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Why it is Time to Move On from MoveOn.org and the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

Black Agenda Report

February 21, 2017

by Danny Haiphong

The revolution will not be subsidized — but well-funded facsimiles of “movements” dominate the political landscape of the U.S. “Left.” MoveOn.org “prides itself for exposing the corporate ties of the Republicans but is perfectly content with the corporate ties of the Democratic Party.” And Black Lives Matter “drew significant interest from a consortium of non-profits after receiving millions from the Ford Foundation and Google in 2015 and 2016.”

The non-profit industrial complex has become an omnipresent feature of US society. Soon after college, it became increasingly clear to me that non-profits made up the majority of employment and activist opportunities for college-educated youth. My first employment opportunity came within the private non-profit LIFT, which partnered with a number of monopoly corporations to provide social service assistance on a volunteer basis. Like Teach for America, LIFT utilized college volunteers with little to no training and gave post-graduate students AmeriCorps stipends to supervise volunteers in place of professional social workers. After three months of grueling hours and little pay, it was time to leave LIFT and try something new.The next stop was a Community Action Program (CAP). CAP agencies have their roots in the first wave of non-profits as legal entities in the United States. They sprouted from federal funds administered by the War on Poverty programs of the Lyndon Johnson era. These agencies provided essential anti-poverty services and were often run by community members themselves. However, the purpose behind CAP agencies was far from benevolent. Johnson and his ruling class masters sought to subvert and break the independent character of the Black liberation and anti-imperialist movements of the period by turning “tax-eaters” (Black Americans) into “tax-payers.” The underlying motivation of non-profits to turn revolutionary movements into lucrative career opportunities has existed since their inception.

This is not to say that non-profits have not gone through significant changes since the War on Poverty. In the last forty years of neo-liberal capitalist crisis, CAP agencies have become nearly non-existent due to a shortage of federal funds. Housing programs have suffered chronic underfunding as a result of consistent reductions in the size of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), beginning in the Reagan era. HUD was stripped of 77 percent of its budget authority from 1978-1983. The CAP agency that I worked for eventually shut its doors due to a default in a private bank loan in 2014. The loan was taken out to keep the agency viable in the midst of dwindling federal and state funds. Hundreds of homeless individuals and families lost vital housing assistance and thousands more lost access to emergency transportation, food, and legal services.

The demise of CAP agencies stems from the shift in federal responsibilities to the private non-profit sector as part of the US capitalist state’s drive to maximize the profits of the ruling class in the neo-liberal era. This can be seen in the massive scab labor force produced by Teach for America, bankrolled by Goldman Sachs. It is also apparent in the correlation between the increase of non-profits in the arena of homelessness and the reduction of available public housing units in cities across the country. Non-profits give corporate donors an avenue to receive additional tax-free privileges with an added public relations boost. Much of the money donated is returned two-fold through tax breaks and further speculation in the housing, education, and healthcare sectors increasingly made possible by an environment of privatization.

Non-profits have also been deployed by their ruling class funders to privatize social movements. An array of tax-exempt organizations has arisen to channel popular resistance into acceptable means of protest. During Occupy Wall Street, the non-governmental organization (NGO) CANVAS took center stage at many of the New York City rallies. The Black Lives Matter movement drew significant interest from a consortium of non-profits after receiving millions from the Ford Foundation and Google in 2015 and 2016. These interventions have blunted the messaging and activities of organizations sucked into the non-profit industry while leaving genuine activists without the resources to sustain consistent political activity.

The influence of the non-profit industrial complex is evident in the protests against President Donald Trump. The non-profit MoveOn.org has taken on a leadership role in the protests. This author attended a local sanctuary city rally where every sign carried by protesters possessed the “MoveOn.org” label. It is clear that the folks at MoveOn.Org have been playing a key role in the resistance against Trump. But who is behind the MoveOn.org brand and whose interests does the organization serve?

