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

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

Black is Back Coalition

April 19, 2020

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

Lockdown Therapy for Capitalism

Lockdown Therapy for Capitalism

April 23, 2020

By Hiroyuki Hamada

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WATCH: Planet of the Humans [Full Film]

WATCH: Planet of the Humans [Full Film]

April 22, 2020

 


WKOG caveat: Industrial civilization is destroying all life on Earth. Human destruction of biodiversity is not created equally: “Yet tribal peoples are the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world, and 80% of our planet’s biodiversity is found in tribal territories.” [Further reading: The best conservationists made our environment and can save it, Stephen Corry] Human population is often identified as a problem because it strains the world’s resources and pollutes. [1] The first and most efficient way to address over consumption is to reduce consumption in the North is to a) redistribute the resources, (all arable land, etc.) to the Global South, to sustain those in the Global South, and b) phase out the production of all superfluous consumer products that harm life and biodiversity. [Further reading: Too Many Africans?, July 11, 2019] An analysis of population growth that accounts for the vast differences in consumption across class and region is critical in examining the worldwide environmental crisis.

 

Jeff Gibbs, Writer, Producer, Director:  “At long last our film “Planet of the Humans” is now released to the world! It’s one of the happiest days of my life, and a day I fervently hope has a role in initiating some real change in the world. “Planet of the Humans”  is now available free of charge to everyone on planet Earth courtesy of our partnership with Michael Moore. Please help us spread the word by sharing, blogging, posting, tweeting, emailing, or pony expressing your enthusiasm and urgency about why people must see this movie.”

Planet of the Humans takes a harsh look at how the environmental movement has lost the battle through well-meaning but disastrous choices, including the belief that solar panels and windmills would save us, and by giving in to the corporate interests of Wall Street.

Jeff Gibbs, the writer/producer/director of Planet of the Humans, has dared to say what no one will – that “we are losing the battle to stop climate change because we are following environmental leaders, many of whom are well-intentioned, but who’ve sold out the green movement to wealthy interests and corporate America.” This film is the wake-up call to the reality which we are afraid to face: that in the midst of a human-caused extinction event, the so-called “environmental movement’s” answer is to push for techno-fixes and band-aids. “It’s too little, too late,” says Gibbs. “Removed from the debate is the only thing that might save us: getting a grip on our out-of-control human presence and consumption. [1] Why is this not the issue? Because that would be bad for profits, bad for business.”

“Have we environmentalists fallen for illusions, ‘green’ illusions, that are anything but green, because we’re scared that this is the end — and we’ve pinned all our hopes on things like solar panels and wind turbines? No amount of batteries are going to save us, and that is the urgent warning of this film.”

This compelling, must-see movie – a full-frontal assault on our sacred cows – is guaranteed to generate anger, debate, and, hopefully, a willingness to see our survival in a new way—before it’s too late.

[Jeff Gibbs, Writer, Producer, Director | Ozzie Zehner, Producer | Michael Moore, Executive Producer]

 

[1]

Why the West Hates Sandinista Nicaragua

Tortilla con Sal

April 20,  2020

Stephen Sefton

 

Sandinista rally in Managua | Photo: El19Digital

Nicaragua’s success in containing the COVID-19 virus makes the failure of the US and its allied countries look pathetic. The country’s low numbers of nine confirmed cases to date and just two fatalities categorically vindicate the policies of its Sandinista government led by President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo. The same is true of other revolutionary and socialist governments around the world. Cuba has given a shining example of global leadership and solidarity. Most notably elsewhere Venezuela, Vietnam and India’s state of Kerala have also implemented diverse but successful policies containing the pandemic.

But in North America and Europe, the success in addressing COVID-19 of these impoverished socialist countries, even when under attack from the US and the European Union, like Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, has been suppressed. In Nicaragua’s case, Western media and NGOs have comprehensively distorted and repeatedly lied about the country’s Sandinista government’s extraordinary achievement in comparison with other countries in the region, let alone the damning contrast with the catastrophic situation in North America and Western Europe. Many reasons contribute to that reality, both contemporary and historical.

However one reason is fundamental. The Western liberals and progressives who generally control information and communications in North America and Europe cannot acknowledge the success of Nicaragua’s Sandinista government without conceding their own monstrous cynicism and hypocrisy. In general, ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, they have effectively colluded with corporate capitalism and its neoliberal political sales team. At best, they have beseeched minor tweaks and adjustments to the worst capitalist excesses in their own countries so as to mitigate somewhat all the injustice and suffering at home.

Managua, Apr 20 (efe-epa).- “On Monday, classes in public schools – primary and secondary – as well as state universities, resumed in Nicaragua following long vacations amid the coronavirus outbreak that has claimed two lives in the country.”

But overseas they have colluded in coups, wars and genocidal sanctions targeting peoples with independent governments. They have effectively abandoned victims of their allies, like the Palestinians or vulnerable populations in the Congo. Western liberals and progressives in communications media and NGOs could hardly be more comfortable with the fascist union of corporate and State power currently controlling the US, Canada and the European Union. So it has been perfectly natural for these Western liberals and progressives effectively to support, for example, nazi inspired extremists in Ukraine, fanatical pseudo-religious terrorists in Libya and Syria and the extreme right wing and allied forces in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

One of the effects of that support is that there’s no going back. Nicaragua’s success in addressing the COIVD-19 pandemic is irrefutable. But Western liberals and progressives cannot admit that, because doing so would contradict the lies and fabrications of the right wing and allied forces they support. Finally admitting that their right wing allies are lying frauds would mean radically questioning their version of the violent failed coup attempt of 2018 or the absurd claim ever since President Ortega took office in 2007 that Nicaragua is a dictatorship. Nicaragua is just one example of how Western liberals and progressives find themselves suffocating in a miasma of thoughtless prejudice, moral cowardice and cynical hypocrisy, making an honest appraisal of their own moral and political contradictions impossible.

That is largely why the next US President will be yet another demented bellicose tool of the US plutocracy and why the European Union will survive ever more clearly as a similarly dysfunctional tool of US and European oligarchs. Hope that the current crisis will lead to a safer, more humane multipolar world is almost certainly misplaced. Daniel Ortega’s recent call for better health care instead of more military spending, for a focus on human solidarity rather than capitalist greed, is unanswerable. His government’s patient, practical, prudent but also brilliant example in this crisis is irrefutable. That is why the Western ruling elites and the politicians, media and NGOs they own have responded with yet more lies, falsehoods, evasions and threats. They all hate Sandinista Nicaragua because they cannot stand so much Truth and Light.

Vaccination: Most Deceptive Tool of Imperialism

Bulatlat, Journalism for People

October 12, 2019

By Dr. Romeo F. Quijano

Video still: “A Public Eye report leads to the Philippines, to people who have worked with the highly toxic pesticide Paraquat for years, without training and without being aware of the dangers. The Filipino doctor and activist Dr. Romeo Quijano speaks about the consequences for the health and the responsibility of the Swiss group Syngenta” [Source]

Vaccination is probably the most deceptive tool of imperialism that even anti-imperialists often fail to recognize. It displays a humanitarian face but has the soul of a beast. Its true character is that of a deceptive agent of imperialism. The romanticism of western medicine has masked the true nature and ethos of vaccination. However, using the anti-imperialist tool, pedagogy of the oppressed (1), a diligent and deeper study of the history of vaccination and the socio-political and cultural context of that history would reveal the true character of vaccination.

Vaccination is the process of introducing a vaccine into the body to produce immunity to a specific infectious organism. It is not the same as immunization (which has been mistakenly used interchangeably with vaccination), which is the process of conferring immunity, not necessarily through vaccination. Immunity is the capacity of the body to protect itself from the development of a disease due to exposure to an infectious organism. Imperialism is usually defined as expansion of economic activities, especially investment, sales, extraction of raw materials, and use of labor to produce commodities and services beyond national boundaries, as well as the social, political, and economic effects of this expansion. I would define Imperialism as: Intervention of Monopolistic Power Exploiting the Resources of Impoverished Areas Leading to Increased Social Misery (I-M-P-E-R-I-A-L-I-S-M).

If we look carefully into the history of vaccination, we will find that the development of vaccination coincided with the development of imperialism. Medicine and public health have played important roles in imperialism. With the emergence of the United States as an imperial power in the early twentieth century, interlinkages between imperialism, the business elite, public health, and health institutions were forged through several key mediating institutions. Philanthropic organizations sought to use public health initiatives to address several challenges faced by expanding capitalist enterprises: labor productivity, safety for investors and managers, and the costs of care (2).

In the early 1900s, the capitalist magnate Rockefeller already had a hand in the development of smallpox vaccine. Rockefeller’s pioneering virologist Tom Rivers (1888-1962) undertook to develop a safer vaccine by growing the virus in tissue culture. The result was an attenuated strain of virus that was better than the earlier vaccines produced in England. It was the first vaccine used in humans to be grown in tissue culture. Rivers’ interaction with Rockefeller Foundation scientists, who were then working to make a yellow fever vaccine in Foundation laboratories on the Rockefeller Institute campus, influenced Max Theiler to create an attenuated virus vaccine. Theiler later won a Nobel Prize for this work (3). Parke-Davis also was a pioneer in vaccine production. The company set up shop in 1907 in Rochester hills, Michigan, pitching a circus tent to house horses and constructing a vaccine-propagating building, a sterilizing room and a water tank(4). Parke-Davis was once America’s oldest and largest drug maker. It was acquired by Warner Lambert company in 1970, which in turn was acquired in 2000 by Pfizer, which is now the largest pharmaceutical company in the world(5,6). Pfizer claims that it was involved in the commercial production of a smallpox vaccine in the early 1900s, that it was the first to develop a heat-stable, freeze-dried smallpox vaccine as well as the bifurcated needle, the first to introduce a combined vaccine for preventing diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus and had produced more than 600 million doses of the first live trivalent oral poliovirus vaccine (7). These medical advances coincided with the emergence of what has been called “New Imperialism” when European states established vast empires mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East (8) and almost at the same period, the United States colonized the Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico, Kingdom of Hawaii, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, and for short periods, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Cuba (9, 10).

Imperialism is driven by the pressure of capital for external fields of investment. The recurrent crises of overproduction and subsequent diminution of profits and stagnation of capital leads to ever-increasing pressure to expand markets and territories. The tendency for investors to work towards the political annexation of countries which contain their more speculative investments is very powerful. Imperialism is seen as a necessity by the capitalists so they can continue to accumulate wealth. Capitalist greed was hidden behind the curtain of “manifest destiny” and “mission to civilize colonized people”. It was the Robber Barons of the time, the likes of Rockefeller, Morgan, Carnegie, Cooke, Shwab, Fisk, Harriman and their ilk who actually needed Imperialism and who were fastening it upon the shoulders of the government. They used the public resources of their country for their capitalist expansion (11). Imperialism, therefore, was adopted as a political policy and practice by the government which was controlled by the business elite. The Government and private corporations sought ways to maximize profits. Economic expansion demanded cheap labor, access to or control of markets to sell or buy products, and extraction of natural resources. They met these demands through plunder and tyrannical rule.

However, the imperialists experienced excess diseases and deaths among their troops, civil servants and traders. They had to do something about it. With the advent of the “Germ Theory” of disease, it was believed that these diseases and deaths were caused by infectious organisms. This belief led to the development of drugs and vaccines that the colonial powers wholeheartedly embraced. That was the beginning of Big Pharma. Initially the advances in medicine were introduced for the protection of colonial troops and civil servants, then for the local people working for the colonial power and eventually for the whole population. Improved health care was also included with the provision of hospitals and, as for the other measures, these were initially for the military, then for expatriates and finally for the local people (12). The pioneer pharmaceutical companies of that time and the financial elite clearly saw the huge profits to be made from vaccination and the provision of pharmaceuticals. Among the most cited justification for colonial rule is the introduction of “modern health care” to the subjugated people. Thus, health became an instrument of pacification of the oppressed and the people were made to believe that colonialism was good for them. However, the introduction of health care technologies like vaccines and drugs are really not out of altruistic intentions of the colonial power but more for the satisfaction of the imperialist’s plunderous desires. In fact, systematic public health regimes originated as military programs in support of imperialist expansion. Private charities entered the field as colonial conquests were consolidated. The colonizer was more concerned with maximizing the exploitation of imperialized labor and extraction of the natural resources of the conquered people.

Since then, the elimination or control of disease in tropical countries became a driving force for all colonial powers. In the colonized world, public health measures encouraged by Rockefeller’s International Health Commission yielded increases in profit extraction, as each worker could now be paid less per unit of work, “but with increased strength was able to work harder and longer and received more money in his pay envelope”. Rockefeller’s research programs promised greater scope for future US military adventures in the Global South, where occupying armies had often been hamstrung by tropical diseases (13). The Rockefeller programs did not concern themselves with workers’ physical productivity alone. They were also intended to reduce the cultural resistance of “backward” and “uncivilized” peoples to the domination of their lives and societies by industrial capitalism. The Rockefeller Foundation discovered that medicine was an almost irresistible force in the colonization of non-industrialized countries. During the US occupation of the Philippines, Rockefeller Foundation president George Vincent was quite frank in saying, “Dispensaries and physicians have of late been peacefully penetrating areas of the Philippine Islands and demonstrating the fact that for purposes of placating primitive and suspicious peoples medicine has some advantages over machine guns” (14).

