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Whiteness & Aversive Racism

WATCH: The White Helmets – Al Qaeda With a Facelift

Hands off Syria

“‘The White Helmets’, fake ‘Syrian humanitarian group, exposed as an al Qaeda support group headed by a British military man and funded by the US Government. Short documentary by Steve Ezzedine, drawing on research by Vanessa Beeley.”[Video published April 29, 2016]

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

August 16, 2016

By Cory Morningstar

 

manipulated youth 2

50 Million Shades of Grey

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

In 2007, Bill McKibben launched the national ‘Step It Up’ campaign (Clinton Global Initiative Commitment 2007) targeting members of the U.S. congress to be ‘real leaders’ on climate change. Presidential candidates including then senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton attended Step It Up events and issued statements of support for the goals put forward by the newly developed NGO 1Sky. Step it Up then morphed into 1Sky. 1Sky was an incubator project of the Rockefeller Foundation at its inception. [Further reading: Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New 350.org | More $ – More Delusion] At the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative, then President Bill Clinton announced the 1Sky campaign. [Video, September 29, 2007: 1Sky at Clinton Global Initiative published by Step It Up]

“Working with partners 1Sky will raise $50 million to advocate for a simple set of goals and policy proposals to improve the federal government’s policies on climate change.” — Clinton Foundation Press Release, Sept 27, 2007

 

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

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

Power Shift 2007 Clinton Foundation

Manufacturing Pragmatism

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

step-it-up 2007 poster _240t

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

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

 

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

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

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

powershift 2007

Above: 2007 Power Shift poster

jessie tolkan clinton

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

global power shift flyer-en

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Activist” Clearing Houses

Green Corps:

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

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

Tides: The Opportunity Agenda:

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

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

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

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

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

Bower Youth Awards:

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

May Boeve Vouge

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

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Above: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio (C) poses for a photo with May Boeve, executive director of 350.org (L) and Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. (R) following a Divest-Invest new conference on September 22, 2015 in New York City. “In this, these markets of emotion and care come into their own: celebritis politicus is used to sell causes, contributions, concerns and socially responsible consumerism through a competitive market for poverty and enviro-tainment designed to develop, capture, and ‘use’ the fans of this poverty and enviro-tainment towards progressive ends.” — Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times, 2013 [Further reading: McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XIII of an Investigative Report] [The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

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

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

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

Parish & Rosen

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

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

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

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

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

The Green Game

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

Parish Ruffalo Green Game

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mosaic’s Green Game Players

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

put-solar-on-it- Mosaic

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

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

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

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

Talison Lithium’s Greenbushes Lithium Operations, Australia

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

lithium mining chile 2

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

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

Business As Usual Photo Gallery

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

 Parish & McKibben 2013

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

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

Mosaic McDonalds

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

Mosaic Militarism

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

 

Addendum

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

Mosaic Savings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enlighten Solar Report January 2016

My monthly report from January 2016.

Enlighten Solar Report July 2015

My monthly report for July of 2015.

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

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

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

End.

 

Morningstar bungalow

 Morningstar Bungalow Circa 2014

 

Endnotes:

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

 

Oil, Contact, and Conservation in the Amazon: Indigenous Huaorani, Chevron, and Yasuni

CUNY Queens College, Department of Political Science and Environmental Studies Program

January 10, 2013

by Judith Kimerling

Colorado Journal of International Environmental Law and Policy, Vol. 24, No. 1, 2013

Eye On Amazon Watch

Image courtesy of Eye on Amazon Watch

Abstract:

Texaco’s discovery of commercially valuable oil in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador ignited an oil rush that made the conquest of Amazonia a national policy imperative. Texaco (now Chevron), Ecuador, and missionaries from the Summer Institute of Linguistics carried out a campaign to “contact” and pacify Indigenous Huaorani (Waorani) who lived in areas slated for oil development. Chevron’s operations also caused massive environmental damage which led to the ongoing, and increasingly complex, litigation now known as “the Chevron Ecuador Litigation.” This Article begins with a brief review of events leading to the litigation and an analysis of petroleum policy, Amazon and indigenous lands rights policy, and environmental protection policy in Ecuador. A discussion of the litigation (in the United States, Ecuador and the Hague) follows. Recent developments in the litigation are shifting much of the focus of the legal and political contest from allegations about Chevron’s misconduct to allegations of misconduct by the lawyers and activists who manage the litigation in Ecuador, and have eclipsed the situation on the ground, where environmental conditions continue to deteriorate and peoples’ rights are still being violated. The Article then examines the situation of the Huaorani who are struggling to survive and protect what remains of their ancestral territory in Yasuni National Park and the Tagaeri-Taromenane Intangible Zone. It includes a discussion of the gap between promises in the law and the reality on the ground, and ways in which conservation bureaucracies and NGOs are also violating the rights the Huaorani and posing new threats to Huaorani territory and self-determination.

