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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

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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.

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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.”]

WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS?

21st Century Wire

June 21, 2016

By Vanessa Beeley

 

Who are the White Helmets? This is a question that everyone should be asking themselves.

A hideous murder of a rising star in UK politics, Jo Cox MP, has just sent shock waves across the world. Within hours of her death, a special fund was established in her name to raise money for 3 causes. One of those causes is the Syrian White Helmets.

Are we seeing a cynical and obscene exploitation of Jo Cox’s murder to revive the flagging credibility of a US State Department & UK Foreign Office asset on the ground in Syria, created and sustained as first responders for the US and NATO Al Nusra/Al Qaeda forces?

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FOLLOW THE MONEY: The White Helmets are just one component of the new NGO Complex.

If this is the case, and I fear it is, the depravity of our government, the US government, the state led media and associated Syria Campaign support groups have reached a new level of perversion of Humanity. The White Helmets have been demonstrated to be a primarily US and NATO funded organisation embedded in Al Nusra and ISIS held areas exclusively.

This is an alleged “non-governmental” organisation, the definition of an NGO, that thus far has received funding from at least three major NATO governments, including $23 million from then US Government and $29 million (£19.7 million) from the UK Government, $4.5 million (€4 million) from the Dutch Government. In addition, it receives material assistance and training funded and run by a variety of other EU Nations.

A request has been put into the EU Secretary General to provide all correspondence relating to the funding and training of the White Helmets. By law this information must be made transparent and available to the public.

There has been a concerted campaign by a range of investigative journalists to expose the true roots of these Syria Civil Defence operatives, known as the White Helmets.  The most damning statement, however, did not come from us, but from their funders and backers in the US State Department who attempted to explain the US deportation of the prominent White Helmet leader, Raed Saleh, from Dulles airport on the 18th April 2016.

“It was unclear whether Mr. Saleh’s name might have shown up on a database, fed by a variety of intelligence and security agencies and intended to guard against the prospect of terrorism suspects slipping into the country.” ~ New York Times

Mark Toner, State Department spokesperson:

“And any individual – again, I’m broadening my language here for specific reasons, but any individual in any group suspected of ties or relations with extremist groups or that we had believed to be a security threat to the United States, we would act accordingly. But that does not, by extension, mean we condemn or would cut off ties to the group for which that individual works for.”


So we come back to the initial question.  Why is the tragic death of a passionate and ambitious politician being exploited? Why are all political parties in the UK endorsing the Jo Cox fund to provide financial assistance for an organisation the UK Government is already funding and training?

Why are the public once more being used as political pawns to further our government’s imperialist objectives inside Syria and their covert, illegal, proxy intervention of a sovereign nation via both terrorist forces and phony humanitarian first responders?

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Phillip Hammond, UK Foreign Secretary meeting White Helmets in southern Turkey

The White Helmets are perhaps being demonstrated to be the most crucial component of the US and NATO shadow state building inside Syria.  Led by the US and UK this group is essential to the propaganda stream that facilitates the continued media and political campaign against the elected Syrian government and permits the US and NATO to justify their regime of crippling economic and humanitarian sanctions against the Syrian people.

If this latest mechanised ‘NGO’ blueprint is successful then we could see it being re-deployed as key to future neo-colonialist projects. The White Helmets are a direct intra-venus line into the terrorist enclaves within Syria, acting as a conduit for information, equipment and medical support to maintain the US NATO forces.

Is this the future of warfare, is this the “swarming” outlined in a 2000 report produced by thebRAND Corporation and entitled: Swarming and the Future of Conflict.

“The emergence of a military doctrine based on swarming pods and clusters requires that defense policymakers develop new approaches to connectivity and control and achieve a new balance between the two. Far more than traditional approachesto battle, swarming clearly depends upon robust information flows. Securing these flows, therefore, can be seen as a necessary condition for successful swarming.”