A cursory look into the organization’s finances indicates that MoveOn.org is a loyal servant of the Democratic Party. The organization’s finances from 2015 include large donations of over 250,000 from the organization “J Street” and billionaire Cari Tuna. J Street is a Zionist organization dedicated to developing liberal acceptance to the settler occupation of Palestine among college students. Tuna’s fortunes derive from her marital partnership with co-founder of Facebook Dustin Moskovitz. Tuna spends most of her time as a “philanthropist.” Her donations include a hefty 20 million dollars to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, which was distributed among a consortium of Clinton affiliated PACs. In addition, MoveOn.org is also financed by billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. Soros, despite the conspiratorial machinations regarding his political influence, is well-known around the world as a sponsor of “color revolutions” dedicated to the overthrow of governments that resist the penetration of US monopoly capitalism.

Non-profits are ultimately bound by the interests of their funders. MoveOn.org is no different. The organization’s Democratic Party funding sources have one goal and one goal only: to regain Democratic Party control of all three branches of governance in Washington. First, they hope to remove Trump in order to credit the organization with a temporary, albeit symbolic, victory for the Democrats. The next step is to win control of Congress in 2018. The interests of those supplying funds to non-profits like MoveOn.org are not aligned with the interests of oppressed and working people regardless of how the organization is advertised.

In fact, because big corporate donors control the terms and conditions of “social movement” non-profits, any social movements led by these institutions represent a threat to the independent political power of exploited and oppressed people. MoveOn.org’s mission to transfer power back to the Democratic Party is a familiar act, one that is repeated whenever the Republican Party regains Presidential and Congressional control of the state. Their big corporate donors possess zero interest in stopping the bipartisan crimes carried out by Washington. No petitions have been filed by the folks at MoveOn.org for reparations to nations, such as Libya and Syria, which were completely destroyed by the Democratic Party. MoveOn.org prides itself for exposing the corporate ties of the Republicans but is perfectly content with the corporate ties of the Democratic Party.

ObamaMoveOn

The Democratic Party is the party of Wall Street and war. Obama’s two-term Presidency clarified the Democratic Party’s commitment to US imperialism. MoveOn.org had nothing to say about Wall Street’s cumbersome donations to the Obama campaign or how the Democratic Party facilitated the largest wealth transfer to the 1 percent in US history. MoveOn.org didn’t condemn Obama’s war on whistle blowers nor did it advocate for single payer healthcare when the Democratic Party held majorities in Congress. Neither Obama’s “Grand Bargain” to cut Social Security and Medicare nor his national assault on public education compelled MoveOn.org to take any action against its Democratic Party sugar daddies.

The case of the non-profit MoveOn.org provides an in-depth look into the broader function of non-profit industrial complex. While some individual non-profits administer vital services to the poor and working class, the non-profit industrial complex as a whole possesses a parasitic agenda. That agenda is to break the independent character of working class mobilization and organization, not develop it. Non-profits do this by turning resistance into a career opportunity managed and funded by the 1 percent. The development of an independent, working class-centered movement will require a mass rejection of non-profit funds and structures. Let us remember this as MoveOn.org continues to mobilize its base against the increasingly unstable Trump Administration.

[Danny Haiphong is an Asian activist and political analyst in the Boston area. He can be reached at wakeupriseup1990(at)gmail.com]

Further Reading:

Inducing Consent: MoveOn.org

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

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]

 

Report: Upworthy’s Lefty Owners Scared Employees Out of Unionization

Gawker

August 10, 2015

By Sam Biddle

Report: Upworthy's Lefty Owners Scared Employees Out of Unionization

Upworthy bet millions of venture capital dollars that progressive values are the ultimate viral content. But after being forsaken by Facebook and facing layoffs, we’re told the site’s left-wing leadership has successfully fought off a staff unionization drive.