Mass vaccination emerged as a major imperialist program, notwithstanding the erroneous, reductionist concept behind it and despite the utter lack of proper safety and efficacy studies. Vaccination was hailed as the savior of colonized people from infectious disease despite clear evidence of adverse effects worse than the original disease. Many of these forced mass vaccination campaigns resulted in disastrous results. For example, in the Philippines, prior to U.S. takeover in 1905, case mortality from smallpox was about 10%. In 1905, following the commencement of systematic vaccination enforced by the U.S. government, an epidemic occurred where the case mortality ranged from 25% to 50% in different parts of the islands. In 1918-1919 with over 95 percent of the population vaccinated, the worst epidemic in the Philippines’ history occurred resulting in a case mortality of 65 percent. The lowest percentage occurred in Mindanao, the least vaccinated place, owing to religious prejudices. Dr. V. de Jesus, Director of Health, stated that the 1918-1919 smallpox epidemic resulted in 60,855 deaths. In Japan, after compulsory vaccination was mandated, there were 171,611 smallpox cases with 47,919 deaths recorded between 1889 and 1908, a case mortality of 30 percent, exceeding the smallpox death rate of the pre-vaccination period. At about the same time, in Australia, one of the least-vaccinated countries in the world for smallpox, had only three smallpox cases in 15 years. In England and Wales, between 1934 and 1961, not one death from natural smallpox infection was recorded, and yet during this same period, 115 children under 5 years of age died as a result of the smallpox vaccination. The situation was just as bad in the USA where 300 children died from the complications of smallpox vaccine from 1948 to 1969. Yet during that same period there was not one reported case of smallpox in the country (15).

Dr. Romeo F. Quijano

Similar disastrous results also happened with the polio vaccine. The majority of polio cases actually do not cause symptoms in those who are infected. Symptoms occur in only approximately 5 percent of infections (16) with a case fatality rate of only about 0.4%. Even during the peak epidemics, poliovirus infection resulting in long-term paralysis, was a low-incidence disease that was falsely represented as a rampant and violent paralytic disease by fund raising advertising campaigns to fast track development and approval and release of the Salk vaccine with Rockefeller as the key supporter. Because of outside pressure, the US licensing committee in charge of approving the vaccine did so after deliberating for only two hours without first having read the full research (17). This hasty approval led to the infamous “Cutter disaster”, the poliomyelitis epidemic that was initiated by the use of the Salk vaccine produced by Cutter vaccine company. In the end, at least 220,000 people were infected with live polio virus contained in the Cutter’s vaccine; 70,000 developed muscle weakness, 164 were severely paralyzed, 10 were killed. Seventy five percent of Cutter’s victims were paralyzed for the rest of their lives (18). When national immunization campaigns were initiated in the 1950s, the number of reported cases of polio following mass inoculations with the killed-virus vaccine was significantly greater than before mass inoculations and may have more than doubled in the U.S. as a whole (19). Wyeth was also found much later to have produced a paralyzing vaccine. All other manufacturers’ vaccines released in the 1950s were sold and injected into America’s children and millions of vaccines were also exported all around the world (17). The “eradication” of smallpox and the seemingly dramatic decline of polio cannot be largely attributed to the vaccines. There never was valid scientific study that supported the claim that the vaccines caused the decline of the disease. The combined effects of social and environmental determinants of what was poliomyelitis at that time were the most likely reasons for the decline. The polio vaccine was propelled more into widespread use by economic, political and personal interests of imperialists rather than by science and public health interests. It is well established scientifically that the decline in mortality rates of infectious diseases was due largely to socio-economic determinants (improved nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, etc.) and the strengthening of natural immunity. Medical intervention using vaccines and antibiotics was late in coming and whatever contribution it made in the overall decline of mortality over time was miniscule at best. In fact, there is a large body of scientific and narrative evidence that the vaccines cause various acute and chronic adverse effects and likely resulted in delaying the decline of infectious diseases to a relatively insignificant and naturally manageable health problem. Vaccination, an invasive and un-natural induction of immune response, which was largely inappropriate, did not really help but instead, created more problems, among which is the emergence of highly virulent strains of microorganisms. One un-anticipated potentially disastrous adverse effect of vaccination is the disruption of natural immunity among the people in communities. Nevertheless, despite overwhelming contrary scientific evidence, the overwhelming power of the ruling elite successfully implanted the entrenched belief that vaccination had eradicated smallpox and dramatically reduced deaths from polio and other infectious diseases. This widely held belief allowed the global ruling class to hide behind humanitarian posturing and mask their true agenda of global dominance and maximizing profits for Big Business.

After World War II, public health philanthropy became closely aligned with US foreign policy as neocolonialism thrust “development” on Third World nations. The major foundations collaborated with USAID and allied agencies in support of interventions aimed at increasing production of raw materials while creating new markets for Western manufactured goods. The concept of “global health governance” (GHG) arose in the early 1990s, reflecting US confidence that the fall of the Soviet Union would usher in a unipolar world dominated by American interests. This was a vision of diffuse, omnipresent power to be exercised collaboratively by the institutions of global capitalism and guaranteed, in the last resort, by the US military. The Alma Ata principles became moot as structural adjustment programs decimated Third World government investments in public health. Corporate globalization intensified with neoliberal imposition of liberalization, deregulation and privatization. The new global health governance regime systematically bypassed or compromised national health ministries via “public-private partnerships” and similar schemes. To soften the resistance against imperialist interventions in health, “emerging infections” were hyped as inevitable and potentially catastrophic and the global health governance scheme was framed within the larger discourse of “security” that arose in the wake of the dubious 9/11 event. Worldwide alarm about bioterrorism provided an opportunity to link together health and national/international security. Not only would health-care workers open the funds for a medical front in the War on Terror, but also military forces would routinely be mobilized as a response to health disasters. Imperial interventions in the health field began to be justified in the same terms as recent “humanitarian” military interventions. Some analysts denounced the militarization of public health as worryingly authoritarian and strategically counterproductive, but to Bill Gates, the world’s second richest man, it was a welcome development. Gates’ endorsement was especially significant because his foundation had become the leading exemplar of philanthropy in the era of global health governance (13).

Parents of children vaccinated with Dengvaxia attend a Senate hearing in the Philippines.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is now by far the world’s largest private foundation; with more than $50 billion in assets. The bulk of its activities are directed at the people of the imperialized world, where its ostensible mission involves providing birth control and combatting infectious diseases. BMGF exercises power not only by means of its own spending but also through steering an elaborate network of “partner organizations” including nonprofits, government agencies, and private corporations. As the second largest donor to the UN’s World Health Organization (WHO), it is a dominant player in the formation of global health policy. It orchestrates elaborate public-private partnerships and is the chief funder and prime mover behind the Vaccine Alliance (formerly GAVI), a public-private partnership between the World Health Organization and the vaccine industry. The chief beneficiary of BMGF’s activities is not the people of the Global South but the Western pharmaceutical industry. The Gates Foundation’s ties with the pharmaceutical and vaccine making industry are intimate, complex, and long-standing. Soon after its founding, BMGF invested $205 million to purchase stakes in major pharmaceutical companies, including Merck & Co., Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson, and GlaxoSmithKline. BMGF’s interventions are designed to create lucrative markets for surplus pharmaceutical products, especially vaccines (13, 20).

The vaccine producing companies belong to the largest interlocking corporations controlled directly or indirectly by a few highly secretive business and power elite who effectively rule the world and impose imperialist policies. Large corporations have become more and more interrelated through shared directors and common institutional investors. In 2004, A team of Swiss systems theorists, utilizing a database of 37 million companies and investors worldwide, studied the share ownerships linking over 43,000 transnational corporations. They found that a core 1,318 companies, representing 20 percent of global operating revenues, “appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues”. When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group (21). These business elite is intimately linked to the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR, founded in 1921, is a United States think tank specializing in U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. The CFR runs the Rockefeller Studies Program and convenes government officials, global business leaders and prominent members of the intelligence and foreign-policy community to discuss international issues and make recommendations to the presidential administration and the diplomatic community (22). Some critics and political analysts have called the Council for Foreign Relations the “Shadow Government” (US) that is pulling the strings behind the scene.

The Vaccination Trojan Horse of Imperialism in recent years has become much bigger with the growing power of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is the main driver of global health policy. It is now the second biggest donor to WHO. With the USA as the biggest donor, US imperialism’s hold over WHO has become almost absolute. Bill Gates is the first private individual to keynote WHO’s general assembly of member countries. One delegate remarked: “He is treated liked a head of state, not only at the WHO, but also at the G20” (23). BMGF has been compared to “a massive, vertically integrated multinational corporation (MNC), controlling every step in a supply chain that reaches from its Seattle-based boardroom, through various stages of procurement, production, and distribution, to millions of nameless, impoverished ‘end-users’ in the villages of Africa and South Asia”. It has a functional monopoly in the field of public health. In the words of one NGO official: “You can’t cough, scratch your head or sneeze in health without coming to the Gates Foundation” (13).

With his unprecedented power, Bill Gates was able to initiate an elaborate neoliberal financing scheme for vaccines that inevitably transfers public funds to private coffers. Ostensibly, the scheme is designed to help developing countries to fund their vaccination programs but in reality, these countries are caught in a debt-trap. This so-called “innovative development financing” is a debt-based mechanism that taps capital markets to subsidize vaccine buyers and manufacturers through an intermediary, the International Finance Facility for Immunization (IFFIm). GAVI floats bonds which are secured by the promise of government donors to buy millions of doses of vaccines at a set price over periods as long as 20 years. Capitalists take a cut at every stage of the value chain while poor countries are supposed to benefit from access to vaccines that might not otherwise be affordable. Bondholders receive a tax-free guaranteed return on investment, suited to an era of ultra-low interest rates. Pharmaceutical firms, meanwhile, are able to peddle expensive vaccines at subsidized prices in a cash-poor but vast and risk-free market. By creating a predictable demand pull, IFFIm addresses a major constraint to immunization scale-up: the scarcity of stable, predictable, and coordinated cash flows for an extended period. (13,24). Recent BMGF/GAVI activities in Sri Lanka offer a virtual case study in what has been called “pharmaceutical colonialism.” GAVI targeted the country in 2002, offering to subsidize a high priced, patented pentavalent DtwP-hepB-Hib vaccine. In exchange for GAVI’s support, the country agreed to add the vaccine to its national immunization schedule. Within three months of the vaccine’s introduction, 24 adverse reactions including 4 deaths were reported, leading Sri Lanka to suspend use of the vaccine. Subsequently, 21 infants died from adverse reactions in India (13).

The real underlying cause of deaths in epidemics is the dysfunctional health care system brought about by chronic socio-economic underdevelopment characteristic of a semi-feudal and semi-colonial society victimized by imperialism, not the loss of vaccine confidence due to the “Dengvaxia scare”. Corporate hijacking of the health care system with the complicity of government, international institutions, mainstream medicine and various cohorts deprived the people of their right to health. Profit has become the primary driving factor in addressing a public health problem, not public welfare. Deregulation, privatization and liberalization, the hallmarks of corporate globalization, the new face of imperialism, have practically wiped-out whatever remaining affordable basic needs and social services, especially health services, are available to the majority of the population. Worse, under the guise of economic development, big business juggernaut in mining, plantations, coal, dams and other environmentally destructive and socially disruptive mega-projects have devastated community-empowering and truly sustainable, poverty alleviating, health promoting and climate resilient initiatives. The concomitant and worsening assaults (including extrajudicial killings) on fundamental human rights have subjected marginalized people to extreme physical, biological, psychological and social stress and have repeatedly been forced to be displaced from their land, homes, crops and other means of survival. Under these circumstances, infectious disease epidemics and other serious health problems are bound to arise and worsen. The root cause of epidemics in this country is imperialism. Liberation is the answer, not vaccination.

 

[Romeo F. Quijano, M.D. is a retired professor of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila. He is president of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Philippines. He served as the co-chair of the International POPs Elimination Network, bureau member of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, and as a standing committee member of the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety. He is regarded as one of the country’s leading toxicologists.]

