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Purpose Goes to Latin America

Purpose Goes to Latin America

August 8, 2018

by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

 “How do global powers orchestrate destabilisation and war? And how are propaganda constructs like the White Helmets brought to life? The only way to even begin to answer those questions is to follow the money, analyse the networks and interrogate the messaging. In ‘Purpose goes to Latin America’ Cory Morningstar, with Wrong Kind of Green’s Forrest Palmer, show how New Power exponents like Jeremy Heimans operate through elite networks, with seemingly endless incubations, to shape and capitalise upon ongoing destabilisation/humanitarian war/regime change. We are shown how Heimans and his networks are most concerned with the economics of behaviour change, attention metrics and shaping public narratives framed as giving “consumers” “opportunities to shape their own future”. We are shown how New Power exponents are socially engineering consent for the endless consumer economy, but sell themselves as pioneers of ‘change’ and builders of social movements for ‘the people’ when clearly it is neoliberal forces that call the tune. Morningstar and Palmer’s explication of the networks, funders, and talking points being deployed shows that the very same New Power exponents who delivered for the global elites in Syria are preparing to deliver more of the same in Latin America.”— Australian activist, Wrong Kind of Green Collective, Michael Swifte

 

Purpose website: “Purpose moves people to remake the world.”

Preface:

Both Avaaz and for-profit sister organization, Purpose, have been key players in building mainstream acquiescence both domestically and internationally for the destabilization of sovereign states.

This pattern goes back to at least 2004 when Avaaz co-founders campaigned for foreign intervention via a no-fly zone on Darfur under the auspices of Res Publica, an NGO founded by Tom Perriello (co-founder of DarfurGenocide.org, later U.S. Congressman), Ricken Patel (consultant for the United Nations, co-founder of DarfurGenocide.org) and Tom Pravda (U.K. diplomat, U.S. State Department). In 2007, these same individuals founded Avaaz in addition to Ali Pariser (MoveOn), Andrea Woodhouse (World Bank) and spouse David Madden (World Bank). Co-founders of Purpose include David Madden as well as James Sleezak. Purpose Europe was co-founded with Tim Dixon who has co-founded seven organizations since 2010 including The Syria Campaign, Purpose Europe and the Jo Cox Foundation.

[To view the full bios and interlocking mind map, see Appendix I, attached to this report.]

In addition to the aforementioned individuals, Avaaz was also co-founded by parent organizations MoveOn and Res Publica with financing from George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI). Assistance was also provided by OSI’s Arych Neier. Aryeh Neier is President Emeritus of the Open Society Foundations and served as President from 1993 to 2012. He is the co-founder of Human Rights Watch (1988) which was founded in 1978 as the U.S. Helsinki Watch Committee, financed by the Ford Foundation.

“Other key elements of the international mobilization include Avaaz, which is already an OSI grantee and close collaborator.” — Memorandum, Cc: George Soros, Aryeh Neier, Jonathan Soros from Nancy Youman, “Recommended next steps for OSI on climate”, July 10, 2009; revised August 10, 2009

 

 “When we created Human Rights Watch, one of the main purposes at the outset was to leverage the power, the purse and the influence of the United States to try to promote human rights in other countries.” — Aryeh Neier [Source]

On January 16, 2007, the article Avaaz.org: MoveOn Goes International [Avaaz MoveOn Goes International] discloses the following: 1) MoveOn and Res Publica are the founding/parent NGOs of Avaaz, 2) the MoveOn model developed a new small-donor base for Democratic candidates, and helped win a number of key elections, 3) OSI was confirmed to have given financial backing to Avaaz for its start-up and, 4) there were no corrections or retractions by the author. Supporting evidence to the above is provided regarding the Avaaz launch by people integral to its conception. In the article, comments were made by Paul Hilder (recognized as an Avaaz co-founder at this early stage) and Lee-Sean Huang. Huang was a campaigner for Res Publica and Avaaz from 2006-2007. He then went on to Human Rights Watch (2007-2008), United Nations (consultant, 2013-2015) and Purpose (2009-2016) to his current role as “Head of Community” at New Power. Neither Hilder nor Huang disputed any of the authors findings.

In 2012 Wrong Kind of Green began to document the extensive research into the relationships and alliances behind Avaaz. This has resulted in two separate series. The first written  in 2012 and the second ongoing series commencing in 2017. (Side note: Although perhaps distressing, we implore citizens and activists alike, especially those in the Global South, to read both series.)

[September 10, 2012: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War]

[July 27, 2017: AVAAZ: The Globe’s Largest & Most Powerful Behavioural Change Network]

The research demonstrates the nefarious and hegemonic role of NGOs within the world’s existing power structure. The non-profit industrial complex serves hegemony as a sophisticated fine-tuned symbiotic mechanism in a continuous state of flux and refinement. The ruling elite channel an immeasurable amount of resources and tools through these organizations to further strengthen, protect and expand existing forms of  power structures and global domination, inclusive of white supremacy. This forms a symbiotic relationship between the non-profit industrial complex and the hand that feeds.  The outcome is soft power in its most efficient form.

Foreign policy, neocolonialism, imperialism, and intervention are all instruments that must be utilized with sharp precision to achieve these goals. It is for this reason that NGOs such as Avaaz and Purpose are given the tools, support and funding required to continuously expand and multiply. As such, they are key force multipliers in servitude to the quest of western dominance.

“The UNHRC, and its supportive NGOs such as the US-staffed and Soros-funded Human Rights Watch, impose a singular, Eurocentric definition of democracy whose implementation has not only blocked popular and direct forms of democracy, but also directly contributed to the generation of inter-ethnic strife in many post-colonies of the periphery.” — FORCE MULTIPLIERS THE INSTRUMENTALITIES OF IMPERIALISM, Maximilian C. Forte, 2015

Taking it Global: Strengthening & Expanding Current Power Structures Utilizing the Language & Principles of New Power

If power dominated through hierarchy and coercion – the emergent “new power” model dominates with influence and persuasion. And while this has been achieved for some decades now by the NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial, more and more  corporations, institutions and states, are now applying it to their business models. The key differences are that 1) the organizers remain invisible and 2), the populace is manipulated into believing that they control said movements.

At the helm of this new model is Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans. Purpose, the PR firm (with many arms) specializes in movement building and behavioural change.

Heiman’s vision is to organize “people not as citizens but as consumers” to further empower corporations and brands that he refers to as “the angels”. Partners include some of the world’s most powerful corporations, foundations and institutions including The Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, Unilever, Ikea, General Electric, Starbucks, TED, Oxfam, SEIU, WHO, Unicef, ACLU, British Telecom, the Concordia Summit and Nike. Collaborators include We Mean Business and The B Team which is registered to the address of Purpose New York. With strong ties and loyalties to many elite institutions and oligarchs such as Purpose partner the United Nations (where Heimans cut his teeth as in intern  in 1999), the Omidyar Network  a[1] and Virgin’s Richard Branson (founder of The B Team, The Elders, Carbon War Room, etc.), Purpose is now global with seven international offices operating in New York, San Francisco, London, New Delhi, Nairobi, Sao Paulo, and Sydney. This expansion is in line with new behavioural insight teams that are steadily proliferating in government buildings across the globe.

The New Power Structure, April 5, 2018, The New York Times:

“These organizations are often founded by what you might call disappearing organizers. Somebody comes up with a compelling concept, like TED or Black Lives Matter. The concept gives people a sticky group identity; many people think of themselves as Tedsters. The core idea is spreadable, actionable and connected — it allows participants to subcreate in local and flexible ways. Tedsters organize and attend over 20,000 local TEDx events. The founder doesn’t dominate the network so much as manage the community.”[Emphasis added]

Purpose Website

“The co-founder of GetUp! might be the most influential Australian in the world.” — The Monthly, April, 2018

March 31, 2018, Angels and Demons – Otherwise Known as the Conquerors and the Conquered:

The concept of “new power” has been named by CNN as one of ten ideas that can change the world. “Originally laid out as the Big Idea in Harvard Business Review and subsequent TED talk, new power offers a frame to understand the distributed and participatory models that are rising in business, life and society.” [OuiShareTV]

According to Heimans, “power traditionally functions as a currency, something valuable to which society wants to cling. The new power, on the other hand, works like a current: it is fluid. While the old forms of power are based on pyramidal forms and a power that goes from “top down”, the new power works in reverse, “as an “upload”. The new models of power are founded and inhabited by the coordination and agency of the masses, without participation these forms of power remain empty. These new models are collaborative platforms that need the active collaboration of their participants to survive.” [Source]

What the “new power” model actually represents is capitalism in its most efficient form. Citizens, en masse, are utilized, organized and mobilized to provide social media online content – which is then captured and exploited for increased corporate revenues – with no monetary compensation for their labour. Although such movements may appear to be “founded and inhabited by the coordination and agency of the masses” (Heimans) – they have been largely created, or co-opted, at or since inception. The “new power” “uploads” to an existing structure. The structure responds by “downloading” an illusion of capitulation in order to satisfy/empower the masses. Yet, by design, its true triumph is the achievement of the following: 1) creating/accelerating economic growth (i.e. market mechanisms),  2) consolidating added power into the hands of the West, 3)  the further insulating of the elite classes from all/any risk, 4) protecting and expanding the capitalist economic system, and 5) resolving issues only within the confines of the globe’s current power structures.

Never in history have such powerful conglomerates managed to foment and then seize the required labour to create billion dollar platforms and profits – for free, as they do today. Such fervor for the citizenry to bestow their labour to the elites classes is textbook “Brave New World.” Karl Marx’s theory of surplus labour is classically interpreted as the “extra labour produced by a worker for his employer, to be put towards capital accumulation.” It could be said (even in jest) that one good example of surplus labor in modern times is “the extra labour (physical) produced by the “prosumer”, the willing participants for the elite classes (via social media), to be put towards cultural appropriation and modification (in the form of social capital) with no ownership over the means of production (digital platforms).

Consider that while Western society criticizes the Bolivian government for legalizing child labour laws in order to protect working Bolivian children, it remains completely ignorant of the fact that the elite global corporatocracy is exploiting labour from their own Western children for free – via social media – in what we can call postmodern Western domination. A Brave New World model of “soft exploitation” – with no protection from adults whatsoever. [2] Hence while child labour is a respected part of Bolivia’s social conscience – the gross exploitation and manipulation of their own children and youth (that enriches corporations as opposed to enriching families) does not even register in our collective consciousness at all.

This direct line to youth via the cell phone surpasses all levels of social engineering on a scale never before imagined much less thought to be achievable. The art of storytelling, exploitation and manipulation, at once consolidated to create a youth populace in the image of superficiality and consumption. The Children of the West have been thrown to the wolves. A gift to our corporate gods.

As one of ten ideas that can change the world, embraced and highlighted by some of the world’s most powerful and elite  institutions, the false perception of grass roots mobilization seizing power (designed and financed by the oligarchs) is a strategic marketing maneuver designed to create a short-term euphoria that feels like victory. The perceived victory –achieved via “the deployment of mass participation and peer coordination” (Heimans) – is always made malleable to further protect – the identical powers. Hence, it is not “new power”, it is “old power” simply rebranded with more vapid methods of exploitation targeting and manipulating the target demographic, which is “millennials”.

According to Heimans what societies are experiencing and undergoing today is “a big war over values”. What is unspoken is whose values Heiman’s New York PR firm pledges allegiance to and is paid to expand: Western values.”

April 1, 2018, Forbes, Hashtag Movements Call for a New Type of Leader:

“Who “leads” #MeToo or #NeverAgain? It may not even be a relevant question. In New Power, out this week, Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms acknowledge Ms Burke but add: “The movement felt ownerless — and this was the source of its strength….” [Emphasis added]

 


 

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The world is on fire. Latin America is no exception. The world is on fire. Latin America is no exception. From Haiti, to Venezuela, to Honduras, to Brazil, to Paraguay, to Argentina, Ecuador, to Nicaragua, to Cuba, socialist or left leaning governments of sovereign states that resist foreign interference and persevere in their lawful right to self-determination have been relentlessly targeted for destabilization and coups by empire. Some have thus far courageously withstood imperial powers (Venezuela, Nicaragua) and some have tragically not. Many continue to fight. Disguised within these efforts is the 21st century Trojan horse – the NGO.

Perhaps no one can articulate the transition of tactics and accelerating crises better than Gustavo Borges Revilla, director of the Venezuelan media project Misión Verdad:

“In 2015 we said that this new model of intervention would be used in Nicaragua and we state here in Havana in 2018, that Cuba is a country that could be a candidate to suffer this model of intervention. Which is nothing less than a reconfiguration of countries’ cultural identities, and the hijacking of values and principles characteristic of the Left for many years. I’m talking about human rights, solidarity, youth, categories that are being reconfigured by bodies like, just to give one example, the Open Society Foundation.” — La izquierda está consumida por la propaganda occidental [The Left is Consumed by Propaganda], Gustavo Borges Revilla, director of the Venezuelan media project Misión Verdad during the 24th Sao Paulo Forum in Havana, Cuba held July, 2018 [Source]

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Purpose Goes to Latin America

Behance: Branding and web design for Movilizatorio, a citizen engagement lab for Colombia and Latin America incubated by Purpose. [Source]

“We’re a strategy consultancy, a creative agency and a social movement incubator. Purpose builds and supports movements to advance the fight for an open, just, and habitable world. We use public mobilization and storytelling to help the leading organizations, activists, businesses, and philanthropies engaged in this fight, and we create campaigning labs and new initiatives that can shift policies and change public narratives when it matters most. Purpose is a Public Benefit Corporation.” [Source: LinkedIn]

Image: Movilizatorio, Instagram

In March 2017, the city of Bogotá, Colombia, was home to the first Global Summit on Social Innovation:

“The event, hosted by The Rockefeller Foundation, the Multilateral Investment Fund of the Inter-American Development Bank Group and its local partner, Compartamos con Colombia, convened more than 65 Social Innovation Organizations from 5 continents. Taking advantage of this unique opportunity, the hosts of the event commissioned Movilizatorio—a civic engagement and social innovation lab for Latin America incubated by Purpose—to carry out research aimed at understanding the challenges that SIOs [social innovation organizations] face today and, based on evidence, propose new ways to address them. To develop this research, they also identified a sample of 42 SIOs that were the focus and source of information during the project.”

From the 2017 report Boosting Collaborative Impact-The Momentum for Social Innovation (Inter-American Development Bank):

Purpose moves people to remake the world. Driven by people, enabled by technology: Purpose builds movements and new power models to tackle the world’s biggest problems. A certified B Corp, we create and launch our own ventures, collaborate with the world’s leading organizations, and develop technology, tools, and content that move millions to remake the world. From climate change and global LGBT rights, to the food system and gun violence in America, we’ve launched some of the biggest and most successful experiments in movement building and mass participation in recent years.” [Emphasis added]

At the helm of this new summit is the Rockefeller Foundation, the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF, or FOMIN as the fund is known in Spanish), and Compartamos con Colombia:

“THE TEAM: This project was possible thanks to the sponsorship, advice, and constant accompaniment of the teams from FOMIN, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Compartamos con Colombia… The final report was consolidated by a team from Movilizatorio and Purpose, composed of Jessy Tolkan, Juliana Uribe, Lina Torres, and Nadya Hernández.”[Emphasis added]

Meanwhile, in Brazil, Purpose has been working with the Greenpeace Mobilization Lab (Mob Lab) on campaigns that include the City of Dreams voting campaign, the 1.5C Campaign (#1.5C Olympics) with the World Bank, The Bus of Dreams campaign, campaign Resista and “Content in the Periferias”.  The Mob Lab offers services that include “creating a rapid response system that leverages repression for your cause“. Greenpeace is the founder of GCCA, better known as TckTckTck, the umbrella organization that grossly undermined the most vulnerable states (such as Bolivia) being impacted by climate change at the United Nations Conference of the Parties (Copenhagen, 2009). GCCA/Greenpeace also organized the 2014 People’s Climate March with Purpose. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide]

Images: Movilizatorio, Instagram

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Blatant Paternalism

In February 2018 Movilizatorio in partnership with ACDI / VOCA and USAID Colombia , launched a test “Let’s go down to the tonito” (translated as “let’s lower our tone”, a seeming implication  that it is the fault of the defenseless for not extending an olive branch to its oppressor). Utilizing the latest advances in “behavioral economics”, the Behavioral Insights Team UK designed a test for Colombians to measure their levels of aggression. Following the test recommendations are offered that  are supposedly focused on improving their reactions to stressful situations, thus “betting on a more tolerant Colombia”. [Source] As an aside, one can only wonder about the public comfort level if a test of this nature was administered by a foreign NGO at the behest of a state agency such as China’s New International Development Cooperation Agency in partnership with The Russian Federation’s Official Development Assistance, to American citizens.

Further blatant Western paternalism is found in the 2017 BuildPeace report on the conference organized by Movilizatorio and partner NGOs including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Heinrich Böll Foundation. [3]

Page 7 of 61 the report bears the subtitle “Not a White Man’s Burden”. It goes on to explain: “Every year at Build Peace, we bring up a concern about the articulation of innovation for peace as a new ‘white man’s burden’—in which it is the Global North that is the sole repository of knowledge, innovation and technologies for conflict transformation. That’s obviously not true, partly because capacities for peace exist in all contexts, but also because the problem of peace is one that is also relevant to the Global North.”

How gallant it is of the ruling elite to inform the global south that they ought not to be reliant on the peace directives of the Global North. The same Global North which has been responsible for world wars that have disaffected people who have no vested interest in the outcome and have been innocent victims by all participants.

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The report also highlighted the Build Peace Lab partnership between Build Up & Movilizatorio which has created the Build Peace Fellows program and Digital Steps – Supporting Syrian Innovators (both fellowship programs). The Digital Steps Fellowship is a collaboration between Build Up and the British Council Syria (Britain) and NaTakallam (We Speak), an initiative funded by the World Bank (via WeMENA) .

