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Thomas Sankara: Africa’s Unsung Inspiration

21st Century Wire

September 5, 2017

by P.D. Lawton

 

Thomas Sankara, a man in his early thirties transformed the world’s poorest country at that time, Upper Volta, into a self-sufficient modern thinking nation in just four years.

This African miracle nation remains little known about in the West because its story contradicts every negative image that has ever been painted of African leadership and African nations. Sankara would prove to the people of Burkina Faso, to other African nations and to the colonial powers what could be achieved in the blink of an eye by Africans under African leaders of integrity.

Upper Volta in 1983 was little more than a French run labour camp for French run Cote D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). This region of West Africa was up until the mid-1800’s part of the ancient Mossi Kingdom, and has always been called ‘The Land of Upright Men’, men of integrity, hence the name Burkina Faso. Spiritually the people of this region are of great significance and still  to this day practice the world`s most ancient belief.

In the August Revolution, Sankara and the military overthrew the CSP (Council for the Salvation of the People) headed by conservative Jean-Baptiste Quedraogo and formed a new government of the National Council of the Revolution (CNR).

Two years later infant mortality had dropped from 280 deaths for every 1000 births to 145, with the aid of Cuban volunteers and a mass vaccination program. School attendance rose, in two years, from 12% to 22%. In just the first year of its implementation, Sankara’s environmental program to halt desertification in this Sahel region, over 10 million trees were planted. Without international aid which was not forthcoming from the World Bank with which to improve infrastructure, Sankara and the population got down and dirty and with their bare hands and laid hundreds of kilometres of railway track to facilitate manganese extraction. This was not done by forced labour at gunpoint, there were no bloodbaths under Sankara who did not believe in war but instead, in ideas. Like Gamal Nasser of Egypt, Sankara got the people of his country to prove to themselves that they could achieve anything they put their minds and hearts into. The previous government were brought before a tribunal and asked to explain to the people of the country why they had misappropriated so much money. This was there only form of punishment and public humiliation. This is on record. One of Sankara’s first acts as president was to slash his ministers’ salaries, starting with his own. He sold the previous government`s fleet of Mercedes and replaced them with little Renault 5’s, which is what he drove. This is a stark contrast to the Kenyan governmental 2003 purchase of $12 million worth of luxury cars. Sankara remained humble and refused to allow his portrait to be displayed across the country, explaining that it was their revolution and that “There are 7 million Thomas Sankaras.” At the time of his assassination his salary in 1987, was $450 a month and he owned one car and four push bikes.

Sankara dissolved all other political parties, seen by him as representative of the colonial powers and open to subversion, just as did Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana.

This man was loved by his people. In his attempt to raise the consciousness of the people as a  whole and to do away with colonial and long standing feudal practices within society he abolished all gender regulation, making women the equals of men, appointing many to government positions, allowing them to join the army which they did and proved themselves the equals of male soldiers; and started a National Women’s Day on which all women could stay at home and the men to take their places in going to market for the day`s groceries. Women loved it! Great strides were taken to speak openly against domestic violence and women’s traditionally subordinate role. Thomas Sankara was the first leader in Africa to do this; brave to say the least in an extremely patriarchal culture, and one of the first leaders in the world to promote women’s rights for genuine reasons.

“We must give a job to every woman of this country. We must give every woman the means to earn an honest and decent living.”

 

“Our country produces enough to feed us all. We can even produce more than we need. Unfortunately for lack of organization we still need to beg for food aid. This type of assistance is counter-productive and has kept us thinking that we can only be beggars who need aid. We must put aside this type of aid and succeed in producing more because the one who feeds you usually imposes his will on you. Let us consume what we can control. Some people ask me: But where is imperialism? Just look into your plates; you see imported corn, rice or millet. This is imperialism. No need to look any further… Of course, we encourage aid that aids us in doing away with aid. But in general welfare and aid policies have only ended up disorganizing us; thus beguiling us and robbing us of a sense of responsibility for our own economic, political and cultural affairs. We choose to risk new paths to achieve greater well-being.

Thomas Sankara recognized the western-run pseudo-philanthropic-humanitarian effort for what it is in Africa today. That it is the same as “Debt is a cleverly managed re-conquest of Africa,” which he said before the OAU summit in 1987. In his enlightened understanding of economics, he refused all but essential aid and encouraged instead for people to buy produce and products grown or manufactured within Burkina Faso. This policy for the domestic economy`s revival (which happens to be the exact opposite of all World Bank economic policy) created in just 4 years,  a cotton growing, processing and fabric industry that beautifully clothed the entire population as well as exporting. So people would feel pride in modern-traditional clothes, in Burkinabe fashions and look African instead of advertising coke and blue jeans. All government workers, teachers etc. had to wear Burkinabe clothes (this was actually not to everyone`s taste so government workers tended to have a spare outfit at all times in case Sankara called by, they called the traditional clothes the Sankara-is-coming-outfit).

Sankara started a mass housing project and brick factories to build homes so no-one would live in an urban slum but would live with dignity whether in the rural areas or in a city. In 4 years all regions of Burkina Faso were connected by a network of roads. Sankara was the first African leader to encourage people to take up sport or other forms of fitness as “A healthy mind in a healthy body.” And Sankara was the first president to speak about real environmentalism. He started a project to plant a grove in every village, a grove of trees and shrubs to remind people to respect and protect the land. Tens of millions of trees were planted in under 4 years to combat desertification. During all of these programs Sankara got down and dirty; he personally planted hundreds of trees, made bricks and laid stones on railway lines, there were no tasks that he asked people to perform that he wouldn’t do himself. This man was a hero.

Within 4 years Burkina Faso had become self sufficient. The average for the Sahel region is 1700kg of wheat per hectare. In 1986 Burkina Faso was already producing 3900kg of wheat per hectare.

Within Sankara’s understanding of the nature of colonialism and how it had undermined Africans own self-worth and within his understanding of neocolonialism and how subversive force counter-revolutionized people back into accepting western economics; were the reasons for his political, ideological indoctrination of the people. He forced into people’s minds progressive thinking and had them repeat mantras of how they were going to change the future of themselves, each other and their country. These activities were labelled by Western media as communist indoctrination meetings. Sankara also started the Pioneers Movement which trained children under twelve in social responsibility. He knew they would be the county’s future and his efforts were to oppose what he knew would take place in Western-backed counter-revolutionary thought. His ideological training of the adult population was based on a number of de-brainwashing techniques, to instill new positive thinking and confidence, but also as he said:

“…. a soldier without any political or ideological training is a potential criminal.”

He didn’t want Burkina Faso to ever become part of an orchestrated bloodbath run by armed men with no aim, no principles and only gain, which he saw happening across Africa.

Already by 1984 Sankara`s revolution was influencing people across the continent, giving hope and questions to people and giving ground for fear from the imperialist powers.

The final nail in the coffin for this sublime hero of Africa was what he later said at the OAU summit in 1987. He asked the leaders present in the most affable manner to unilaterally reject African debt.” A loan is a gamble, like in a casino “, he explained that while African states remain in debt to the colonial powers they will remain dependents. He put forward an economic solution for Africa that is in complete contrast to World Bank policy and said:

Let’s make sure that the African market belongs to Africans. Let’s produce in Africa, manufacture in Africa and consume in Africa. Let’s produce what we need and consume what we produce.”

 

“The Debt problem needs to be analysed starting from its origins. Those who lent money to us are the same people who colonized us, are the same who so long managed our states and our economies; they in-debted Africa with ‘donations’ of money. We were not involved in the creation of this debt, so we should not pay it. The debt, moreover, is linked to the machinery of neo-colonialism, the colonizers became technical assistants, I would call them technical assassins, and they suggested, recommended to us the financiers, they told us about the financial advantages. That is why we indebted ourselves for decades and renounced the satisfaction of our people`s needs. In today`s shape, controlled and dominated by imperialism, the foreign debt is a well-organized tool of colonial re-conquest: in order to make the African economy a slave of those who were so clever as to give us capital with the obligation of reimbursing them. We are asked to reimburse our debt. But if we do not pay, the capital lenders will not die, if we pay, we will die. We cannot pay, and we don`t want to pay. We are not responsible for the debt burden. We have already paid a lot of the debt. We are asked to co-operate in researching balance mechanisms, balance in favour of those who own the financial institutions and use the power against the peoples. We cannot be accomplices. The Paris Club is there, let’s create the Addis Ababa Club for cancelling our foreign debt. Our Club should say-our debt will not be paid. Don’t think it is a proposal made only by young people like us. Mrs Bruntland said African countries cannot pay, as did Mr Mitterrand and Fidel Castro… we should explain in other conferences that we cannot pay. We must be united, otherwise, individually we will be murdered. Avoiding debt repayment is a condition which will allow us to free resources for our development.”

Source: Asad Ismi, ‘Impoverishing a Continent: The World Bank and the IMF in Africa‘, (2004).

The assembled “open unpatriotic sons of Africa,” bought and paid for by foreign powers and their corporations, refused to hear him and just as he knew would happen if they did not back him in unison, Sankara was not present at the following year’s OAU summit.

Back in Burkina Faso with French Intelligence and the Foccart business network behind them, Blaise Compaore began agitating, telling people that Sankara was holding back from them the prosperity on offer. Compaore and his top military men assassinated Thomas Sankara on the 15 October 1987.

“In a way, great men enlighten people, enlighten their time long after they`ve gone; and I say after their death because its when you`ve lost something that you become aware of its true value. Sankara has become a moral and spiritual reference for us all.”(Jean-Hubert Bazie from Robin Shuffield’s documentary)

Main Source: documentary on YouTube, a film by Robin Shuffield, ‘Thomas Sankara, The Upright Man’. Watch this short impactful film:

 


[Author P.D. Lawton is a native of South Africa and host of African Agenda, and committed to finding African solutions to Africa’s political and socio-economic problems.]

The Big Conservation Lie Exposes Colonial Dynamic at the Heart of Conservation Policy

Ecologist

August 9, 2017

by Lewis Evans

 

 

Mordecai Ogada was sitting in a luxury safari lodge, admiring the view of Kilimanjaro. He could see many of Africa’s most iconic species -giraffe, water buffalo, even a few elephants far in the distance.

As a professional conservationist, with a PhD in carnivore ecology, the sight was both familiar and pleasing. He was being treated like a tourist. Someone came in and offered him a cocktail. Then, one of his white hosts and sponsors, the people whose largesse he was enjoying, said: “We’re going to have to move that Maasai village. It’s spoiling the view for tourists.”

For Dr. Ogada, this was a decisive moment. “I was a qualified black face, put in place to smooth over fifty years of exploitation.”

The Big Conservation Lie is written by people who are actually from one of big conservation’s key target countries. It dismantles many of the environmental movement’s most troubling myths: the pristine wilderness “untouched by human hands” until European arrival; the supposed lack of interest or expertise in wildlife among native conservationists and communities; the idea that brutal poaching would be endemic without foreign intervention, and so on.

A colonial narrative

Ogada and Mbaria sum up the essence of their argument early on: “The wildlife conservation narrative in Kenya, as well as much of Africa, is thoroughly intertwined with colonialism, virulent racism, deliberate exclusion of the natives, veiled bribery, unsurpassed deceit, a conservation cult subscribed to by huge numbers of people in the West, and severe exploitation of the same wilderness conservationists have constantly claimed they are out to preserve.”

To colonisers, Africa is and always has been a “wild and uncontrollable environment” – home to “charismatic” species that can be admired (or shot) from afar. The conventional narrative has generally suggested that only European and American expertise can tame or protect it. The authors argue that this has given western NGOs such as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) enormous power.

It has also created space for white “saviors” (and the “saviors” are always white), such as George Adamson, Jane Goodall, and Iain Douglas-Hamilton, to step in and be seen to make the decisive difference. There’s no place for Africans in the picture.

Damaging myths

Ogada and Mbaria take aim at some of conservation’s most sacred cows. George Adamson, for example, the white British subject of the 1966 film “Born Free” is exposed as a chancer, a failed businessman who accepted  conservation donations, despite being a trophy hunter with next to no conservation expertise.

Much of the authors’ scorn is reserved for the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). Though it presents itself as a conservation organisation, the true face of this “service” is revealed. It is composed mostly of retired soldiers and mercenaries, heavily armed and organised much like a militia.

Run for many years by Richard Leakey, a wealthy white Kenyan of British descent, it is accused of corruption, violence, and perpetuating the appropriation of some of Kenya’s most fertile areas by the British colonials and their descendants.

As the authors point out, the KWS receives funding, equipment, and training from western powers, including the United States and Great Britain. This doesn’t stop if from profiting from the land it supposedly exists to protect, through tourism, and even ties to big mining and pharmaceutical companies.

It is revealed to have cut deals with the German corporation Bayer, and some of its most senior figures have themselves been implicated in wildlife crime, including ivory trafficking. Despite this, they and the armed operatives they command are considered “above suspicion” by the Kenyan authorities.

A failure to respect indigenous knowledge

Similarly, they expose the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), one of the best-respected of the big conservation organisations, for having supported a project which involved evicting thousands of Maasai people from forests which they’d been dependent on and managed for millennia.

This is despite the fact that the Loita woodland that they were removed from was largely intact at the time, whereas areas of forest which had been in western hands for decades had badly deteriorated. This is typical of the “externally-defined agenda for social development” which the authors critique, and which often doesn’t involve much effective conservation.

Many western conservation charities, it’s argued, exist primarily to secure publicity for their founders. A recent example is “Space for Giants” – an initiative founded by Russian oligarch Evgeny Lebedev.

The organisation has released several high profile op-eds and photos showing “action” in the name of conservation, but has, according to the authors, done little on the ground, beyond charging over $5,000 a head (plus mandatory donation) for luxury safari tours.

What a lot of western-initiated conservation boils down to, according to Ogada and Mbaria, is “surveillance of vast areas with huge mineral potential under the guise of wildlife conservation.”

African solutions to Africa’s problems

In place of this neocolonial approach, they advocate closer partnerships with local and tribal communities, respecting and using the extraordinary, but unacknowledged, expertise about the natural world that already exists in large parts of Kenya and the wider world.

There are plenty of Africans working in conservation, but they get very little recognition for their work. Professionals like Dr. Ogada are not only experts in their field, but also provide a different perspective on the deeply flawed western approach to conservation, an approach which has failed, even on its own terms.

Likewise, there are millions of people across Africa who live largely sustainable lives and have plenty of insights to offer, if only western conservationists would be willing to step aside and put them at the forefront of the environmental movement. Only by listening to Africa’s tribal peoples – the best conservationists and guardians of the natural world – will we stand any chance of protecting the natural environment.

“The Big Conservation Lie” is highly recommended for anyone interested in this struggle, or in debunking the pervasive myths that are holding the environmental movement back. It is a bold and important book that deserves your attention.

 

 

[Lewis Evans is a campaigner at Survival International, the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights. The Big Conservation Lie is available to purchase from Lens & Pens Publications.]

 

AVAAZ: The Globe’s Largest & Most Powerful Behavioural Change Network [Part I]

July 27, 2017

By Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

 

This series builds on Cory Morningstar’s previous writing and research tracking the connecting lines of networked hegemony that exist between the elite funded NGOs that dominate the non profit industrial complex. Here Morningstar sharpens her focus on key individuals involved in rebranding business-as-usual and a particular Fifth Avenue address to expose the roots of the false narratives favored by the financial elites. Ongoing regime change, climate reformism, financialization of nature and the ‘new economy’ come under Morningstar’s lens making very clear that Avaaz is the propagandizing seat of smart power for those who would have us continue, in sweet delusion, consuming the earth to death. — Australian activist Michael Swifte

 

 

Foreword:

In 2012-2013 I wrote an investigative series titled Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War. I introduced the series began as follows:

“The Ivy League bourgeoisie who sit at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex will one day be known simply as charismatic architects of death. Funded by the ruling class oligarchy, the role they serve for their funders is not unlike that of corporate media. Yet, it appears that global society is paralyzed in a collective hypnosis – rejecting universal social interests, thus rejecting reason, to instead fall in line with the position of the powerful minority that has seized control, a minority that systematically favours corporate interests.

This investigative report examines the key founders of Avaaz, as well as other key sister organizations affiliated with Avaaz who, hand in hand with the Rockefellers, George Soros, Bill Gates and other powerful elites, are meticulously shaping global society by utilizing and building upon strategic psychological marketing, soft power, technology and social media – shaping public consensus, thus acceptance, for the illusory “green economy” and a novel sonata of 21st century colonialism. As we are now living in a world that is beyond dangerous, society must be aware of, be able to critically analyze, and ultimately reject the new onslaught of carefully orchestrated depoliticization, domestication of populace, propaganda and misinformation that is being perpetrated and perpetuated by the corporate elite and the current power structures that support their agenda. The non-profit industrial complex must be understood as a mainspring and the instrument of power, the very support and foundation of imperial domination.”

In 2014 I wrote an article titled SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire. This article focused on the Avaaz sister org. Purpose, a for-profit public relations firm in New York City that specializes in behavioural change for many of the largest corporations and institutions on the planet. Specifically it focused on the campaigns Purpose created to foster public acquiescence (and even demand) for a war on Syria following the complete annihilation of Libya in which Avaaz played a vital role for the elites they serve. From that moment, independent journalist Vanessa Beeley (with much assistance from a handful of journalists and ordinary citizens) dedicated her life to exposing the Purpose creation “the White Helmets”, for what they are: a terrorist group operating under the clandestine cloak of humanitarianism, financed by the UK government and USAID. Other journalists and ordinary citizens pursued the truth against a sea of propaganda created in order to foment yet another illegal war and occupation. Women played an extraordinary role in this struggle against imperialism and hybrid NGOs. The goal was for NATO states to destroy and capture Syria at any and all costs.  The non-profit industrial complex has played a vital role in the efforts to achieve this goal, which have failed, in large part to the courageous Syrian Army.  How many countries have succeeded in staving off the most powerful imperial forces in the planet for 6 years? I would like to think those who pursued the truth – in a now dystopian world where the truth is despised – also contributed to empire’s epic fail.