Download the paper: SSRN-id2332782

Update via TeleSUR, August 8, 2016: US Court Rules in Favor of Chevron in Ecuador Pollution Case

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/US-Court-Rules-in-Favor-of-Chevron-in-Case-Against-Ecuador-20160808-0009.html

Press Conference: Bashar Ja’afari (Syria) and US Peace Council Representatives on Syria

UN Web TV

9 Aug 2016 – Press briefing sponsored by the Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic

Speakers:

H.E. Bashar Ja’afari, Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic
Alfred Marder, President of the US Peace Council
Mary Compton, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council
Henry Lowendorf, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council, Head of the Syria Delegation
Joe Jamison, Member of the Executive Board of the US Peace Council, Member of the Syria Delegation
Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director of New Jersey Peace Action, Member of the Syria Delegation
Donna Nassor, Professor and Lawyer also part of US Peace Council

Syrian TV interviews U.S. Peace Council Delegation members, Henry Lowendorf and Vanessa Beeley, about their impressions of their trip to Syria on July 23 – 30, 2016.

Liberal Antiwar Activism is the Problem

Counterpunch

August 5, 2016

shutterstock_768877

“Liberalism itself has failed, and for a pretty good reason. It has been too often compromised by the people who represented it.”

? Hunter S. Thompson

Every election season, veterans and their families are used as political pawns. During the Democratic National Convention in Philly, the Khans, the mother and father of a Marine Captain who was killed in Iraq, conveniently filled the role for Hillary Clinton and the Neoliberals. At the Republican National Convention, Patricia Smith gladly took the stage for the Neofascists and talked about the death of her son and the non-scandal that is, Benghazi.

In the meantime, anyone who opposes U.S. Empire is shit-out-of-luck when it comes to presidential elections and the two major parties. Here, we should commend Gary Johnson and Jill Stein for remaining principled in their views surrounding foreign policy, militarism, torture and surveillance. They’re the last of a dying breed.

***

My transition from obedient Marine to antiwar veteran was swift. In 2004, while deployed to Iraq, I enthusiastically cast an absentee ballot for John Kerry. Four years later, I was protesting Obama and the Democrats at the DNC in Denver. It didn’t take long to figure out that the Democratic Party was a party of Empire and Capitalism.

Unfortunately, 2008 was the last time a significant number of antiwar activists protested Obama’s foreign policy. Yes, a small number of Americans made a fuss when Obama first threatened to bomb Syria, but those protests were driven by partisan and sectarian interests (the first and only time I saw Republicans and Communists working together). Furthermore, those protests weren’t sustained in any meaningful fashion, so the energy quickly dissipated. As everyone now knows, Obama eventually launched military strikes in Syria and the U.S. continues to bomb the country today.

The millions of liberals who enthusiastically marched against the Bush/Cheney regime have remained utterly silent during Obama’s reign in the White House. And they should be ashamed.

***

Why are liberals and progressives so unprincipled when it comes to U.S. Empire? In my thinking, a large part of the problem is ideological: the majority of liberals and progressives, including many who supported Bernie Sanders, fully identify as Americans. They’ve bought into the notion that the U.S. is a special nation that enjoys a special place in our geopolitical reality. Liberals perpetuate the myth of American Exceptionalism and fully endorse the concept of American Nationalism. As a result, these ideologies are employed in their rhetoric and reflected in their bankrupt policies.

In the future, any antiwar movement that hopes to be successful, must undoubtedly challenge these myths and ideologies and remind Americans of our brutal history. When I think of American Exceptionalism, I don’t think about the moon landing or the U.S. Constitution, I think of exceptional madness: the genocide of North America’s indigenous population, slavery and 200 years of Empire.

When I see an American flag, my blood boils. Technically, I’m an American. But I don’t self-identify as an American. I’d rather identify as a global citizen or simply a human being. Maybe some of this sounds petty, as the flag is simply the symbolic representation of U.S. Empire, but to me, and many millions around the globe, it represents murder, plunder and extreme hubris. Again, nothing to be proud of, and surely nothing to defend.

***

Another fundamental problem in the antiwar movement was individual careerist interests. Let’s be honest, many people failed to protest Obama’s militarism because it wasn’t economically prudent to do so. In short, it was bad for peoples’ potential careers in the world of non-profits. Many of the veterans and antiwar activists I met during the Bush-era now work for any number of liberal NGOs. The revolving door of professional activists and paid consultants dampened any potential radicalism that could have sprouted from any number of organizations we worked with. We were told, “Don’t offend the donors!”

Eventually, I sat on the board of directors of an internationally known antiwar organization. I remember having a conversation with my fellow board members about fundraising. At the time, we were having financial difficulties and donations were sparse. Consequently, the board decided that we should conduct a fluff, top-down campaign to attract funding. Instead, I proposed that we should call our donors and explain that the antiwar movement has disappeared and that we’re having difficulties keeping members active and engaged. You know, the truth. I was told that’s not how NGOs work and that I was immature and uneducated about the topic. You know, just another working-class buffoon.

Today, that organization is a shell of its former self. Hell, I’m not sure if the organization even exists outside of a few art projects and street theater performances. Conventions are held, but they’re no more substantive than a high school reunion. It’s sad and unfortunate.

I don’t recall these memories or provide these reflections with any pleasure. To be honest, it breaks my heart that this is the state of the antiwar movement. Peoples’ lives around the world depend on those of us in the U.S. to create movements capable of stopping Uncle Sam’s imperial madness. So far, we’re losing. And in many ways, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

***

I live in a Rust Belt town in Northwest Indiana, hence most of the people I interact with on a daily basis are not radical activists or political organizers. These folks might attend a local political or cultural event, or even vote in the primaries, but they’re not full-time activists. They don’t spend their days reading Tariq Ali and Arundhati Roy (though they should). These are people who wake up (early), go to work (usually for shit pay), come home (if they have one), eat some dinner (usually fast food or frozen meals) and watch Netflix or ESPN. Their realities and interests are dramatically different than the people I met in the antiwar movement, particularly those working for NGOs.