 

References:
1. Freire, P., Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Bloomsbury publishing USA, 2018.
2. Waitzkin, H. Imperialism’s Health Component. 2015.
monthlyreview.org/2015/07/01/imperialisms-health-component/
3. Rockefeller Hospital Centennial, Using Advances in Viral Tissue Culture Techniques to Produce a
Safer Smallpox Vaccine. HYPERLINK “http://centennial.rucares.org/index.php?page=Smallpox_Vaccine”http://centennial.rucares.org/index.php?page=Smallpox_Vaccine
4. Shepard, L., Legend lives on at Parke-Davis site. Rochester Post, April 27, 2016.
5. Pfizer joins forces with Warner-Lambert.
HYPERLINK “https://www.pfizer.com/about/history/pfizer_warner_lambert”https://www.pfizer.com/about/history/pfizer_warner_lambert
6. Pfizer-Wikipedia, HYPERLINK “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pfizer”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pfizer
7. HYPERLINK “https://www.pfizer.com/science/vaccines/milestones” \n _blankHistory of Vaccines | Pfizer | Pfizer
HYPERLINK “https://www.pfizer.com/science/vaccines/milestones”https://www.pfizer.com/science/vaccines/milestones
8.The Age of Imperialism (1870-1914)
https://www.tamaqua.k12.pa.us/…/TheAgeofImperialism.pdf
9. American Imperialism – Digital History Website
HYPERLINK “chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/http://www.clovis-schools.org/chs-freshman/Resources/Notes/American Imperialism.pdf”chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/http://www.clovis-schools.org/chs-
HYPERLINK “chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/http://www.clovis-schools.org/chs-freshman/Resources/Notes/American Imperialism.pdf”freshman/Resources/Notes/American%20Imperialism.pdf
10.American Imperialism-Boundless US History
HYPERLINK “https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-ushistory/chapter/american-imperialism/”https://courses.lumenlearning.com/boundless-ushistory/chapter/american-imperialism/
11.The economic taproot of imperialism.
HYPERLINK “https://www.marxists.org/archive/hobson/1902/imperialism/pt1ch6.htm”https://www.marxists.org/archive/hobson/1902/imperialism/pt1ch6.htm
12. Cox, F. Conquest and Disease or Colonization and Health?
https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lecture/transcript/print/conquest-and-disease-or-colonialism-and-health/
13. Levich J. Global Health and US Imperialism. In: Ness I., Cope Z. (eds) The Palgrave
Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2019.
14. Brown, E.R., Public Health in Imperialism. AJPH September, 1976, Vol. 66, No. 9
15. Sinclair, I. Smallpox True History.
HYPERLINK “http://www.cidpusa.org/dangers_of_smallpox_vaccination.htm”http://www.cidpusa.org/dangers_of_smallpox_vaccination.htm
16. Deadly Diseases and Epidemics: Polio, p. 19, 2009, Infobase Publishing.
17. Humphries, S. & Bystrianyk, R.. Dissolving Illusions: Disease, Vaccines, and the Forgotten History.
CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2014.
18. Offit, P. The Cutter Incident: How America’s First PolioVaccine Led to a Growing Vaccine Crisis.
Journal of The Royal Society of Medicine, Volume 99 March 2006.
19. Miller, N.Z, The polio vaccine: a critical assessment. Medical Veritas 1 (2004) 239–251.
20. Levich, J. The real agenda of the Gates Foundation, Liberation News, Nov.2,2014.
HYPERLINK “https://www.liberationnews.org/real-agenda-gates-foundation/”https://www.liberationnews.org/real-agenda-gates-foundation/
21. Business managed democracy – interlocking directorates
HYPERLINK “http://www.herinst.org/BusinessManagedDemocracy/introduction/interlocking.html”http://www.herinst.org/BusinessManagedDemocracy/introduction/interlocking.html
22. Council on Foreign Relations – Wikiwand.
HYPERLINK “http://www.wikiwand.com/en/Council_on_Foreign_Relations” \l “/Membership”www.wikiwand.com/en/Council_on_Foreign_Relations#/Membership
23. Huet, N. and Paun, P., Meet the world’s most powerful doctor: Bill Gates influence.
HYPERLINK “https://www.politico.eu/article/bill-gates-who-most-powerful-doctor/”https://www.politico.eu/article/bill-gates-who-most-powerful-doctor/
24. Atun, R., et al. Innovative financing for health: What is truly innovative?
Lancet, 380(9858), 2044–2048,2012.

 

The Clairvoyant Ruling Class [“Scenarios for the Future of Technology & International Development” 2010 Report]

The Clairvoyant Ruling Class [“Scenarios for the Future of Technology & International Development” 2010 Report]

Wrong Kind of Green

March 25, 2020

By Cory Morningstar

 

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

 

John Steppling, Author, Playwright

 

“This report is crucial reading for anyone interested in creatively considering the multiple, divergent ways in which our world could evolve.”

 

— Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation

 

Storytelling. Dystopian scenarios. Not Huxley, Orwell, Bradbury or Brunner.

Scenario planning for corporate strategy was pioneered by Royal Dutch Shell in the 1970s. [Further reading on scenario planning: The Art of the Long View]The following excerpts are highlights from the May 2010 “Scenarios for the Future of Technology & International Development” report produced by The Rockefeller Foundation & Global Business Network. Not just the more known “Lock Step” scenario, but all four scenarios.

Following “Event 201” (Oct 18, 2019), we must concede that the ruling class has been gifted with phenomenal and prophetic intuitions and insights. (They truly are the chosen ones.) Thus it is worthwhile, even mandatory, to study their scenario exercises and simulations.

“We believe that scenario planning has great potential for use in philanthropy to identify unique interventions… scenario planning allows us to achieve impact more effectively.” [p 4]

 

“The results of our first scenario planning exercise demonstrate a provocative and engaging exploration of the role of technology and the future of globalization.” [p 4]

 

“This report is crucial reading for anyone interested in creatively considering the multiple, divergent ways in which our world could evolve.” [p 4]

 

“*I offer a special thanks to Peter Schwartz, Andrew Blau, and the entire team at Global Business Network, who have helped guide us through this stimulating and energizing process.” [*Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation] [p 4]

 

“*I hope this publication makes clear exactly why my colleagues and I are so excited about the promise of using scenario planning to develop robust strategies.” [*Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation][p 5]

Peter Schwartz is an American futurist, innovator and co-founder of the Global Business Network (GBN), a corporate strategy firm, specializing in future-think & scenario planning. Founded in 1987, GBN was “a membership organization comprising executives from many of the world’s leading companies alongside individual members from business, science, the arts, and academia.” The proprietary list of GBN’s corporate members included “more than 100 of the world’s leading companies, drawn from virtually every industry and continent.” Members paid an annual subscription fee of $35,000. [Source] Following an acquisition by Monitor in 2000, GBN then specialized in scenario-based consulting and training. GBN ceased to be active following the acquisition of the Monitor Group by Deloitte in 2013.

As of Oct. 2011, Schwartz has served as Senior Vice President Strategic Planning for Salesforce. [Bio]

Video. Peter Schwartz, Salesforce “welcomes Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum [1] Executive Chairman and Founder, into the Salesforce LIVE Studio for a chat about the future of global governance.” [2014] [1]

https://sfdc.hubs.vidyard.com/watch/lemzpqnyZA5yQfedOpoDTQ

[Source]

Video still. Peter Schwartz, Salesforce "welcomes Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum Executive Chairman and Founder, into the Salesforce LIVE Studio for a chat about the future of global governance." [2014]

Video still. Peter Schwartz, Salesforce “welcomes Klaus Schwab, World Economic Forum Executive Chairman and Founder, into the Salesforce LIVE Studio for a chat about the future of global governance.” [2014]

Andrew Blau: Deloitte Risk and Financial Advisory managing director in the Risk Intelligence practice of Deloitte & Touche LLP; past strategy & innovation advisor to CEOs & senior executives around the world; founding president of the board of directors of WITNESS.

“Perhaps most importantly, scenarios give us a new, shared language that deepens our conversations about the future and how we can help to shape it.” [p 7]

 

“How can we best position ourselves not just to identify technologies that improve the lives of poor communities but also to help scale and spread those that emerge?” [p 8]

The Four Scenarios

“Once crossed, these axes create a matrix of four very different futures:

LOCK STEP – A world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian eadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback

CLEVER TOGETHER – A world in which highly coordinated and successful strategies emerge for addressing both urgent and entrenched worldwide issues

HACK ATTACK – An economically unstable and shock-prone world in which governments weaken, criminals thrive, and dangerous  innovations emerge

SMART SCRAMBLE – An economically depressed world in which individuals and communities develop localized, makeshift solutions to a growing set of problems”

“Each scenario tells a story of how the world, and in particular the developing world, might progress over the next 15 to 20 years,… Accompanying each scenario is a range of elements that aspire to further illuminate life, technology, and philanthropy in that world.” [p 17]

Scenario #1: LOCK STEP

“In 2012, the pandemic that the world had been anticipating for years finally hit. Unlike 2009’s H1N1, this new influenza strain — originating from wild geese — was extremely virulent and deadly. Even the most pandemic-prepared nations were quickly overwhelmed when the virus streaked around the world, infecting nearly 20 percent of the global population and killing 8 million in just seven months, the majority of them healthy young adults. The pandemic also had a deadly effect on economies: international mobility of both people and goods screeched to a halt, debilitating industries like tourism and breaking global supply chains. Even locally, normally bustling shops and office buildings sat empty for months, devoid of both employees and customers.” [p 18]

 

“The pandemic blanketed the planet — though disproportionate numbers died in Africa, Southeast Asia, and Central America, where the virus spread like wildfire in the absence of official containment protocols. But even in developed countries, containment was a challenge. The United States’s initial policy of “strongly discouraging” citizens from flying
proved deadly in its leniency, accelerating the spread of the virus not just within the U.S. but across borders. However, a few countries did fare better — China in particular. The Chinese government’s quick imposition and enforcement of mandatory quarantine for all citizens, as well as its instant and near-hermetic sealing off of all borders, saved millions of lives, stopping the spread of the virus far earlier than in other countries and enabling a swifter postpandemic
recovery. [p 18]

 

“China’s government was not the only one that took extreme measures to protect its citizens from risk and exposure.  During the pandemic, national leaders around the world flexed their authority and imposed airtight rules and restrictions, from the mandatory wearing of face masks to body-temperature checks at the entries to communal spaces  like train stations and supermarkets. Even after the pandemic faded, this more authoritarian control and oversight of citizens and their activities stuck and even intensified. In order to protect themselves from the spread of increasingly   global problems — from pandemics and transnational terrorism to environmental crises and rising poverty — leaders around the world took a firmer grip on power.” [p 19]

 

“At first, the notion of a more controlled world gained wide acceptance and approval. Citizens willingly gave up some of  their sovereignty — and their privacy — to more paternalistic states in exchange for greater safety and stability.  Citizens were more tolerant, and even eager, for top-down direction and oversight, and national leaders had more  latitude to impose order in the ways they saw fit. In developed countries, this heightened oversight took many forms:  biometric IDs for all citizens, for example, and tighter regulation of key industries whose stability was deemed vital to  national interests. In many developed countries, enforced cooperation with a suite of new regulations and agreements  slowly but steadily restored both order and, importantly, economic growth.” [p 19]

 

“By 2025, people seemed to be growing weary of so much top-down control and letting leaders and authorities make choices for them.” [p 21]

 

“Sporadic pushback became increasingly organized and coordinated, as disaffected youth and people who had seen their status and opportunities slip away — largely in developing countries — incited civil unrest.” [p 21]

Headlines in LOCK STEP:

“Italy Addresses ‘Immigrant Caregiver’ Gap with Robots (2017)” [p 22]

“African Leaders Fear Repeat of Nigeria’s 2026 Government Collapse (2028)” [p 22]

 

Technology in LOCK STEP:

 

“Technological innovation in “Lock Step” is largely driven by government & is focused on issues of national security & health & safety. Most technological improvements are created by & for developed countries, shaped by governments’ dual desire to control and to monitor their citizens.”[p 23]

 

“Technology trends and applications we might see: Scanners using advanced functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)technology become the norm at airports and other public areas to detect abnormal behavior that may indicate “antisocial intent.”” [p 23]

Life in LOCK STEP:

“Manisha gazed out on the Ganges River, mesmerized by what she saw… no one could deny that the Ganges was looking more beautiful and healthier than ever.” [p 25]

[March 18, 2020, ABC News: “Venice canals are clear enough to see fish as coronavirus halts tourism in the city Swans have returned to the canals and dolphins have been spotted in the port… cloudy canals have transformed into water crystal clear…”]

“Manisha was tempted to kick off her shoe and dip her toe in, but this was a restricted area now — and she, of all people, would never break that law.”[p 25] [emphasis added]

Scenario #2: CLEVER TOGETHER

“In 2017, an international agreement was reached on carbon sequestration… intellectual and financial resources were pooled to build out carbon capture processes… A functioning global cap and trade system was also established.”[p 27]

 

“Centralized global oversight and governance structures …not just for energy use but also for disease and technology standards… systems & structures required far greater levels f transparency, which in turn required more tech-enabled data collection, processing, & feedback.” [p 27]

 

“Enormous, benign “sousveillance” systems allowed citizens to access data — all publically available — in real time and react.” [p 27]

 

“Nation-states lost some of their power and importance as global architecture strengthened and regional governance structures emerged. International oversight entities like the UN took on new levels of authority,…” [p 27-28]

 

“The worldwide spirit of collaboration also fostered new alliances and alignments among corporations, NGOs, and communities.” [p 28]

 

“In many places, traditional social barriers to overcoming #poverty grew less relevant as more people gained access to a spectrum of useful technologies — from #disposable #computers to do-it-yourself (DIY) windmills.” [p 29]