Over the weekend, I received the following anonymous message, alleging that Upworthy recently laid off six staffers and derailed an attempt by the site’s employees to form a union (Gawker Media’s editorial employees recently voted to unionize with the Writers Guild of America- East):

While Gawker, Guardian, Salon and Vice have made headlines in the media world by allowing their editorial staffs to unionize, Upworthy the feel-good rarara human rights viral website has not. The staff decided to try to unionize after 6 former Upworthy employees were laid off suddenly on a Sunday over the phone. The cofounders of Upworthy, Eli Pariser and Peter Koechley, pushed back against the staff that tried to unionize claiming that Upworthy would lose its venture capital money if people tried to unionize.

Upworthy is in big trouble but it’s done a good job of keeping out of the spotlight by saying it’s “shifting its editorial direction.” Fact: After Facebook’s algorithm messed up Upworthy’s monthly uniques, the company could no longer fall back on “We give attention to stuff that matters.” They laid off 6 people without any warning, privately telling them their pageviews weren’t enough while publicly telling the media that the laid-off employees didn’t have the storytelling abilities Upworthy needed. Now the rest of the staff is scared and disillusioned. So they tried to unionize. Upworthy, the media company that says it tries to make the world a better place, said no.

Upworthy co-founder Eli Pariser has been part of the left-wing internet vanguard for almost fifteen years. For the same web activist who until June served as board president of MoveOn.org to scuttle a union drive by his own workers in defense of Silicon Valley investors would undermine his image as liberal wunderkind, to say the least. According to a source, Upworthy counts the AFL-CIO among its largest editorial clients.

Over email, Pariser told me he hadn’t “said no,” as the tipster claimed, but acknowledged that he discouraged the effort because capitalists don’t like unions and things are touch-and-go right now for the site:

No, we didn’t say it wouldn’t be allowed at all — Peter [Koechley] and I told our writers we support their right to form a union, and believe unions are an important force for economic equality, but that doing this now at Upworthy could come at a cost to the company in terms of our ability to raise capital.

Upworthy editor-at-large Adam Mordecai echoed Pariser’s account:

Gawker’s unionization drive sparked the idea with our writers, the layoffs were obviously a factor too.

No one said that it wasn’t going to be allowed. Everyone was given the opportunity to weigh the pros and cons, and the writers decided against taking a vote for now, as unlike the other companies that have unionized, we’re still a startup and there was concern that it might affect our ability to raise more money down the road.

The site is admittedly struggling after getting pushed off a traffic cliff by Facebook’s ever-inscrutable newsfeed algorithm: The site’s traffic plummeted 48% between December 2014 and January of this year. Its readership has declined by roughly half since then, according to Quantcast. The realization that you’ve hitched the entire future of your media startup to a third-party algorithm over which you have no control is bad enough—scaring away your Silicon Valley patrons could be fatal. Never mind that Vice, with hundreds of millions in VC cash, just voted to unionize.

 

Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA [Part III of an Investigative Report]

The Art of Annihilation

December 17, 2014

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

Fundación Pachamama Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VII  • Part VIII [Final Segment]

Pachamama Art

Painting: Oswaldo Guayasamin. In 1988, Guayasamin painted a very controversial mural depicting the history of Ecuador. The Congress of Ecuador asked him to do so. However, the United States Government criticized him because the one of the paintings showed a man in a Nazi helmet with the lettering “CIA” on it. Guayasamín was an ardent supporter of the communist Cuban Revolution in general and Fidel Castro in particular. His death on March 10, 1999 was marked by a day of national strikes by the indigenous people (whom he spent his life supporting) and other sectors of society, and was considered a great loss to Ecuador. In 2002, three years after his death, Guayasamín’s masterwork, La Capilla del Hombre, was completed and opened to the public. The Chapel is meant to document not only man’s cruelty to man but also the potential for greatness within humanity. [Source]

Weapons of Mass Destruction

We, the “underdeveloped,” are also those with the single crop, the single product, the single market. A single product whose uncertain sale depends on a single market imposing and fixing conditions. That is the great formula for imperialist economic domination. — Ché Guevara, 9 April 1961

Conceptualized in the 19th century, NGOs today are the avant-garde weapon for protecting Western interests, one that has now evolved into the 21st century refined version that includes mass social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook. This is akin to the improvement of the Western killing machines that have been refined over time, such as the Winchester rifle begetting the Gatling gun begetting the machine gun begetting the AK-47 and so forth. Weapons of mass destruction don’t stop at the physical ones.