[Update 22/6/2016] An important “previously unpublished interview with Jo Cox” was released today by Adam Barnett.  In this interview Jo Cox makes a clear statement regarding the way the UK Government should be maximising the use of their assets, the White Helmets, inside Syria:

“Second thing: many organisations, whether it’s the White Helmets or others, have got really creative ideas about how to operate under the siege and civil war conditions. They’ve got really interesting ideas about channelling money, getting aid in, thinking creatively about how they operate, which DfID [Department for International Development] should be listening to. [emphasis added]

And then the third thing is about giving airtime to civil society groups, making sure that they get more time on panels– and making sure this is representative of the diversity of civil society views as well, whether that’s women’s groups, or the White Helmets, or NGOs, or just doctors or people who are literally trying to get on with making society function in response to the humanitarian crisis.”

Is this why we are seeing what is, in effect, crowd funding for  proxy war? Do we really want to look back and be “judged by history” for enabling conflict and state terrorism, violating international law and invading sovereign nations.  Are we prepared to accept the consequences of such actions, consequences that should be taken by our governments alone but are now being diffused outwards to the general public.  Is this an attempt by our government to disassociate themselves from their criminal actions?

To condense our research on the Syria White Helmets, we have collated all relevant articles and interviews below.  We condemn wholeheartedly any senseless murder but we recommend that there is serious public and political re-evauluation of the morality of funding a US NATO organisation established to further “regime change” objectives in Syria.

Mass murder is being committed across Syria and the region by US and NATO proxy terrorist militants. Funding the White Helmets will serve to prolong the suffering and bloodshed of the Syrian people.

UK Column: White Helmets, Humanitarians or Executioners?

Vanessa Beeley speaks to Mike Robinson of UK Column about recent executions of Syrian Arab Army soldiers celebrated by White Helmet operatives.” Watch:


Mint Press: Dissecting the “Humanitarian” Propaganda Driving US Intervention in Syria, Again.

“Speaking to Mnar Muhawesh on ‘Behind the Headline,’ investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley pulls back the curtain on the anti-Assad ‘freedom fighters’ and ‘moderate rebels,’ revealing a carefully calibrated propaganda campaign to drive US intervention in the war-torn country.”Watch:

Hands Off Syria: The Syria White Helmets Exposed as US UK Agents Embedded with Al Nusra and ISIS

Video made by Hands Off Syria in Sydney Australia based upon the research of Vanessa Beeley on the White Helmets. Watch:


Mint Press: US Propaganda War in Syria: Report Ties White Helmets to US Intervention

“White Helmets primary function is propaganda” reported an independent journalist, who tied the group to George Soros and the controversial advocacy group Avaaz.”

Change.org Petition: Do NOT give 2016 Nobel Peace Prize to Syria White Helmets

This petition has currently garnered 1370 signatures. The White Helmets have received over $ 40 million in funding from the US Government [USAID] and the UK Foreign Office despite their claims of being “fiercely independent and accepts no money from governments, corporations or anyone directly involved in the Syrian conflict.”

Sputnik: Soros Sponsored NGO in Syria Aims at Ousting Assad not Saving Civilians

“One of the largest humanitarian organizations operating in war-torn Syria – the White Helmets – has been accused of being an anti-government propaganda arm that encourages direct foreign intervention.”

21st Century Wire: Syria’s White Helmets, War by Way of Deception Part 1

This piece examines the role of the Syria Civil Defence aka,’The White Helmets’ currently operating in Syria and take a closer look at their financial sources and mainstream media partners in order to better determine if they are indeed “neutral” as media moguls proclaim these “humanitarians” to be.

21st Century Wire: Part II. Syria’s White Helmets, “Moderate” Executioners

The NGO hydra has no more powerful or influential serpentine head in Syria than the Syria Civil Defence aka The White Helmets who, according to their leader and creator, James Le Mesurier, hold greater sway than even ISIS or Al Nusra confabs over the Syrian communities. This article explores the White Helmet involvement in terrorist executions of civilians particularly in Aleppo.

21st Century Wire: Humanitarian Propaganda War Against Syria – Led by Avaaz and the White Helmets

“The White Helmets in their haste to point the finger of blame at Moscow, managed to tweet about Russia’s air strikes several hours before the Russian Parliament actually authorized the use of the Air Force in Syria.” ~ Sott.net

UK Column: Syria White Helmets

“Mike Robinson speaks to Vanessa Beeley about the so-called NGO, the White Helmets. Are they really the humanitarian first responder organisation they claim to be?” Watch:

Eva Bartlett: Human Rights Front Groups Warring on Syria

This page will continue to expand as more so-called “Human Rights” groups are outed for propagating anti-Syria war rhetoric and false allegations against the Syrian government and Syrian Arab Army.  As it is, the list of players is quite extensive.  Below, I’ll list the known HR front people and groups (many, if not most, with links to the US State Department and criminals like George Soros).

