 2008

Thus, one could reasonably hypothesize that divestment has been both developed and incremented as a deliberate stop-gap measure to buy back and seize control of all the planet’s last remaining fossil fuels. Divest publicly and then in turn, invest privately via alternative institutions and hedge funds under the control of elite individuals. Shares could be purchased utilizing private transactions and hedge funds to avoid public trading rules. In a populace which has fully succumbed to celebrity fetish layered upon relentless, irrelevant nonsense, no one is watching. Organizations and those of wealth and power that do not appear on the divestment frontlines, such as the corporations that entities like the non-profit organization Ceres caters to, can openly acquire these shares and further expand on finance capital and monopoly finance capitalism. Although a goal to seize control of all the worlds’ remaining fossil fuels may seem absurd to some, consider that the “new economy” underway is unequivocally carbon based and carbon dependent from cradle to grave. Pretending otherwise does not make this fact any less real.

“PE [Private equity] is barely making a dent given the trillions of dollars the energy industry needs to transform itself,” — Private equity bets on energy ‘revolution’—in oil and gas, November 17, 2014

 

“Wood Mackenzie, the energy consultancy, told the Financial Times private equity funds have currently around $40 billion worth of funds to invest in exploration and production deals.” — Private Equity Fund To Buy Oil and Gas Assets Worldwide, June 10, 2015

Recognizing that the goal to seize control all the worlds’ remaining fresh water is now well underway, makes the aforementioned hypothesis that much more worthy of one’s consideration, when one contemplates all the evidence at hand. For those in need of further evidence demonstrating the race for and capture of Earth’s final remaining resources, consider the Blackstone Group, a key water baron and world’s largest private equity firm. Its private capital fundraising has surpassed phenomenal and unprecedented levels. (Blackstone Capital Partners VII closed in Q4 on $18bn making it the biggest private capital fund closed in 2015 and the fifth largest buyout fund ever. Blackstone Real Estate Partners VIII closed in September 2015 on $15.8bn, making it the largest closed-end private real estate fund of all time. [Source] Blackstone has raised $4.5 billion for an energy focussed private equity fund, crossing its initial goals of $4 billion in February 2015, whereas the Carlyle Group LP has raised $2.5 billion for an international energy fund, surpassing a $1.5 billion fundraising target. In 2014, 52 private equity funds raised $39bn for investments in the oil and energy sector, a jump of 20 percent over previous year. [Source] As the oil glut tightens around the throats of producers, private equity managers circle like vultures over their prey. On February 11, 2016, Blackstone announced the formation of Clarion Offshore Partners LLC (“Clarion”), “a new platform to provide strategic solutions to the offshore oil and gas drilling and services sector, with a financial commitment from private equity funds managed by Blackstone.”

“I think this (oil prices falling) is going to be a wonderful, wonderful opportunity for us. It’s going to be one of the best opportunities we’ve had in many-many years.” — Stephen A Schwarzman, Chief Executive of the Blackstone Group, Growing Opportunities for Private Equity in Oil and Gas, April 1, 2015

 

“This trend in media ownership correlates with a larger rise of private equity activity in the economy as a whole since the turn of the century, which itself can be contextualized as a component of the increased prominence of organized finance capital within evolving neoliberal capitalism. The term ‘finance capital’ is employed here, as characterized by Dumenil and Levy (2004), to indicate the elite class of investors and financial institutions that are ‘major owners . . . free from direct management but often still active in the institutions that come to embody ownership’ (p. 208). Finance capital employs investment resources to maximize accumulation via instruments and markets that are detached from the actual production of goods and services. In basic terms, finance capital creates wealth by its own devices, making money from money rather than from direct investment in production.” — The Rise of Private Equity Media Ownership, 2009

 

“The world of private equity investment is a specialized and fairly restricted realm of knowledge. While the term itself may bear a certain degree of familiarity, what these companies actually do is, to a considerable extent, obscured from public view. Fundamentally, private equity firms are exclusive highstakes investment groups that manage and deploy massive amounts of private capital.” — The Rise of Private Equity Media Ownership, 2009

As Jay Taber notes in the February 19, 2015 article Illuminating Private Equity, “Corporate media rarely discussed the American aristocracy and how their agenda affects society. Consumers blame banks [765], but they have no idea how financial institutions are used by private equity traders to constantly replenish aristocratic wealth at our expense.”

Nowhere is this more evident than 350.org’s Naomi Klein in her reference to the orchestrated financial crisis of 2008:

“In 2009, when the financial crisis was in full swing, the massive response from governments around the world showed what was possible when our elites decided to declare a crisis.”

Indeed they did. The United States Government gave Wall Street the keys to the Treasury. Ironically, it was noted at the time, that this “bank bailout” was larger in sum than all the previous government programs combined over our 200-year history, including World War II and the Marshall Plan. And the most egregious irony of all, is that today’s environmental movement, choreographed by the likes of McKibben and Klein,  have given Wall Street the keys to the Treasury again. This time, the Treasury is that which holds our most precious treasures, that being the Earth herself.

Climate change, having accelerated with globalization, has presented the opportunity to restructure capitalism under the guise of corporate responsibility: the ultimate goal being the expansion of and maximization of private gain, via carbon market schemes and the commodification of the commons, at the expense of all life on Earth.

From The Rise of Private Equity Media Ownership, 2009:

  • “Investment minimums are typically set in terms of millions of dollars, which has the dual effect of creating immense blocks of mobile capital while also limiting investment opportunities to elite groups of ultra-wealthy individuals and large institutional investors such as insurance groups, pension funds, and university endowments.”

 

  • “Private equity funds are not openly traded in any public stock exchange system and therefore face considerably less regulatory oversight from institutions such as the Securities and Exchange Commission than their publicly traded counterparts.”

 

  • “Although rates of return fluctuate, private equity firms typically seek to return at least 20%, a considerably higher profit margin than the average rate of return on publicly traded stocks.” “Private equity in the 21st century has wholly eclipsed its lineage in terms of aggregate fundraising power, total number and value of acquisitions, and size of individual transactions. The figures are awe-inspiring. The total number of active buyout firms worldwide has more than doubled in less than five years. In 2006, private equity accumulated a record $459 billion of investment capital worldwide. Fifteen years prior, they raised less than $10 billion. Given the ability to borrow against their current resources, private equity firms in aggregate command an estimated $1 trillion in spending power.

 

  • In the United States, the world private equity leader, a record $215.4 billion entered private equity investment coffers in 2006. Of that, nearly $150 billion was specifically earmarked for buyout purposes, representing a 33% increase over corresponding funds from 2005, the previous record year. One-third of all merger and acquisition deals brokered in the U.S. in 2006 were funded in some capacity by private equity; five years ago this figure was just 3%.”

 

Akin to Emma Goldman’s observation that “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal”, the same logic applies to the divestment campaign: if it were a legitimate threat it would have been stopped at inception. Instead, we see the exact opposite. We witness the campaign being embraced and empowered by corporate capital. Yet why would this be surprising when it was in fact 350.org’s “friends on wall street” that developed the campaign at its inception. The only surprises here are why self-proclaimed environmentalists/leftists are more than eager to follow a path laid out by the very people they blame for our accelerating environmental crisis—the very people who oppress us—the same people and corporations that will reap the rewards from the divest-invest campaigns. The major form of authority that needs challenging, that being the system of private control over public resources, is successfully avoided via multiple and strategically useless discourses orchestrated by the NPIC with 350 at the helm of public influence.

“Figures from Dealogic, a capital markets research company, shows that the total deal value of UK private equity deals has risen fourfold since 2001, jumping from $16.3bn in that year to $68.4bn last year although the number of deals only rose by 66 per cent. The biggest single sector last year was utilities and energy where just four deals were worth $13.9bn. — Inside the Dark Box: Shedding Light on Private Equity, March 2007 [Emphasis added]

 

“There are incredible numbers of ripples that go out from the splash,” the head of BlackRock’s $18.8 billion Private Equity Partners said in a recent interview. “Well the energy revolution right now is the rock. The ripples are all of the things in the economy that support the energy revolution … that provide all kinds of investment opportunity.” — Private equity bets on energy ‘revolution’—in oil and gas, November 17, 2014

 

“Regardless of the exact mix, private equity is excited by the massive amounts of investment needed to keep up with growing global demand. An estimated $40 trillion will be required to satisfy energy needs through 2035…” — Private equity bets on energy ‘revolution’—in oil and gas, November 17, 2014

Thus, more than the divestment campaign simply providing a super highway to the “new economy” (as part of the third industrial revolution, the so-called “climate wealth opportunity”), and serving as a bridge to the ultimate coup, the commodification/privatization of the commons/natural capital is providing an effective discourse to allow economic growth to continue unabated while appearing to be a mitigation tool for climate change. This is nothing more than simply a tool of illusionary revitalization of a stagnant global economy in a  futile attempt to facilitate global carbon trading and carbon taxes (via promotion of the a so-called carbon “budget – even though in reality no budget still exists).  Other than acquiring the means to raise 4 trillion in capital required for the “new economy” (and 90 trillion for infrastructure), it must be considered that the ultimate goal is the capture of all remaining fossil fuels as the world spins into climate chaos. The idea that the pathological corporate entities behind the capture of land, water, forests, and all nature’s remaining wealth, are no longer interested in fossil fuels, which without, there is no “third industrial revolution” would appear to defy all logic—a third revolution which is mystically not carbon based or dependent. A true fairy tale if there ever was one.