Several years ago, at a strategic workshop in Chicago, we spent the first two hours of each day talking about pronouns. That’s right, pronouns. Now, is there anything inherently wrong with discussing gender identities? Of course not. But we were attending a strategic workshop for an antiwar organization, not a lecture on gender and civility.

It became clear to me that Identity Politics had infected the organization. But where did this ideology come from? San Francisco, of course.

Many of our members attended anti-oppression workshops, where they talked about privilege and collective liberation. Of course, 95% of the people conducting and attending these workshops were white, upper-class, highly educated and firmly isolated from reality. Yet, here they were,back in Chicago, telling me about privilege and questioning whether or not I was truly a good person because I didn’t understand what cis-gender meant.

If anyone reading this essay ever wondered why more working-class and poor people don’t join antiwar organizations or attend leftist political events, well, now you know. Because the Left is a fucking weird place.

Instead of educating people about the connections between militarism and austerity, Empire and Capitalism, workshop facilitators had people talking about pronouns and doing breathing exercises. I guess that sort of shit might fly in Portland or San Francisco, but not in the Rust Belt.

***

Speaking of the privileged and highly educated, isn’t it interesting that the people who argue for interventionist policies are often people who have the proper educational and cultural pedigree? Here, I’m thinking of the Rachel Maddows and Charlie Roses of the world.

The Humanitarian Interventionist isn’t a steelworker or a bartender at the local pub. Why? Because that bartender or steelworker’s son or daughter could very well end up fighting those interventionist wars abroad. They have some skin in the game, unlike the many professional-class liberals and societal managers who make absurd arguments about the merits of American Exceptionalism and hegemony.

One of the more interesting dynamics of the 2016 race has been Trump’s double-speak on foreign policy. On the one hand, Trump makes absolutely insane statements about nuclear weapons and so forth. On the other hand, Trump occasionally sounds like an isolationist and/or anti-interventionist.

Now, do I believe a word Trump utters? No. But what’s interesting is the fact that large portions of the GOP base, primarily white, working-class and poor people, are no longer buying what Uncle Sam is selling. Their sons and daughters have been ravaged from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with more veterans committing suicide than died overseas. The people who live in Small Town America are the Americans who’ve sacrificed the most since 9/11. And for all the wrong reasons: namely, nationalism, revenge, greed and power.

To me, this antiwar sentiment, however jumbled, unprincipled and unsophisticated it may be, is something to tap into. Without question, large swaths of the American public, especially Sanders and Trump’s supporters, are fatigued from almost fifteen years of non-stop war.

The next step is to use this sentiment to organize and mobilize a new antiwar movement. The only way this will happen is if the Left drops its pretentious bullshit and learns how to talk to regular Americans without getting offended. And that includes some of Trump’s supporters.

***

While the most Americans were focused on the Khan family and Donald Trump’s inability to keep his mouth shut, Obama launched his latest attack in Libya. The White House claims the U.S. will regularly drop bombs for the next month. Unsurprisingly, there was no debate, no congressional approval. The U.S. is bombing Libya and there’s nothing anyone can say or do about it. That’s the sad reality we endure.

Meanwhile, groups such as Vets vs. Hate, and opportunistic liberals, protest Trump’s bigotry but remain utterly silent when it comes to Obama and Clinton’s many war crimes and atrocities. Liberal groups have little to say about the links between U.S. Empire and Climate Change. Refugees aren’t even mentioned. Afghanistan is an afterthought. Libya and Syria might as well not exist. And not a word about civilian casualties.

Moreover, Vets vs. Hate reinforces the false notion that veterans are heroes. Yes, plenty of veterans sacrificed, but not for “democracy” or “freedom.” We killed and died for oil companies, geopolitical interests and banks. And the Democrats share as much responsibility as the Republicans.

The U.S. is the richest and most powerful Empire in history. And for the last 50 years we’ve been killing peasants around the globe. That’s honorable?

In the end, people who want to dismantle the U.S. Empire – Libertarians, Greens, Socialists, Communists, Anarchists – had better get our shit together, drop the sectarian nonsense, find our courage and form organizations that aren’t beholden to wealthy donors or the NGO complex because we’re running out of time. And neither the planet, nor humanity can endure another decade of liberal antiwar activism.

[Vincent Emanuele writes for teleSUR English and lives in Michigan City, Indiana. He can be reached at vincent.emanuele333@gmail.com ]

Indeed, Western Civilization is in a War

July 20, 2016

By Gerald A. Perreira

libya before and after

Republican, Newt Gingrich, long known for his fascistic views, recently declared that “Western Civilization is in a war”. Truth be told, he is on solid ground. Indeed, Western Civilization is in a war, a war that has been raging since its inception. It has been at war with itself and with the entire non-European world for centuries. Long before anyone heard of Jihadists, Al-Qaeda and ISIL, Western Civilization was at war. Long before Osama Bin Ladin in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Muammar Qaddafi in Libya or Bashar al Assad in Syria, Western Civilization was at war with the entire rest of the world. Western Civilization has mastered the art and technology of warfare. They are the quintessential warlords, despite the fact that they love to attribute this term to non-European leaders, especially Africans. There is no civilization on the face of this earth that has waged war more relentlessly and permanently than Western Civilization – this is not opinion, it is an indisputable historical fact.

