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Social Movements Need To Be Aware of Corporate Influence & Opportunists [#OWS]

BAWe have built our consultancy atop a dynamic for-profit contractor model designed to liberate activism from limitations to innovation. Our antecedents are commercial social change consultancies such as CANVAS, founded by the creative team behind Otpor!—the Serbian social movement that toppled Slobodon Milosovic—and Purpose, whose principals created Avaaz and GetUp!. – Boutique Activist Consultancy (BAC), Founder: Micah White

 

” And then there’s the boutique activism firm White’s started. The idea is to train activists and galvanize support for causes similar to online social and political movements like Avaaz.org and Purpose.com. But the difference is, his new venture is unabashedly for-profit.’“Occupy Wall Street generated tremendous money,’ says White. ‘This whole idea that activists should do it for free and all that bullshit is over. Like somehow I’m supposed to be a full-time activist and have zero income from it? It’s ridiculous.'” – April 28, 2014, Grist

 

truthout | Op-Ed

April 1, 2014 

By Anthony Scalise,

It’s been three years since the occupation of Zuccotti park and various other parks, city halls, and commons that were physically occupied by activists across the nation and around the globe. The central theme that has now become a part of national dialogue is the chant frequently repeated in street demonstrations, “We are the 99%” that brought to light the idea that a small wealthy elite, an immensely small fraction of the population, holds a share of wealth and power far out of proportion to their numbers. Occupy was seen as a reawaking of a largely immobile and apathetic public that was becoming more aware of the disconnect between public need and corporate political influence. As the camps began to grow and hold their ground for the initial few months, discussions about political endorsement were taking place. At around the same time as the Republican Party began their endorsement of the Tea Party, the idea was largely supported that Occupy should stay away from the “left” wing faction of the Business Party, otherwise known as corporate Democrats and be aware of its attempts to co-opt the movement.

It’s now 2014, the encampments are gone, but the activists’ message still remains, and issues of corruption and inequality are still being discussed. While there was no formal endorsement of the Obama Administration or the Democratic Party a new endorsement seems to have emerged from a small group of so called Occupy “founders.” In February of 2014, one of the few largely followed Occupy Wall St. Twitter accounts was “taken over” by one Justine Tunney – a software engineer for the Google Corporation. Tunney and others lay claim to being founders of Occupy, which one would assume is a bit late and serves little purpose other than to grant herself and her group of self-described “founders” some sort of legitimacy-yielding leadership role.

Revealing tweets also revealed their intentions to redefine the movement, stating that Occupy was not against any corporations, only against Wall Street – a significant departure considering the apparent anti-corporate stance in the “Deceleration of Occupation of New York city,” outlining the stance and positions of the movement.

As days pass and the tweets keep flowing, the spectacle is on continual display of Tunney and co. making themselves known figures to those watching. Tunney further displayed her true pro-corporate colors by setting up a White House petition calling for Google CEO Eric Schmidt to replace the seat of the president to be “CEO of America” and to turn over all authority to the tech industry.

The Occupywallst twitter account also promotes the links to the BAC or Boutique Activist Consultancy agency fronted by former AdBusters editor Micah White, also a fellow claimant to masterminding the Occupy movement. The BAC is self-described as a “social change consulting firm that serves a hand-picked international clientele of people’s parties, political celebrities, and emergent social movements.” They claim to “liberate” activism from limitations to innovation. One may ask how? Well, unsurprisingly, by providing workshops on how to use Google Glass in social movements.

It appears the forward thinking activists at GreenPeace were approached by Micah White to be the first activist group to use Google Glass, but ultimately denied the offer. Their conversation was apparently secretly recorded by White himself and is available to listen to here[https://soundcloud.com/micahwhitephd], although viewers should be aware White was kicked out of a Greenpeace training camp last week for refusing to stop filming private meetings with his GoogleGlass eyewear and this recording without consent could have been edited.

This brings to question the underlying players in this situation. We have now, three years since Occupy’s formation, a small group of people claiming to have founded a movement which was largely addressing the crisis of democracy in regard to immense corporate power and influence. Promoting a technology that will supposedly liberate the mass of the population from the clutches of the corporate elite and their political puppets, while also allowing a downloadable application that provides facial recognition, according to the creators of an upcoming app for Google Glass, “Utilizing some of the most accurate facial recognition software in the world, NameTag can spot a face using Google Glass’ camera, send it wirelessly to a server, compare it to millions of records and in seconds return a match complete with a name, additional photos and social media profiles.” The situation reeks not only of opportunism, but of Google’s long arm now attempting to embed a pro-corporate, pro-capitalist, and positive surveillance state narrative (with a first person point of view) into the Occupy movement – a narrative that suggests that multinational corporations like Google support peoples’ struggles against injustice and that we can have real social change alongside the profit motive of the capitalist system.