“Even though the actual sums of capital put forth by private equity firms may reach billions of dollars, major leveraged buyouts can rely on multiple billions of dollars of debt financing. The result is that private equity firms are able to make phenomenally large acquisitions without committing proportionate amounts of capital. In addition, groups of individual private equity concerns commonly join forces in socalled “club deals” (Sweeney, 2007, p. 34). This collaboration allows consortiums of buyers to pool their resources and borrowing power so that all but the largest of companies are within range of acquisition.” — The Rise of Private Equity Media Ownership, 2009

 

“Regardless of the exact mix, private equity is excited by the massive amounts of investment needed to keep up with growing global demand. An estimated $40 trillion will be required to satisfy energy needs through 2035…” — Private equity bets on energy ‘revolution’—in oil and gas, November 17, 2014

In the 2003 Federal Communications Commission report, Commissioner Michael J. Copps made the statement that we cannot afford to “treat the media like any other big business, trusting that in the unforgiving environment of the market, the public interest will somehow magically trump the urge to build power and profit for a privileged few.” [Source] One could similarly surmise that we cannot afford to believe in the illusion of a “new economy” (designed by the establishment)”trusting that in the unforgiving environment of the market, the public interest will somehow magically trump the urge to build power and profit for a privileged few.”

Dry Powder: Utilizing Non-transparent Trading Entities

“Already, buyout groups’ activity in the oil and gas sector has picked up significantly. They poured US$31-billion into the oil and gas sector in 2014, clearly outstripping the US$8-billion in investments that sponsors have invested in the sector over the five prior years, according to ThomsonReuters data.”— February 24, 2014, New oil rush? Private equity starts to buy into energy assets

Further, via private-equity firms, it is standard that “oil-patch loans” are secured/backed by the debtors’ energy reserves, meaning, that in the event of a default, the creditors actually seize and obtain the valuable fossil fuels. [Source] If this practise lends itself to utilities, land and other “environmental markets” we can assume that these assets too have, can and will also be seized.

“In such a situation, the private equity investor tends to win in almost any scenario. If the company performs, the investor receives attractive loan yields and, if the stock price rises, also realizes additional returns on its warrants. If, on the other hand, the company struggles and ends up in bankruptcy, the investor may be still able to acquire ownership of the company (either in a 363 sale or a plan of reorganization) unless its loans are repaid or otherwise left unimpaired.” — John Sirico, analyst at independent credit research firm Covenant Review [Source: Axial Forum – Grow Companies – Close Deals, March 31, 2016]

Consider that over the past decade within a financial landscape designed, manipulated and controlled by the elites, private equity firms and hedge funds have flourished:

“… as of January 2012, private equity players had raised $186 billion through 276 infrastructure funds and were seeking another $93 billion to take over infrastructure worldwide.” — Private Equity, Public Inequity: The Public Cost of Private Equity Takeovers of US Water Infrastructure, August 22, 2012

 

“North America-focused funds increased their prominence in the private capital industry in 2015, accounting for 60% of total capital raised, up from 56% in 2014.” — Preqin 2015 Fundraising Update

Note that Generation Investment (Blood & Gore) is itself a hedge fund (“In May, Generation Investment Management, a hedge fund co-managed by David Blood and former Vice President Al Gore, filed its 13F for the first quarter of 2013 with the SEC.”). Elite investor portfolios (i.e. Goldman Sachs Capital Partners is the private equity arm of Goldman Sachs) wield an immense amount of political influence.

“According to one report, leading British private equity partners have paid tax of no more than 4 to 5 per cent on multi-million incomes. Executives and partners in private equity funds are able to gain a huge tax break by the treatment of their profits as capital gains rather than income” — Inside the Dark Box: Shedding Light on Private Equity, March 2007

The interlocking directorate, as found thriving in the NPIC is also flourishing in private equity:

“More than half the 83 lobbyists registered last year to work for the industries’ two trade groups, the Private Equity Council and the Managed Funds Association, have served in government — from Capitol Hill to the Treasury Department.” — Hedge Funds Get Free Ride, May 3, 2010

To understand the power wielded by private equity firms which serve the personal financial interests of the elites, private equity transactions are largely exempt from the registration requirement in the Senate bill passed to discontinue the bailouts that have been administered to financial institutions deemed “too big to fail”. Like hedge funds (and foundations), private equity firms invested their money in the nurturing of personal relationships with political sway and influence, ensuring their ability to shape/manage and even control the debate. [Source] Consider four of the past eight U.S. Treasury Secretaries have worked in private equity.

“Since the start of 2013, private-equity firms have locked up $92.4 billion in energy-specific funds, by far the most of any comparable stretch, according to data provider Preqin.” — Feb 22, 2015, Blackstone Brings New Fund to Oil Patch

 

“…private equity raised close to $34 billion for oil and gas funds in 2015—a 94% rise from three years ago—as new transactions continue to be executed.” — PE Increasingly Eyes Distressed Oil and Gas Investments: Here’s Why, Axial Forum – Grow Companies – Close Deals, March 31, 2016 [Emphasis added]

Why We Have to Kiss Off The Non-profit Industrial Complex

obama-the-enemy-within (1)

In the January 14, 2015 Rolling Stone article, The Logic of Divestment Why We Have to Kiss Off Big Carbon, the author writes that “This past October, the head of England’s central bank, Mark Carney, declared that “the vast majority of reserves are unburnable.” Carney warned that fossil-fuel investors, focused on short-term profits, were not pricing in this reality – a phenomenon he called a “tragedy of horizons.” No person with a shred of decency would disagree that the vast majority of reserves should not be burned. But you can’t have it both ways. If it cannot be burned for the industrialized “fossil fuel” economy, it cannot be burned for an industrialized, and more importantly, illusory “clean energy” economy either. Illusory as the fantastical infrastructure is fossil fuel based, fossil fuel dependent. Possible only by exhausting Earth’s natural resources that scientists warn will be depleted in their entirety by 2030, even without incorporating a third industrial revolution.

A global infrastructure and the copious technology that comprises it, is designed to become obsolete. The oligarchs wish for nothing more than to have what they’ve always had. That is, to have their cake – and eat it too. That is, full control of Earth’s remaining fossil fuels, as well as the trillions of dollars required to jumpstart the vacuous “new economy” which they pray to their white, blue-eyed God, will save the industrialized capitalist economic system now “flying close to stall speed”. To believe that the oligarchs have lost or will lose their interest in fossil fuels, as illegal wars, invasions and occupations accelerate at an unprecedented velocity in the race for what’s left, is to dismiss the fact we are living under a corporatrocracy, that would never straightjacket itself, or impose any kinds of restrictions or limitations on its own domination or power. This must be considered perhaps the greatest  “tragedy of horizons” of all.

 

End Notes:

[1] “It is important to note that hedging is actually the practice of attempting to reduce risk, but the goal of most hedge funds is to maximize return on investment. The name is mostly historical, as the first hedge funds tried to hedge against the downside risk of a bear market by shorting the market (mutual funds generally can’t enter into short positions as one of their primary goals). Nowadays, hedge funds use dozens of different strategies, so it isn’t accurate to say that hedge funds just “hedge risk”. In fact, because hedge fund managers make speculative investments, these funds can carry more risk than the overall market.” [Source]

[2] “Foundations such as Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie were considered the best and most plausible kind of CIA funding cover. A CIA study of 1966 argued that this technique was `particularly effective for democratically run membership organizations, which need to assure their own unwitting members and collaborators, as well as their hostile critics, that they have genuine, respectable, private sources of income.’ Certainly, it allowed the CIA to fund a seemingly limitless range of covert action programs affecting youth groups, labor unions, universities, publishing houses, and other private institutions from the early 1950s.” — Frances Stoner Saunders from her book “The Cultural Cold War”

 

 

Journey to the End of the Night: The Paris ‘Nuit Debout’ Movement

Gearóid Ó Colmáin

April 20, 2016

by Gearóid Ó Colmáin

 

Nuit_Debout

 

In his novel ‘Journey to the end of the night’ Louis-Ferdinand Céline provocatively described the soldiers who had died in the First World War as ‘idiots’. The French writer was referring to the fact the soldiers had given their lives for a cause that was not their own – a futile slaughter of the poor for the benefit of the rich. In the book’s many pertinent reflections on the human condition, the Céline notes how, in modernity, the street has come to constitute the place of dreams. “Que fait-on dans la rue, le plus souvent ? On rêve. C’est un des lieux les plus méditatifs de notre époque, c’est notre sanctuaire moderne, la Rue.” (“What do we most often do in the street, we dream. It is the most meditative place of our time, it is our modern sanctuary.”)