European Tribal Wars

Newt Gingrich and his kind need to be reminded of the Hundred-Year’s War (1337 – 1453). This was a European tribal war primarily between the French and the English, with various other European tribes supporting either side. The Hundred Years War claimed the lives of an estimated 3.5 million people. Then there was the Thirty Year’s War (1618 – 1648) involving the majority of European nations. Military historians estimate the death-toll to be at least 8 million. Then we had the two great European tribal wars, erroneously referred to as World War 1 and World War 2, in which the colonized were roped in to fighting alongside the various North Atlantic Tribes. Sadly today, many of us are still fighting on the side of the various North Atlantic Tribes to further the aims of Empire and in the process subjugate and destroy our own peoples. So-called World War 1 claimed the lives of 38 million people, while the other so-called World War – one of Europe’s most genocidal tribal wars left more than 60 million dead.

The West turns on the Rest

After bleeding themselves for centuries, and committing genocide on their own people, they turned on the Indigenous peoples throughout the world committing an unprecedented act of genocide, and then instigated the horrific Trans-Atlantic trade in captured Africans, resulting in the death of untold millions of Africans. This was a war like no other – a war that is still raging on the streets of every town and city in modern day USA, where the descendants of those captured Africans are routinely gunned down by the police in the streets. This year alone, US police have killed at least 136 Africans, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being the latest victims. In 2012, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement released a report titled: Operation Ghetto Storm in which they documented the fact that every 28 hours in 2012 someone employed or protected by the US government killed a Black man, woman or child. This is none other than a war being waged by white corporate America and its racist institutions on the poor and disenfranchised. Following the fatal shooting of 5 police officers in Dallas, Texas on July 7th, President Obama had this to say:

“there’s been a vicious, calculated and despicable attack on law enforcement… I believe that I speak for every single American when I say that we are horrified over these events, and that we stand united with people and the police department in Dallas.”

Despite the fact that many of the Africans shot by police in the US have been executed at point blank range, and that a recent victim, Tamir Rice was only 12 years old when he was shot to death in a playground, no US president, including Obama, has ever spoken about the killing of Africans in America in this tone, using appropriately harsh words.

And when 3 more police officers were shot and killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on July 17th, President Obama had this to say:

“I condemn, in the strongest sense of the word, the attack on law enforcement in Baton Rouge. For the second time in two weeks, police officers who put their lives on the line for ours every day were doing their job when they were killed in a cowardly and reprehensible assault. These are attacks on public servants, on the rule of law, and on civilized society, and they have to stop…And make no mistake – justice will be done.

We may not yet know the motives for this attack, but I want to be clear: there is no justification for violence against law enforcement. None… These attacks are the work of cowards who speak for no one. They right no wrongs. They advance no causes. The officers in Baton Rouge; the officers in Dallas – they were our fellow Americans, part of our community, part of our country, with people who loved and needed them, and who need us now – all of us – to be at our best.”

Anyone reading these statements can see that Barack Obama is clear about whose side he is on in this war. In the face of the horrific statistics regarding the number of Africans shot this year alone by police, let alone decades of police brutality and murder directed against African communities throughout the US, Obama deliberately fails to connect the dots. He dare not. As the Black face of White Supremacy and Western Civilization’s ongoing war, this White House Negro better keep his story straight and keep to his script.

Barack Obama chalks up Major Victory

After all, during his presidency he chalked up a victory for Western Civilization’s war that compares with few others. He authorized and colluded in the brutal murder of Muammar Qaddafi, one of Africa’s finest leaders. He joined with his Western European allies to destroy Africa’s most prosperous country, in a bid to prevent Libya from leading the entire continent to its long awaited destination of a United States of Africa. This was a huge moment for Western Civilization’s war effort, since a United States of Africa, with its own currency, backed by its own gold, would have definitely humbled Western Civilization. It would have brought about a cataclysmic shift in global power relations which is why Muammar Qaddafi was targeted for annihilation.

‘The Returnees’

The two men accused of the police shootings following the killing of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were both ‘returnees’. Micah Johnson was a 25 year old former US Army reservist who had served in Afghanistan, and Gavin Long was a 29-year-old Marine Corps veteran who had served in Iraq. Long received several awards, including the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Navy Unit Commendation Medal. These two young men were trained to be killers in the ongoing, never ending war waged by Western Civilization. Obama needs to tell us: When US forces bomb wedding parties in Afghanistan and entire apartment blocks in Iraq, killing and maiming men, women, children and the elderly – are these attacks not the work of cowards who speak for no one? Have these wars, waged by Western Civilization righted any wrongs? What causes have been advanced by the unleashing of unimaginable terror and genocide on the populations of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria to name just a few of the most recent targets of Western Civilization’s ongoing war.

We need to remind Newt Gingrich that those who he charges with the crime of waging war on Western Civilization –‘ the terrorists’ and so-called ‘Jihadists’ – were and continue to be organized, trained, armed and financed by Western Civilization’s intelligence agencies and the intelligence agencies of their allies – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Pakistan. Let us not forget that Ronald Reagan referred to the ‘jihadists’ who were fighting the Soviet troops in Afghanistan at that time, as freedom fighters. In fact, it was Ronald Reagan who popularized the concept of Jihad in western political circles. These same jihadists were the forerunners of Al Qaeda and ISIL and have been used and manipulated by Western Civilization’s intelligence agencies to fight a number of their dirty wars, leaving behind nothing but mayhem and destruction.