Ron Paul Institute: Syria the Propaganda Ring

We have demonstrated that the White Helmets are an integral part of the propaganda vanguard that ensures obscurantism of fact and propagation of Human Rights fiction that elicits the well-intentioned and self righteous response from a very cleverly duped public. A priority for these NGOs is to keep pushing the No Fly Zone scenario which has already been seen to have disastrous implications for innocent civilians in Libya, for example.

Dissident Voice: Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators

“But White Helmets primary function is propaganda. White Helmets demonizes the Assad government and encourages direct foreign intervention.”

Prof Tim Anderson: Syrian Women Denounce the White Helmets

“A range of Syrian women have denounced the US-UK funded group the ‘White Helmets’, led by a former British soldier and recently revealed to be financed by USAID. They come from all the country’s communities (e.g. Sunni, Alawi, Druze, Christian) but, like most Syrians, prefer to identify simply as Syrian.”

Khamenei.ir: Interview with Prof. Tim Anderson NATO’s Dirty War on Syria

“The ‘White Helmets’ are a Wall Street creation, funded and led by the US and the UK, to give ‘humanitarian’ cover to the al Qaeda groups they support.”

AlternativeView7:  Syria: White Helmets Exposed

“We live in a world governed by propaganda where the majority of media mouthpieces are gagged by those who own them and only permitted to release information that serves the narrative of the ruling elite or Imperialist powers.”

White Helmets: One of the many suspect Hollywood style promo rescue videos

Please note that the child that is rescued is very clean considering she has allegedly been buried under the rubble of “regime” bombing raids..we do not in any way wish to detract from the heroic work of the true first responders on the ground in Syria, the real Syria Civil Defence and the Red Crescent who are never mentioned in the western media but we do wish to draw your attention to the propaganda methods being employed to amplify US and NATO narratives that are insisting upon “regime change.”

21st Century Wire: We will add to the above articles and interviews as they become available.  Vanessa Beeley has just completed a speaking tour of the UK and Iran during which she highlighted the role of the NGO complex in general and the White Helmets in particular as a new breed of predatory humanitarianism being unleashed against target nations. Videos of her talks will be published as soon as they become available from the AV7 conference and Frome Stop War.

***

[Author Vanessa Beeley is a contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement, and a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.]

 

Summer Reading: The Myth of Human Supremacy

Seven Stories Press

 

Cover_-_updated_large

In this impassioned polemic, radical environmental philosopher Derrick Jensen debunks the near-universal belief in a hierarchy of nature and the superiority of humans. Vast and underappreciated complexities of nonhuman life are explored in detail—from the cultures of pigs and prairie dogs, to the creative use of tools by elephants and fish, to the acumen of caterpillars and fungi. The paralysis of the scientific establishment on moral and ethical issues is confronted and a radical new framework for assessing the intelligence and sentience of nonhuman life is put forth.

Jensen attacks mainstream environmental journalism, which too often limits discussions to how ecological changes affect humans or the economy—with little or no regard for nonhuman life. With his signature compassionate logic, he argues that when we separate ourselves from the rest of nature, we in fact orient ourselves against nature, taking an unjust and, in the long run, impossible position.

Jensen expresses profound disdain for the human industrial complex and its ecological excesses, contending that it is based on the systematic exploitation of the earth. Page by page, Jensen, who has been called the philosopher-poet of the environmental movement, demonstrates his deep appreciation of the natural world in all its intimacy, and sounds an urgent call for its liberation from human domination.