Since the French government recently introduced legislation reforming labour laws, a new ‘spontaneous’ and acephalous, social movement has taken root throughout French cities – the ‘Nuit Debout’ (Up all night) movement. As the title suggests, the social movement is taking place at night time and one of its slogans is Rêve général! (General dream), which is a pun on Grève générale (General strike).  So, instead of calling for a general strike in order to bring the government to its knees, the activists are calling for dreaming in the streets!

The movement took off after the release on the 23rd of February of journalist Francois Ruffin’s film, ‘Merci Patron‘ (Thank-you boss), a firm critical of French plutocracy.

Although the film criticises the avarice of contemporary capitalism, it does not treat the relationship between monopoly capitalism, foreign wars of conquest in the service of capital accumulation, class warfare and mass media disinformation.

Nor does Ruffin’s film expose and denounce the complicity of all corporate French media outlets in war crimes and genocide in the Middle East and throughout Africa, through the dissemination of lies and disinformation about the role of Western imperialism in these wars. There is no mention of the fact that the reason President Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast was kidnapped in 2010 by French commandos (his country bombed and his character assassinated) was due to the fact that he defied the powerful Club de Paris, the circle of French bankers who control the African neo-colony’s money. Gbagbo had proposed that the Ivory Coast print it’s own currency, a bold move which would have enabled the resource-rich country to build up its own industrial base independent of colonial interests.

Although there is a stand at the place de la Republique claiming to expose the detrimental role of French policy in Africa, there is no real information about what that role is, nor have any of the pan-Africanist intellectuals who have written on the topic been invited to speak and sell their books. The ‘Nuit Debout’ movement is predominantly white and middle class.

Ruffin’s film also fails to point out how French bosses in the cereal industry colluded with terrorism against the people of Libya when they secretly met in  with Libyan traitors in  Paris in November 2010 to organise the bombing and destruction of Africa’a richest and most democratic country.

The French ruling class are not just guilty of destroying centuries of social gains by French workers, they are complicit in genocide and crimes against humanity. So why is Ruffin silent about that fact?

Ruffin writes for ‘leftist’ publications which supported the NATO-backed ‘rebels’ in Libya, rebels who were, in fact, Al-Qaeda terrorists in the service of NATO. In 2011, the ‘left-wing’ Monde Diplomatique published an article on Libya declaring that there was no doubt about the ‘brutality of the regime’, in spite of the fact all of the crime imputed to Colonel Gaddafi, were carried out by the Takfiri ‘rebels’.

Ruffin and the dishonest publications he writes for are all complicit in the genocide waged by NATO against the people of the Southern Hemisphere states, from the Middle East and Africa to Latin America.

No, none of these uncomfortable realities are depicted in Ruffin’s ‘anti-capitalism.’ Instead, we have ultra-leftist slogans, petty-bourgeois irony and the mindless occupation of a public square by youths, who have neither the education nor the experience necessary to understand the structural reasons and deeper implications of the labour reform they claim to oppose.

The ‘Nuit Debout’ movement is certainly not spontaneous, nor is it grass-roots as so many pundits claim. On the contrary, it is the result of decades of careful policy analysis by US imperial ideologues. Since the undemocratic dissolution of the USSR in, 1991, the United States has perfected a regime change technique commonly referred to as ‘colour revolutions’. The strategy involves co-opting leftist slogans and symbols to serve a right-wing agenda. Lenin and the Bolshevik party had repeatedly denounced Leon Trotsky for utilising this counter-revolutionary technique both before and after the October Revolution. It has now become a standard tool of US foreign policy.

The manipulation of youthful naivety and rebellion, for the purposes of either overthrowing a foreign government hostile to US-interests or, creating a ‘left-wing’ opposition movement in imperial countries designed to kill all real opposition – is a strategy which every would-be activist needs to study if he wishes to engage in movements capable of real, social, political and economic change.

The ‘Nuit Debout’ movement is being led by petty, bourgeois-bohemians with little or no understanding of contemporary capitalism. The movement is organised on the same principals as the US-backed colour revolutions in Eastern Europe and the Arab Spring – empty slogans, idiotic puns and political infantilism. Although we cannot yet prove it, the use of the clenched fist as the movement’s logo coupled with  cretinous slogans, are strongly reminiscent of strategies and tactics of CANVAS, the Centre for Applied Non-Violent Actions and Strategies, a regime change youth training organisation close to the CIA.

The ruling class in France have evidently spent more time reading Marx than their would-be opponents. For the objective allies of monopoly capitalism in Europe today are the likes of François Ruffin and the other leading bourgeois leftist ideologue of this movement Frédéric Lordon- both of whom mask the reactionary nature of their pseudo ‘anti-capitalism’ or, to be more precise, their ‘anti-neoliberalism’, with a mixture of convoluted semantics, pseudo-intellectualism and ultra-leftist sloganeering.

There are thousands of real, grass-roots organisations in France, and they get much of their information from independent media such as Meta TV, Cercle Des Voluntaires, Reseau Voltaire and much more. Real proletarian analysis of capitalism is provided by communist organisations such as OCF , and URCF. Coherent bourgeois critique of French and EU imperialism is provided by the political party UPR.

The ‘Nuit debout’ activists talk about a ‘convergence of struggle’ yet  journalists and activists from these genuinely popular organisations have been forcibly escorted from the Place de la Republique and denounced as ‘fascists’. Antifa is an organisation which purports to fight fascism but spends most of its time attacking all genuine anti-imperialist activists by blackening their name with the label ‘fascist’.

Antifa has been active again in the movement where genuine French anti-imperialists such as Sylvain Baron have been forcibly evicted from the square.

This writer repeatedly pointed out in 2011 that the failure of the left to understand the reactionary ideology of the Arab Spring and the role of US agencies in its planning and execution would have dire consequences for progressive politics. Now, similar techniques are being used throughout the world in order to criminalise real anti-capitalist agitation and create the conditions of military dictatorship. The objective allies of that strategy are petty bourgeois ‘anti-capitalists such as François Ruffin and Frédéric Lordon; these are the phantasmagorical, would-be intellectuals who shine in  the streets of the nocturnal, metropolitan dream world so eloquently depicted by Céline.

voyage au bout de la nuit eb5e9

The representation of imperialism’s foreign wars of aggression as ‘revolutions’ and ‘humanitarian interventions’, coupled with an infantile advocacy of vacuous concepts such as ‘social Europe’- this is the nefarious role played by these post-modern ‘revolutionaries’, who are the very avant-garde of reactionary imperialism. A malady when this writer denounced it in 2011, pseudo-leftism has now morphed into a serious planetary pandemic. If this form of leftism did not exist, imperialism would have had to invent it. The ‘Nuit Debout’ movement is now spreading throughout the world. Pseudo-leftist media will zealously present this movement as a global painting of Delacroix’s ‘Liberty Leading the People’ when sadly, it is rather more of a sinister version of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

Pied Piper2 dcb23

The soi-disant ”anti-fascists” in this movement denounce as ”fascists” those who expose corporate media lies used to justify the crimes of NATO’s foreign wars. The foreign wars of capital accumulation waged by the same corporations imposing austerity and class war at home; but it is they who are the fascists, it is they who are the enemies of the working class!

Ideological confusion is the great political illness of our time. Céline describes war and illness as the two ‘infinities of nightmare’. The French author could have included fascism in among the nightmares cited- the pernicious ideology his cynicism eventually led him to embrace. One could describe the two contemporary ‘infinities of nightmare’  as the proliferation of wars of aggression and the triumph of capitalist repression  due to the political illness of ultra-leftist cretinism, which has taken over the labour movement in the last 30 years.  Until our youth emancipates themselves from the pernicious influence of controlled opposition and pseudo-leftist ideology, which turns them into useful idiots of the monopoly capitalism rather than revolutionaries, their good-natured activism is tragically destined to  precipitate civilisation’s journey to the end of the night.