 

“Over the course of two decades, enormous strides were made to make the world less wasteful, more efficient, and more inclusive. But the world was far from perfect. There were still failed states and places with few resources.” [p 29]

 

“Indeed, demand for everything was growing exponentially. By 2028, despite ongoing efforts to guide “smart growth,” it was becoming clear that the world could not support such rapid growth forever.” [p 29]

 

“There are considerable flows of talent between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and the lines between these types of organizations become increasingly blurred.” [p 30]

 

Technology in CLEVER TOGETHER

 

“Technology trends and applications we might see: The cost of capturing data through nanosensors & smart networks falls precipitously… Intelligent electricity, water distribution, and transportation systems develop in urban areas. In these “smart cities,” internet access is seen as a basic right by the late 2010s.” [p 31]

“Flexible and rapid mobile payment systems drive dynamic economic growth in the developing world, while the developed world is hampered by entrenched banking interests and regulation.” [p 31]

 

“In cities and villages around the world where children used to be hungry, access to higher-calorie meals had produced alarming increases in the incidence of obesity and diabetes.” [p 33]

Scenario #3: HACK ATTACK

“An economically unstable and shock-prone world in which governments weaken, criminals thrive, and dangerous innovations emerge” [p 34]

 

“Resource scarcities and trade disputes, together with severe economic and climate stresses, pushed many alliances and partnerships to the breaking point; they also sparked proxy wars and low-level conflict in resource-rich parts of the developing world.” [p 35]

 

“Nations raised trade barriers in order to protect their domestic sectors against imports and — in the face of global food and resource shortages — to reduce exports of agricultural produce and other commodities.” [p 35]

 

“In the context of weak health systems, corruption, and inattention to standards — either within countries or from global bodies like the World Health Organization — tainted vaccines entered the public health systems of several African countries. [p 35]

“In 2021, 600 children in Cote d’Ivoire died from a bogus Hepatitis B vaccine, which paled in comparison to the scandal sparked by mass deaths from a tainted anti-malarial drug years later. [p 35]

 

“The deaths and resulting scandals sharply affected public confidence in vaccine delivery; parents not just in Africa but elsewhere began to avoid vaccinating their children, and it wasn’t long before infant and child mortality rates rose to levels not seen since the 1970s.”[p 36]

 

“Meanwhile, more sophisticated hackers attempted to take down corporations, government systems, and banks via phishing scams & database information heists, and their many successes generated billions of dollars in losses.” [p 36]

 

“Blockbuster pharmaceuticals quickly became artifacts of the past, replaced by increased production of generics.” [p 36]

 

“Interestingly, not all of the “hacking” was bad. Genetically modified crops (GMOs) and do-it-yourself (DIY) biotech became backyard and garage activities, producing important advances.” [p 37]

 

“In 2017, a network of renegade African scientists who had returned to their home countries after working in Western multinationals unveiled the first of a range of new GMOs that boosted agricultural productivity on the continent.” [p 37]

 

“But despite such efforts, the global have/have-not gap grew wider than ever. The very rich still had the financial means to protect themselves; gated communities sprung up from New York to Lagos, providing safe havens surrounded by slums.” [p 37]

 

“In 2025, it was de rigueur to build not a house but a high-walled fortress, guarded by armed personnel.” [p 37]

 

“The wealthy also capitalized on the loose regulatory environment to experiment with advanced medical treatments and other under-the-radar activities.” [p 37]

 

Headlines in HACK ATTACK Attack scenario:

“Congo Death Toll Hits 10,000 in Malaria Drug Scandal (2018)” [p 38]

“Doctors Without Borders Confined Within Borders (2020)” [p 38]

“India-Pakistan Water War Rages (2027)” [p 38]

Role of philanthropy in HACK ATTACK:

“The operational model in this world is a “fortress model” in which philanthropic organizations coalesce into a strong, single unit to combat fraud and lack of trust.” [p 40]

Technology in HACK ATTACK:

“Technology trends and applications we might see: New threats like weaponized biological pathogens and destructive botnets dominate public attention…” [p 39]

 

“Identity-verification technologies become a staple of daily life, w/ some hitches—a database of retina recordings stolen by hackers in 2017 is used to create numerous false identities… [p 39]

 

…procedures like the lunchtime facelift become routine among emerging middle classes”

 

Life in HACK ATTACK:

“Botswana had none of the high-tech biometric scanning checkpoints — technology that could literally see right through you — that most developed nations had in abundance in their airports, along their borders, and in government buildings.” [p 4]

 

“Trent was also careful to cover his tracks to avoid being kidnapped by international crime syndicates — including
the Russian mafia and the Chinese triads — that had  become very active and influential in Botswana.” [p 40]

 

“As expected, counterfeit vaccines were being manufactured. But so were GMO seeds. And synthetic proteins.” [p 40]

Scenario #4: SMART SCRAMBLE

“The global recession that started in 2008 did not trail off in 2010 but dragged onward. Vigorous attempts to jumpstart markets and economies didn’t work, or at least not fast enough to reverse the steady downward pull.” [p 41]

 

“Overall, economic stability felt so shaky that the occurrence of a sudden climate shock or other disaster would likely send the world into a tailspin.” [p 41-42]

 

“Yet without major progress in global economic integration and collaboration, many worried that good ideas would stay isolated, and survival and success would remain a local — not a global or national — phenomenon.” [p 45]

 

“Philanthropic organizations look to fund at the grassroots level…The meta-goal in this world is to scale up: to identify
and build capacity from the individual through the institutional, because without global coordination, innovation cannot scale on its own.” [p 46]

Headlines in SMART SCRAMBLE:

“Chinese Government Pressured as Protests Spread to 250 Cities (2017)” [p 46]

“Famine Haunts Ethiopia—Again (2022)” [p 46]

 

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

“We hope that reading the scenario narratives and their accompanying stories about philanthropy, technology, and people has sparked your imagination, provoking new thinking about these emergent themes and their possibilities.” [p 49]

 

“This report is the result of extensive effort and collaboration among Rockefeller Foundation initiative staff, Foundation grantees, and external experts.” [p 52]

[Download the report: Scenarios for the Future of Technology & Int’l Development 2010 Rockefeller Foundation]

+++

Let’s circle back to the beginning. Schwartz, report lead, is Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning for Salesforce. Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff serves as the inaugural Chair of the World Economics Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco. On June 13, 2019 the World Economic Forum partnered with the United Nations. On March 11, 2020 the World Economic Forum announced a partnership with the World Health Organization (a UN agency) to establish the COVID Action Platform For Business. This same day the World Health Organization officially characterized COVID-19 a pandemic. [Source] This is the consolidation of global power, happening in real time.

 


Launched on March 11, 2020 – the World Economic Forum Covid Action Platform


Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff serves as the inaugural Chair of the World Economics Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution in San Francisco.


Judith Rodin, President, The Rockefeller Foundation

“A New Global Architecture”, Annual Meeting of the Global Futures Council, 2018, Dubai

 

[1] World Economic Forum annual membership fee in 2011: $52,000 for an individual member; $263,000 for “Industry Partner”; $527,000 for “Strategic Partner”. Admission: $19,000 per person. In 2014, WEF raised annual fees by 20%, bringing the cost for “Strategic Partner” from CHF 500,000 ($523,000) to CHF 600,000 ($628,000). [Source] January 17, 2017: “Membership and partnership fees range from CHF60,000 to CHF600,000 depending on the level of engagement” [Source] In September 2018, the city of Davos increased the security budget for the yearly Forum meeting to CHF 1.125 million., while the Swiss house of representatives (Nationalrat) increased police and military expenditures to CHF 39 million. The Kanton of Graubünden contributes CHF 2.25 million, matching the WEF expenses for security. [Source]

[2020 World Economic Forum Leadership and Governance]

“Virus or No Virus, We Can’t Lose Our Voice”: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities

Black Agenda Report

March 18, 2020

By Ann Garrison

 

“Coronavirus is just an extension of the war that we’ve been forced to fight under capitalism.”

 

“We’re assisting people who suddenly have no income and are stuck in their homes for the foreseeable future.”

Cheri Honkala has been organizing in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, one of the US’s most devastated, post-industrial communities, for over 30 years. As of the 2010 census, Kensington was 38.9% Hispanic of any race, 37.4% non-Hispanic white, 14.8% non-Hispanic Black, 6.2% Asian, and 2.7% all other. And it’s beginning to be threatened by gentrification.

Cheri is one of the founders of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC), and her work has been so impressive that Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein asked her to be her running mate  in 2008.

I asked her how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting Kensington.

Ann Garrison: Cheri, are you seeing cases of coronavirus there in your neighborhood yet? Does anyone have access to testing?

Cheri Honkala: No, we have no idea if we’ve come into contact with anyone who has the virus yet. There’s no testing, but we’ve most likely been exposed. Most of the poor people in Kensington go to St. Christopher’s Hospital, and a doctor working in the ICU there has tested positive. That will affect Kensington because he saw Kensington patients before testing positive, and because there is, for now, one less doctor working in Kensington.

Public clinics are postponing appointments at the last minute and rescheduling for July due to the virus, but these are services that people need now. We already have bad health. Our health has never much mattered, but there are good, caring doctors and nurses in the system.

“We already have bad health.”

Someone from the public health center said they’re moving to online appointments, but poor people don’t have computers to be talking to their doctors and getting checkups through the phone. We know that people in other parts of the world like Canada and Australia now have access to testing and an equitable response to the virus because they have universal healthcare. But we don’t have that. We seem to be moving further towards the privatization and corporate takeover of all public services and health access. And under the guise of protecting our health, it seems like they’re going to be scooping people up soon, with or without their permission, and putting them who knows where.

AG: Has Philadelphia’s Public Health Department  reached out to you in any way? Have you tried to reach out to them?

CH: No. Philadelphia is one of the poorest large cities in the country. PPEHRC and the Poor People’s Army  have been absolutely overwhelmed both in Philadelphia—where our headquarters is—and throughout the country. We’re assisting people who suddenly have no income and are stuck in their homes for the foreseeable future, if they can hold onto their homes.

We’re helping a woman who’s being released from the hospital to homelessness, a victim of domestic violence needing to get into safe housing, and people needing psychiatric care but not able to get into the hospital. And those are just a few examples of who we’re trying to help. Coronavirus is just an extension of the war that we’ve been forced to fight under capitalism. It’s not just the virus, but that’s made it worse.

The media is fear-mongering, and misinformation is spreading. Corporations, politicians, and poverty pimps are rushing to profit from this moment. Not only have they not reached out to us, but they’re hiding from us because they are either working remotely from home, or they’re operating from the politics of scarcity.

AG: As I write this it’s 49 degrees in Kensington and 49 degrees here in Berkeley, where there are roughly 1,000 homeless people on the street, in a city of roughly 125,000. But it’s still morning out here and it’s well past noon there. It’s not the dead of winter, but it’s not a good day to be homeless in either place, or to live in a house or apartment that doesn’t have heat. It’s not a good day to recover from coronavirus or any kind of cold or flu, especially if you don’t have running water to wash your hands. Do you have any estimate of how many people are facing one or both hardships there in Kensington, a city area of roughly 25,000?

CH: There are about 2000 homeless people on the streets in Philly on any given night. Because of advocacy efforts before the coronavirus, no one’s utilities can be shut off. But that doesn’t mean that utilities that were already shut off can be turned back on.

AG: At the 2016 Green Party Convention in Houston, you shared films about Kensington and said that you thought frontline communities should emulate the Black Panther Party. Could you talk about that here?

CH: For decades, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign has been teaching people how to reclaim abandoned houses across the country and reclaim land. And to grow food to feed ourselves. We need to move in our organizing work from a reformist model to a revolutionary model. Corporations and the rich are never going to care about us, never going to take care of us, so it’s time we get organized and reclaim our basic economic human rights to food and housing. And whether or not we have health care shouldn’t even be up for negotiations.

AG: Is the PPEHRC supported solely by donations and volunteers?

CH: We are trying to be the US version of the Zapatistas . We are separate from the nonprofit charity model, and are funded by individuals and small foundations. No banks and no corporations.

AG: Are you a 501(c)3?

CH: We have a 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor that accepts tax deductible donations for us.

AG: During the March 15 presidential debate, both candidates said repeatedly that victims of coronavirus must be “made whole” by financial support if they and their families lose work or housing after coming down with coronavirus. And I kept thinking about all the people who have already lost both, those living on the streets or in other desperate circumstances, who haven’t been “made whole.” Suddenly the welfare of all members of society is of concern because even those most marginalized can spread the disease to the upper echelons by going to work, not getting tested, or not seeing a doctor. The New Yorker published a report headlined, “How Much Is the Coronavirus Infecting World Leaders and Disrupting Governments? 

I’m sure you have something further to say about this.

