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Bloodless Lies

The New Inquiry

November 2, 2016

By Lorenzo Raymond

56bloodless-social

This is an Uprising, a widely celebrated new book about how social movements change history, distorts their histories to celebrate non-violence

The black revolt of 2014 was a turning point in how Americans discussed the use of force in social movements. In the pages of the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates acknowledged that “violence works.” Rolling Stone and the Huffington Post echoed much the same sentiment. Laci Green–a YouTube star and one of the “30 most influential people on the Internet,” according to Time–posted a popular video drawing favorable comparisons between the Ferguson riots and the revolution depicted in The Hunger Games. This sea change was led by the movement itself as African American youth in Ferguson rejected Al Sharpton and other older leaders, partly due to disagreement on strict nonviolence.

this-is-an-uprising
Mark Engler and Paul Engler, This Is an Uprising. Nation Books. 2016. 368 pages.
The notable exceptions to this trend were those who spoke for the state. These parties advocated for nonviolent action in a most conspicuous way. On the eve on the announcement of the non-indictment of Officer Darren Wilson, the killer of Mike Brown, Attorney General Eric Holder solemnly intoned that “history has shown us that the most successful and enduring movements for change are those that adhere to non-aggression and nonviolence.” In an ABC interview on the same day, President Obama urged that the “first and foremost” responsibility for Americans reacting to the verdict was to “keep protests peaceful.”

It shouldn’t be necessary to remind people of major public discussions from two years ago, but America is a notoriously forgetful nation. And when it comes to matters of protest, politics, reform, and revolt, many people are invested in this kind of forgetting. The stated purpose of Mark and Paul Engler’s new book This Is an Uprising (2015) is to work against this historical amnesia. The Engler brothers profess to build “a healthy movement ecology [which] preserves the memory of how past transformations in society have been achieved.” This is a worthy goal, and the brothers appear well-placed to realize it: one is a professional community organizer while the other is a fixture of progressive publications including Dissent and Yes! Magazine. The book has been praised effusively by lefty celebrities, including Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein, as the new authoritative text for mass civil disobedience. Yet rather than building on the nuanced understanding of street tactics that developed in the wake of Ferguson, the Englers selectively distort social movement history in a blind commitment to a particular kind of direct action.

The opening chapters are an introduction to the modern history of tactical pacifism as embodied in the practice of Martin Luther King’s Birmingham campaign and, later in the 1960s, by the theories of political scientist Gene Sharp. The authors contend that both these figures abandoned religious nonviolence to develop a rational, realist praxis known as “civil resistance,” not “pacifism.” The principle reason for this name change is that Gene Sharp rejected the P-word, arguing that the term only applied to private individuals operating from spiritual inspiration. The Englers affirm that Sharp’s “politics of nonviolent action” are distinct from pacifism because the latter is essentially apolitical.

What the Englers fail to acknowledge, however, is that virtually all the 20th century activists whom Sharp and his school hold up as role models did call themselves pacifists. A.J. Muste, Bayard Rustin, Martin Luther King, and even Daniel Berrigan (who for a time defied strict Gandhism by fleeing imprisonment after an act of property destruction) all called themselves pacifists. When scrutinized, the switch from “pacifism” to “nonviolent action” appears to be a case of re-branding in response to the poor reputation pacifism had among young people by the end of the 1960s. This was hardly the first time pacifism was renamed rather than critically challenged: Leo Tolstoy referred to the use of civil disobedience without violence as “non-resistance.” Gandhi rejected that name, but employed essentially the same strategy; Tolstoy and Gandhi exchanged correspondence and agreed on practically all points.

In the 21st century, the term du jour is “civil resistance” and sometimes “people power,” yet the method’s founding father is still considered to be Gandhi. It also seems significant that in spite of “breaking from the earlier traditions of moral pacifism,” as the Englers put it, many of the major proponents of civil resistance, from Gene Sharp to George Lakey to Bill Moyer to Chris Hedges, come from highly religious backgrounds.

In addition to a re-branding, “civil resistance” is also a misbranding. The term is adopted from Thoreau’s 1849 essay “On Resistance to Civil Government,” but his use of “civil” referred to the type of domestic government being resisted, not to the method of civility deployed. Thoreau himself later said that John Brown’s violent lack of civility was the best thing that ever happened to the abolitionist movement.

These contradictions aside, the Englers trace how “civil resistance” has become increasingly accepted in mainstream political science. To demonstrate this, they introduce us to Erica Chenoweth, now one of the most celebrated social movement theorists working in the field. Chenoweth got her start producing the widely cited study Why Civil Resistance Works (2011) in collaboration with Maria J. Stephan of the U.S. State Department. According to the Englers, the study proved that “nonviolent movements worldwide were twice as likely to succeed as violent ones.” But the sample size of the study is far too narrow to prove such a sweeping claim. There are no civil rights or labor struggles included in the Chenoweth data set, which is focused exclusively on regime change. And, as Peter Gelderloos pointed out in his book The Failure of Nonviolence (2013), the outcomes of the nonviolent revolutions cited by Chenoweth have little to do with social justice or liberation. At best they replace one oligarchy with another, with no radical change in social relations or even net gains in quality of life.

At one point, the Englers note that the same political science prize that Chenoweth won–the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award–was previously bestowed on Henry Kissinger. This, for them, is the height of irony: Chenoweth is, after all, the opposite of the Kissingers of the world. But while they may represent different sides of the aisle in terms of American political divisions, Chenoweth’s work is, in many ways, just as useful to the U.S. empire.

At the height of the Cold War, the government used Kissinger’s work to justify the “hard power” of the arms race and violent intervention against communist regimes. Today Chenoweth’s work helps to justify–and in this case, mystify–Obama’s “soft power” agenda of “democracy promotion” exercised through seemingly benign agencies like the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States Institute of Peace (USIP)–the former organization was recently caught covertly organizing against the Castro government in Cuba. And while direct U.S. government involvement with pacifist academics is a relatively new development–emerging in the mid-2000s, around the same time that Gelderloos first observed that “nonviolence protects the state”–their financial relationship goes back at least to Gene Sharp’s first doctoral work in the late 1960s, which was funded by the Department of Defense.

But if the American empire promotes strictly nonviolent movement-building to overthrow its enemies, wouldn’t that demonstrate that it’s as powerful a method as its proponents say it is? The short answer is no. When civil resistance works–and when the U.S. government deploys it abroad–it’s almost always in combination with more violent forms of pressure. To illustrate this, one need look no further than the Yugoslav movement to unseat President Slobodan Miloševi?, which figures prominently in Chenoweth’s famous study and takes up more than thirty pages in This Is an Uprising. In the Englers’ version, this regime change is primarily attributable to Otpor, a “leaderless” student group from Serbia. Otpor promoted nonviolence in the Sharpian model, with an official policy to submit to arrest and abjure any kind of self-defense, even when the police physically abused them. In this way, they won the sympathy of the public and even the Serbian establishment.

But Otpor didn’t operate in a vacuum. Not only did they overthrow Miloševi? in the period when he had just lost a war with NATO, but also, in the midst of Otpor’s campaign, Miloševi? was being challenged by the armed insurgency of the UÇPMB (successor group to the Kosovo Liberation Army). On top of this, militant groups in Montenegro threatened to secede if he was re-elected. The Englers quote Otpor veterans’ claims that the NATO raids undermined the opposition and strengthened the regime, but the record shows that Otpor prospered in the aftermath of the bombing. One prominent civil resistance study acknowledges that “a number of middle and higher-ranking police and army officers made secret pacts with the democratic opposition and helped the movement forward.” Furthermore, Otpor’s victory was not strictly nonviolent: Anti-Miloševi? protesters rioted in October 2000 when the president refused to concede the election. The Englers admit, in passing, that things “got a little out of hand,” but they fail to describe the full extent of the insurrection: not only was there arson and other property destruction in Belgrade, but also the fact that an Otpor supporter killed a civilian by driving over him with a bulldozer.

This cherry-picked example of civil resistance winning its demands occurred in a context where both NATO and an armed guerilla group simultaneously made the same demand. And yet, under today’s political science taxonomy, this is what’s considered a nonviolent victory. Such dubious classification is common in the civil resistance world: Peter Ackerman, the venture capitalist who has funded much of Gene Sharp’s work, once claimed that Ukraine’s Euromaidan movement should be considered nonviolent because only a minority of the protesters threw firebombs and brandished guns.

A good faith argument for pacifist success in such cases would credit the intervening factors as a diversity of tactics supporting a nonviolent core, or attribute it to what is known in social movement theory as the “radical flank effect,” which argues that the presence of radical militants in a social movement helps make the less militant actors seem reasonable and worthy of having their demands met. Yet not only do the Englers undervalue such phenomena, they actively denounce them.

In spite of primarily advocating for nonviolent direct action, the Englers express support for electioneering, stating that while it is a separate tactic, it can complement civil resistance. If they are genuinely non-ideological strategists, they should take the same position towards guerilla activity. But, while the Englers repeatedly speak of the need for movements to “escalate,” they jerk back from any overlap with property destruction. This flinching is excused with a fable of the radical environmental advocacy movement Earth First! in the 1990s. The Englers paint the picture of a movement with a macho fetish for violence that was set right by the influence of the more moderate feminist Judi Bari, who enforced nonviolence and built the populist Redwood Summer campaign of 1990, winning political victories against logging in the Pacific Northwest. This success, the Englers claim, was in marked contrast with the Earth Liberation Front (ELF), the monkeywrenching eco-saboteurs who left defected from Earth First! after the rise of Bari.

The ELF is portrayed as a gang of clowns who accomplished nothing besides getting themselves imprisoned. Yet the Englers also tell us that “in the end, Redwood Summer did not produce immediate legislative gains.” The best they can claim for the nonviolent campaign is “a 78 percent drop in logging in national forests.” The ELF began carrying out its arson and sabotage attacks on the logging and tourism industries in the Pacific Northwest in 1996; these years of victory were among ELF’s peak years of activity, when it was clearly functioning as the radical flank of Earth First! But the Englers’ attitude towards militants is eliminationist, not just separatist: the ELF shouldn’t have just left Earth First!, they should have ceased to exist at all. Such absolutism is completely contrary to Bari’s actual policy: “Earth First!, the public group, has a nonviolence code,” she wrote in 1994, “monkeywrenching is done by [the] Earth Liberation Front […] Civil disobedience and sabotage are both powerful tactics in our movement.”

The double standards that the authors apply between violent and nonviolent actors undermine their claims of unbiased pragmatism. When pacifist organizers provoke violent repression, the Englers regard it as a necessary cost of the campaign–“leading proponents of civil resistance emphasize that strategic nonviolent action […] may result in serious injuries and even casualties”–but when black blocs draw repression, it’s completely unacceptable. ACT UP are praised as “desperate, aggressive, and often exceptional young men,” who had the courage to risk “potentially alienating the very people that advocates want to win over.” The ELF, on the other hand, are pictured as fanatics with no strategy. When the civil rights movement employed “often unpopular” tactics, generating “overwhelmingly negative” reaction in public opinion polls, this was admirable; when the Weather Underground and other Vietnam-era militants defied public opinion, they were simply out-of-touch adventurists (even though the latter’s action led to massive troop withdrawals and a constitutional amendment to lower the voting age).

