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Where Social Justice and Environmental Activists Won’t Go

The Good Men Project

February 7, 2016

by Michael Sliwa

 

 

Social and environmental justice are connected and fighting for those requires being against civilization.

 

When I first began writing and speaking about white privilege and systemic white supremacy, I had a group of fellow activists which I shared a common vision with. Today I’ve attempted to go further down my own personal rabbit hole in search of the roots of our societal injustices while some of my predecessors and contemporaries have become critical of such a journey.

Over the years I have tried to make more connections for folks and myself in my writing and presentations. I’ve come to a place where even many of the most steadfast social justice activists won’t go. They have and continue to speak truth to power concerning our institutions and larger systems but when it comes to looking at the foundation of those institutions and systems many fall silent.

Civilization is rarely on the table when social justice is discussed. That’s not to say there aren’t those talking about the connections between justice and civilization but they are few and very far between. When I began to connect civilization to social justice I lost some folks completely. This could be due to the fact that I may not have presented the material clear enough or well enough, but over the years something tells me there’s more to it. I began to challenge our living arrangement and that for some is not up for negotiation.

 

 

When I say civilization I mean the importation of our goods and services. I mean a division of labor to do so. I mean a hierarchy that requires oppression, violence, killing, environmental degradation and progress to be maintained. I mean the global industrial economy which requires infinite growth on a finite planet to be maintained which of course is impossible.

What I see from many social justice activists is a perspective that views the world through a strictly reform based lens. They want to improve the system. Improving the current state of affairs makes sense. Folks need justice today. What must be considered is a pursuit for the root of our social inequalities and travesties. To pursue the root is radical by definition and therein lies the rub.

Reformists aren’t radicals. They often demonize radicals. They tend to focus on pursuing reform solely within our institutions and systems. Institutions and systems that are the foundations of a hierarchy that requires oppression, violence, killing, and environmental degradation to be maintained. There’s nothing wrong with fighting for change within the status quo but if that’s all we’re doing then we are clearly not trying to find the root of our societal and environmental issues.

 

 

Civilization and in particular, industrial civilization is that root. After all civilization today requires massive hierarchal institutions and systems and they are the pillars of police brutality, incarceration rates, preferential hiring, housing inequities, and an endless list of other discriminatory practices. Some will point to capitalism as the culprit but capitalism and yes even socialism are the children of civilization.

Now one might argue that all of this infrastructure that supports our lives exists because of civilization, to which I agree. There in lies the predicament. If we call for the dismantling of the very infrastructure that promotes and perpetuates massive oppression then we also should sever the head of all we know about living in the world. Being dependent upon civilization is keeping billions of us alive and it’s killing and oppressing people at the same time. What it’s also doing is devouring the very diversity that creates all diversity, biodiversity. This point further cements our predicament.

As activists and as a civilization we are stuck. We want solutions within a framework that is killing the life support systems which provide for our own existence. We want justice in a framework that requires injustice. We want our cake and eat it to. The trouble is the cake is poisonous. It tastes great going down because we see gains in the fight for justice but it also reinforces a system and perpetuates injustice by reforming it instead of dismantling it. We never consider dismantling it because we are fully dependent upon it. We never consider dismantling it because we believe this is the only way to live. Our dependency upon it has taught us that we can solve the unsolvable. Like I said, we are in fact stuck.

 

 

The question of solutions for a predicament has been going on for all of our civilized existence. Predicaments of course have no solutions so civilization is our predicament. How then to proceed? There are plenty of options but they all end badly for not only civilization but for all of humanity. There is no way to maintain an ever growing global economy on a finite planet and therefore there is no way to save 7 plus billion people. Our massive hierarchies have put us into population overshoot. We add almost 238,000 people per day (births minus deaths) and the strain is felt well beyond our own species. Our growing economy grows our population which has given us irreversible climate change. Again our options are plentiful but the outcomes remain painfully the same.

Activists are used to long and slow struggles for justice. What they’re not used to are predicaments. I could go into the variety of choices to address our situation like revolution, abandonment, or even the ill fated reforms but I can only think of one option that goes Beyond Civilization as author Daniel Quinn’s book title so eloquently states. This option goes beyond us and more importantly beyond our species. It cuts to the heart of the matter.