The Igarapé Institute (which will be discussed further in this report) also played a participatory if not leading role in the conference. [Source]

 

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Movilizatorio/Purpose: “Training Agents of Change in Latin America”

Image: Movilizatorio, Instagram

Movilizatorio (MOV) is co-founded by Tim Dixon, co-founder of Purpose Europe,  The Syria Campaign (White Helmets), The Rules (with Purpose co-founder Alnoor Ladha) and More in Common (Purpose). Australian born Dixon “trained as an economist and tech sector lawyer, built a leading Australian educational publishing business that was bought by Pearson in 2004 and worked as chief speechwriter and economic adviser for two Prime Ministers. He is/has served on the boards of the International Budget Partnership, the Jo Cox Foundation, Purpose Europe, the Syria Campaign, the Chifley Research Centre and faith-based justice organisation Sojourners.” [Source] Working between New York and London (and now Latin America) the World Economic Forum website credits Dixon to having led projects to build new social movements in more than 20 countries. [Source]


“MOVILIZATORIO is a citizen engagement and social innovation lab for Colombia and Latin America and is part of the Purpose Labs Network. We work to empower citizens and strengthen civil society organizations. We have an interdisciplinary team with experience in civic technology and have worked with organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, FOMIN, Compartamos con Colombia and the Swedish Cooperation Agency. Through our alliance with Purpose and The Behavioral Insights Team, we have access to international networks for research and development of civic technologies, as well as offices in Bogotá, Colombia and New York, United States.” [Source]

The Movilizatorio website cites the utilization of both mobilization and behavioural change as the key techniques to initiate change.[Source]

Allies include Purpose, Behavioural Insights Team (UK), Foundation CoronaAgencia Presidencial de Cooperación, Heart for Change and Compartamos Con Colombia. [Source]

Movilizatorio website

Movilizatorio, a “citizen engagement lab” (an alternative name applied to an NGO that utilizes studies in behavioural sciences) for Colombia and Latin America, is incubated by Purpose. By the end of 2016, Movilizatorio had gained a major presence in most of Columbia, built partnerships with major national and international organisations and NGOs and launched a digital platform for citizen participation that reached over 30k users within the first two weeks of launching. [Source]

Juliana Uribe Villegas is the Founder and Executive Director of Movilizatorio, the “citizen participation and social innovation laboratory of Purpose for Colombia and Latin America”. Prior to her role in Movilizatorio, Villegas was a Senior Strategist for Purpose, advising global entities such as Hewlett Foundation and Here Now (Purpose). Villegas is a graduate of Harvard University as a Master of Public Administration and Mason Fellow of the John F. Kennedy School of Government and of the University of Barcelona as Master Cum Laude in International Relations. [Source/full bio]

The project manager for Movilizatorio is Nadya Hernández Beltrán. During 2017, Beltrán was an International Center for Journalists Fellow at PeaceTech Lab in United States (November 14-16, 2017, US Professional Fellows Congress publication). [Bio]

Movilizatorio campaign leader Mario Alvarado is co-founder of Change.org in Colombia. [Bio]

Mariana Diaz Kraus is the Director of Partnerships and Strategy. Diaz is a lawyer and magister in political science. She holds a Master of Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (USA). [Bio] [Source]

Here we can pause to reflect on the ties of those stationed within the foreign NGOs that are proliferated throughout the Global South – to the prestigious universities, organizations and institutions that have been founded in the Western world. An interwoven network of relationships built upon centuries of colonialism and imperialism that continues to this day. In essence, a non-profit industrial complex equivalent of the *School of the Americas, where people from Latin America were/are schooled in the techniques of torture and humiliation in order to implement despotic rule for the purpose of enhancing the domination of the people for Western interests. The difference being that in this politically correct realm, the techniques of torture are replaced with the methods of soft-power. [*Now operating as Western Hemisphere Institute for Security cooperation (WHINSEC)]

In furtherance of its agenda, Movilizatorio has many projects and allies in place to meet  its objectives (assuredly influenced and/or managed by Purpose and other Western organizations).

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Avispero is the primary mobilization campaign for Movilizatorio. It is described as a community of agents of change (wasps) that transform behaviour.  As a sign of its establishment leanings, El Avispero received the Turner Award for Social Transformation in 2017, a satellite of the Nobel Peace Prizes name brand. [Source]

The second mobilization campaign is the designing of a social innovative network for the South. This project is being conducted in collaboration with MIF, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Rockefeller Foundation and involves 40 Labs from 5 continents.

The third campaign is the aforementioned Bajémosle al Tonito which focuses on testing the aggression of Columbians.

The forth is Diciendo y Haciendo, a project led by Movilizatorio across Colombia funded by Heart For Change (Purpose partner), the Embassy of Sweden and the United Nations Program for Development UNDP.

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More in Common

To demonstrate the interlocking directorate of the non-profit industrial complex, here it should be noted that Dixon’s More in Common co-founders include Gemma Mortensen and Mathieu Lefevre (CEO).

“More in Common is a non-profit organisation incubated by Purpose Europe. Purpose builds and supports movements to advance the fight for an open, just, and habitable world. The co-founders of More in Common are Brendan Cox, Tim Dixon, Mathieu Lefevre, and Gemma Mortensen.” — Executive Summart: Attitudes Towards Refugees, Immigrants, and Identity in France, July 2017, More in Common, Purpose Europe, the Social Change Initiative

Mortensen served as Change.org’s Chief Global Officer overseeing teams in 17 countries. Prior to this she held the position of Executive Director of Crisis Action, having led international campaigns on Iran, Burma, Gaza, and Sudan. Mortensen’s bio is extensive, having worked for the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom to the United Nations in New York and the European Commission in Geneva and Sudan. [Bio] [Source]

Based in Paris, Lefevre, with a background in economics, is a Senior Advisor to Purpose. As with many of his peers, Lefevre attended the Harvard Kennedy School and worked for the United Nations. From 2005 to 2010, Lefevre worked for the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, serving in Lebanon and Afghanistan. [Source][Source]

Brendan Cox is a former Special Adviser to Prime Minister Gordon Brown whose wife Jo Cox (MP for Batley and Spen) was murdered on June 16, 2016. Former US President Barack Obama invited Brendan Cox and his two young children to the White House on September 23, 2016. Brendan Cox is yet another Purpose affiliate caught up in recent sexual misconduct allegations. “On February 17, 2018, Brendan Cox announced his immediate resignation from the Jo Cox Foundation and More In Common – the charities he launched to honour the memory of his wife – and apologised for the “hurt and offence” he has caused to women, saying he was “deeply apologetic” for his inappropriate behaviour.” [Source] The tangled web and exploitation of Joe Cox to benefit the Purpose construct, the White Helmets, continues to gain speed, in real life time. [The White Helmets, a 21st century NGO hybrid and “propaganda construct” (John Pilger), has been extensively researched and documented by independent journalists Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett and a small handful of others.]

As an example of backgrounds that comprise NGOs marketed as “activist” in ideology, consider the qualifications of Rukmini Giridharadas, Senior Strategist, More in Common US:

“Rukmini Giridharadas previously worked at Google, Change.org, and in US military intelligence studying how social media plays a role in war and conflict. She was educated at Brown University and Harvard Business School.”

In fact, Giridharadas worked for the United States Department of Defense. From 2009 – 2012  Giridharadas: 1) worked on a team developing intelligence assessments on how social technologies used in conflict situations around the world. Reports used to inform US policymakers and military leaders, 2) won funding to create a tool that would help team forecast geopolitical events using real-time data, 3) was selected to join team producing morning brief for President Obama and advisors, 4) with a small team of 40 analysts from government and private sector, went on month-long assignment to forecast future of social media and geopolitical trends. From group chosen as briefer to report findings to White House and Directorate of National Intelligence. [Source: LinkedIn]

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Meet the New Power – The Same as the Old Power

“Whoever mobilizes is going to win. And if you are understanding new power you can end up on top. Welcome to the new power world.”

The above quote is taken from the marketing video for the book titled New Power: How Power Works in Our Hyperconnected World–and How to Make It Work for You (released April 3, 2018). The book authored by Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz/Purpose) and Henry Timms (92nd Street Y, a 143-year-old institution located in New York City) follows their prior publications: New Power: How It’s Changing The 21st Century (2018) and Why You Need To Know and Understanding ‘New Power’ (Harvard Business Review, 2014).

Timms is the creator and co-founder of Giving Tuesday, “a classic new power movement” [Source] funded by such giants as The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Facebook.

Image: Movilizatorio, Instagram

Having attended Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Heimans interned for the United Nations where his career began in 1999. [Source] Heimans then cut his teeth with the management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company. In 2007 he co-founded Avaaz. Purpose would follow two years later although the year of Purpose’s beginnings has been challenged in Australian Parliament. [4] In 2009 Heimans hired the first Purpose team member Andre Banks. The list of achievements (i.e. clients) of Purpose includes the Women’s Marches following Trump’s inauguration in 2017 and a strong relationship with Black Lives Matters. [Source] Purpose clients and partnerships include many of the most powerful institutions, corporations and manufactured/managed movements on the planet such as the United Nations/UNHCR, Google, UNICEF, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ikea, Unilever, Black Lives Matter, etc.:

“Heimans says that Purpose embraces “pragmatic idealism” and doesn’t adopt purist positions. “We like to say we can speak the language of an Occupy activist, a Facebook product manager and a UN technocrat.” It also speaks the language of Unilever and Nike, two of its corporate partners, as well as that of #MeToo. If a partner “veers off course” and does things that nobody at Purpose can support, “then we have to fire them”. This is underpinned by Purpose’s status under American law as a public-benefit corporation, a new legal structure that mandates companies to serve the wider society rather than simply its shareholders, giving an economic value to philanthropy.” [Source]

Oxfam is a key partner of Purpose. To this day, the Oxfam partnership and logo continues to be proudly displayed on the Purpose website.Here it is vital to observe Heimans and Timms co-optation of #MeToo language/values supposedly adopted by Purpose. In December 2017, 92nd Street Y the organization run by Heiman’s New Power co-author, Executive Director Henry Timms , chose Ari Shavit to deliver the keynote address to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary:

“When I learned this week that the 92nd Street Y is advertising admitted sexual predator Ari Shavit as their keynote speaker to mark Israel’s 70th anniversary, it became unambiguously clear that the insulated, powerful, and tone-deaf Jewish boys’ club is still running the show, to the detriment of women and all victims of sexual assault. On the most basic level, this decision ignores women as consumers. The idea that women and sexual assault victims would be horrified by this choice apparently did not occur to the organizers. That we would never come to an event like this doesn’t seem to matter. Whoever the victims of sexual abuse are – women and men alike – we are irrelevant. We are not even considered as potential attendees. It is a stunning dismissal of victims from the community.” — Seriously, 92Y – Ari Shavit Should Never Have Been Invited In The First Place, December 15, 2017

In the trillion dollar philanthropy industry, this type of open hypocrisy is called “wewashing” – something those in the non-profit are typically extremely fearful to be accused of.

From the May 3, 2018 article published by The Center for Effective Philanthropy, Philanthropy’s “New Power” Challenge:

“There is also the danger of what the authors call “WeWashing,” citing a term coined by a friend of theirs that refers to the danger of “using the language of the crowd without having any meaningful interest in engaging with it.”

But this isn’t the only instance of “wewashing” demonstrated by NewPower authors Timms and Heimans. Consider the recent sexual exploitation scandal by Oxfam, which made international headlines. [February 16, 2018, The Independent: “Oxfam was told of aid workers raping and sexually exploiting children in Haiti a decade ago.”] Oxfam is a key partner of Purpose. To this day, the Oxfam partnership and logo continues to be proudly displayed on the Purpose website. Further allegations have since emerged involving Save the Children and the United Nations [source] , with United Nations being not only the key partner to Purpose & Timms co-founded “movements”, but the building block of the non-profit industrial complex as a whole.

So much for Heiman’s statement “[I]f a partner “veers off course” and does things that nobody at Purpose can support, “then we have to fire them”. The appropriation of the said movement #metoo – by individuals that condone sexual predators and sexual misconduct in their own tight knit circles – is as vulgar and cold as it is arrogant. This superficiality on display is so egregious, it is blinding.

Video. April 13, 2018, “‘New Power’ authors Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms discuss “authenticity” and how people can obtain power in the 21st century”:

 

 

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Perhaps nowhere is Jeremy Heimans crème de la crème status more visible as in the recent high level event at the United Nations: The 6th Biennial High-level Meeting of the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) (United Nations Headquarters, New York, 21-22 May 2018):

“In a keynote address, Jeremy Heimans, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Purpose, noted that development cooperation was traditionally organized in an “old power” fashion, in which top-down dynamics were most prevalent.  In that structure, beneficiaries were not directly involved in the decision-making that would most affect their lives due to an unequal power dynamic and lack of agency.

 

Yet, a “new power” structure was emerging, he said, in which power was distributed more equally among stakeholders.  In that context, he underlined that more efforts must be undertaken to build institutions that fuelled citizens’ hunger to “take part”, pointing to online platforms as being highly effective at engaging people.  He noted that there was a lot that could be learned from such social movements, many of which were maximizing collective action dynamics.  In that connection, development cooperation should be shifted in a way that actively engaged people and gave them opportunities to shape their own future, he said.” [Source]

“Jeremy Heimans, Co-founder of Purpose, addresses the Development Cooperation Forum of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The theme of the forum is “The strategic role of development cooperation in achieving the 2030 Agenda: building sustainable and resilient societies. 21 May 2018, United Nations, New York”

Economic and Social Council 2018 session, plenary meeting
Development Cooperation Forum – Item 5 (c)
President /
DSG on behalf of SG
USG Desa
Keynote speakers

 

Economic and Social Council 2018 session, Plenary meeting
Development Cooperation Forum – Item 5 (c)
President /
DSG on behalf of SG
USG Desa
Keynote speakers

 

Designing a Network

On April 14. 2017 Open Ideo published the paper Mitigating the risk of conflict resurgence in Colombia through blended, structured finance and multistakeholder collaboration. The report focuses on funding the first stage of an investment-ready portfolio of outstanding community endeavours in Colombia via the creation/support of social enterprises.  The collaboration, in general terms seeks to “[C]onsolidate the integration and participation of [1] Government [2] the private sector and [3] the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country and a curated group of global actors.” Partners for the project include the expansive network of http://www.elavisperomov.org (Movilizatorio/Purpose) and http://socialab.com owners of the largest open innovation platform in the world with over 475,000 users.

Sponsors of Open Ideo include UKAID, USAID, Nike, Unilever, The Rockefeller Foundation, and Water dot org to name a few. [See below chart.]

Purpose Partners with Concordia Summit

Scott Heiferman (right), co-founder of Meetup with Jeremy Heiman (left), Source: Avaaz co-founder David Madden, twitter account

Purpose board member Scott Heiferman is CEO and a co-founder of Meetup which was recently acquired by WeWork  for a reported $200 million. [Source] Heiferman is a long time ally of Heimans (who advises Meetup), co-authoring articles for AOL/Verizon/Oath’s  Huff Post (2011, 2017) and cross-promoting one another in orchestrated speaking engagements.

A key example of such cross-promotion is the Concordia Summit.

 

“New power: “The ability to harness the connected crowd to get what you want” – Jeremy Heimans, co-founder Purpose/Avaaz [Source]

Concordia website screenshot: New Power in A Multistakeholder World

October 5, 2015, Purpose Website:

“Purpose is proud to have served as a first time programming partner for the 2015 Concordia Summit. Now in its fifth year, the Summit convenes the world’s preeminent thought leaders and decision makers to address the most pressing global challenges by highlighting the potential that effective cross-sector collaboration can have in creating a more prosperous and sustainable future.

 

Purpose Co-Founder and CEO Jeremy Heimans co-moderated a panel discussion along with Henry Timms, the Executive Director of 92Y and Co-Founder of #GivingTuesday. Their session, “Introducing: New Power in a Multi-stakeholder World,” featured an exciting line-up of speakers, each pioneering change in their respective industries in innovative ways.”

“We are particularly excited by Concordia’s unique opportunity to redefine the power of partnership during the U.N. General Assembly at our 2017 Annual Summit in September and throughout the year.” — 2017: A YEAR OF STRATEGIC GROWTH FOR CONCORDIA, A letter from the Co-Founders [Source]

The Purpose session included Scott Heiferman, co-founder & then CEO of Meetup, Nancy Lublin, the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders in 2007 and one of Fortune’s “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” in 2014, Jenny Abramson, founder and managing partner at Rethink Impact, a venture capital fund that partnered with UBS Wealth Management Americas in 2017 and, Jonathan Greenblatt, National Director and CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and former Special Assistant to Barack Obama.

“Held on September 19th and 20th at the Grand Hyatt New York, the 2016 Annual Summit was our largest and most ambitious event to date, bringing together over 2,000 thought leaders from across sectors including General (Ret.) David Petraeus, former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, Prime Minister of Greece, H.E. Alexis Tspiras, and philanthropist George Soros.” — Concordia 2016 Annual Report, Building Partnerships for Social Impact

Having observed “the effectiveness of the formats of the Wall Street Journal CEO Council and the Clinton Global Initiative (“the intersection of the power to convene”) [Source] Mathew Swift (Chairman and CEO) and Nicholas Logothetis founded the Concordia Summit in February 2011 as a nonprofit organization that can identify a societies “readiness and need” to engage in public-private partnerships (P3s). Swifte is on the U.S. Department of State’s Advisory Committee on Public-Private Partnerships (SAP3) and serves on the Global Advisory Board of i2Co School of Transformational Leadership. Swifte studied under global “leaders” such as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and José María Aznar, the former President of the Government of Spain. [Source]

The first annual Concordia Summit on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, in New York. Photo by Ralph Alswang/The Concordia Summit

The 2011 keynote address for Concordia (cross-sector collaboration as a means of combating extremism and terrorism) was given by US President George W. Bush followed by former US President Bill Clinton in 2012 and Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman & CEO of The Dow Chemical Company in 2013. The 2014 annual summit focused on the future of American energy and economic growth in Latin America and featured a keynote conversation with former President George W. Bush and the “First Lady” Laura Bush.