This new series goes further. This research will demonstrate how Avaaz was not only utilized for empire’s illegal destabilizations, but created to provide such a framework for the “responsibility to protect” – Responsibility to Protect (R2P) serving as the doctrine for war under the guise of humanitarianism. This research will demonstrate that the key co-founders of Avaaz and Purpose – must be considered intelligence for both U.S. and Britain – groomed since Harvard (and perhaps even prior to Harvard). This research identifies Harvard as ground zero for the implementation of imperialist foreign policies – to be achieved via war – under the guise of humanitarianism. And what a guise it is. The most vital purpose of the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) has not been to destroy the ecocidal economic system that enslaves us while perpetuating and ensuring infinite wars. Rather, the key purpose of the NPIC is and has always been to protect this very system it purports to oppose from being dismantled. Hence the trillions of dollars pumped into the NPIC by the establishment.

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Avaaz full page ad in the New York Times. June 18, 2015, Avaaz: “In today’s New York Times, a call on President Obama for life-saving action in Syria. Join the campaign for a targeted No Fly Zone here:avaaz.org/safezone

Those at the helm of Avaaz and its sister NGO, Purpose, continue to froth at the mouth for war on Syria. The February 2017 Oscar win for White Helmets (a Purpose creation) demonstrated we have reached a new level of insanity in the West. Also relevant, on April 29, 2017, a second People’s Climate March took place in Washington, D.C. [Full partner list] which will be brought into the fold at a later point in this series.

Today, drowning within a post-modern spectacle, it is past time to revisit who and what institutions are behind today’s manufactured movements. Thus, a fresh look at both Avaaz and Purpose, and their formidable ties to 350.org, is nothing less than imperative.

At a time in which the global economic system continues to teeter close to stall speed, where Earth’s natural resources are to be depleted by the year 2030 which is less than 13 years away (more than enough reason for lunatics to propose colonization of the planet of Mars as an actual viable solution) and where wars over sand and other scarce commodities are a growing reality, the commerce of hatred is a much sought and growing area of expertise. Hate is a hot commodity. Celebrity fetish, an apparent global contagion exported from the West, is being further utilized to manufacture and distribute hate. The behavioral economics of hatred, in the 21st century, has become a fine-tuned art. Perhaps no NGOs (with exception of Amnesty International & Human Rights Watch) are better at manufacturing the supply of hate than Avaaz and its for-profit sister NGO, public relations firm Purpose.

“Culture of Exuberance: the total complex of beliefs and practices associated with the opportunities for expansive life in the Age of Exuberance; a culture founded upon the myth of limitlessness”  — Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change 

Shifting Baseline Syndrome

The recent Oscar award given to the White Helmets documentary is a simple extension of the growing utilization of celebrity to re-brand wars as humanitarian interventions and the manufacturing of movements. Simply put, celebrity is a deliberate creation for the building of acquiescence, to acquire/expand capital and power. Celebrity fetish also serves as a key tool of distraction and the further devolving of whole societies (via the glorifying/marketing of shallowness, excess and narcissism), while many feature-length films and documentaries are behaviour modification instruments created/financed in order to propagate false narratives for a naïve consumer society that aversively upholds white supremacy, one of many Western ideologies driven into the psyche of the collective citizenry. Today, brands, ideologies, and even invasions of sovereign states, achieve authenticity through association. Thus, celebrity has become as vital a tool for empire as the NGO itself. Together they are akin to nuclear fusion.

The Shifting Baseline Syndrome is a concept formulated by Daniel Pauly in 1995. It results in “a drift away from true natural conditions, and as a consequence a change in perception of ecological change varying from generation to generation.” The digital sphere (social media, celebrity) continues to displace our physical sphere (nature, family, community) while the biological becomes more and more irrelevant in the minds of the conditioned. We become empty vessels to be re-made in the image of corporatism. Today’s shifting baseline has not only made nature irrelevant altogether (of value only if we assign monetary value, “fighting” for “clean energy” replacing fighting to protect nature), it has brought us to the brink of complete collective insanity.

As recognized by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, (2016), “new patterns of consumer behavior (increasingly built upon access to mobile networks and data)… The Fourth Industrial Revolution, finally, will change not only what we do but also who we are.” [Source]

Today’s 21st century powerhouse NGOs have proven successfully that hate can be neutralized, and even be turned into adoration, as demonstrated by Avaaz co-founder, MoveOn.org. In a world of make-believe where lies are preferred over truth, charismatic warmongers of the past (Barack Obama) are embraced while vulgar warmongers in the present (Donald Trump) are crucified among the allegedly “unbiased left”. Branding supersedes reality straight across the board.

In the age of post-modern spectacle and modern-day dystopia, environmentalism and humanitarianism are nothing more than egregious misnomers. In the age of 21st century post-truths –  the capture of the public’s emotions is more than adequate for ensuring truth, logic and reason remain completely irrelevant. Hence, whether it’s selling war or selling the financialization of nature, the art of selling – without ever actually disclosing what it is that you are selling, has become a key strategy for selling the unthinkable. Tapping into hate is today a key marketing ploy for selling everything from “clean energy” (the fossil fuel industry is the enemy rather than parasitic capitalism itself) to payments for ecosystem services (strategically exploit the very real contempt for externalities only to sell the financialization of nature) to illegal invasions, occupations and war (demonize the democratically elected leader of the sovereign state, create falsehoods such as the Syrian army are on a murderous rampage, murdering their own people/families). If you can sell the hate, you can sell the war.

Two Heads of the Same Coin: Avaaz/350.org

But, before we delve into the history of Avaaz in addition to its powerful collaborations and influential allies, it is critical to understand  the incredibly close alliances between many of the most prominent NGOs that comprise the non-profit industrial complex. In many instances the NGOs at the top of the NPIC hierarchy, simply create (or absorb) clone sub-NGOs. They are all essentially one in the same – but utilize different methods to attract different audiences (and cultures) to achieve one shared goal: protection and expansion of the current capitalist economic system. Such is the case of Purpose, which is comprised of/manages The B Team , The Rules and a stream of others. The loyalties and interconnectedness of those at the helm of the empire’s lapdog NGOs are powerful. Thus, you will never witness May Bouve, 350.org’s current executive director, speak out against Avaaz’s push for war on sovereign states in the Middle East, as Bouve herself sits on the board of Res Publica – the co-founding organization of Avaaz. You will never witness Naomi Klein criticize Avaaz nor 350.org (both founding NGOs of GCCA/TckTckTck), for their many crimes against humanity as Klein serves on the board of 350.org, alongside Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel who serves on the 350.org International Advisory Council. The interlocking directorate serves as an insurance policy for ensured and infinite self-censorship. The fact that many of these positions are given/held with no compensation is all the more telling. The lure (and appeal) for the appointee is strictly to gain further access.

Above – Section A. Officers, Directors, Trustees, Key Employees, and Highest Compensated Employees from the 2014 990 form of Res Public (Avaaz/co-founder of Avaaz)

A June 19, 2006 Res Publica job posting (“Senior Staff for Global Version of MoveOn.org”) listed the countries of geopolitical interest that Res Publica’s new NGO (Avaaz) would be focused on. Since this time, many of these countries listed have undergone so-called “coloured revolutions” (Egypt, Tunisia) while others listed by Res Public, are today annihilated (Libya) or under attack (Yemen, Syrian Arab Republic). The starting salary was listed as $60-80,000 per annum plus benefits package. The 2006 description for what would be Avaaz is as follows:

“The organization will begin with 20 full time staff located in 6 countries and a much larger number of volunteers, and will follow an ambitious growth path. It will launch with 700,000 members spread across 148 countries. An Advisory Board for the project comprises politicians, diplomats, activists and celebrities from around the world.”

Of great interest is those who were involved at the inception of Avaaz. At the Thirteenth Session of the United Nations Conference of the parties, which was held in Bali on 14 December 2007, we find the following representatives of the Avaaz foundation on the List of Participants document (p. 5), which include  “Mr. Jonathan Warnow Junior Climate Campaigner, Ms. Gillian May Boeve, Junior Climate Campaigner, Ms. Kelly Blynn, Research Associate and Mr. Jameson Henn,  Research Associate” – all founders of 350.org. [1] [“Observer organizations marked with an asterisk (*) in this document have been provisionally admitted by the subsidiary bodies.”]

From left to right: “Jamie Henn, Communications Director, 350, organizers of the world’s largest climate action on October 24; Ricken Patel, Executive Director, Avaaz, the world’s largest digital campaigning org, with 3.5M supporters; Ben Margolis, Campaigns Director, TckTckTck, an open campaign involving 220+ global NGO partners. At Fresh Air Center facilitated by tcktcktck for bloggers, downtown Copenhagen. 14 December 2009.” flickr, Tcklive

Sustainable Development World Leaders Invited to Paris Agreement Signing Ceremony, April 22, 2016. United Nations, December 10, 2015: Left to right: Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club, Christian O’Rourke, Development Director for Earth Guardians, Ken Berlin, President and CEO of the Climate Reality Project, May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org, UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Al Gore, Chairman The Climate Reality Project, Emma Ruby Sachs, Deputy Director, Avaaz, Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International,  Yoca Arditi-Rocha (back row, right of Naidoo) Our Kids Climate, Usha Nair, Climate Leader, Global Gender and Climate Alliance, and Karuna Singh, Director, Earth Day Network India. Flickr

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Richard Branson’s The B Team is Purpose

“And yet, it is obvious that the opportunities that come from addressing climate change are equally staggering. Research by the We Mean Business Coalition shows that returns on low carbon investments average close to 30%, not only in the cleantech sectors but across all sectors in every corner of the world. These investments will drive growth and employment, spur innovation and reduce the risk of climate disruption. The truth is that economic growth and environmental protection go hand-in-hand, and one is impossible without the other.” — Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group and Board Member, *We Mean Business, World Economic Forum, January 22, 2015

[*The founding partners of We Mean Business are Business for Social Responsibility (full membership and associate members list), CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), Ceres, The B Team, The Climate Group (an Avaaz partner), The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG)(TckTckTck partner) and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)]

The B Team was incubated by Virgin Unite, the foundation arm of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, which had previously incubated such organizations the Elders and the Carbon War Room. In October, 2012, Branson and Zeitz (ex-CEO of Puma) announced the formation of The B Team. It has since grown to include 23 “leaders” [1] which includes Kathy Calvin (President and CEO of the United Nations Foundation), Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, Mary Robinson, Secretary of The Elders and President of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, Ratan Tata, Chairman Emeritus of the Tata Group, and several others of elite status. [Source] [Full List]  

Although seven co-founders of We Mean Business are identified, We Mean Business is actually a coalition that in 2016 represented 300 corporations:

 “A unified front of leaders came together to demonstrate business demand for progressive climate policy. The B Team joined BSR, CDP, Ceres, The Climate Group, the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to establish We Mean Business, a network of more than 300 companies working within a common platform to amplify business support for bold climate action and policies.” — The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, p. 11 [Source]

Today the We Mean Business coalition represents 590 corporations ($1 trillion US total revenue), and 183 investors (representing $20.7 trillion US in assets under management). [Source: We mean Business website]

In addition to this exponential growth, in June 2017, Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) from 2010-2016, has joined The B Team.

Here, it is imperative to reflect. The grotesque Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA /TckTckTck) campaign that sabotaged the most vulnerable nations in 2009 at the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) in Copenhagen, was a creation of the global advertsing firm Havas Worldwide for the United Nations. The objective of the campaignwas to make it become a movement that consumers, advertisers and the media would use and exploit.” The first two NGOs to sign on to the TckTckTck campaign were 350.org and Avaaz. – two of the founding NGOs of the GCCA (with it’s inception dating back to 2006-2007). With an “overall budget of USD 6.8 million – over 95% of which came from foundation funding – the GCCA was undoubtedly the most well-funded global climate campaign of 2009.” [Source] In 2015, Havas and the United Nations, convening partners of the Earth To Paris Coalition, would again partner with select  NGOs (Avaaz, 350, Ceres, We mean Business, Global Citizen, The World Bank group and The Nature Conservatory to name a few) in order to announce and promote the “Paris agreement”.

“Earth To Paris community — There is reason for celebration. At the COP21 United Nations conference in Paris today, officials from nearly 200 countries reached a new agreement to address the threat of global climate change…The afternoon has been filled with hugs, tears, and standing ovations at Le Bourget…”  — COP21 Coup D’état – A Toast to Our Annihilation, Dec 12, 2015

Life in the champagne circuit: In this photograph taken by AP Images for Avaaz, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, center left, accepts the ‘End the War on Drugs’ petition from Avaaz Executive Director Ricken Patel, center right, accompanied by Richard Branson, right, and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, left, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, Friday, 3 June 2011

Considering that foundations such as Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie, et. al. strategize for the protection/expansion of hegemonic power years and, more often, decades in advance, in addition to the most recent events of 2007-2009 (the creation of GCCA/TckTckTck), one could reasonably hypothesize that the United Nations, in servitude to Annex One Nations, elites and the world’s most powerful corporations, is paramount in the creation of and the fostering of the very NGOs and the liberal left’s beloved “environmental leaders” (whores for imperialism). As this series will demonstrate, those that dominate the NPIC are very deeply embedded in, and very heavily nurtured by, the United Nations. The carefully chosen and groomed sycophants that reside at the helm of the NPIC spoon-feed the citizenry (identified merely as consumers or human capital) exactly what the architects of destruction have longingly prepared for: the perpetual servitude and enslavement of the populace, global in scale. Yet, the necessary acquiescence for such servitude is not given by all. Certainly not the downtrodden, the working class or those that comprise the bottom of the food chain in the global capitalist economic system. The NPIC targets a specific demographic – a privileged, predominantly white, upper/middle-class populace, whose appetite for knowledge has been replaced with an appetite for celebrity fetish and irrelevant prattle.

Further in this series we will explore at length the rebranding of the GCCA/tcktck website which has been redesigned  in the image of Purpose. The new strategy for the “Purpose-esque” re-branding of GCCA is undoubtedly in no small part due to who now serves as  the vice-chair of the GCCA Board of Directors:  Phil Ireland of Purpose Europe, “where he helps shape and implement new progressive movements to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges.” [bio]

Ireland serves on the board of GetUp. MoveOn, the US version of the Australian GetUp! is a founding NGO of Avaaz.

The “B Team Experts” include the aforementioned John Elkington, Heather Grady, Senior Fellow, Global Philanthropy for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors; Alexander Grashow, Clinton Global Initiative, Jeremy Heimans, co-founder of both Avaaz and Purpose, Mindy Lubber, President of Ceres (350 divestment partner), Hunter Lovins, President, Natural Capitalism Solutions, David Jones, co-founder of One Young World, former CEO of Havas Worldwide and creator of the TckTckTck campaign.

On February 23, 2017 The B Team announced its further expansion (and theft) into Africa:

“The launch of The B Team in Eastern Africa kicks-off a broader global campaign, in which The B Team will organise regional platforms around the world to increase the number of company leaders who are willing and able to ‘step up” and lead this transition.

 

The announcement comes on the heels of the release of a new report, produced by the Business and Sustainable Development Commission, which provides substantial evidence of the massive global economic opportunities that can be unlocked by new business models focused on addressing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

The commission reports that achieving the SDGs will be worth at least US$1.1 trillion by 2030 for the private sector in Africa, potentially creating more than 85 million new jobs, with affordable housing accounting for more than 13 million of these jobs…

 

Business – which has contributed to many of these ills – is also an indispensable actor in resolving them.

 

The potential prize for business to align their business goals with the SDGs is significant. The Business Commission identified 60 sustainable and inclusive market “hotspots” in just four key areas (energy; cities; food and agriculture; health and wellbeing) that could create at least US$12 trillion in business value by 2030 – equivalent to 10 percent of forecast GDP – and generate up to 380 million jobs, mostly in developing countries like ours.”

#BeyondDavis

In the following two paragraphs, the two hyperlinks (purpose.us2.list-manage.com…) make clear that both The B Team and #BeyondDavos (“Copyright © 2015 Purpose, All rights reserved”) are campaigns driven/managed by Purpose:

The B Team unveils ‘Plan B’
The B Team unveiled its highly anticipated ‘Plan B‘ for business – a roadmap for creating companies that benefit people and planet – and invites business leaders ready to take on the challenge to join The B Team.

#BeyondDavos Kicks Off
Over 200 thought leaders from a variety of industries and causes united to kick-off the #BeyondDavos coalition to ensure that critical social, economic and environmental opportunities continue to be discussed after the meeting with concerned leaders around the world.