About Derrick Jensen

DERRICK JENSEN speaks on behalf of a younger generation whose sense of impatience and indignation stems from the fact that they, like him, will still be walking this earth fifty years from now. Jensen writes beautifully, asking fundamental questions about our civilization and our species. Activist, philosopher, small farmer, teacher, leading voice of uncompromising dissent, Derrick Jensen holds degrees in creative writing and mineral engineering physics. His books include DreamsEndgame, Volumes 1 and 2As the World Burns, with Stephanie McMillanA Language Older Than WordsThe Culture of Make BelieveWhat We Leave Behind, with Aric McBayThe Derrick Jensen Reader, with Lierre Keith; and Deep Green Resistance, with Aric McBay and Lierre Keith.

Assailants Abduct, Murder Indigenous Environmental Activist in Honduras

TeleSUR

 July 7, 2016
  • COPINH represents Lenca indigenous people in resistance in the western provinces of Honduras, the traditional territories of the Lenca.

    COPINH represents Lenca indigenous people in resistance in the western provinces of Honduras, the traditional territories of the Lenca. | Photo: COPINH

 

Another Indigenous activist has been murdered in Honduras, with local activists reporting Wednesday night that a woman identified as Yaneth Urquia Urquia was found dead near a garbage dump with severe head trauma.

Urquia was a member of The Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, or COPINH, the group founded by Berta Caceres, who was assassinated in March. According to La Voz Lenca, the communications arm of COPINH, Urquia was an active member of the activist group and fought against the building of hydroelectric power plants on Indigenous land.

“The comrade was killed with a knife,” the group said on its Facebook page, adding that she had been “abducted by unknown persons.”

Urquia’s body was found Wednesday near the municipal garbage dump in Marcala, in the western department of La Paz, according to Via Campesina Honduras, a local social movement. Her body has been sent to the Forensic Medical unit of the Public Ministry for an autopsy, it said.

 

The news comes four months after Berta Caceres, the founder of COPINH, was assassinated in her home. Caceres, an environmental activist, had been leading protests against the building of hydroelectric dams on Indigenous land. Four people have been arrested in connection with her murder, including both former and active members of the Honduras military.

Another leader of COPINH, Tomas Garcia, was shot dead at a peaceful protest in 2013.

Honduras has been wracked by violence since the 2009 U.S.-backed coup against its elected center-left government, experiencing one of the highest murder rates in the world.

I’m Still Me. Who Are You?

World News Trust

May 24, 2016

by Mickey Z.

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

News flash: I’m still me. 

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

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

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

 

The revolution will not be subsidized or absurd failure of the left (an interview with Cory Morningstar)

 

[English version. Read the original article in French here.]

 

We recently interviewed Cory Morningstar, a Canadian investigative journalist specializing in ecology and politics. Her outstanding work is available online freely, on her website (in English) . We published two articles on our site, namely 350.org, AVAAZ and the World March for the Climate – How the Empire Made Us Walk (by Cory Morningstar), and 350.org, Bill McKibben (& Naomi Klein): Ecology Made in Wall Street.

ONG

: How dire does our current predicament, as a species living on planet Earth, seem to you, and why?

Cory Morningstar: It is so dire, we are unable, or perhaps simply unwilling, to even comprehend the magnitude. Even those who do have the capacity to comprehend the magnitude of our predicament, are often unable to accept it fully. By this I mean we continue making long term plans for things we’ve established will not be plausible/possible at some point in our lifetime. We are so indoctrinated and conditioned to insanity, it appears we are not able to break free. Further, even if we did muster such courage to break free, the system that enslaves ensures we cannot. If one assembles the science in a way such as Guy McPherson has done, it is clear we have surpassed the utmost limits (1C) to which we warned by the United Nations Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases (UNAGGG) published in 1990. A document which I might add was purposely buried in order to continue to grow the industrialized capitalist economic system. And of course this does not even include the further warming to which we are firmly committed yet will not show up for a few decades due to lag.