After the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, the Arabs who fought with the Afghan mujahideen, all of whom were supported and armed by Western Civilization’s various agencies, returned to their respective countries. Armed with their reactionary Wahhabi ideology they launched ‘jihad’ against what they referred to as ‘secular’ regimes. The same regimes that the ‘Jihadists’ saw as ‘secular’ were nationalist regimes, that each, in their own way, opposed Western Civilization’s domination of their country and the region. Western Civilization’s warlords and generals were quick to realize that they could continue their infiltration and manipulation of these groups of ‘jihadists’ to further the aims and objectives of Western Civilization’s Empire. After all, Al Qaeda means the base and refers to the original database created by the CIA when they were backing these so-called jihadists in Afghanistan. It was their base and they had full access to it.

No meaningful analysis can be made of events taking place in 2016 if we do not have knowledge of the past. We must research and study ‘His-Story’ and ‘Our-Story’, in order to be able to devise an effective strategy of resistance. As military strategist and philosopher, Sun Tzu counsels:

“If you know the enemy and you know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and you know Earth, you may make your victory complete.”

Who is to blame?

Newt Gingrich was certainly right – Western Civilization is in a war. What he failed to point out is that every aspect of this war, this global terror and nihilistic violence we are confronted with in 2016 was spawned by Western Civilization’s agenda for global domination. We must remain focused on the real enemy despite the daily bombardment we receive from Western Civilization’s corporate media about the new bogyman. The creation of bogeymen is a strategy they have used since the beginning of their onslaught to distract us from the real enemy – themselves. It would be comical if it wasn’t so tragic to watch on as they attempt to portray Russia and Vladimir Putin as the new evil. I suspect that in the age of the internet, even those who in the past absorbed Western Civilization’s propaganda as if it was gospel truth, are growing weary.

Following is an excerpt from Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025? The book was written by populist conservative, Pat Buchanan. Unlike politically correct liberals, likes of Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton, who never tell it like it is, but rather weave a deceptive narrative to further Western Civilization’s prolonged war; and the likes of Newt Gingrich and his gang who like to throw around words and concepts without having any knowledge whatsoever of the history of Western Civilization; Pat Buchanan, although a staunch defender of Western Civilization, is courageous enough to lay the blame where it rightfully belongs. Perhaps his honesty is motivated by his understanding that the very survival of Western Civilization is in jeopardy if it continues on its present trajectory. In his words:

“We fail to understand what motivated our attackers. They did not come to kill us because they abhor our Constitution, or wish to impose Sharia on Oklahoma. They were over here because we are over there. They came to kill us in our country because we will not get out of their countries. Terrorism is the weapon of the weak who wish to be rid of foreign domination. From Plaines Indians to Afghan mujahideen, from Menachem Begin’s Irgun to the Algerian FLN, from the IRA of Martin McGuinness to the ANC of Nelson Mandela, it has ever been thus. Terrorism is the price of Empire.”

While this self-evident truth is abundantly clear to the rest of us, it is important to note when this truth is finally articulated and documented by one of their own. If this war is ever to end then Newt Gingrich and the rest of Western Civilization must face their own demons.

 

 

[Gerald A. Perreira is a writer, educator, theologian and political activist. He is chairperson of the Guyanese organizations Black Consciousness Movement Guyana (BCMG) and Organization for the Victory of the People (OVP). He is an executive member of the Caribbean Chapter of the Network for Defense of Humanity. He lived in Libya for many years, served in the Green March, an international battalion for the defense of the Al Fateh revolution and was a founding member of the World Mathaba, based in Tripoli, Libya. He can be reached at mojadi94@gmail.com.]

Marilyn Mosby is an Agent of the State

The Burning Spear

June 5, 2015

 

Marilyn James Mosby is an American lawyer, currently the State’s Attorney for Baltimore, Maryland, United States.

Marilyn Mosby is a militant 35-year-old tough-talking prosecutor who has dared to do something no other prosecutor has done since the rash of police murders has been pushed to public view by the resistance cascading over the U.S. since the August 9, 2014 police murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Mosby, an African woman, has captured the imagination and loyalty of thousands of African militants throughout the U.S. who have been moved to action against the police in an intensity unseen in the U.S. since the defeat of the Black Revolution of the 1960s.

Even before she indicted six policemen in the case of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old African man murdered by Baltimore police in April 2015, Mosby had begun to demonstrate her political views.

Mosby protested the July 2013 acquittal of the white murderer of Trayvon Martin and later denounced St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCulloch for failing to indict Darren Wilson for murdering Mike Brown in Missouri.

Many police defenders, political pundits and prosecutors in the U.S. charge that Mosby has acted improperly by quickly indicting six Baltimore cops with an assortment of offenses, including murder.

Right on cue, many Africans have begun to circle the wagons around Mosby, charging her attackers with anti-African bias, which may be true.

Marilyn Mosby is an agent of the State

The real issue for us, however, one that must not be overlooked by the African People’s Socialist Party and any organization that is intent on overthrowing the national oppression and class exploitation of our people, is this: Mosby, the Baltimore prosecutor, is an arm of the State.