CH: This coronavirus is infecting the upper classes, so they’ll look for ways to protect themselves, but it’s not about protecting us. As a formerly homeless mother I’ve always known that we and our children have never mattered. And I’m very clear that they try to create an us and them scenario–a deserving and undeserving poor. We know the reality is that most people are only a paycheck away from a disaster like the coronavirus. Those of us in frontline communities more than ever need to demand and take back our right to food, clothing, housing, and medical care, because we can’t sit on the sidelines waiting for someone to save us. That’s not gonna happen. We need to link arms and remember that all we have is each other, and we’d better get organized to take housing, to take land, to take back a future for ourselves and our children.

We know they’re going to use this as an opportunity to do more homeless encampment sweeps, enact curfews with the pretense of caring about our health, fast-tracking homeless mothers and their kids into foster care and adoption.

It’s really important right now that we check in on our brothers and sisters who are in prisons, nursing homes, and packed into one-room shelters. We have to advocate for them because authorities are not going to take care of them without pressure.

AG: Tell me what else you’d like to say about coronavirus in poor and homeless communities.

CH: It all comes back to the slogan we’re raising that we need to put #LivesOverLuxury, while they put the elite luxury class over any of us. They’re killing us. That’s why we’re taking this message to both the DNC and RNC, virus or no virus, because we can’t lose our voice, and we fundamentally need a different society to respond to ongoing crises like this that will only escalate.

The coronavirus has exacerbated class divisions. Our kids who were attending schools that weren’t good to begin with and are now supposed to attend them online, but many lack access to home computers. People are staying home and not making any money from jobs that are on pause, and they’re waiting for essential health services.

It’s also important that there’s a whole section of people who don’t speak English as their first language, and they’re already being targeted by ICE and state agents. But we’re going to continue to practice the politics of love where we aim for a different kind of society where we take care of each other. At a time when big nonprofits aren’t here, we are continuing to operate with boots on the ground out of necessity. Not that we’re being careless or not taking the virus seriously, but the reality of people’s economic situation is real and that’s what we’re going to be hearing over the days to come. Maybe the utility shutoffs, evictions, and foreclosures are on pause right now, but those bills aren’t going away, and people are losing money every day this goes on.

“The coronavirus has exacerbated class divisions.”

We encourage people to join the Poor People’s Army. We need to make sure we keep our eyes wide open, and keep the propaganda on TV from separating us, isolating us, and disempowering us. Join us at livesoverluxury.com  and plan on coming to the Democratic Convention in July.

On July 13th, at 4 p.m., we will be in Milwaukee to demand our share of the 67 cents of every single dollar that goes to feed the war machine and deny poor and working class people their right to health care, food, housing, and dignity.

We have nothing to lose because we are already on the frontlines, already sentenced to death by gun violence, economic violence, cuts in food stamps and public housing, and, for many outside this country, sanctions. Our government, both Democrats and Republicans, chooses war and corporate profits over ending poverty and homelessness. We see the abundance in our country, and the #PoorPeoplesArmy is organizing to take it back by practicing the politics of love. Coronavirus or not, we are moving forward in an army led by the poor. Capitalism has buried our loved ones for years. It’s time we bury it.

AG: What if the convention’s canceled, as seems likely right now?

CH: Eventually there will be a convention and an election. People can follow us on Facebook  or our website  for any sudden changes.

AG: OK. I want to close by sharing links to videos about your work in Kensington and beyond that you showed at the Green Party Convention in 2016. Readers can watch them here: The Philadelphia Story  and Homeless Hero .

Thank you, Cheri, for sharing everything you’ve said here, and for everything you do.

CH: Thank you too.

 

[Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based 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 ann@anngarrison.com.]

The Revolution will not be Corporatised!

The Revolution will not be Corporatised!

Environmental Values 29 (2)

April 2020: 121–130.

By Clive Spash

© 2020 The White Horse Press. doi: 10.3197/096327120X15752810323968

 

 

Calls for ‘systems change, not climate change’ have been minority positions that have gained ground over the last year or so, aided by the likes of Extinction Rebellion, and the school strikes of FridaysForFuture, fronted by the now iconic figure of Greta Thunberg. These new environmental movements have pushed into the background the mealy-mouthed talk of avoiding negative ‘framing’, supressing terms that disturb people and dismissing catastrophic scenarios. I have previously noted problems with the promotion of such a conformist and conservative rhetorical strategy (Spash 2018). The plain speaking of the new environmental movements places emphasis on an imminent ecological crisis, which has become increasingly more real for many given the steady rise in the frequency of major extreme weather events. The planetary havoc promised by human induced climate change is deemed an ‘emergency’ entailing a sense of ‘urgency’. A primary and repeatedly expressed concern of Greta has been that politicians should ‘act’ on scientific advice; how they should act is left open but with the admonition that they have done little or nothing but talk for decades. Yet, the ‘new’ environmentalists appear to lack insight into what specific action is required, to what they stand in opposition and more generally the political and economic context within which they (as social movements) are operating.

The new environmental activists have not addressed the structure of the economic system, the dominant corporate institutions of which it is constituted, the political processes that maintain it, nor how such a system of political economy can realistically be transformed. There is much wishful thinking in their statements. While these movements are internally diverse collectives, elements of both Extinction Rebellion and FridaysForFuture have argued against becoming ‘political’, while simultaneously engaging in political acts of protest and having agendas that are highly political. There appears to be a belief in objective science informing a political elite, who can be nudged into action, regardless of the structure of the dominant economic system and its power relations. The primary concern has also been narrowly focused around human induced climate change, and often even more narrowly carbon emissions, not systemic social-ecological issues. The failures here go across the board from the political naivety of the protesters (both young and old) to the apologetics for the capital accumulating growth economies made by the exponentially increasing community of academics commenting on environmental policy and specifically climate change.1 A prevalent claim is that ‘the system’ can be ‘adjusted’ without removing corporate or capitalist structures let alone the global imperialism they have created under the guise of ‘free’ trade and unregulated
financialisation.

That neoliberal political leaders and the World Economic Forum (WEF), commonly known as the Davos elite, have been hosting Greta and promoting her speeches, raises the question as to what they expect to achieve by doing so. For example, the WEF website promotes a speech, given by Greta in Brussels last year to the international press corps, in which she calls for a new political system without competition, a new economics and a new way of thinking that includes living within planetary boundaries, sharing resources and addressing inequity.2 Greta has also been cited as calling for corporations to be held responsible for knowingly perpetrating harm and regards this as ‘a crime against humanity’ (Aronoff 2019), but how are they to be held responsible and what for exactly? And what is the appropriate ‘punishment’ for their crime? Diverting such general and unspecific criticism and calls for systems change away from radical and revolutionary reform would seem a likely concern for those profiteering from the current system. After the Paris Agreement the world’s five largest oil companies spent $1 billion on ‘green’ rebranding, while simultaneously undermining legislation and establishing new oil supplies.3 The Davos elite are also adept at borrowing their opponents’ language and far from averse to adopting and redirecting a sense of emergency and crisis.

The fact is that political and economic elites around the world have long been taking ‘environmental action’, to protect not Nature but themselves, against environmentalists and environmental regulation. The public relations end of the spectrum has been corporate social responsibility, green accounting, investment in new technologies, sustainable development and the rhetoric of a ‘Green circular inclusive sustainable smart economy’. The opposite end involves corporate funding of denialism and anti-environmental think tanks, media control of the popular discourse, lobbying and funding politicians, capture of environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and personal attacks on scientists. Most directly, protesters and activists are subject to police harassment and brutality, surveillance, infiltration and repression, and are being branded as terrorists, e.g. British police attempts to officially list Extinction Rebellion as such. The toll on both activist and academics is something recently highlighted in this journal (Spash 2018), and especially with regard to those opposing climate change (Hoggett and Randall 2018). In some countries environmental activists are also subject to assassination, especially where they oppose enforced and unjust ‘development’ in the rush for economic growth.

Indeed, urgency and emergency empower authoritarian regimes in overriding just, legal and democratic processes. They can also be used more subtly to create a sense of insecurity. The last two decades have seen the fear of ‘others’ being escalated and used to deconstruct post World War II multilateralism and create a new era of unilateralism, in which free-roaming American assassinations are openly bragged about, and respect for the law is increasingly replaced by a lynch-mob mentality. The rise of the extreme right and nationalism has relegitimised sexism, racial hatred, anti-immigrant policies, fortress building, promotion of imperialism, securitisation and militarisation amongst voters of the supposed democracies. The climate crisis, with its threat of mass migration, can therefore play to those claiming to protect jobs, maintain business as usual and defend the existing economic and social structures within which people have created their sense of self and community. However, environmentalism must then be neoliberal and corporate rather than revolutionary.

So the time is ripe for a new neoliberal agenda that adopts calls for urgent radical transformation and uses the environmental movement to support growth and financialisation of Nature. To this end a range of environmental ‘deals’ were announced in 2019, such as the European Commission ‘Green Deal’, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) ‘New Deal for Nature’, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) ‘Global Green New Deal’. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, has stated that ‘Supported by investments in green technologies, sustainable solutions and new businesses […] The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy. It will help us cut emissions while creating jobs’.4 Typical of all these ‘deals’ are claims of coordinating and organising stakeholders, having civil society and government work with, or more accurately for, ‘industry’, with promises of economic growth, jobs and climate stability. Similar ideas are touted under the term ‘stakeholder capitalism’, the theme of Davos 2020. In this ‘new’ era of corporate capitalism the environmental non-governmental organisations also have their role to play.

We Mean Business newsletter, 2019

We Mean Business newsletter, 2019

 

A prime example of the strategy in operation is the capture of the World Wide Fund (WWF) for Nature, which has fully committed itself to corporate capitalism since appointing Pavan Sukdev as its President in 2017. He was developing new financial instruments for Deutsche Bank, before heading a UNEP backed project on ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity’ (TEEB) with goals of capturing value and mainstreaming the economics of Nature (Spash 2011). Cynical financiers, out to make as much money as possible from bits of paper they transfer from one to another for profit, have been keen to join the environmental bandwagon: expanding emissions trading, wetland banking and biodiversity offsetting. Enter the UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI). This is a partnership of the UN with the global financial sector. Its mission is to promote ‘sustainable finance’, which includes ‘hardwiring biodiversity and ecosystem services into finance’ (UNEP Finance Initiative 2010).

The latest project, entitled ‘The Net Zero Asset Alliance’, boasts being led by asset owners representing more than US$ 2 trillion (UNEP Finance Initiative 2020: 8), in a network controlling US$ 4 trillion.

The latest project, entitled ‘The Net Zero Asset Alliance’, boasts being led by asset owners representing more than US$ 2 trillion (UNEP Finance Initiative 2020: 8), in a network controlling US$ 4 trillion.

 

The latest project, entitled ‘The Net Zero Asset Alliance’, boasts being led by asset owners representing more than US$ 2 trillion (UNEP Finance Initiative 2020: 8), in a network controlling US$ 4 trillion.5 The public face is fronted by Sukdev and Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). She, Sukdev and WWF are meant to provide the corporate executives, bankers, billionaires and financiers with an air of respectability and environmental concern. After all, they desperately need it, given that investor returns, or more simply making money grow exponentially, has nothing to do with sustaining anything, let alone Nature, biodiversity or ecosystems.

As Schoppek explains in this issue of Environmental Values, neoliberalism was selected by powerful actors as conforming with their view of the world. It has been institutionalised in rules and regulations helping form identities and strategies. As a hegemonic discourse it promotes ideas of meritocracy, the individual as an ‘entrepreneurial self’ (innovative, independent and responsible for all that goes wrong in their lives), utility  maximisation, commodification, economic efficiency, and the market economy as the sole legitimate institution for social organisation. This dominant economic imaginary helps embed the system and ensure its reproduction. Forms of environmentalism that engage in the rhetoric of sustainable growth then evidence a Gramscian passive revolution. That is, a top down strategically designed alternative to radical environmentalism is offered to maintain business as usual. A successful passive revolution absorbs external critique, transforms it and stabilises existing power relations. The aim is to silence more critical perspectives and supress power disrupting alternatives. Ecological crisis is therefore altered into an opportunity for growth and profiteering via commodification and financialisation of Nature.

Shoppek then questions the extent to which even the apparently more radical degrowth movement has the potential to be co-opted. Her core argument is that degrowth contains elements that are counter-hegemonic but also those that are sub-hegemonic. She illustrates the point with two degrowth positions identified in the work of Eversberg and Schmelzer (2018). That of a politically informed progressive left, supporting an anarchistic continual struggle for freedom, is argued to be counter-hegemonic. This is described as supplying a structural critique in addition to the kind of moral perspective found under the second position, termed self-sufficiency discourses. This latter position, as advanced in Germany by Niko Paech (e.g., Paech 2017, 2012), is argued to be compatible with neoliberal thought and so sub-hegemonic. Its failure is due to the over-emphasis on individual action that actually supports spreading the concept of an ‘entrepreneurial self’ (e.g., the sharing economy) while ignoring the structure of the economic system. This encourages the creation of organisations that substitute for the role of the State in the care of those at the bottom, and so reduce the potency of those individuals contesting the system and its ever-growing inequities. Thus we might reflect upon how a neoliberal consumerist society, such as the UK, encourages the role of charity shops that assuage the guilt of the consuming middle classes while substituting elements of a Welfare State, and doing nothing to address the causes of poverty.