What will result if an active resurgence of the movement or one with a similar, hopefully more direct, perspective pours into the streets once again to challenge the powers that be? Will it be captured underneath Google technology? Allowing names and faces of participants and activists to be easily identified? Will it be more sympathetic to large multinational corporations and the endless quest to profit? Or was this a not so clever scheme of the newly claimed pro-corporate “founders” to divide and confuse those sympathetic away from the anti-corporate message the movement spread? The lesson here is to be aware of those who seek to exploit social movements of the future for their own personal gain and attempt to turn attention away from those who hold real wealth and power in society. This display has shown that not only political parties, but also private corporate power will also attempt to co-opt social justice movements, attempt to benefit from the hard work of activists and put profits over people.

 

HarvardPressRelease

Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part VI

September 16, 2013

Part six of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

 

Avaaz Investigative Report Series 2012 [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VI

Avaaz Investigative Report Series 2017 [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart III

+++Note from the author: The bulk of research for this investigative report was conducted from 2012 to March of 2013. New alliances/affiliations that have since materialized may or may not be reflected at this time.

 

President+Obama+Attends+Rally+Rep+Tom+Perriello+ZltyIh24ELSl

Image: U.S. President Barack Obama with Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello.

Introduction | By Jay Taber at Intercontinental Cry:

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.

[The article above, titled “Through the Looking Glass,” was published by Intercontinental Cry on September 11, 2012. 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.]

At the helm of the non-profit industrial complex are the NGOs that make up the Soros network. At the helm of this matrix, we find the organization Avaaz residing over the complex, with key players replicating their ideologies throughout the global matrix. Avaaz has morphed into the quintessential gatekeeper of the oligarchy. This particular segment of this investigative report will focus on requisite information about and intrinsic alliances of the key people who co-founded and comprise Avaaz, as well as many key sister/partner organizations and affiliates of Avaaz; the founders; Res Publica, GetUp and MoveOn, and the new up and coming Purpose, Globalhood, and SumOfUs. The next segment, part VII of this investigation, will delve into the newly emerging trend of corporate media/NGO partnerships in which Avaaz could be considered the test-model for the imperialist/capitalist powers that be.[Further reading: Part I, Section III]

Res Publica

faithfulamerica

Avaaz was founded by Res Publica, described as a global civic advocacy group, and Moveon.org, “an online community that has pioneered internet advocacy in the United States.” The Service Employees International Union and GetUp.org.au were also publicly recognized as founding partners of Avaaz: “Avaaz.org also enjoys the partnership and support of leading activist organizations from around the world, including the Service Employees International Union, a founding partner of Avaaz, GetUp.org.au, and many others.” [Further reading on the formation of Avaaz can be found in Part II, Section I of this investigative report.]

In the public realm, Res Publica is said to be comprised primarily of an affiliation of three key individuals; Tom Perriello, a pro-war (former) U.S. Representative who describes himself as a social entrepreneur; Ricken Patel, consultant to many of the most powerful entities on Earth and the long-time associate of Perriello; and Tom Pravda, a member of the UK Diplomatic Service who serves as a consultant to the U.S. State Department.

The Climate Movement: Australia’s Patrons of Climate Change Activism

"Then there’s the revolving door. Some who opposed the CPRS when they worked for environmental groups now work in parliament for the Greens, where cheering for the CEF is expected. Meanwhile, like the carbon lobby, big-brand environmental groups recruit former political staffers and senior bureaucrats. Radicals have been replaced by ‘realists’ who know that if they collaborate with the powers that be – often former colleagues – they can secure incremental wins without threatening the system." …

The Nation Reviewed

By Guy Pearse

September 2011

With Tony Abbott up in the polls, both sides saying they’ll stand or fall on climate policy, and some believing effective ‘climate action’ and the fate of ‘progressive politics’ this decade are at stake, much of the environmental movement has decided it must cheer for Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Clean Energy Future (CEF) carbon-pricing package. As Abbott and an emboldened carbon lobby paint Gillard’s plan as economic Armageddon, environmentalists are cheering as if the clean energy revolution has begun.