You see we can still fight for justice in our daily lives but at the end of the day instead of limiting our scope to only our societal struggles, maybe we can move towards the exit of such inherent civilized privilege by considering our connections to everything that supports our own existence. In other words, speak truth to power but realize we must let go of all we have become reliant upon in order for it to make any difference in our collective planetary community. Being anti-racist means being anti-civilization. Being a feminist means being anti-civilization. Being a proponent of immigrant rights means being anti-civilization. Social and environmental justice are connected and fighting for those requires being against civilization.

If we can leave any legacy maybe it can be an answer to philosopher Alan Watts question, how do we leave the world alone? We can do this by becoming part of the world again but that’s a place most will not go. The trouble is nature doesn’t negotiate so our living arrangement options aren’t really options at all but a predicament we all must face.

Justice awaits.

 

 

 

[Mike Sliwa is a husband and homesteader. He taught high school for 12 years and left his career for a simpler existence. Currently he and his wife are living off grid, perfecting their durable living skills in rural New Mexico. Mike speaks about a wide variety issues concerning simple living, white privilege, abrupt climate change, Near Term Human Extinction, and other consequences of the civilized industrial global economy. He’s also a co-host for the radio program, Nature Bats Last on the Progressive Radio Network (Prn.fm) and co-founder of the social justice speaking agency truality.org.]

 

Privatized Progressives: A Green Country Club

A Culture of Imbeciles

September 9, 2014

liar

 

Wall Street’s capture of the environmental movement via foundations and dependent NGOs has been so absolute and all-encompassing, that consumers of “green economics” don’t even think about it. It’s as though corporate-sponsored green illusions — like fossil fuel divestment — are divinely inspired truths, rather than clever marketing ploys, thought up by Mad Men to keep progressives focused on capitalist-created shell games.

As Cory Morningstar illustrates in her article A Glimpse of Truth in a Sea of Liars, these shell games have lethal consequences, especially for the Third and Fourth World. While privileged Whites in Europe and the US eagerly endorse the new, supposedly green economy, Blacks in Africa suffer horribly as a result.

In the Never-Never Land of First World progressives, however, real-life consequences of their gluttonous consumerism — from cell phones to air mile rewards to electric cars — is merely what Morningstar calls, “unfortunate collateral damage for the things we deserve and must have.” With CO2 rising exponentially from First World consumption, these consequences will soon come home to roost; when they do, privatized progressives will have only themselves to blame.

WHAT IS THE “NON-PROFIT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX”?

ceres-sachs-mckibben

Photo: May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood and 350.org’s Bill McKibben have a lively conversation about how investors can influence the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Ehnes also serves on the Ceres board of directors. McKibben opens his Ceres presentation with some welcome honesty, speaking of his long-standing friendships/relationships with many Wall Street darlings. Prior to co-founding Generation Investment Management, David Blood, speaking with McKibben, served as the co-CEO and CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Prior to this position Blood served in various positions at Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., including “Head of European Asset Management, Head of International Operations, Technology and Finance, Treasurer of the Goldman Sachs Group, L.P. and Head of Global Private Capital Markets. Mr. Blood was the first recipient of the John L. Weinberg Award in 1990, an award given to a professional in the investment banking division who best typifies Goldman Sachs’ core values.” [Source]

Center for Syncretic Studies

March 19, 2013

by Elliot Gabriel

(This is an excellent outline to understand a phenomenon within the US which is the internal component of the Gene Sharp/NGO model of ‘Human Rights’ Imperialism abroad, as discussed in our article Gene Sharp: From Berlin Wall to Arab Spring or The Politics of Counter-Revolution – JV Capone)

WHAT IS THE “NON-PROFIT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX”?

The non-profit industrial complex (or the NPIC) is a system of relationships between:

• the State (or local and federal governments)

• the owning classes

• foundations

• and non-profit/NGO social service & social justice organizations

This results in the surveillance, control, derailment, and everyday management of political movements.