From the same LinkedIn page [Day 3 (Wednesday) #BeyondDavos Daily, January 22, 2015]:

“Purpose CEO, Jeremy Heimans, says, ‘This is a fresh opportunity to continue sharing and learning about each other’s important social campaigns and how they each are already contributing to the new Sustainable Development Goal conversation.'” [Emphasis added]

Here it is important to note Jeremy Heimans (co-founder of both Avaaz and Purpose) concerted effort to not only promote the sustainable development goals (the financialization/privatization of nature), but to also create/lend legitimacy to the Purpose creations, The Syria Campaign and the White Helmets, a UK/USAID financed NGO that works alongside terrorist groups Al Nusra and ISIS:

“Nobody exemplifies the courage needed to protect fundamental human rights better than Syria’s White Helmets. Today, the #BeyondDavos coalition will host them along with other Syrian activists in a discussion about their critical humanitarian efforts in one of the world’s most deadly conflict zones.” — #BeyondDavos hosts Syria’s courageous White Helmets

 

“The discussion brought together leading voices from the international NGO community, including Dr. Ken Roth from Human Rights Watch; Dr. Annie Sparrow; the Syrian Civil Defence (the “White Helmets”), volunteer rescue workers who have saved more than 12,500 lives from under the rubble of barrel bomb attacks; and experts in the field of public mobilization including Tim Dixon from The Syria Campaign. ” — Purpose website

[Further reading: SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire, September 17, 2014]

Above: Excerpt from the book Digital Citizenship and Political Engagement. The Challenge from Online Campaigning and Advocacy Organisations. Chapter six, Entrepreneurial Leadership Styles

Above: Purpose requires storytellers. The art of “storytelling” will be discussed at length further in this report.

From the Purpose website, February 2, 2015: Purpose and Here Now featured in The Guardian:

“In addition to being a participating partner of the #BeyondDavos coalition, a group of leading organizations committed to social impact, including The B Team, Global Citizen, Here Now, Omidyar Network, Purpose, and We Mean Business, Purpose’s senior leadership also added to The Guardian‘s international coverage of the Annual Meeting. Jeremy Heimans, CEO of Purpose, and Paul Hilder, Executive Director of Here Now, were recently featured in a Guardian piece where they discussed the importance of corporate sector commitment towards combating climate change. In Davos, two things were apparent to Jeremy and Paul; 1) The surprising amount of corporations publicly announcing their efforts to curb climate change; 2) How little, if any, participatory involvement they sought from their consumers. In the article, which you can read here, the two advocate for corporations to actively engage their consumer base in this fight, with the hope of simultaneously strengthening their clean-energy message and boosting their respective brands.”

Here it is critical to note that Here Now is a creation of Purpose. Paul Hilder, a co-founder of Avaaz and SumOfUs EU advisory board member, serves as executive director of Here Now. [Hilder background]

Nigel Topping is the CEO of We Mean Business. Topping is Executive Director of CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project), “a global NGO which has brought together 655 of the world’s investors, representing assets under management of over $78 trillion, to engage with over 6000 of the largest public corporations on the business implications of climate change.” [Source]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks as philanthropist Bill Gates looks on during the Global Citizen Concert in Montreal, Quebec, September 17, 2016. / AFP / Geoff Robins

The following address for the #BeyondDavis Coalition on the aforementioned LinkedIn page, has important significance:

Our mailing address is:

Purpose

115 5th Ave

6th Floor

New York, NY 10003

[From the Bloomberg website: “Purpose Global, LLC was incorporated in 2011 and is based in New York, New York. 115 Fifth Avenue. 6th Floor. New York, NY 10003.”]

In May of 2015 the Ford Foundation awarded a 700,000 grant [2] to “The B Team Headquarters Inc.” . The location listed for The B Team Headquarters Inc. is: 115 5th Avenue, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10003, United States. This is the address belonging to Purpose.

The #BeyondDavis campaign is included in The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, (p. 7, “Our Journey”).

On a separate note, the grant is for work toward appointing corporations as the driving force in society [“General support to build partnerships in fostering leaders to help redefine the role of business in society as a driving force for social, human rights, environmental and economic advancements. Geographic Area Served: Asia/East Asia/China; Middle East; North America”] [Source]

In 2016 The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation awarded 900,000 grant to The B Team for “[F]or A Project To Promote Norms On Open Contracting, Reduce Tax Loopholes, And Track Sustainable Development Goals Progress.”

From the website:

“This grant supports two streams of their work: first, galvanizing the private sector in support of country-level implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals; and second, fostering transparent and responsive governance by promoting global norms and standards on open contracting, open governance, and fair international tax practices.”

To be clear, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is the very mechanism to implement the financialization of nature, global in scale.  [Source]

In the “About the Grantee” section:

Grantee Website

bteam.org/

Address

115 5th Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10003

Again, this information identifies The B Team as the address of Purpose.

The Rockefeller Foundation also identifies The B Team Headquarters as the address of Purpose:  115 5th Avenue, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10003

https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/our-work/grants/b-team-headquarters/

The Rockefeller Foundation address as identified for Purpose to which it granted 1,660,000 in 2016:

The New York State Corporation Search website also identifies The B Team Headquarters as the address of Purpose:

*Further reading on The B Team: McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XVI of an Investigative Report] [A Revolution of Capitalism]

The April 26, 2017 article #BornB: A Conversation about Leading Businesses with Purpose reported that The B Teams BornB event was to take place at The B Team headquarters (@thebteamhq):

“We’re heading to #London today for @thebteamhq‘s #BornB event! Stay tuned for live updates!”

The B Team event was streamed live on March 30, 2017 at the offices of Unilever: “More than 100 entrepreneurs from the UK and Europe joined us at the Unilever offices for the conversation and thousands more tuned in online via Facebook Live…”

One might question if The B Team has any real life headquarters, anywhere in the real world, at all. The event highly publized to take place at “The B Team headquarters” took place at the offices of Unilever. Yet, this is hardly a surprise if we take into account that The B Team uses the PR firm Purpose (sister org. of Avaaz) for all grant money and legal correspondence. One can safely speculate that The B Team is fully operated by the public relations firm Purpose, after all, this is just one function of Purpose as a public relations firm. This speculation can be given further assurance by the repetitive language of the word “purpose” that absolutely saturates most all B Team materials. Consider that within the aforementioned article the “buzz word” (according to the B Team) “purpose” appears 33 times in a single post.

“Join The B Team for a Conversation About Purpose-Driven Leadership

 

“#BornB: A Conversation about Leading Businesses with Purpose

 

“We are pleased to present, in partnership with Unilever, a conversation that gets to the heart of what it means to be a purpose-driven business leader. ” — Ethical Markets Website

 

Great to be with creative entrepreneurs exploring purpose-driven models to mitigate risks & secure long-term growth” — March 30, 2017, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever

Here, three things are certain. 1) The quintessential goal for both corporations, being assisted by NGOs that comprise the NPIC is to secure long-term growth, 2) that The B Team headquarters in London is actually Unilever (whose CEO Paul Polman is a “B Team leader”), 3) that The B Team headquarters in New York is identified as Purpose. Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Heimans is publicly identified as a B Team expert. Unilever is a key client of Purpose. Here we can use the catch phrase “all for one, one for all” [“Each individual should act for the benefit of the group, and the group should act for the benefit of each individual.”] [Source]

“Under the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever is meeting its ambition of decoupling environmental footprint while increasing its positive social impact. Its sustainable living brands are growing 30% faster than the rest of the business and delivered nearly half its total growth in 2015.” — Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, The B Team Progress Report June 2013 – June 2016, p. 11 [Source]

The Rules – is Purpose

In the October 8, 2015 article, Global Goals – The Party’s Over, The Rules, an NGO with a radical veneer that was founded by Purpose, gives the false impression that they oppose the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG):

“Now we want to go straight to the top of the UN with an open letter telling them that their plans [SDG] do not represent the best interests of the world’s majority. Join Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein, Chris Hedges and others in signing an open letter to the UN and global decision makers below.”

Yet, as disclosed in the aforementioned grant information, The B Team (which is Purpose) received at minimum one grant (700,000) specifically to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Rules also identifies its address as the same one belonging to its founder, Purpose:

 

115 5th Avenue, NY, NY, 10003, USA

Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans and Alnoor Ladha, Executive Director of The Rules, founding partner and the Head of Strategy at Purpose | Image courtesy of The Advertising Age

“Successful social initiatives that create real social impact will need a combination of 20th century top-down persuasion—brands that tell the world their point of view through marketing and communications—with the tools of 21st century engagement: movements that provide the tools for advocacy, social involvement, distributed evangelism and self-organization. We hope these rules are a starting point for a greater dialogue about the role of brands in ushering in a new era of social change.” — Advertising Age, The New Rules for Purpose-Driven Brands, How Marketers Can Survive the Cause-Marketing Bubble, Jeremy Heimans, October 14, 2010

Alnoor Ladha is a founding member and the Executive Director of The Rules (/TR). His work focuses onthe intersection of political organizing, systems thinking, storytelling, technology and the decentralization of power.” Prior to co-founding and directing The Rules, Ladha is a founding partner and the Head of Strategy at Purpose. Ladha serves on the board of Greenpeace USA board where its Executive Director, Annie Leonard, has co-founded Earth Economics – yet another NGO to assist and exploit the global financialization of nature (payment for ecosystem services) now well underway behind closed doors:

“Earth Economics, with the support of our Community Partners and Advisors, maintains the largest, spatially explicit, web-based repository of published and unpublished economic values for ecosystem services. With generous funding from our sponsors, in 2012 Earth Economics began porting our internal database to a web-based service. The Ecosystem Service Valuation Toolkit (EVT) portal was launched at Rio +20 in June 2012. The Researcher’s Library and SERVES were previewed at the ACES Conference in December 2012.”

The elites financing The Rules is par for the course:

“We receive financial support from a variety of sources including through crowdsourcing, the Novo Foundation, the Open Society Foundation, the New Venture Fund, the Joffe Charitable Trust (UK), and the Wallace Global Fund. We do not accept money from governments or corporations.” [Source]

Novo Foundation is Warren Buffett, Open Society is George Soros, Joffe Charitable Trust is Oxfam and Order of the British Empire, Wallace Global fund is a product of the Pioneer Hi-Bred Corn Company. To state ” we do not accept money from governments or corporations” is meaningless.  Very few so-called environmental NGOs receive money directly from corporations . This is what foundations were created for.

If you want to preserve your power indefinitely, you have to get the consent of the ruled. And this they will do, partly by drugs, partly by these new techniques of propaganda. They will do it by passing the sort of rational side of man, and appealing to his subconscious, and his deeper emotions, making him actually love his slavery. I mean I think this is the danger that actually  people may be in some ways, happy, under the new regime. But they will be happy in situations where they oughtn’t to be happy.”  — Aldous Huxley interview by Mike Wallace, May 18, 1958

 

End Notes:

[1] ” As co-founder and executive director of 350.org, May Boeve … When 350.org started in 2008 we were focused on the [2009] UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen.” [Source]

[2] Grant Period: 10/01/14 – 09/30/16, Duration: 24 months

 

Bob Geldof and the Aid Industry: “Do They Know it’s Imperialism?”

Under the Mask of Philanthropy

March 29, 2017

by Michael Barker

[Author Michael Barker published the following article in the activist journal Capitalism Nature Socialism in 2014 (Volume 24, No.1, pp.96-110).]

The central role that celebrities maintain within global society provides a good illustration of the essentially hollow and manipulative nature of contemporary democracies. Corporate elites literally manufacture all-star celebrities, and acting through these malleable figureheads, freely flood the world with imperialist propaganda. Much like the economic forces acting to misguide politicians, institutional pressures ensure that only right-thinking individuals become trusted celebrities. However, the main difference between celebrities and politicians is that the public cannot exert democratic control over celebrities. Bob Geldof is no different in this regard, and as the consummate celebrity-power broker, he stands clear of many contemporaries as a pioneer of celebrity-led imperialism: acting effectively in the service of capital. It is for this reason that this article critically excavates such a largely overlooked history to help unearth an explanatory framework for understanding exactly why the ongoing tragedy of famines will never be solved under a capitalist framework.

Stephanie McMillan industry

Geldof first rose to fame in the 1970s as the lead singer of the Irish band the Boomtown Rats and, having learned how to play the music industry’s game to perfection, went on to become a rare beneficiary of the stifling culture industry. However, that was not enough for Geldof, and at the peak of his musical career he attempted to give something back to the world; call it something akin to musical social responsibility. For Geldof, this time of charitable maturation arrived in 1984 when, having been shocked by a news report about the ongoing famine in Ethiopia, he sought to harness his celebrity power and to direct it toward the challenge of solving global injustice. Such good intentions are all well and good, but seeing that Geldof explicitly set upon this task in a manner that ignored any systematic critique of the politics of exploitation, his actions ending up bolstering the very same unjust capitalist system that created the problem in the first place. In fact, a good case can be made that it is precisely the imperialism-lite of ostensibly good-intentioned liberal elites—whose activities are subsumed under the kind-sounding rhetoric of “philanthropy,” “democracy,” and “human rights”—that has facilitated the institutionalization of neoliberalism.

Celebrities and the Politics of Starvation

In our interconnected world, extended famines do not occur when harvests fail, or because there are too many mouths to feed; quite the opposite, they occur with unfortunate regularity precisely because geopolitical priorities place profit before people. Scrutinizing the case study provided by the Ethiopian famine is important, as not only did it mark Washington’s “first hundred-million dollar commitment to international disaster relief,” but the intervention has also provided a “blueprint for future policymakers to follow”. Thus, to advance a realistic and useful solution to starvation, one needs to look beyond the mainstream media’s propaganda of futility, and strive to examine the role of capital in catalyzing “natural” disasters. Celebrity activists cannot be relied upon in searching for such solutions; as embedded within capitalist networks of power, they tend to be amongst those few individuals least likely to engage in such a rational approach to problem solving.

victorian

Counter to the rational nature of anti-capitalist thought, the latest tried and (media) tested method of addressing capital’s wrong-doings is to harness the angry voice of a celebrity (or better still a group of celebrities) to rant and rave about individual greed. Illustrating this is the latest iteration of a longstanding trend that has seen capitalists harness the power of philanthropy to the extension and consolidation of capitalist relations worldwide. This smokescreen approach to social change channels public attention away from any discussion of meaningful issues, and ensures that capitalists are empowered to “solve” the very same problems they caused in the first place. Geldof is singled out in particular because he took this basic formula for corporate success and then pushed this model for celebrity-led reaction to such an extent that celebrities are now a vital part of the “aid” industry.

Geldof clearly does not interpret his own actions in such a negative way, and seems to believe that the moral suasion of celebrities can force the hands of the very same political and economic elites that sustain their careers. There may be a limited grain of truth in this way of thinking, but it is to state the obvious that a celebrity campaign to expose capitalist injustice is hardly likely to be instigated by corporate-sanctioned celebrities, let alone gain active elite support in corporate circles. Hence, a good case can be made that Geldof’s entire Band Aid/Live Aid phenomenon actually shifted:

the focus of responsibility for the impoverishment of the Third World from western governments to individuals and obscured the workings of multinational corporations and their agents, the IMF and the World Bank. Worse, it made people in the West feel that famine and hunger were endemic to the Third World, to Africa in particular (the dark side of the affluent psyche), and what they gave was as of their bounty, not as some small for what was taken from the of the Third recompense being poor World…. [A] discourse on western imperialism was transmogrified into a discourse on western humanism. [1]

Geldof’s own humanitarian campaign thus exemplified itself as a stereotypical attack on governments and the existing aid industry: the visual problem was identified (famine), blame was then squarely placed on the local (foreign) government, and a “new” uncorrupted form of charity was then promoted. Along with such myths, he also pushed the equally misleading idea that foreign governments allowed the famine to continue because they were apathetic. Geldof’s serviceable response to these “problems” was obvious; he had to force Western governments to care more for distant others and rail against the existing aid industry’s inefficiencies. In both instances, this meant that Geldof dismissed the primary institutional reason for the existence of the aid industry. This is because governments do not donate food out of generosity; rather their food distribution networks are considered to be an integral weapon through which they promote their foreign policies. Critical books that Geldof might have read at the time include Nicole Ball’s World Hunger: A Guide to the Economic and Political Dimensions (1981), Susan George’s How the Other Half Dies: The Real Reasons for World Hunger (1976), Teresa Hayter’s The Creation of World Poverty (1981), and Marcus Linear’s Zapping the Third World: The Disaster of Development Aid (1985).

Geldof book

Paradoxically, writing in 1986, Geldof was evidently aware (at the rhetorical level anyway) of the strategic use of aid:

Aid is given in direct proportion to how friendly a government is towards the donor. It is used as threat, blackmail and a carrot. This is wrong …. Aid by and large benefits the donor country as much as the recipient, more so in fact as it stimulates, by trade, the donor’s economy, but leaves the recipient aid-dependent. (Bob Geldof, Is That It?, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1986, p.318.)

However, such critical words never informed his actions.

Band Aid Imperialism

Considering the exploitative nature of government food aid, the actions of the glut of “Bloody Do-Gooders” that Geldof brought together under the remit of Band Aid in 1984 certainly need to be viewed in a critical light. [2] Released in December 1984, Band Aid’s humanitarian anthem “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” quickly became the fastest-selling UK single of all time and marked Geldof’s return to the public stage as a born-again humanitarian rabble-rouser. Reflecting on his initial experiences in his autobiography Is That It? (1986), Geldof acknowledged that the result of Band Aid’s fund raising “would be so small in the context of the problem that it would be like putting a tiny plaster on a wound that required twelve stitches” (p.223).