The Englers, it must be noted, have attempted to apply their precepts, not merely theorize them. In the wake of Occupy Wall Street, they helped organize the 99% Spring campaign, a coalition dominated by Moveon.org that aimed to put “hundreds of thousands” of people in the streets to change foreclosure policy. Coalition spokesman and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) executive Stephen Lerner promised to “engage the millions of people we need to do [sic] to build the kind of movement we need at this time in history.” According to him, this was a job that Occupy was not capable of doing without their guidance. In the end, the 99% Spring mobilized a few thousand people–far less than Occupy did nationwide–and had no impact on banking foreclosure policies, which remained abysmal. More recently, the brothers were involved with a nearly identical coalition–Democracy Spring/Democracy Awakening–based around campaign-finance reform. Initially, Democracy Spring seemed more tactically ambitious with a program of organizing mass civil disobedience at the Capitol Building. However, press coverage of the arrests turned out to be so meager that most of the campaign’s supporters were left distraught.

As historians and theorists of social movement, the Englers might have been able to see this failure coming, since they actually describe a precedent for their ineffectual campaigns in This Is an Uprising. In his 1962 project in Albany, Georgia, Martin Luther King and his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) left a yearlong campaign with no tangible civil rights advances achieved. King had been thwarted by Chief of Police Laurie Pritchett, who capitalized on SCLC’s nonviolent strategy by avoiding any appearance of brutality and de-escalating conflict between police and protesters, thereby pre-empting any dramatic scenes that could draw national attention. King’s reputation within the movement declined until the spectacular victory of the following year’s Birmingham campaign. The Englers spend over twenty pages on Birmingham, promising to demonstrate just why it succeeded while Albany failed, but they never do.

In truth, the Birmingham campaign benefitted from having both a police force and a protest movement that was markedly less peaceful than in Albany. King wasn’t able to get consistent media coverage until after protests became, as Taylor Branch put it, “a duel of rocks and fire hoses.” One of King’s aides, Vincent Harding, later acknowledged that the black youth who came to dominate the campaign’s street action were “the children of Malcom X” and that their escalation to “a burning, car-smashing, police-battling response” marked Birmingham as “the first of the period’s urban rebellions.” Historian Glenn Eskew wrote that “the aftermath of national protest, international pressure, and inner-city riot convinced a reluctant Kennedy administration to propose sweeping legislation that, once passed as the Civil Rights Act of 1964, marked a watershed in race relations.”

Yet these events of the Birmingham campaign are never mentioned in the Englers’ book in any form. It is here that the brothers step into outright dishonesty: they know very well that the scholarly consensus on Birmingham is that the violent protesters made an invaluable contribution (Eskew’s book is one of their sources). Yet in spite of spending a tenth of their book’s text on Birmingham, they refuse to even acknowledge the violent protesters’ existence.

Such historical censorship rationalizes the choreographed civil disobedience that the Englers help organize today, which quarantines “good protesters” from “bad protesters.” This, in turn, enables the same counter-strategy that Laurie Pritchett employed so effectively against King in Albany. What the Englers call “discipline” is actually de-escalation that facilitates police crowd control. Indeed, there is now a fully developed police doctrine known as “negotiated management” based on the avoidance of direct conflict with protesters. The National Lawyers’ Guild official, Traci Yoder, has written that negotiated management “is in many ways more effective […] in neutralizing social justice movements” than overt state repression.

But while the brothers focus on the SCLC at length, they fail to discuss the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who, the brothers passingly admit, pushed SCLC into its most productively confrontational actions. This is not only because the history of SNCC began with Gandhian practice, but also because it rapidly progressed beyond it. Although its militancy is sometimes attributed to Black Power-era missteps, SNCC’s commitment to a genuinely grassroots politics led it to work with openly armed African Americans as early as 1961 in Monroe, North Carolina, as well as with more discreetly armed black peoples all over the South. By spring 1964, SNCC associates in Cambridge, Maryland were having gunfights with the National Guard and one of the group’s advisers, Howard Zinn, noted that the movement had reached “the limits of nonviolence.” But it was crucial that those limits were reached, or there wouldn’t have been a Civil Rights Act.

In spite of its name, SNCC’s principles always had less to do with nonviolence than with organizing from the bottom-up. The group’s guiding light was Ella Baker, arguably the most important African American leader of the 20th century. As many have noted, Baker preached neither strategic nonviolence nor strategic violence. Drawing from her decades of experience, Baker counseled SNCC organizers to distance themselves from institutional power; they might maintain dialogue with the establishment left–trade unions and NGOs tied into what she called “the foundation complex”–but they should be wary of entering into partnerships with them. Instead they should follow the lead of working-class communities on the ground. This repeatedly led SNCC organizers away from nonviolence. Then as now, serious movements make serious enemies (think of the shootings last year in Charleston and Minneapolis) and self-defense quickly becomes paramount for frontline activists. Baker’s longtime friend and biographer Joanne Grant recounted that as pacifism faded away in SNCC, Baker “turned a blind eye to the prevalence of weapons. While she herself would rely on her fists […] she had no qualms about target practice.” At the same time, the failure of peaceful reform logically led oppressed communities towards insurrection.

It is often said that without the guidance of an anti-authoritarian and non-ideological figure like Ella Baker, the Black Power militants of SNCC began to lose perspective. Yet it can equally be said that the pacifists lost their way as well. The cause of social justice in America has been suffering from believing the former but not reckoning with the latter for the past forty years.

 

[Lorenzo Raymond is an independent historian and educator living in New York City. Lorenzo blogs at Diversityoftactics.org]

 

Breaking Free

A New Age Ghost Dance

Salish Sea Maritime

May 15th, 2016

By Jay Taber

 

Clean Energy

carbon-is-forever-smokestacks

As I noted in the introduction to Hijacking the Environmental Movement: Just Say No to 350, in 2011, when the oil industry tycoon Warren Buffett poured $26 million into TIDES foundation—funder of 350–he was making a strategic long-term investment in public relations (PR), while simultaneously scheming to cash in on the gullibility of young, impressionable activists.

Most recently, 350 has come out with new propaganda to mislead climate activists. As they did with the KXL charade and the fossil fuel divestment hoax, 350 is promoting ineffective disobedience as a means of diverting activist energy from reality-based social change that might actually threaten the 350 funders’ fossil fuel investments.

As a fossil fuel industry-financed organization, 350 is the most insidious Wall Street Trojan Horse since Avaaz and Purpose. The 350 followers, like most activists, are utterly clueless.

The 350 break free moral theatrics, as a follow-up to the college campus fossil fuel divestment fraud, is not going to shut down Pacific Northwest oil refineries any more than divestment was going to shut down the oil industry. Divestment made the oil industry more powerful, and the break free scheme is part of Wall Street’s clean energy scam to build nuclear power plants.

New Economy

cop21-showtime1

The ‘New Economy’ unveiled by the global financial elite at COP21 has two main components: 1. ‘clean energy’, and 2. ‘sustainable capitalism’. These, in turn, comprise two of the elements of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the 21st Century–a partnership project between Wall Street, the UN and international NGOs, i.e. Avaaz, Ceres, Purpose and 350.

The primary promoters of the ‘New Economy’, ‘clean energy’ and ‘sustainable capitalism’–that form the core of the UN SDGs–are Bill Gates, Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz & Purpose) and Bill McKibben (350). Economic development under the SDGs relies on financial investment from the World Bank, and compliance enforcement from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)–in partnership with Wall Street and regional investment banks.

The results of this ‘sustainable capitalism’ can already be seen in the form of mega-dams, mega-plantations, and mega-mining projects in South America, Africa and Asia. This industrial development–while profitable to the investors–has unfortunately resulted in major deforestation, toxic pollution of fresh water, and ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples who formerly called these territories home.

Adjacent to the mega-dams, mega-plantations, and mega-mines of the ‘New Economy’ are makeshift camps for the industrial laborers, as well as rural shanty towns for displaced farmers and fishermen. The Indigenous peoples–those that aren’t murdered by corporate security personnel working in tandem with the police and military–are frequently relocated to urban slums far away, where many die a slow death of poverty and substance abuse.

The mega-dams provide electricity for industry, including the processing of minerals from the mega-mines, as well as the GMO soy and palm oil produced on the mega-plantations. The ‘clean energy’ minerals include gold, copper, and lithium, which are used in consumer electronics, solar panels, wind mills, and batteries for electric vehicles. They also include coal, oil, and uranium that is used to fuel the electrical grids in countries such as France, Japan and the UK.

The ‘clean energy’ plan of the UN, Wall Street and NGOs–that championed the financial elite at COP21–relies on two primary projects: 1. a global nuclear power renaissance, and 2. privatization of Indigenous and public resources worldwide.

Enchanting as the chimera of clean energy might be, it doesn’t scale to meet energy demand, and its use by marketing agencies like Avaaz, Purpose and 350 is to perpetuate the misbelief that Wall Street — which caused all our social and environmental problems — is our only hope for salvation. Sort of a New Age Ghost Dance.

Bomb Trains

buffet

The reason for the glut of Bakken crude now rolling into the March Point and Cherry Point refineries in Washington State goes back to 2012, when Obama opened up millions of acres for gas and oil in 23 states, ushering in the fracking boom that brought us the ‘bomb trains’ owned by Obama’s friend Warren Buffett since 2009, when he purchased Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) for $34 billion–the same year TIDES Foundation funded 350.

In 2010, 350 launched the campaign to reject KXL; by 2014, crude-via-rail in the US soared to 500 thousand car loads per year, up from 5 thousand in 2008, with trains exploding across Canada and the US.

To refresh readers’ memories, the KXL ‘grassroots’ hoax was funded in large part by TIDES (flush with Buffett money) with 350 at the helm. Funds laundered through Buffett’s foundation NOVO and the TIDES Foundation — a money laundry used by Tar Sands investors and other elites to control NGOs — helped finance the KXL NGO charade, thus eclipsing any discussion about shutting down the Tar Sands, and making possible the explosive growth of bomb trains and other pipelines.

Divestment

dry powder play poster

When Klein and McKibben herded thousands of college students across America to fight climate change by forcing their schools to divest in fossil fuels, no one stopped to ask if that would make any difference. Using the emotive force of the idea of divestment as people power — based on an intentional association with its use in South Africa and Palestine — 350 inducted hypnotic behavior that omitted any critical judgment.

The fact that apartheid was opposed by a combination of boycott, divestment and sanction by national and international institutions in support of armed insurrection was lost on the climateers. Instead, they were hypnotized into believing that colleges selling back fossil fuel shares to Wall Street (where unscrupulous investors could then make a killing) was part of a magical social revolution. The same could apply to the nonsensical demand to end fossil fuels.

As a Wall Street shell game, the global fossil fuel divestment campaign — exposed by Cory Morningstar in Divestment as the Vehicle to Interlocking Globalized Capital — is a PR masterpiece.

As noted in the November 4, 2014 Harvard Business Review,

Were divestment ever to succeed in lowering the valuations of fossil fuel companies, an unintended consequence could be a shift from public markets to private markets… Such a shift could hurt transparency; companies that go private have minimal reporting obligations and they typically become very opaque. This could limit everyone’s ability to engage the management of these companies in a discussion around climate change.

As an indicator of the scale of fraud perpetrated by the divestment campaign led by 350, Exxon in 2014 spent $13.2 billion buying up its own stock. As I noted previously,

Discursive monoculture is the result of investment in private equity media, university endowments, and NGOs. The energy industry understands production and consumption cycles, and makes just as much on low prices as high. When the glut from fracking is burned up by frolicking consumers, they’ll double the price again, and make a killing on the divested shares.