If one needs more proof to appease their doubt, they need not look further than Natalia Shakhova’s apocalyptic warning that the shallow water column and a weakening permafrost which serve as a seal for methane could go at any time.[1] Shakhova, one of world’s foremost experts/scientists on methane hydrates has seen her publications essentially blacklisted from media for years. Also, one must consider leading scientists began to employ the term “anthropocene” decades ago to describe a distinct geological epoch from the Holocene – a transition/change caused by human impacts. We collectively ignore this incredible turning point.[2]

Those are some of my main observations, but I think what I find most dire is what I observe in my day to day life. The simple observations of how people treat 1) each other, 2) sentient beings, 3) non-human life forms and 4) our Earth mother. And the ugly truth is that most people treat all four like disposable garbage. Hell, they even treat their bodies like garbage and are more than willing to poison their own children in a multitude of ways. One has to contemplate if this is sheer ignorance or rather, self-hatred. Regardless, we continue to rapidly devolve.  The level of cognitive dissonance becomes clear when you consider every civilization that has ever existed has fallen, yet the civilization that exceeds all others in regard to plunder of our natural environment upon which we absolutely depend, is considered exempt from this same prophetic fate.

 

: In the West, inside industrial societies, the main political opposition toward the dominant culture, which may not be as much in opposition as it likes to pretend or think, and that I’ll call “the left”, in order to be succinct, appears to be a huge failure, doesn’t it?

Cory Morningstar:

Yes, this is very true. I would agree that it is a huge failure. There are many reasons for this I believe. I will name a few. The majority of our “left” is comprised of privileged, almost exclusively white middle class. The same 1% class of people creating 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. It is incredibly difficult to persuade someone to look in the mirror when all those who surround him/her are demonizing fossil fuel corporations as though industry is somehow separated from society and the system itself.

After years of work on climate and ecological issues, I’ve concluded Western environmentalism is dead, having been replaced by 21st century anthropocentrism. The word “activist” in the west is a term that simply refers to a self-absorbed anthropocentrist – willfully blind to the horrors of imperialism and racism that hums beneath the entire system. Much of our language has been co-opted by the non-profit industrial complex including environmentalism, activism, radical, and even the word capitalism – a vogue word that provided an effective discourse to actually protect and expand the same socio-economic system that is killing us.

Revolutionary ideology in America is dead. A process is now fully underway now via the “new economy” (the financialization of nature) and even this does not invoke meaningful, fierce, necessary resistance. As much as Deepface (Facebook) may play a role in conveying information, social metrics in this way are like money. 500k followers has nothing to do with revolutionary actions, just as money is backed by nothing. Yet they both dominate the modern fucked-up Brave New World we live in today. I would argue social media is ultimately a great detriment to society as a whole,  the ultimate wet dream of every oligarch and advertiser alive today. Like my WKOG comrade Forrest Palmer says, like Latin, truth is a dead language in this world – as is critical thinking. There is simply no appetite for radical change if it impairs privilege. And the radical change necessary to even slow climate change down would require the most radical (yet empowering) sacrifice that would tear down the institutions that oppress those who pay the price for the privilege of the Euro-American West. I’ve come to terms with the fact that privilege in any form will never be relinquished by those who have it – it would have to be taken via force. Any legitimate attempts to dismantle current power structures, or even slow down our multiple crises and ultimate self-annihilation would only come from the working class.

: Why? What are the main reasons for its failure? 

Cory Morningstar: I think we fail to recognize the level of our own indoctrination. Pivotal questions put forward centuries ago in the paper The Politics of Obedience by Étienne de La Boétie continue to go unanswered. There is little to no interest in delving into such a critical barrier to this critical issue which serves to insulate current power structures. Facts grounded in reality observed by real revolutionaries, such as  Assata Shakur who pointed out “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them”, go ignored.

I believe the main reason for our collective failure is the success of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) which is financed to the tune of trillions by those who oppress us. Those at the helm of the NPIC appeal to the  worst traits of humanity, rather than the best. Individualism, narcissism, ego, want, hunger for power and recognition/fame. They tell the lies that we need to hear in order to live with ourselves and continue our rapacious plunder. They allow us to bask in our privilege without guilt. The “dead left” follows those they identify with, such as 350’s McKibben and Klein – white, wealthy “leaders” appointed by the elites. The Marilyn Bucks no longer exist. Revolutionaries such as Omali Yeshitela – who the “dead left” does not identify with – are ignored. In 1966 revolutionary leader Stockley Carmichael  stated “And that’s the real question faction the white activists today. Can they tear down the institutions that have put us all in the trick bag we’ve been into for the last hundreds of years?” Exactly 50 years we can answer with an unequivocal no. White activists were not/are not prepared to tear down the institutions as these institutions have granted this class privilege that they are not prepared to give up at any cost. Even the cost of their own children. And as Forrest Palmer notes often, today, the black bourgeoisie seek to assimilate into this oppressive system rather than destroy it. Even using the word destroy in the same breath of activism is deemed unacceptable. Self-defense is not recognized as legitimate by those of privilege while violence by the police state is generally accepted.  The belief that the world’s most powerful capitalists will give up any power or wealth voluntarily is absolutely asinine.