 

 

 

[Gearóid Ó Colmáin is an Irish journalist and political analyst based in Paris. His work focuses on globalisation, geopolitics and class struggle.]

 

A World of Make Believe

Public Good Project

April 16, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

 

There are a number of threats to the future of humankind. The big bugaboo climate change doesn’t even make my top five. If I had to rank them, I’d say these would be it:

  1. Advertising
  2. Corruption
  3. Privatization
  4. Plague
  5. Religion

Climate changed can’t be stopped. All we can do is adapt to new and changing circumstances.

Corruption in government institutions and economic markets that determine climate change initiatives, however, pretty much guarantees that public policies and plans will produce profitable but not effective adaptation. An example of this is the Breakthrough Energy Coalition plan to reduce fossil fuel burning by building more nuclear power plants, a plan supported by the United Nations and promoted by Bill Gates.

Another global initiative promoted by Gates and supported by the UN is the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), now rebranded as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that plan to use the power of UN agencies like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to convert the world’s remaining forests to plantations for growing such food products as GMO soybeans and palm oil. A key part of the SDGs, which is well underway, is building mega-dams in the Amazon River Basin and elsewhere to generate electrical power for the industrial development that is currently displacing Indigenous peoples and annihilating biodiversity.

Privatization of all things public – land, water, nature, government – is the ultimate sustainable development goal. These fall under the much-hyped ‘New Economy’ that Gates and the UN rolled out at COP 21 in Paris. Major promoters of the New Economy include Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben, public relations puppets funded by fossil fuel magnates Warren Buffett and the Rockefeller Brothers to lead divestment campaigns that are working to privatize all aspects of ownership of the fossil fuel industry, including control of fossil fuel reserves on public lands.

Plague that results from the deforestation of Africa, Asia, and South America have already become a concern to the World Health Organization, and epidemics are forecast to increase exponentially as poverty resulting from ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples and the privatization of public wealth skyrockets, creating mega-slums in which public health programs are replaced by black market pharmaceuticals that are routinely misused, creating a globalized human petri dish for untreatable diseases, such as the ‘Nightmare Bacteria’ that forced the Center for Disease Control to quarantine an entire floor of a public hospital in Maryland—after three patients and a nurse succumbed.

Religion under these horrifying circumstances — that are worsening by the day — poses another serious problem. Religious hysteria, end-of-the-world stuff, generates all kinds of unreasonable behaviors. Religious panic — particularly in fundamentalist, evangelical, and Pentecostal faiths — produces widespread aggression toward scapegoats. Religious terrorism, i.e. Christian Identity, ISIS, and Zionism, leads to murder, massacres, and genocide.

Advertising – in the form of privatized mass communication and education – now dominates public opinion, to the point that controlling consciousness on a global scale is a prescribed art that integrates government propaganda with the news and social media, creating what has been described as a “discursive monoculture”. No matter what vital issue, crisis, or concern arises, public discussion is now choreographed by public relations firms, i.e. Purpose, that work in tandem with NGOs, e.g. Avaaz, and coordinate with government agencies.

Private equity media — that now controls all broadcast, print, and digital news in the United States – has created a fixed mentality behind the ‘clean energy’ chimera, in which all public control of climate responses using public monies will be determined by elite private interests, i.e. Wall Street. Architects of the final solution, e.g. MDGs/SDGs, by pimping poverty and all other social ills that befall humankind, promote the false hope of privatization and the termination of collective ownership in exchange for totalitarian corporate control of the planet.

Global civil society – thanks to Wall Street controlled institutions, markets, and NGOs – is now “paralyzed in a collective hypnosis” that rejects universal social interests and “systematically favours corporate interests”. The art of social engineering in which Avaaz works with elites such as Rockefeller, Gates and Soros in shaping global society, by building upon strategic psychological marketing, relies on the non-profit industrial complex, i.e. 350.org, as the “foundation of imperial domination”.

The mystique of mass hypnosis that made Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben celebrities of the climate change movement could never have happened without the backing of Wall Street. With the advent of social media and the reign of the Internet, controlling consciousness is now child’s play. New world order—same old crimes.

wizard of oz 2 1939

 

[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.]

FLASHBACK: If He Can’t Lie, It’s Not His Revolution: Chris Hedges vs. Emma Goldman

Affect

November 6, 2013

by Lorenzo Raymond

emma-goldman

Most people I know who actively work for social justice make an effort to ignore Chris Hedges.  When he puked up a nasty little screed demonizing militancy in the Occupy movement last year, Hedges –  in the words of Occupy Wall Street organizer Amin Husain – “almost derailed us” [1]  (Sadly, Amin was wrong about the “almost” part).  But it’s hard to look the other way when Hedges drags the name of several generations of anarchists through the dirt, as he did in a recent column; and it is perilous to ignore the fact that he represents a powerful network of liberal recuperators who have been undermining resistance in this country for years while claiming to promote it.

A few weeks ago, Hedges wrote a column entitled “Sparks of Rebellion,” which was one of his periodic forays into Grand Movement Strategy. [2]   He opens with a shallow intellectual history of modern radicalism in which virtually none of the statements are true, particularly in regards to anarchists: Kropotkin was not a gradualist but a revolutionary – hence his autobiography is called Memoirs of a Revolutionist; Bakunin did not elevate déclassé intellectuals above the proletariat (or anyone else), but envisioned all oppressed classes making the revolution [3] –  and so on and so forth.  Hedges clearly believes his Pulitzer prize gives him entitlement to stuff a book’s worth of assertions into a paragraph without any supporting evidence.

Equally disconcerting is that once Hedges gets to introducing his own propositions about revolution, none of them are coherent:  We’re told that a modern revolt must not be “reliant on the industrial or agrarian muscle of workers”, but will rely on “the dispossessed working poor”, but “It is not the poor who make revolutions.”, but “service workers and fast food workers…will be one of our primary engines of revolt.”  Does anyone have any questions?

In the end, all this name-dropping and sophomoric analysis is a bait-and-switch for what Hedges really wants to talk about: the importance of pacifism – which he finally gets to in paragraph six.  Hedges evokes the much-touted and under-scrutinized Harvard study by Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan which “examined 100 years of violent and nonviolent resistance movements and concluded that nonviolent movements succeed twice as often as violent uprisings.”  To judge how accurate this study is, one might want to note that the authors omitted all civil rights and labor struggles from their data set. [4] Even more problematic is Chenoweth’s meaninglessly amorphous criteria of nonviolence which has no relationship to the strictures that Gandhi, Gene Sharp or Chris Hedges would impose on us: One of the study’s featured cases is the Philipine revolt of 1986 which originated as an armed coup, and climaxed with a bomb dropped on the presidential palace. [5] In the wake of the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in 2011, Chenoweth took to publishing commentaries praising the Egyptian rebellion for its nonviolence even as hundreds of police stations firebombed by protesters were still smoldering. [6]

But the foulest aspect of Hedges’ scribble is the attempt to divide the present generation of militant anarchists from their respected classical forebears.  The liberal journalist has never retracted a word of his “Cancer in Occupy” meltdown, and takes another passing shot at “the Black Bloc” in this article.  In contrast to the cancerous youths, Hedges holds up a mature, mythologized Emma Goldman who “came to be very wary of…the efficacy of violence.”

The tendency of pacifists to co-opt every conceivable radical icon into their ideology never ceases to amaze; thus the new school of pacifist history portrays the Russian Revolution as nonviolent[7]  – even though at least as much property was destroyed there as in Egypt [8] – and now Red Emma is assimilated as an apostate from militancy.  How Goldman could also have been, in the last decade of her life, a key information officer for anarchist militias which executed fascist commanders with regularity isn’t explained. [9]  Her correspondence during the Spanish Civil War shows distaste for the bloodshed, but it also records her explicitly rejecting Gandhian strategy as hopelessly naive.[10]  Goldman was as nonviolent as Sherman was when he lamented that “war is hell” just before he burned down Atlanta – a common sense human impulse, not a strategic analysis; she was wary of every aspect of force except the efficacy of it.  But if Hedges can’t lie, it’s not his revolution.