Using hedge funds and other non-transparent private equity trading firms, the aristocracy – that is heavily invested in fossil fuels – is betting on increasing oil and gas consumption, long into the future. Corporate media rarely discusses the American aristocracy and how their agenda affects society. Consumers blame banks, but they have no idea how financial institutions are used by private equity traders to constantly replenish aristocratic wealth at our expense.

Private equity funds are not openly traded in any public stock exchange system, and therefore face considerably less regulatory oversight from institutions such as the Securities and Exchange Commission than their publicly traded counterparts.

Buying energy assets on the cheap as a result of fossil fuel divestment by universities and pension funds, investors such as Goldman Sachs Capital Partners “wield an immense amount of political influence” that divestment on college campuses helps to increase. While students celebrated divestment at their schools, private equity in 2015 raised $34 billion for oil and gas funds—a 94% rise from 2012.

Meanwhile, 350 promotes its ongoing Wall Street-funded revolution. As someone wise once said, “A half-truth is a whole lie.”

Tilting at Windmills

anthro 9

The kids mobilized by 350 don’t understand how they are being manipulated, but that’s the reality of the power elite behind the 350 hoaxes. They might get some token windmills and solar panels–which require fossil fuels to make, maintain, and replace–but those won’t come anywhere near to meeting the electrical demand now met by burning fossil fuels.

The funders of 350 know all this, which is why they finance 350 campaigns that don’t address the consumerism or militarism that drive fossil fuel demand. Instead, they promote the idea that Americans can continue consuming vast quantities of minerals for electricity and electronics, car and jet travel at the expense of the rest of the world. If the kids think Americans are going to tolerate them shutting down refineries, they are going to be unpleasantly surprised.

The oil trains are a problem that can be addressed as a public safety issue, but the refineries will still receive oil by ships and pipelines. Our society would collapse without it. Imagine no fossil-fueled shipping by air, land or sea of food, medicine, clothing or building materials. Where do they think their coffee, kayaks, bicycles, polar wear and yoga mats come from?

France went for fossil-free electricity, and they have nuclear power plants and radioactive waste instead. They have to invade African countries to get uranium, and now they have nuclear contamination to deal with. That’s the reality of breaking free.

 

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A Culture of Imbeciles

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The Society of the Spectacle

 

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted Indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

Grinding Grist

Public Good Project

April 17, 2016

by Jay Taber

roberts-hopeposter

In case you were wondering why Grist magazine, based in Seattle, is pro-GMO and pro-Nukes (as is Bill Gates),  following the money is probably a good place to start. Funders of Grist include Tides Foundation (an oil industry money laundry), Ford Foundation (a partner of the World Bank in ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples worldwide), and the Rockefeller Brothers (inheritors of the Standard Oil fortune).

Enough said.

A World of Make Believe

Public Good Project

April 16, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

 

There are a number of threats to the future of humankind. The big bugaboo climate change doesn’t even make my top five. If I had to rank them, I’d say these would be it:

  1. Advertising
  2. Corruption
  3. Privatization
  4. Plague
  5. Religion

Climate changed can’t be stopped. All we can do is adapt to new and changing circumstances.

Corruption in government institutions and economic markets that determine climate change initiatives, however, pretty much guarantees that public policies and plans will produce profitable but not effective adaptation. An example of this is the Breakthrough Energy Coalition plan to reduce fossil fuel burning by building more nuclear power plants, a plan supported by the United Nations and promoted by Bill Gates.

Another global initiative promoted by Gates and supported by the UN is the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), now rebranded as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that plan to use the power of UN agencies like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to convert the world’s remaining forests to plantations for growing such food products as GMO soybeans and palm oil. A key part of the SDGs, which is well underway, is building mega-dams in the Amazon River Basin and elsewhere to generate electrical power for the industrial development that is currently displacing Indigenous peoples and annihilating biodiversity.

Privatization of all things public – land, water, nature, government – is the ultimate sustainable development goal. These fall under the much-hyped ‘New Economy’ that Gates and the UN rolled out at COP 21 in Paris. Major promoters of the New Economy include Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben, public relations puppets funded by fossil fuel magnates Warren Buffett and the Rockefeller Brothers to lead divestment campaigns that are working to privatize all aspects of ownership of the fossil fuel industry, including control of fossil fuel reserves on public lands.

Plague that results from the deforestation of Africa, Asia, and South America have already become a concern to the World Health Organization, and epidemics are forecast to increase exponentially as poverty resulting from ethnic cleansing of Indigenous peoples and the privatization of public wealth skyrockets, creating mega-slums in which public health programs are replaced by black market pharmaceuticals that are routinely misused, creating a globalized human petri dish for untreatable diseases, such as the ‘Nightmare Bacteria’ that forced the Center for Disease Control to quarantine an entire floor of a public hospital in Maryland—after three patients and a nurse succumbed.

Religion under these horrifying circumstances — that are worsening by the day — poses another serious problem. Religious hysteria, end-of-the-world stuff, generates all kinds of unreasonable behaviors. Religious panic — particularly in fundamentalist, evangelical, and Pentecostal faiths — produces widespread aggression toward scapegoats. Religious terrorism, i.e. Christian Identity, ISIS, and Zionism, leads to murder, massacres, and genocide.

Advertising – in the form of privatized mass communication and education – now dominates public opinion, to the point that controlling consciousness on a global scale is a prescribed art that integrates government propaganda with the news and social media, creating what has been described as a “discursive monoculture”. No matter what vital issue, crisis, or concern arises, public discussion is now choreographed by public relations firms, i.e. Purpose, that work in tandem with NGOs, e.g. Avaaz, and coordinate with government agencies.

Private equity media — that now controls all broadcast, print, and digital news in the United States – has created a fixed mentality behind the ‘clean energy’ chimera, in which all public control of climate responses using public monies will be determined by elite private interests, i.e. Wall Street. Architects of the final solution, e.g. MDGs/SDGs, by pimping poverty and all other social ills that befall humankind, promote the false hope of privatization and the termination of collective ownership in exchange for totalitarian corporate control of the planet.

Global civil society – thanks to Wall Street controlled institutions, markets, and NGOs – is now “paralyzed in a collective hypnosis” that rejects universal social interests and “systematically favours corporate interests”. The art of social engineering in which Avaaz works with elites such as Rockefeller, Gates and Soros in shaping global society, by building upon strategic psychological marketing, relies on the non-profit industrial complex, i.e. 350.org, as the “foundation of imperial domination”.

The mystique of mass hypnosis that made Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben celebrities of the climate change movement could never have happened without the backing of Wall Street. With the advent of social media and the reign of the Internet, controlling consciousness is now child’s play. New world order—same old crimes.

wizard of oz 2 1939

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

Rainbow Sparkle Ponies

Culture of Imbeciles

February 9, 2016

by Jay Taber

sparkle pony 4

 

When it comes to political con artists like Bill Gates, Bill McKibben and Ricken Patel, two of the obstacles to Ponzi scheme pattern recognition by The Climateers are illiteracy and immaturity. Illiteracy obscures the fact that over-the-rainbow puffery (like the exaggerations exhorted by the financial elite at COP21) is doomed to come crashing to earth–like all pyramid schemes do; immaturity allows the gullible to be hoodwinked into believing that somehow this time it will turn out differently. Inevitably, though, there comes a day of reckoning, and while the illiterate and immature desperately want to believe that rainbow sparkle ponies will be in their Christmas stockings this year — even though they’ve always received a lump of coal in the past — many are prepared to enthusiastically offer themselves as prey to the next fraud that comes along.

 

sparkle pony 3

 

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website:www.jaytaber.com]

Obama’s Cop21 Climate Speech Signals Coming Authoritarian Rule Over Unfolding Climate Disaster

Convergence State Update

December 2, 2015

by Luke Orsborne

earth -to- paris.jpg.662x0_q70_crop-scale

“Earth To Paris coalition announced it will host ‘Earth To Paris—Le Hub’ live-streamed summit on 7 and 8 December in Paris during COP21 “to deliver a new universal climate change agreement.” [Source]

On November 30th, President Obama announced to the gathered COP21 attendees and the world that “We have come to Paris to show our resolve.”  The double meaning became quickly apparent as he went on to say that “We stand united in solidarity not only to deliver justice to the terrorist network responsible for [the Paris] attacks but to protect our people and uphold the enduring values that keep us strong and keep us free. And we salute the people of Paris for insisting this crucial conference go on — an act of defiance that proves nothing will deter us from building the future we want for our children.  What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it?”  (transcript of full speech here)

Obama was making it clear that by “resolve,” first and foremost he was speaking to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.  Like the speech on climate change that would follow, it was a call to preserve the kind of world order that he represents.  “Our world,” he called it, but while Westerners, liberals, Americans, and mainstream environmentalists may be quick to count themselves in that number, that easily made assumption must be weighed against reality.

Outside the climate summit, only a handful of the hundreds of thousands of anticipated climate marchers had turned out.  Those few that took to the streets were doing so in spite of emergency laws put in place by the French government, which banned the large scale gathering that had been planned by Big Green groups months in advance.  The protesters who stuck around long enough were eventually treated to the usual barrage of tear gas and black clad, club wielding state enforcers. Authoritarian pre-crime detentions in which no crime had actually been committed also played into the strategy of Parisian officials.

While it can and has been argued that the thwarted mass assemblage under the umbrage of corporate friendly NGO’s would have done nothing of substance in the face of deeply rooted technological, economic, and cultural realities that shackle us toward hastening climate disaster, it must none the less be said that what the French government did is antithetical to basic freedom.  The suspension of foundational rights, the right to peacefully assemble and the right to free speech, could not have been lost on former constitutional lawyer Obama.

It is for this reason that Obama’s characterization of the continuation of the climate summit in the face of violence as an “act of defiance” must be seen for the Orwellian appropriation of reality that it is.  The only act of defiance that occurred were those few people who protested in spite of the French imposition of rights restrictions, but Obama would take hold of that spirit, however limited it may have been, and make it the property of his elite audience.  This then raises the obvious question, who exactly was Obama referring to when he said, “What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it?”  Was Obama speaking of the terrorists who were unable to prevent the climate summit from occurring (but who managed to have the French government reactively undermine its own supposedly core Western principles), or was the president speaking of the activist rabble who, out of an elite preserving security-state decision, was unable to show up at their doorstep and interrupt their party?  In either case, the “best efforts” that were “marshaled” was Obama’s recognition of the world’s cream of the crop, and was an expression of flattery likely meant to entice world leaders to see themselves as potential members of his club against a backdrop of disempowered people who had been dissuaded from coming out.

If, then, by saving “our” world Obama is in fact tacitly supporting the dissolution of widely understood basic rights enshrined in the very Western civilization he is ostensibly looking to preserve,  his call to action is not directed at the majority of people, but fittingly, it is aimed at those high level statesmen in attendance whose views fall in line with elite US interests.  His stated goal to “protect our people and uphold the enduring values that keep us strong and keep us free,” could just as easily refer to the enduring values that keep the elite classes,  his people, strong and free, and by free, this would mean free to do as they please without repercussions, in spite of their growing fears of system destabilization and the resulting desire to fortify themselves and weather mass social discontent. His words were a kind of reassurance to those present.  The values he cited, which allow for the actual state of affairs of deep hierarchical divisions with clear insiders and outsiders, can be found both in capitalism and Machiavellian statecraft, which form the actual  foundations of modern international affairs, rather than the widely believed myth of representational democracy.  Whether or not this was the intended  subtext sent to the elite interests listening in, it is certainly embodies the reality of what his administration represents,  and is a clear indicator of what is to come.