: It seems to me like the left is a confused mix of many different ideologies, more or less controlled and created by the dominant culture, which it thinks it is challenging, and that we can thus point out several major contradictions/inconsistencies that are preventing it from being an effective force of resistance, of change. What are your thoughts on this, and what would these major contradictions/inconsistencies be?

Cory Morningstar:

I thought this to be true years ago. That is, if “the left” could fully understand that they are continually being reabsorbed back into the very systems they claim to oppose, we could be militant against such manipulation. By fully embracing both discipline and critical thinking, we could stop this from happening over and over again. But western society has taught us the opposite. It celebrates the opposite. Don’t think critically. Don’t learn your history. Believe in the 10-second sound bites delivered to you from the corporate superpowers echoed through the NPIC/media chambers. But when I started writing the ugly truths about the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who form the NPIC, I discovered people believe in these institutions. The belief is powerful – akin to the belief in man’s white, blue-eyed male god.

When John D. Rockefeller stated “the ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun, he knew then what it would take decades for the left to come to terms with. With what they have yet to come to terms with. The idea that we can shift the balance of power through organizations financed by – and in many cases created by – the most powerful institutions in the world, is ludicrous. And yet it continues to be a most powerful force that promises our own self destruction and ultimate annihilation.  And when we look at what the dead left in the West continues to “demand” (demands where the solutions are already written and waiting for us behind closed doors), “solutions” that have nothing do with protecting nature or non-human life forms, but only western lifestyles, perhaps our eradication is a good thing. 

And that’s the saddest part of the story as we come to the final chapter. The irony being that if man had of placed non-human life first and foremost ahead of human life, by default, we would have saved ourselves. The is the ultimate contradiction. And what has lead to our ultimate demise. There is good news though. In all and every likelihood that we are unable to stop climate change, let alone slow it down, it is never too late to further our knowledge and pursue truth and justice. If we could garner even a shred of dignity as nature closes in, I think this is most worthwhile.


[1] “The total amount of the methane (CH4) in the current atmosphere is 5 gigatons. The amount of carbon preserved in the form of methane in the East Siberian Arctic shelf is approx. 100’s-1000’s gigatons. Only 1% of this amount is required to double the atmospheric burden of methane (which is approx. 23x more powerful than CO2). There is not much effort needed to destabilize just 1% of this carbon pool considering the state of permafrost and the amount of methane currently involved. What keeps this methane from entering the atmosphere is a very shallow water column and a weakening permafrost which is losing its ability to serve as a seal. It could happen anytime. “Natalia Shakhova is one of the world’s foremost experts on methane hydrates.

[2] The Holocene is the geological epoch that began after the Pleistocene at approximately 11,700 years before AD 2000 and officially continues to the present.

‘Activism’: The Lies We Have to Tell Ourselves

World News Trust

June 21, 2016

by Mickey Z.

 

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

Almost exactly four years ago, I wrote an article that opened with this, um, “anecdote”:

As part of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) Summer Disobedience School, I was marching with my fellow occupiers through Times Square in early June 2012. While skirting the edge of the demo to take photos, I passed a group of young men in business attire. On the surface, they appeared “mainstream” — right out of Central Casting, in fact.

One man was clearly confused by the boisterous march — the signs, the drummers, the costumes, and so much more. “What are they doing?” he pondered aloud. The largest man in the group — his face pinched into an expression of scorn — bellowed: “I’ll tell you what they should be doing. They should be looking for a fuckin’ job.”

He looked so self-satisfied with his parroting of the corporate media line that I couldn’t help taking him down a notch. I stopped walking, positioned myself about three feet away — directly in his line of sight — and glared into his eyes. 