Do They Know It's Christmas

With the benefit of hindsight, I would suggest that this is an extremely bad misdiagnosis. A more accurate description of Band Aid’s work would be to say that they put a plaster over capitalism’s body politics and sutured the public’s eyes shut. Here, Geldof would vehemently disagree as he insists that Band Aid carried out its work without involving itself in regional politics. Such claims, however, are patently false, especially given the fact that he recruited some of Britain’s leading elites to serve as trustees of the charity, the Band Aid Trust, which was set up to distribute the funds raised in the course of his activism. [3]

So how did it all start? If one returns to the initial seven-minute BBC story broadcast on October 24, 1984 that fueled Geldof’s humanitarian impulses, it turns out that the two reporters who filed the report (Mo Amin and Michael Buerk) were working under the auspices of World Vision—a well-publicized, imperialist, evangelical Christian charity. World Vision exists as just one, often overlooked part of imperial counterinsurgency efforts carried out by conservative evangelists who wage “spiritual warfare” upon recalcitrant populations. Little wonder that the television report described Ethiopia as the scene of a “biblical famine,” which was the “closest thing to hell on earth”. Thus, it is appropriate that in the early stages of Geldof’s frantic organizing efforts, the head of World Vision UK, Peter Searle, “kept phoning” Geldof in a bid to influence his activities. Having never heard of World Vision, Geldof recalled that he was “very suspicious” of Searle’s offers of help, but he seems to have been reassured when told that “they were an excellent organization but with roots in the right-wing American evangelical revival.” As Geldof continues: “Later we backed several of their projects” (p.235), [4] but to be more precise, it should be noted that as reported in May 1986, the “largest sum spent so far [by Band Aid] on a single project, dollars 1m, went to the charity World Vision” for their work in the Sudan (“The Band’s Last Big Number/The Future of Band Aid.” The Sunday Times, May 11, 1986).

Lest one forgets, the Cold War was in full swing, and Ethiopia was in the grip of a protracted civil war against rebels of the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). Geldof thankfully recognized the existence of this war; but when he met the officials of the Ethiopian government’s relief commission, he told them, “It seems to me that your basic problem is one of PR.” He added that while “I may not know anything about famine … I do know a lot about PR.” The narrow solution as viewed through Geldof’s celebrity eyes was that Ethiopia should see the international media as their natural ally because, he continued, “once people in the West appreciate the scale of what is going on here you won’t be able to stop them from helping” (p.249). Geldof’s naivety certainly did not make him receptive to the contrary idea presented by members of the Ethiopian government, that the Western media were part of the problem, and that it had actually consciously acted against the best interests of their country. Further, given Geldof’s gross ignorance about Ethiopian politics, it is no surprise that he missed the fact that the Ethiopian government was deliberately withholding food aid from the “huge areas of Tigray where TPLF guerrillas held sway” because, as their acting foreign minister Tibebu Bekele made clear at the time, “Food is a major element in our strategy against the secessionists”. [5]

William Hogarth the_lottery

One might note that the only aid group active in Ethiopia at the time that challenged the hegemonic imperialist discourse of the famine was Médecins sans frontiers, and for doing so, they were promptly ejected from the country. At that time, the longstanding trend of manipulating humanitarian aid to serve the donor countries’ geostrategic interests is most clearly demonstrated in the provision of aid on the borders of Pakistan-Afghanistan and Honduras-Nicaragua during the 1980s. In the former case, Fiona Terry concludes, “Whether they believed they were neutral or not, NGOs that received US funding either in Pakistan or for cross-border operations were assisting the foreign policy strategy of the US government.” With respect to Honduran “aid,” some NGOs themselves were openly critical about such manipulations, and a report by Catholic Relief Services concluded, “The border relief programs are not designed to meet the long- or short-term interests of the Miskitos, but rather are designed for political purposes as a conduit of aid to the contras”. Interestingly in Ethiopia, Catholic Relief Services appear to have maintained a somewhat antagonistic stance vis-à-vis their role in promoting US foreign policy objectives but, despite rhetorical objections, still retained their prestigious position as the largest recipient of US disaster grants.

It is, therefore, far from surprising that more recent reports demonstrate that some of the relief monies entering Ethiopia were used to buy arms for the rebels via the TPLF’s aid front group, the Relief Society of Tigray (REST). The US government was of course well aware of this situation as a now-declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) report written in 1985 makes clear. The report observes, “Some funds that insurgent organizations are raising for relief operations, as a result of increased world publicity, are almost certainly being diverted for military purposes”. Geldof, no doubt dismissed such possibilities as belonging to the realm of conspiracy theories, which is perhaps the reason he did not refuse an offer of aid from the shadowy employee of a former CIA agent. As Geldof recounts in his autobiography, the influential CIA agent in question was Miles Copeland, whose philanthropic-minded boss was the longtime Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, and whose militaristic background remained unmentioned by Geldof. Thus, Geldof adds, he was informed by Miles Copeland’s son, Stewart Copeland (the drummer in the rock group The Police), that:

Khashoggi was interested in donating some planes for us to use. On the eve of my departure for Ethiopia I met up with Khashoggi’s son who was passing through London. The planes would be for famine relief in the Sudan only, he said, and a meeting would be arranged between me and President Numeiri’s personal adviser, Baha Idris. It all seemed very complex, but the offer for the planes was firm, I was assured. (p.251) [6]

Then, while on his subsequent foray to the Sudan, Geldof had lunch with Andrew Timpson of Save the Children where his briefing provided:

… one enlightening piece of information. Adnan Khashoggi was said to have oil interests in the Sudan and a special relationship with President Numeiri which led him to getting a remarkably good return on his investment. It was said that if anyone could arrange a cease-fire in the civil war which was disrupting development in the oil field which was thought to be the biggest in black Africa, it was he. (p.252)

Alan Hardman

Geldof’s follow-up sentence is increasingly curious, but as far as he is concerned, that is the end of the story as he fails to return to this intriguing subject. He does, however, mention in passing that during the preparations for the Band Aid concert, “all the Band Aid office expenses were being paid for by a Malaysian oil millionaire called Ananda Krishnan” and, contrary to Geldof’s own personal intentions for the project, Krishnan “was interested in turning Band Aid into a permanent institution” (p.266). Such curious humanitarian contacts befit a man with little enthusiasm for challenging the legitimacy of powerful political interests. In Geldof’s own words:

[A]s in England, where I didn’t want to get involved in party politics, so too in Africa. ‘I will shake hands with the devil on my left and the devil on my right to get to the people who need help,’ I would say, when I first asked questions about the political complexion of some local government. That was crucial, for you could become bogged down in the myriad moral uncertainties of dealing with an imperfect political system. (p.318)

Geldof Versus the American Government?

Despite Geldof recognizing the fact that aid is regularly used by powerful governments “as threat, blackmail and a carrot,” in 1985, Band Aid strangely sought to gain the support of the best-organized imperialist aid agency in the world, the US Agency for International Development (AID). No need to worry about such incongruous behavior though, as Geldof would have us believe “the greatest single donor in the world” did not really know what it was doing in terms of coordinating its global operations. Geldof recalls that he “was frightened” that USAID “would have the better of me or have a better grasp of the facts.” “But they didn’t” he continues, “we were all tap dancing” (p.320). [7] This seems most peculiar, and I would argue that this interpretation of events owes more to his naivety than to reality, but either way this false impression certainly gave Geldof the confidence boost he needed to argue for their help. That said, he didn’t have to argue much, as USAID already knew his plans, as he “had stipulated the agenda before” he arrived in America. He recalled, “They knew that we were not prepared to leave without firm undertakings from them that they should match us on a dollar-for-dollar basis on some of our mutually beneficial projects” (p.322). So in the end, it is not surprising that the US State Department came through for Band Aid. The Ethiopian government, on the other hand, was, as Geldof reports, “not delirious to have help from US Aid” (p.323).

usaid-humanitarian-relief

Are we really to believe that it was Band Aid that manipulated the US government and not vice versa? If we just consider the quantitative issue of food aid, the total value of US aid for Ethiopia in fiscal 1983 was around $3 million; this then increased to some $23 million the following year, and then “jumped to more than four times that amount (about $98 million) between October 1 and December 1, 1984.” Given that approximately two-thirds of this last increase was committed after the initial National Broadcasting Company (NBC) broadcast of the famine in the United States (October 24, 1984), one way of interpreting this change would be to say this boost in aid was due to the change in media coverage and the resulting public outcry. Alternatively, one could just as easily interpret this change as illustrating that the media became more receptive to the issue once the US government signaled that they were increasing, and no longer decreasing, food aid to the region. This latter argument is evidenced by the fact that in March 1984, Senator John Danforth (Republican-Missouri)—who throughout 1984 played an important role in lobbying for famine relief in Ethiopia —successfully introduced a bill (H.J.Res. 493) that provided $90 million in food assistance for emergency food assistance for Africa. This money was not, however, freed up until an earlier bill (H.J.Res. 492), which aimed to provide $150 million to famine-stricken areas in Africa (which the $90 million represented part of) stalled, passing into law in July 1984, but only when proposed amendments to add covert funding for the Contras in Nicaragua had been dropped from the bill (African Famine: Chronology of U.S. Congressional and Executive Branch Action in 1984, Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service).

Counter to Geldof’s recommendation to Ethiopian officials that they only needed better PR to get their story out to the global public, US journalists had been attempting to air stories about the famine for some time, but they simply had no takers in the mainstream media. As far as the media were concerned, “It was not ‘new’ news, for the roots of the 1984 disaster lay in conditions known for years before the disaster hit the headlines”. However, by the end of the year, Ethiopia was now considered as being an issue that deserved political attention. One wondered if this was in any way related to ongoing attempts to coerce the Ethiopian government to accept more aid from the West. For example, it is interesting to observe that just after the increase in aid and media attention (in October), Reuters reported on December 1, 1984, how “The Marxist Government of Ethiopia has agreed to move toward a free market policy to improve the country’s agricultural production…” (“Ethiopians Consider Free Market.” The Globe and Mail, December 1, 1984). Thus, extensive economic and diplomatic pressure was clearly being brought to bear on Ethiopia well before the rise in media attention. By way of another example, the Italian government had its own important role to play in ramping up the political pressure, “and the Italian ambassador is generally credited with making it clear to Mengistu in early October 1984 that Ethiopia could not continue to suppress information about the famine, but must publicize it in order to attract Western relief”.

Ethiopia was now the media’s number one story, but during the seemingly endless deluge of one-dimensional coverage, at no point did the mainstream media help the public understand what was happening by making any significant effort to explain the root causes of the famine. One would have been hard-pressed to have heard of the ambitious land reform program—launched in 1975 when the military Marxists (known as the Derg) rose to power—that was “very successful in eliminating large holdings, absentee landlordism and landlessness.” Similarly, there was no talk of how the Derg’s top-down control over their agrarian reform program had the net effect of “lessen[ing] farmer’s incentives for good natural resource management by decreasing both the security of land tenure and the profitability of agriculture”. Factors that combined with the prolonged civil war and the Derg’s massive resettlement program (which was undertaken in the wake of the 1984–1985 famine) exacerbated farmer land insecurity and mismanagement, which depressed agricultural production in Ethiopia’s time of need.

Banksy

Instead of providing historically-informed investigative journalism that explored such issues, the racist media delivered up a nightmarish story about a natural disaster of biblical proportions. This is an outcome that was entirely predictable given the propagandist nature of the mainstream media that was well aligned to celebrate the successes of the imperialist development narratives upon which the nongovernmental (NGO) aid industry operates. Thus, the media and the international aid community simply latched onto well-worn neo-Malthusian environmental degradation narratives to justify ongoing aid in the post-famine period (1985–1990). Likewise, little or no mention has been made of the deleterious effect that the Soviet Union’s policy of disengagement had on the nominally Marxist government.

Such an ill-informed development narrative was supremely useful to imperialist donors as it promoted an intervention in a geostrategically important region which “was narrowly technical, largely bypassed the Ethiopian government, was targeted directly on the rural poor and would be welcomed by the growing environmental lobby in Washington”. With respect to the utility of this massive influx of aid (for the people of Ethiopia), “in retrospect, it is clear that much of this effort was wasted or counterproductive.” It is not coincidental that it was during this golden period of “development” aid that the Derg “moved away from socialist agriculture”.

One might point out that neo-Malthusian arguments drawn upon in Ethiopia are intimately enmeshed with the ideological underpinnings of the mainstream environmental movement, which are especially in line with the environmental lobby in Washington. Indeed, since the 18th century, such specious logic has solidified yeomen service to imperial elites who falsely argue that humans simply cannot cultivate enough food to feed the entire human population. Thus, given Ethiopia’s positioning in the ongoing Cold War, it is appropriate that the leading proponents of neoliberal environmentalism played a major role in justifying the aid communities’ protracted interventions in the region. For example, from late 1984 to mid-1986, the executive coordinator of the United Nations Office for Emergency Operations in Africa was none other than , the immensely powerful former oil executive who, over the past four decades, has arguably done more than any other individual to promote the misnomer of sustainable development.

Capitalists for Just Exploitation

Old humanitarian habits die hard and, having already proved their ability to neglect the role of imperial power politics in global affairs, Geldof and his Band Aid friends have continued to act as willing implementers of capitalistic responses to capitalist-bred inequality. However, if one had to choose one Band Aid contributor who best followed Geldof’s own model of leadership on behalf of imperial elites it would have to be Bono, who in 2005 was voted TIME magazine’s Person of the Year alongside the well-known “humanitarian” couple Bill and Melinda Gates. After contributing to the Band Aid single and the Live Aid gig in 1985, Bono had even emulated Geldof’s commitment to the right-wing evangelical charity World Vision, and spent six weeks volunteering at one of their orphanages in Ethiopia. Bono’s overt commitment to Christian missionary work was then put on hold, that is, until 1997 when Jamie Drummond encouraged him to became a spokesperson for a church-based campaign known as Jubilee 2000, a group which was set up to campaign the canceling of Third World debt. Fresh from this spiritual revival, Bono then began spending weekends at the World Bank with his friend Bobby Shriver, who himself was an old colleague of the World Bank’s president, James Wolfensohn, having worked with him within the venture capital division of the Wolfensohn Firm.

Having gained his humanitarian apprenticeship under leading imperialists like Wolfensohn, it is fitting that economist Jeffrey Sachs completed Bono’s education. Bono, like Geldof, was pioneering new ground within the realm of celebrity activism, moving from the former archetypal celebrity-as-fundraiser to the realm of celebrity-as-corporate-lobbyist. With the zeal of a born-again zealot, Bono endeavored to work the circuits of power of the hallowed nonprofit-industrial complex, and in 2002 he turned to Geldof, who helped devise the name DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) to christen his and Bobby Shriver’s new group; this organization flourished with $1 million start-up grants flowing in from the likes of global democracy manipulator George Soros, software businessman Edward W. Scott, Jr., and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Once established, DATA recruited like-minded high profile corporate lobbyists, the two main ones being the Democrat AIDS activist /defense contractor lobbyist Tom Sheridan, and Scott Hatch, who formerly ran the National Republican Campaign Committee. Much like Geldof, Bono sees his work as bipartisan, that is, encompassing all political views as long as they stand firmly on the side of capitalism.

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In 2004, Bono extended his activist commitments, and with the backing of Bread for the World, the Better Safer World coalition, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation he created “ONE: The Campaign to Make Poverty History,” which merged with DATA in 2007 and is now known as ONE Campaign. All board members of ONE are leading representatives of the US power elite, but three who exhibit outstanding service to capitalist propaganda are president and CEO Michael Elliott (who most recently served as the editor of TIME International), board chair Tom Freston (who is the former CEO of Viacom and MTV Networks), and Joe Cerrell (who presently works for the Gates Foundation, but formerly served as the vice president of the philanthropy practice at APCO Worldwide and as assistant press secretary to former US Vice President Al Gore). A significant recent addition to ONE’s board of directors is World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is active on the board of Friends Africa where he sits alongside African “friends” like Jeffrey Sachs and the chairman of De Beers, Jonathan Oppenheimer. Yet another especially interesting ONE board member is Helene Gayle, who as a former employee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is now employed as the president of the leading international “aid” outfit, CARE.

Here, it is noteworthy to recall that CARE was formed by Herbert Hoover as the Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe, and since its inception in 1945 has provided a valuable means of promoting imperialism via the strategic provision of food aid. Indeed, as Susan George suggests in her excellent book How the Other Half Dies: The Real Reasons for World Hunger (1976), Hoover was given the opportunity to form CARE primarily because he had demonstrated his ability to use food aid as a weapon during and after World War I. In fact, she suggests that Hoover was arguably the “first modern politician to look upon food as a frequently more effective means of getting one’s own way than gunboat diplomacy or military intervention”. As recent critical scholarship on the international role of CARE demonstrates, it still serves much the same imperial purpose that it was created to perform.