This reality is one in which elite interests have helped ensure the likelihood that emissions targets at COP21, as weak as they may end up being, will likely not even be legally binding.  This is according to French foreign minister Laurent Fabius, speaking to the Financial Times.  To the disappointment of those world leaders at the event who were supportive of a legally binding treaty, the minister’s words echo those of Secretary of State John Kerry, who also spoke to the Financial Times about the matter.  Kerry’s views, revealed in the Times, related that the COP21 outcome “would contain measures that would drive a “significant amount of investment” towards a low-carbon global economy. But he stressed there were “not going to be legally binding reduction targets like Kyoto”, a reference to the 1997 Kyoto protocol, a UN climate treaty that had targets for cutting emissions that countries ratifying it were legally obliged to meet.”

While the official narrative for avoiding a legally binding treaty is to ensure that it won’t be torpedoed in China or the US republican controlled congress, the very notion that this international agreement, whose targets won’t be enough to stave off catastrophic climate change any way, won’t even be enforceable by law, makes the whole affair into a complete eleventh hour farce, unless of course you are member of the elite club presiding over this whole mess, where the opportunities to declare your good intentions to an increasingly restless public make for a good insurance policy.

In his speech, Obama went on to slip in his trademark hope and change brand, declaring that “What should give us hope that this is a turning point, that this is the moment we finally determined we would save our planet, is the fact that our nations share a sense of urgency about this challenge and a growing realization that it is within our power to do something about it.” Clearly people with far more expertise in environmental issues as well as world affairs have been determined to see a turning point for decades, by challenging the systems of power and global destruction and putting forth transformative visions that have been repeatedly sidelined by elite interests.  But we are expected to swallow the notion that it is only when Obama makes a non legally binding speech in Paris that “we finally determined we would save our planet.”  Who is this “we?”

The world is not “our world” in the way Obama’s speech would have us believe.  “Our” refers to those few who in fact literally own the planet, a group populated by corporate executives, heads of state and ruling dynasties, and the eighty five individuals who literally own as much wealth as the poorest half of the rest of the 7 billion plus inhabitants of the globe.  When Obama says “our planet,” the commander of America’s global empire is not opening the doors of inclusivity which in fact remained shut and closely guarded by Paris security.  He’s staking a hegemonic claim, or perhaps more accurately, reinforcing it.

avaaz_peoplesclimatemarch

In contrast to what Avaaz was suggesting, however, what made the march impossible was nothing more than the lack of will and leadership within the so-called climate movement itself to make it happen.  It was a signal to the owners of the planet that by and large, under the direction of NGO middle management, the owned would in fact remain compliant. Seen in this light, perhaps the most meaningful thing that could have been achieved at the global summit would have been the refusal of the hundreds of thousands of people planning on marching to be deterred by the wishes of the authorities.  This, of course, was unlikely to have happened, because the event itself was steered by groups friendly to US interests, like Avaaz, who stated on their website that  “The police have just informed us that the tragic attacks in Paris have made the march there impossible. Now it’s even more important for people everywhere to march on the weekend of November 29th on behalf of those who can’t, and show that we are more determined than ever to meet the challenges facing humanity with hope, not fear.”  Their word choice is clearly channeling Obama, another subtle signal of an alignment of interests.  In contrast to what Avaaz was suggesting, however, what made the march impossible was nothing more than the lack of will and leadership within the so-called climate movement itself to make it happen.  It was a signal to the owners of the planet that by and large, under the direction of NGO middle management, the owned would in fact remain compliant.

Klein TIFF

In response to the emergency laws in Paris, Naomi Klein tweeted on November 29th,”Obedience in the face of this failure would be tantamount to acquiescence,” but she fell short of directly calling for mass civil disobedience.  Over a week before that tweet, she had already indicated her capitulation in an op-ed in the Guardian:

“The next thing to understand is that even in these rare moments, frontline voices do not have enough of a platform in the official climate meetings, in which the microphone is dominated by governments and large, well-funded green groups. The voices of ordinary people are primarily heard in grassroots gatherings parallel to the summit, as well as in marches and protests, which in turn attract media coverage. Now the French government has decided to take away the loudest of these megaphones, claiming that securing marches would compromise its ability to secure the official summit zone where politicians will meet.”

But instead of confronting the illegitimacy of the power structure, she chose to consent to its mandates and maintain her safe distance, affiliating herself with the marginalized voices of those without a megaphone, though it would be hard to take such a position seriously given her enormous following, her best selling books, and perhaps most glaringly, the megaphone and media attention the Guardian had just given her to write her own piece of acquiescence.Given the dire, life destroying straights are facing, there would be nothing particularly radical about calling for mass civil disobedience to those unconstitutional decrees.  It’s a fairly standard tactic from the playbook of Gandhi and King, who are cited ad nauseum by activist leaders attempting to coral their flock into a nonviolent strategy for change.   But instead of confronting the illegitimacy of the power structure, she chose to consent to its mandates and maintain her safe distance, affiliating herself with the marginalized voices of those without a megaphone, though it would be hard to take such a position seriously given her enormous following, her best selling books, and perhaps most glaringly, the megaphone and media attention the Guardian had just given her to write her own piece of acquiescence.

As the author of the “Shock Doctrine” Klein is well aware of governments using disaster to consolidate power.  She even spoke about it to the Nation on the streets of Paris.  But because she would not use her position to do anything more than advance her street cred and take advantage of the Paris scene as a kind of product placement opportunity for her “shock doctrine” analysis, she did little more than advance her own brand.  She can neither be considered an activist, nor even a neutral reporter on the events on the ground.  The conciliatory language she chose, though sprinkled with mild critique, helped shape the compliant activist landscape.  She didn’t simply report on the cowed activist reality; she helped create it.  She didn’t simply recount the governmental overreach; she helped reinforce it.

The conciliatory language she chose, though sprinkled with mild critique, helped shape the compliant activist landscape.  She didn’t simply report on the cowed activist reality; she helped create it.  She didn’t simply recount the governmental overreach; she helped reinforce it. 350.org was also quick to speak out of both sides of its mouth and ultimately maintain its position of subservience to the death machine.  From its website: “While 350 as an organization does not agree with all the actions of the protesters at Republique, we will continue to stand against any attempts by authorities to use these incidents to unnecessarily clamp down on civil liberties.”  The green group’s statement went on to praise the words of Klein, and then announced that “Non-violent demonstrations such as these are at the heart of any progress on democracy and climate. People power is the only solution to the state of climate emergency. Together, we will continue to explore how nonviolent civil disobedience, creative action, and mass mobilization best fit together to achieve our goals.”  What should be noted is that while the language here attempts to appeal to the activist community, it once again falls short of calling for mass civil disobedience to authoritarian laws at what is seen to be the most important climate summit to date.  Instead, such language reaffirms 350’s leadership position in reducing such forms of dissent by relegating these tactics to some bureaucratic limbo, where they will “continue to be explored,” rather than be decisively enacted.

Klein OECD

24 November 2015: Naomi Klein (left) and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). [Photo: Julien Daniel / OECD] Gurría launched the “New Approaches to Economic Challenges”, an OECD reflection process on the lessons from the crisis with the aim to upgrade OECD’s analytical frameworks and develop a comprehensive agenda for sustainable and inclusive growth. With an extensive background, Gurría’s serves on the Advisory Board for the Global Green Growth Forum. 

Someone in the position of Klein, Avaaz, or Bill McKibben, if they were true leaders in an authentic movement, would not have hesitated to lead mass civil disobedience that would have undoubtedly attracted the kind of media attention to which the media saturated Klein lamented the climate movement had been denied access.  Furthermore, even in the absence of such leadership, an authentic, decentralized activist movement would have widely recognized the connection between Western imperialism, radical terror groups created and used as pawns by these imperial interests to both justify war and implement security state crack downs, and the wake of human and environmental devastation left behind as a result such an exploitative system.  Empowered people would have mobilized themselves, and it appears that a handful of such people, deemed radicals, did do just that.  But this was an exception to the overall behavior of the movement.  The lack of a general uprising involving the multi hundred thousand planned attendees at COP21 in response to this reality points to several important and unfortunate possibilities:

1) The climate marchers generally believed that the demonstrations were important, and that by participating they could be effective in shaping policies that could avert climate catastrophe, yet they were unwilling to defy a government that wanted to silence them in their efforts to save themselves and the planet.

2) The climate marchers generally didn’t  believe that what they were doing would have any real effect, and were willing to not show up because it really didn’t matter any way.  In this case, their engagement in climate action is primarily a feel good social exercise, a hollow activity lacking in any real conviction, existing simply because they don’t know what else to do.

3) The climate marchers are generally uninformed about the seriousness of the situation and don’t believe that climate change is an immediate threat.  Not showing up is not a big deal because there will be other marches and plenty of time to address the climate issue in a way that conforms to official decorum.

The unsurprising response of the well orchestrated, no-show climate march in Paris represents the flip side of Obama’s authoritarian circle of power.  That flip side is the highly conditioned, fearful, obedient, and unquestioning mindset which had the opportunity, the motive, and to some extent, the moral cover to send an uncompromising message to the very establishment that is producing the conditions that are unraveling the living earth system.  Instead it took a pass.

It has been suggested by academics, military planners,  and political figures that climate change will escalate global conflict and lead to increased instability and terrorism.   That idea was even alluded to in Obama’s COP21 speech, in which the themes of economic growth and the war on terror were predictably brought up.  In light of the possibilities of climate disruption, Obama said “That future is not one of strong economies, nor is it one where fragile states can find their footing.”

It is from within the framework of this understanding that the unfolding of the Parisian government’s decision to ban protests and the resulting, much diluted COP21 march should be viewed.  It fleshes out why the rise of an increasingly authoritarian police state is an almost forgone conclusion in the face of climate change.  While there is nothing to suggest that the Paris terrorist attacks themselves were motivated by climate disruption, they were in fact a product of Western imperialism, a fact which continues to be substantiated by investigative journalists, academics, independent researchers, and ex-government officials.  In other words, the same forces that are responsible for climate change bear a significant responsibility in the creation of ISIS and thus the terrorist attacks, as well as the police response to those attacks and their response to the following COP21 climate march.

Now let’s take a cue from the establishment and imagine for a moment that the terrorist attacks had  stemmed to some extent from climate disruption.  This thought experiment is inspired by a dubious argument put forth by Bernie Sanders and Prince Phillip about the particular origins of the war in Syria, but it’s general theme bears real possibilities for the future.   Imagine, then, a person displaced by extreme drought who finds solace in newfound extremist religious ideologies.  Perhaps this individual has family members who were killed in US imperial wars, and now he cannot find work because the crops have failed for several years in a row, food prices have risen dramatically, and the economy is in a slump.  In time this person is able to find an outlet for his rage and a degree of stability and even self respect while receiving training through a foreign financed terror network that eventually brings him to a major city center with the intention to cause mass harm.  So his ideologies are steeped in radical and violent religion, but, unknown to the nation and people affected by his actions, the multi-year drought helped push him over the edge.  Would the response by the authorities in Paris and the climate activists have been any different?