Image Caption: Aided by Purves Environmental Fund, sculptor Mark Coreth rides his life-sized ice polar bear in Sydney, 3 June 2011. © Reuters/Daniel Munoz

Image Caption: Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

It’s a far cry from 2009 when the environmental movement split over the so-called Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS). The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Climate Institute went one way – backing the CPRS in exchange for Labor adopting a highly conditional 25% emission-reduction target for 2020. The Greens, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, Wilderness Society, Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) and GetUp!, among others, went another way, knowing the conditions attached to the 25% target meant it wouldn’t happen. Now environmentalists are cheering almost as one, not just for ‘climate action’ but for Gillard’s plan.

The Greens, as co-authors, declare “the old, polluting ways will have to change and a new, exciting era is set to begin”; the ACF calls the plan an “important step to start Australia’s transition to a low carbon economy”; the Climate Institute calls it a “vital step towards lower pollution and clean energy in Australia”; the WWF says it “will finally create a financial incentive to change old habits and old technologies”. Even Greenpeace calls it “the fundamental first step in our journey towards a clean energy future”.

Everyone is emphasising that ‘first step’ bit, as if using the same talking points. Under the “Say Yes” banner, the message that ticking the carbon price box equals a clean energy future is being amplified. At one “Say Yes” rally, GetUp! boss Simon Sheikh declared: “Now is a moment of celebration” and “We’re ready to power our economy with 100% renewable energy. We say yes!” The banners proclaim: “Say yes to cutting carbon pollution” and “Unlock clean energy”. One GetUp! video affirms: “get rid of our reliance on fossil fuel”. It’s implied that the government’s plan will achieve these things.

But will it? The Greens say the CEF package is superior to the CPRS: the official 2050 emissions reduction target was 60% – now it’s 80%; the CPRS allowed unlimited use of imported carbon credits, allowing Australia to outsource almost all its obligations – now imported credits aren’t allowed until 2015 and then only for 50% of polluter liabilities; there’s a new Clean Energy Finance Corporation with $10 billion to spend and a Carbon Farming Initiative to encourage farmers to store more carbon in vegetation and soils. The Greens have sought to make backsliding harder by institutionalising what they can. So, for instance, governments will have to publicly explain if they choose not to accept emission cap recommendations from the proposed Climate Change Authority.

It’s better than the CPRS, but here’s the curious thing – most of the flaws of the CPRS remain in the CEF. Big polluters are again excused from paying for 66–94.5% of their emissions, notwithstanding Gillard’s claim that “big polluters will pay for every tonne of carbon pollution they put into our atmosphere”. There’s the same inadequate 5% unconditional emissions reduction target for 2020; same hypothetical 25% target; still no carbon price at the bowser; billions of dollars going to emission-intensive power generators; $1.3 billion to coal producers whose exports are Australia’s largest contribution to climate change; and handouts to householders still mean most Australians won’t notice a carbon price. It’s another huge money-go-round that intercepts the price signal a carbon tax is intended to send industry and consumers to drive a shift to lower-emission behaviour. The pledge to pay owners of 2 gigawatts of the most emission-intensive coal-fired generation to exit the industry is an admission pricing carbon this way won’t achieve even that.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the emission projections are familiar. Treasurer Wayne Swan and Climate Change Minister Greg Combet say the agreed package would “closely match” Treasury projections released earlier this year. They envisage Australia’s domestic emissions (excluding carbon credit imports) to “increase around 10% from 2010 to the late 2020s”. With the 50% limit on credit imports ending in 2020, we’d rely mainly on outsourcing emission cuts to meet our targets well into the 2030s. Even by 2050, domestic emissions are barely below 2000 levels! Meanwhile, even with the carbon price, and well before 2050, coal-industry output doubles.

For all Gillard’s hype that a carbon price will “turbo-charge” clean energy, projections show almost no increase in renewable energy deployment prior to 2020 beyond what’s required to achieve the existing 20% renewable electricity target. With coal exports doubling and coal seam gas exports growing faster, renewables would by 2020 still account for less than 2% of energy produced in Australia.

In truth, there’s much less difference between the two major parties than either side makes out: both have a 5% target; both price carbon – Labor through a carbon tax and emissions trading, the Coalition by effectively running a national tender process for emission reduction; both cosset fossil-fuel addiction – the Coalition mainly by paying farmers to increase carbon storage in soils, Labor by importing carbon credits.