CARE thus provides a vital training ground for budding “humanitarians”; for instance, many of their former staff are involved in a relatively new venture known as Build Africa—a “charity” working in rural Uganda and Kenya that helps “young people” better themselves through learning about the wonders of “business enterprise.” One particularly significant trustee of Build Africa (who also heads their board of ambassadors/investment bankers) is the investment banker and private equity power broker Mark Florman, the CEO of the British Venture Capital Association. In addition to acting as one of the co-founders of the UK-based Center for Social Justice—a think tank that was set up in 2004 by the former leader of the Conservative party, Iain Duncan Smith [8]—Florman worked with Bob Geldof to raise $200 million to launch a private equity fund in 2012, called 8 Miles, with the aid of , which, bluntly put, aims to capitalize on Africa. According to the Financial Times:

Among others that Mr. Geldof has approached for advice on the [] venture is Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese-born telecoms tycoon turned philanthropist, and Arki Busson, the founder of hedge fund EIM. He has also discussed his plans with Tony Blair, the former British prime minister who sits with Mr. Geldof on the Africa Progress Panel, monitoring donor commitments towards increased aid to Africa. [9]

To flesh out the backgrounds of Geldof’s new friends, one might note that Mo Ibrahim was soon to be a board member of the ONE Campaign and is currently chair of the advisory board for an investment firm focused on Africa called Satya Capital; its small portfolio includes Namakwa Diamonds, a mining group whose board members notably include a former executive vice president of the notorious Barrick Gold. In 2004, Ibrahim founded the Mo Ibrahim Foundation “to recognize achievement in African leadership and stimulate debate on good governance across sub-Saharan Africa and the world.” In this context, “good governance” means implementation of neoliberal reforms. [10] Hedge fund tycoon Arki Busson, like Ibrahim, is well-versed in the power of philanthropic propaganda, and on the side of his main business interests he runs an educational charity known as Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), which is one of Britain’s powerful new academy chains that run academies on US charter school lines. In 2007, at ARK’s seventh annual fundraiser, Geldof and Tony Blair were in attendance, so it is suitable that ARK’s patrons include two close associates of Geldof’s. The first is the “human rights” crooner Sir Elton John, and the second is the former World Bank economist Dambisa Moyo.

Moyo is the author of Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa (2009), and she lividly expresses her humanitarian commitment through service on the boards of Barclays, SABMiller PLC, and the global independent oil and gas exploration and production company, Lundin Petroleum. [11] With “her total unflinching faith in markets as the ultimate solution and her silence on issues of social justice” Moyo’s book sits comfortably with the ambitions of the “Bono-Bob Geldof-driven development industry that is convinced that the ingredients of lifting the wretched of the earth out of poverty include higher economic growth, liberalised markets, good governance, better-funded NGOs and, most important of all, more aid”.

A Leftist critic of the aid industry (and of Geldof in particular) reminds us:

[t]o understand the Geldof phenomenon, we need to look historically at the role that Africa has played in the European imagination and in global capitalism. Geldof’s crusade and attitude is not new. He is only the latest in a long line of European men whose personal mission has been to transform Africa and Africans. David Livingstone, the celebrity of his day, embarked on a similar crusade in the late 19th century, painting Africa as a land of “evil,” of hopelessness and of child-like humans. His mission was to raise money to pursue his personal ambitions.

In this manner, “Livingstone’s and Geldof’s humanitarianism fits well with the demands of global capitalism as they serve to obscure distinct phases in the exploitation of Africa.

early bob

Close Your Minds and Give Your Money!

Contrary to the pleasant-sounding rhetoric accompanying the entire Band Aid phenomena, Band Aid and its offshoots have always worked closely with imperialist policy agendas. Thus, the Band Aid Trust still exists, with the most recent revival of their formula for deception being the Live8 concert, which was held in 2005, which again relied heavily upon the two most famous celebrity big hitters, Geldof and Bono. While Geldof and Bono’s initial approach to humanitarianism could at best be described as naïve, the power-struck duo are now quite obviously working hand-in-hand with neoliberal elites, not in solidarity with the poor and oppressed. So while the musicians involved in the first Band Aid project might argue that they were unaware of the means by which food aid is tied to imperialism, the same could be not true of the artists who participated in the monumental corporate aid bonanza that was Live8. After all, it was there that Geldof introduced Bill Gates to the millions watching Live8 as “the world’s greatest philanthropist”; George Monbiot appropriately observed, “Geldof and Bono’s campaign for philanthropy portrays the enemies of the poor as their saviours.”

Over the past three decades, the formidable Bono-Geldof tag-team has provided a vital propaganda service to ruling elites. On a broader level too, some argue that their celebrity activism is a natural corollary to the politics of privatization. C. Wright Mills, in his seminal book, The Power Elite (1953), dedicated an entire chapter to celebrities, observing that with the rise of national means of mass communication, “the institutional elite must now compete with and borrow prestige from these professionals in the world of the celebrity.” He thereby outlined the integral function that celebrity lives fulfill vis-à-vis the requirements of managing democracy, noting “the liberal rhetoric—as a cloak for actual power—and the professional celebrity—as a status distraction—do permit the power elite conveniently to keep out of the limelight”. Writing so many years ago, Mills was unsure as to whether the power elite would be content to rest uncelebrated; however, now, under neoliberal regimes of media and social management, the differences between interests of the jet setting crowd and other parts of the power elite have converged. Celebrities become political leaders and politicians become world class “actors,” while the real power behind these media-friendly figureheads remains in the hands of an increasingly concentrated economic elite.

Notes

1 For a musical critique of Live Aid see Chumbawamba’s album Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records: Starvation, Charity and Rock & Roll – Lies & Traditions (1986).

2 Geldof’s initial suggestion for Band Aid’s name was “The Bloody Do-Gooders.”

3 Geldof was also involved in the US version of Band Aid which under the organization of Harry Belafonte released the song “We Are the World” in March 1985, which became the fastest-selling American pop single in history. The Band Aid Trust was initially chaired by Lord Gowrie, then Minister for the Arts. Other founding trustees included Lord Harlech, the head of Harlech TV, Michael Grade, the controller of BBC1, Chris Morrison, the manager of Ultravox, Maurice Obserstein, the chairman of the British Phonographic Institute, John Kennedy, a pop industry lawyer, and Midge Ure (Geldof 1986 Geldof, B. 1986. Is That It? London: Sidgwick & Jackson. [Google Scholar], 256).

4 On his first visit to Ethiopia, Geldof bumped into another conservative religious “aid” worker, Mother Teresa (Geldof, Is That It? p.239), who according to Christopher Hitchens “has consoled and supported the rich and powerful, allowing them all manner of indulgence, while preaching obedience and resignation to the poor.”

5 One should look to Ethiopia’s recent past for similar examples that illustrate the political nature of famines. For example, “During the final two years (1973–1975) of the US-supported Haile Selassie regime, some 100,000 Ethiopians died of starvation due to drought. At least half the amount of grain needed to keep those people alive was held in commercial storage facilities within the country. In addition, Emperor Selassie’s National Grain Corporation itself held in storage 17,000 tons of Australian wheat which it refused to distribute. While commercial interests thrived by selling hundreds of tons of Ethiopian grain, beans, and even milk to Western Europe and Saudi Arabia, the Ethiopian government received 150,000 tons of free food from aid donors”.

6 Khashoggi was the arms dealer in the Iran-Contra scandal.

7 “The impact of food aid can only be understood within the context of the broader US aid programme. Two-thirds of the total aid package is security assistance: military aid and cash transfers to governments deemed ‘strategically important’ to the US national interest. So whatever worthwhile may be achieved by feeding some people or supporting some useful development efforts is far outweighed by the propping up of anti-democratic elites and regimes whose policies perpetuate inequality”.

8 It is interesting to note that the Executive Director of the Centre for Social Justice, Philippa Stroud, was recently employed by the charity known as Christian Action Research and Education, which is also known as CARE, and whose activities are separate from the aforementioned “aid” agency with the same acronym. The long-serving chair of Christian Action Research and Education is Lyndon Bowring, who is a council member of the conservative Christian group The Evangelical Alliance and a member of the board of reference of the equally zealous Christian Solidarity Worldwide that is very active in promoting “aid” in the Sudan.

9 The “core funding 2008–2010” for the Africa Progress Panel “comes from two sources: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID).” Africa Progress Panel, available online at: http://www.africaprogresspanel.org/en/about/, accessed 11 January, 2012.

10 Mo Ibrahim is one of many elite counselors of a group called One Young World, which describes itself as “the premier global forum for young people of leadership calibre.” Bob Geldof is also counted as one of their counselors, and One Young World’s cofounder, marketing executive David Jones boasts of “work[ing] closely” with David Cameron and the Conservative Party in the UK and having been tasked to “create and lead the Tck Tck Tck, Time for Climate Justice Campaign.” For an insightful critique of this latter campaign, see Cory Morningstar’s “Eyes Wide Shut: TckTckTck Expose from Activist Insider.”

11 Lukas Lundin a board member of Lundin Petroleum serves as the chair of Lundin Mining, a corporation whose CEO, Phil Wright, is the former president of Freeport-McMoran’s Tenke Mining.

PODCAST: Washington Post Attacks Burundi

KPFA Radio

January 1, 2017

by Ann Garrison

 

“The end of the unipolar, U.S.-led global order is most dramatically signified by the U.S. loss of its proxy war with Russia in Syria, despite dropping bombs faster than U.S. weapons industries could manufacture them. For the past year and a half, a much quieter struggle has been playing out in the tiny East African nation of Burundi. This week the Washington Post launched its latest salvo in the West’s propaganda war on Burundi.”

 

The end of the unipolar, U.S.-led global order is most dramatically signified by the U.S. loss of its proxy war with Russia in Syria, despite dropping bombs faster than U.S. weapons industries could manufacture them. For the past year and a half, a much quieter struggle has been playing out in the tiny East African nation of Burundi.

The U.S. and E.U. nations have repeatedly demanded that Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza step down, but Russia and China have stood up for Burundi, as for Syria, on the U.N. Security Council. Despite its small size, Burundi is, like Syria, very geostrategically situated.

To the east, it borders the scandalously resource rich Democratic Republic of the Congo. To the north, it borders longstanding U.S. ally and military proxy Rwanda. To the East, it borders Tanzania, which also favors Russia and China and borders the Indian Ocean.

Russian and Chinese firms have won Burundi’s major mining contracts, and Russia and China have repeatedly blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions to condemn, sanction or send armed force to Burundi. The U.S. and E.U. nations have punished Burundi by cutting aid, imposing sanctions, and turning a blind eye to Rwanda’s cross border aggression.

Western press and officials, including U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, have also waged a relentless propaganda war against Burundi. On December 26, 2016 the Washington Post published an attack on Burundi with no more evidence than its PropOrNot denunciation of independent news sites or its claims about Russians hacking DNC computers and even the U.S. power grid in Burlington, Vermont.

Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza

The story was first titled “They served an abusive regime. The U.N. made them peacekeepers anyway” but was later changed to “U.N. discovers that some peacekeepers have disturbing pasts.” This referred to the 1,130 Burundians serving as U.N. peacekeepers, primarily in Somalia and the Central African Republic, making it the 23rd greatest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations as of July 31, 2016.

Aside from its reliance on anonymous witnesses and its dateline Rwanda, the Washington Post story failed to mention that the top 10 contributors of U.N. peacekeeping troops include infamous human rights abusers Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Nepal, Egypt and Indonesia. Ethiopia, where the 6 percent Tigrean minority rules with an iron fist, is the top contributor of U.N. peacekeeping troops, with 8,333 peacekeepers deployed, seven times more than Burundi.

Washington, D.C.-based Ethiopian human rights activist Obang Metho, founder of the Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, says that Ethiopia escapes criticism by serving the West. “The Ethiopian government – the ruling ethnic minority regime that terrorizes its own people – they are not being criticized because they are the darling of the West. They’re pretty much that from Bush till Obama. Anything that the West will ask of them, they will do that.”

Metho also calls Ethiopia an ethnic apartheid regime. “Ethiopians call it not only an ethnic minority group. People also call it an ethnic apartheid group, because it’s almost like the way it was in South Africa and other countries. This tiny ethnic group, they control the security, the intelligence, the economy – almost every sector – and then they use it to divide and conquer, to divide one ethnic group against the other.”

The U.S. has never called on Ethiopia’s President Mulatu Teshome or his predecessor, Meles Zenawi, to step down, as they have Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza. National Security Council Advisor and Former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice gave a 15 minute tribute to Zenawi at his funeral.

 

[Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting]

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 3]

Wrong Kind of Green

December 9, 2016

Part three of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar with Forrest Palmer

Standing Rock Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]:  Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Addendum

 

In Part 3 of this series, Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer break down the funding and high-profile players and corporations behind the non-profit industrial complex who have been the soft power behind the climate change agenda and actions in recent years. From ice cream tycoons to liberal author darlings, there are deep connections to resources that have strategically co-opted the climate justice movement in its entirety. The spread of activist fervor is being harvested as a potential source new “consumer-activism.”  The consumer-activism is guided by bestselling playbooks for nonviolent revolution and a global network of trainers with a common “indigenous led” pedagogy.

Indigenous Ally: Unilever

ben-jerrys-unilever

“Never Waste a Good Crisis” – Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever

“Standing with Standing Rock” is racist Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s.

In 2010, Unilever’s brand “Vaseline” launched a Facebook app in India to encourage users to whiten their skin in profile pictures. Further, Unilever owns “Fair and Lovely” — a deeply problematic line of skin bleaching products sold around the globe. [Source: Ben & Jerry’s is supporting Black Lives Matter — but will it make a difference? October 7, 2016 ] The question is: how did Indigenous Nations end up partnering with a corporation that shames people of colour and why does such a partnership continues?

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Unilever’s Kodaikanal mercury poisoning is one of the well chronicled cases of toxic pollution anywhere in the world. Kodaikanal Pollution is a proven case of mercury contamination by (Hindustan Unilever) during the process of manufacturing mercury thermometers for global export. In 2016, following 15 years of legal action, a settlement between Hindustan Unilever and the 591 former workers of the thermometer factory in the southern Indian hill town of Kodaikanal was reached. The amount was not disclosed. [Kodaikanal Won’t Video]

According to the Ben & Jerry’s website, this corporation is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever with an independent Board of Directors. Upon purchase, Unilever agreed to a one-time gift of $5 million to The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation to be administered by the foundation trustees. Board of directors include Annie Leonard (Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.” and co-founder of Earth Economics, a newer NGO that will provide tools for the financialization of nature)[1], and Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Chief Supply Chain Officer for Unilever.

Ben & Jerry’s (owned by Unilever) is in partnership with United Nations, 350.org, Avaaz and BICEP (a coalition of more than 20 leading consumer brand corporations created by 350.org divestment campaign partner Ceres). Campaigns include Save Our Swirled campaign and the recent Pathway to Paris campaign. Unilever  is also a partner to The B Team (the NGO founded by billionaire Richard Branson) as well as partner of the Avaaz sister organization, Purpose Inc., the for-profit marketing firm specializing in behavioural change. Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans also serves the B Team. Both Unilever, B Team and Purpose are all united under the NGO “We Mean Business” . [Further reading: PATHWAYS TO SPECTACLE | CONSUMERISM AS “ACTIVISM”]

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As an alternative to the American/colonial “Thanksgiving” dinner, a “Water Protectors Community Appreciation Dinner” was held on November 24, 2016 at the Standing Rock Community School on the reservation. Ben & Jerry’s donated the ice cream for dessert. As David Jones, former Global CEO of Havas Advertising and co-founder of TckTckTck as well as One Young World, foresaw in 2010, “who cares wins.”

“The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation recently awarded a $10,000 grant to the Indigenous Environmental Network to help them bring food and water to the camp and provide medical and legal aid for the protestors.” Ben & Jerrys website

On a similar note, in April, 2013 Upworthy (co-founded by Eli Pariser: Avaaz co-founder, Open Societies Foundations Advisory Board member) announced its initial revenue approach, “and that Unilever will become the first commercial brand to join a new “Upworthy Collaborations” advertising and sponsorship program…. Participation in the Upworthy Collaborations program will extend to brands, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and foundations.” [Source]

“Upworthy attracts a huge community of highly influential, socially conscious citizens — people who share our goal of building a better future for children,” said Marc Mathieu, Unilever Senior Vice President, Global Marketing. “Our partnership will include work for several of our brands, and we are looking forward to seeing how effective story-telling can help us engage with people more meaningfully.”

On the Ben and Jerry’s website (September 22, 2016) under “Here are Four Easy Ways YOU Can Help” the text reads “Please join us right now in supporting this remarkable cause” with the number one recommended action being: “1) Sign this petition to urge President Obama to stop the pipeline.”. The petition does not direct to the Standing Rock website, rather it redirects the reader to the 350.org website petition. Regardless, despite any given amount of energy being expended into online petitions, the reality is that this very “strategy” functions first and foremost as a means of broadening a support base and collecting massive volumes of personal information. The state doesn’t give a fuck about the common man (referred to commonly today as human capital) and never will. For the state, the working class are nothing more than mere consumers and human capital while minority groups are considered disposable/dispensable (and treated as such). One key task of the NPIC is to condition/convince these very citizens to believe otherwise. That oppressors can be made to be caring and good by demonstrating a fine display of moral conduct.

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“Unilever’s chief executive reflects on lessons learned at three major consumer goods companies, including how to manage people in a global context, the obligations corporations have to society, and why you should never waste a good crisis.” — McKinsey conversations with global leaders: Paul Polman of Unilever [Source]

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On the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe website page promoting a *Dave Mathews rock concert sponsored by Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s, there are three “take action” options. Option 1, sign the petition; Option 2, call the Whitehouse; Option 3, donate. [*Dave Mathews band has been working in partnership with Ben & Jerry’s since 2002.]

Upon clicking option 1 (sign the petition) you are re-directed to the Stand With Standing Rock  (“an official site of standingrock.org”) “take action” page to sign the petition:

As one can see in the screenshot below, the petition is brought to you by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the “Other 98”. The petition cites a target goal of 1 million signatures (in other words, the data of one million people). In tiny text under the two logos it reads “Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Other98 may send you updates on the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline via email.” There is no privacy disclosure as to what organizations (if any) Other98 will be sharing vast volume of collected data with.