The reason that the implications of this scenario are important to consider is as follows.  Those who are most negatively effected by this hypothetical attack, or the very real and recent Paris attack, are average people, the very people told to go home at COP21, who at least on the surface would have preferred to have been there in spite of supposed security risks.  The people that are most likely to benefit from these real and imagined attacks are by contrast the ones sitting inside the conference, along with their industry supporters.  When you cut past the fear and preconceptions of a “correct” (officially sanctioned) way of handling the aftermath of a terrorist attack and examine what is actually taking place,  a disturbing picture emerges.  The creators and beneficiaries of disaster are using armed enforcers to tell the victims of that disaster that they aren’t allowed to have a voice in protecting themselves, because of a supposed threat from the fruits of that very elite driven disaster.  And the people, for the most part,  agreed to this arrangement.  To put this another way, the demonstration that actually occurred at COP21 was a demonstration of the weakness of the people at large, and the predatory nature of those who preside over them.

There is no one with any sort of international clout who can witness this, see the plight of the people, and take corrective action.  This simply is the state of play, and it is a clear indication to the ruling class that even in the current state of an existential crisis, the people will fall in line, and their community organizing leaders, some of whom even understand the role of the state in crisis capitalism, will help ensure that.  In time, after more Orwellian speeches, failed meetings, false solutions, and worsening global conditions, the elites recognize this compliance will not be everlasting.  There will be real confrontations.  Obama and the enduring forces of the establishment know this, and so they craft language that keep the people at ease for as long as possible while subtly signaling where their true alliances lie.  The security force in Paris, like all government security forces,  showed itself to be far more militant, organized, unified, willing to break the law, and effective in achieving stated goals than the activists, and thus indicated that the engines of fascism are far more adept at organizing  a campaign of civil disobedience than any corporate climate march.

 

Fetishisms of Apocalypse

The Corner House

by Larry Lohmann

Note: An excellent interview with Larry Lohmann follows this piece.

September 20, 2014

Climate change and other environmental campaigns often try to mobilize people around the idea of avoiding apocalypse. This short piece for Occupied Times explores some of the weaknesses of this approach.

To anybody who has ever gone around Europe or North America giving talks or workshops on environmental politics, the scene will be familiar. At some stage a person sitting in the front row will stand up to wonder aloud what the point of the discussion is given that the world is going to hell so fast. A list of terrifying trends will then be laid out. At least three “planetary boundaries” out of nine have already been breached. Humanity now appropriates between 20 and 40 per cent of nature’s net primary production. The proportion of atmospheric carbon dioxide is now higher than it was 10 or 15 million years ago, when sea levels were 100 feet above current levels. If temperatures continue to rise and release even a small amount of the carbon still locked up in the soils and ocean bottoms of the Arctic, we’re fucked. If any doubt remains about whether apocalypse is really on the way, just look at all those crashed civilisations of the past (Easter Island and the Maya are regularly invoked) who also failed to pay attention to “ecological limits”.

The tone of the recital is that of a grim call to order. Those present have just not been registering the facts, and clearly the volume has to be turned up. Why sit around sharing experiences of financialisation, environmental racism, or the enclosure of commons when climate change is about to fry all of us? There’s no time for social transformation. Ruling elites have to be persuaded to act in their own interest now. So obvious is all this to the person in the front row that at this point they may just get up and leave – not so much in protest at the triviality of the proceedings nor out of conscious disrespect for the other participants as from a sense that now that the people present have been alerted to the situation, it’s time to take the message elsewhere.

In a meeting of the kind I describe, the front-row apocalyptician will probably get a respectful hearing. This is a person, after all, in possession of an impressive body of research and statistics – and who is more than justified in insisting that the status quo is untenable. Yet one or two things are likely, rightly, to raise a tremor of unease among those present.

One is the implicit dismissal of class politics. The apocalyptician’s reasoning is as follows. We’re talking about a catastrophe that could kill everybody and everything. Who could have an interest in bringing that on? No need now for the Marxist project of trying to understand how capital accumulation continually recreates human interest in destruction, because, ex hypothesi, no one could ever want destruction to that extent. Catastrophic climate change makes distinctions between hotel room cleaners and hedge fund managers irrelevant. “People” become the universal political subject. Climate politics moves out of the realm of, say, class struggle between workers in Chicago and the financiers of energy projects that pollute their neighbourhoods, or between indigenous bands in the Amazon and the oil companies despoiling their territories. Instead, it becomes – to quote the words of US climate movement guru Bill McKibben – a battle in which generic “human beings” collectively learn to submit to the Great Other of “physics and chemistry”.

For the apocalyptician, the spectre of universal catastrophe may look like a good way of rallying a middle class who may not directly suffer from the impact of fossil-fuelled globalisation. But for many listeners, to flatten out existing social conflict in this way feels disempowering. If the threat of global collapse is supposed to spur us all toward concerted action, why does it seem instead to paralyse the political imagination, spook ordinary people into putting their rebellious instincts on ice, and deaden discussion among different social movements about the lessons of their struggles? Why does it lead so easily to despair or indifference – or even to a sort of sado-masochistic or death-wishy pleasure in the pornography of doom? And why do the remedies proposed – “we need a crash programme to keep atmospheric concentrations of CO2 equivalent below 350 parts per million” – sound so parochial?

Indeed, instead of unifying political struggles, apocalyptic obsessions often seem to shrink transformative politics to the vanishing point. Slavoj Zizek has remarked that whereas it is precisely out of struggles against particular forms of oppression that “a properly universal dimension explodes … and is directly experienced as universal”, “post-political” campaigns against abstractions like “CO2” suffocate movement expansion because they close off possibilities for people to see their own strivings as a “metaphoric condensation” of global class struggles.

***

Yet isn’t the deeper problem with the appeal to apocalypse not that it is “apolitical”, but that it is all too political in a pernicious way? Not that it is “disempowering”, but that it is all too empowering of the technocratic and privileged classes?

Take climate apocalypse stories, which are currently reinforcing the old capitalist trick of splitting the world into discrete, undifferentiated monoliths called Society and Nature at precisely a time when cutting-edge work on the left – often taking its cue from indigenous peoples’, peasants’ and commoners’ movements – is moving to undermine this dualism. On the apocalyptic view, a fatally-unbalanced Nature is externalised into what Neil Smith called a “super-determinant of our social fate,” forcing a wholly separate Society to homogenise itself around elite managers and their technological and organisational fixes.

By “disappearing” entire peoples and their adaptations, this manoeuvre merely applies to the past the tendency of apocalypticism to hide the complexities of current conflicts involving imperialism, racism and capitalism.Thus disaster movies – not to mention the disaster stories broadcast on the news every evening – are not produced just to feed our sneaking joy in mayhem. They also present narratives of technocratically-minded stars responding on our behalf to “external” threats in which they are portrayed as having played little part. Books like Collapse by Jared Diamond, meanwhile, replace complicated political stories of long-term survival, struggle, and creative renewal among civilisations like those of the Easter Islanders or the Maya with fables of apocalypse and extinction in which one non-European society after another supposedly wipes itself out through its rulers’ failure to “manage” the Menace from Nature. By “disappearing” entire peoples and their adaptations, this manoeuvre merely applies to the past the tendency of apocalypticism to hide the complexities of current conflicts involving imperialism, racism and capitalism.

The expert Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) follows the same procedure, avoiding collective inquiry into the ins and outs of capital accumulation in favour of a simplistic narrative pitting Society against a Nature consisting of greenhouse gas molecules. Except that unlike the apocalyptician visiting the activist meeting, who chooses to get up and leave after speaking, the IPCC is actually statutorily required to “present the global warming science” as if it contained a politics-free message from Nature itself, requiring no discussion, and then get up and walk out in order to allow the sanitised missive to sink into Society (a.k.a. the delegates to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change).

Although they can hardly be accused of drawing back from analysing the dynamics of capital, some flavour of this approach lingers on even among some thinkers on the left such as John Bellamy Foster and Naomi Klein, who, contemplating apocalypse, are tempted to fall back on creaking Cartesian slogans according to which not only does Capitalism act on a wholly separate Nature (“Capitalism’s War on the Earth”), but Nature itself somehow acquires that long-coveted ability to overthrow Capitalism (“This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate”).

***

Apocalypse stories are always about rule. Every community, perhaps, recounts its own apocalypses, paired with its own ideals of elite or revolutionary response. St. John’s biblical apocalypse found its answer in God’s infinite love. In early capitalist England, the threatened apocalypse of rebellion on the part of an emerging, uprooted proletariat was countered by, among other things, a new discipline of abstract Newtonian time that promised to keep everyone in line. Marxist visions of capitalist  apocalypse are typically matched with projections of political redemption through revolution.   Southeast Asian millenarianists gambled on a moral cleansing of the worldly order, as do some  survivalists in the contemporary US, where doomsday religious rhetoric has often gone hand in hand
with rampant extractivism and free-market ideology.

The prototype modern apocalypse story is perhaps that of Malthus, with his 1798 vision of uncontrollably breeding hordes whose ravening after land would “sink the whole world in universal night”. Helping justify the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, Malthus’s tale also energised murderous 19th-century famine policies in British India, powered Garrett Hardin’s 20th-century polemics against commons and communism and serves as an unacknowledged foundation for countless World Bank economic reports and research projects in biology and “natural resource management”. Finding an echo in Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” apocalypse speech, it also haunts the immigration policies of UKIP and other British political parties.

Of equally enduring influence has been the slow-motion apocalypse prefigured by 19thcentury
thermodynamics: heat death, when capital can extract no more work from the universe, all the lights go out, and the machines rumble to a halt. While this particular catastrophe story has ceased to be the object of the obsessive brooding that it was among North Atlantic intellectual classes in the 1800s, it too remains active today, hovering ghostlike in the background of every post-Taylorian drive to sweat labour and other resources, as well as every energy-saving programme or excited politician’s appeal to the “white heat of technology” or “increased efficiency for national competitiveness”.

Al Gore’s famous documentary An Inconvenient Truth heightened viewers’ anxiety about global warming by enjoining them to think of themselves as frogs being slowly boiled alive, only to climax with a paean to capitalist competition and the “renewable resource” of US “political will”. In the global warming debate as well, apocalypse has come to be invoked mainly to tell us what will happen if we don’t adopt innovative business practices. Al Gore’s famous documentary An Inconvenient Truth heightened viewers’ anxiety about global warming by enjoining them to think of themselves as frogs being slowly boiled alive, only to climax with a paean to capitalist competition and the “renewable resource” of US “political will”. In Carbon, an August 2014 climate campaign video from the Leonardo di Caprio Foundation, cartoons of a rampaging, Transformer-like “fossil fuel robot” without a human face stomping around the planet laying waste to all living things alternate with interviews with bland, besuited North American and European technocrats and  politicians drawling about carbon prices as the solution to all our climate problems. Which half of this composite vision is the more terrifying is, for me, an open question.

Justice Matters – Larry Lohmann

Published on Mar 13, 2015 

Garden Variety Environmentalism

The Band-Aid Wing of the Green Growth Economy

Counterpunch

Weekend Edition March 13-15, 2015

by MICHAEL DONNELLY

“The environmental movement needs shaming at this point.”

– Denise Boggs

It was 60+ degrees and sunny – had been for weeks – in western  Oregon, as I arrived in Eugene for  the annual Public Interest Environmental Law Conference (PIELC) at the University of Oregon Law School – the planet’s oldest such conference. The conference, attended by over 3000 attorneys, activists, wonks and government officials, is put on by law students at the UofO. Other students from other top environmental law schools (Lewis and Clark, Vermont Law …) also pitch in organizing and moderating panel discussions. The organizers did a remarkable job juggling speakers, attendees and all the little things necessary.