Whatever else she is, however nice she may be, regardless of her militant stance, Marilyn Mosby is custodian of an instrument of white colonial State power.

Moreover, lest we are confused, we must also state, emphatically, that the State is an instrument of coercion. It is the instrument through which the white capitalist-colonialist ruling class seeks to have a monopoly on violence—the violence that resulted in the police murder of Freddy Gray and occupies, destroys and controls entire countries and peoples for profit-making and maintaining political advantage.

The State is that power hovering over society required for peace and stability when society is split between those who have what they have through expropriating value from those who do not have because of this expropriation of value.

Why would a slave endure slavery without the use of extreme violence by the slave owner? Why would the colonized allow for their land and resources to be taken and enjoyed by countries and peoples hundreds and thousands of miles away without the use of armies, air forces and armed drones that can destroy their lives at will?

Obviously they wouldn’t. Neither would hungry people simply stand, Styrofoam cup in hand, begging in front of convenience stores filled with food without taking what they need to eat if not for the presence of the State in the form of the police and, in the case of uprisings, national guard troops.

The poverty and despair of our people in the U.S. and the world not voluntary

The condition of poverty and despair experienced by so many of our people within the U.S. and the world is not something that is voluntarily endured. The police, jail, court system and the grand jury are instruments of the State, so is the office of the district attorney currently occupied by Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore.

The question is not whether Marilyn Mosby is a nice or militant or “good” African person, as persons go. The fact is the State and the nature and task of the State do not change no matter the color or gender of its representatives. Rather than entering into a romance with Marilyn Mosby, (which is by definition a romance with the colonial State that is responsible for our condition and the police murders Africans are protesting throughout the U.S.) Africans must struggle to dismantle the colonial State, the main power that stands between our liberation and us.

Everyone genuinely interested in liberation must necessarily be interested in destroying the power of the colonial State over our lives. Everyone, however, is not aware of this. Everyone does not automatically come to understand the issue of the State.

This is why the role of the African People’s Socialist Party is so important. It is our task to extend the discussion of police murder of our people beyond the arena of Barack Hussein Obama and CNN reporters and pundits like Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon.

The African People’s Socialist Party is preparing to govern!

This is why the Party is necessary to lead the struggle for the destruction of the capitalist-colonialist State and the capture of revolutionary black working class State power. The Party must lead the African working class struggle to crush our class enemies and national oppressors and take the lead in restructuring society so it is not based on stealing the labor and resources of the African workers and the laboring masses of the world.

Not every organization, even militant sounding organizations, is interested in destroying the power of the capitalist colonialist State over our lives. Not every organization is preparing to capture revolutionary black working class State power.

Some people and organizations are willing to endure the Marilyn Mosbys, Barack Hussein Obamas and Mandela-Zumas because they are African and not white. While some of this is due to confusion caused by a strategy of white power to disguise and present itself in the face of the oppressed, some Africans are quite clear of the fact that this is neocolonialism.

Neocolonialism is a term coined by Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of independent Ghana.

Neocolonialism is white power in black, brown or yellow face. Neocolonialism became necessary when millions of colonized peoples worldwide became radicalized by the presence of white people exercising oppressive and brutal power over our lives and resources.

Neocolonialism was the result of the white colonizer being forced to resort to indirect rule by declaring some kind of freedom or independence while still maintaining economic control of the society and its resources.

This provides political cover for white power that can now absolve itself from responsibility for the conditions of existence of our people. Politically, neocolonialism finds expression within the petty bourgeoisie, the so-called middle class in our communities.

These are the people who are raised and sometimes bred to adopt the same interests and aspirations of the white rulers. They become self-alienated and are rewarded with a material stake in the continued existence in the oppressive social system.

They become mayors and police chiefs and prosecutors.

Neocolonial entities become extensions of the imperialist State. They are white power in disguise and when they are successful they confuse the people and have us fighting shadows instead of the real problem.

White power in black face will keep us protesting every injury to us for all eternity with no end in sight. Neocolonialism gives the impression of black self-government when, in fact, it is a deterrent to black self-governance.

We in the African People’s Socialist Party, however, are not content to continue protesting every outrage of the imperialist system that cannot help but outrage. We are preparing to govern.

Because we are preparing to govern it is essential to identify the primary, the main instrument of white power that stands between our current state of miserable, violent existence and our liberation—namely the State.

Death to the capitalist-colonialist State!

All power to the people!

 

The Call of the Wild

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

 

Paul Kingsnorth

July 26, 2016

 

Raja Empat, Papua, Indonesia.

Raja Empat, Papua, Indonesia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

NGO’s Are Bad Mkay

consciousness activism

July 10, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations are funded by profit-driven corporations that destroy the planet and the lives of poor and indigenous peoples.

The United Nations likewise cannot be trusted because they also cooperate with multinational mega-corporations that perpetrate systemic violence in the name of predatory capitalism.

A) True

B) False

UNITED-NATIONS-4

 

Stranger Than Fiction: How to Keep an Antiwar Movement Down

by Emma Quangel

May 9, 2016

screen-shot-2016-05-09-at-10-53-06-am (1)

Imagine, if you will, the year 2016. It is a year of war. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ukraine, Turkey – just a handful in a long list – are under attack. Covert operations angling at “regime change” take place in the Caribbean, Central and South America. The African continent is engulfed in conflict, the threat of “regime change” knocking against even South Africa’s door. The BRICs are threatened, destabilizing. Thousands drown every year in the Mediterranean while millions more flood Europe, desperate for refuge from the violence and poverty that plagues their homelands. The right is on the rise across Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. The global economy is sagging under the weight of its own contradictions.