Who is Other98?

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Other98%

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The Other 98%: “On tax day in 2010, Agit-Pop communications announced a new project called ‘The Other 98%'”. Agit-Pop worked closely with MoveOn (founder of Avaaz) in past campaigns. This campaign would be no exception.  “The pledge [2010:08:10: “Fight Washington Corruption Pledge”] is part of a broader campaign, titled the Other 98%, that will work this fall to elect leaders who will fight for the majority of Americans and not just the top 2%. This will be MoveOn’s major push this election cycle.” [Source: Wikileaks]

“That’s not what The Other 98 Percent would be doing, of course. They’re already closely involved in Occupy Wall Street. In fact, The Other 98 Percent’s Action Director, helped get Occupy Wall Street off the ground, taking part in early planning sessions and facilitating the meeting the night before the protest launched. — Occupy Wall Street Poses Branding Problem for “The Other 98 Percent, November 9, 2010

Andrew Boyd  is  the founder & project director at Beautiful Trouble. Boyd is co-founder of The Other 98% (which has been rebranded to Other98), a founding partner of Agit-Pop Communications.

“Agit-Pop Communications is an award-winning one-stop creative studio delivering strategic messaging, cutting edge New Media and boots-on-the-ground campaigning to the progressive netroots. We’ve won a Webby, two Contagious Festivals, Best Political Prank of 2009, YouTube’s Best Political Video of 2007, and the grudging respect of our enemies.”

His past activities include founding “Billionaires for Bush” (2003-2005), creative consultant for Credo mobile, Campaign Consultant & Campus Presenter for organizations ad NGOs such as UAW, Greenpeace, Sierra Club, Council of Canadians, JWJ, CTWO, RAN, etc.

Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution  seeks to gather together, in one place, as much of this dispersed knowledge as possible. In doing so, editors Andrew Boyd (of Billionaires for Bush) and Dave Oswald Mitchell have produced a true treasure trove of collective wisdom. Authors include activists from a wide array of organizations — including Code Pink, the Yes MenRuckus SocietyJustice for JanitorsRebel Clown Army, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers — along with journalists, filmmakers, trainers, and researchers.” [Source]

One “problem” with having Andrew Boyd as a key member of the organization behind the Standing Rock NGO campaign is that Standing Rock should never be equated in any form to “beautiful trouble”. “Beautiful Trouble” is liberal soft porn for bored albeit well-intentioned liberals and those with limited exposure to the history of movements and revolutionaries. The resistance at Standing Rock is not “beautiful trouble” – rather, it is life and death in the face of genocide for Indigenous nations. It is worth noting Code Pink (a contributor to “Beautiful Trouble”) an NGO that has recently become active at Standing Rock, has recently issued a media release promoting the Netflix White Helmets propaganda video.

Partners publicly identified by Beautiful Trouble include Sellers and Boyd’s Agit-Pop Communications /The Other 98%, 350.org, The Ruckus Society, Code Pink, The Center for Story-based Strategy (formerly smartMeme) Waging Nonviolence, and others. [2]

Agit-Pop clientele includes MoveOn, Avaaz, Amnesty International, Rainforest Action Network, Credo, Tar Sands Coalition (350.org), and many others. [Client list as accessed by Sourcewatch in 2013]

Prior to the communications studio being called Agit-Pop, it was called “Ruckus Productions”.  May 24, 2007: “Our friends at Ruckus Productions recently did an incisive and graphically charged agit-prop video to help launch the Avaaz.org campaign: Stop The Clash of Civilizations, with music by DJ Spooky. Yesterday it was posted on the home page of YouTube and as of this moment has been viewed over 188,000 times.” [Avaaz was founded in 2007].

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Above: Screen shot of the Other98 “Warriors Wanted” video for Standing Rock identifying the Standing Rock partnerships. The video posted October 18, 2016 on Facebook has garnered 371,000 views  and 14, 103 shares (as of Dec 1, 2016).

The Other 98% twitter account follows their project partners and the usual blasé liberal NGO establishment. MoveOn, Eli Pariser (Avaaz/Upworthy founder), Credo, NRDCc, RAN, New Organizing Institute, 350, SEIU, Tar Sands Action, New Economy Coalition, Next Gen, Rising Tides, Greenpeace, Annie Leonard, CodePink and many more who move through  the interlocking directorate of the NPIC.

John Sellers is co-founder of The Other 98% and Agit-Pop Communications with Boyd. He is the former executive director of the Ruckus Society and current board president. Sellers worked for Greenpeace in the early 90s (office director, Greenpeace,  Washington) prior to joining  Ruckus. (Andy Menconi, who serves as Agit-Pops’s art diector is also co-founder of Agit-Pop Communications with Sellers and Boyd.) [SouceWatch: John Sellers run the liberal public relations and online campaign consulting business Agit-Pop which he co-founded with Andrew Boyd. Their clients include dozens of groups affiliated with Democratic Party politics and liberal causes including MoveOnCREDOFamilies USAAFSCME, etc.”]

The Other98 & AVAAZ

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Image: U.S. President Barack Obama with Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello. Perriello served as President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and as a Counselor for Policy at Center for American Progress until July of 2015 when he was appointed Special Envoy for the African Great Lakes and the Congo-Kinshasa by the White House.[Source]

“The Ivy League bourgeoisie who sit at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex will one day be known simply as charismatic architects of death. Funded by the ruling class oligarchy, the role they serve for their funders is not unlike that of corporate media. Yet, it appears that global society is paralyzed in a collective hypnosis – rejecting universal social interests, thus rejecting reason, to instead fall in line with the position of the powerful minority that has seized control, a minority that systematically favours corporate interests. — Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War

Avaaz was founded by Res Publica, which is described as a global civic advocacy group, and Democratic front party, Moveon.org. The silent voice behind Avaaz, Res Publica, is, in the public realm, essentially comprised of three key individuals: Tom Perriello, a pro-war (former) U.S. Representative who describes himself as a social entrepreneur; Ricken Patel, consultant to many of the most powerful entities on Earth and the long-time associate of Perriello; and Tom Pravda, a member of the UK Diplomatic Service who serves as a consultant to the U.S. State Department. [Source: WELCOME TO THE BRAVE NEW WORLD – BROUGHT TO YOU BY AVAAZ]

Boyd shares an affiliation with both MoveOn (co-founder of Avaaz) and Avaaz itself.

On the “team” section located on the Billionaires for Bush website, the disclosed Board of Advisors (identified as a “partial listing”) includes Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel. [Description: “A fellow of Res Publica and co-founder of Faithful America. Graduated first in a class of 350 from Balliol College, Oxford and was a Silliman Scholar at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard. He has consulted widely including for the Rockefeller Foundation, Harvard University, and CARE International.”] [Further background on Patel]

Boyd shares office space with the Avaaz Foundation headquarters in New York. He uses Avaaz address for Agit-Pop communications even referencing those who wish to contact him to ring to the “Avaaz” buzzer.

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Above screenshot: The Avaaz Foundation (also known as Avvaz.org) address as listed on the Guidestar website: 857 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10003

Below screenshot: Contact information as found on Boyd’s personal website: “me at the office: Agit-Pop East, 857 Broadway, New York, NY 10003 (at corner of B’ & 17th., “Avaaz” buzzer, 3rd floor)

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Much of the Beautiful Trouble book project took place in the Avaaz office:

“Writing Beautiful Trouble has been a novel process…The book was assembled in the cloud, with much of the heavy lifting done during four ‘book sprints’ that took place in Avaaz’s lovely New York City office, which they were generous enough to let us use.” [Source]

One thing is certain. Imperial-liberal left “activists” have no issues in maintain close relationships with NGO co-founders who share much responsibility for deaths of hundreds of thousands of Libyan and Syrian citizens. This begs the question on why they would feel any differently toward the ongoing genocide of Indigenous nations on American soil.

Ironically, part two of Beautiful Trouble shares a section titled “No one wants to watch a drum circle.” [Source]

Climate Ribbon

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Andrew Boyd, Gan Golan, and Naomi Klein at the Climate Ribbon art-ritual after the People’s Climate March, NYC, September 21, 2014.

Another project of The Other 98 is the direct action project “Climate Ribbon” created to coincide with the September 2014 “People’s Climate March (PCM) organized by GCCA/TckTckTck. [“In the Climate Ribbon ritual, participants are invited to find a stranger’s ribbon, read it aloud, have the group answer ‘We are with you,’ or ‘We’ve got your back!’ Then they tie the ribbon onto their wrists and take it home with them.”] The launch of the Climate Ribbon was the culminating art installation at the 2014 People’s Climate March. The project’s Advisory Circle includes AVAAZ, 350.org, Greenpeace, Beautiful Trouble, Rainforest Action Network, Movement Generation, The Other 98%, CODEPINK, and many others.  [Source] 1563 organizations participated.

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Notables featured for their ribbons include Al Gore, Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben.

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Our pied pipers fly to faraway places. The masses follow. The crude oil must flow to feed the collective appetite of the 1-2% who create 50% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. That is, anyone who can afford to fly on a plane. We write messages of love on spools of red synthetic ribbons imported from Chinese sweatshops, to adorn our egos and self-gratification. Simultaneously, our brothers and sisters throughout the global south are paying the price for our carbon intensive, consumptive lifestyles that continue to expand unabated. ” By way of our collective actions, “the other 98%” does not matter. Actions speak louder than words. Our appetites cannot be quelled. We look away. As the grotesque Madeline Albright once said: “we think the price is worth it.”

The ribbon theme would be utilized the following year (2015) for COP21 in Paris.

Beautiful Trouble

“Beautiful Trouble is a crash course in the emerging field of carnivalesque realpolitik, both elegant and incendiary.”— Naomi Klein

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“Based in New York City. Project spans the globe…. The leadership of Beautiful Solutions first published Beautiful Trouble, a book that has sold 10,000 copies, been translated into seven languages, and used by campaigns and classrooms across North America and Europe.” [Source: Rauschenberg Foundation]

As previously discussed, partner organizations publicly disclosed by Beautiful Trouble include Sellers and Boyd’s Agit-Pop Communications /The Other 98%, The Ruckus Society, and others. More recent partnerships include 350.org, This Changes Everything and Avaaz.

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Collectively these NGOs (identified above) serve as the hub of organizations that provide non-violent direct action (NVDA) training, shaping  and developing the ideologies and aspirations of whole societies via expertise in behavioural change.

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Following in the footsteps of Avaaz and 350.org, both global in scale, Beautiful Trouble outlines its own “expanding beautiful universe”, “beautiful happenings” and “share the love”:

“We launched (and are hard at work on) Beautiful Solutions: In partnership with Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything, we’re building an interactive online gallery for sharing the stories, solutions and big ideas from the new economy and social justice movements that are critical to address the challenges we all face from climate change.”

A recent paid/part-time internship opportunity for Beautiful Trouble can be found on The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College, an Ivy League institution that “fosters a commitment to the ideals of public service and informed public debate exemplified by Nelson A. Rockefeller, former governor of New York State and Vice President of the United States.” [Source] This posting, as uneventful as it seems, exemplifies the target market/demographic of potential leadership sought and developed by NGOs that comprise the NPIC: that of ivy league status and class. There are no Indigenous trainers identified on the Beautiful Trouble website.

The Beautiful Trouble network “is an alliance of artists, trainers, and creative campaigners who continue to support creative activism. It seeks creative approaches to social change.” [Source] Beautiful trouble is not about revolution. It about the development for the expansion of American driven ideologies and social constructs imparted by those who benefit from such institutions. The Beautiful Trouble network is an exercise of the development and expansion of networked hegemony driven by the belief of American exceptionalism. It reframes the necessity regarding the required dismantling of  the capitalism system in its entirety by creating a false illusion that the system can instead be made better by the “new economy”, otherwise known as transformative capitalism, generative capitalism and natural capitalism.

To do so, it targets and appeals not to those who wish to overthrow the system, but to those who wish to further benefit from the system – by developing a strong base and ideology with more than willing converts. This creates a cultural ambience, where improving the economic system is the only acceptable recourse. It further drives these manufactured societal norms via social engineering. Revolution is no longer the overthrowing of a system to save what little remains of life on this Earth, but a pathway for electric cars, fair trade Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and solar panels.

“We also began work on Beautiful Rising: Starting in 2015, Beautiful Trouble and ActionAid Denmark are teaming up with activists, movements and organizations across the Global South to assemble a toolkit of creative activism that will showcase the innovative tactics and strategies of southern social movements. If you have activist connections in Burma, Uganda, the Middle East/Jordan, Zimbabwe, and (maybe) El Salvador… let us know, we’d love to reach out to them.” Beautiful Trouble website, January 8, 2015

The Beautiful Trouble network has previously been focused on establishing success domestically and is now targeting global expansion. This is an almost unconscious exercise in psychological conditioning of whole societies which spreads like a contagion. A physical maneuvering that affords 21st century colonization and the expansion of US imperialism a shield against any/all criticisms. In a very real sense this 21st century form of  colonization and the expansion of US imperialism although carried out in broad daylight, remains invisible.

This is imperial soft power in its most gentle form. This is the belief in American exceptionalism to be contemplated, digested and finally dispersed to non-Anglo countries by the white middle class demographic, in periods of boredom and emptiness between shopping and Netflix. A Brave New World virus transmitted via a “hearts and minds” netwar.

In partnership with 350.org, GCCA, and Avaaz, we pulled off BT’s First European Training in Budapest in September, 2014 with youth climate leaders from a dozen countries across Eastern and Central Europe.

 

“Help us supply low-budget activists across the globe with a free copy of Beautiful Trouble (follow the link and click “gift edition”.) We’ll take these copies with us in our global workshops, as well as use them to stock worker centers and prison libraries, to ensure they reach people who can use a little trouble in their life but otherwise couldn’t access the book.” [Source: 2015: More beautiful(s) than ever! – January 8, 2015]

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The Beautifful Trouble Network, a key instrument of empire, has it eyes on the global South: “Beautiful Trouble and ActionAid Denmark are teaming up with activists, movements and organizations across the Global South”.

Par for the course, Beautiful Trouble, like all imperial NGOs, tows the line in framing governments in the global south as repressive, without ever referring to their own government/governments in this manner. All while their own governments (in this instance the US) is carrying out war, occupations ad illegal invasions throughout the entire globe. This sets the tone for destabilization efforts throughout the globe such as the current one in Venezuela, where Canvass/Otpor (promoted by 350, OWS, etc.) is utilizing the work of Gene Sharp and has been working in concert with right-wing forces to overthrow socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

“Hoaxes or flash mob, protest modes should, according to American activist Andrew Boyd, adapt to changes of capitalism, without neglecting traditional events… Internet has multiplied the interconnections. Movements like 350 or Avaaz , which has 42 million members, weigh heavily internationally. Both organizations working on human rights, environmental justice, corruption, and will probably be very active at the Climate Conference in Paris in December. In a forthcoming book, Beautiful Rising, whose website already allows sharing of experiences, the idea is to provide better tools to the particular circumstances of the South, where the political environment is often more repressive, Internet less accessible. Cultural differences exist due to less economic development. Mounting an action in the favelas in Brazil has nothing to do with the struggle of the middle class in New York.” — The Challenge Must Go Through More Creative and Joyful Actions, March 27, 2015

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Above: Naomi Klein. “Spectacle celebrities like Naomi Klein, while raising valid (albeit hypocritical) criticism of the complex, count on infantile consumers to maintain their activist credentials. Serving as proxies for consumer rage, yet asking nothing serious of them as citizens, makes these capitalist activists popular and profitable PR puppets.” [Further reading: THE INCREASING VOGUE FOR CAPITALIST-FRIENDLY CLIMATE DISCOURSE]

December 10, 2012: “BT invited along on 350.org’s “Do the Math” tour. Andrew Boyd, one of Beautiful Troubles editors, saw the show in New York City where BT author Joshua Kahn Russell MC’d an event that felt more like a mass-workshop cum rock-concert than a lecture tour.” [Source]

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One funder of Beautiful Trouble is the Chorus Foundation is founded by Farhad Ebrahimi. Ebrahimi co-chaired Environmental Grantmakers Association‘s 2015 flagship retreat, which featured Alicia Garza (Black Lives Matter) as a speaker. [Source] (Chorus Foundation is a member of Environmental Grantmakers Association.) The foundation utilizes the language of “new power” (Jeremy Heimans of Purpose) and the “new economy” (the green economy rebranded): “We need to divest from the old economy and invest in the transition to a new economy. To date, we have invested nearly $4 million in solar and other clean energy as well as in a very small number of companies building the new economy.” The Chorus Foundation is a member of New Economy Funders Network (NEFN). This network identifies “applied ecological economics” (“applying these measures of environmental services and values to economic policy and financial realms.”) as its future and paramount purpose.

The Chorus foundation has invested in Seventh Generation, 350.org, New Economy Coalition, Rainforest Action Network, Ruckus Society, Idle No More, Mosaic Solar, among others, contributed $46,900.00 in 2015 towards a Beautiful Trouble ($5,900.00 for a staff retreat), and identified the NGO as follows: “Beautiful Trouble is a collaborative effort by 70 artist-activists-strategists and over 10 leading creative campaign organizations including the YesMen/YesLab, Ruckus Society, Other 98%, and others.” According to the Chorus Foundation website, $25,000 of the funding went to the “initial phase of the Beautiful Solutions project, a partnership with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis’ This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate.” [Source]

Beautiful Solutions, The Backbone Campaign

Beautiful Solutions is fiscally sponsored by The Backbone Campaign which is also identified as a partner NGO in the Beautiful Trouble network. Executive director Bill Moyer co-founded the Backbone Campaign in 2003. An internet search on the Backbone Campaign address [PO Box 278, Vashon, WA 98070, 206-408-8058] also pulls up the Patagonia corporation (a primary funder of Ruckus).