While suffering from a bigger than usual allergy attack brought on by many types of trees and flowering plants budding out at the same time; I, as usual, perused the conference brochure for panels and Keynote addresses that would take on the big eco-threats of the day.

Out of over 200 panel presentations and twelve Keynote speakers, there were  1) three panels on citizen  activism (two at the same time); 2) one panel on Consumption; 3) one panel on Population; 4) one on the “false solution” of “Green” Energy;…and NONE at all on Biomass/Biofuels! Not at all promising.

The first sign that PIELC was headed down the rabbit hole was the Fund for Wild Nature’s panel presenting the Grassroots Activist of the Year Award. A grand total of five people attended as Arlene Montgomery was honored. Us five heard inspiring tales of how she and the two other women panelists have carried on with great success against all odds and little money.

I found it quite an irony that the award was presented by Doug Bevington, author of the “Rebirth of Environmentalism,” in which he wrote that the was the model for grassroots activism in the 21st Century.  No one from the high-budget, big green litigation shop was there at the grassroots panel, though CBD staffers dominated the conference overall, appearing on five times as many panels as any other group. CBD has perfected the suing to get endangered species listings and garnering millions in Attorneys Fees in the process. Yet, rarely is there any critical habitat set aside in these listing victories – rendering them hollow, at best.

And, with the abject failure of the Clinton Option 9 Northwest Forest Plan to save the Northern Spotted Owl, there is deafening silence from CBD and the rest of the professional Endangered Species listings camp on an overdue Upgrade Petition for the owls, as Endangered, rather than the current more mild Threatened Status would result in real set asides – likely ALL old growth habitat remaining (8% of original, at best), if not all national forest lands in owl habitat – and the funders and Democrats will have none of that. The owls have no chance.

In a way, Bevington sadly was right. CBD is a new model, not of grassroots activism by any means; but of how to become an undemocratic, well-compensated big green outfit masquerading as a citizen membership group quicker than any predecessors.

Fossil Fuel Addicts against Fossil Fuels

From there, I went to the Friday noon Keynote address. The speakers on the agenda were Bill McKibben; writer Gary Nabhan, from something called the W.K. Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Arizona; and Cyril Scott, suspended President of the Rosebud Lakota Sioux Tribal Council (Scott, the main speaker I wanted to see, was unable to attend given serious intra-tribal hubbub after he called the multinational TransCanada’s effort to build the Keystone XL Pipeline across tribal lands, “An Act of War.” He was coming to rally support… the well-established way grassroots victories always have come about – organize around the issue; seek allies and find a legal team when necessary.)

Bill McKibben appeared via video, to grumblings from some in the crowd who wanted to see him in person. Amy Goodman also a came in for the same lame criticism, while I found their video instead of flying in to the conference on Wings of Tar Sands the appropriate thing to do. McKibben, looking a tad under the weather, riffed on the conference slogan “Changing Currents” while saying little of substance. He ended his short presentation with a plea to “buy more solar panels” and a flippant “See you in jail.”

McKibben was followed by Nabhan who gave a homily to Collaboration. He blithely used that false Einstein quote on the definition of insanity without any irony. He used it as a cudgel to beat those who would rather Resist than work in partnership with Gaia-destroying industries. He praised “Collaboration” efforts between farmers, ranchers and consumer activists and claimed a great victory in getting citizens in the Midwest to plant milkweed alongside their tomatoes in their gardens! He never once mentioned why the iconic North America insect, the Monarch Butterfly, has seen its milkweed breeding habitat disappear in the first place. The words “Ethanol” and “Monsanto” were never spoken.

Shenna Fortner, a Vermont Law School student who will work this summer as a legal clerk with Rappold Law Office, which serves as the lead counsel for the Rosebud Sioux in their efforts to oppose the South Dakota permit of the Keystone XL, then came on and explained that Cyril Scott was unable to attend. She gave a recap of the KXL issue and told people how they can comment on the required Public Utilities Commission hearing on the pipeline proposal that is scheduled for May 5th. Fortner also spoke of the long-standing tipi action camps that have been set up by the grandmothers at the entrance points of the proposed pipelines. Send comments to: puc@state.sd.us or PUC, 500 E. Capitol Ave., Pierre, SD 57501. For more info on how to donate or otherwise help, contact: Faith Spotted Eagle, Ihanktonwan Protect the Sacred: (605)481-0416 or theIndigenous Environmental Network, PO Box 485 Bemidji, MN 56619

Rodney King Environmentalism

Nabhan, unfortunately, was not the sole presenter who had a “can’t we all get along/say nothing bad about the perps/we will cleverly wiggle our way out of it” worldview. An underlying “current” of the conference was that “wild” and “Wilderness” are no longer viable concepts. The future was all about geo-engineering schemes – the garden milkweeds were part of a pattern. I’ve always been astonished that the greens so eagerly embraced the very term “Collaboration” given its (rather recent) sordid history, but it IS the appropriate idiom.

One major green growth area is climate compensation legislation/litigation. Two separate panels were on Who Should Pay for Climate Change?  They were all about demonizing fossil fuel companies (“major GHG polluters”) and ways to shake loose compensation from them. To me that is akin to demonizing the pusher who provides one’s addictions, while never once looking at one’s own responsibility. Personal consumption driving Climate Change is off the table. McKibben has said, “Personal consumption doesn’t matter.”

At a presentation on another pipeline, a CBD staffer lamented the attention paid to the KXL instead of his own project. While his put out motivation was jealousy, he had a point. While the entire “movement” has been distracted by the KXL effort, ALL the necessary pipes and more have been constructed and it has been very hard to draw attention to other proposed pipelines. The competition for Foundation grants is fierce…no can’t-we-all-get-along on that front. Vast numbers are paid to work on the KXL, coal exports, land use, natural gas exports, other pipelines…these are the growth sectors the budding lawyers are steered to. Follow the Money, as usual.

The underlying causes are ignored or given little attention. After all, how could you have such conferences w/o massive carbon use? – Jet fuel is the number one end use of the Tar Sands, but you’ll never hear that at such an event.

PIELC does get credit for trying to limit its footprint – in addition to having more video presentations, you won’t see a raft of used paper coffee cups overflowing trash bins – they are banned. And, while I question the efficacy, one can make a Carbon Offset donation to the great group Friends of Trees, who have planted close to a million urban trees in Oregon. Speaking of uses of trees, a glance at the school bookstore’s Law School annex display table showed ten books being promoted. Five were indistinguishable books on Climate; each had “Forward by Bill McKibben” on the cover.

When whatever it is hits the fan, it is not redistributed evenly

The best thing about PIELC is its commitment to Indigenous peoples. Native lands have paid an inordinate price for our energy addiction – in addition to the pipelines, there are uranium mines, coal mines, coal plants, Biomass schemes, etc. all across Indian Country. Oregon just approved Tax Credits (of course) for Biomass schemes on all the state’s nine federally recognized tribes’ lands.

The most talked about Keynote this year was delivered by Xiuhtezcatl Roske-Martinez, a 14-year-old activist from Boulder CO. He is the Youth Director of Earth Guardians, a musician with his brother Itzcuahtli, a speaker at the RIo+20 United Nations Summit… and he has been concerned and active over Climate Change since he was six. The guy is a powerhouse.

coaltrainChip and oil train parked on the tracks at the University of Oregon.

I took a break and went down by the river to enjoy some sun – Eugene has a wonderful greenway along the river with bike paths on either side that run for miles. On the way back, the path runs under a railroad overpass. Sitting on the tracks was train loaded with dozens of cars full of wood chips and tankers full of Bakken shale oil – headed for the export docks. (Here was a direct action opportunity right outside the conference!) A few conference panels were on the oil and gas exports, yet none on the ground-up-forest ones.

I was getting more and more depressed. The grumbling from grassroots activists was getting loud. My mood changed when I ran into my good buddy Calvin Hecocta. Calvin is a Klamath elder and spiritual leader. He was our Northwest chair of the American Indian Movement (AIM) back in the day. And, he was instrumental in the saving of the Opal Creek and Breitenbush Ancient Forests. I could go on and on singing praises to Calvin; suffice to say, he is one of the great ones.

Friday night is the annual Indigenous Peoples Reception at the Many Nations Longhouse. The Law School is unique in that is has a beautiful student Longhouse out back and has a long-standing working relationship with the Longhouse and the tribes. Panel discussions on Native issues are held at the Longhouse during this and other conferences.

The dinner of salmon, fry bread and other foods prepared by Native cooks was overflowing and a wonderful time. My mood got better.

Dancing on the Ruins

“You know I don’t lead you and you know I don’t feed you no lies. And it’s not up to me to tell you what you see through your eyes.”

– Jackson Browne

PIELC also is the occasion of the annual Earth First! OutLAW Bash. In a scene out of Mad Max, about 500 by-and-large younger, non- attorney activists gathered in a dilapidated industrial zone of old warehouses, kilns, yards of industrial debris – old log trucks, firetrucks, logs, rusting beams, cracked cement everywhere… music and kegs and the always entertaining effigy of some industrial insult to be burned are the highlights. This year it was a mock-up of the huge fracked Natural Gas export plant planned for Coos Bay, Oregon…with attendant thousands of miles of new pipelines. (I learned a lesson – never stand in a tight crowd behind anyone in a power wheelchair, especially if there is a big fire with fireworks shooting off randomly!)

As a naked pyramid and dancers appeared around the fire with a big moon in the clear sky, I couldn’t help but hear Casey Neill’s “Dancing on the Ruins” in my head. This is the eyes-open community that always has been and always will be on the front lines – the activists who show up, paid only by a clear Gaian conscience and great camaraderie. While Derrick Jensen wrote and three different PIELC  speakers I heard paraphrase “When hope dies; action begins;” I have to note that it is through collective action that there is any hope of hope.

The Elephant in the Boiler Room

I didn’t stay up too late as I wanted to attend the sole panel on Consumption that was held at the early hour of 9am. It was put on by the wonky folks from the PolicyInteractive Research group that has interviewed thousands of people worldwide on environmental values. A case study of 16 low-carbon lifestyle people in the Eugene area was presented – the why and how they live such lives. A larger study was presented on just why pro-environmental values do NOT translate into pro-environment behavior.

It was very informative and telling. 88% of us claim pro-environment values, but few live them. (The average annual American Carbon Output is 19.7 tons – what is optimistically projected to be “sustainable” worldwide is 4.5 tons per capita.) Why don’t we walk our talk? The research shows that the disconnect is the result of a combination of:

Denial – No problem, it doesn’t exist; nothing really matters, we are unimportant, love for the moment; the problem is beyond our ability to solve; I’m already doing my part (likely without much effect) – “I bought the Prius, what more do you want me to do? -; and, I’m working on something more important.

We heard of a sociology professor who wrote a book on Climate Change concluding that “the problem is beyond our ability to solve.” And we heard of another UofO professor – a Climate Change professor – who commutes from Portland, over 100 miles away – in a high-end German auto!

A friend recently posted on Facebook about feeling guilty about her carbon use and asked if others felt the same. The responses were 90%, “No way. I deserve it” or some other variance of the blind, New Agey “abundance” rationale.

Robin Quirke of PolicyInteractive noted, if we don’t walk our talk, how can we expect to convince governments and society at large to change behaviors and policies? What I call “Al Gore Syndrome.”