The United States government, that acts as the hired guns of a global class of jet-setting billionaires, imprisons 2.3 million of its own people. 3.2 per cent of its citizens are under correctional control. The descendants of those once kidnapped and enslaved are particularly tormented – one in three black males in the USA will spend some time in prison. 12,000 children in Flint, Michigan are poisoned by lead in the water. 60,000 people in New York City are homeless. Nearly 1,000 people were killed by the police in the United States last year. Thousands more are tortured – even boiled alive – in US prisons. In the state of Louisiana, black men in chains pick cotton for slave wages while overseers toting shotguns monitor them from horseback. The electoral system is rigged, disenfranchises millions, and offers the same solution, year after year: submit or be crushed.

Imagine, if you will, the year 2016 without a revolutionary movement against such conditions.

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 10.56.33 AM

The Black Panther Party was possibly the highwater mark for American revolution in the 20th century because it existed in concert with, and gave guidance to, a broad-based antiwar movement. While the labor struggles of the working class at the turn of the century were integral in improving the lives of millions of Americans and providing a platform for revolutionary socialism, it wasn’t until the radical labor movement started to speak out against the First World War that they were persecuted in full by the government, lynched, deported and imprisoned. Likewise, the Black Panthers were most heavily targeted when they developed a line that connected the suffering of the American people to the suffering inflicted on others by the United States abroad. In both instances, the culprit was imperialism, capitalism made flesh in the form of guns and planes that could stamp out challenges to its hegemony.

That the Black Panther Party even existed should one of the greatest points of pride among radicals in the United States. Indeed, Black Panthers are still on the run from the FBI or languishing in prisons, sometimes for decades under solitary confinement. They were able to serve the people while educating them about the world we lived in. To the Black Panthers, to anyone who would call themselves a dialectical materialist, the idea that the United States Government is an institution that can be reformed is simply absurd. The United States Government, to Marxists, does not exist as a faulty waiter failing to bring free health care and universal housing with the check, but rather, to mediate class conflict in favor of the bourgeoisie – not just in the United States, but worldwide. The Black Panthers saw this, and declared themselves in solidarity with the victims of imperialism. They toured the world, meeting with revolutionaries from North Korea to Vietnam. And this, along with organizing among poor black communities in the United States, is what brought down the wrath of the state on their heads.

It is possible to say that a revolutionary movement in the United States can only exist when there is praxis that recognizes the relationship between oppression in the US and imperialism. I would further venture to say that there can be no praxis without the two elements being present concurrently, and that no honest effort at building a revolutionary movement in the US can be made without recognizing that there must be an antiwar movement to join, and that this antiwar movement must be anti-imperialist.

After all, the wars of today differ greatly from the wars of the early 20th century, the wars that threw Emma Goldman and Big Bill Haywood in jail. We no longer have the draft – the popular rage over Vietnam saw an end to that – and the US spends more time launching air strikes from unmanned drones than digging trenches or preparing for bayonet combat. Likewise, imperialism doesn’t always take place at the end of a gun. The IMF and World Bank, created at the end of World War II, helped to exert influence over economies and governments where a heavier, more direct hand was once required. The creation of NATO and the Cold War made imperialism seem a war of ideologies, rather than the ham-fisted grab at resources that it was. Now, it seems that while American bombs and bullets murder so many worldwide, we are encouraged to side with imperialism as socialists. We are expected to take on the reasoning of George W. Bush and Samantha Power so long as it is dressed up and marketed in a way that pleases us, even if we consider ourselves “Left” leaning politically. Like soda and smartphones, we are exhorted to find identity in our positions, to represent ourselves by our consumer choices.

An alarming trend is on the rise in the United States and in the English-speaking world more generally: the ubiquitous Op-Ed. What was once relegated to just one page of the newspaper (the term Op-Ed meaning something that ran on the page opposite to Editorial) now makes up large sections of online news media. I imagine it is cheaper to pay a freelancer $250 (optimistic!) for their opinion than finance a foreign bureau. Whole TV networks run on an audio-visual version of the Op-Ed. It is a form of news that directly tells its reader how to think about the current events. Many gain their information on a topic simply from reading Op-eds. Today’s columnist and pundit is a TV show, someone that we can tune into on a regular basis for entertainment and flattery. If one show is boring, if you don’t like what they’re saying – simply switch the channel. It doesn’t matter, as all are trying to sell you a ruling class agenda. And, above all else, in our 24 hour news cycle, we are never allowed to present news in a boring way. The VICE lifestyle brand turned global news channel, with its correspondents pulled from content marketing’s central casting, is a prime example of the desire to “sex-up” news by letting opinions lead coverage. It is a way to engage the youth, as it boasts openly, to not only consume brands, but also official narratives, with enthusiasm.

A narrative example from the Op-ed world of news could be as follows: In Syria, democratic protesters are fighting against a brutal regime that slaughters them with impunity. These democratic protesters, now called rebels, are always at risk of being annihilated by state violence and torture because the Western Left has “failed” them.We must all support these rebels and pressure our government to do the right thing,whatever that might be.