The 2016 annual summit included Warren Buffett, Chief Executive Officer, Berkshire Hathaway,  Madeleine Albright, Chairman of the Board, National Democratic Institute and George Soros, Founder and Chair, Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Foundations. 2016 featured the launch of the Concordia Leadership Award. Purpose client/partner Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever was a recipient of the award.

Purpose Europe co-founder Tim Dixon, 2016 Concordia Summit

Joining those at the helm of the globe’s most powerful institutions, corporations, NGOs and states, as 2016 summit speakers is Per Heggenes the CEO of IKEA Foundation, the philanthropic arm of INGKA Foundation, the owner of the IKEA Group of companies and client/partner of Purpose and the NGO Here Now (Purpose). Purpose Europe co-founder  Tim Dixon also made his way into the massive roster of elite speakers for the 2016 summit as did United Nations Kathy Calvin (member of both The B Team and Unilever CEO Paul Polman’s Business & Sustainable Development Commission with Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel). Of interest is that Calvin was a Senior Managing Director at Hill and Knowlton – the global public relations company commissioned to create the “incubator hoax” on the public that achieved acquiescence from the populace to wage the illegal war on Iraq before the deception was uncovered.

Kathy Calvin is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Foundation. She is member of both The B Team (Purpose) and Unilever CEO Paul Polman’s Business & Sustainable Development Commission.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, United Nations H.E. Filippo Grandi, Founder and Chair, Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Foundations George Soros and Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada John McCallum attend 2016 Concordia Summit – Day 2 at Grand Hyatt New York on September 20, 2016 in New York City. Sept. 19, 2016, Ben Hider/Getty Images North America

This summit also highlighted the “crisis” (i.e. US destabilization) in Venezuela. [5] The summit also focused on restructuring Concordia from a convening organization to one that actively builds partnerships. Concordia is now a  global convener, campaigner, and innovation incubator with over 50 heads of state, 600 corporate executives and 300 press. Over 20 trillion in private sector assets are represented. [Source]

Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever speaks at The 2017 Concordia Annual Summit at Grand Hyatt New York on September 19, 2017 in New York City. Riccardo Savi/Getty Images North America

“The ceremony also recognized the winner of the 2016 P3 Impact Award, a competition hosted by the University of Virginia Darden School Institute for Business in Society, and U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, that recognizes best practices of P3s that are improving communities around the world in the most impactful ways. The winning team, Project Nurture, is a partnership between the Coca-Cola Company, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and TechnoServe that developed an innovative solution to challenges in East Africa’s fruit market. While farmers across Africa struggle to lift themselves out of poverty, food and beverage companies have a hard time sourcing the agricultural products they need…” — Concordia 2016 Annual Report, Building Partnerships for Social Impact

The acceleration of privatization (global in scale) is being achieved via the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

“Partnerships Week (GPW) Partnership Practitioners Forum, under the theme, “Leveraging Innovation in Partnerships.” Together with the Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships at the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Global Development Lab at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and PeaceTech Lab, Concordia co-hosted this flagship event to kick off GPW and brought together practitioners and global leaders to discuss the role of P3s in achieving the SDGs and explore their potential as shared value collaborators.”

 

[***Further reading on the privatization of the commons via the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals: Building Acquiescence for the Commodification of the Commons Under the Banner of a “New Economy”***]

 

Aside from Purpose entering Latin American as a Trojan Horse, the goals of Purpose, in Columbia to start, for privatization are clear. Consider 2016 summit speaker Seth W. Miller Gabriel is the first Director of the Office of Public-Private Partnerships for the District of Columbia:

“AS PRESIDENT OF COLOMBIA, I HAVE SEEN FIRST-HAND THE POSITIVE EFFECTS AND IMMENSE EFFICIENCIES THAT [PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS] HAVE ON CHANGING THE WORLD AND IMPACTING COMMUNITY.” -ÁLVARO URIBE VÉLEZ, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF COLOMBIA

Also from the report:

“The issues of transparency and accountability were a main theme in Concordia’s programming throughout 2016. At both the Concordia Americas Summit in Miami and the Annual Summit in New York, we held discussions on corruption and governance, with a particular focus on Latin America. Additionally, at the Annual Summit, Concordia partnered with the National Democratic Institute to host a session highlighting the political and economic stability in the Middle East as an example for other democratic transitions in the region.”

Here it is vital to note the job description for the Purpose Campaigner in Columbia:

Responsible for finding moments of global political crisis and building a campaign strategy where people all over the world can take action to demonstrate the power of public opinion over the international decision making process.” [Emphasis added]

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Social Good

The creation of the Social Good Summit (launched in 2012) is attributed to Heiman’s co-author of New Power, Henry Timms (92nd Street Y) in partnership with the United Nations Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ericsson, the United Nations Development Programme, and Mashable.

Following the Social Good Summit was the launch of the SocialGood “community”.  The founding partners of SocialGood include The Bill & Melinda Gates  Foundation, the Case Foundation, Caterpillar, Cisco, Enactus, Mashable, the Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Foundation, and the 92Y. [Source]

“Progress in the next 15 years and beyond—including effectively setting and achieving the next set of global development goals—can’t just be left to the same old power players. Now you can actively involve people in shaping these goals, using new participatory, transparent, and bottom-up new power models.

 

Tune into this high-level discussion with speakers including Sir Richard Branson, Kathy Calvin, Gary White and Matt Damon, Chris Elias, Jeremy Heimans, Hannah Jones, JR Kerr, Kumi Naidoo and Hans Vestberg to explore how these emerging models can help us shape our world in coming decades and envision a bolder #2030Now.

New Power +SocialGood is presented by +SocialGood and Purpose” — [Source]

Inspired by the annual Social Good Summit, IVA and ICom launched the annual Social Good Brazil Program in 2012. Partners include the United Nations and SocialGood. The Social Good Brazil keynote for 2017 was delivered by Henry Timms with Heimans as one of the international speakers. The 2018 summit requires pre-registration for those wishing to attend. With a donation of 400.00 or more, attendees will receive a free a gift package which includes a copy of the New Power book. [Source]

 

Next: Purpose Goes to Latin America Part 2: “This is where the lines between NGOs, internet and militarism begin to overlap and blur.”

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Appendix I: AVAAZ Mind Map Last Updated August 7 2018

End Notes:

[1] A recent development for Avaaz/Purpose co-founder David Madden (World Bank, etc.) and founder of the PR firm Phandeeyar in Burma, is his new affiliation with the social ventures investment company and Purpose partner Omidyar Network: “I’m going to be spending the next six months as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Omidyar Network. Omidyar Network, the philanthropic investment fund established by ebay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, is one of Phandeeyar’s key supporters. Phandeeyar isn’t the first tech hub that Omidyar has backed and it probably won’t be the last.” [Source]

[2] May 26, 2016: “Teens are spending nearly nine hours a day consuming media. And children ages eight to 12 are spending nearly six hours a day doing the same thing. Let’s say the average teen wakes up at 7 a.m. and goes to bed at 10 p.m. — that means that nine of their 15 waking hours are spent on their phones, computers, or tablets.” [Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/teens-average-phone-screen-usage-2016-5] | January 4, 2017: ” Teens now spend up to nine hours a day on social platforms, while 30% of all time spent online is now allocated to social media interaction. And the majority of that time is on mobile – 60% of social media time spent is facilitated by a mobile device.” [https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic]

[3] “Build Peace 2017 was possible thanks to the generous support of the people of the United States through their Agency for International Development (USAID), as well as Andes University, the PeaceNexus Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, New Markets Advisors, the Greater Bogotá Convention Bureau, the Agency of the GIZ in Colombia, and the United Nations in Colombia. The event was co-organized by Build Up and Policéntrico, with the support of Bogotá’s Town Hall through the Center for Memory, Peace and Reconciliation, the SOLE Colombia Foundation, the Ideas para la Paz Foundation, Peace Startup, TIC4GOOD, Movilizatorio, La Metro, INNpulsa Colombia, and Appiario.”

[4] “On the 13 April 2005, Purpose Campaigns, cofounded by Heimans and Madden, posted an ad describing itself as a new, progressive, political campaigning organisation. Noting the Win Back Respect campaign, the ad said: ‘Purpose Campaigns was established in 2005 to continue campaigning on important progressive issues, especially in the area of foreign policy, national security and global justice issues. Purpose Campaigns is currently involved in a variety of entrepreneurial political activities, including establishing a rapid response campaigning organisation designed to explode the myth of Republican primacy of national security.'” Source: https://www.openaustralia.org.au/senate/?gid=2016-09-13.16.3

[5] “The Summit was historically significant as it marked the first-ever meeting between Luis Almagro Lemes, Secretary General, Organization of American States, and Venezuelan human rights activist, Lilian Tintori, who spoke about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. As a result of the Summit, Mr. Almagro affirmed the Carta Democratica which outlines provisions and strategies for change in the country’s electoral process and, in turn, its fundamental rights.” [Source]

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

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

You can support the work of Morningstar and Palmer at Patreon.

 

 

 

The Left is Consumed by Propaganda

Misión Verdad

July 21st 2018

La izquierda está consumida por la propaganda occidental

[The Left is Consumed by Propaganda]

 

Words of Gustavo Borges Revilla, director of the Venezuelan media project Misión Verdad during the 24th Sao Paulo Forum in Havana, Cuba held July 15th -17th in the course of the Foro’s discussion about art, communication, culture and intellectual work. Misión Verdad participated at the invitation of the Cuban Ministry of Culture.

Gustavo Borges Revilla, director of the Venezuelan media project Misión Verdad 

Yesterday saw the start of an intense and definitely constructive discussion because it shows a great deal about what is currently happening in Latin America and the world. We can all agree that there is a crisis. It is the crisis of the world system as we know it, a global systemic crisis of capitalism. A crisis inherent in all of us, one people in Latin America are living now in our own lives, in our own bodies.

As you know, Venezuela was a victim in 2017 of perhaps the most refined model of intervention the West has yet designed, not just to take over State power that today is in the hands of anti-capitalist forces, but rather to dismantle States themselves as we have come to know them. In other words, Western thought derived from the Pact of Westphalia is in crisis. The Nation-State model that has served capitalism well for so many years is in crisis. Looking at those States, their crisis and the models of intervention, we think, based on our work, that a full understanding is lacking of what is happening right now, not just in Western thought but among ourselves as we live through these new processes of intervention. This is not to play the victim in relation to this issue, but it is a call to be alert. Why? Because Nicaragua is suffering intervention right now too.

In 2015 we said that this new model of intervention would be used in Nicaragua and we state here in Havana in 2018, that Cuba is a country that could be a candidate to suffer this model of intervention. Which is nothing less than a reconfiguration of countries’ cultural identities, and the hijacking of values and principles characteristic of the Left for many years. I’m talking about human rights, solidarity, youth, categories that are being reconfigured by bodies like, just to give one example, the Open Society Foundation.

Video with aerial views of the July 19th celebration in Managua, Nicaragua.

Unless everyone in this room knows what the open Society Institute is, then we have already lost the argument. Just one fact about the foundation : just in the last five years, it has invested one billion dollars in 120 countries, in 48 “color revolutions” that destroyed the whole of the Middle East. It started in Tunisia, went on to Egypt, continued in Libya and tried also in Syria. Imported into Latin America, Venezuela suffered 3 attempts at a “color revolution” in 2007, 2014 and 2017. We can say here today that Venezuela is the only country that has understood how to confront “color revolutions” and disarm them using political intelligence and audacity.

But this carries us into a slightly more complex debate, one a bit more invidious, a bit harder to face up to, namely the debate on the work of intellectuals. To begin with, we can ask ourselves whether intellectuals, above all left wing intellectuals, really understand what is happening. I wonder because President Maduro is probably among the world’s politicians most criticized politicians in the world media system, by the world’s banal media aristocracy.

Sadly, we have seen that the Left is not infallible when it comes to consumption of Western propaganda. The Left, maybe not so much the Latin American Left, but the European Left, if one can put things that way, has indeed assimilated the Western argument that there has been no democracy in Venezuela. Which takes us again into a slightly more profound debate : “What is democracy?” We have already noted that there is also a crisis of concepts, a reconfiguration and it’s not really we who are giving a new interpretation to these concepts, adapting them to our realities.

A view of the Cuban capital Havana. | Photo: Reuters

I don’t know if people are aware that the last ALBA declaration saluted the referendum held in Ecuador excluding Rafael Correa from Ecuadoran politics. An ALBA document. We have to view such points with much caution and much responsibility, because on this reading of democracy, Ecuador is democratic, Argentina is democratic, Brazil is democratic, but Venezuela is a dictatorship, never mind Cuba which for 50 years has been stigmatized as such.

The question is whether these concepts of democracy, human rights, liberty and revolution are of any use to us.

Yesterday, the Network of Intellectuals debated what is a revolution and what is not. One hundred years on from 1917. I don’t understand. When we are in a moment in which so far as we understand things, there is no reason for pessimism. We are in a marvelous moment. The world élites are fighting among themselves, devouring each other. For example, we see Donald Trump, representative of part of the world elite, fighting with his allies, trying to impose economic conditions on China, while the Chinese more or less laugh at them. Furthermore, we see them trying to impose threats in Latin America and Nicolas Maduro destroying the US plans to intervene in Venezuela.

We have won four consecutive elections in less than six months and here we’re touching on the last issue that we wanted to address here. Not just Latin America but the whole world today lacks an analytical framework belonging to us, the world’s peoples. Nothing is written now about Venezuela’s victories. There exists a kind of emotional state, above all among left wing intellectuals, of permanently having to start from zero, forever abandoning moments of achievement and success.

There’s a feeling that Venezuela was left on its own over the last few years without the leadership of Comandante Chavez. We get excited about the new victories, fine, we celebrate these new victories. We grasp that Venezuela has had four electoral victories where the Venezuelan opposition was left fragmented in at least four pieces, and that came about, I insist, through political intelligence and furthermore with the unassailable support of Venezuela’s popular base represented mainly by low income women and single mothers who are each responsible themselves for no fewer than a thousand people.

If it weren’t for these women doing politics for real, Venezuela would today be submerged in severe hunger. These women, threatened with that in 2017, organize,get on with life, co-exist, face down threats, do politics and thus guarantee the electoral victories of the Bolivarian Revolution.

I insist that Venezuela has created a Chavista formula. We asserted beforehand in this discussion group that we have to be constantly more Chavista because Chavismo, beyond the historical circumstances imposed on it, turned out to be a method of political action, a pragmatic method of interpreting reality and of working that reality so as to plan for the future with the same daring clearly evident in the meetings and experiences of Chavez and Fidel.

We are dealing with uncomfortable questions that any meeting trying to be honest should address. Power for what? At a time when the Western élites are destroying the whole system we are accustomed to, when its institutionality is being destroyed by its own creators. One has to insist : power for what? We should ask ourselves this, all of us involved in political processes and also of other people in theirs. Why does Manuel Lopez Obrador want power? Or Nicolas Maduro? Or Evo Morales? After the coming and going of grievous and occasionally shameful defeats in our region.

I don’t want to provoke more discomfort, but in 2017, between February and July of 2017, the supposed progressive regional leaders never mentioned Venezuela and the intervention process it suffered, except Cuba and Bolivia, obviously. This is not, shall we say, a victim’s complaint, but rather a call for reflection, above all to the intellectual Left, which seems to look at the world as if we were in1950 instead of 2018, in a moment when time is rushing on, and while it may be a more perilous time, it is also a marvelous time. If capitalism manages to remake its philosophical framework, its existential structure, then we will have lost the opportunity of a lifetime to impose a new culture, to think it through, to experience it and leave behind for good all the many centuries of subjugation in which we have been spectators and not participants.

Thank you.

The transcription and editing of this speech was done by the Cuban cultural web site La Jiribilla

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Video | Sao Paulo Forum Underway in Havana, Cuba: “Who we work for is the poor of our countries.”

The lies and prevarications of Quiggin et al

We Suspect Silence

June 23, 2018

by empathiser

 

There is a trio of academics charged with the job of reinforcing the StopAdani coalition narrative as it relates to native title. They lie and prevaricate to shape perceptions about the functioning of native title and the place of the struggles of the Traditional Owners in the Galilee Basin; along Adani’s proposed rail corridor; and at Abbot Point.

To prevaricate is to lie using devious means like silence. I will show that Quiggin et al not only prevaricated in their collected writings since June 2016, they also repeated a bare faced lie about a controversial “Self-determined authorisation meeting”.

 

SECTIONS:

The project at the Global Change Institute

Collected writings

Two controversial meetings

The outright lie

An entirely ignored court document

Holding onto the talking point

Who has claim to the name “W&J”?

A gambit makes a talking point

Doing solidarity

Framing out the coal complex

A judgement not to be ignored

 

The project at the Global Change Institute

This trio were first brought together under the banner of the Global Change Flagships Projects through the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. The Wangan Jagalingou Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and Family Council and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights are listed as partners in the project called ‘We Are The People From That Land: Centring Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in the Transition to a Sustainable, Low-Carbon Future’ which is funded by impact philanthropist and long term supporter of anti coal campaigns in the Galilee Basin, Graeme Wood. The project effectively frames out all other Traditional Owner groups affected by the development of the Galilee basin coal complex other than the Wangan and Jagalingou people. The Wangan and Jagalingou organisation who partner in this project represent a faction of the Wangan and Jagalingou claim group within the native title system.