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Dal LaMagna, Getty Images

In regards to both the address and phone number, The Backbone Campaign is shared with the Progressive Government Institute founded by Dal LaMagna in 2003. The Executive Director of PGI is identified as Bill Moyer, who describes the group in the following way: “The Progressive Government Institute is a non-partisan, educational organization dedicated to ensuring transparency and accountability in the executive branch of the federal government.” Yet, it is glaring that the founder of the group, Dal LaMagna, ran for U.S. Congress twice in the 3rd Congressional District in New York as the Democratic and Green candidate in 1996 and 2000, respectively and ran for President in the 2008 Democratic Primary.

In 2005, LaMagna merged PGI with the Backbone Campaign.

Who is Dal LaMagna?

“Dal is currently working as a responsible capitalist activist. He is an major funder and active Trustee of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute which awards MBA’s in Sustainable Business.” [Source] LaMagna is founder of Tweezerman, a corporation founded in 1980 “that practices responsible capitalism”. LaMagna’sTweezerman, U.S.A. was acquired in 2004 by Solingen, Germany based Zwilling J.A. Henckels for a reported $57 million. The following year LaMagna sold his shares in Tweezerman, India.

LaMagna is a member and former advisory board member of the Social Venture Network (SVN), “a group of responsible capitalists promoting social and economic justice through their businesses.  He is on the board of directors of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, an MBA program that is “Changing Business for Good.”  Part of the BGI program includes the Dal LaMagna Responsible Capitalism series” LaMaga also serves on the board for The Center For CongressYes MagazineTweezerman Corporation, and Icestone.   He is a founding partner of and a blogger at The Huffington Post and serves on the Dean’s Council for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.”

LaMagna supports numerous NGOs including: CodePink, The League of Young Voters, the Rainforest Action Network, UFPA United for Peace and Justice, , Business Leaders For Sensible Priorities (BLSP),  the Drug Policy Alliance, the Center for Economic Policy and Research,  The Nation Institute,  Momma’s House, The Rockridge Institute, the Center For Partnership Studies, Gold Star Families For Peace, the Campaign For America’s Future, the Center for Independent Media,  Mount Desert Island Laboratory, and the Washington State Progress Alliance. He currently lives in Poulsbo, Washington and has a second home in Washington, D.C.

LaMagna epitomizes the ultimate ideologies/philosophies and vision of the NGOs and training organizations that comprise the NPIC: a global economy that flourishes under “responsible capitalism”. B Corp corporations, yet another million dollar certification scheme, such as Ben & Jerry’s, set the stage for examples of “evolving capitalism, conscious capitalism and natural capitalism. The CEOs of B Corporations are upheld as the progressive visionaries of our time. The newly appointed stewards of nature. From shareholder capitalism to stakeholder capitalism is the carrot for society meaning, “we are willing to give you a piece of the pie provided we all work together sustain the capitalist economic system”.

“And at least one major corporation is involved. gave a $25,000 grant to the Indigenous Environmental Network, a nongovernmental organization, to support the indigenous community at Standing Rock.” — Fashion Steps Up at Standing Rock, December 2, 2016

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Backbone Campaign: “Rent or borrow this awesome, portable, compact, and lightweight pipeline prop that fully inflates in about a minute. We worked with Rising Tide Seattle to take-over the offices of a top financier of tar sands extraction in a bold and impressive way. Bring this prop to you action, march or protest. It’s fun for participants to help mobilize and grabs the attention of photographers and spectators alike. You can create your own banner to put on the side of it if you like. It’s approximately 30ft long and can be easily help above the heads of the crowd. (check out the exciting video from its debut HERE). Fill out the form below to rent or borrow this prop for your actions.”

Backbone’s said purpose is to “use creative tools and strategies to  educate the public on issues of government transparency, civic participation and democracy. It’s primary focus is imagery and trainings workshops. Highlights of their work include a 2010 flashmob created for MoveOn & Other98 paid for by MoveOn.org Political Action. Other clients/allies include Working Washington & AgitPop, Popular Resistance, and Tzeporah Bermans ForestEthics (now called STAND).

Backbone organized “14+ powerful Kayaktivist actions that earned international headlines”… inspiring “Kayaktivism across country and planet.” [Source]

Global Domination

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Avaaz, “*Our Victories, 2014: Saving the Maasai’s Land” [Source]| Feb 27, 2015: “…another round of evictions is under way: thousands of Maasai have been evicted at gunpoint and their homes burnt to ashes.” [Source]  August 28, 2016: “Thousands of pastoralist Maasai groups in Tanzania have been evicted from a 1,500 sq km area close to the Serengeti, Maasai Mara and Ngorongoro national parks.”[Source]  *Note that there is no update on the Avaaz “Our Victories!” page.

In a 2006 USAID document, the organization suggests that NGOs should be given legal recognition “as an important element in the development of sustainable community development as associated with ecotourism.” Today NGOs are undoubtedly recognized “the most important element in the development of sustainable  community development as associated with the new economy.” The fact that elite interests would like to see NGOs granted legal recognition (this means protection) reveals how critical, and understood, NGO involvement actually is (by the United Stated government) for the further expansion of new markets (payments for ecosystem services), neoliberalism and US foreign policy.

350.org (Rockefeller foundation, Clinton Initiative) has expanded into an international powerhouse. Avaaz, GCCA (TckTckTck) and 350.org are today the most powerful NGOs on the planet. They are perhaps the most vital instrument in empire’s war chest. The goal is the utilization of western ideologies to obtain global domination.

“A five-day Beautiful Trouble training session for 25 young climate activists was organised jointly with 350.org and Avaaz in September with participants from Belarus, Hungary, Montenegro, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine. GCCA provided expertise, outreach, logistical support and part of the funding for the session, while the group shared an innovative methodology that has proved successful at bringing people out on the street and encouraging them to join the global movement. As a direct result of this session, youth groups organised Peoples’ Climate March actions on 21st September in both Budapest and Warsaw, and successfully used these tactics to take a visible stand against a government squeeze on civil society space in Hungary. GCCA will continue to support the groups involved as they work to mobilise citizens across the region.” — GCCA Annual Report 2014 [Emphasis added][Source]

It is critical to note the gross undermining carried out by TckTckTck/GCCA against Bolivia, the G77 and small island states in 2010 at COP15. Their collective actions, unknown to most, should be considered for what they are: crimes against humanity. [Further reading: The Most Important COP Briefing That No One Ever Heard | Truth, Lies, Racism & Omnicide]

“The objective was to make it become a movement that consumers, advertisers and the media would use and exploit.” — Havas Press Release, EYES WIDE SHUT, TckTckTck expose, January 6, 2010

GCCA/TckTckTck (lead organizer of the 2014 People’s Climate March)  is a “coalition of twenty key international organizations” including Avaaz, 350.org, Greenpeace , Kofi Anna’s Global Humanitarian Forum, OXFAM, WWF, World Council of Churches, Union of Concerned Scientists, Equiterre, Global Call to Action against Poverty (also co-chaired by Kumi Naidoo), and the Pew Environment Group. [Source: TckTckTck: The Bitch is Back]

avaaz-350-burundi

350.org in Burundi, Africa:”Hundreds of thousands join the People’s Climate March in New York and in more than 2,000 communities all over the world … Meanwhile, one of the most popular malls in the Philippines has launched the world’s largest solar power on its facility. The SM Supermalls has installed 5,700 solar panels on its North EDSA branch on November 24, 2014. The system is said to generate 1.5 megawatts of solar energy, covering five percent of the store’s average daily electricity consumption.” [For more photos see source] Avaaz is also in Burundi on other business. The business of destabilization: Avaaz Hones In On Burundi as Next U.S. Fait Accompli

Consider that from June 13-15, 2016, 350.org, headlined at “The Global Youth Forum of the World Bank”  (live blog). Those on the first panel included activities from Energy Action CoalitionHere Now (Purpose), 350.org, and Green Brunei. It’s not the mere fact that 350 et al wish to work within the system. What must be understood (and thus far it is not) is that they are part of the system itself.

“Slogans like “350”, “New Economy”, and “Sustainable Capitalism” are promoted by Mad Men via foundation-funded front groups, and echoed by media, thus generating enough noise to overwhelm critical judgement. Symbols that appeal to progressives’ emotional vulnerabilities, like rising sun logos used to symbolize hope and change, are recycled to mean “This Changes Everything”, thus creating the impression that neoliberal reform is socialist revolution.” — Hijacking the Environmental Movement, April 25, 2016

All good intentions aside, well intentioned and well meaning citizens are being corralled by the world’s foremost experts in social engineering and behavioural change. East Indians struggle to survive poisoning at the hands of Unilever while in the West, liberal left sycophants strive to partner with Unilever, Patagonia, Seventh Generation (recently purchased by Unilever) etc. – all under the banner of “environmentalism” and “social justice”. “Success” is only achieved by economic growth. The more growth, the more environmental destruction, exploitation of those most vulnerable, pollution and carbon emissions – on an already exhausted planet on the brink of ecological collapse. It is the height of insanity.

 

Next: Part 4

 

End Notes:

[1] “The goal to commodify the commons under what has come to be known as “(payment for) ecosystem services” (as well as Natural Capital, Biosphere Economy, etc.) will look to the private sector for investment. The scheme promises corporations, private investors and the world’s most powerful financial institutions both ownership and control (i.e. expansion of power) of Earth’s natural resources, as the return on capital investment. We bear witness to an explosion of new environmental markets and ecosystem services products which are already being developed in order to capture the trillions of dollars to be made from the capture and exploitation of “natural capital”. The implementation of payment for ecosystem services will create the most spectacular opportunities that the financial sector has ever witnessed. New markets offer speculation that promises unimaginable profits.

This is a new mechanism for generating profits for the wealthy (those with financial capital on the top tier) via the global commodification of nature’s functions and services. In essence, the implementation of payment for ecosystems services represents an unprecedented coup: a privatization of the commons. A free-for-all for further corporate capture like nothing the world has yet witnessed. Corporations and the financial institutions are frothing at the mouth. Never before has neoliberalism witnessed such opportunity and scope as in the expansion of markets and capital. The commodification of most everything sacred, the privatization and objectification of all biodiversity and living things that are immeasurable, above and beyond monetary measure, will be unparalleled, irreversible and inescapable.”

[2] Others include The New Organizing Institute, Beyond the Choir, Nonviolence International, Alliance of Community Trainers, The Yes Men/Yes Labs, The Center for Artistic Activism (where Boyd serves on the advisory board), and Escola de Activismo.

 

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

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

 

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 1]

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 2]

McKibben’s Divestment Tour – Brought to You by Wall Street [Part XIII of an Investigative Report] [The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse]

The Left in Denial over Canadian Imperialism

Yves Engler

August 12, 2016

by Yves Engler

 

canadian-imperialism

Above: From the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives: “Unprepared for Peace?: The decline of Canadian peacekeeping training (and what to do about it)(February, 2016)

As hard as it is to admit for a former junior hockey player who spends many hours writing at the neighbourhood Tim Hortons, some things are better in the USA.

For example, comparing Green Party leader Elizabeth May to her American counterpart Jill Stein on foreign-policy issues puts Canada to shame. While Stein has articulated forthright criticism on various international issues, May spouts nationalist platitudes as often as she challenges unjust policies.

Recently, Stein endorsed the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, called for Washington and Moscow to work together and said, “US pursuit of regime change in Libya, Iraq, and Syria created the chaos that promotes power grabs by extremist militias. Many of the weapons we are sending into Syria to arm anti-government militias are winding up in the hands of ISIS. This isn’t a clever foreign policy — it’s disastrous militarism.”

canada-in-africa

For her part, May spent last weekend undermining her party’s internal democracy to protect the explicitly racist Jewish National Fund and Israel from censure. At their convention in Ottawa May and most of the Green leadership succeeded in eliminating any mention of the JNF in a resolution, which was rewritten from targeting that institution to call on the Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the status of all charities engaged in international human rights violations. Fortunately, the party leadership failed to block a resolution endorsing BDS in what is probably the single most significant pro-Palestinian victory in Canadian history.

While the Green members who bucked the party leadership to support the JNF and BDS resolutions deserve to be congratulated, the anti-Palestinian, right-wing Israeli nationalist groups who terrorized May in the lead-up to the convention raised an important, if disingenuous, point: Why were there only two resolutions dealing with foreign-policy at the convention? Why didn’t the Greens debate Canadian mining companies’ abuses abroad, special forces in Iraq/Syria, international tar sands promotion, troops on the Russian border, among numerous other important international issues?

The Green’s 2015 federal election foreign-policy platform paper was peppered with nationalist platitudes. It said “Canada is fundamentally a peaceful country” and “defender of human rights.” In laying out the party’s 2015 election position in Esprit de Corps magazine May wrote, “the world needs more Canada” and argued, “we should also support the United Nations’ ‘responsibility to protect’ (R2P) doctrine”, which was used to justify bombing Libya in 2011 and ousting Haiti’s elected government in 2004.

haiti-03

May backed the Conservative government’s National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy, a $30-$40 billion effort to expand the combat fleet over three decades. But the naval upgrade will strengthen Canadian officials’ capacity to bully weaker countries. The 2000 book Canadian Gunboat Diplomacy details the navy’s extensive history of flexing its muscles, including dozens of interventions in the Caribbean and pressuring Costa Rica to repay money the Royal Bank loaned to an unpopular dictator. And it’s not just history; over the past 25 years the Canadian Navy has played an increasing pro-imperial role in the Middle East and off parts of Africa.

May and Green Party policy statements have also mythologized Canadian foreign policy, citing Lester Pearson as some sort of hero. May claimed “a Green Party approach to international issues will return Canada to the values of Lester B. Pearson.” But, as I detail in Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt, the former external minister and prime minister was an ardent cold warrior, who played a part in dispossessing Palestinians, creating NATO and helping the US wage war in Vietnam and Korea.

Of course, the problem runs deeper than May or the Green Party. Much of the Canadian ‘left’ is highly nationalistic, wedded to both the idea this country is a US “dependency” and international “peacekeeper”.

While far from what’s needed, internationalist minded Americans have helped expose US imperialism. Progressive people in this country have largely failed to do the same with Canadian imperialism. In fact, left-wing Canadian academics have probably written more books and articles criticizing US foreign policy than Canada’s.

Certainly the US left has built more of an infrastructure/culture willing to genuinely challenge US foreign policy. A number of prominent academics are highly critical of US foreign policy and left-wing US media outlets such as CounterPunch, Z, Dissident Voice, Common Dreams, etc. shun foreign-policy apologetics.

shipbuildimg-project

In Canada the most prominent ‘left-wing’ foreign-policy think tank is led by Peggy Mason who was a key adviser to Conservative foreign minister Joe Clark in the late 1980s and has held numerous diplomatic postings and UN positions since. During a 2012 National Defence Committee parliamentary meeting on NATO the head of the Rideau Institute noted, “I’m talking as someone who has spent the better part of the last 10 years working with NATO.” Mason trained NATO commanders for peace and crisis stabilization operations and boasted she trained the general Charles Bouchard, who led the 2011 NATO bombing of Libya, which the Rideau Institute head described as a “very important mission.”

The Rideau Institute’s lead collaborator/advisor is an employee of the Canadian Forces who aggressively supported Canada’s worst foreign-policy crime of the first decade of the 21st century (the coup in Haiti). Walter Dorn’s Rideau Institute reports are usually co-published by Canada’s leading left think tank, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. While the CCPA Monitor publishes some articles critical of Canadian foreign policy, its international affairs reports, which receive the bulk of resources, do not offer serious criticism. A number of recent reports have called for adjustments to military priorities while accepting the broad outlines of Canadian militarism. In February they co-published Unprepared for Peace?: The decline of Canadian peacekeeping training (and what to do about it). On the cover of the report a white Canadian soldier, with a massive M-16 strapped around his shoulder, is bent over to hold the hand of a young black boy. In the background are Canadian and UN colours. A call for the Canadian Forces to offer its members more peacekeeping training, Unprepared for peace? is premised on the erroneous notion that UN missions are by definition socially useful and it repeatedly implies that Canada’s most significant recent contribution to a UN mission — the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) — was an operation we should be proud of.

Last year the CCPA and Rideau Institute co-published Smart Defence: A Plan for Rebuilding Canada’s Military, which introduces the issue this way: “When the Harper government came to power in 2006, it pledged to rebuild Canada’s military. But for nine long years, it has failed to deliver on most of its promises, from new armoured trucks and supply ships to fighter jets and search-and-rescue planes.” Author Michael Byers peppers the report with various militarist claims. Canada “faces challenges at home and abroad that require a well-equipped and capable military,” he writes. At another point he says “the Canadian Army cannot deploy large numbers of troops overseas because of a shortage of armoured trucks.” In other words, let’s improve Canada’s military capacity.

While mostly providing a counterpoint to the dominant media, Rabble also publishes some blatantly establishment foreign-policy pieces. It regularly runs Gerald Caplan’s apologetics for the US–Britain–Canada backed Paul Kagame, Africa’s most bloodstained dictator. In late 2015 Rabble ran interviews by CCPA research affiliate Christopher Majka of Libyan, Syrian and Russian invitees to the Halifax International Security Forum, which is sponsored by NATO, the Department of National Defence and various arms firms.