When he looked at me and saw my “99%” button and the Red Square affixed to my t-shirt, Alpha Male was suddenly confronted with the uncomfortable reality that those he was mocking weren’t the skinny hippie pacifists he’d read all about on the interwebs.

His eyes met mine and I held my squinty stare. In a matter of seconds, his self-confidence waned and he diverted his gaze downwards. (#winning) With a smirk, I turned and moved off to catch up with my OWS tribe.

Pardon me while I curl into the fetal position and weep in shame for the next three hours. 

I can still recall how unabashedly excited I was to participate in the event described above (and so many others like it) but now — armed with four-plus years of painful but essential hindsight — it makes me cringe that my exuberance tricked me into thinking we were doing anything even remotely effective or “making a difference.” 

Before I can allow myself to simply look back with a sense of nostalgia at a fun afternoon with some upbeat folks who, um, occupied my life for a brief moment in time, I must first expose, address, and own up to the arrogance and denial on display that afternoon.

What we were doing… 
I’ve already wasted enough ink on the “get a job” canard so let’s instead focus on the extreme validity of the first dude-bro’s question: “What are they doing?” Think about it. Why wouldn’t he or anyone be puzzled? There was literally no rational reason why passers-by would understand the show we were putting on for ourselves (and the cops).

If you asked me “What are you doing?” at the time, I likely would’ve spouted off a whole lot of nonsense about “revolution.” Ask me now though. Please. Ask me now about OWS and its various spin-offs and spectacles.

Even better, if I could somehow track down the guy who confusedly wondered what we were doing that Saturday afternoon in Times Square four summers ago, here’s some of what I’d tell him: 

We were entertaining ourselves. Mic checks, hand signals, carefully crafted performances, a ridiculous overemphasis on “outsmarting” the “pigs,” and virtually no perception of or interest in what might potentially lure in mainstream New Yorkers. This counterproductive tendency to perform for each other progressed rapidly and virtually guaranteed failure. 

We were doing in ZERO outreach. I can remember commenting on how curious and interested the tourists in Times Square appeared to be about us and the issues we were raising. What the fuck was I thinking? Of course they watched and took photos and videos. That’s what tourists do! They weren’t becoming “woke af.” Just the other day, while standing near the entrance to Bryant Park, I witnessed two homeless men in a screaming match that almost became violent. Glancing around, I saw tourists staring at them and filming them with the exact same facial expressions as those watching my “OWS Tribe” in the exact same spot four years earlier. 

We were engaging in the classic “take the streets” nonsense. It takes an incredible amount of denial and privilege for a mostly white crowd of “activists” to taunt cops, disobey street-related laws, and perceive such silliness as rebellion. Meanwhile, on the same day described above, when the march reached Bryant Park, the NYPD predictably singled out a black man from the crowd. He was stopped and frisked right in front of us. We chanted and took photos and “showed our solidarity” with people of color and when he was let go without being arrested, we also managed to convince ourselves that somehow, his freedom was thanks to the presence of OWS. (insert deep sigh here)

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

We were congratulating ourselves afterwards. Once inside Bryant Park, the “occupiers” broke into small groups to analyze that day’s event and discuss “important issues” (student debt, radical theory, and yes: stop and frisk!) — as if anything we were doing could have even an iota of impact beyond our echo chamber. Meanwhile, a different set of on-lookers took photos of what must’ve appeared as a freak show. 

We were partaking in a social media ego-fest. I don’t have a smart phone but many, many others were uploading images and videos in “real time,” all day. Later, folks like me got busy posting photos and videos, tagging, sharing, and creating yet another insular circle jerk of delusion. #winning!

We were wasting our own precious time and energy. As I documented in this article, despite all the smoke and mirrors, nothing of sustained value has been accomplished by OWS and its offshoots since September 17, 2011. Really. Please. READ THIS ARTICLE. For now, I’ll offer a snippet: 

“The damage is relentless and ongoing and impervious to Occupy-related tactics and self-perception. None of our exhibitionist acting out or our Instagram selfies or our clever memes or our accumulation of social media notifications or our sign waving and petition signing and drum banging got us any closer to the root causes and certainly no where near to creating sustainable social change.”