The state uses non-profits to:

• Monitor and control social justice movements;
• Divert public monies into private hands through foundations;
• Manage and control dissent in order to make the world safe for capitalism;
• Redirect activist energies into career-based modes of organizing instead of mass-based organizing capable of actually transforming society;
• Allow corporations to mask their exploitative and colonial work practices through “philanthropic” work;
• Encourage social movements to model themselves after capitalist structures rather than to challenge them

Australia’s Climate Movement Has Been Bought for a Pittance

We Suspect Silence

May 13, 213

by empathiser

“Self censorship is a powerful force, the result of the misapplication of intuition and the imperative to self aggrandise. Self censorship means choosing not to pursue the truth, a form of pragmatism that has helped activists maintain employment by satisfying an organisational remit communicated through funding arrangements and alliances with similarly funded groups. It leads to many important things being unsaid, many independent lines of inquiry being left unpursued.”

sold-sign

If you follow the money in the Australian environmental scene you will find that at the end of many a cul-de-sac and dark alley there is a cluster of unaccountable American foundations. The two most prominent of these are the Rockefeller Funds and the Pew Charitable Trusts, both founded on big oil money back in the early 20th century. They represent ultra wealth transferred from corporations designed to turn a profit to foundations designed to last forever. These American foundations and their Australian counterparts like the Poola Foundation are designed, we are told, to support innovation in the non-profit sector.

My intuition tells me that many foundations exist to capture the resistance, to stymy militantism, and to feed into the messaging sphere ideas that are anti-revolutionary. After 20 years of wondering why the environmental movement was so profoundly ineffective, and being a person who always tried hard to do the right thing, I joined the action only to have my spidey senses constantly tingling. The last few years have been both strange and exhilarating. I have a sense that in my small, militant, volunteer group I am working with good and fearless people, but I also have a sense that in the wider movement I am surrounded by a herd of captives to climate alarmism. I have come to believe quite firmly that foundation money catalyses ineffectiveness, that self censorship has constrained innovation and militancy at the behest of conditional funding.

NGOization: Depoliticizing Activism in Canada

New Socialist

May 25, 2014

By Dru Oja Jay

psf2

Across Canada, movement organizations are preparing for the People’s Social Forum, coming up in August. There’s a buzz of excitement and anticipation in the air as committees elect delegates, and strategies are debated. When hundreds of activists gather in Ottawa in a few months, we will be drawing from a rich, long-simmering cauldron of theoretical discussion and insight issuing from astute on-the-ground observations.

Members of a variety of organizations will gather to debate proposals and hear reports from paid organizers. Thousands will gather in major cities, and crowds ranging from dozens to hundreds are expected in smaller centres. In Kenora, a delegation of Indigenous activists are expected to present a proposal for a major change in the role of First Nations in Greenpeace campaigns. In Montreal, a left tendency within the membership is said to be preparing a resolution that would shift the Council of Canadians’ considerable campaigning clout to align more closely with the explicitly anti-capitalist student movement.

In BC, the Sierra Club will hold a series of general assemblies, bringing together its thousands of members for similar discussions. Canada World Youth, Engineers Without Borders, KAIROS and Amnesty International are holding local meetings to select delegates and discuss priorities. Southern Ontario is aflutter with activity as cross-sectoral workers’ committees meet independently of their unions to discuss strategies to proactively prevent the next plant closure and fight it with broad public support if it goes forward.

The question of which alliances to prioritize building when Canada’s still-nascent social movements gather in August is at the forefront of all these conversations. Which strategies will prevail? Which ideas will move to the fore? The anticipation is building.

Pure fiction?

With the exception of the People’s Social Forum, which is indeed planned for August 21 to 24 in Ottawa, the above scenario is pure fiction. The organizations listed above do have the membership and financial resources to open such spaces and expect people to take an interest, but few of them use that capacity. This is not an arbitrary fact of life; there are material and historical reasons why it is the case.

Decades of professionalization mean that if any of those organizations tried to hold assemblies like this, they would, at least initially, have trouble convincing people to come. Things would likely get off to an awkward start and require skilled and hands-on facilitation. A political culture of participation, collective decision-making and debate is all but missing. Decisions are made in offices and boardrooms, where professionalized staff preside over donors, petition signers and the occasional volunteer rather than a mobilized or empowered membership.