Ask people in the movement why everyone’s cheering for a plan you’d expect them to stomach under sufferance and the responses all begin the same way: “This is strictly off the record.” Most cite partisan bias, driven more by Pavlovian habit than ideology. While relations with the Coalition have usually been acrimonious, Labor has delivered various groups their biggest wins and political influence. A former insider of the Climate Institute tells me its unofficial mission when established was to “get rid of John Howard”. Post-Howard the CEO is said to have defined its new role as being Labor’s “mine-sweeper”. A “Say Yes” campaign insider recently told me: “People are so desperate to get something rather than nothing that we’re all running cover for Labor; so, rather than getting a better scheme from them or the other side, it’s all about helping Gillard sell the scheme.”

Another reason cited for the cheering is the increasing tendency of environmental groups to focus on incremental wins. Rather than asking ‘What needs to be done?’, they’re asking ‘What’s possible soon, given the lie of the land?’ Rapid transitions to renewables and away from fossil-fuel exports are considered unthinkable, given the grip that coal companies and unions have on both major parties. Settling for much less ambitious goals and overstating their significance is easier.

Then there’s the revolving door. Some who opposed the CPRS when they worked for environmental groups now work in parliament for the Greens, where cheering for the CEF is expected. Meanwhile, like the carbon lobby, big-brand environmental groups recruit former political staffers and senior bureaucrats. Radicals have been replaced by ‘realists’ who know that if they collaborate with the powers that be – often former colleagues – they can secure incremental wins without threatening the system.

Most ‘suit-wearing’ greenies also sport a neo-liberal faith in markets, with many building careers promoting the idea that emissions trading is the solution to climate change. Thus, campaigners at groups such as the WWF, the ACF and the Climate Institute turn ‘think global, act local’ on its head, believing a global carbon trade is paramount, not local action. To a worldview that cares not where emissions are cut but that cuts are made globally, at least cost, importing carbon credits en masse and ignoring coal exports fits perfectly. Never mind that a lower carbon price makes renewables deployment here less viable. Ross Garnaut’s starring role on the national stage as a carbon-price Pied Piper from the neo-liberal establishment encapsulates the dominant mindset.

Lastly, there’s the widespread desire to fill the tent. Many said ‘never again’ after the suspension of the CPRS in 2009. The Mittagong Forum, which was founded a decade earlier in the Southern Highlands, NSW, and intended to keep the environment movement singing from a similar song sheet, was torn apart. The acrimony within the ACF was intense – irate members resigned. I’m told that the Climate Institute’s board ordered an internal review of strategy. Since then, the groups that did a backroom deal with then Prime Minister Rudd have been on a charm offensive – encouraging a much broader group to come on board. Frustrated campaigners explain that the more groups involved, the faster the race to the bottom. One tells me: “If you’ve got ACF, WWF and the Climate Institute in the tent, you can’t talk about export coal; can’t talk down ‘clean coal’ or importing carbon credits or carbon farming.” As the carbon price becomes the issue upon which Labor stands or falls and the Greens’ forward momentum depends, the tent is filling up with unions, celebrities and GetUp!, among others.

This partly explains the cheering, but it’s hard not to wonder if something else is also going on here. Money explains the behaviour of many campaigning against Gillard, as those in her corner are quick to highlight; the proudly sceptical and coal-friendly Institute of Public Affairs, for example, has admitted they rarely take a position different from the “dozen energy firms” who contribute funds to them, because “otherwise they’d stop funding us”. Should we expect different from those funding big-brand green groups? It might seem like a diverse range of groups are all concluding independently that Gillard’s carbon price equals clean energy future, but they’re largely funded through two wealthy farmers: Robert Purves and Mark Wootton.

Robert Purves is the former chair and major shareholder of health group DCA; Mark Wootton is married to Eve Kantor, Rupert Murdoch’s niece. Through the Purves Environmental Fund (PEF) and the Poola Foundation respectively, they bankroll most of Australia’s best known environment groups, including many of those behind the “Say Yes” show.

The Poola Foundation, established in 1995, has for years been the ACF’s principal donor. The ACF’s building was gifted by a Poola-linked company in 2009, providing a permanent rental income stream. A donation of $10 million from the estate of Eve Kantor’s late brother (administered by Wootton and Eve Kantor) established the Climate Institute in 2005, with another $4 million invested since. Climate change “couldn’t be left to the environment movement”, says Wootton. Through the Climate Institute, the Poola Foundation provides office space to support the AYCC, and it is the largest contributor to the Australia Institute think tank. It originally funded the Mittagong Forum and provided resources and personnel to establish the Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network to co-ordinate environmental philanthropy.