Her colleague Tom Bowerman noted that he and partner live in a 700 square foot house and have a monthly electric bill of around $10. They have a car they drive 3000 miles a year and do not fly. His personal footprint was around the 4.5 tons and he felt he could and would lower it without and real sacrifice. Tom talked about flying and its huge carbon cost. Basically, flying somewhere on a full plane spews the same amount of carbon per capita as one person driving an SUV the same distance. He called the back-and-forth flying far-flung First World family members do as a matter of course, “Love Miles.”

The sole other panel that looked at consumption and population was put on by CBD’s Population and Sustainability wing. CBD, in addition to distributing millions of free condoms with packaging tying it to species loss, seeks to break the taboo on talking about population in green circles. 7.3 billion Clever Apes consuming a finite planet is anything but “Sustainable” – by far THE most common word found in Panel titles.

Return of the Clan Mothers

sheenaShenna Fortner and Cedar Gilette.

The highlight of the conference for me was the “canceled” panel on Indigenous Resistance to the KXL. With President Scott unable to attend, it was called off. But, over 70 people showed up anyway and it turned into a circle discussion (not the usual school lecture model by any means) on those perverse impacts on Native lands due to our energy addiction and consumer lifestyle.  Shenna Fortner chaired it and started things off with a summary of the Rosebud Resistance to the Keystone XL and how one can plug in and help.

Cedar Gillette, another Vermont Law student and tribal member from North Dakota, gave a powerful presentation on the human costs of the “man camps” associated with the fracking boom in the Bakken shale oil formations that underlie her nation. A staggering litany of domestic abuse, alcohol-fueled rampages brought some of the human costs associated with our energy addiction into focus.

Good Shield spoke of the Buffalo Field Campaign – the longest continuous non-violent civil disobedience encampment in the nation. The BFC seeks to end the horrific slaughter of hundreds of Yellowstone Bison that is carried out annually at the behest of the cattle industry.

And, Calvin Hecocta spoke from the heart about what has been lost. He (and others) talked about the days of the Clan Mothers. The highly-respected elder women of each clan would set about correcting anyone’s behaviors that worked against the common good. And tellingly, they also chose the leaders of the men’s councils. Calvin was chosen by the Clan Mothers at a young age to speak for the land, the birds, the mammals, the trees…and he does it well. He spoke to how all this degradation has occurred on men’s watch and it is time again to look to the grandmothers for leadership.

With all the “logical” thinking and presentations going on all around, Calvin and others’ perspective was a breath of fresh air. There were few dry eyes in the room – from Native women elders to young, white students…all were deeply touched. While the spontaneity was a big part of it, I’d still suggest that such a gathering be an integral part of ANY green gathering.

The Biomassacre

While the many efforts against bad forest logging practices, GMO foods, fracking, pipelines, water, plastics, Indigenous survival, etc. are all well and good and necessary, little analysis can be found on the efficacy of already tried solutions, much less proposed ones.  And, thus, the biggest elephant is the Renewable Energy Portfolios which require that a certain percentage (usually 25%) of the retail electricity in a state’s grid come from “renewables” by 2025.

Just as Nabhan studiously avoided the real reason for the Monarchs’ decline (First Worlders burning corn in their SUVs), the entire “green” movement elides the other failures of “renewable” energy. McKibben et al. can pimp all the solar panels they want, but that does nothing to stop Climate chaos while Biofuels (monarch, et al.) and Biomass (forests) add to it. (Not to mention, solar panels – like wind towers – are carbon-based.)

After hundreds of millions in subsidies (and blighted landscapes, roasted birds, etc.) the last eight years, wind and solar combined feed less than 5% into the grid (and there is evidence that even that 5% is not useable energy – useless without concurrent steam-generated Baseload power stabilizing the grid) we’re left with laws requiring 25% by ten years from now.

And the major way the 25% will be met is with Biomass – the burning of forests for energy – the oldest (and dirtiest – 1.5x as polluting as burning coal) energy source of humankind. While some panels dealt with the across-the-board proposed increases in logging on public lands, the end game of Biomass is rarely mentioned. While Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR though he lives in NY!) proposes “thinning” 9 million acres of eastern Oregon public forests, he and Oregon’s former governor helped arrange billions in loans for new Biomass plants to consume the “thinning.” Ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber even sold of 1500 acres of a state forest to a Biomass company! Kitzhaber was ultimately brought down by the sordid crony capitalism/influence peddling side of the “Green” Growth Economy. Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PGE) Boardman Coal Plant is Oregon’s biggest carbon polluter and it is on schedule to be converted from coal to Biomass by 2020.

Just this week, The Oregonian reported that ex-Gov. John Kitzhaber’s forest adviser was the private owner of a timber consulting firm that benefited from Biomass deals Kitzhaber was selling State Forests and providing the Tax Credits to feed…plans the adviser was paid $400,000 by the State to develop! To her credit, new Governor Kate Brown immediately ended the contract with the adviser.

Forests in the Amazon, the US Southeast and British Columbia are being turned into chips/pellets and exported to Europe where they are burned for electrons and the countries burning them preposterously get Carbon Credits for it which are then used to off-set the emissions from coal plants! Every day, one sees false memes overselling German solar energy; yet, never a mention of Germany’s Biomass energy use (expected to comprise  2/3rds of Germany’s “renewable” energy by 2020) and increased coal use.

CBD is one of the many “green” groups that promote Biomass under the disproven rubric of thinning the forest to make them more fire-proof! CBD has helped plan the largest timber sale in Southwest history. They are hardly alone – Oregon Mild, errr, Wild signed on to Wyden’s plan and staffers appeared in a widely-disseminated photo with the senator  and timber execs announcing their collaboration. One Oregon Wild staffer wrote a tortured defense of it (that has since been scrubbed from their website). McKibben is also a top promoter of his Middlebury Vermont college’s biomass plant.

I’ll go so far as to say that Biomass is a greater threat to planetary life than Climate Change! Already we have copious evidence of entire civilizations going under due to deforestation. What could possibly go wrong at planetary scale this time?

Somehow people have come to believe that being an environmental groupie is equivalent to being an activist. It’s not!”

–Denise Boggs

Ultimately PIELC is a Job Fair for eco-law students. It is not the more activist entity is started out as. In those days, grassroots activists, like Cyril Scott and allies, identified an issue and set up resistance to it. When needed, legal teams were assembled to carry out the paperwork resistance. Now, it is inverted with high-paid pro-Democrat foundation agents dictating eco-policy and even what issues are on the radar and fundable. It has devolved into a multi-billion dollars per year growth industry run by big foundations (whose wealth came/comes mostly from energy production), lawyers and Democratic Party factotums. Many “green” groups have annual budgets in the tens of millions – The Nature Conservancy alone (one of the proponents of Biomass) has over $20 billion in assets while dogged grassroots activists show up whether paid or not, often getting undermined (or their efforts fund-raised upon) by the big greens.

The problem with having a “movement” lead by a professional class who collectively are a combination of General McClellans and Marshal Petains is that you get either hubris-ridden ineptness (paid to pull punches) or proud collaborators calling the shots and driving off the activists necessary to carry any issue to true victory. This top down mindset ultimately ends with: promoting, rather than opposing Biomass/Biofuel schemes; eliding consumption and population; failure to walk the talk… and planting milkweeds-in-a-garden being the only “victories.”

During the course of the job fair, some 800 species went extinct. The professional Green Growth industry is a dead end.  It’s way past time to walk the talk. There are NO Law Jobs on a Dead Planet.

 

[MICHAEL DONNELLY lives in Salem, OR. He was plaintiff in the first successful Ancient Forest lawsuit. He can be reached at Pahtoo@aol.com]

 

Digital Marginalisation and Obfuscation in the Messaging Sphere

We Suspect Silence

March 10, 2015

by empathiser

This morning I woke to discover that Bill McKibben @billmckibben had started to follow me on Twitter. How strange I thought. I’d been expecting to be blocked just like I was by @naomiaklein @bencaldecott @market_forces @350australia. I figured since I was blocked without breaching any kind of community standards it would only be a matter of time before Bill McKibben and @BobBurtonoz blocked me too.

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I’ve got a couple of theories about why I was blocked. I’ve been following the political will around carbon capture and storage (CCS), and highlighting the silence from the BigGreen NGOs and the well connected pundits and commentators. Some of my posts were getting noticed, they appear at the end of conversations, unacknowledged by the recipients. My posts stood out perhaps because they were talking about the silences and were returned with silence.

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This week The Guardian has rolled out the red carpet for Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein. Both were quoted and cited repeatedly in departing editor Alan Rusbridger’s “personal manifesto” introducing the thinking behind his series on the climate crisis that will dovetail perfectly into Naomi Klein’s ‘changes nothing’ tour at the end of the month. Already we have seen this series explain divestment, tackle divestment myths, and release excerpts from Naomi Klein’s most recent book.

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In my first conversation with Bill McKibben he wriggles out of providing an opinion on Shell’s plans for CCS, and enhanced oil recovery (EOR) in the North Sea. I highlighted the fact that Shell’s Red Balls/Peterhead Gas CCS ad campaign was very public on the weekend he spoke at Chatham House and asked why he has never spoken about the threat posed by CCS and EOR in the North Sea.  His first response was to direct me to this article from Quartz reporting his appearance at Chatham House. Adam Epstein’s article doesn’t show that he spoke against the Peterhead CCS project that was being advertised in London on large billboards in tube stations using artwork produced by Carbon Visuals.  I suspect Bill McKibben was intimating that drilling for oil in the arctic is also a fossil fuel frontier. Who knows? It’s Naomi Klein’s talking point. For me new fossil energy frontiers are defined by dangerous new technology to combat scarcity, like fracking. Either way, Bill McKibben was right there in front of the people whose ads for an incomprehensibly dangerous nascent industry that stands to benefit from future trade in CO2 while providing demand for coal mining and an increased life span for oil extraction were plastered all over the city and he didn’t raise the issue, he never has.

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Like Ben Caldecott (Carbon Tracker, Green Alliance, Stranded Assets Project), Shell seem to be everywhere they want to be. Not only are they very well connected in the venerable home of silence, Chatham House, but they have their collaborators smoothing the path for them at The Guardian. The article that prompted me to remind Bill McKibben that he has yet to offer an opinion about Ed Davey’s plans for unabated coal appeared on Saturday, March 7 in The Guardian’s Sustainable Business Leadership section sponsored by Xynteo, a group with some heavy weight fossil fools like Shell, Woodside, and Statoil. Xynteo have an astounding motto  “We are reinventing growth”.  They certainly sound well positioned for the world that Ed Davey is envisaging.

<> on September 15, 2013 in Glasgow, Scotland.Ed Davey? You can find out what he thinks here.

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The London ‘Red Balls’ ads by Carbon Visuals who also did work for the 350.org Do The Math tour and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development – ‘CCS a 2 Degree Solution’ video.

Social Capitalists: Wall Street’s Progressive Partners

Intercontinental Cry

February 24, 2015

by Jay Taber

 

One Hoax after Another

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After successfully bewitching the greens into falling for college campus fossil fuel divestment in the US — which helped Wall Street consolidate its fossil fuel control — Wall Street is now cooking up an international carbon copy of this hoax to capitalize on the euphoria of climate campaigns.

The Divest-Invest Shell Game — like the REDD carbon market fiasco — requires suspension of disbelief, and determined engagement in wishful thinking.

BDS against Israel, and formerly against South Africa, used the three-part formula of Boycott Divestment Sanction. Divestment, as used by 350, omits boycott and sanction, and limits divestment to meaningless, symbolic acts.