Their collected works suggest that Quiggin et al are attending to the issue of native title in connection with the development of a particular coal mine, but what they have actually done is accept the prescribed spotlighting of one Traditional Owner group that is part of a larger claim group that is one of four Traditional Owner groups in the proposed coal complex. All four Traditional Owner groups had to contend with the native title system and may have been unduly pressured with threats of compulsory acquisition during negotiations. Three of the four groups had signed ILUAs over the crucial rail corridor. One of those Traditional Owner groups is embroiled in the controversy over the little reported corporate failure of Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation which was presided over by the treasurer and Townsville director of the North Queensland Land Council.

Rather then presenting any arguments about why only one Traditional Owner group should be spotlighted, the partners in ‘the project’ chose silence. None of the Traditional Owners struggles along the rail corridor and at the proposed port were ever discussed in the collected writings in which Quiggin et al give a voice to ‘the project’ partners. Spotlighting casts all others into shadow. It is a passive strategy that supports the wider narrative of the project funder and other stakeholders like Earth Justice who are allied with Stop Adani coalition leaders the Australian Conservation Foundation.

The Stop Adani narrative holds that we need to stop Adani’s mine and that the Wangan and Jagalingou are the last line of defence against a mining company with the local, state and federal governments, and the native title system on it’s side. The development we are asked to resist is “the mine” and the Traditional Owners we are asked to support are “the W&J”. But when we acknowledge that we are witnessing the development of a coal complex, then economic reality – if we believe that the native title system fails to deliver justice to Traditional Owners – requires that we look without bias at the whole context in it’s diversity. We should be looking at the indigenous land use agreements (ILUAs) that form the milestones that make the coal complex possible. If we did this we would be considering the political economy of the entire proposed developments. Spotlighting frames out reality, creates silences where there ought to be investigation, and raises serious doubts about claims of solidarity with Traditional Owners.

 

Collected writings

Quiggin et al assisted in shaping the StopAdani coalition narrative through their prevarications in a report called ‘Unfinished Business’ which forms the basis of the arguments presented in an article for The Conversation and a 5 part series in New Matilda called ‘Killing Country’. These writings, none of which contain citations, reveal strategic silences, manipulation of language, and outright lies. The prevarications leave members of the public uninformed about the functions of the native title system and create a picture of Indigenous struggles that spotlights one group and one mine amid the development of a complex of mines, rail, and ports.

The collected writings of Quiggin et al were published contemporaneously with writings by members of the Wangan Jagalingou Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and Family Council (W&J FC). There are some key differences in how the W&J FC describe significant and controversial events such as the March 2016 ‘self determination’ meeting that is the subject of a legal judgement made in April 2017, and the determination meeting held in April 2016 that is the subject of a forthcoming judgement.

‘We Are The People From That Land: Centring Indigenous Peoples’ Rights in the Transition to a Sustainable, Low-Carbon Future’, project report

‘UNFINISHED BUSINESS: ADANI, THE STATE, AND THE INDIGENOUS RIGHTS STRUGGLE OF THE WANGAN AND JAGALINGOU TRADITIONAL OWNERS COUNCIL’

http://earthjustice.org/sites/default/files/files/Unfinished-Business.pdf

Morgan Brigg, John Quiggin, and Kristen Lyons in The Conversation

‘The last line of defence: Indigenous rights and Adani’s land deal’ https://theconversation.com/the-last-line-of-defence-indigenous-rights-and-adanis-land-deal-79561

5 part ‘Killing Country’ series in New Matilda

Part 1. https://newmatilda.com/2017/11/16/adani-carmichael-coal-mine-introduction-special-five-part-series/

Part 2. https://newmatilda.com/2017/11/22/the-queensland-government-is-the-real-driver-in-adanis-dirty-land-grab/

Part 3. https://newmatilda.com/2017/11/23/traditional-owners-expose-adanis-relentless-pursuit-of-wj-country/

Part 4. https://newmatilda.com/2017/12/24/the-numbers-dont-stack-up-wjs-rights-on-the-chopping-block-for-adanis-non-viable-project/

Part 5. https://newmatilda.com/2018/01/30/native-title-colonialism-racism-adani-and-the-manufacture-of-consent-for-mining/

 

Two controversial meetings

Quiggin et al framed Adani as responsible for manipulation of voting meetings by deemphasising the functioning of certain organisations that perform an essential function within the native title system. These organisations, known as Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs), plan and deliver the voting and decision making meetings that determine if land use agreements get approved. NTRBs perform these functions as representatives of the claim group by liaising with the applicant group, mining companies and other entities who seek to make agreements. They provide legal support, manage apical ancestor lists, handle logistics for authorisation meetings, and certify that authorisation meetings were delivered to the standards set out by the Native Title Act. Their role is absolutely essential to the functioning of the native title system.

A familiar critique of the native title system is offered in the first of the collected writings, ‘Unfinished Business’. I can’t say I disagree. Quiggin et al argue that NTRBs could be seen as “facilitators and enablers” for the “settler-state regime”. This assertion is has some substance and there exist evidence and case studies to support that argument. Those case studies and evidences appear in more often in court documents than in publicly available communications from the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT) or any other entity. Those court documents contain the most detailed explanations of the functioning of NTRBs that are available to the public. It is only through analysing how NTRBs serve the interests of mining companies to the detriment of the Traditional Owners in the process of negotiating ILUAs that we can understand how they become facilitators of the coloniser agenda. NTRBs ostensibly act for the Traditional Owner claim group through the applicant groups, registered native title bodies corporate (RNTBCs), common law land holders, and other nominated bodies. It is only through a thorough examination of the processes revealed largely through court documents that any assessment of the appropriateness of the actions of NTRBs can be made.

Quiggin et al discussing NTRBs in ‘Unfinished Business’:

Native Title Representative Bodies (NTRBs), appointed under the NTA, were established to assist Indigenous people with their claims. NTRBs are ostensibly facilitators of Indigenous access to native title rights, and indeed they do serve that function.
But the extent to which native title facilitates industry access to Indigenous lands also arguably positions NTRBs as facilitators and enablers of a settler-state regime that is ill-disposed to substantive recognition of Indigenous rights on Indigenous terms.

‘Unfinished Business’ is very much an academic piece. In it Quiggin et al identify Queensland South Native Title Services (QSNTS) as the NTRB acting for the W&J people claim group for the April 2016 authorisation meeting. They outline that the W&J FC have some very serious objections to the way QSNTS conducted the April 2016 voting meeting. In this piece the authors summarise the reportage of their project partners the Wangan Jagalingou Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation and Family Council rather than make explicit arguments about the way QSNTS facilitated negotiation processes under the Native Title Act (NTA). This could be seen as a device to posit particular talking points attaching ownership of those talking points to a partner organisation while distancing the authors from ownership. Here’s an example in relation to QSNTS and the April 2016 meeting:

A large part of the W&J’s grievance and grounds for contestation relate to their claims about the way in which QSNTS oversaw and Adani ran the meeting. The W&J also contrast what they see as QSNTS facilitation of a meeting for Adani’s benefit with QSNTS’s refusal to assist with, and active opposition to, the W&J’s efforts to hold the aforementioned “self-determined” meeting.

Quiggin et al did not make reference to QSNTS or the role of NTRBs in their article in The Conversation or in any of the first four parts of the ‘Killing Country’ series.

 

The outright lie

What started as reportage of a position of project partners the W&J FC became a talking point employed by Quiggin et al for the majority of the ‘Killing Country’. The collected works span roughly 7 months.

Quote – Unfinished Business

W&J describe a “self-determined” meeting held in March 2016 as also confirming, for a third time, they were resolute in rejecting any offer from Adani in exchange for the extinguishment of their native title rights.

Quote – The Conversation. ‘The last line of defence: Indigenous rights and Adani’s land deal’.

While Adani has filed for registration of an Ilua, the W&J calls it a “sham”, asserting that the Wangan and Jagalingou people have rejected a deal with Adani on three separate occasions since 2012.

In Killing country parts 1,2,3 & 5 the assertion was made that the March 2016 ‘self determination meeting was “bona fide”; that it was a ‘claim group’ meeting; that the Adani ILUA was “rejected”; that the meeting was the third such meeting to reject the ILUA.

All such claims hinge on the March 2016 ‘self determination’ meeting adhering to requirements of the of the NTA.

Quote – Killing Country Part 1

What differentiates the Wangan and Jagalingou is that they are the only Traditional Owner group, through the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council (W&J), who have said no – on 3 occasions, at bone fide meetings of the Native Title Claim Group – to an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani.

Quote – Killing Country Part 2

Despite three separate claim group meetings spanning over four years, where W&J has rejected an ILUA with Adani, an agreement was signed in 2016. Yet the meeting, and the ILUA it posits, is shrouded in controversy, raising serious and as yet unresolved questions about its legitimacy.

Quote – Killing Country Part 3

W&J have said no, on three separate occasions at bone fide meetings of the claim group, to a registered Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with Adani.

Quote – Killing Country Part 5

In addition, and against Wangan and Jagalingou decisions in 2012 and 2014, QSNTS has continued to facilitate Adani’s ongoing efforts to seek agreement, through an ILUA, to the surrender of native title rights in up to 2,750 hectares of land that are necessary for infrastructure critical to the mine. QSNTS declined to in any way facilitate a ‘self-determined’ meeting of the claim group that was run in March 2016 – a meeting that once again rejected an ILUA with Adani, as well as any further dealings with them. They also refused to attend, or share the notice of the most recent claim group meetings in December 2017 – meetings to address the progress of the native title claim. These meetings also revisited, and as it turned out, de-authorised the ILUA that Adani was seeking to have registered.

 

An entirely ignored court document

In ‘Burragubba on behalf of the Wangan and Jagalingou People v State of Queensland [2017] FCA 373 (11 April 2017)’  Justice Reeves found that the March 2016 ‘self determination’ meeting was called for a minority of the Wangan and Jagalingou claim group and that the meeting was not a legitimate authorisation meeting.

37. First, as has already been mentioned above, the central purpose of the 19 March meeting, as disclosed by the notice for that meeting, was to address concerns held by a minority of the members of the existing W & J Applicant and those members of the W & J claim group who held the same concerns, relating to the ILUA negotiations with Adani.

and

35. It follows that the notice was not, by its terms, a notice directed to all the members of the W & J claim group notifying them that an authorisation meeting had been convened for that claim group to consider the authority of its authorised applicant for the purposes of ss 66B and 251B of the NTA. That being so, it could not result in a meeting being convened that would be fairly representative of the views of the whole of the W & J claim group concerning the membership of the W & J Applicant. It therefore follows that the replacement applicant is not able to rely upon resolution 12 passed at that meeting for the purposes of establishing condition 3 (s 66B(1)(a)(iii)), or condition 5 (s 66B(1)(b)).

http://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/cth/FCA/2017/373.html?context=1;query=Burragubba;mask_path=#

The entire collected works of Quiggin et al as part of their partnership with the Global Change Institute were published after the April 11, 2017 judgement. Not one of the 7 pieces makes any mention of Justice Reeves’ judgement that the meeting was not a valid claim Wangan and Jagalingou claim group meeting. Any claim that the March 2016 ‘self determination’ meeting was “bona fide” is an assertion that the meeting was seen as satisfying the requirements under the NTA which it certainly did not.

The continued claim to the legitimacy of the March 2016 meeting after the April 2017 judgement served to preserve a talking point that had been presented by the W&J FC in the year preceding the April 2017 judgement. It also served to mask the factional nature of the W&J FC and the meeting they facilitated.

The March 2016 ‘self determination’ meeting was a gambit designed to unseat the NTRB  the was continuing to act for the claim group and seven of the applicant group members.  If given effect under the NTA the actions taken at that meeting would serve to reform the delivery of W&J claim group meetings under the auspices of the W&J FC faction.

Marcia Langton wrote about the Justice Reeves judgement and the factional nature of the W&J FC gambit in July 2017:

Then on May 4, 2016, Adrian Burragubba applied to the court to have four of these people dismissed and replaced with another four people. Justice Reeves dismissed his application on April 11, 2017. His reasons were clear: the notice issued by Burragubba and his minority faction was designed to ensure that only those Wangan and Jagalingou claimants who agreed with him received the notice and the majority of the Wangan and Jagalingou claimants were excluded.

https://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-saturday-paper/20170701/281517931139165

 

Holding onto the talking point

The W&J FC issued a reply to a Warren Mundine piece from shortly after the April 11 judgement. Here the W&J FC authors conflate the W&J claim group with the W&J FC who boycotted the April 2016 claim group meeting. Only by conflating the W&J FC faction with the W&J claim group, and by misrepresenting the established illegitimacy of the March 2016 meeting, is it possible to make the claim that the Adani ILUA was rejected “three times”.

Here’s a quote from the W&J FC reply to Warren Mundine that shows the talking point they retained after the April 2017 judgement and in the lead up to the publication of ‘Unfinished Business’.

The “one individual, holding himself out as representing the group” that Mundine disparages is assumed to be the one person who voted ‘no’ at the Adani meeting. We know that’s a reference to the Councils’ leader, Adrian Burragubba. But he wasn’t even at that meeting; and Mr Burragubba is backed by the family representatives and the W&J claim group who rejected Adani three times before. He is joined in litigation against the mining leases and the dodgy ILUA by other members of the registered claimant. He is also a member of the W&J Applicant and has uncontested rights as a primary Traditional Owner for the land on which Adani wants to build its mine.

http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/mundine-reduces-aboriginal-land-rights-and-first-nations-treaties/

In May 2017 W&J FC authors asserted that they have a mandate to object to Adani on behalf of the W&J claim group.

The W&J Traditional Owner Council, including representatives of 9 of the 12 apical families, has upheld the original decisions of the W&J claim group to reject an ILUA with Adani, and has followed through on the mandate given it to object to Adani’s deal.

http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/federal-resources-minister-senator-matt-canavan-is-misrepresenting-wangan-and-jagalingou-people-again/

This submission by the W&J FC to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in October 2017 shows that they retained their talking point even in the face of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Despite our rejections, Adani persisted, and our people again rejected an ILUA and any further dealings with Adani in March 2016.

 

Who has claim to the name “W&J”?

The group referred to as “W&J” in the collected writings of Quiggin et al is the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council. When I write about this particular entity which is effectively the same entity as the official partner organisation for the Global Change Institute project, I refer to them as W&J FC. It makes common sense that the earliest and most formally composed entity should be referred to with the initials W&J. In this instance the title “W&J” ought to refer to the Wangan and Jagalingou People claim group for the purposes of native title claims and  determinations. The W&J FC can be shown to have splintered off from the original claim group. The use of “W&J” to refer to a faction of the wider claim group serves to create the suggestion that the W&J FC are the active party representing the claim group in native title matters.

Indeed Quiggin et al create confusion by referring to the wider claim group as “W&J” when referring to events that happened before W&J FC was formed.  In Part 1 of Killing Country Quiggin et al made the following statement:

What differentiates the Wangan and Jagalingou is that they are the only Traditional Owner group, through the Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners Family Council (W&J), who have said no – on 3 occasions, at bone fide meetings of the Native Title Claim Group – to an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Adani.

This statement clearly delineates the two entities while conferring the assignation W&J onto the group formed after mid 2014 when the claim group rejected a second ILUA.

The W&J first refused an agreement with Adani in 2012 and launched their public campaign in 2015, and since then have sustained a complex legal campaign that is now coming to the pointy end, with an outstanding case to be heard in March 2018.

There is no evidence to show that the W&J FC and associated entities existed in 2012. The above statement to conflate the W&J FC with the W&J claim group through the suggestion that the same entity rejected the same Adani ILUA at bone fide claim group meetings in 2012, 2014, and 2016 which is not the case.

There are numerous examples predating and following the collected writings of Quiggin et al showing journalists, politicians, and corporate spokespeople using “W&J” to refer to the “Wangan and Jagalingou people” or “W&J people” or the “W&J claim group”.

 

A gambit makes a talking point

From a story posted to the W&J FC website announcing the March 2016 meeting as a success.

In a landmark moment of self-determination and a major blow to the Adani Carmichael coal mine, the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people, traditional owners of the proposed mine site in QLD’s Galilee Basin, on the weekend voted for the third time to reject a land deal with Indian giant Adani for its proposed mega-mine.

W&J traditional owners came from all over Queensland to a meeting of the claim group and made it clear they will not be dictated to by a mining giant and manipulated by a complicit Government.

W&J traditional owner and spokesperson, Adrian Burragubba said, “Our people voted unanimously at an authorisation meeting to reject Adani’s repackaged deal, and to condemn them for falsely representing the position of the W&J people. We confirmed that no further negotiations with Adani will take place”.

The vote on Saturday follows two previous decisions of the majority to reject the Carmichael Mine, in 2012 and 2014, and heads off a third attempt by Adani to force a land use deal onto the W&J people.

It’s important to note that the National Native Title Tribunal had not had any time to respond to or process the outcomes of the March 2016 meeting at the time of the above statement.

http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/no/

 

Doing solidarity

Here’s a quote from a speech by Adrian Burragubba at the April 2016 Beyond Coal and Gas Conference.

The second part of our strategy is about the big picture — where we as First Nations people confront the dispossession and injustice that are met by Traditional Owners all across the country every day. It is a long-running political challenge that has been going on since colonisation in 1788.

In the same speech Adrian Burragubba shows that his thinking does not encompass the entire complex or the threat posed to W&J country by proposed rail corridor for which three other Traditonal Owner groups have signed ILUAs. His thinking does not seem to take account of the many other mines that a completed standard gauge rail project could help open upin the Galilee Basin to the North and South of the Carmichael mine site.

If we are successful in stopping this mine, then our country and our culture will be saved from destruction. So this is serious business for us.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/content/adrian-burragubba-struggle-save-country-adani

The ‘solidarity’ with Traditional Owners exercised by Quiggin et al is entirely contingent on the framed experience of one faction of one Traditional Owner group. While Adrain Burragubba states that he is concerned with the “big picture”, neither he nor any of his non-Indigenous allies have ever discussed or acknowledged the native title based struggles of the other Traditional Owners in the Galilee Basin coal complex area.