It wasn’t always like this. We don’t need to idealize the past to realize that there has been a concerted push to make what under other circumstance would be movement organizations into centrally-controlled bodies run by trained professionals. Exceptions to this trend are forever popping up: the environmental movement in the 1970s, the antiglobalization movement of the late 1990s, and most recently Occupy Wall Street are a few of the more prominent examples. But none of these exceptions has put an end to the process of bureaucratization and centralization. In fact, the process seems to accelerate when powerful grassroots movements enter onto the scene.

This process has been dubbed NGOization (after the increasingly-ubiquitous form, the Non-Governmental Organization, or NGO). While NGOization has been going on for decades, the concept is just starting to gain in currency beyond a few academics and grassroots organizers.

NGOization, write Dip Kapoor and Aziz Choudry in their edited collection by the same name, is a process of “professionalization and depolitization” which fragments and compartmentalizes the world into “issues and projects.” It works well, they add, “for neoliberal regimes.”

What NGOization precludes and inhibits is movement-building. Centralized control allows for an efficient mobilization of existing capacity, but it doesn’t provide the opportunities for masses of people to have new experiences, build their own ideas, do their own research, or start their own initiatives. It doesn’t provide the possibility of large numbers of people to decide, together, where to focus their energies or when to divide them.

The driving force behind the process of NGOization is not mysterious. Billions of dollars have been provided to Canadian NGOs to provide social services, dig wells in villages in African villages, support marginalized populations, campaign for environmental protection, and alleviate the effects of poverty. The money comes from government (the federal government spends close to a billion dollars per year on development NGOs alone) and private foundations (millions of tax-deductible dollars are spent annually to support environmental campaigns, for example).

But what do foundations and governments get for their money?

WATCH: Tim DeChristopher: “The Mainstream Climate Movement Needs to Collapse. It Needs to End”

“The Climate Movement Right Now Does Not Value Truth”

“I think that the mainstream climate movement needs to needs to collapse. It needs to end. And that the very comfortable organizers within that mainstream climate movement working in those NGO jobs – they need to fail.  I think they need to be brought down.  I think they need to have a little bit of hardship and a bit of suffering,  and they need to create space for those historically oppressed groups.”

Video Published on Feb 25, 2014

On February 14th and 15th, the Spring Creek Project sponsored a symposium entitled “Transformation Without Apocalypse: How to Live Well on an Altered Planet”

Managing Dissent

Managing Dissent

Intercontinental Cry

By Jay Taber

Mar 17, 2013

While mainstream media inundates us with propaganda by the pets and progeny of the aristocracy, we seldom get a look at why that is. In Paid to Lose, Wrong Kind of Green explores the world of professional progressives, the liberal wing of Wall Street derivatives. As WKOG reports, their primary role is to prevent an authentic democratic movement from emerging, thus complementing the conservative wing’s efforts in maintaining the status quo.

Foundation Funding: Tightening the Bonds of Our Own Oppression

February 15, 2013

Author/illustrator Stephanie McMillan of Minimum Security writes:

The awareness of capitalism’s core mechanisms (as opposed to its effects) is so crucial because the system has numerous methods of assimilating our struggles, and we have to make sure we don’t get sidetracked. It diverts discontent into forms that reinforce its own institutions. These are very sophisticated and persuasive – they make people feel that they are making a difference when in fact they’re tightening the bonds of their own oppression.
 
FoundationFundingPrison
 
Lisa Inti, WKOG, adds:
 
It seems that when one attempts to engage in a critical discussion regarding the political problems of working with these and other foundations, and especially when one is interested in naming them as the gently repressive “evil” cousins of the more prototypically evil right-wing foundations, the establishment Left becomes profoundly defensive of its financial patrons. I would argue that this is a liberal-progressive vision that marginalizes the radical, revolutionary, and proto-revolutionary forms of activism, insurrection, and resistance that refuse to participate in the Soros charade of “shared values”, and are uninterested in trying to “improve the imperfect.” The social truth of the existing society is that it is based on the production of massive, unequal, and hierarchically organized disenfranchisement, suffering, and death of these populations who are targeted for containment and political/social liquidation –a violent social order produced under the dictates of “democracy,” “peace,” “security,” and “justice” that form the historical and political foundations of the very same white civil society on which the NPIC Left is based.
 