The proliferation of NGOs is one of the manifestations of the Powell memo, which was a harbinger of the current collaboration between the profit and non-profit worlds to continue the growth of the capitalist system. This memo was written by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Lewis Franklin Powell, Jr., a former corporate lawyer for big tobacco. It laid out the blueprint of how corporations could take over the institutions of the Western world (which are supposed to be democratic in nature) to benefit the growth of corporate power, domestically and, inevitably, globally. As resource accumulation necessitated the global transference of the principles of the Powell memo, NGOs are used as an integral soft power component of multinational corporate dominance that has now dwarfed any and all nation states in influence and control across the Earth. [Link to Powell Memo: http://reclaimdemocracy.org/powell_memo_lewis/]

Is there any nation on Earth that is beyond the tentacles of the global hegemony of Euro-American imperialism? The choice of whether one is a member of the global edifice of capitalism or not is entirely contingent on the market need for any resources that may reside within one’s domain. The modern version of the Caribbean / Latin American nations that were able to remove the colonizers from government control still have the basis of state power – the corporate state – as a continuance of resource exploitation of the Global South, on its shores.

Rejecting the necessity for unequivocal solidarity against imperialism, many “activists” ignore the fact that 1) a multitude of Caribbean/Latin American states, as well as any region in the Global South that had exploitable resources, have been colonized and exploited for centuries, 2) the very people at the forefront, condemning the “extractivists,” are the very people purchasing and using what is extracted (the “extractivist” states themselves use and emit almost nothing of what they extract, with the money being used to lift citizens out of extreme dire poverty), 3) these states are also very much trapped within the industrialized capitalist economic system; they do not exist in a vacuum, 4) reparations have not been made to these states who contributed essentially nothing to the planetary crisis, 5) the leaders of these states must (usually within 1-2 terms) face the daily and very real possibility of CIA-plotted assassination, destabilization and coups while satisfying a populace seeking the most basic of life necessities and economic stability, and 6) by siding with U.S.-financed NGOs such as Pachamama Alliance, Amazon Watch, etc., one is NOT in solidarity with Indigenous Peoples. Rather one is (yet again) reabsorbed by the very system we claim to oppose – reabsorbed by the very system and hegemonic rule that is destroying Indigenous Peoples and whole cultures across the entire globe.

Avaaz | An Extension of the Imperial State

… the pluralist model of civil society obscures the extensive collaboration among the resource-providing elites and the dependent state of most grassroots organizations. While the latter may negotiate with foundations over details, and even win some concessions, capitalist hegemony (including its imperial perquisites) cannot be questioned without severe organizational penalties. By and large, it is the funders who are calling the tune. This would be more obvious if there were sufficient publicized investigations of this vast and important domain. That the subject is “off-limits” for both academics and journalists is compelling evidence of enormous power. — Joan Roelofs, 2007

NGOs such as Avaaz have a tendency to only focus on/attack sovereign anti-imperialist countries that extract. Note that there is rarely any mention/focus on the extractive states that are occupied or controlled (via puppet presidents) by imperialist countries, previous examples being Nigeria and the invaded, annihilated and now occupied Libya.

There is reason as to why.

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 an 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 GROTESQUE AND DISTURBING IDEOLOGY AT THE HELM OF AVAAZ]

Fundación Pachamama, Amazon Watch, and other allied NGOs joined forces with Avaaz.org to keep Ecuador’s Amazon in the international news. The Avaaz campaign was intensified prior to elections: “…we could expose him for turning his back on his commitments just as he is fighting for re-election. He does not want a PR nightmare right now….” [Emphasis in original] According to an Avaaz update on February 7, 2013, the Avaaz “team” flew in and out of Sani Isla and delivered the “one million strong petition” (i.e. clicks) with the indigenous leaders. Avaaz boasts: “Our campaign has made the news all over the world.