The phrase “Centring Indigenous Peoples’ Rights” appears in the name of the project for which Quiggin et al are the collective voice. This suggests that the experiences of all the Traditional Owners in the Galilee Basin coal complex ought to be considered. The failure of Quiggin et al to explicitly acknowledge the other Traditional Owners in the Galilee Basin coal complex demonstrates that no actual “centring” is taking place.

As far as I’m concerned solidarity with Traditional Owners requires consideration of the whole political economy. That means looking at the experiences of all the Traditonal Owners involved and consideration given to the effects of the threat of compulsory acquisition on the negotiating position of Traditional Owner groups who also negotiated with Adani. I’m left with the question of what can be expected of someone like Adrian Burragubba? Is it enough that his struggle and the struggles of his people and his family council may reveal the failures of the native title system in the context of mining developments and the manipulations of the local, state, and federal governments?

Personally, I think Adrian Burragubba and the W&J FC have been captured by interests with a desire to keep the narrative about native title in the development of the Galilee Basin coal complex simple, one group fighting valiantly to stop a mine. This places the W&J FC at risk of completely missing the opportunity of stopping the rail line which will deliver a potential flood of mines that will swamp their country in the future. Those interests who’ve captured the W&J FC do not fight to win the battle against the coal industry, rather, they fight to achieve attention metrics and further the interests of their funders who are largely based in the US. They are more concerned with ‘the narrative’ then they are about effective strategy.   There is no strategy to stop the rail line.

 

Framing out the coal complex

The “last line of defence” refrain from The Conversation article by Quiggin et al serves to frame the Carmichael mine project, and thereby the Traditonal Owners seen to be offering resistance to that project, as the primary means by which Adani poses a threat. By framing the Carmichael mine as the crucial project to stop, those who employ the “last line of defence” refrain further obscure the means of export – the North Galilee Basin Rail Project – that makes the Carmichael mine and all the other proposed mines in the Galilee Basin possible.

A quote from Part 4 of ‘Killing Country’

The Adani mine-rail-port project is not commercially viable, even under the most optimistic assumptions. That Adani has failed to achieve final close reflects the dubious economics on which this project is based.

While much remains obscure, it is clear that any public funds advanced to the project – a project that does not have the consent of the Traditional Owners – will be at high risk of loss.

https://newmatilda.com/2017/12/24/the-numbers-dont-stack-up-wjs-rights-on-the-chopping-block-for-adanis-non-viable-project/

The “Adani mine-rail-port project” does indeed – under the native title system – have the consent of the four Traditional Owner groups at the port, along the rail corridor, and at the mine site. In the above quote Quiggin et al conflate the coal complex with the mine while conflating the W&J FC with “the Traditional Owners”. This conflation reveals a fundamental failure to reflect the political and economic reality of the coal industry that their allies claim to be resisting. This can only lead to entrenched failure.

Quiggin et al appear to not be motivated by the desire to faithfully describe the relationship between multiple Traditional Owner groups and the leading proponent of a coal complex spanning a vast area. Though they acknowledge that the native title system offers weak ‘rights to negotiate’ and limited agency to exercise ‘rights and interests’, they resile from acknowledging the struggles of the majority of Traditional Owner groups who have negotiated with Adani under the same threat of compulsory acquisition.

As the voice of a project with partners involved in climate change campaigning, human rights law, environmental law, and the protection of sacred country, Quiggin et al were delivered talking points and framings that compelled them to direct their writing and perhaps their own thinking away from the ethical application of social and economic analysis. They focused their investigations and analysis on a deliberately isolated component project of a much larger development through their remit to make their analysis support the talking points of a faction of a single Traditional Owner group.

 

A judgement not to be ignored

Justice Reeves will provide his judgement on the very serious objections about how the April 2016 claim group meeting was run in the near future. The judgement will be controversial no matter who it favours. It will reveal detail about the function of Queensland South Native Title Services as the Native Title Representative Body for the Wangan and Jagalingou People claim group.

The W&J FC present many many legitimate questions for which the answers would be highly enlightening to many students and academics in the fields of law, anthropology, and political economy. In their March 2018 statement following Justice Reeves holding over his judgement regarding the April 2016 claim group meeting the W&J FC rightly point out that all members of the applicant group were notified by the Coordinator General of an intention to compulsorily acquire “all” W&J native title.

They ignore the claim that those individuals who engineered the deal with Adani say they were coerced by the Coordinator General by a threat of losing all native title rights.

http://wanganjagalingou.com.au/palaszczuk-whitewashes-our-rights-for-adani/

The March 2018 statement discussed above is the only publication I could find in which the W&J FC go into any detail about the functions of the QSNTS while actually naming them. I would argue that the W&J FC deliberately framed Adani as the active agent in manipulating the April 2016 claim group meeting by avoiding mention of the role and functions of the Queensland South Native Title Service in delivering authorisation meetings. The forthcoming judgement by Justice Reeves will show the depth of involvement of QSNTS in delivering the April 2016 claim group meeting and reveal Adrian Burragubba’s and the W&J FC’s Adani blaming as a misrepresentation of the functioning of the native title system in the delivery of authorisation meetings.

+++

Further Reading:

If we focused more on the political economy of the Galilee Basin coal complex we might see less aversive racism toward Traditional Owners

The Adani court case nobody is talking about

Aboriginal Autonomy and the Galilee Basin Coal Complex

 

With Progressives Like These, Who Needs Conservatives?

Mint Press News

June 21. 2018

By Jon Jeter

 

A composite image of Glenn Greenwald and Amy Goodman. Associated Press | MintPress News

NEW YORK — In April, in the days after Western diplomats, aid workers, and reporters yet again accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons against his own people, the renowned foreign correspondent Eva Bartlett found herself watching a video clip of Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman interviewing Glenn Greenwald, a co-founder of online news publication The Intercept, who said this:

So obviously, the use of chemical weapons in any instance is horrific. It’s a war crime. It’s heinous. And it ought to be strongly condemned by everybody. I think that it’s — the evidence is quite overwhelming that the perpetrators of the chemical-weapons attack, as well as [the] previous one, is [sic] the Assad government, although in war, there are always lots of reasons to doubt, and we certainly shouldn’t run off and make hasty decisions, until there’s a real investigation, to make the evidence available.”

Bartlett was beside herself. Having spent considerable time reporting on the conflict in Syria, Bartlett tends towards the view that allegations of chemical attacks by Assad are false-flag operations — and ham-handed ones at that — manufactured by the U.S. and its allies in Europe and Israel as a pretext to bomb Syria, reduce it to rubble, and send in Western multinationals to pillage the vanquished country.

Not only does it defy logic that Assad would massacre civilians living in territories under government control — in a war that he is winning in a rout, no less — but the best available evidence is that the rebels bear responsibility for the deployment of any nerve agents since the war began six years ago, if indeed there was such an attack in the first place. In the latest incident, in April, the Trump administration bombed Syria before there was even an investigation to establish that chemical weapons were in fact used in the Damascus suburb where the offensive is alleged to have occurred.

Bartlett and Greenwald have at it

So Bartlett took to social media to voice her concerns with other progressives. Didn’t Goodman and Greenwald understand that the Trump administration wanted to lay waste to Syria in precisely the same manner that the Obama administration had destroyed Libya, the most prosperous country on the African continent? Had it not occurred to the two progressive pundits, that the Trump administration’s allegations of chemical weapons are an unimaginative ruse for war similar to the Bush administration’s baseless accusations of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq?

Bartlett told MintPress in a phone interview:

You can’t say that you’re an anti-interventionist and yet support the dubious claims that you have to know will lead to intervention. It’s reckless.”

The Twitter spat that followed was perhaps a Fox News wet dream, as the two progressive journalists sparred publicly. In an exchange that Bartlett posted on Facebook, Greenwald wrote:

She also forgot to include the 20 minutes I spent arguing against intervention of any kind in Syria by the U.S., Israel or NATO. She singled out the one sentence she regarded as blasphemous and spent all day crowing about it. Why? To help Syrians? No, to feel good about herself.”

Bartlett responded:

So you retract your assertion that the Syrian govt is guilty of the alleged and unverified [chemical weapons] attack and all prior?”

Greenwald wrote:

It’s live TV. Sometimes you say things less than ideally. I think the most likely perpetrator of this attack is Syrian Govt. I think evidence is overwhelming for prior attacks. I don’t think one can say “overwhelming” for this attack. I am 100% against Western intervention.”

Bartlett had the last word:

I definitely agree with you that sometimes one says things less than ideally, and have done so myself. However, you have now with luxury of time and thought reiterated your accusations against the Syrian govt. So, thanks for clarifying your position.”

In her Facebook post, she concluded:

Still think he’s an honest journalist? Why so cavalier about Syrian lives…”

Calling out the Right-lightness of the mainstream Left

Across social-media platforms, and progressive convenings that stretch from one end of the Americas to the other, the most radical progressives and activists of color are beginning to question — in increasingly strident terms — the commitment, judgment and even the motivation of  more mainstream leftists — mostly white. There is no single list agreed upon by everyone but the names most often cited include Greenwald; Goodman; former New York Times journalist Chris Hedges; the writers Paul Street and Tim Wise; the founder of the Real News Network, Paul Jay; MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes; and the economist and journalist Doug Henwood, among many others with lesser profiles.

Said Bartlett in a MintPress interview:

They are dangerous in that they are seen as truth-tellers but what they’re actually doing is misleading all these people into believing the Syrian government is responsible for these chemical-weapons attacks. We really don’t know but the best available evidence points to the rebels. They’re regurgitating all this propaganda on Syria and this is the same kind of propaganda that led to the destruction of Libya.”

The critical racial dimension of the Left’s internecine conflict

A longtime Chicano activist in northern California’s Bay Area, Al Osorio said racial tension played a pivotal role in derailing radical progressive movements like Occupy Oakland. While Occupy initially showed some promise when it debuted in the summer of 2011, internecine squabbling, and microaggressions widened the rift between young, white activists and Blacks and Latinos — many of whom, like Osorio, had begun organizing street protests against police brutality and gentrification years earlier. The faction of mostly white anarchists known as the Black Bloc was particularly nettlesome, Osorio said: on the one hand, they weren’t afraid to respond in kind to physically abusive police officers; but on the other hand, their actions in the streets weren’t always defensive.

They would throw rocks and bottles without recognizing their own white privilege. When the police start to respond by drawing down, they get the fuck out and leave black and brown people holding the bag. It’s the kind of thing that ties into our (African-Americans’ and Latinos’) natural distrust. . . because that’s the kind of thing that will get us killed.

Osorio said that at planning meetings, white activists would sometimes peer outside a window and see that one or two black activists owned  luxury cars:

They’d say that was proof that people of color weren’t committed enough, that we were really just bourgeois. Occupy Oakland wasn’t a coalition; it was really a white movement and they don’t know how to talk to our people.”

A storekeeper (right) clashes with Occupy Oakland protesters trying to shut down a coffee shop during May Day protests on, May 1, 2012 in Oakland, Calif. Marcio Jose Sanchez | AP

A storekeeper (right) clashes with Occupy Oakland protesters trying to shut down a coffee shop in Oakland, Calif., May 1, 2012. Marcio Jose Sanchez | AP

Osorio compared some Bay Area white Leftists to Pete Carroll, the white head coach of the National Football League’s Seattle Seahawks, who angered his black football players when he infamously called a goal-line pass play in the final seconds of the 2015 Super Bowl rather than hand the ball off to the team’s star black running back Marshawn Lynch. The pass was intercepted, the Seahawks lost the game, and several black players later said that Carroll didn’t want the outspoken and popular Lynch to be the game’s hero.

Some of (the whites) are Pete Carroll activists; we may share the same goal but we have a different way of getting there. Ours is with the community and theirs is how they want it done; ours is about life and death, theirs is about ideology.”

The atomization of the political Left largely along racial lines is hardly new. The African-American writer Richard Wright’s classic novel Native Son is principally a scathing critique of white Communists’ failure to address problems unique to Blacks, as is Ralph Ellison’s 1952 novel, Invisible Man. In the 1960s, black activists with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, purged white members, telling them that the civil-rights and antiwar movements would be better served if whites organized and educated their own first.

Malcolm X famously derided white liberals as posers whose real objectives weren’t significantly different from conservatives — an assessment not terribly far removed from Richard Nixon’s — and Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party excoriated a plan by 800 white activists to provoke a confrontation with Chicago Police in the fall of 1969 as “muddleheaded” and “Custer-istic.” Hampton’s assassination by Chicago police later that year deepened the split between white activists who believed that white men were the vanguard of the New Left, and radicals like Bernardine Dohrn who argued that whites should defer to people of color, who have historically been the engine of liberal democracy in the Americas.

Bartlett, who is white and from Canada, said that the prioritization of white men by commercial media creates an echo chamber:

I suppose it’s to maintain the funding; . . . news and opinion are dominated by access to official sources who are usually white men so most of the people quoted on these things are not in Syria.”

Of her own grassroots reportage which is highly-regarded by many leftists, she said:

I can think of so many Syrians and Palestinians whose voices are far more eloquent than mine but no one listens to them, I guess, because they are not some middle-aged white guy. I remember this very elegant Syrian doctor once and he was crying, saying ‘I’ve been saying these things for years but no one would listen to me.’”

“Identity politics” can be part of the class struggle

Activists of color say that their white liberal critics most commonly use the pejorative “identity politics” to dismiss their particular concerns as lacking a class analysis. One African-American intellectual, Otis Griffin, said that he tangled on Facebook in recent months with white, progressive writer Paul Street, who pilloried Black demands for reparations. Street, Griffin said, said the cost of reparations would be shouldered mainly by working-class whites, when reparations could take many forms — including, say, homeowner relief for black communities targeted by banks — or community control of tax-increment finance districts.

Forrest Palmer, an African-American writer and environmental activist, said Street recently took him to task on Facebook for criticizing another white progressive, the former New York Times foreign correspondent Chris Hedges, who has criticized radicals’ use of violence, even in self-defense. Said Palmer:

I made some satirical remarks about the hallowed Chris Hedges and Paul Street took umbrage at my saying such revolting things about Hedges … Anyone with a brain could tell that I was being over the top in my comments .. about the useless liberalism at [Hedges’] core.”

Palmer said he later learned that Street unfriended him.

Another frequent critic of so-called identity politics is Doug Henwood, a writer, author and contributing editor to The Nation magazine. A self-proclaimed Marxist, Henwood, who is white, “often rails against the rich and powerful,” said the journalist Michael Yates, but doesn’t walk it like he talks it. He is the co-editor of TLR Analytics, which sells “high-resolution research” to Wall Street money managers for a subscription price of $7,500 annually.

Describing Henwood as a “liberal elitist in radical clothing,” Yates told MintPress:

[Henwood] often speaks and writes about the evils of inequality, yet he is indirectly contributing to it. He has long criticized ‘ultra-leftists’. . .as detrimental to the left project. Thus, he championed Syriza and dismissed those on the left, within and outside Greece, who were critical of Syriza and were appalled at the government’s capitulation to the Germans, the international financial institutions, and the EU governing bodies. He has had former Syriza finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, who believed that capitalism had to be saved so that it could be destroyed later, on his radio show [‘Behind the News”’ on WBAI in NYC] some 17 or 18 times.”

Continuing, Yates said:

Henwood favored the invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11. He is close to Jacobin magazine, which is left-liberal at best, and of course, we have already mentioned The Nation, which is the liberal magazine, par excellence. He has dismissed arguments that a left worth its salt would aggressively oppose the prison system in the U.S. and fight for its abolition .  . . [arguing] that this wouldn’t resonate with the working class. He criticized Angela Davis and others who have been struggling for many years to abolish the prison system . . .[and] for many years has argued what some call the “class first” position. That is, the struggles against racism and patriarchy are divisive and only universal programs that benefit the entire working class should be championed by the left. How exactly, say, a full employment program could ever be effectively undertaken without simultaneously addressing racism he never says. In fact, he often argued that racism was on the decline in the U.S.. . .”

Ajamu Baraka — national organizer for Black Alliance for Peace, and the Green Party’s 2016 nominee for vice-president  — said that a group of nearly 20 mostly-white protesters denounced him, at last month’s Left Forum in New York City, for his opposition to U.S. efforts to overthrow Syrian President Assad. Organized by the “white left,” the protesters, almost entirely white, raised placards urging conferees to boycott Baraka, who is African-American.

He told MintPress:

They characterize me as an ‘Assadist’ when a careful reading of my writing makes that assessment very difficult. We are very clear on the Syrian elites’ ties to neoliberalism and the excesses of the Baath Party but the whole democratic reform movement in Syria got undermined by U.S. Imperialism.”

Continuing he said:

The left has moved so far to the right that they have no memory or understanding that many of us on the left come out of a black revolutionary tradition.

In their mind, they’re always the ones who should be running shit.”

 

[Jon Jeter is a published book author and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist with more than 20 years of journalistic experience. He is a former Washington Post bureau chief and award-winning foreign correspondent on two continents, as well as a former radio and television producer for Chicago Public Media’s “This American Life.”]

Truth UNFILTERED: The Global South Assessment of Western Imperial Actions Against Syria

Truth UNFILTERED: The Global South Assessment of Western Imperial Actions Against Syria

Sacha Sergio Llorenti Soliz – Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Ambassador of Bolivia. United Nations Security Council, April 14. 2018.

Translations of quotes below have been kindly provided by Francisco Nunes [@fcn_84]. The full transcript in English (added April 16, 2018) is below the video within this post.]

Follow Sacha Llorenti on twitter: @SachaLlorenti  

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. PRESIDENT.

MY DELEGATION WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE SECRETARY GENERAL FOR HIS PRESENCE AND HIS PARTICIPATION IN THIS MEETING.

BOLIVIA WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THANK THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION FOR HAVING TAKEN THE INITIATIVE OF CONVENING THIS URGENT MEETING OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL

TODAY IS A DARK DAY IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNCIL.