The importance of a structural systems perspective is also identified by Boscov-Ellen. He highlights the failure of environmental ethicists (e.g. Dale Jamieson, Simon Caney, Peter Singer and Henry Shue) to address the systemic aspects of human induced climate change and as a result to over-emphasise the role of individual agency and responsibility in debating who is meant to take action and what action they should take. Environmental ethicists are criticised for focusing on acts of consumption and their related emissions, ignoring production and producers, and so reducing humans to their role as consumers with ethical preferences. Historical and contextual understanding of poverty, wealth and inequity are lacking. There are also some clear strands of liberal political thought behind several of the ethicists’ positions, and an inherent conservatism (e.g., the unquestioned permanence of Nation States and capitalism). The supposed solutions of the likes of Jamieson and Singer adopt neoliberal polices of pricing and trading carbon despite their flaws (Spash 2010). In contrast, once the existing social and economic structure is identified as a causal determinant of ecological crises then attention shifts to an ethical responsibility to change that system.

As Boscov-Ellen remarks, current ethical debate has produced ‘a framing that dovetails perfectly with the longstanding (and successful) efforts of liberal governments and corporations to individualise responsibility for systemic ills, even as they single-mindedly pursue growth’. He goes on to develop the case for undertaking radical change in economic and political structures as a moral imperative. This would require expanding collective causal responsibility for harm to account for structural mechanisms that limit and shape behaviour. The emphasis is then placed on solidarity, as part of a collective, seeking political and economic transformation, rather than on individual actions.

Identifying the organisations and institutions reproducing the political and economic structure is necessary in the process of seeking radical change in those structures. Corporations are obviously key in modern society and their activities are directly linked to global greenhouse gas emission. In recent years the term ‘carbon majors’ has become associated with the 100 corporations most responsible for creating and perpetuating the climate crisis, as noted by Boscov-Ellen and picked up as the central focus of the paper by Grasso and Vladimirova. These top 100 polluters produced over 70% of global anthropogenic greenhouse gases (1988–2015), with just 25 producing 51%. The top 100 include 43 state owned or government run  corporations.6 Grasso and Vladimirova regard these corporations as moral agents whose activities they review in terms of their having violated the negative responsibility of doing no harm to others. Beyond a consequentialist causal aspect, they invoke a more stringent set of requirements related to appraising agents’ intentions, something they refer to as ‘moral responsibility’, which seems directed more towards assessing culpability (the phrase seems somewhat misleading, given that causal responsibility is also ‘moral’). The authors then assess this culpability in terms of corporate responsibility for human induced climate change, with specific reference to a priori knowledge of creating harm, awareness of doing so over a long time frame, capacity to avoid harm, denial of the truth (amounting to spreading lies in their own interest), and self enrichment by their harmful actions. Having been found guilty as charged what is the outcome?

Grasso and Vladimirova make the case for corrective justice involving decarbonisation and reparation. The former would involve gradually reducing emissions to zero, with some notion that an increasing supply of ‘cleaner energy’ will ‘avoid disrupting the global energy demand’ (something that seems highly unlikely given the scale and extent of fossil fuels in the economy). The latter is, on rather unclear grounds, restricted to corporations relinquishing part of their accumulated wealth from activities related to creating harm. Reparations are discussed in terms of restitution, compensation and disgorgement (relinquishing historically ill-gotten gains). There are perhaps more questions raised than answers given in the ensuing discussion, e.g. ideas of not endangering the wealth of the rich, not pursuing shareholders’ or employees’ gains and concerns over protecting pension funds. Most problematic of all is the claim that actions should ‘not financially prevent carbon majors from engaging in the just transition required by the duty of decarbonisation’. This idea of ‘just transition’ is itself problematic and is employed to justify the preservation of carbon majors in order to avoid being too disruptive to the ‘socio-economic system’. The contradiction is that the system and its capital accumulating corporate form is the problem that needs to be addressed and this cannot be avoided. The idea of a ‘just transition’ appears to offer a get out of jail free card to the corporations who will (as they are doing) argue for offsetting, subsidies for transition, waiting for new technologies and maintaining business as usual for as long as possible.

An interesting question that arises in light of the discussion by Grasso and Vladimirova is why stop with carbon emissions? These same one hundred corporations produced 91% of global industrial emissions in 2015 (Griffin 2017: 7), and would therefore be culpable on the same grounds for the plethora of associated harms to human health and the environment. Grasso and Vladimirova have made a strong case for recognising that these corporations engage in deliberate cost-shifting, and are not innocent victims of unforeseen externalities that can be blamed on markets having the wrong prices. If all the other cost-shifting activities of corporations were taken into account, the grounds for maintaining such institutions would seem to disappear.

Private Property 2019, Anahita Mobarhan

In practice, the attempts by corporations to avoid any claims of wrongdoing in polluting activities have been extensive and have involved public relations firms being hired to strategise the undermining of science and scientists (Oreskes and Conway 2010). Responsibility for reparations is frequently shifted to the public purse, and ‘solutions’ displaced into the future via technologies, often requiring public funding both in research and development and (where realised) implementation. This technological strategy is evident in the increasing promotion of geoengineering for solar radiation management and/or greenhouse gas removal (GGR): e.g., direct air capture, enhanced rock weathering, and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage. The related ‘negative emissions’ approach is totally embedded in the hundreds of scenarios run by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).7 This allows business as usual with no reduction of greenhouse gases, and indeed their potential increase, because they are assumed to be removable after emission by application of an appropriate technological fix. Cox, Spence and Pidgeon note how media coverage has created a discourse on geoengineering that removes issues of justices, equity, fairness and distribution, while framing it as an ‘essential’ action in the face of the climate emergency. Similarly, in mitigation scenarios informing policy, GGR is not an additional policy measure but is rather modelled as critical for stabilising global average climate temperature at international target levels. Cox, Spence and Pidgeon are concerned to probe into the content of the related discourse and debate as occurring amongst experts (defined as those with pre-existing knowledge and opinions). Their research involves interviews with 17 people from the UK and USA, the majority of whom represent academia and the remainder the private sector, NGOs and policy/regulation. The two themes they find across the interviews are ‘risk’ and ‘responsibility’.

In terms of risk, GGR is described by interviewees as part of a ‘portfolio’ of measures, in contrast to the IPCC, media and policy framings. Reduced  energy demand and increased renewable energy supply are regarded as coming first and foremost. Urgency (i.e., doing something immediately), and the need to avoid dangerous climate change, support regarding GGR as essential, but this discourse is also noted by some interviewees as being top-down, expert driven and potentially dangerous for democracy. A classic risk and portfolio investment managers’ approach then raises the question of who gets to decide on the risks and the investments? This leads into how societal decisions are made, and an implicit technocracy appears to surface with the key players mentioned by interviewees being experts, policy-makers and (high emissions) industry. Although mistrust of the latter two was also evident, a naïve pragmatism appeared in a readiness to acquiesce to the wealth of corporations and their power to get action, summarised as ‘working with powerful institutions is more pragmatic than working against them’. GGR then offers a potential means for corporations and  governments to opt-out of actual emissions reductions, and plays the role of a ‘mitigation deterrent’. GGR measures, such as widespread use of Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), were also seen as likely to have unjust outcomes, due to their being undertaken to maintain the lifestyles of the rich and powerful while being imposed on vulnerable communities who suffer negative consequences (e.g., land grabbing).

Such pragmatic arguments contrast strongly with the moral arguments against corporations of Grasso and Vladimirova, as well as with the case for revolutionary change made by Boscov-Ellen, and both link to the need for addressing the social and economic structure highlighted by Shoppek. In  the discussion by Cox, Spence and Pidgeon these conflicting positions appear as a core aspect of debate about human induced climate change, where the main question becomes the extent to which ‘strategies should aim to work within existing incumbent capitalist systems’. GGR then indicates failure to adequately challenge the system and instead to support top-down ‘solutions’ that maintain existing structure, power and wealth and so become part of another ecological modernist passive revolution. This appears as technological optimism, claiming sustainability and economic growth are compatible, and the legitimisation of corporations as profit seeking organisations and their beneficiaries as justified in their accumulation of wealth and power. There is today an on-going struggle for how environmental issues are to be perceived, described and explained, which determines what knowledge and which voices are deemed admissible to the policy debate.

The construction of knowledge and what knowing something means is a longstanding issue in philosophy. The term co-creation (mentioned by Cox et al. and Mancilla Garcia et al.) has become popular of late, and it covers a range of ideas that have for some decades been part of debates around participatory decision process and post-normal science. Mancilla Garcia et al. highlight the roles of process and relations, epistemology and ontology, and empiricism. Whether the social process involved is important to conceptualisation has divided philosophers, with the implications extending from the extremes that knowledge requires total exclusion of values (in a naïve objectivist methodology), to knowledge being a totally cultural and socially determined perspective (under a radical relativist position) (Sayer 1992). Both these extremes assume flat ontologies (the former empiricist and latter actualist) without attention to underlying structure. When trying to identify what lies behind experience and actualised events, and indeed to  understand our experiences, what come to the fore is the role of non-empiricist conceptualisation and inference (e.g. deductive, abductive,  retroductive), along with metaphysical concepts. The basis for the validity given to knowledge claims remains contentious, but what the papers on climate change in this issue hold in common is their identification of the same fundamental social and economic structures in human society as being central to the reproduction of the ongoing ecological crisis.

Stephanie McMillan

That the discourse of the environmental movement has been failing, captured and adopted by a ‘new environmental pragmatism’, is more evident every day with the spread of financialisation and commodification of Nature, often legitimised by environmental NGOs acting as fronts for corporate interests. For corporate capitalism the environmental crisis is not about the dangers posed by collapsing biophysical systems, but the threat of environmentalism to the growth economy and capitalism’s continuing existence. An escalation of attempts to reinforce the status quo means more passive revolutions, orchestrated by the incumbent leaders of the capital accumulating systems, who adopt even the apparently radical discourses of urgency, emergency and crises. Calls for immediate action without direction play straight into the hands of those seeking to maintain their hegemonic economic and social power. Those seeking social ecological transformation increasingly face the stark choice of either conforming to or opposing the structures reproducing social, ecological and economic crises. The former promises a technological future dependent upon experts and the noblesse oblige of billionaires, corporate interests and their protectors. It offers those living well today the comforting vision of a system that maintains their position in an increasingly divided and divisive world. The papers in this issue of Environmental Values set out a range of ethical arguments and concerns that bring corporate capitalism into question or oppose it, and reflect upon ethical responses to its ongoing infliction of harm on the innocent. They make it clear that conformity to the system that produced the crisis will not deliver the necessary revolutionary social ecological transformation.

 

1. For example, in 2019 over 3000, mainly American, economists, including twenty-seven Sveriges Riksbank (‘Nobel’) Prize winners, endorsed a ‘carbon tax’ because ‘[s]ubstituting a price signal for cumbersome regulations will promote economic growth’. (Economists statement on carbon dividends. https://www.econstatement.org/ Accessed 7th May 2019.)

2. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/03/climate-strikes-greta-thunberg-calls-for-systemchange-not-climate-change-here-s-what-that-could-look-like

3. Report by think tank InfluenceMap ‘Big Oil’s Real Agenda on Climate Change’ cited by
Aronoff (2019)

4. https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/european-green-deal_en Accessed 11
January 2020.

5. https://www.unepfi.org/net-zero-alliance/ Accessed 11 January 2020.

6. ‘The highest emitting companies since 1988 that are investor-owned include: ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Chevron, Peabody, Total, and BHP Billiton. Key state-owned companies include Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, National Iranian Oil, Coal India, Pemex, and CNPC (PetroChina).’ (Griffin 2017: 8, emphasis original).

7. Kevin Anderson (2015: 899) notes that 344 of the 400 IPCC scenarios assume the successful and large-scale uptake of negative-emission technologies.

 

References

Anderson, K. 2015. ‘Duality in climate science’. Nature Geoscience 8 (12): 898–900.
Crossref

Aronoff, K. 2019. Don’t Be Fooled by Fossil Fuel Companies’ Green Exterior. Rolling Stone. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/dont-be-fooled-byfossil-fuel-companies-green-exterior-850285/ (accessed 22 January 2020).

Boscov-Ellen, D. 2020. ‘A responsibility to revolt? Climate ethics in the real world’. Environmental Values 29 (2): 153–174.

Cox, E., E. Spence and N. Pidgeon. 2020. ‘Incumbency, trust and the Monsanto effect: Stakeholder discourses on greenhouse gas removal’. Environmental Values 29 (2): 197–220.

Eversberg, D. and M. Schmelzer. 2018. ‘The degrowth spectrum: Convergence and divergence within a diverse and conflictual alliance’. Environmental Values 27 (3): 245–267. Crossref

Grasso, M. and K. Vladimirova. 2020. ‘A moral analysis of Carbon Majors’ role in climate change’. Environmental Values 29 (2): 175–195.