The grotesque irony here is that Emma Goldman rejected this game of demonize-and-assimilate whenever it was applied in her own time.  Hedges claims to be “reading and rereading the debates among some of the great radical thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries,” but somehow he missed the debate between Goldman and V.I. Lenin during the Russian Civil War.  In her autobiography, Goldman recounts how she and Alexander Berkman went to the Kremlin to protest the mass arrests of anarchists during the Bolshevik terror.  Lenin dismisses the objections saying responsible anarchists like her are respected in Russia, and he only attacks “bandits” and “Makhnovtsy” (supporters of militia leader Nestor Makhno).  Goldman recognizes the psychology of counterinsurgency immediately –

Imagine,” I broke in, “capitalist America also divides the anarchists into two categories, philosophic and criminal. The first are accepted in highest circles; one of them is even high in the councils of the Wilson Administration. The second category, to which we have the honor of belonging, is persecuted and often imprisoned. Yours also seems to be a distinction without a difference. Don’t you think so? [11]

Reading this passage, it’s striking how little has changed.  It isn’t difficult to imagine, say, Rebecca Solnit – “philosophic” anarchist and Obama campaigner [12] – being feted at the White House in reward for her work bashing radicals, while at the same time “criminal” anarchists like Marie Mason and Oso Blanco rot in prison.

The revolution may not start tomorrow, and we hope it won’t be a bloodbath when it does.  But diverse tactics are needed to end the assaults on the water, the air, the climate, on all our lives and dignity.  The moribund pacifism of the establishment left has failed, and the failure is so terminal that they must stoop to falsifying history in order to even make a case for themselves.

 

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

 

Notes:

1. Democracy Now, “No Work, No Shopping, Occupy Everywhere”, May 1, 2012 – http://www.democracynow.org/2012/5/1/no_work_no_shopping_occupy_everywhere

2.  https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/09/30-6

3.   As Paul Avrich has noted, Bakunin had a “conception of an all-encompassing class war.”  This definitely included “fervent, energetic youths, totally declasse, with no career or way out,” but they were only one part of an ” ‘all-embracing’ revolution… including, besides the working class, the darkest elements of society…the unemployed, the vagrants and outlaws…the instinct of rebellion was the common property of all the oppressed classes of the population.”  Avrich also writes that, “While entrusting the intellectuals with a critical role in the forthcoming revolution, Bakunin at the same time cautioned them against attempting to seize political power on their own…On this point Bakunin was most emphatic.” Paul Avrich, The Russian Anarchists (1967)  – http://www.ditext.com/avrich/russian/1.html

4. Note 35 of Chenoweth, Stephan “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict”  International Security, Vol. 33, Issue 1, Summer 2008 – http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/isec.2008.33.1.7

5. Monina Allarey Mercado, Francisco S. Tatad, People Power: Eyewitness to History (James B. Reuter, S.J., Foundation, 1986) p202-209

6. Erica Chenoweth, “Give Peaceful Resistance a Chance” The New York Times, March 9, 2001-  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/10/opinion/10chenoweth.html?_r=0  ;  David D. Kirkpatrick, “Mubarak orders crackdown with revolt sweeping Egypt” The New York Times, January 28, 2011;  Lorenzo Dubois, “PEACE AND FIRE: Diversity of Tactics in the Egyptian Revolution (Jan-Feb 2011)” -http://boston.indymedia.org/feature/display/214110/index.php

7. Jonathan Schell, The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People (Metropolitan, 2003) p169-170

8. Richard Stites, Revolutionary Dreams : Utopian Vision and Experimental Life in the Russian Revolution  (Oxford University Press, 1988), p67

9. David Porter, editor, Vision on Fire: Emma Goldman on the Spanish Revolution (AK Press, 2006) p226 – http://zinelibrary.info/files/Goldman%20-%20Vision%20on%20Fire%20-%20Emma%20Goldman%20on%20the%20Spanish%20Revolution.pdf

10. Goldman wrote to a young US anarchist in 1936: “…the organized force used against the followers of Gandhi has finally forced them to use violence, much to the distress of Gandhi…Most important of all is that mechanized warfare and violence used by the state make non-resistance utterly futile.  What do you think non-resistance could do during bombardment from the air – a daily occurrence in Spanish cities and towns?”  She concludes that “…as a method of combating the complex social injustices and inequalities, non-resistance cannot be a decisive factor.”  David Porter, Vision on Fire, p239-240;  Goldman also attributes the collapse of the social revolution to the CNT “suddenly turning pacifist” when it came to resisting internal repression from the Stalinists.  “Gandhi could not have done better,” she notes with bitterness. Vision on Fire, p228 – –    http://zinelibrary.info/files/Goldman%20-%20Vision%20on%20Fire%20-%20Emma%20Goldman%20on%20the%20Spanish%20Revolution.pdf

11.  Emma Goldman, Living My Life (Alfred K. Knopf, 1931), p766 – http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/goldman/living/living2_52a.html

12. http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175598/

LISTEN: Stokely Carmichael At Free Huey Rally (April 18, 1968)

WATCH: “What Better Way to Enslave a Man Than to Give Him the Vote and Call Him Free”

1968

“Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, (born October 4, 1943, as Hubert Gerold Brown), also known as H. Rap Brown, was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, and during a short-lived (six months) alliance between SNCC and the Black Panther Party, he served as their minister of justice.”

 

 

The Strategy of Malcolm X

Tactical Diversity

June 1, 2015

by Lorenzo Raymond

 

Malcolm X in Smethwick

 

Last month many of us celebrated the 90th birthday of the one of America’s greatest revolutionaries, El-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz, also known as Malcolm X.  That his birthday follows his assassination date (February 21) on the calendar seems appropriate this year, as Malcolm could be said to be resurrected these days:  from condemnations of US racism at the United Nations, to self-defense against cops in NYC, to Black rifle clubs in Texas, to mass rebellion in Baltimore, to a growing disillusionment with the two-party system and doctrinaire nonviolence in America, he has seldom seemed more relevant.

This is all the more remarkable given that the representation of Malcolm in popular media is more distorted than ever.  2015 opened with the Martin Luther King biopic Selma giving us the most forgettable (perhaps the only forgettable) portrayal of Malcolm X in cinema history.  In some ways, the muting of Malcolm was inevitable; an accurate depiction of the Muslim leader presented a danger of upstaging King in the movie the same way that he often upstaged King in real life.  But that isn’t any excuse for the distortion of Malcolm X’s politics and the role he played in the Black freedom struggle.

In the short scene in which he appears, Malcolm comes literally hat in hand to Coretta Scott King begging to address the protesters and be a part of the movement.  He appears to have arrived uninvited, crashing a party he has no real place in.  As he offers to scare the segregationists with an “alternative” to MLK’s nonviolence, he hints that this is actually just a bluff because his “eyes see in a new way.”  Everything about this scene is fundamentally wrong: Malcolm explained himself to Mrs. King after, not before, he gave his speech—a speech which he was invited to give by the director of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s Selma Project.1  And when Malcolm spoke of offering an alternative to King’s pacifism, it was anything but a bluff.

Black Revolution, Whitewashed

The lodestar for recent portrayals of Malcolm is Manning Marable’s book Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention.  While universally lauded by mainstream white critics, most responses from the Black Left were derisive.  This must be the only historical book of recent years to inspire not one, but two entire anthologies of hostile rebuttal: A Lie of Reinvention, edited by Jared Ball, and By Any Means Necessary, edited by a collective headed by Herb Boyd .  Some academic assessments were skeptical as well.  Joe Street observed in The Journal of American Studies that Marable’s version of Malcolm was “a more centrist, liberal figure” than had ever been depicted before, acting out the “palliative theme” of a Black nationalist who moved “beyond race,” and also beyond militancy.  Street noted that Marable was oddly “content to position Malcolm X as a far less revolutionary figure than his reputation might suggest.” 2

Ever since his death, liberals have attempted portray Malcolm as an ineffectual figure in the Black Freedom Movement.  In his 1965 review of The Autobiography of Malcom X, Bayard Rustin (once a radical, but by that time a Democratic Party operative), wrote that Malcolm was of primary interest as a “tragic victim of the ghetto,” who made for an inspiring study in self-improvement, yet  “had no program for attacking” racism.3  More recently this line manifests with Reverend James Cone who says that while “[Dr.] King was a political revolutionary…Malcolm was a cultural revolutionary. He did not change the social or political structures, but he changed how black people thought about themselves.” 4

As Angela Davis has noted, the ruling class could never hope to completely suppress Black nationalism in America, so it has settled for accepting cultural consciousness while burying revolutionary nationalism.   By the same token, accomodationists will celebrate Shabazz as a purely cultural figure, while marginalizing him as a political one.  In reality, Malcolm X was one of the most influential and effective political activists in US history.  The strategy of “by any means necessary” transcended the crude categories of nonviolence and violence, integration and separatism, pragmatism and revolution.  Considering that this paradigm was subsequently applied by the American Indian Movement, the anti-Vietnam War movement, and the early LGBT movement, it should be acknowledged that Malcolm X popularized the strategy by which most American liberation struggles of the 1960s and 1970s advanced themselves.