All this divestment does is make once publicly-held shares available on Wall Street, which allows trading houses like Goldman Sachs to further consolidate their control of the industry.When it comes to the 350 agenda, they leave out the boycott of fossil fuels, and the sanction of fossil fuel corporations, and instead press for divestment by institutions like colleges and universities. All this divestment does is make once publicly-held shares available on Wall Street, which allows trading houses like Goldman Sachs to further consolidate their control of the industry.

BDS, when applied against apartheid states by other states and international institutions, includes cutting off access to finance, as well as penalties for crimes against humanity. What makes 350 so devious, is that they hijack public emotions using phony “divestment” as a disorganizing tool to redirect activism away from effective work.

The mystique of mass hypnosis, embodied in the Charms of Naomi, examines the social engineering of climate activism organized by 350, as well as the seductive energy tales that lead gullible progressives into supporting one hoax after another.

In McKibben’s Divestment Tour — Brought to You by Wall Street, acclaimed investigative reporter Cory Morningstar continues her series of reports on the non-profit industrial complex, with a focus on social capitalists like The Clinton Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund that created 1Sky–the forerunner of 350. With support from CERES, they help the fossil fuel industry avoid boycott and sanction by owning NGOs and directing their climate agenda.

CERES, Tides and 350*

Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) is a partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). CERES funders are associated with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.

WBCSD is part of a Wall Street strategy to dislodge the United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations, and prevent enforceable rules governing the operations of multinational corporations.

One third of the CERES network companies are in the Fortune 500. Since 2001, CERES has received millions from Wall Street corporations and foundations.

CERES president Mindy Lubber promotes “sustainable capitalism” at Forbes. Bill McKibben (founder of 350) was an esteemed guest of CERES conferences in 2007 and 2013.

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1Sky, which merged with 350 in 2011, was created by the Clinton Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Betsy Taylor of 1Sky/350 is on the CERES board of directors.

In 2012, Bill McKibben and Peter Buffett (oil train tycoon Warren Buffet’s son) headlined the Strategies for a New Economy conference. Between 2003 and 2011, NoVo (Buffet’s foundation) donated $26 million to Tides Foundation, which in turn funds CERES and 350.

Suzanne Nossel, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Hillary Clinton, is on the Tides Center board of directors.

 The New Economy

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Presaging the new economy of progressives like 350’s Naomi Klein, CERES’ Mindy Lubber and Avaaz’ Ricken Patel, was the 2004 Progressive Democrats of America campaign and the appointment of self-described Reaganite U.S. Senator Barack Obama, as keynote speaker at the 2006 Democratic National Convention.

As America’s nervous breakdown intensified, progressives produced such horrors as the 2006 bill, introduced by U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D) San Francisco, to make activism against corporations illegal. With the 2010 U.S. Department of Homeland Security arrests of anti-war and environmental activists, for the crime of showing documentary films criticizing the arms and energy industries, Feinstein was in seventh heaven.

In 2012, as federal prosecutors and law enforcement escalated harassment of #Occupy activists attempting to influence U.S. policy, the defense of civil and human rights moved from the courts to the streets. Neoliberals like Hillary Clinton, Diane Feinstein, and Barack Obama — committed to state-sponsored violence for the benefit of Wall Street — exercised fascism through aggression, surveillance, and repression of dissent.

Illogic of the Climateers

Catsmob.com - The coolest pics on the net!

Cults — religious or secular — involve dissemination of core beliefs by their agents. Whether priests or public relations provocateurs, these agents are the vectors by which recruiting and indoctrination are accomplished.Cults — religious or secular — involve dissemination of core beliefs by their agents. Whether priests or public relations provocateurs, these agents are the vectors by which recruiting and indoctrination are accomplished. In order to maintain the cult, ideological doctrine — when founded on nonsense — become mantras that prevent critical thought.

The illogic of the climateers cult — of which Naomi Klein is the primary prophet — finds fertile ground in the political illiteracy of privileged first world progressives–fallen prey to institutional propaganda and market advertising. The hoax is made possible by a combination of hopelessness, magical thinking, and media consolidation.

In a world where warmongers are given the Nobel Peace Prize, and revolutions are won by throngs in blue taking selfies while eating pizza provided by Wall Street, anything is possible. Anything, that is, except social change.

In a culture of imbeciles, secular cults flourish according to the amount of Wall Street derivatives flowing through foundations into the non-profit industrial complex. After that, it’s a simple matter of echoing mantras on YouTube and TV talk shows.

The art of social engineering, while dependent on high finance, also requires a politically illiterate audience. In a society like the United States, the charms of Naomi are amplified by progressive ignorance, and sustained by imperial civil society.

Simulating an Orwellian ministry of truth, the magic of Naomi — funded by Wall Street — becomes revolutionary in ways envisioned in the novel 1984. As a maverick in her own mind, Klein has become the progressives’ Sarah Palin.

Progressive self-delusion, from hope and change to this changes everything, is grounded in hysteria. The climateers Kool-Aid keeps reality at bay.

The Invisible Environment

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Image Courtesy of Mark Gould

In his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman — American media theorist, humanist and cultural critic — noted that “new technology can never substitute for human values.”

Even our most heartfelt emotions and concerns have been hijacked by the amusement industry, penetrating so deeply into our collective psyche, that we have become social robots.In American society today, our social amusements have come to occupy not only our pastimes, but everything about our lives, politics, values and beliefs. Even our most heartfelt emotions and concerns have been hijacked by the amusement industry, penetrating so deeply into our collective psyche, that we have become social robots.

Capitalizing on this corrosion of civil society, Wall Street marketing agencies like Purpose and Avaaz — sponsors of campaigns to support “humanitarian war” and the “new economy” — have designed and exploited an advertising niche to make money from this social pathology.

While American faith about the truth in advertising might suffer as a result of these amusements, the deaths that result take place mostly in the Third and Fourth World. As Americans are herded into waving signs and marching around Manhattan wearing the color blue, millions around the world are dying from starvation, disease and murder resulting from American consumerism.

As a professor of Culture and Communication, Postman taught a course called Communication: the Invisible Environment. While he was concerned primarily with the decline in the ability of mass communications to share serious ideas, Postman was aware that the turning of complex ideas into superficial images — that become a form of entertainment — leads to a society where information is a commodity, bought and sold for entertainment, or to enhance one’s status. In contemporary society, mediated by technology, individuals will literally believe anything.

Seductive Energy Tales

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“The seductive tales of wind turbines, solar cells, and biofuels foster the impression that with a few technical upgrades, we might just sustain our current energy trajectories without consequence…Like most fairy tales, this productivist parable contains a tiny bit of truth. And a whole lot of fantasy.”Demanding an end to fossil fuels has its allure, but when we examine the alternatives, things don’t look quite so cheery. As Ozzie Zehner reports from the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society at University of California, Berkeley, “The seductive tales of wind turbines, solar cells, and biofuels foster the impression that with a few technical upgrades, we might just sustain our current energy trajectories without consequence…Like most fairy tales, this productivist parable contains a tiny bit of truth. And a whole lot of fantasy.”

As Zehner notes in Green Illusions, “Emerging research on the side effects and limitations of solar cells, wind turbines, biofuels, electric cars and other alternative energy strategies will likely transform conventional wisdom about what’s green, and what’s not.” Since renewable energy doesn’t scale to meet our current (let alone future) demands, that leaves fossil fuels and nuclear energy–or reduced demand.

Perhaps our only hope is that the coming plague from the collapse of global public health will reduce the human population sufficiently to give us a fresh start at screwing up. Of course, last time that happened, things didn’t work out so well. Still, 14th Century thought leaders had to contend with economic panic and religious hysteria, unlike our progressive 21st Century leaders.

New Age Ghost Dance

The inheritors of the Standard Oil fortune (Rockefeller Brothers) would not be funding 350 were they not thus disempowering their naive followers. As Agent Saboteur, 350 has already proven its value to Wall Street.

Enchanting as the chimera of clean energy might be, it doesn’t scale to meet energy demand, and its use by marketing agencies like Avaaz, Purpose and 350 is to perpetuate the misbelief that Wall Street — which caused all our social and environmental problems — is our only hope for salvation. Sort of a New Age Ghost Dance.

Divest-Invest Shell Game

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One of the recurring scenes in the iconic comic strip Charlie Brown is the one where his sister Lucy holds the ball for Charlie to kick, promising not to move the ball at the last second, thereby causing Charlie to tumble backward when she always does. Humiliated time after time by Lucy’s sadistic antics, Charlie — trusting soul that he is — never fails to fall for Lucy’s promise, that this time she won’t pull the same trick as before.

I thought of Charlie Brown and Lucy reading the announcement of “major commitments” on the eve of the UN Summit on Climate Change. Having moved the ball at Poznan, Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban — thus causing progressive greens to take a tumble — the UN, Wall Street, and big international NGOs (BINGOs) are now asking recently enraptured climateers to give them another chance to prove themselves trustworthy.

When they begin swooning over oil tycoon heirs as their new heroes, the greens demonstrate their boundless capacity for self-delusion. When they begin swooning over oil tycoon heirs as their new heroes, the greens demonstrate their boundless capacity for self-delusion. As we saw with the enchanting Charms of Naomi, the mystique of mass hypnosis is a simple matter of the prescribed art of social engineering. Having captivated a gullible audience, in a state of ecstasy after their euphoric march in blue, makes beguiling the credulous child’s play.

 

Till the End of Time

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Social engineering by Avaaz, Purpose and 350 over the years has been exclusively focused on increasing market share for themselves. This, in turn, keeps Wall Street foundation funds flowing into their coffers. Market share, acquired through advertising (i.e. branding), has been demonstrated by these cults and PR firms to be designed to deceive consumers into believing they are making a difference when they are not.Market share, acquired through advertising (i.e. branding), has been demonstrated by these cults and PR firms to be designed to deceive consumers into believing they are making a difference when they are not.

As with other Wall Street-backed political campaigns, Avaaz, Purpose and 350 engage in false advertising, more commonly known as fraud. Like earlier campaigns, promoting supposedly green products or projects that turned out to be bogus (i.e. Keystone XL, clean energy, and fossil fuel divestment), the new economy form of Free-Market environmentalism only benefits Wall Street and its stable of NGOs–not the environment.

This marketing sophistry is particularly appealing to over-consumers in countries like the US, who do not want to make any sacrifices, preferring to be sold fantasies about magical capitalist-friendly solutions, in which all lethal downsides and toxic side effects are strategically concealed from them. Indeed, part of the magical thinking — sold by Avaaz, Purpose and 350 — is that progressives have inside knowledge about this clever stratagem, while the ignorant masses are tricked into being green without knowing it.

The same idiots who bought into biofuel — whose plantations cause mass starvation and displacement of indigenous peoples — now reflexively participate in promoting Wall Street’s agenda as something new.The arrogance of progressives, along with unlimited funds from Wall Street, is what makes this advertising effective. The same people who were conned into buying electric cars that use environmentally-destructive methods to obtain rare earth minerals in their fabrication, are now oblivious to the new economy shell game. The same idiots who bought into biofuel — whose plantations cause mass starvation and displacement of indigenous peoples — now reflexively participate in promoting Wall Street’s agenda as something new.

The fact there is no substance to the empty promotions by new economy celebrities like Naomi Klein is perhaps what progressives find most enticing. Without any actual plan — other than advertising — there is nothing to debate. In that way, their imbecility is secure from attack, free to follow pipe dreams and pied pipers till the end of time.

*Excerpts from the McKibben’s Divestment Tour: Brought to You by Wall Street series by Cory Morningstar

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website: www.jaytaber.com]