“What are they doing?” that bewildered bro begged. Since it would be far too flattering to simply say “nothing” (“worse than nothing” = way more accurate), please allow me to amend the cringeworthy recollection with which I began:

One man was clearly confused by the boisterous march — the signs, the drummers, the costumes, and so much more. “What are they doing?” he pondered aloud. So, I stopped walking, positioned myself about three feet away — directly in his line of sight — and replied: “We’re doing what ‘activists’ do, of course. We’re willfully lying to ourselves. What does it look like we’re doing?”

Repeat after me: The people united will never be defeated!

Further reading:

“Activism”: How to Lose Friends & Influence Nobody

 

[Mickey Z. is currently writing his fourteenth book, How to Lose Friends & Influence Nobody: My Life as an “Activist.” In the meantime, he can be found here.]

 

The Clintons Do Haiti: Keep the Natives From Breeding

Counterpunch

March 15, 2016

 

Cut through all of Hillary Clinton’s reassuring lingo about “empowering women” and consider the realities of Clintonian population policy in Haiti.

As revealed in an internal U.S. Agency for International Development report, the fundamental goal of the American government is to keep the natives from breeding.

The June, 1993, document (unearthed by Ken Silverstein in CounterPunch) states policy “targets” for Haiti baldly: to obtain 200,000 new “acceptors” of contraception; a “social marketing component” target of “6,000 cycles of pills/month,” and the establishment of 23 facilities to provide sterilizations–soothingly referred to as “voluntary surgical contraception,” a goal that has been exceeded.

There is no mention of any “targets” with regard to women’s health.

The cynicism of the “empowerment” rhetoric is also apparent in the memo’s main recommendation, the “demedicalization or liberalization of service delivery.” The agency suggests “elimination of the practice of requiring physician visits” before doling out hormonal methods.

In plainer English, this means that AID feels that doctors in Haiti need not waste time with pelvic exams or pap smears; just get the “acceptors” on stream with the hormonal method of choice.

A Brooklyn-based Haitian women’s group, Women of Koalisyon, published a pamphlet detailing abuses at clinics in Haiti funded by AID.

Local clinics offered food and money to encourage sterilization. “Acceptors” were promised that vasectomies were not only reversible, but would help prevent AIDS. Women were offered clothing in exchange for agreeing to use Norplant (the five-year contraceptive implant), which led to a host of problems including constant bleeding, headaches, dizziness, nausea, radical weight loss, depression and fatigue. Demands that the Norplant rods be taken out were obstructed.

Such brute realities of population control are rarely mentioned in the United States, where reports from the U.N. population conference in Cairo have depicted a clash between libertarian respect for individual choice and the medieval tyranny of the Catholic or Muslim clergy. The Clinton Administration is not the first to flaunt its concern for individual rights where such issues are concerned. Back in 1974, in Nixon’s White House, Henry Kissinger commissioned National Security Study Memorandum 200, which addressed population issues.

Prefiguring the current “empowerment” shoe polish, Kissinger stressed that the United States should “help minimize charges of imperialist motivation behind its support of population activities by repeatedly asserting that such support derives from a concern with the right of the individual to determine freely and responsibly the number and spacing of children.”

But the true concern of Kissinger’s analysts was maintenance of U.S. access to Third World resources. They worried that the “political consequences” of population growth could produce internal instability in nations “in whose advancement the United States is interested.” With famine and food riots and the breakdown of social order in such countries, “the smooth flow of needed materials will be jeopardized.”

The authors of the report noted laconically that the United States, with 6% of the world’s population, used about a third of its resources. Curbs on Third World population would ensure that local consumption would not increase, and possibly affect availability of Third World resources. As a natural extension of this logic, the report favored sterilization over food aid.

By 1977, Reimert Ravenholt, the director of AID’s population program, was saying that his agency’s goal was to sterilize one-quarter of the world’s women. The gearing between Third World fecundity and First World prosperity is still a core policy theme. The immensely wealthy Pew Charitable Trusts–a cluster of foundations with an abiding interest in population control, recently issued a report that stated frankly: “The average American’s interest in maintaining high standards of living has been a prime motivator for U.S. population policy from its earliest formation and it is likely that this will continue for the foreseeable future.”

[Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at: sitka@comcast.net. Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.]