It takes incredible arrogance and entitlement for privileged Euro-Americans, most making 6-figure salaries, to fly into any sovereign country and make demands. Of course, this White supremacy has become normalized over the centuries. [Photos: Petition being delivered at Sani Isla. Avaaz press conference in Quito.]

Posted January 24, 2013 by Avaaz: “There’s an indigenous community in Ecuador that lives in a part of the Amazon where there are jaguars and more animal life than the whole of North America! It’s an incredibly pristine, remote area and the whole ecosystem has been preserved. But the government is threatening to go in and look for oil. The local tribe is resisting, but usually oil companies go in, buy off the people and break up the community. [Emphasis in original]

Yet in reality, the area is not incredibly pristine, nor has the whole ecosystem been preserved. And there was no international campaign to draw attention to this area when corporate interests were able to plunder it freely. “…the Yasuní National Park is hardly a pristine area. It has been explored and exploited for decades… It seems clear that exploiting the ITT fields cannot be equated with ‘destroying’ Yasuní, as some claim. It is difficult, although not impossible, to ‘save’ something that is already badly compromised. Claims made by the government side, to the extent that 99.9% of the park is intact are also hardly credible. A quick look at a map of Block 31, which occupies a large percentage of the park, makes it clear that to say so is a distortion of reality.” [Source]

And while it is most likely very true that “usually oil companies go in, buy off the people and break up the community,” imperial states and foundations of hegemony, utilizing their army of NGOs, perform the exact same function.

And while Avaaz wages an international campaign opposing oil development in Ecuador (rather than opposing the fracking of the Bakken of North Dakota, which is deeply affecting the Lakota tribes), Avaaz neglects to mention their advocacy of REDD – a new form of colonialism.

Avaaz is a member of The Climate Group (not made public on the Climate Group Website). The Climate Group, launched in London in 2004, is an example of an incubator for in-house projects of The Rockefeller Brothers Fund that later evolve into free-standing institutions. The Climate Group has been working on the global implementation of REDD for some time. The Climate Group coalition includes more than 50 of the world’s largest corporations and sub-national governments, including big polluters such as energy giants BP and Duke Energy, as well as several partner organizations, one being Avaaz. The Climate Group are advocates of carbon capture and storage technology (CCS), nuclear power and biomass; all false solutions that translate into “business as usual.” The Climate Group works closely with other business lobby groups, including the International Emissions Trading Association (IETA), which works consistently to sabotage climate action. The Climate Group also works on other initiatives, including the Voluntary Carbon Standard, a new global standard for voluntary offset projects. One marketing strategist company labeled the Climate Group’s campaign ‘Together’ as “the best inoculation against greenwash.” The Climate Group has operations in Australia, China, Europe, India and North America. It was a partner to the Copenhagen Climate Council.

More Chains: World Bank

In an interview published December 11, 2013, yet another culprit (in hand with industrialized capitalism) is identified by Oscar Leon when speaking to the mega mining projects proliferating in Ecuador:

“In 1994, the World Bank loaned money to Ecuador under the condition that the country open its natural and ecological parks and reserves to mining and oil drilling. Conservative president Sixto Durán Ballén accepted such terms. For 20 years now, *Intag’s life has been a fight to defend its territory.” (*a remote and partly mountainuous area in Cotacachi Canton and Otavalo Canton Imbabura Province, Ecuador.)