THREE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL HAVE TAKEN THE DECISION TO BREACH THE CHARTER OF THE UNITED NATIONS AND TAKE MILITARY ACTION AGAINST THE SOVEREIGNTY AND TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF ANOTHER MEMBER STATE OF OUR ORGANIZATION.

BOLIVIA WISHES TO CLEARLY AND CATEGORICALLY EXPRESS ITS CONDEMNATION OF THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS OR CHEMICAL SUBSTANCES AS WEAPONS, AS THIS IS UNJUSTIFIABLE AND CRIMINAL WHEREVER IT HAPPENS AND BY WHOMEVER. THEIR USE IS A SERIOUS CRIME AGAINST INTERNATIONAL LAW AND INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY.  THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMMITTING SUCH TERRIBLE AND CRIMINAL ACTS MUST BE IDENTIFIED, INVESTIGATED, PROSECUTED AND PUNISHED IN THE MOST RIGOROUS WAY POSSIBLE.

BOLIVIA CONTINUES TO DEMAND A TRANSPARENT AND IMPARTIAL INVESTIGATION TO DETERMINE WHO ARE THE CULPRITS.

BUT, IN ADDITION TO THAT, THE TOPIC OF THIS MEETING IS THE FACT THAT THE THREE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL AS I SAID HAVE USED FORCE IN BREACH OF THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER. YOU CANNOT COMBAT THE ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW BY VIOLATING INTERNATIONAL LAW. BOLIVIA IS SURPRISED BY THE FACT THAT THE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL, GIVEN THAT THEY HAVE A GREATER RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAINTAINING INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY HAVE DECIDED TO BYPASS THE UNITED NATIONS WHEN IT SUITS THEM. THEY DEFEND MULTILATERALISM AS LONG AS IT SERVES THEM AND THEY SIMPLY DISCARD IT. WHEN IT IS NO LONGER IN THEIR INTERESTS, THEY ARE NO LONGER ATTACHED TO MULTILATERALISM .

THIS IS NOT THE ONLY CASE WHERE UNFORTUNATELY UNILATERAL ACTION HAS BEEN USED.  LET’S RECALL, AND WE WILL NEVER TIRE OF RECALLING THE EVENTS IN IRAQ IN 2003 AND IN LIBYA IN 2011. SUCH ACTIONS SHOULD BE AUTHORIZED BY THE SECURITY COUNCIL IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE  UNITED NATIONS CHARTER — ANY UNILATERAL ACTION  COUNTER TO INTERNATIONAL LAW AND COUNTER TO THE VALUES AND PRINCIPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER IS UNACCEPTABLE.  BOLIVIA REJECTS THE USE OF FORCE.  UNILATERAL ACTION NOT ONLY RESPONDS TO THE SPECIFIC INTERESTS OF THOSE WHO CARRY THEM OUT, BUT IN FACT, THERE ARE MEASURES THAT ALLOW ME THE EXPRESSION, ARE IMPERIALIST MEASURES — IT SO HAPPENS THAT EMPIRES AS WE STATED EARLIER CONSIDER THEMSELVES SUPERIOR TO THE REST OF THE WORLD. THEY THINK THEY ARE EXCEPTIONAL.  THEY THINK THEY ARE INDISPENSABLE AND HENCE THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW, ABOVE INTERNATIONAL LAW.

BUT IN FACT, THE INTEREST OF THOSE WHO UNILATERALLY USE FORCE AND VIOLATE THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER IS NOT REALLY TO ADVANCE DEMOCRACY OR ADVANCE FREEDOM OR TO COMBAT THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS.  THEIR GOAL IS TO EXPAND THEIR POWER AND EXPAND THEIR DOMINATION.

WHAT WE HAVE WITNESSED OVER THE PAST FEW HOURS IS AN ATTACK AGAINST THE FACT FINDING MISSION  OF THE OPCW WHICH HASN’T EVEN STARTED THE WORK THAT WAS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN TODAY.

THE UNILATERAL ATTACK IS AN ATTACK AGAINST MULTILATERAL ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS THE OPCW.  IT’S AN ATTACK AGAINST THIS COUNCIL AND ITS MAIN DUTY FOR MAINTAINING INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY. IT IS AN ATTACK AGAINST THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER AND IT IS AN ATTACK AGAINST THE ENTIRE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.

I AM WONDERING WHETHER THE PERMANENT MEMBERS WHO USED FORCE JUST A FEW HOURS AGO, HOW MUCH MONEY THEY INVESTED IN ARMING AND TRAINING THE ARMED GROUPS IN SYRIA?

THEY ARE BEHIND (UNINTELLIGIBLE) NATIONAL RESOURCES AND WITH WHAT KIND OF AUTHORITY CAN THEY INVOKE THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER IN OTHER SITUATIONS? THE HISTORY, UNFORTUNATELY,  OF VIOLATIONS OF THE PRINCIPLES AND PURPOSES OF THE CHARTER IS LONG. WE MENTIONED LIBYA, WE MENTIONED IRAQ, BUT THERE ARE MORE RECENT CHAPTERS. IT HAPPENED WITH THE UNILATERAL DECISION REGARDING JERUSALEM. IT IS ANOTHER CLEAR SIGNAL OF A LACK OF RESPECT FOR INTERNATIONAL LAW. WHO ARE THOSE  WHO SELL WEAPONS TO THOSE WHO BOMB CIVILIANS IN YEMEN? WHO ARE THOSE WHO REJECTED THE PARIS AGREEMENT, OF THE CLIMATE AGREEMENT?  WHO ARE THOSE  WHO STEPPED AWAY FROM OTHER INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS?  WHO ARE THOSE WHO BUILD WALLS?

BUT, WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT IT IS IMPORTANT TO LOOK AT HISTORY IN THE LONG RUN, OVER THE LONGER PERIODS OF TIME.  WE ARE EXPERIENCING THE CONSEQUENCES IN THE MIDDLE EAST OF THE ACTIONS  THAT ARE PROVOKED BY CERTAIN COLONIALIST POWERS DATING BACK TO A CENTURY OR MORE.

AND THE SAME THING WE ARE EXPERIENCING IN SYRIA, A COMPLETE DISDAIN FOR INTERNATIONAL LAW, IS ALSO SOMETHING THAT WE ARE SEEING WHEN, FOR EXAMPLE, THE UNITED KINGDOM REFUSES TO RETURN THE MALDIVES ISLANDS SOVEREIGNTY TO ARGENTINA OR WHEN THE CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO ISSUE IS NOT RESOLVED. AND WHEN THE ADVISORY OPINION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE ON THIS TOPIC  IS NOT HEEDED.  IN OTHER WORDS, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A WHOLE RANGE OF POLICIES THAT UNDERMINE INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY.

THE DISTINGUISHED PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES SAYS THAT THE UNITED STATES, HER COUNTRY, IS READY, ‘LOCKED AND LOADED’ SHE SAYS. OF COURSE, WE CLEARLY HEARD HER WORDS WITH A GREAT DEAL OF CONCERN AND A GREAT DEAL OF SADNESS.  WE KNOW THAT THE UNITED STATES HAS AIRCRAFT CARRIERS, THAT THEY HAVE SATELLITES, THAT THEY HAVE “INTELLIGENT MISSILES”, SMART BOMBS AND THEY HAVE A HUGE ARSENAL OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS.  AND, WE ALSO KNOW THAT THEY HAVE NOTHING BUT SCORN FOR INTERNATIONAL LAW.

BUT WE HAVE THIS. WE HAVE THE PRINCIPLES AND PURPOSES OF THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER.  AND, ULTIMATELY AS HISTORY HAS DEMONSTRATED MANY TIMES, ULTIMATELY THESE PRINCIPLES WILL PREVAIL. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

 

The New Humanitarianism: The Imperative to ‘Act’ and to ‘Act Now’

April 14, 2018

 

An Excerpt from the book Celebrity Humanitarianism – The Ideology of Global Charity by Ilan KapoorFirst [2013]

 

‘Ilan Kapoor’s stunning new book exposes the most appealing – and thus most dangerous – sacred cows of contemporary ideology: the humanitarian actor, the billionaire philanthropist, and the NGO. Kapoor shows that it is precisely where we feel most emotionally satisfied that we must be most suspicious. Celebrity Humanitarianism represents a landmark in the critique of ideology and a decisive blow in the struggle against apolitical ethics.’ — Todd McGowan, University of Vermont, USA

 

Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an explosion of international NGOs, particularly development and humanitarian ones, leading to the rise of what is termed ‘global civil society’. In large measure, this is due to the ascendancy of neoliberalism, which has seen NGOs fill the many gaps created by government cutbacks and privatization. But in part, it is also the result of the intensification of globalization and the information economy, which has opened up possibilities for greater  borderlessness’. Not content with doing only aid and development work, NGOs have carved out an increasingly more activist and interventionist role for themselves in the global arena. This trend is what has been called ‘the new humanitarianism’.

Central to the new humanitarianism is a security discourse, which divides the world, not so much along the lines of wealth vs. poverty as it used to, but more in terms of stability vs. threat. Mark Duffield argues that the security discourse is constructed on the basis of the metaphor of the ‘borderlands’ (i.e. the Third World), an imagined geographic space of instability, excess, and social breakdown, which poses a threat to the metropolitan areas (2001: 309).

The borderlands are depicted as violent and unpredictable, or at least always a  potential danger; they are the source of many of the problems seen to plague global security, including drug trafficking, terrorism, refugee flows, and corrupt/weak/rogue states.

Accordingly, the point of international intervention is to tame and manage instability. In this scenario, poverty, corruption, and refugee flows are to be feared much more than alleviated. Development and humanitarianism are seen not as problems of reducing inequality or protecting the most vulnerable, but as technologies of security, which function ‘to contain and manage underdevelopment’s destabilizing effects’ (Duffield 2007: ix, 24).

The practical outcome of this new humanitarianism is a significant shift away from respecting national sovereignty and towards external intervention in the Third World: it means neglecting international law, or obeying the ‘higher’ moral law of humanitarianism, under the guise of the ‘responsibility to protect’ (cf. Mamdani 2009: 274; Watson 2011: 5). In other words, new humanitarianism has increasingly become neoimperialism, allowing the West to ‘transform conflicts, decrease violence and set the stage for liberal development’ (Duffield et al. 2001: 269). Not just a Third World country’s foreign policy, but now also its domestic economic or human rights situation is seen as a credible threat (Duffield 2001: 311), recalling colonialism’s ‘civilizing mission’ to eradicate ‘barbaric’ Third World cultural practices such as widow-burning or infanticide. More often than not, the form of external intervention is military, that is, armed intervention parading as humanitarian rescue mission. The post- 9/11 War on Terror has only escalated this trend, enabling the possibility of ‘unending war’ to secure the borderlands (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan) (Duffield 2007: 131). Illustrative of unending war is the following list, compiled by Watson (2011: 4), enumerating the countries for which humanitarianism has been used to justify military intervention in recent years: Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Angola, Mozambique, Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Zaire, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

NGOs are firmly enmeshed in this security–humanitarian network. For the past two decades particularly, the private–public linkages between Western states, UN agencies, private firms, militaries, and NGOs has grown. In fact, as Duffield puts it, the securitization of development/humanitarianism ‘has been of central importance for legitimising the growing involvement of non-state actors’ (2001: 312; cf. Watson 2011: 3–4). And NGOs have become not just accomplices in this network, but key players. Mamdani goes so far as to argue that the new humanitarianism is the ‘twin of the War on Terror’ (2009: 274), with groups such as Save Darfur as pivotal facilitators. NGOs have pushed for and capitalized on the vast resources directed at emergency and security operations around the globe. Many such operations (e.g. in Afghanistan, Haiti, Bosnia) have been ambitious and well coordinated, with relief agencies working alongside military or peacekeeping campaigns.

 

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz) calling for a Darfur intervention and criminal indictment. August 3, 2004 screenshot: “Only one thing will stop the killing in Sudan: an immediate international intervention” … “Click here to sign a petition calling for humanitarian intervention Darfur” [WKOG screenshot]

 

The imperative to ‘act’ and to ‘act now’ is central to these NGO campaigns.

To be sure, beginning mainly in the post-World War II era, organizations such as Oxfam, ActionAid, and MSF were created to respond to global crises, ranging from armed conflicts and epidemics to ‘natural’ or man-made disasters. Whether we are talking about the 1949 Palestinian refugee situation, the 1967 Nigerian civil war, the 1984–85 Ethiopian famine, or the more recent 2005 Pakistan earthquake, emergencies have become an opportunity for humanitarian NGOs to function and even expand. Indeed, they have been able to justify and aggrandize themselves based on what Duffield refers to as a ‘permanent emergency regime’ (2007: 25, 47–49, 219). All of them rely on a ‘threaturgency narrative’ to ‘legitimize their functions’ (Watson 2011: 9); it is this narrative that allows them to identify and categorize the disaster (e.g. as an impending famine or a pressing refugee crisis), as well as publicly highlight the humanitarian duty to save lives or assist ‘populations in distress’, as MSF puts it (http://www.msf.org).

One of the most poignant recent examples of the construction of emergency discourse is that of the Save Darfur Coalition, especially during the 2004–7 period. The Coalition relied on highly charged rhetoric to issue its emergency call for international intervention. The first move, as Mamdani underlines (2009: 64–65), was to categorize the conflict in the Darfur region as racially motivated: the government-armed ‘Arab Janjaweed militia’ were reportedly perpetrating violence against ‘black-skinned non-Arabs’. Such stereotyping became pervasive in Western public discourse and was often repeated by the mainstream press, including The Washington Post (Mamdani 2009: 64; cf. Hassan 2010: 98). Mamdani notes (2009: 6) that this ethnicized/racialized framing has its origins in the colonial tradition of racializing the peoples of Sudan for political purposes (i.e. as a divide and rule strategy); it is a framing that, in the contemporary global conjuncture, only served to reinforce the discourse of the War on Terror, demonizing Islam and Arabs, and pressing for immediate counter-terrorist action.

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz) March 8, 2005 screenshot: “Sign a petition below … over 18,000 signatories in the last week!” [WKOG screenshot]

 

The Coalition’s second discursive move was to characterize the Darfur situation as ‘genocide’ (despite evidence to the contrary, as we shall see below). It is the deployment of this culturally and politically charged term that, almost single-handedly, brought together such a large and diverse range of US-based organizations that made up the Coalition (see above), while catching the attention of the media and politicians alike (cf. Save Darfur Coalition 2011). After Save Darfur’s ‘genocide alert’ in 2004, events quickly gathered pace: a student-led divestment campaign was organized, a large Save Darfur Rally To Stop Genocide was held in Washington, DC, and an impassioned plea (by George Clooney) was made to the UN Security Council for international intervention. In 2007, the rhetoric was ratcheted up. The Coalition criticized China for its strong support of the Sudanese government, with a campaign that included taking out full-page advertisements in The New York Times and Mia Farrow denouncing the upcoming Beijing Olympics as the ‘Genocide Olympics’.

The overall effect of this emergency discourse was to exercise tremendous pressure on political leaders in the US and around the world. Secretary of State Colin Powell testified in front of the Senate Relations Committee that genocide was being committed in Darfur. The US Congress agreed, pushing for political and economic sanctions for Sudan. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council referred the Darfur case to the International Criminal Court, sent UN peacekeeping troops to Sudan, and following China’s change of position on the Council in the face of public pressure, established a larger joint UN–African Union peacekeeping mission, with financial support from the US Congress (cf. Flint and de Waal 2008: 181, 280; Haeri 2008: 35–37).

One of the most troubling features of this NGO emergency discourse is its tendency towards militarization and war. The imperative to act ‘now’ tends to provide added impetus and rationale for militarized intervention. We are familiar with NGOs providing relief work in war zones, in which they must sometimes coordinate with warring factions to deliver aid programs. We are also familiar with the use of army troops in non-military crises such as the Asian Tsunami in 2004 or Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (to keep law and order, or help NGOs distribute food aid). Increasingly, as Watson argues, ‘states and the international community have institutionalized a militarized response through the establishment of specialized military entities such as the United States Foreign Disaster Assistance or the Canadian Disaster Assistance Response Team’ (2011: 9).

But what is relatively new and noteworthy is the call by humanitarian NGOs for military intervention – a phenomenon described by the paradoxical concept, ‘humanitarian war’. It is a concept that, as Vanessa Pupavec notes, NGOs themselves helped legitimate, especially through their demands for military intervention in the Balkans during the 1990s (2006: 263). Thus, MSF appealed for military action in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, while Save the Children lobbied Western governments for armed intervention in Kosovo in the late 1990s (Pupavec 2006: 255). Since that time, several other similar calls have been made. Of particular note are Oxfam’s demand, in relation to the Darfur situation, for a broader interpretation of the UN Charter on the principle of non-interference to include intervention, and Save Darfur’s outright plea for a no-fly zone and Western military action. In fact, ‘Out of Iraq and Into Darfur’ became a common Save Darfur slogan. Pupavec points out, in this regard, that NGOs were quick to criticize the failure to obtain UN Security Council authorization for military intervention in Iraq, but were only too willing to ignore such authorization when they demanded military  ntervention in Kosovo and Darfur (2006: 266).

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz): “SUCCESS!! – Humanitarian Intervention in Darfur” … “SUCCESS!! – International Criminal Court to Prosecute Architects of Genocide in Darfur” [February 10, 2006 screenshot]

 

If rhetorical demands for action raise the stakes, resulting in the militarization of the new humanitarianism, so do media demands for spectacle. The mediatization of NGO emergency work – that is, the drive not just to act now, but also to be seen to be acting now – adds greater urgency. NGOs may well be responding to save lives, but they are also playing to the global media and public. MSF’s témoignage (witnessing) after all, is about witnessing not just on behalf of disaster victims, but also for the media/public. This recalls our earlier arguments about the entertainmentization of humanitarianism – the pressures to create ‘megaspectacles’, to satisfy seemingly insatiable appetites for suffering, death, and disaster. The militarization of emergency work only supplies further fuel to this fire, aiding and abetting the spectacularization of violence and war. In this regard, Henry Giroux contends that we are witnessing a new phase in the society of the spectacle, that of the ‘spectacle of terrorism’ (2006: 26).