Robert Purves is more prolific, particularly since establishing the PEF in 2004. He has given millions of dollars to the WWF, is the primary sponsor of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists and supports the core global team running Earth Hour. A polar bear made of ice that paraded through Sydney streets in June was also Purves-funded. Few people realise that Purves substantially funded the writing and extensive promotion of Tim Flannery’s book The Weather Makers. The AYCC credits core funding provided by Purves, their only ‘gold supporter’, for their exponential growth in 2010. Purves has also funded Sustainable Business Australia, The Climate Group, the Climate Action Network Australia, the Copenhagen Climate Council and Clean Up Australia. He funds the Total Environment Centre and its Green Capital program, which hosted one of Julia Gillard’s first speeches after the release of the CEF package. Purves funds Terrestrial Carbon Group and the Bio-CCS Group, which push all manner of cheap carbon-credit generating alternatives to switching away from fossil fuels to help Australia meet emissions targets: carbon farming, forest protection abroad, growing algae with CO2 from coal-fired power stations. Through Sustainable Business Australia (SBA) he also co-hosts Carbon Expos for those keen to profit from trading such credits.

Wootton and Purves are hardly the only philanthropists assisting green causes. Wotif.com founder Graeme Wood’s record-breaking $1.6 million contribution to the Greens prior to the 2010 federal election drew plenty of attention. What sets Wootton and Purves apart is their ubiquity – especially on the issue of climate change – and their hands-on approach: Purves is a former president and current board member of WWF (Australia), a former board member of WWF (International), the chair of SBA, a governor of AYCC and the only non-scientist member of the Wentworth Group. Similarly, Mark Wootton chairs the Climate Institute board and, until recently, sat on the boards of both the ACF and the Australia Institute.

Moreover, both men appear to advocate the ‘carbon price as panacea’ approach championed by Rudd and now Gillard. “It’s all about putting a price on carbon,” says Purves; it’s a “conservative, market-based solution”, says Wootton. As far as I can tell, neither has publicly opposed continued coal export expansion, cast doubt over ‘clean coal’ or opposed the large-scale use of imported carbon credits. While both back renewable energy, they’re also strong advocates of bio-sequestration options that help avoid a switch away from fossil fuels. The organisations they fund take similar views; a coterie of corporations deeply enmeshed in vast new coal- and gas-mining projects, or simply poised to gain from the carbon credit opportunities promoted by Wootton and Purves, now co-fund the same organisations.

This is not to parallel the friendly takeover of environmentalism in the past decade with the self-interested clout exerted by those funding Australia’s carbon lobby. Wootton and Purves might gain from generating carbon credits on their farms, but by all reports their philanthropy is driven by genuine altruism rather than vested interest. However, they embody much of what movement insiders cite as problematic – neo-liberal minded corporate greenies chasing incremental results based on ‘what’s possible’. So perhaps it’s inevitable that, as more groups come to rely heavily on the same patronage, the environment movement’s centre of gravity has shifted.

If more people knew to what they were saying ‘yes’, and to whom, it’s hard not to wonder whether there’d be a lot less cheering. Now, as in 2009, the Poola Foundation and Purves-backed entities are teaming up with Labor to establish a minimalist carbon price deal that allows Australia’s contribution to climate change to keep increasing during the most crucial of decades and beyond. Naturally, Labor and its unions are geeing up the “Say Yes” crowd. The ACTU is again in the thick of the action and, having received a

$1.12 million donation from Australia’s largest coal union in 2010, GetUp! is cheering too. There’s been a cumulative cost of up to $5 million for the omnipresent ‘independent’ commentary produced by the Garnaut Climate Change Review from 2007–11. A $12 million advertising campaign is up and running and soon the government will distribute grants of “up to $250,000 for organisations to engage with the public on the opportunities of a clean energy future”. It’s a new strategy, but the same people and money taming environmentalists into backing yet another ineffective policy.

After a decade of false starts, Gillard’s plan shows beyond doubt that the only carbon price Australia will adopt is one that largely defeats the purpose of a carbon price. The Turnbull-backed CPRS was probably the best deal negotiable between the two major parties, just as the Gillard plan is probably the best the Greens could expect from a partnership with Labor. Pricing carbon this way does not equal a clean energy future, but that will take years to dawn on many in the cheer squad. Meanwhile, perhaps the best that can be said of the Gillard package is that passing it makes room for issues that the current debate has kept off the table. With the carbon price box finally ticked, the massive expansion in Australia’s fossil-fuel emission exports will become harder to ignore. When we finally confront that issue we’ll be getting serious as a nation about a Clean Energy Future.

http://www.themonthly.com.au/australia-s-patrons-climate-change-activism-climate-movement-guy-pearse-3786