Grassroots to the Messenger

One of the most bizarre charges leveled against Malcolm–repeated yet again in the Selma film–is that he never organized anything.  The Nation of Islam has many faults, but being disorganized isn’t one of them.  Even Marable’s biography of Malcolm acknowledges that he was largely responsible for the unprecedented (“more than tenfold”) growth of the NOI in the 1950s.  Marable also acknowledges that “Malcolm’s career as a national civil rights leader began late on the afternoon of April 26, 1957” when he led thousands of Harlemites to the 28th police precinct house to obtain medical treatment for a member of the NOI who’d been clubbed unconscious by officers.  It had been years since any black organization had the audacity to lead major protests against police brutality, and the Muslim leader immediately captured the imagination of African-Americans throughout the country.  5 He swiftly paid a personal price: less than a year later, while Malcolm was out of town, the NYPD attempted to invade his Queens residence under dubious pretenses.  One of the building’s occupants (it isn’t known who) injured a detective with a thrown bottle, and Betty Shabazz, along with several others, was charged with assaulting an officer.  Malcolm proceeded to coordinate a defiant and publicity-savvy legal defense that lead to the longest trial in Queens history, and saw his wife and neighbors exonerated.  Moments after the acquittal he stood on the courthouse steps and told his followers that “Any policeman who abuses you belongs in the cemetery.” 6

Before the 1960s had even arrived, Malcolm X’s militant stance was beginning to have a profound impact on the civil rights movement.  “King’s philosophy of non-violence in the cause of a largely undefined integrated society was being seriously challenged,” recalled one of MLK’s own advisors, Vincent Harding.  “In the north the deepest, broadest questions seemed to be coming from…the growing Nation of Islam and in its increasingly popular national representative, Malcolm X.  In the south, the message of non-violent resistance was challenged by the action of Robert F. Williams and his armed self-defense group in Monroe, North Carolina in 1959.” 7

In the wake of Selma there’s been a popular trend of praising King as a strategist, a characterization that calls for serious qualification; King consolidated the efforts of a network of activists that ranged from bold direct actionists such as James Bevel, Diane Nash and John Lewis (all recruited from the pacifist wing of SNCC), to cool-headed managers like Bayard Rustin; it was these people who drafted and initiated what is now marketed as Kingian strategy.  Likewise, Malcolm X’s political significance was to consolidate another spectrum of more militant grassroots organizers burning across the country in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  These included Mae Mallory, Robert F. Williams, Albert Cleage, Ethel Azalea Johnson, and a nationwide network of students known as the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM).

Even as Marable belittled Malcolm’s strategic contributions in his book, he acknowledged that “[Robert F.] Williams and other militants pushed organizations like the NAACP toward greater activism, pressuring both major political parties to adopt new legislation.”  Marable doesn’t tell us what Rob Williams’ biographer, Timothy Tyson does: Williams was dependent on support provided by Black radicals centered in Harlem, and “the most notable of Williams’ contacts among the Harlem nationalists was Malcolm X.” Malcolm featured the visiting Monroe leader regularly at his mosque, telling his congregation that “our brother here…is the only fighting man that we got and we have to help him.” This wasn’t just moral support:  Malcolm raised “money to buy military carbines, machine guns, and dynamite for the Monroe NAACP.”  8

Another organizer who inspired and collaborated in Malcolm’s strategy was Mae Mallory, a single mother who protested the de facto segregation of New York City public schools.  In 1958, she led Harlemites in a 162-day school boycott involving 10,000 parents, and won an open transfer program. An avowed revolutionary, Mallory visited Monroe to assist Rob Williams in defending a SNCC freedom ride, and wound up involved in an armed conflict with the Ku Klux Klan and local police. Framed on kidnapping charges after this incident, Mallory was in prison during 1964, when another school boycott took place in New York City; Malcolm took up her mantle by acting as a spokesperson for the walk-out (Mallory was later exonerated of the kidnapping). 9

 

Malcolm at NYC school boycott, 1964 

The first major Black Christian leader to partner with Malcolm X was the Congregationalist Reverend Albert Cleage. In the aftermath of the Birmingham campaign, Cleage helped organize Detroit’s Great Walk to Freedom—the largest civil rights demonstration prior to the March on Washington. But as historian Thomas Sugrue notes, after the spectacle of such marches was shattered by the massacring of four Black girls in Birmingham in September 1963, “Cleage came out forcefully against what he considered the polite and ultimately ineffective nonviolent tactics of civil rights protest.”  At an October 1963 meeting he denounced moral suasion and called for a “strategy of chaos” which would include acts of retaliation if necessary.  Soon Cleage organized pickets demanding inclusion of Blacks in apprentice training programs, where protesters carried signs reading “SCHOOL FOR ALL OR SCHOOL FOR NONE” and “EQUALITY OR CHAOS.” Cleage also planned a national conference of Black militants for that November and invited Malcolm to give the keynote address—the speech now known as “Message to the Grassroots.” 10

Cleage’s “strategy of chaos” (“We’ll get what we’re after or we’ll tear it up!”) was partly inspired by the escalation of the Birmingham campaign, which in turn was partly inspired by Malcolm X. MLK confidant Vincent Harding recalled that the lifeblood of the spring campaign was

young men and women who had heard the powerful voice and seen the piercing eyes of Malcolm X on their television screens…[Dr. King] realized that now they were at least potentially the children of Malcolm as well…they taunted the police, they broke out of the marching lines when faced with barricades of police and firemen; they did their own speedy end runs downtown…

By mid-May, white repression had “goaded an enraged group of blacks into a burning, car-smashing, police-battling response. In a sense,” Harding tells us, “this was the first of the period’s urban rebellions.” Rather than this deviation from nonviolence being a setback to the movement, it was the greatest breakthrough since the Montgomery Bus Boycott seven years earlier.

Young activists weren’t just listening to Malcolm X in the early sixties; some were also coordinating with him. Max Stanford, a student militant associated with SNCC and SDS, met with Malcolm in 1962 and asked him if he should join the NOI.  The Muslim leader was already privately frustrated with the conservatism of the sect and told Stanford he could do more for Black nationalism by organizing outside the Nation. Stanford joined with fellow students Wanda Marshall and Donald Freeman, as well as veteran organizer Ethel Azalea Johnson (a close comrade of Robert F. Williams) to form the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM).  While the group involved itself in reform movements, Stanford states that “RAM as an organization advocated guerilla warfare, mass rebellion and national black strikes…to create an independent black republic through socialist revolution.”  By the time of the Birmingham breakthrough, RAM had developed a partnership with maverick NAACP leader Cecil Moore and helped organize protests in North Philadelphia for African-American job opportunities. “RAM members circulated throughout the community with leaflets and bull horns, going door to door, talking to street gangs,” Stanford recalled. At a May 1963 protest against racial discrimination in the building trade sponsored by the Philadelphia NAACP, Stanford and RAM leader Stan Daniels organized militant pickets, which

blocked the workers, all whites, from entering the construction site. Within minutes the Philadelphia police formed a flying wedge and attacked the picket line. Singling out Daniels and Stanford, twenty police jumped them and they fought back until [beaten] unconscious.

Arrested for incitement to riot, Stanford called Malcolm for help.  The Muslim leader immediately began mobilizing people down the entire Northeast to support the Philadelphia movement “Within a week, 50,000 to 100,000 people participated in demonstrations that often turned into violent clashes between the masses and the police,” recalled Stanford. 11  On June 22, President Kennedy signed Executive Order 11114 mandating affirmative action in federally-funded construction projects.  White House sources admitted to the press that the president’s initiative was “partly in response to violence in Philadelphia.” Kennedy’s order was the prototype of the “Philadelphia Plan” which in turn became the foundation of all federal affirmative action on employment. 12

Free At Last

In March of 1964, Malcolm X left the Nation of Islam and publicly expressed his solidarity with the general goals of the civil rights movement.  This was a pivotal moment in his life, and arguably, a pivotal moment in the history of the United States.  Discussing this “reinvention,” Manning Marable focuses on Malcolm’s desperation to obtain allies to protect himself from Elijah Muhammed, as well as Malcolm’s yearning to participate in a movement which he was supposedly estranged from. But Marable fails to acknowledge the yearnings which the movement felt for Malcolm X, as well as its increasing disillusionment—even in 1963—with Kingian nonviolence and liberalism.  In July of that year, Martin Luther King was bombarded with eggs in Harlem; King blamed the attack on Malcolm, but it was later revealed to have been organized by Black Christians outraged by King’s sacrifice of children’s safety in Birmingham.13  In November 1963, the rank-and-file of SNCC voted down a proposal to hold a memorial vigil for the assassinated President Kennedy, noting that JFK was not a genuine friend to the movement—a position echoing Malcolm’s argument that Kennedy’s neglect of human rights in the US contributed to an atmosphere of terror that led to his own death.  14  Perhaps most significantly, in February of 1964, Medgar Evers’ brother, Charles, took over the slain leader’s position as field secretary of the Mississippi NAACP, and made some of the most inflammatory declarations ever heard from a mainstream Black leader.  In a speech before an NAACP Freedom Fund banquet in Nashville, Evers went beyond self-defense to retaliatory violence:

I have the greatest respect for Martin Luther King, but non-violence won’t work in Mississippi…we made up our minds…that if a white man shoots at a Negro in Mississippi, we will shoot back…If they bomb a Negro church and kill our children, then we are going to bomb a white church and kill some of their children.  We have served notice in Mississippi…that before we’ll be slaves anymore we’ll die and go to our graves. 15

Journalist Charles Silberman wrote at the time: “the widespread admiration for Dr. King is mixed…with a good deal of resentment.  Lower-class Negroes do not want to be represented to the whites as nonviolent.”  Silberman also noted that Malcolm X’s popularity was growing, yet was ultimately “limited by the cultish restraints of the Black Muslim religion: Many Negroes who agreed with Malcolm’s attacks on whites were unwilling to join the Muslims.”  16 Malik el-Shabazz made his move toward the civil rights mainstream not out of crude desperation, but because he knew that Black America was ready for him. (There is evidence that much of the white Left was ready for him too: In December 1963, Bob Dylan publicly praised the militant wing of SNCC, contrasting them with the “respectable Negroes” who dominated the March on Washington.  Dylan then said—in his own version of Malcolm’s “chickens coming home to roost” remarks—that he could understand why a leftist would want to shoot President Kennedy. 17  Immediately after Malcolm’s death in 1965, another white protest singer, Phil Ochs, wrote the satire “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” where he chided moderates for not recognizing Malcolm’s heroism).  Two weeks after his transition out of the NOI, Malcolm staged his famous handshake with Martin Luther King.  This photo is sometimes presented as evidence of Malcolm capitulating to King’s nonviolent and (at the time) assimilationist path; in reality, it showed King, who had previously spurned the Muslim minister, being forced to accept Malcolm’s growing stature in the movement.

“Strategy of Chaos”

There is, needless to say, much that could be said about Malcolm X’s strategy in the final year of his life—his efforts toward a pan-African network, his proposals for the UN, his embrace of anti-capitalism, his dialogue with white radicals—but here we will focus on the three most misunderstood aspects: his attitude towards electoral politics, his attitude towards collective self-defense (“violence”), and his strategy towards other leaders in the freedom movement.

Marable’s book repeatedly claimed that “Malcolm came to believe that blacks could work within the system to improve their lives” He based this argument upon the way in which the older Malcolm would closely observe government events, as well as the support he lent to the struggle for the vote in the South.  But the younger Malcolm, who edited the NOI’s newspaper, had also closely observed American political events for years, and had been friendly with select Black politicians—even as he was advocating that Blacks permanently separate from the United States.  On the matter of voting rights, Malcolm made clear that this was a strategy of involving himself in reform only in order to raise Black people’s awareness of the system’s failures—not because he thought the system was particularly redeemable.  Indeed, Malcolm stated in March 1964 that he only supported reform because “every campaign for specific objectives can only heighten the political consciousness of the Negroes and intensify their identification against white society.” [emphasis added]  18  Supporting people’s right to vote is similar to supporting people’s right to eat greasy lunch counter food—it doesn’t mean you think it’s a good idea, much less the path to liberation.   Just as Ella Baker noted that her support of luncheonette sit-ins was about “more than a hamburger,” Malcolm’s support of ballot access was about much more than elections.  “Your dumb vote, your ignorant vote, your wasted vote,” Malcolm seethed in “The Ballot or the Bullet,” (the very speech Marable and co. claim shows el-Shabazz as an electioneer) –

Don’t be throwing out any ballots…keep your ballot in your pocket…always remember, if it doesn’t take senators and congressmen and presidential proclamations to give freedom to the white man, it is not necessary for legislation or proclamation or Supreme Court decisions to give freedom to the Black man.

Malcolm’s heart never changed on that issue; he wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that two years after his death, his one friend in the federal system, Adam Clayton Powell Jr., would be unconstitutionally stripped of his Congressional seat just at the point when he was in a position to initiate radical reform.  And though LBJ helped push the Civil Rights Act through three months after “The Ballot or the Bullet,” Malcolm still declined to encourage Blacks to vote in 1964 because he didn’t see any consistent enforcement of the new law. 19 While Malcolm saw symbolic and contingent value in the franchise, he had no illusions that there was anything worth voting for.  Indeed, this is the major point about the ballot made in the speech—which left the bullet, by default, as the primary tactic.  (Harold Cruse, writing in The New York Review of Books in 1969, noted that the true heir to Malcolm’s finalized strategy was Eldridge Cleaver, who was then openly supporting armed insurrection yet also keeping one foot in independent electoral politics, running as a protest candidate with the Peace and Freedom Party). 20

 

Malcolm’s agenda for 1964

Similar games are played when Marable and other liberals talk of Malcolm’s changing attitude toward armed resistance.  Once again, a selective reading of “The Ballot and the Bullet” is used, noting that Shabazz backs away from earlier remarks which seemed to imply that Blacks should form rifle clubs to seek retaliation against random whites.  But in the same speech, Malcolm also gives Blacks “a little briefing on guerrilla warfare because, before you know it” that strategy may have to be exercised against the government.  Malcolm believed the Black rebellions of 1964 might foreshadow such a war:

There’s new strategy coming in. It’ll be Molotov cocktails this month, hand grenades next month, and something else next month. It’ll be ballots, or it’ll be bullets. It’ll be liberty, or it will be death.

This wasn’t mere sound and fury, it was conscious political pressure.  In this passage, Malcolm is referring specifically to a Black riot in Jacksonville, Florida which erupted out of the violent white repression of a sit-in campaign in March 1964.  That uprising, where the freedom movement did indeed first use Molotov cocktails, is known to have captured the White House’s attention at a time when the civil rights bill was facing the largest filibuster in US history.  Malcolm concludes the speech with an armed demand for reform:

You talk about a march on Washington in 1963, you haven’t seen anything. There’s some more going down in ’64. And this time they’re not going like they went last year…They’re not going with round-trip tickets. They’re going with one way tickets. And if they don’t want that non-nonviolent army going down there, tell them to bring the filibuster to a halt.

Tellingly, Martin Luther King began to faintly echo Malcolm’s rhetoric that spring.  Visions of violence now arose whenever King spoke of failure to enact the civil rights bill; If the legislation did not pass, King said in a Detroit speech, “I’m afraid our many pleas of nonviolence in fighting segregation will fall on deaf ears.”  Speaking during the filibuster, King warned that should the bill die, America would see a “dark night of social disruption.”  21

Mainstream scholars often try to paint Malcolm as a paper tiger in regards to the guerilla warfare proposal—a general without an army.  But in 1964 Malcolm quietly accepted the position of International Spokesperson in the Revolutionary Action Movement.  Robin DG Kelly notes that in this same year RAM established its definitive militant program:

The twelve-point program created by RAM called for the development of freedom schools…rifle clubs, black farmer cooperatives (not just for economic development but to keep “community and guerrilla forces going for a while”), and a liberation guerrilla army made up of youth and the unemployed. 22

RAM began implementing its program by actively promoting armed resistance within the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  As Malcolm was delivering “The Ballot or the Bullet,” in Northern cities, Max Stanford and others in RAM headed to Greenwood, Mississippi to join the preparations for Freedom Summer.  RAM members taught African history in freedom schools and helped organize voter registration, but their main goal was, in the words of Georgia State University historian Akinyele Umoja, “to wage ideological struggle within the ranks of the SNCC field staff.”  In this mission, they were essentially coming to support working-class Southern Blacks of SNCC’s rank-and-file who were already beginning to organize an armed self-defense system for the Freedom Houses.  As Mississippi-born SNCC activist MacArthur Cotton recalled, ‘‘the majority of the local SNCC people didn’t have a problem with RAM,” adding that most of them believed ‘‘that other philosophy [nonviolence] was foreign.’’