According to him, a ‘visual culture of shock and awe has emerged’, which celebrates violence in the form of night bombing raids, hostage takings, and beheadings, or the destruction of public buildings (2006: 21, 24).

The pressure to create spectacle, then, means that spectacular NGOs are not simply observers or objective relays in delivering humanitarian aid; they are full-fledged actors, identifying emergencies and constructing them for public consumption (cf. Keenan 2002: 5). Add militarization to this mix, and you move from the imperative to act now and be seen to be acting now, to an imperative to be seen to be acting now, militarily if needs be (or preferably?).

The systemic and symbolic violence of spectacular NGOs

Three friends are having a drink at the bar. The first one says, ‘A horrible thing  happened to me. At my travel agency, I wanted to say “A ticket to Pittsburgh!” and I said “A ticket to Pissburgh!”’ The second one replies, ‘That’s nothing. At breakfast, I wanted to say to my partner “Could you pass the sugar, honey?” and what I said was “You dirty fool, you ruined my life!”’ The third one concludes, ‘Wait till you hear what happened to me. After gathering the courage all night, I decided to say to my spouse at breakfast exactly what you said to yours, and I ended up saying “Could you pass me the sugar, honey?”’

(adapted from Žižek 2004b: 61)

Often, the most traumatic situations are not necessarily the outwardly perceptible ones (i.e. the gaffes of the first and second interlocutors in the joke), but the less obvious ones (i.e. the repressed content in the outward politeness of the third). As Paul Taylor suggests, telling are the moments ‘in which nothing of substance is said… in that non-utterance resides all manner of psychologically destructive forces’ (2010: 93).

And so it is with spectacular (humanitarian) NGOs: it is most often in these organizations’ non-utterances that ideological violence is to be found. The spectacle of NGO humanitarianism is revealing not simply for what it shows, but more importantly for the violence it often ignores, takes for granted, or disavows. Žižek distinguishes two types of violence: (i) ‘subjective violence’, which is directly visible and identifiable (e.g. emaciated babies, physical destruction in the wake of a hurricane); and (ii) ‘objective violence’, which is less immediately perceptible (2008a: 1–2). Objective violence is itself made up of ‘systemic violence’, which refers to our often slow yet steady social oppressions  (e.g. gender exclusion, wage discrimination, the daily grind of alienating work), and ‘symbolic violence’, the violence inherent in our systems of representation (e.g. the way in which an image of a starving child can hide as much as it reveals). The crucial point for Žižek is that objective violence is what is required for the ‘normal’ functioning of our social and economic systems. In other words, systemic and symbolic violence is the background against which subjective violence happens: objective violence ‘may be invisible, but it has to be taken into account if one is to make sense of what otherwise seem to be “irrational” explosions of subjective violence’ (Žižek 2008a: 2). Accordingly, I’d like to highlight the systemic and symbolic violence of humanitarian NGOs, violence which serves as backdrop to their spectacle.

The systemic violence of humanitarian NGOs stems, at least in part, from the very nature of their work – short-term emergency operations that attempt to rescue people from immediate danger, but make no attempt to address the broader or underlying causes of such danger. As MSF’s James Orbinsky readily admits, MSF action ‘takes place in the short term’ with limited objectives in the wake of a crisis, ‘but does not itself attempt to solve the crisis’ (2000: 10). The problem is that such an approach is premised on what was earlier denoted as a ‘permanent emergency regime’: rather than working themselves out of a job, NGOs depend (and count) on more and more crises.

They have every interest in global neoliberal capitalism’s continued production of emergencies, which enables and legitimizes their spectacular humanitarianism. In this sense, the NGO-ization of humanitarianism (and development) may have less to do with finding effective solutions to problems than a way of keeping the humanitarian business in business.

True, some humanitarian NGOs do carry out broader ‘development’ programming, alongside their short-term relief and advocacy work. For example, MSF organizes a campaign to make cheaper generic drugs more readily available to Third World countries (cf. http://www.msfaccess.org), and Oxfam runs a host of projects in gender equality, health, and education around the world (cf. Oxfam UK 2011). But as pointed out in Chapters 1 and 2, most of these initiatives are depoliticized; they steer clear of, say, anti-capitalist/anti-racist critique, or unionization of workers (or women), in favour of tamer and nonthreatening areas such as mainstream human/gender rights and education. As Issa Shivji contends, in Sub-Saharan Africa issues of equality and equity are banished to the ‘realm of rights, not development’; that is, rights are a question of NGO ‘advocacy’, ‘not a terrain of people’s struggle’ (2006: 35). Moreover, many NGO development projects (e.g. job training, micro-credit) are ultimately an attempt at integrating subaltern groups into global capital; as James Petras puts it (1999: 432), they help corner ‘a new segment of the poor’ (e.g. young people, marginalized women, landless farmers, the urban poor), binding them to market entrepreneurialism. The result once again is a reaffirmation of the status quo, whose systemic violence is the basis for humanitarianism. And so the cycle continues … (I am not, of course, suggesting that humanitarian advocacy/relief and development should not happen, or that people must not be assisted in disasters; the problem is the significant institutional interests in people’s ongoing suffering or dispossession, and the enormous investments made in addressing the symptoms rather than the cure.)

This myopic and status quo approach is integral to the symbolic politics of humanitarian NGOs, too. The spectacularization of their relief and advocacy work is notable for what it includes as much as what it excludes. There is, first, the tendency (underlined earlier) to ‘sell’ stories and images that are visually and sound-byte friendly. Spectacles involving celebrities, poverty-stricken people, crying   mothers/children, gun-toting soldiers, or war-ravaged landscapes tend to be given priority. Most often, the resulting sensationalized images/stories are serialized and repeated to achieve maximum public and media spread and exposure. As one NGO media person puts it, ‘the misery of the victims of famine, flood, war, and plague must be underlined, perhaps even exaggerated, if [the organization] is to attract sufficient public attention’ (quoted in DeChaine 2002: 361). In this regard, MSF has been criticized for its sensationalized stories, causing some to pejoratively characterize the organization’s press officers as ‘catastrophe babes’, ‘whose motives are said to be driven more by the market than by the crises’ (DeChaine 2002: 360). Such tendencies  illustrate well the symbolic violence noted above, fetishizing and commodifying the outwardly visible (i.e. ‘subjective violence’) in the service of the society of the spectacle.

More often than not, the stories and commodity-images produced by NGOs resort to classic hero narratives, in which the NGO-as-hero/celebrity overcomes adversity (obstacles, enemies, crises) to save hapless victims. All the characters are clearly identifiable: the saviour-heroes are the aid workers, human rights advocates, and volunteer doctors/nurses; the enemies/adversaries are ‘natural’ disasters, or corrupt and authoritarian governments/leaders (e.g. the Janjaweed militia and President Al-Bashir, in the case of the Save Darfur narrative); and the victims are women, children, and dispossessed communities. Robert DeChaine states, for instance, that MSF’s credibility as a humanitarian agency hinges at least in part on ‘its ability to establish a perception of its volunteers as courageous, ideologically pure, morally committed agents of change. They are saviors, champions of the voiceless, who knowingly and willfully face the morally unrighteous enemies of humanity’ (2002: 362).

The creation of victims is key, and the humanitarian spectacle manages to never run out of them. Debrix argues that what transnational humanitarian NGOs such as MSF create when they intervene across state boundaries are ‘spaces of victimhood’, both spatial and symbolic: ‘Under the guise of reaching “victims” the world over, MSF constructs new spaces – humanitarian zones – inside which individuals in distress are identified as “victims”, are sorted out, and become recognisable as generalised examples of human drama’ (1998: 827).  The establishment of refugee camps, famine sanctuaries, and the like, are meant to clearly demarcate these spaces, so that the victims can be triaged, categorized, treated, managed.

The people shepherded into these zones tend to be constructed as passive beneficiaries. Rarely do they have a voice; most often, it is the NGOs that speak and ‘witness’ for them. In the Darfur debacle, for example, there was a notable absence of any articulate Sudanese or indeed Darfurian voices; as Salah Hassan points out, the discourse was dominated by ‘Western celebrity activists, aid workers, and other self-appointed experts and spokespersons, thus reconfiguring the “white man’s burden” in a significant way’ (2010: 97). Faced with such persistent victimization, it should hardly be surprising that NGO saviourheroes have sometimes been received by disaster ‘victims’ with hostility rather than thanks, as in the case, for example, of Somalia in 1992 or Iraq after the 2003 invasion (Watson 2011: 14).

Kate Manzo (2008) underlines how often humanitarian NGOs resort to the use of child iconography (usually close-ups of single children’s faces). Think of the 1960s ‘Biafra child’, the 1980s ‘Ethiopia child’, or the current-day Plan/World Vision/Save the Children poster child. Child imagery has become the face and brand of NGO humanitarianism (cf. Chapter 1). Here too, the child tends to be depicted as victim, with children’s commodity-images deployed to evoke innocence, dependence, suffering (Manzo 2008: 636). Frequently, the child is meant to stand for the Third World, crying out to be helped and saved.  Such paternalism only reproduces colonial tropes of infantalization of the colonies to rationalize Europe’s ‘civilizing mission’.

The production of these black-and-white stories and images, with plainly identifiable heroes, adversaries, and victims, makes for the ideal humanitarian morality tale. Drama and sensationalism permit clear and simplified messaging, enabling the audience to take sides, claim moral indignation at the situation, and feel good about its support for NGO humanitarianism. Mamdani likens this to a kind of pornography, which in the case of Save Darfur yielded a highly moral movement that appealed to people’s self-righteousness rather than political analysis (2009: 56–57; cf. Flint and de Waal 2008; DeChaine 2002: 358–59). Moral campaigns tend towards depoliticization, opting (as we have seen) for short-term, managerial, and emergency/militarized solutions. Pupavec contends that moral advocacy avoids ‘the stresses and  responsibilities of implementing assistance programmes on the ground … In other words, advocacy can in some cases represent a disingenuous flight from responsibility for social problems, rather than deeper engagement with them’ (2006: 266).

The problem with the moral spectacle is precisely that it is less concerned with analysis and understanding than with taking sides and issuing calls to action. Manichean tales simplify, mystify, and ignore the often highly complex politics of emergencies. The focus on the outwardly visible and the spectacular, on special effects and sound-bytes, avoids layered, substantive, and mediaunfriendly investigation. Sensationalized media reports tend to decontextualize and homogenize, telling the story for its universal message, not its specific content: thus, for instance, earthquake ‘victims’ stand as ‘global victims’, so that the disaster ‘is made into the general condition of humankind’ (Debrix 1998: 841, 843). Media/NGO stories tend to linger on the photogenic, privileging physical destruction. In the case of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Watson finds that the disaster was presented in the media as ‘natural’, ‘unpreventable’, ‘indiscriminate’, or ‘random’, when in fact the physical destruction and human suffering had as much to do with human activity and social systems (e.g. use of poor building materials, especially in poorer neighbourhoods): ‘the physical evidence is used to tell a particular story – one that, in essence, speaks for itself in a way that is de-historical and de-political’ (2011: 14–15).

 

Above image from the Avaaz website: “Libya No-Fly Zone: As Libyan government jets drop bombs on the civilian population, the UN Security Council will decide in 48 hours whether to impose a no-fly zone to keep Qaddafi’s warplanes on the ground.” [Emphasis in original]

 

What is left out of the NGO/media stories are the un-photogenic details, the ‘boring’ particulars of the daily grind of people’s lives, the recurring patterns of alienation or marginalization. Historical knowledge is a no-no: ‘spectacular time’ militates against ‘historical time’, because the former must organize information ‘through the media as dramatic events that are quickly displaced and forgotten’ (Stevenson 2010: 162). When there is interest in details, the media usually home in on the personal (i.e. issues of identity, individual tragedy, etc.) or the gory (i.e. violence), rather than broader politics. In the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Watson finds that the media tended to fetishize human-interest stories (e.g. personal and family tragedies), devoid of any social or political context, and to sometimes suggest that ‘victims’ were responsible for their own plight (2011: 14). Moreover, all tsunami ‘victims’ were treated the same, ignoring the fact that local residents and Western tourists were differently impacted, and that local women and children, in particular, were the worst affected: the ‘human-tragedy component served to tie all the human victims together: Westerners and locally affected populations … [thus obliterating] the different sources of vulnerability for the two groups’ (Watson 2011: 14–15). Similarly, in the Hurricane Katrina crisis, Tierney et al. (2006) find that the media focused almost exclusively on issues of looting, poverty, and racial tensions, and had almost nothing to say about recurring state cuts for infrastructure and social services in the worst affected, low-lying, and mainly poor black neighbourhoods. Concentrating on ‘secondary malfunctions’ and ‘subjective violence’ – poverty, crime, corruption, individual trauma – as opposed to the ‘objective violence’ of, say, inequality and broader political economy, is a recurring ideological strategy that we have observed before. ‘Under the guise of exposing global trauma and injustice in spectacular detail, genuine consideration of the key political and economic causes is displaced’ (Taylor 2010: 131).

 

Such tendencies to ignore key details or broader contexts are integral to the types of photos or films produced by NGOs. Invariably, these are either largescale images (i.e. aerial or wide-angle shots) of landscapes and neighbourhoods, or close-ups of individuals and faces. This toggling between the bird’s eye view and the shrunk/miniaturized view, as Jim Igoe argues,

allows for the simultaneous presentation of problems that are so large they demand the attention of the whole of humanity, while identifying specific groups of people who are their perpetrators … Missing from these presentations are the complex and messy connections and relationships that are invisible in both the open-ended vastness of spectacular [landscapes] and the compelling specificity of prosperous villagers. (2010: 382)

It is not just the broader contexts of emergencies that spectacular humanitarianism ignores; it is also that some emergencies tend to be neglected altogether. During the Asian Tsunami, for example, the Western press focused almost exclusively on known tourist locations across the region, overlooking the devastation in ‘lesser-known countries and localities’ (Cottle and Nolan 2007: 879). The other, more telling recent example here is the Congo, where over four million people have died over the last decade, but which has received little attention from the press. Žižek writes in this regard that:

The Congo today has effectively re-emerged as a Conradian ‘heart of darkness’. No one dares to confront it head on. The death of a West Bank Palestinian child, not to mention an Israeli or American, is mediatically worth thousands of times more than the death of a nameless Congolese. (2008a: 3; cf. Mamdani 2009: 63)

The various manifestations of symbolic and systemic violence outlined above are revealing of the ideology of spectacular NGOs. For what is ideology, in the Žižekian sense that we mean it, other than the production of spectacular images and smooth spaces (i.e. humanitarian zones) to cover up the Real (broader political economy, long-term political alternatives, Western complicity)? The glossy photos and sensational headlines help create pure, untarnished, and moral humanitarian fantasies to be commodified and sold. The smooth spaces (refugee camps, etc.) help manufacture artificial humanitarian sanctuaries where ‘victims’ are categorized, controlled, and ultimately served up as advertisements for the likes of MSF, Save Darfur, or Save the Children (cf. Debrix 1998). The NGO/media spectacle helps to unify and stabilize reality, disavowing anything that disturbs the humanitarian dream-fantasy, is discomforting to the public, or threatens the neoliberal global order. Outwardly visible, subjective violence may well be shown, or even fetishized, but that it is symptomatic of a dirty underside, a broader underlying objective violence, is glossed over.

Of course, spectacular NGOs hide behind their faux objectivity and nonpartisan humanitarianism to repudiate any accusations of political ideology. Yet, as we have seen, their very presentation of reality through their stories and images is already an ideological construction of it (cf. Taylor 2010: 83). They create (the public view of ) emergencies and disasters in advance, so that ‘reality’ and the audience’s perception of it are one and the same (cf. Žižek 1994b: 15). Thus, Debord writes, ‘For what is communicated are orders: and with perfect harmony, those who give them are also those who tell us what they think of them’ (1990: 6).

 

[Ilan Kapoor is a Professor of Critical Development Studies at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. He teaches in the area of global development and environmental politics, and his research focuses on postcolonial theory and politics, participatory development and democracy, and more recently, ideology critique. He is the author of The Postcolonial Politics of Development (Routledge 2008), and more recently, Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity (Routledge 2013). He is currently writing a book on psychoanalysis and development.”]

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WATCH: The Ideology of Celebrity Humanitarianism

 

Kapuscinski Development Lecture

May 12, 2015

UNHCR Special Envoy actor Angelina Jolie takes part in a news conference at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, January 31, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

 

“Celebrity charity work is deeply tainted and ideological. Its altruistic pretensions are belied by several accompaniments: its tendency to promote both the celebrity’s brand and the image of the ‘caring’ (Western) nation; its entrenchment in a marketing and promotion machine that helps advance corporate capitalism and rationalizes the very global inequality it seeks to redress; its support to a ‘postdemocratic’ liberal political system that is outwardly democratic and populist, yet, for all intents and purposes, conducted by unaccountable elites; and its use and abuse of the ‘Third World’, making Africa, in particular, a background for First World hero-worship and a dumping ground for humanitarian ideals and fantasies. But what about our own complicity in this ideological work? As audience members and fans, or indeed even as detractors or critics, we too easily carry on our lives, consoled that someone is doing the charity work for us, just as long as we don’t have to.” [Source: Kapuscinski]

Excerpt from “The production and Construction of Celebrity Advocacy in International Development
by Dan Brockington:

“Within British development ngos there has been a questioning of the values promoted by relying on celebrity. Within the academe there is a flourishing body of criticism of the role of celebrity in recreating and reproducing hegemonic capitalist inequality. Kapoor adopts the most radical position, arguing that celebrity is part of the forces which create and produce inequality, and that celebrities might in fact be ‘sadists’ delighting in their position at the top of the pyramid. He further suggests that the only way out of this dilemma is through a Marxist revolution and that following conventional means of tackling poverty (such as supporting ngos) is no solution – it is better to do nothing.”