Last week Rabble published a blog by Penney Kome, former editor of the now defunct left website Straight Goods, claiming Donald Trump is soft on Russia. She wrote: “Three of Trump’s top aids have extensive Russian connections, (Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Carter Page) and Trump’s policies — such as they are — are strongly pro-Russian. It’s only fair to wonder what his Russophillia means for NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and for former Soviet Union countries that Vladimir Putin may still want to annex, such as Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.” Kome’s piece comes a few weeks after Ottawa announced it would send 450 troops and armoured vehicles to Latvia to be permanently stationed on Russia’s border.

During his campaign to win the Democratic Party nomination Bernie Sanders, who largely avoided foreign-policy before endorsing a hawk for president, at least criticized Washington’s role in overthrowing Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala, Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran, Salvador Allende in Chile as well as the US war in Indochina. It made me wonder if a leading Canadian politician had ever criticized a past foreign policy.

It’s hard to imagine an NDP leader saying, “we shouldn’t blindly follow Washington’s war aims since that led Lester Pearson’s government to deliver US bombing threats to North Vietnam in violation of international law.” Or, “as we evaluate our support for this UN mission let’s not forget the blow Canadian peacekeepers delivered to central Africa when they helped undermine Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba.”

patricslumumba-2

Further reading: Canada’s Role in the Assassination of Patrice Lumumba

It’s as if there’s a sign hanging in Parliament that says: “foreign policy mythologizers only.” A maxim Elizabeth May seems to have embraced, to the shame of all Canadians who really do want this country to be a force for good in the world.

Unworthy Victims: Houthis in Yemen and Hutus in Burundi

Black Agenda Report

August 30, 2016

by Ann Garrison

 

Garrison_HutuHouthis

The U.S. reserves for itself the right to decide which nations and peoples are worthy to exist. Washington gives thumbs down to Hutus, who make up the vast majority in Burundi and Rwanda, and condemns the Houthis, a significant part of Yemen’s population. “The U.S. and its allies have deemed the Tutsis to be ‘worthy victims,’ the Hutus ‘unworthy victims.’” The same goes for Houthis targeted for death by the Saudis.

***

avaaz burundi

Above: Burundi is the latest target in the many “Avaaz” destabilization campaigns: “Burundi: before it’s too late

“If there is an outbreak of violence between Hutus and Tutsis in Burundi, the U.S. will bear huge responsibility.”

Last week the U.S. helped its Saudi pals bomb another hospital and school in Yemen, killing 25, including at least 10 children. Don’t imagine that its intentions are any more humanitarian in? Burundi? just because they’re not selling fighter bomber jets, MK-84 laser guided bombs or GBU-31 satellite-guided bombs to their pal Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s president for life. Kagame is intent on bringing down President Pierre Nkurunziza’s government in Burundi, as Saudi sheikhs are intent on bringing down the Houthi government in Yemen.

There are no multibillion dollar weapons sales motivating the U.S. to support a coup in Burundi, but access to the strategic mineral wealth required to manufacture weapons is among the stakes. Burundi has nickel, gold, copper, uranium, tungsten, tin, peat, platinum, limestone, vanadium, tantalum, niobium, kaolin and cobalt. Though its output has not yet been globally significant, its government has contracted with a Russian firm to mine its nickel reserves, and Bloomberg today quotes a Chinese source predicting a bull market in nickel just beginning. Nickel is used to make stainless steal, and nickel alloys are used in electronics, specialist engineering, space vehicles, submarines and the tubing used in desalination plants for converting sea water into fresh water. I haven’t seen Burundi’s mining contract with the Russian firm, but I’ve been told that the Russians valued the country’s nickel reserves far higher than Western firms and offered a much better deal.

More importantly, Burundi shares a western border with the scandalously mineral rich eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and an eastern border with Tanzania, an East African nation with an Indian Ocean port that is also leaning towards the East in the heightening competition between Eastern and Western axes of power.

If the U.S. and Rwanda succeed in taking down the government of President Pierre Nkurunziza, we won’t see video of hair-raising Pentagon special effects. Instead we’ll hear more preposterous rhetoric about the world’s obligation to “intervene,” ignoring Burundi’s’ sovereignty, to “stop genocide” or “stop the next Rwanda.” This argument has also been used to justify war in Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria and even Iraq, where genetic damage caused by toxic U.S. munitions is the most literal genocide the world has yet seen.

I’ve been told that the Russians valued the country’s nickel reserves far higher than Western firms and offered a much better deal.”

The “stop the next Rwanda” argument is more easily made in Burundi because Rwandans and Burundians are close to being the same people. They share both a border and a Hutu majority, Tutsi minority demographic. Their languages, Burundi’s Kirundi and Rwanda’s Kinyarwanda, vary only slightly.

This recently shrill warning from the UN and the Voice of America — UN: Violence, Hatred Against Burundi Tutsis Could Presage Genocide — is one more in a steady stream published in the U.S. and European press since President Pierre Nkurunziza’s re-election in July 2015. In a nation in which these two groups, Hutus and Tutsis, have been historically polarized and have massacred one another in competitions for power, this is akin to shouting fire in a crowded theatre. If there is an outbreak of violence between Hutus and Tutsis in Burundi, the U.S. will bear huge responsibility as it did for the Rwandan war of 1990 to 1994, which ended in horrific massacres of both groups as U.S. ally Paul Kagame seized power.

Here’s some context that you won’t find in the Western propaganda about Burundi during the past year:

1)  Some, most notably Rwandan scholar Léopold Munyakazi, have argued that Hutus and Tutsis are best understood as social classes, not ethnic groups, and the Rwandan war of the 1990s as a class war, not a genocide. Hutus and Tutsis share the same language and culture, eat the same food, and marry each other, and the vast majority are Christian. The Tutsis were a pre-colonial ruling class, the Hutus their peasant subjects, until the Hutus rose up in 1959, in what is sometime called the Rwandan Revolution, sometimes the Hutu Revolution. By 1961 Rwanda had transitioned from a Belgian colony led by a Tutsi monarchy to an independent nation led by elected Hutu politicians and intellectuals.

2) In 1990, U.S.-backed Tutsi general Paul Kagame led a refugee army that invaded Rwanda from Uganda to seize power, re-establish a de facto Tutsi dictatorship, and establish the U.S. as the dominant power in Rwanda, displacing France. The U.S., Europe and Israel have long found it convenient to favor the Tutsis and depict them as the endangered minority without acknowledging that Hutus suffered for centuries under the Tutsi ruling class or that Hutus as well as Tutsis were massacred by extremists in what came to be known as the Rwandan Genocide. In Rwanda and Burundi, the U.S. and its allies have deemed the Tutsis to be “worthy victims,” the Hutus “unworthy victims,” in the parlance of Professor Edward S. Herman, co-author with David Peterson of The Politics of Genocide and Enduring Lies: Rwanda in the Propaganda System 20 Years On.

“The Tutsis were a pre-colonial ruling class, the Hutus their peasant subjects, until the Hutus rose up in 1959, in what is sometime called the Rwandan Revolution, sometimes the Hutu Revolution.”

3) On October 21, 1993, violence and massacres broke out in Burundi after elites in the Tutsi army assassinated the first Hutu president, political intellectual Melchior Ndadaye. Hundreds of thousands of Burundians, mostly Hutus, were slain, largely because the Tutsi elite still controlled the army. A civil war began and didn’t end until 2005. President Pierre Nkurunziza is a Hutu, but Hutus and Tutsis have been integrated in both the government and the army, with the Tutsis enjoying larger percentages because they are perceived, as the minority, to be in greater need of representation.

4) On April 6, 1994, the 100 days of violence known as the “Rwandan Genocide” or, in Rwanda, “genocide against the Tutsi,” began immediately after the assassination of two more Hutu presidents, Rwanda’s Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi’s Cyprien Ntaryamira. Their plane was shot out of the sky over Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, as they returned from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, but this assassination of two African presidents was never investigated by the highly politicized International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, which prosecuted only Hutus. Susan Thomson, a scholar of Rwandan history and politics and persona non grata in Rwanda, has described what followed in a video interview for a documentary film in progress: “There were pogroms, there were massacres on both sides, disinformation on all sides. At the elite level, as you go down the food chain, people are scared. Regardless of ethnicity, regardless of region, religion, whatever cleavage you want to choose, Rwandans were caught up in the violence. So it’s absurd to say that only Tutsis are victims.”

Now, to repeat two points about the assassination of three presidents: On October 3, 1993, massacres and then civil war broke out in Burundi after the assassination of the country’s first Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye. On April 6, 1994, Rwanda’s famous hundred days of massacres broke out after the assassination of two more Hutu presidents, Rwanda’s Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi’s Cyprien Ntaryamira. Therefore, if the U.S. were really trying to prevent genocide in Burundi, wouldn’t they be trying to prevent the assassination of another Hutu president, Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza?  Rwandans and Burundians who understand this history know that Nkurunziza’s assassination would be a catastrophe and know that U.S.-backed insurgents would like to assassinate him, whether the U.S. approved such a plan or not. The months since Nkurunziza’s re-election in July 2015 have been punctuated by the assassination of upper-level army commanders and government officials close to him.

In the third week of November 2015, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that “Burundian insurgents” had fired mortar rounds at the presidential palace in Burundi’s capital city, Bujumbura. Near the same time, I spoke to former UN official Jeff Drumtra about his documentation of Rwanda’s recruitment of Burundian refugees to form a new rebel army to destabilize Burundi. I also asked him about the mortar rounds fired at the presidential palace, to which he responded, “I can say, having worked on issues of Rwanda and Burundi on and off for more than 20 years, that we know, historically, that the violence gets worse and the risk of mass atrocities becomes much more serious when both sides feel that they have been victimized. And so, a mortar attack on the presidential palace . . . if it were to hit its mark and actually create a large number of deaths, or even the death of a president . . . would certainly create a situation where the ruling party and everyone who voted for the ruling party in Burundi would feel victimized at a whole new level. And if something like that were to happen, that’s when, historically, violence in Burundi becomes much worse, and that’s what everybody fears here.”

I then contacted the U.S. State Department and asked whether they were not alarmed by AFP’s report of mortar fire aimed at the presidential palace, considering that the massacres of the 1990s in both Rwanda and Burundi had broken out after the assassination of Hutu presidents.

“In Rwanda and Burundi, the dominant narrative has long been that Tutsis are the victims or potential victims to be protected from the Hutus.”

State took the question quite casually and responded that they had submitted a query on my behalf to their Ambassador in Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura, and they’d get back to me when he responded. They never did, and that should be the end of any fantasies that the U.S. is trying to stop genocide in Burundi. The State Department is usually helpful when a question doesn’t threaten their dominant narrative. In Rwanda and Burundi, that dominant narrative has long been that Tutsis are the victims or potential victims to be protected from the Hutus. Hutus are the perpetrators to be tried at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, imprisoned, hunted down in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and demonized as subhuman killers driven by innate bloodlust and singular determination to kill Tutsis. That narrative is repeated endlessly by Western media, as in this 02.19.2002 Guardian report, “Pastor who led Tutsis to slaughter is jailed.” Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark represented the pastor, Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda and called his conviction “a travesty of justice.”

Like the Houthis in Yemen, the Hutus have been deemed unworthy victims by the U.S. State Department, though for centuries they were the oppressed class in what is now Rwanda and Burundi, and though hundreds of thousands of them, perhaps as many as a million, have been massacred in the horrific violence of the last 50 years in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Like most Burundians and Rwandans that I know — Hutus and Tutsis — I would love to see this virulent bigotry land in the dustbin of history along with the “Hutu” and “Tutsi” distinctions that have alienated people in this part of the world from one another, but that will not happen so long as the West gives singular victim status to the Tutsis and demonizes the Hutus in its humanitarian interventionist ideology.

[Ann Garrison is a writer living in Oakland, California. John Bannister is a writer living in Alameda, California.]

 

“The Non-Profit Industrial Complex”, and the Co-opting of the NGO Environmental Movement

Global Research

By Michael Welch

Global Research News Hour Episode 139: A Conversation with Cory Morningstar

 

“Why do people continue to believe that NGOs such as 350.org/1Sky that are initiated and funded by Rockefeller Foundation, Clinton Foundation, Ford, Gates, etc. would exist to serve the people rather than the entities that create and fund them? Since when do these powerful entities invest in ventures that will negatively impact their ability to maintain power, privilege and wealth? Indeed, the oligarchs play the “environmental movement” and its mostly well-meaning citizens like a game of cards.”— Cory Morningstar, Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse

 

“If activists fail to address the crucial issue of liberal philanthropy now this will no doubt have dire consequences for the future of progressive activism – and democracy more generally – and it is important to recognize that liberal foundations are not all powerful and that the future, as always, lies in our hands and not theirs.” — Michael Barker Do Capitalists Fund Revolutions?

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Length (59:23)

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

April 22nd , when this episode first went to air, was Earth Day, an occasion when ecologically conscious community members around the globe attempt to channel their energies toward protection of our natural world. [1]

Human generated climate change, of course, is very much top of mind at this time in human history. Indeed, the twenty-first century climate movement has been compared to the anti-war, civil rights, gay rights, and women’s liberation movement in terms of its dynamism and its presentation as a political force to be reckoned with. [2]

Spearheading this movement have been the big environmental Non-Governmental Organizations, including Greenpeace, The Sierra Club and most notably the group 350.org. Tactics employed by these NGOs have involved the mobilization of people in New York City and around the world for the Peoples Climate March in September of 2014, direct actions frustrating attempts to build TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline, petitions, divestment campaigns and a 40,000 person protest outside the White House in February of 2013. [3][4][5][6]

It is widely believed that the movement is enjoying success in terms of fundamentally shifting the priorities of political leaders like US President Barrack Obama. We are presented then with a classic ‘David vs. Goliath’ narrative where grassroots activists are pushing the Powers That Be into compliance with the demands of the world’s peoples for a secure future for our children and grandchildren.

But to borrow a term from Al Gore, there is at least one “inconvenient truth” complicating this heroic story-line. Elite funders like the Rockefeller Foundation, Bill Gates, and the Clintons finance and foster these NGOs; or so argues Cory Morningstar.

Cory Morningstar has written extensively on the role of these NGOs in playing into the hands of their Wall Street benefactors.

Morningstar attended the COP15 UN Climate Conference and was on hand to video-record the following press conference by Lumumba Di-Aping, the chief negotiator for the G77 bloc of developing countries. In this conference, Di-Aping blasts the international NGO community for not embracing the ambitious (science-based) reduction targets favoured by the G77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, in favour of the compromise targets restricting global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels to (as much as) 2 degrees Celsius. This goal would mean, in Di-Aping’s words, “certain death for Africa” and “certain devastation of small island states.”

 

 “…and I will say this to our colleagues from Western civil society — you have definitely sided with a small group of industrialists and their representatives and your representative branches. Nothing more than that. You have become an instrument of your governments.”   -Lumumba Di-Aping

On the Earth Day edition of the Global Research News Hour, Morningstar talks about fossil fuel divestment as a flawed climate strategy, the failure of climate activists to address imperialism, a critical UN Advisory Group report which environmental groups conspired to keep buried from public view, and other inconvenient truths plaguing the non-profit industrial complex.

This episode also includes a brief clip from a 2016 Winnipeg talk by celebrated author, journalist, and 350.org Board member Naomi Klein.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Length (59:23)

Click to download the audio (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour airs every Friday at 1pm CT on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg. The programme is also podcast at globalresearch.ca .

The show can be heard on the Progressive Radio Network at prn.fm. Listen in every Monday at 3pm ET.

Community Radio Stations carrying the Global Research News Hour:

CHLY 101.7fm in Nanaimo, B.C – Thursdays at 1pm PT

Boston College Radio WZBC 90.3FM NEWTONS  during the Truth and Justice Radio Programming slot -Sundays at 7am ET.

Port Perry Radio in Port Perry, Ontario –1  Thursdays at 1pm ET

Burnaby Radio Station CJSF out of Simon Fraser University. 90.1FM to most of Greater Vancouver, from Langley to Point Grey and from the North Shore to the US Border.

It is also available on 93.9 FM cable in the communities of SFU, Burnaby, New Westminister, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody, Surrey and Delta, in British Columbia Canada. – Tune in every Saturday at 6am.

Notes:

  1. http://www.earthday.org/earth-day/
  2. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/26591-a-change-in-the-climate-the-climate-movement-steps-up
  3. http://2014.peoplesclimate.org/
  4. Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson (February 13, 2013), Washington Post, “Activists arrested at White House protesting Keystone pipeline”; https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/activists-arrested-at-white-house-protesting-keystone-pipeline/2013/02/13/8f0f1066-75fa-11e2-aa12-e6cf1d31106b_story.html
  5. Naomi Klein (2014), “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate”, (pg.302-303) Alfres & Knopf Canada
  6. http://350.org/campaigns/

 

 

[Hosted and produced by CKUW News Director and contributor, Michael Welch, in association with the Centre for Research on Globalization, the Global Research News Hour is a one hour analysis of major developments in the world of economics, politics and geo-politics, with researchers and news makers from around the world. If you want to get the story beyond the headlines, strap yourself in for 60 minutes of informative and provocative radio. Global Research News Hour broadcasts every Friday from 1:00pm – 2:00pm.]

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

Gearóid Ó Colmáin

April 20, 2016

by Gearóid Ó Colmáin

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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