Griffin, P. 2017. ‘The Carbon Majors Database: CDP Carbon Majors Report 2017’. London: Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) UK.

Hoggett, P. and R. Randall. 2018. ‘Engaging with climate change: Comparing the cultures of science and activism’. Environmental Values 27 (3): 223–243. Crossref

Mancilla Garcia, M., T. Hertz and M. Schlüter. 2020. ‘Towards a process epistemology for the analysis of social-ecological systems’. Environmental Values 29 (2): 221–239.

Oreskes, N. and E. M. Conway. 2010. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press.

Paech, N. 2012. Liberation from Excess: The Road to a Post-Growth Economy. Munich: oekom verlag.

Paech, N. 2017. ‘Post-Growth Economics’. In C. L. Spash (ed), Routledge Handbook of Ecological Economics: Nature and Society, pp.477–486. Abingdon: Routledge.

Sayer, A. 1992. ‘Theory, observation and practical adequacy’. In A. Sayer (ed), Method in Social Science: A Realist Approach, pp.45–84. London: Routledge.

Schoppek, D. 2020. ‘How far is degrowth a really revolutionary counter movement to neoliberalism?’ Environmental Values 29 (2): 131–151.

Spash, C. L. 2010. ‘The brave new world of carbon trading’. New Political Economy 15 (2): 169–195. Crossref

Spash, C. L. 2011. ‘Terrible economics, ecosystems and banking’. Environmental Values 20 (2): 141–145. Crossref

Spash, C. L. 2018. ‘Facing the truth or living a lie: Conformity, radicalism and activism’. Environmental Values 27 (3): 215–222. Crossref

UNEP Finance Initiative. 2010. ‘Demystifying Materiality: Hardwiring Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services into Finance’. In CEO Briefing. Geneve: United Nations Environment Programme Finance Intiative.

UNEP Finance Initiative. 2020. ‘The Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance’. Geneve: United Nations Environment Programme Finance Intiative. unepfi.org/net-zero-alliance

2020 Spash Editorial EV

New Deal for Nature: Paying the Emperor to Fence the Wind

Counterpunch

 

 

The conservation industry says 2020 is its “super year.”[1] It wants to set aside thirty percent of the globe for wildlife, and divert billions of dollars away from reducing climate change and into “natural climate solutions.”[2] This would be a disaster for people and planet. Conservation was founded in the racist ideology of 1860s USA but it committed thirty years ago to becoming people-friendly. It hasn’t happened. There will be more promises now, if only to placate critics and funders like the U.S. and German governments, and the European Commission, which are paying for conservation’s land theft, murder and torture.[3] More promises will be meaningless. No more public money should go for “Protected Areas” until the conservation bodies recognize their crimes, get rid of those responsible, and hand stolen lands back, with compensation. Conservation NGOs must also stop cozying up to mining, logging, oil, and plantation companies.

 

 

The latest idea to be heavily promoted by big conservation NGOs is doubling the world’s so-called “Protected Areas” (PAs) so that they cover thirty percent of the globe’s lands and oceans. This is now their main rallying cry and response to two of the world’s biggest problems – climate chaos and loss of biodiversity. It sounds good: It’s easy to grasp and has numbers that are supposed to be measurable, and advertisers do love numbers.

What better answer to climate change and biodiversity loss than to ban human “interference” over huge areas? If, that is, you think “everybody” is guilty of causing both crises and that everything’s solved by keeping them away. The idea’s been around for years, but now governments and industries are promoting it to the tune of billions of dollars,[4] so it’ll be difficult to oppose. But it’s actually dangerous nonsense which would have exactly the reverse effect to what we’re told, and if we want to save our world, it must be stopped.

Let’s be clear that cutting destructive pollution globally is vital for the climate, and that stopping industrial exploitation of unspoiled areas is essential for the flora and fauna, and the physical and mental health of inhabitants and visitors. None of that is disputed, but these are not the arguments advanced for asserting the right of this “New Deal for Nature” to more taxpayers’ cash. It’s a marketing gimmick designed to funnel even more money to those who have for decades demonstrated their failure to mitigate either climate change or biodiversity loss.

Sept. 24, 2019: Tweet, Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International, New Deal For Nature event

 

Let’s assume they did succeed in putting so much territory “out of bounds.” As with the emperor in his new suit, it’s childishly obvious that this wouldn’t necessarily bring any reduction to climate chaos: That’s simply because it wouldn’t affect what happens in the remaining seventy percent of the world – where most pollution originates. If just as much pollution carries on outside, then it doesn’t matter what’s going on inside PAs, because they too depend on the world’s climate, and you can’t fence the wind. Without reducing industrial emissions globally, leaving existing forest intact or planting lots of trees just won’t be enough to solve the problem. Wreck the atmosphere – even from a tiny proportion of the Earth – and you wreck it everywhere.

Not for the first time, the “experts” are promoting a policy which a child can see is senseless, but if they tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.

What about the second claim, that more PAs are needed to ensure the protection of biodiversity? Everyone rightly wants more of that: The more diverse an ecosystem, the more likely it is to adapt and survive. “Biodiversity” means the enormous variety of life, and life forms are interconnected: They depend on each other. Where the flora and fauna is reduced to just a few species, there’s a domino effect that cuts the number still further.[5]

However obvious, it merits restating: To mix metaphors, when the domino becomes a snowball effect then ecosystems become deserts, even when visibly green. Oil palm plantations carved out of tropical forests are a famous example of lots of trees being planted in an area where biodiversity has been slashed to just a few species. Such plantations are effectively “green deserts.”

Putting the propaganda aside, it’s impossible to determine scientifically how effective PAs are for enhancing biodiversity. For example, a line drawn around a highly biodiverse area, which is then declared a national park, proves nothing about the park: The biodiversity was there in the first place. There is, however, considerable agreement about one thing, and it’s not that PAs are the solution at all.

It turns out that the most diversity is not found in areas where all human interference is banned, but actually the reverse – it’s found in places where tribal, indigenous, and other local, communities have stayed put and carried on doing what they’ve always been doing. It’s simply not true that everyone shares responsibility for biodiversity loss. Studies show that community-managed forests have less deforestation than inside PAs, and that “nature” is doing better in areas managed by indigenous peoples than elsewhere.[6] In places as different as Australia, Brazil, and Canada more diversity is found in indigenous territories than in PAs.[7] It seems clear that biological and human diversity are interlinked.

This is a key point which conservation NGOs haven’t wanted the public to know as they clamor for yet more cash: Areas managed by local people, especially if they’re indigenous, are much better than PAs imposed by outsiders. One study concluded, albeit limply, the “notion that indigenous reserves are less effective than parks… must be re-examined.”[8] You can say that again! They are already reckoned to contain no less than eighty percent of global species diversity. That’s the very reason conservationists want to take control of them. Indigenous peoples are now being victimized precisely because of their expertise in environmental stewardship.

Even where PAs are hyped as being about preserving iconic species, the evidence is mixed. For example, the former head of a conservation NGO thinks there could be more Indian tigers outside protected areas than inside. No one knows, but what’s certain is that when the British colonizers imprisoned the Waliangulu tribal elephant hunters in 1950s Kenya, elephant numbers did skyrocket, but only to plummet when the next drought hit and the herds proved too numerous for the environment. Thousands died of starvation, restoring a balance that the Waliangulu had achieved for generations or millennia. In South Africa, an average of nearly 600 elephants were culled every year from 1967 to 1996 (without publicity, to avoid upsetting conservation donors).[9] Banning traditional indigenous hunting generally harms biodiversity.

Protecting “nature” by fencing it off from the locals simply hasn’t worked. It doesn’t help that many PAs aren’t really protected at all. They include industrial exploitation – mining, logging, plantations, trophy hunting concessions, or extensive, usually high-end, tourist infrastructure – but that’s the reality. The locals are thrown out as the land is grabbed by one or other industry, partnering with one or other big conservation NGO.

Like it or not, many PAs are as much about stealing the land from local people to make someone else a profit as they are about conservation. The famous Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana is the second largest “game reserve” in the world but it’s also leased to mining exploration. There’s a diamond mine, with its roads and heavy machinery, where a tiny handful of the Bushmen who have lived there for generations are occasionally given menial jobs. (The government kicked them out until forced to backtrack by the high court.) As in almost all African PAs, wealthy tourists enjoy luxury accommodation inside the reserve. The man responsible for both the tourism and mine was the former president, General Ian Khama, a much-feted conservationist who was on the board of Conservation International.

This land theft is a problem for us all, and not only because the indigenous people are generally much better conservationists than “us”: Not surprisingly, the locals object when their land and self-sufficiency are looted for someone else’s gain, and their need for food, and sometimes their anger, translates into defying hunting bans (making them “poachers” for trying to feed their families), as well as taking action to recover their ancestral territory. For example, pastoralists whose herds are banned from private “conservancies” in East Africa are cutting the fences and going back in. They can be armed and violent clashes are increasing. Some researchers fear increasing bloodshed is inevitable[10] and the increasing militarization of conservation will just make things worse. Yet this is the model touted as the future of PAs, one supposedly enacted with the support of local communities (which is often a lie). They’re supported by the American NGO, The Nature Conservancy, and are largely profit-making investments aimed at wealthy companies and tourists. They’re now taking over huge areas of East Africa and beyond.

February 19, 2020

 

Just as Africans extricated themselves (at least, partly!) from European rule in the last century, they are unlikely to accede quietly to what is seen as more colonization, this time by conservationists. Unless things change, PAs in Africa will become real, not metaphorical, battlegrounds. Serious environmentalists know that you can’t have a PA for long if it’s surrounded by an angry population, yet conservation groups seem incapable of changing their practice. They exhort industry to become sustainable, while promoting their own model, which palpably isn’t.

WWF, for example, routinely violates human rights, the law and its own policies. It’s already spent millions of dollars illegally pushing for a new park in Congo, Messok Dja. The money comes from WWF itself and its accomplices, including a logging, oil palm, and luxury tourist company, as well as the Wildlife Conservation Society, the U.S. government, the EU, and the UN. As with the creation of almost all African PAs, the first step has been to kick out and terrorize the local Baka (so-called Pygmies) who’ve probably lived there for thousands of years, and who have adapted and sustainably managed their biodiverse-rich environment. Now they are kept out of their ancestral lands and terrorized, beaten and arrested if they return to seek traditional foods or plant medicines.

This is what the thirty percent of the globe taken for the New Deal for Nature will look like – a third of the globe stolen for profit. It’s a new colonialism, the world’s biggest land grab, supposedly “green” and supposedly to save the world – a really big lie. As Odette, a Baka woman from Congo, says of such imposed conservation projects which don’t work, “We’ve had enough of this talk of ‘boundaries’ in the forest. The forest is ours.”[11]

The last couple of generations has amply demonstrated that meetings of corporate heads, NGOs, politicians, and celebrities are not going to solve the crises of climate and biodiversity. Those attending are amongst the major contributors to the problems, and least willing to accept any change which might threaten their position. They argue over statements that no one actually applies, or even intends to, and which are replete with clauses ensuring “business as usual.” The meetings and declarations attract an enormous media circus, but are akin to the emperor’s workshop, with hundreds of tailors busily cutting suits of such rarefied material that they don’t cover his nakedness.

Youth exploitation is key to the goal of commodifying nature.

 

The real answers to the crises of climate and biodiversity lie in an inversion of the current approach, and a rejection of the New Deal for Nature and its failure to understand the relationship between indigenous peoples and nature. If we really want to save our world, then we have to start with the rich cutting their massive overconsumption. The wealthiest ten percent cause about half the world’s total pollution,[12] so they must work hardest to cut it. Both military conflict and the growth of information technology must be seen as the major polluters they are. The first is barely mentioned in climate activism, and the plan for the second is the exact opposite of what’s needed, with yet more energy-hungry “artificial intelligence” lined up to monitor our lives for the benefit of industry and state control.[13] If we’re going to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, we must also reduce dependence on “smart” tech, and we must accept the fact that real solutions aren’t found in marketing gimmicks like “net zero,” offsetting, carbon markets, or “pricing nature.” Real solutions are found with the local peoples that have successfully been creating and managing the world’s biodiversity since prehistory.

Humanity as a whole isn’t responsible for these problems, one particular sector is, and it’s same one coming up with the New Deal for Nature. Those promoting it want to dictate how the rest of the world should live, but they’re acting primarily for themselves. Banning human activity from yet more so-called “Protected Areas” is another manifestation of the hubris that got us into this mess in the first place. Local people – those who retain some self-sufficiency, common sense, and connection with their environment – remain the strongest backbone of humanity, even today. They have better answers than the conservation technocrats and other global elites who lack their perspective. Kicking even more of them out at best reduces them to landless poverty and at worst destroys them and the environment. It would be disastrous for everyone.

 

 

We should be respecting land rights and encouraging indigenous peoples and other local communities to remain where they are – if they wish – to carry on managing their lands in their own ways, and we must, above all, stop the theft of their territories for conservation. Those who want to, should be maintaining their self-sufficiency, not forced into global markets that profit the polluters more than anyone. We must “give” them back previously stolen lands, to manage themselves. We must listen to them rather than destroying them, as we are now.