If we take seriously, for the sake of argument, the political analysis articulated by Palestinians struggling against the Israeli occupation, or that of imprisoned radical intellectuals/activists and their free-world allies desperately fighting to dismantle and abolish the prison industrial complex, or that of Indigenous peoples worldwide who, to paraphrase Haunani-Kay Trask, are literally fighting against their own planned obsolescence, then it should become clear that the Soros philosophy of the Open Society, along with other liberal foundation social imaginaries, are at best philanthropic vanities. At worst, we can accuse the Soros, Ford, Mellon, and Rockefeller foundations, and their ilk of NGOs and non-profit organizations, of accompanying and facilitating these massive structures of human domination, which simply cannot be reformed or “reconciled” in a manner that legitimates anything approaching a vision of liberation or radical freedom.” –Dylan Rodriguez (The Political Logic of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex)
 
McMillan adds:

Elections, corporate-funded nonprofits, NGOs and CBOs, personal change, political pressure, culture-jamming, tinkering with the economy, green jobs, withdrawing our support, symbolic protests – all are offered up as options for dissent. None of them are sufficient; on the contrary, they serve to reinforce the system’s authority and the illusion of democracy.

crossroads

If you like this cartoon and text, please consider contributing to make them a book! Ends at midnight PST tonight (February 15, 2013). http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/capitalism-must-die

Philanthropic Colonization

By

 Jan 10, 2013

Intercontinental Cry

Writing at Wrong Kind of Green, Michael Barker examines social engineering by the capitalist elite via stolen wealth laundered through private foundations. As Barker notes, for billionaire capitalists like Bill Gates, the state is merely a tool to be harnessed for profit maximization, thus enabling a small power elite to shape global society for their own ends.

Perhaps most telling, says Barker, are the covert, anti-democratic campaigns funded by corporations like Gates’ Microsoft aimed at protecting itself from anti-trust actions brought by the U.S. Government. By manipulating media and spying on journalists, Microsoft — the source of Gates’ philanthropic endeavors — joins foundations like Ford and Rockefeller in undermining democracy worldwide. As these three titans of philanthropy lead the way in promoting genetically modified monoculture, by necessity removing governments and indigenous peoples that get in their way, one has to ask how it is that these plutocrats get away with it.

As Barker notes, the philanthropic colonization of civil society is a clear and present danger to democratic governance, and the first step in countering their insidious influence is for progressive activists to dissociate from their foundations. As Barker admits, creating democratic revenue streams won’t be easy, but it is necessary in order to free ourselves from the corrosive social engineering of liberal elites.

Through the Looking Glass

Intercontinental Cry

September 11, 2012

By Jay Taber

In his seminal study Science of Coercion, Christopher Simpson observed that communication might be understood as both the conduit for and the actual substance of human culture and consciousness. As Simpson noted, psychological warfare is the application of mass communication to modern social conflict.

In the U.S. Army War College manual on psychological warfare, the stated objective is to destroy the will and ability of the enemy to fight by depriving them of the support of allies and neutrals. Some of the methods used in the manual are sowing dissension, distrust, fear and hopelessness.

In the decades since these publications were first published,a new form of psywar has emerged in the form of false hope. With unlimited funding and organizational support from foundations like Ford, Rockefeller, Gates and Soros, U.S. Government propaganda now has a vast new army of non-profits that, along with corporate media and academia, serve as both a third wing of mass consciousness and a fifth column for destabilization campaigns worldwide.

As Cory Morningstar captures The Simulacrum in her multi-part series on the non-profit industrial complex, domesticating the populace is a fait accompli, and the only question remaining is what will happen if and when capitalist activism is seen for what it is. By following the money from aristocratic derivatives to embodiments of false hope like Avaaz, MoveOn, and Change, Morningstar steps through the looking glass to expose how NGOs have become a key tool of global dominance using social media as a means of social manipulation.

When the smoke generated by phony progressives clears, all that is left is an industrial wasteland of false hope and real threats. When the betrayals of NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are known, we can finally begin to exercise our responsibilities. Until then, programs like Democracy Now remain little more than adult versions of Sesame Street for the toy Che brigades.


[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, an author, a correspondent to Fourth World Eye, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project.]