Pacifists in SNCC eventually succeeded in purging the Malcolmites from the Mississippi project before the summer began, but the damage was done: the seeds of revolutionary armed defense and Black nationalism were planted in the organization.  In the face of right-wing terror and liberal inaction, the pragmatism of Malcolm and RAM’s strategy grew increasingly clear and kept many armed activists alive during Freedom Summer (in contrast to the murdered pacifists James Chaney, Andrew Goodwin, Michael Schwermer). 23 When the campaign ended and the Democratic National Convention continued to appease the Jim Crow delegation from Mississippi, making a mockery of the progressive SNCC delegates, few field workers saw any value in nonviolent martyrdom and liberal compromise at all.  By the fall, SNCC leaders were collaborating with Malcolm X on fundraising events, and cheering as he called for an American equivalent to the fearsome “Mau Mau” guerilla fighters of Kenya.24

 

Malcolm X addressing SNCC and the Mississippi Democratic Freedom Party- December 24, 1964

Meanwhile, RAM continued to quietly work with street gangs across the country.  Years before the Black Panther Party emerged, RAM promoted the idea of Black youth as the “potential warriors of Black America.”  Working from a detailed strategy by Robert F. Williams, RAM considered the cities “ripe for sabotage.”  Max Stanford (known today as Muhammed Ahmed) recounted:

While Malcolm was in Africa, Harlem exploded. The para-military in Malcolm’s organization decided to join the rebellion and participated in armed self-defense actions against racist oppressive forces.  Masses of our people exploded in Rochester, New York.  The revolutionary Muslims (Malcolmites) engaged in armed struggle against the repressive forces there. Brooklyn CORE held a demonstration to protest police brutality. The demonstration precipitated a mass rebellion.  The Brooklyn RAM cadre went into revolutionary action.

Stanford wrote that by the time of the Watts Rebellion, “the theory of Robert F. Williams and Malcolm X had become materialist reality.” Malcolm was the spokesperson for a very real force of insurrection, not a paper tiger.  Indeed, its momentum was so unstoppable that even his assassination couldn’t slow it down. 25

No Sell Out

Finally, the relationships Malcolm sought with moderate civil rights organizations at the end of his life need to be clarified.  While Malcolm backed away from his previous habit of naming King and other mainstream leaders personally as Uncle Toms, tempering his critique with diplomacy, he still drew sharp lines between them and himself.  “[Martin Luther King, Jr.] is the foremost exponent of love who gets his head bashed in while he is preaching brotherhood,” he said in his last speech, “I go for that retaliation type of brotherhood.” 26  Sometimes if pushed a bit he would lose his decorum:  heckled by a pacifist in 1965, Malcolm at first said, “I’m not criticizing you or condemning you, but I’m questioning your tactics.”  But as the heckler turned nasty, Malcolm said what he really thought: “I think people who tell our people to be nonviolent are almost agents of the Ku Klux Klan.” 27 

Whenever Malcolm engaged with moderates, he let it be understood that his militancy was non-negotiable.  Contrary to Manning Marable’s characterization, Malcolm did not praise nonviolence in his speech at Selma, but instead ridiculed passive “house negroes” who were bought off by white favors.  In a contemporaneous interview, the Muslim leader elaborated “I don’t go for any organization — be it civil-rights or any other kind — that has to compromise with the power structure and has to rely on certain elements within the power structure for their financing, which puts them in a position to be influenced and controlled all over again by the power structure itself.”  28 This seemed to be a stab at, among others, Dr. King’s organizations, which were financed by foundations overseen by the Rockefeller, Ford, and RJ Reynolds families.   29

 

Malcolm in Selma, Feb 4, 1964

Malcolm’s call for a “Black united front” was a call for militants to unite together on militant terms, not to compromise unconditionally with moderates.  It was also an effort to establish a permanent peace among armed Black groups, and thereby prevent the kind of fratricidal warfare which, with the help of the FBI, contributed to his assassination (as well as to the ultimate dissolution of the Black Power movement in the early 1970s).  Manning Marable’s book wove a bizarre and Orientalist theory that Malcolm told his guards to stand down on the day of his murder because he had a death wish inspired by the martyrdom of the Shi’ite imam, Husayn ibn Ali, in 680. 30 But Malcolm’s aide Earl Grant spelled out years ago that the minister disarmed his bodyguards because he did not want “Black people killing Black people.”  31 Black people criticizing certain Black people, however, along with anyone else who held them back, was always a key part of Malcolm X’s strategy.

 

Malcolm X, c. 1964 “Anyone who stands in the way of your freedom is your enemy”

 

Notes:

  1. Taylor Branch, Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years 1963-1965, p. 578-579
  2. “Roundtable: Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” Journal of American Studies / Volume 47 / Issue 01 / February 2013, pp 23-47 (Cambridge University Press 2013) – http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021875812002605
  3. George Breitman, The Last Year of Malcolm X, p. 83-91
  4. Chris Hedges “Turning King’s Dream Into a Nightmare” – http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/turning_kings_dream_into_a_nightmare_20100117
  5. Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, p. 123-128
  6. Marable, A Life of Reinvention, p. 150-153
  7. Vincent Harding, “So Much History, So Much Future: Martin Luther King and the Second Coming of America” – https://is.cuni.cz/studium/predmety/index.php?do=download&did=77732&kod=JMM606
  8. Timothy Tyson, Radio Free Dixie, p. 145 – https://books.google.com/books?id=kg_DEcj04ycC&q=malcolm+x#v=snippet&q=malcolm%20x&f=false
  9. Melissa F. Weiner, Power, Protest, and the Public Schools: Jewish and African American Struggles in New York City (Rutgers University Press, 2010) p. 51-66
  10. Thomas Sugrue, Sweet Land of Liberty: The Civil Rights Movement in the North, p. 299-302
  11. Maxell C. Stanford, “Revolutionary Action Movement: A Case Study of an Urban Revolutionary Movement in Western Capitalist Society” (A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Atlanta University, May, 1986) – http://www.ulib.csuohio.edu/research/portals/blackpower/stanford.pdf
  12. Thomas J. Sugrue “Affirmative Action from Below: Civil Rights, the Building Trades, and the Politics of Inequality in the Urban North 1945-1969” Journal of American History, Vol. 91, No. 1, Jun., 2004 – http://africanamericanhistorysp2014.voices.wooster.edu/files/2014/03/Thomas_Sugrue_Affirmative_Action_from_Below.pdf
  13. Taylor Branch, Pillar of Fire, p. 115
  14. Taylor Branch, Pillar of Fire, p. 179
  15. Akinyele Umoja, We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement (NYU Press, 2013), 126
  16. Charles E. Silberman, Crisis in Black and White (Random House, 1964), p. 160
  17. http://folkmusic.about.com/od/bobdylan/a/Bob-Dylan-Quits-Politics.htm
  18. William W. Sale, From Civil Rights to Black Liberation (South End Press, 1994), p. 81
  19. http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/speeches/malcolm_x_ballot.html
  20. Harold Cruse, “The Fire This Time?” NYRB, May 8, 1969
  21. Nick Kotz, Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., And the Laws That Changed America (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006), 126-130
  22. Robin DG Kelly and Betsy Esche, “Black Like Mao: Red China and Black Revolution” Souls Vol. 1 #4 – http://www.columbia.edu/cu/ccbh/souls/vol1no4/vol1num4art1.pdf
  23. Akinyele Umoja, “From One Generation to the Next: Armed Self-Defense, Revolutionary Nationalism, and the Southern Black Freedom Struggle” Souls, Volume 15, Issue 3, 2013 – http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10999949.2013.838857#.VVtNZvlViko
  24. George Breitman, ed., Malcolm X Speaks; Selected Speeches and Statements, p. 107.
  25. Maxwell C. Stanford, “Revolutionary Action Movement: A Case Study of an Urban Revolutionary Movement in Western Capitalist Society” (A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of Atlanta University, May, 1986) – http://www.ulib.csuohio.edu/research/portals/blackpower/stanford.pdf
  26. Barnard Bulletin, Feb 25, 1965 – https://digitalcollections.barnard.edu/object/bulletin-19650225/barnard-bulletin-february-25-1965
  27. George Breitman, ed., Malcolm X Speaks; Selected Speeches and Statements, p. 209
  28. Breitman, Malcolm X Speaks, p. 222
  29.  MLK was friends not only with Rockefeller, but with Libby Holman, heiress to the RJ Reynolds fortune.  Holman financed King’s first trip to India to study nonviolence in 1959 – https://swap.stanford.edu/20141218225538/http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/primarydocuments/Vol5/10Mar1959_JamesE.BristolToCorinneB.Johnson.pdf
  30. “Roundtable: Manning Marable, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention” Journal of American Studies / Volume 47 / Issue 01 / February 2013, pp 23-47 (Cambridge University Press 2013) – http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0021875812002605
  31. “The Covert War on Malcolm X” An episode of Like It Is with Gil Noble – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExQjM82uMiU