Some articles might be run in conjunction, many that might contradict this narrative. We might learn from respected journalists with years of experience and lauded professional histories that things aren’t so simple. We might learn from State Department press transcripts that these brave rebels take quite a lot of money from the US Government. But it doesn’t matter if half of the paper contradicts the other half. When we are told how to read the news, through the eyes of these pundits, we are happily oblivious of whatever facts might contradict our chosen authority. After all, Thomas Friedman is far more influential and famous than some no-name stringer for The Times. Anyone who might disagree with the official narrative, even if they are respected journalists, scholars or activists, are now called conspiracy theorists, “hacks” or worse.

But while journalists are still nominally held to professional standards, the pundit owes no such thing to her audience. After all, this is just her opinion, and she is not expected to have thoroughly researched differing narratives – nor is she obligated to present opposing views, or to present anything evenly – when publishing her Op-ed. This is not unexpected, nor is it dishonest to the job description of a “pundit”. It’s up to the publication to decide how much of its material is news, and how much of it is entertainment packaged as Op-eds.

Yet, there is danger when a pundit or entertainer decides to call herself a journalist without having been subjected to the same standards we would expect from the NYT stringer. Facts are not checked and sources are not vetted. So-called journalists, such as Michael Weiss or Molly Crabapple, rely heavily on anonymous sources who slip them scintillating information or photographs. And yet, I am unsure who these sources are, who has vetted them, and how they did so. Indeed, as this new generation straddles the line between journalist and pundit, the means by which they communicate are themselves in question. My own WhatsApp number is from Iraq, though I have not lived there since October 2015. So, I think it’s natural to ask how these sources are processed, especially if the Op-ed writers posing as journalists are writing whole books based on their testimony, appearing on talk shows as experts, and building careers off promoting wars. While the content may be biased and one-sided, laden with marketing copy and convenient omissions, we should be incredibly wary on how we define, protect, but also how we verify the “source”. Indeed, I wouldask how these pundits find, vet and receive information, but as many already tried to have me fired from my last job for asking such questions, it’s pointless to attempt from my position – though I welcome corrections and inputs from editorial.

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As it stands, The Guardian admitted last week that it had been fed stories on Syria by the UK Home Office operating from behind a PR firm that was operating a Syrian advocacy campaign. Breakthrough Media joins its American agency Purpose (via The Syria Campaign) in pushing advocacy for pro-intervention narratives on the Syria conflict. What is left out of the discussion of whether or not public funds are being used to propagandize war to the tax-paying public is the disclosure of who the freelance “journalists” are that are being paid or otherwise lobbied to write on Syria. We would expect that journalists taking money or in kind contributions from campaign staff disclose such information when writing on the election – why not the same expectation from those who write on foreign policy matters? Perhaps it is because, in the long run, such issues are far weightier than whatever new jab a candidate throws on social media or a cable news talk show. One of the more chilling revelations from The Guardian, one seemingly lifted straight from my book, is that some of the journalists reported they were unaware that they were being utilized in this way.

If we knew that Fred Hampton or Emma Goldman were taking money from public relations firms (who may or may not have been receiving marching orders from governments) when speaking or writing on the wars they opposed, wouldn’t that change the way we see their positions? And certainly, if we were to discover that some of our favorite, cherished personalities who regularly tell us how to read the news were taking money from PR firms, to confuse, mislead, attack or threaten activists who might otherwise try and build a case against the US government’s wars abroad and at home, wouldn’t that be a scandal?

There may be no antiwar movement today because we live in a media environment that seeks to destroy it in its nascence. Andrew Bacevich, in his recent instructive essay for Harper’s called “American Imperium”, makes the case that:

The trivializing din of what passes for news drowns out the antiwar critique. One consequence of remaining perpetually at war is that the political landscape in America does not include a peace party.

Indeed, before there can be a peace party, there must be an antiwar critique. And the “trivializing din” that Bacevich speaks of is not simply drowning out antiwar critique, it is merciless in seeking to destroy and discredit ideas such as the fact that the United States enjoys unprecedented military, economic, ideological and strategic domination over the entire world. Such ideas, when voiced publicly, are met with derision and laughter. As if, with dozens of bases and tens of thousands of soldiers surrounding Russia, one could seriously argue that Russia is imperialist, or an equal threat to world peace as the US. There are no Russian bases and no Russian soldiers garrisoned on our borders. We cannot even know, as the numbers are not publicly available, how many US soldiers and bases are currently in the Middle East – indeed, how many are currently in Iraq and Syria, where much conflict is currently taking place. Whereas before, reliable journalists and their supportive editors might have been successful in discovering such figures, they are now too focused on revenue and survival. This opens wide the door for propagandists who wish to deride and discredit any remaining “Left” antiwar sentiment in the US. Until this is resolved, building an anti-imperialist antiwar movement will remain an uphill battle, even among smaller groups, as subjectivity and sophistry continues to be taught and promoted over objectivity, materialism, serious study and clear thinking.

 

[“Emma Quangel is the woman who bravely contributed to the outing of Nazi murderer/”Last Rhodesian” Dylann Storm Roof’s blog, which probably spoiled Roof’s chances at the inexorably successful—for white supremacists—insanity defense.  After Quangel, an insanity verdict for Roof would be an insanity verdict for the U.S. white supremacist system: which is to say, in lieu of Aristotelian-bourgeois justice, Artaudian ritual magic, a self-reparative exorcism.”]