Whether this happens remains to be seen. The few voices pointing out that the emperor has no clothes at all, are up against a deafening scream from conservation propagandists and mainstream media, baying that the New Deal for Nature is the perfect solution. Whose voice will prevail depends on people’s gullibility and ability to challenge both their own prejudices and powerful vested interests. It’s a real battle, and the outcome will determine how much more nature is stolen from this beautiful world we have helped create.

1) WWF Ecological. “2020: let’s put nature top of everybody’s to-do list.” Ecological.panda.org. April 20, 2018. (accessed 13/02/2020)

2) Tollefson, Jeff. “Global deal for nature’ fleshed out with specific conservation goals.” Nature, April 19, 2019. (accessed 13/02/2020)

3) Baker, Katie & Tom Warren. “The US Government Spent Millions Funding WWF-Backed Forces Accused Of Torture and Murder.” Buzzfeed News, September 24, 2019. (accessed 13/02/2020); Baker, Katie & Tom Warren. “WWF Says Indigenous People Want This Park. An Internal Report Says Some Fear Forest Ranger “Repression.” Buzzfeed News, March 8, 2019. (accessed 13/02/2020)

4) The estimate for the total global ecosystem services in 2011 is $125 trillion/yr

Costanza, Robert, Rudolf De Groot, Paul Sutton, Sander Van der Ploeg, Sharolyn J. Anderson, Ida Kubiszewski, Stephen Farber, and R. Kerry Turner. “Changes in the global value of ecosystem services.” Global environmental change 26 (2014): 152-158. (accessed 13/02/2020)

5) Carrington, Damian. “What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?The Guardian, March 12, 2018. (accessed 13/02/2020)

6) Porter-Bolland, Luciana, Edward A. Ellis, Manuel R. Guariguata, Isabel Ruiz-Mallén, Simoneta Negrete-Yankelevich, and Victoria Reyes-García. “Community managed forests and forest protected areas: An assessment of their conservation effectiveness across the tropics.” Forest ecology and management 268 (2012): 6-17

7) The study measured vertebrate animal diversity only.

Schuster et al, 2019, Vertebrate biodiversity on indigenous-managed lands in Australia, Brazil, and Canada equals that in protected areas, Environmental Science & Policy Volume 101, November 2019, Pages 1-6

8) Woods Hole Research Center. “Satellites Show Amazon Parks, Indigenous Reserves Stop Forest Clearing.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060126200147.htm (accessed February 13, 2020).

9) Dickson, Paul, and William M. Adams. “Science and uncertainty in South Africa’s elephant culling debate.” Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 27, no. 1 (2009): 110-123.

10) Letiwa, Paul. “Herders protest as wildlife conservancies drive them out.” The Daily Nation, August 18, 2019. (accessed February 13, 2020).

11) Survival International. “We’ve had enough of this talk of ‘boundaries’ in the forest.” YouTube video, 01:00. 4 Jan 2019. (accessed February 13, 2020).

12) Gore, Timothy. Extreme Carbon Inequality. London: Oxfam. Dec 2, 2015. (The report can be found in Spanish and French at https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/extreme-carbon-inequality) (accessed February 13, 2020).

13) See: Lu, Donna. “Creating an AI can be five times worse for the planet than a car.” New Scientist, June 6, 2019. (accessed February 13, 2020).

Berners-Lee, Mike and Duncan Clark. “What’s the carbon footprint of … email?The Guardian, Oct 21, 2010. (accessed February 13, 2020).

[Stephen Corry has worked with Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights, since 1972. The not-for-profit has a San Francisco office. Its public campaign to change conservation can be joined at www.survivalinternational.org/conservation. This is one of a series of articles on the problem.]

Greta Is Our MLK. That’s Not Necessarily a  Good Thing.

Greta Is Our MLK. That’s Not Necessarily a Good Thing.

Diversity of Tactics

January 21, 2020

B

 

 

Above: Arnold Schwarzenegger and Greta Thunberg in Austria, May 2019

In September of last year, a young girl stood in a Washington DC congressional building to give a speech. Audaciously, she professed to follow in the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famed address to the March on Washington in 1963. “I also have a dream,” she intoned, “that governments, political parties and corporations grasp the urgency of the climate and ecological crisis and come together despite their differences…I have a dream that the people in power, as well as the media, start treating this crisis like the existential emergency it is.”

Greta Thunberg may not be an orator on the level of Dr. King, but there is something undeniably compelling about her. She’s an appropriate celebrity for the era of Bernie Sanders, where a lack of traditional charisma connotes authenticity. More importantly, the content of her speech was both learned and thoughtful, touching on everything from the techno-optimism of both the left and right, to the looming 12 year deadline to cut emissions to pre-industrial levels, to nasty “non-linear effects” which could hit us even before that deadline, to a global “climate justice” paradigm that recognizes the greater obligation that wealthy Americans have to solve the problem.

Legitimate criticism of Thunberg seems as unthinkable as criticism of Martin Luther King. One group of prominent supporters recently called her “unimpeachable” on all levels. Attacks are expected from the far-right of course—Indeed, another reason that Greta and MLK both draw immediate solidarity from progressives is the sense of protectiveness which they inspire. Thunberg has had to contend with crude jibes about her autism and inexperience. Dr. King faced slander, blackmail, and repeated threats on his life.

And yet Greta, like MLK, has prompted that unthinkable: Criticism from the political left which questions the soundness her methods and effect on the movement. As with King, Thunberg acolytes have attributed these critiques to jealousy, bigotry, vested interests, and even proto-fascism. Yet many harsh critics of Dr. King—Ella Baker, Malcolm X, Gloria Richardson, James Forman and others—were just as dedicated to social justice as he was, and took similar risks in their activism. Further complicating the narrative is that movement historians have studied the criticisms leveled at MLK by his colleagues and found many if not most of them to be legitimate. With that in mind, leftward salvos at Thunberg need to be taken seriously as well.

One of the recurring claims about both King and Thunberg is that they were aligned from an early stage with elite interests who were working against the activists’ own cause. Veteran civil rights organizer Ella Baker criticized MLK for being a corporate media darling who distorted both the image and goals of the movement. When she left a position at Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference (which she had helped found) to create a new group, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), she warned fellow activists about the phenomenon of the “charismatic leader…It usually means the media made him, and the media may undo him…such a person gets to the point of believing that he is the movement.”

There is nothing in Ella Baker’s critique of King that’s particularly exaggerated. In January 1957, when King had only been an activist for a year and a half, he was contacted by Clare Booth Luce, conservative mogul of the Time magazine empire, and offered a cover story. According to King biographer Taylor Branch, Luce rescued King from a state of “helplessness”. In the aftermath of the famous bus boycott and its apparent victory, the City of Montgomery had shut down all bus lines after the Ku Klux Klan began shooting at black passengers, and commenced to enact a whole new wave of segregation laws—an early manifestation of the Dixiecrats’ “Massive Resistance” campaign which blocked King’s nonviolent movement throughout the late fifties. Luce, who was also US Ambassador to Italy, was explicit that she wanted to show off King, at the height of the Cold War, to a skeptical global public who doubted that there was hope for racial progress in America.

Greta-A Schwarzenegger

Similarly, Greta Thunberg has been criticized for her comfortable relationship with the very decision-making class whom she pillories. Thunberg has repeatedly met with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the ardently green capitalist former governor of California. Arnold championed the state’s carbon cap-and-trade scheme, which ProPublica has exposed asallowing California’s biggest polluters to conduct business as usual and even increase their emissions.” Schwarzenegger’s entire record on the climate crisis has been one of empty promises—precisely the sort of empty promises Greta Thunberg claims she is here to confront. The young Swede’s carefully arranged meeting with Barack Obama isn’t any more reassuring. In several speeches Thunberg has rightly thrown shade at “economic growth” as a hinderance, not a help, to a climate stability. But not only is Obama a booster of capitalist growth, he is an unrepentant booster of fossil fuel extraction. “[US oil] production went up every year I was in office,” Obama boasted to a university audience less than a year before meeting Thunberg. “Suddenly America is the largest producer of oil! That was me, people.” The Environmental Integrity Project has reported that this oil and gas boom eliminates all of the net emission reductions which had been achieved through US coal plant closings. Greta declared she didn’t want any more pacifying doses of political “hope”, yet she’s embraced the most slippery merchant of hope in modern political history.

In his lifetime, Martin Luther King ‘s alliance with Nelson Rockefeller, one of his top funders, was often looked upon dimly. As Timothy Tyson demonstrated in his classic book Radio Free Dixie, Rockefeller and King worked in concert to suppress the radical but popular North Carolina leader Robert F. Williams, who advocated for armed self-defense against the KKK. King once claimed that Governor Rockefeller had ‘‘a real grasp and understanding of what the Negro revolution is all about, and a commitment to its goals.’’ The governor’s subsequent order of the worst state massacre of African-Americans in US history at Attica prison (“a beautiful operation” Rockefeller later boasted to Richard Nixon) and his authorship of some of the most racist drug laws in the country (a blueprint for the New Jim Crow) revealed a different agenda.

Rockefeller MLK large

During this time of year, the left often praises King for his anti-capitalism, but history shows that MLK’s turn to radicalism was hard won. “In some ways,” Michael Eric Dyson has written, “King’s change was even more startling and consequential than Malcolm X’s…what is little appreciated is how…an element of Malcolm’s thinking got its hooks into King.” Pre-1965, King was a public supporter of US foreign policy and capitalism who preferred to rely on traditional political maneuvers, even as he supposedly represented a movement built on direct action (MLK scholar Clayborne Carson notes that the reverend did not initiate the bus boycott, the sit-ins, or the Freedom Rides, and only participated in them reluctantly). This gradually changed due to relentless criticism and pressure put on King by militant activists associated with SNCC.  “His antiwar activity was motivated as much by moral and political pressure from key black colleagues as by conscience and commitment to nonviolence,” notes Dyson. King’s moderate tendencies had come from his association with Rockefeller and other One Percenters, who were supporters of the Vietnam War. One scholar does credit “King’s deft leveraging of power” in the relationship, but also notes that Rockefeller leveraged MLK expertly for political capital.

Leveraging political capital explains much about Greta Thunberg’s counterintuitive relationship with the World Economic Forum. Greta, of course, made a famous “impromptu” speech to the WEF meeting in Davos, Switzerland on January 24, 2019. She was credited by many commenters with making oligarchs feel “uncomfortable” by calling out people who are “making unimaginable amounts of money” from the destruction of the climate. Yet there’s substantial evidence that the Forum establishment wasn’t made uncomfortable at all, but welcomed the spectacle of dissent: A full day before Thunberg’s speech, the WEF was promoting a video of her speaking essentially the same words on their Twitter feed. In the months since, the WEF has not only not blacklisted the activist, but has praised her and welcomed her back.

Why would the World Economic Forum accept such a critique of itself? Because youthful, angry dissent against 21st century capitalism was not pioneered by Greta Thunberg. Indeed, in comparison with the riotous blockades that progressives and anarchists once launched against the WEF, being scolded by a lone 16 year old was a veritable picnic. “Swiss police have mounted their biggest security operation in decades to try to prevent protesters from disrupting the conference.” reported the Los Angeles Times in January 2001. “Four cars were set on fire during protests in Zurich by up to 1,000 demonstrators after many were prevented by police from traveling to Davos. Police responded by firing tear gas and rubber pellets.” The goal of these protests was abolition, not institutional reform: their slogan was “Wipe out the WEF!” European street militancy declined in the post-9-11 years, but has more recently surged again, including in relation to environmentalism. The 2015 Paris climate summit saw hundreds of green insurgents try to storm the conference area, even after a a state of emergency was imposed on the city. The upcoming generation of climate radicals will be diverted from taking such direct action however—Greta is already at the conferences to represent them. Within the overall context of the climate movement (which includes long-term blockades at Standing Rock and Unist’ot’en British Columbia, as well as insurrections against capital) even Thunberg’s “Friday for Future” strikes represent a clear de-escalation; a step forward only if you value quantity above quality.

Much as Nelson Rockefeller sought to “save capitalism by softening its sharpest edges”, the founder of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, is now in the process of rebranding the earth-devouring global economy as “Stakeholder Capitalism.” According WEF documents, Schwab has had this agenda in place since the first Davos meeting in 1971, but he explicitly attributes its recent advance to what he calls the “Greta Thunberg effect.”

While J. Edgar Hoover and the far-right wielded the stick of the Red Scare against the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the center-right of Rockefeller and other foundation oligarchs wielded the carrot of patronage for MLK. Yet the reform proffered by One Percent is not an alternative to revolution—It’s an antidote to it. As in Dr. King’s era, the establishment is now in full co-optation mode: One half of the elite is pushing against change, while the other half—again led by Rockefeller progeny, who fund Greta allies such as the group 350.org—is pushing for it. But despite the rhetoric, it’s only change on capitalist terms. It will take ruthless criticism of those charismatic leaders held up to represent us if we wish to correct the ship towards true revolt and true justice.

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