 

 

[Ilan Kapoor is a Professor of Critical Development Studies at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. He teaches in the area of global development and environmental politics, and his research focuses on postcolonial theory and politics, participatory development and democracy, and more recently, ideology critique. He is the author of The Postcolonial Politics of Development (Routledge 2008), and more recently, Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity (Routledge 2013). He is currently writing a book on psychoanalysis and development.”]

 

Building Movement Politics Means Fighting Democrats

Black Agenda Report

March 29, 2018

By Glen Ford

Building Movement Politics Means Fighting Democrats
 

In the absence of a renewed, grassroots street offensive against the armed occupation of Black communities, there will be no relief from the daily slaughter.”

 

Cops “have the right to shoot us, they get away with it every day,” said a despairing Dawnya Walker, one of 300 community residents that descended on Sacramento, California’s city hall to protest the police killing of Stephon Clark in his grandmother’s backyard . The numbers show that Walker is correct: U.S. police enjoy near-absolute impunity to gun down young Black males without any reasonable fear of punishment. Eight years of a Black, Democratic president in the Oval Office made not the slightest dent in that American reality, despite the re-emergence in 2014 of an incipient social justice movement under the heading of Black Lives Matter.

The youthful insurgency lost momentum — waylaid by the inexorable pull of Democratic Party politics and corporate philanthropy — long before Donald Trump entered the White House and installed a pure Dixiecrat as attorney general. Trumpian malevolence cast an orange chill across Black America. “It has been a long time since any victim was given as much attention as Stephon Clark,” writes Margaret Kimberley, in the current of issue of BAR.

“We are enveloped in a toxic miasma of Russia-hate that, by sheer weight and repetition, has infested every aspect of American political thought.”

There is “movement” afoot in the U.S., but it does not “arc towards justice.” Ever since Trump’s electoral victory, the collective national consciousness has been smothered in a maddening fog of manic, industrial-scale propaganda, spewed non-stop by corporate communications conglomerates working hand-in-glove with the most aggressive elements of the surveillance-intelligence “community” and the bi-partisan War Party. We are enveloped in a toxic miasma of Russia-hate that, by sheer weight and repetition, has infested every aspect of American political thought, distorting and subverting even the most progressive-minded “movements” struggling to find a way towards human dignity under late stage capitalism in a profoundly racist country. Voices for peace and social justice are asphyxiated in the pestilential plume — unless they find their own air.

Damn right, there is a conspiracy — possibly the loudest one in history! — megaphoned by a billionaire-owned media screaming “War, War, War” day and night, fouling the public mind with pure reactionary malice. The duopoly contest has devolved into a dance of death between Donald Trump’s raw white supremacist nationalism and Democratic Party corporate imperial warmongering. Only fools claim there is space for progressive maneuver in the interstices between such forces.

“The Democratic Party remains under the firm control of the Clinton/Obama forces that reinforced mass Black incarceration in the Nineties and militarized the police in this century.”

What is needed is clarity among genuine leftists and serious Black liberationists in the face of rampaging reaction. There is no lesser evil in this house of fear and apocalyptic brinksmanship. The Democrats have colluded in a budget whose gargantuan military outlays will inevitably doom what’s left of the U.S. social safety net — that is, if the human race is not annihilated, beforehand. They have replaced and outshouted the John McCain’s and Lindsay Graham’s of the Republican Party in demonizing, not just Vladimir Putin, but every government and movement in the world that resists U.S. lawlessness and aggression.

The Democratic Party remains under the firm control of the Clinton/Obama forces that reinforced mass Black incarceration in the Nineties and militarized the police at unprecedented levels in this century through the Pentagon’s 1033 program. In the absence of a renewed, grassroots street offensive against the armed occupation of Black communities, there will be no relief from the daily slaughter and the accompanying political evisceration of Black America.

Yes, it is certain that Trump’s very presence encourages the most swinish elements of the police. But it is also true that the Democrats — including Black Democrats — have controlled the city governments that maintain the police state in Black neighborhoods and relentlessly disperse our people through gentrification.

“What is needed is clarity among genuine leftists and serious Black liberationists in the face of rampaging reaction.”

And now it is the Democrats that take the lead in purging the Internet of dissenting political views, under the guise of defending fragile American minds against foreign manipulation. Silicon Valley — the big business sector most supportive of Clinton/Obama Democrats — is thus given license to shape reality in ways that make corporate dictatorship appear both logical and inevitable. Trump’s troglodytes could never finesse such a hijacking of fundamental democratic rights, but the Democrats are pulling it off with alarming speed. There’s nothing “lesser” about this evil.

When the Democrats got their wish, that Trump win the Republican presidential nomination, they became the predominant party of the U.S. ruling class and the most aggressive defenders of empire. Into Hillary Clinton’s campaign “Big Tent” slivered the dregs of the national security state, for whom peaceful coexistence among nations is anathema. Bernie Sanders cannot purge them from their central position in the party. The World Socialist Web Site reports that “an extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections.” By WSWS’s count, if the Democrats capture a majority of seats in the House this November, “candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress.”

Such a party is incompatible with any domestic social justice agenda — and a threat to the survival of the species. The Left’s job is to disentangle our people from the political clutches of the ruling class and to build independent people’s organizations. The Republicans are a white people’s problem, but Black activists cannot confront the police, the oligarchs or the warmongers without fighting the Democrats.

 

[BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com]

March for Eight Billion Lives: An Interview with Riva Enteen

 

An Interview with Riva Enteen

March 28, 2018

by Ann Garrison 

March for Eight Billion Lives: An Interview with Riva Enteen
 
“Of course we support the cause of protecting lives, but there is an exceptionalism to believing it only applies to American lives and especially white lives.”

Organizers of the upcoming Women’s March on the Pentagon are calling on the Democratic Party-sponsored Women’s March and March for Our Lives to expand their message to include the eight billion lives on the planet, all of which are imperiled by US weapons and wars. I spoke to Riva Enteen, a former National Lawyers Guild Program Director and a member of the steering committee for the October Women’s March on the Pentagon.

Ann Garrison: Riva, how would you like to see the March for Our Lives message expanded?

Riva Enteen: We must expand the message in two ways. First, we must acknowledge that US wars and domestic gun violence are intertwined. Our military budget is obscene, and the majority of Democrats voted with Republicans to give both Trump and the Pentagon more money than they asked for this year. Three Republican Senators joined the five Democratic Senators who voted against the $700 billion 2018 military budget. This has normalized carrying and using guns, which now include military-grade weapons on our streets. ?

“Gun control should begin at the Pentagon.”

Secondly, we have to be concerned with all lives, from Florida’s Stoneman Douglas High School to Yemen. The US military is by far the largest arms dealer in the world, and it’s common knowledge that much of its weaponry ends up with those that our government calls “terrorists” and claims to be fighting. The US calls the terrorists it arms “rebels,” as in Syria, or “friends and allies,” as in Israel and Saudi Arabia. Gun control should begin at the Pentagon.

The endless “War on Terror” emerged after 9-11, which became the excuse for war as a constant, not an aberration. Until we rein in the US’s determination to exert hegemony over the whole world, we will continue to see blood spilled here while, at the same time, our missiles rain down on innocents in the name of specious “humanitarian intervention” and stopping terrorism. There is an irony to the US invoking the term “humanitarian intervention,” as it publicly abandons and scorns international law, bombing civilians and even hospitals.

AG: I counted ninety geographically distinct manifestations of the Democratic Party promoting their participation in the March for Our Lives, and all the march and voter registration logos and banners were blue. Your thoughts on that?

RE: The Democratic Party contained the message and excluded the call for peace, just as they did with the two Women’s Marches. It is counter-intuitive that a women’s march and a students’ march wouldn’t talk about peace, with the US at war in at least seven countries and no end in sight. But the Democrats, who promoted the Women’s Marches and the March for Our Lives, are a pro-war party. Peace is not on their agenda. War is a bi-partisan policy because, according to Wall Street, war is good for business, and that’s who controls our government.

At the beginning of his second term, after the December 14, 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, Obama said that he would address gun control and sounded convincing. A year earlier, in 2011 he had bragged, “In fact, my administration has not curtailed the rights of gun owners—it has expanded them, including allowing people to carry their guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.”

“It is counter-intuitive that a women’s march and a students’ march wouldn’t talk about peace, with the US at war in at least seven countries and no end in sight.”

Attempts to limit the size of gun magazines, expand background checks of gun buyers, and ban gun sales to buyers on terrorism watch lists all failed to pass under Obama, when he had a Democratic House and Senate, from January 2009 to January 2013, and when he had a Democratic Senate, from January 2013 to January 2017.

Stand-your-ground laws, which George Zimmerman successfully used in his defense for killing unarmed Trayvon Martin, have expanded to more states, even though Obama lamented that if he had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.

AG: The March for Our Lives and the Women’s Marches have enormous corporate and celebrity support as well as the Democratic Party’s. They’re able to hire all kinds of staff to work full time on networking and turning out their huge crowds. Can you imagine getting any of that kind of support for the October Women’s March on the Pentagon?

RE: Of course we imagine getting support from all peace-loving people. Unfortunately, most corporations benefit from war so they would not support the cause of peace. We do believe there are celebrities who will step up to the plate and do the right thing, because the stakes are so high. This march commemorates the 1967 March on the Pentagon, which included celebrities such as Norman Mailer getting arrested.

AG: The Pentagon now admittedly has more money than it can figure out how to spend, so its surplus weapons go to militarize the police who are most aggressive in Black and Brown neighborhoods. Anything you’d like to say about that?

RE: Military grade weapons have no place in domestic neighborhoods, not in the hands of police officers, veterans with PTSD, or civilians. People from other countries are shocked at what we allow on our streets. The normalization of killing includes domestic massacres perpetrated with these military-grade weapons.

As to police killings in Black and Brown neighborhoods, it remains open season, just as it did under Obama, even when Black Lives Matter was at its strongest. I guess we can hope a precedent was set by South Carolina cop Michael Slager’s second degree murder conviction for shooting Walter Scott— an unarmed Black man—in the back.

AG: Some March for Our Lives supporters are likely to get defensive and ask whether you’re refusing to support their cause. What would you say to them?

RE: Of course we support the cause of protecting lives, but there is an exceptionalism to believing it only applies to American lives and especially white lives. In a promotional video that Democracy Now played repeatedly during their broadcast of the Washington, DC March for Our Lives, former US soldiers said that they’d learned how to put assault rifles to good purpose in US wars, but didn’t want them aimed at US citizens.

Isn’t it time to stop aiming those guns—and our missiles, fighter jets, and drones—at the rest of the world? My mother was a member of Women Strike for Peace, founded in 1961 with the slogan “Stop the Arms Race, Not the Human Race,” and that has never been more true.

Women, the givers of life, are confronting the Pentagon in Washington, DC, October 20-21. We hope that all peace-loving people will consider this a chance to make a stand for peace. There will be local antiwar actions springing up, as they did during Occupy, so keep your ear to the ground, and watch for updates on our website and our Facebook page .

 

[Riva Enteen is a former Program Director of the National Lawyer’s Guild, and a current member of the steering committee for the Women’s March on the Pentagon, who lives in South Lake Tahoe. She was also chair of the first KPFA Local Station Board. She can be reached at rivaenteen@gmail.com .]

[Ann Garrison is an independent journalist living in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes Region. She can be reached at @AnnGarrison or ann@kpfa.org .]

Excerpt from The Big Conservation Lie

Book: The Big Conservation Lie

Author: John Mbaria and Mordecai Ogada

Publisher: Lens & Pens Publishing LLC Auburn WA USA 2017

 

 

The Epiphany

John Mbaria’s Encounter With Unseen Injustice

 

 

She was an unmistakable image of deprivation. The emaciated Samburu woman had thrown across her left shoulder a torn shuka, which left parts of her body exposed. She had braved the sweltering Samburu sun that baked the entire place bringing into being mirages of promise that failed to deliver more than that. As she advanced to the river, the woman attempted an upright position. But her stooped frame refused to yield. Nevertheless, this enabled me to peer into her cracked, multilined face. Her look was distant. Her thin hands held onto a cord with which she had strapped the empty twenty-litre water jerrican. Her entire frame talked of many struggles and probably as many defeats. The woman had emerged from a thick bush across the river, itself part of a natural spread dotted here and there by short, sturdy trees and broken, now and then, by awkward-looking hills. Some of the outcrops had been whitened by excrement from birds of prey. The vast, monotonous terrain extended into the distant horizon, giving packs, herds and flocks, and other residents a veritable abode. Some did not just live and let live; they visited local people’s homesteads with danger and intent.  Across the river was a scene removed from the reality of this unforgiving landscape. Under the watchful eyes of armed rangers, a group of us were happily and noisily climbing a rocky landform that formed part of the river’s embankment.

This was in 2001, and most of us were young, joyful journalists. We had been sponsored to the Shaba Game Reserve, 314 kilometres northeast of Nairobi, by the Sarova Group of Hotels, one of Kenya’s most prominent hotel chains with eight hotels—many of which are carefully stashed in some of Kenya’s most spectacular, most pristine pieces of wilderness. Located in Eastern Kenya, Shaba is where the popular reality TV adventure series Survivor III was shot in August 2001. Before that, the game reserve hosted Joy and George Adamson, the romantic conservationists who gave the world a reality show of life in the bush before they were tragically murdered. Together with its sister reserve, Buffalo Springs, Shaba boasts of seventeen springs that sojourn along subterranean courses from Mount Kenya—one hundred or so kilometres away—and which gush out there to convert part of this dry wasteland into a veritable oasis. Along its northern boundary flows the Ewaso Nyiro River that, together with the springs, has made the entire place a magnet for gerenuks, Grevy’s zebras, reticulated giraffes, lions, leopards, and hundreds of bird species that live side by side with the Samburu people. We were taken there to savour the unmitigated joy of spending time in a purely wild area. We were expected to reciprocate by meeting our brief—flowery feature stories embellished into captivating narratives that could attract and keep guests visiting the hotel and the reserve. Many of us were poorly paid cub reporters who could hardly afford the European cuisine on offer or the joys of partaking of a game drive atop four-wheel-drive fuel guzzlers. With a monthly pay that either equaled or was slightly more than the cost of spending a night in the extremely comfortable and luxurious hotel, we could not but agree to be spoiled for three days and be blinded by freebies. We roamed the area in vans packed with bites, booze, and soda. For lunch and dinner, three-course meals of continental dishes awaited—a veritable feeding frenzy ensued.

While on game drives, we hoped to spot elephants, dung beetles, and everything in between. Part of our exclusive experience included climbing a rocky landform close to the crocodile-infested Ewaso Nyiro River. It was while doing so that I spotted the elderly Samburu woman. Silently—almost in mime—and removed from my world, she was to take me through a host of lessons that dramatically altered my entire outlook on the grand wildlife conservation program Kenya and other countries in Africa have adopted since the dawn of colonialism.

“A conversation with the Samburu elders during a study on pastoralism, 2017” [Source]

For some reason, I found myself thoughtfully watching her every move. She dipped her jerrican into the river, rapidly filling it with the muddy, unpalatable water. The water notwithstanding, this had me thinking. With a load of European food still fresh in my belly, I could afford to summon some imagination. I conjured images of the immense peril the woman had exposed herself to. But what repeatedly danced in my mind was one image in which a four-metre, several-hundred-kilo crocodile emerged from the water, splashed dirty water into her eyes, and in a lightning move, grabbed the woman’s leg with its massive jaws, its saw-like teeth tearing into her flesh, as it then dragged her limp body into the deeper waters. In my mind’s eye, the croc went on to convert her entire existence into some unsightly bloody mess.

Thank God this did not happen. But in the case it had happened, I figured that it would have resulted in several eventualities: A photojournalist would have captured the bloody scene in a single, award-winning shot. The woman would have paid the ultimate price, ending up as yet another sad statistic. Many of us would have filed copious media reports detailing how “another victim met her death” or “I witnessed the worst case of human-wildlife conflict at the banks of Ewaso.” KWS rangers would have been summoned. And with cocked guns, fingers on triggers, eyes strained to the river, and adrenaline pumping into muscles, they would have first shot in the air to rattle any crocs. The rangers would have found it impossible to identify the culprit. Unable to isolate the life-snatching beast from the rest of the gang, they would have shot one of them—an act of appeasement to sorrowful relatives, tit-for-tat killing, justice delivered to a woman so shunned in life. The conservation juggernaut would have rolled on, as ever deceitful and callously removed from the plight of those who suffer the brunt of what it purports to preserve.

Yes, the woman lived that day, not just to take the dirty water home, but probably to go back to the river and risk her life many more times. Maybe she lived only to fall sick or die from the muddy, parasite-infested Ewaso waters. This is not just a possibility. Neither is it a mere probability or likelihood. It is a circumstance that is replicated countless times across most areas bordering Kenya’s twenty-two national parks and twenty-eight national reserves. Many of the people who live with wildlife in Africa meet their deaths, leaving hordes of orphans with no one to wipe their tears. There are hundreds of women—young and old—who have been denied the comfort of travelling through life with their spouses. There are men who must gnash their teeth in pain and immense anger each time they think of their late beloved spouses and children. There are countless more who live without limbs, just as there are many others who endure torn flesh, broken bones, blindness, destitution, and loss of entire livelihoods occasioned by encounters with wild animals.

In this Samburu woman, I saw the embodiment of a community praised for its traditional conservation ethics that spared for the world vast populations of diverse wildlife, a community, however, shunned by the world, even as acres of paper and decades of airtime are expended by many a conservationist and organization to discuss their welfare.

Upon this revelation, I refused to play along, and I made it my career to expose the rot.

~ John Mbaria, 2014

 

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