This represents yet another example of how anti-imperial governments of vulnerable states must work within the confines of existing structures/systems inherited from capitalists or western puppets. In many instances, they are bound to honour contracts and treaties signed by their predecessors. A further problem arises when one considers that most populations have long been conditioned to believe that the only desirable way to live is to live comfortably by modern Western standards, which is what most if not all governments strive to provide in order to maintain popular support. And as the privileged have demonstrated that they are willing to give up absolutely nothing, the situation is very difficult to change.

What is ignored for the most part is the fact that these mining companies are of Imperial origin. If the Left wishes to show solidarity against mining, they could and should fight these corporations that reside on their own soil. Yet even this task has, for the most part, been left for socialist movements and brave Freedom Fighters in Latin America.

On December 18, 2013, TeleSUR reported that eight separate claims are currently being filed against the State of Bolivia for a total of $1.87 billion. These claims are from US-British corporations Guaracachi and Rurelec; Spanish corporation Albertis; Chilean-British corporations Quiborax and Non Metallic Minerals; and US corporation Pan American Energy. This is a most egregious and overt display of Whiteness, racism, colonialism, imperialism, patriarchy and entitlement. The men in suits behind these corporations really believe that Bolivia’s resources actually belong to them.

Multinational companies demanding compensation of billions in lost profits due to the rightful nationalization of strategic companies is just one example of further, intense pressure placed on vulnerable anti-imperialist states due to the engine of the industrialized capitalist system.

Video: Foreign companies demand Bolivian state millions in compensation (2:28)

This is not to suggest that leaders such as Morales and Correa, who have consistently fought corporate power on many fronts, do not have their own shortcomings (e.g., the former’s recent stated support for nuclear, and the latter’s selling out resources to Chinese investors for oil development and mining). Rather, it is a call for legitimate movements to fully respect the right to self-determination for all citizens of sovereign states – absolutely free of manipulation and outside influence.

The December 11, 2013 interview closes with the question, “While it is hard to deny the needs of the majority, the question still stands: how can we balance the rights of indigenous and local communities with economic development for the rest of society?” The simple answer is this: Under the industrialized economic capitalist system – in a world where NATO states will not hesitate to annihilate entire nations for Earth’s last remaining natural resources – we cannot.

Unconscious Hypocrisies

Our best evidence is history itself. We can deconstruct the history of the foundations, the non-profit industrial complex, the media (both corporate and so-called “progressive”), and all of their machinations. Yet one may still wish to argue that, regarding the relationship between the Achuar and the Pachamama Foundation/Alliance [1], perhaps there are “no strings attached.” Perhaps one is still not swayed by the facts and opinions put forward in this article and others. Yet, even if one could prove unequivocally that there were/are “no strings attached,” do we then take the position that NGOs financed by Western interests to set up shop in vulnerable states should be condoned? If one answers yes, then the question that follows must be this: And why do you believe/feel that what you want supersedes any sovereign state’s right to self-determination, free from outside influence?

To support avenues (in this specific instance, NGOs), in any degree, via which corporate and imperial interests can gain access to Indigenous Peoples and territories (that these same interests would otherwise have great difficulty gaining access to, if at all) is not solidarity against imperialism. Rather, such support lends itself to the normalizing of foreign interference and manipulation via the non-profit-industrial complex.

For a moment let us try to imagine the United States tolerating highly financed, highly sophisticated Russian NGOs … multiplying on U.S. soil. These NGOs provide training, funding, “guidance,” to American communities. Now, try to imagine this scenario during the cold war – because every day is a cold war when living under the iron first of imperialism. It is doubtful that even one reader would believe that a scenario such as this would be welcome, let alone tolerated, by the US government. So why is it that we see little to nothing wrong with US interests influencing/creating sophisticated avenues into vulnerable states? In general, this is due to an unconscious hypocrisy. If we are aware of this hypocrisy, we can quite quickly realize how preposterous this actually is. However, if we are not aware of this hypocrisy, we quickly find excuses in order to justify what, in truth, we know we would never tolerate ourselves. One could safely say that such double standards do not only demonstrate an unconscious hypocrisy, but also a collective aversive racism that hums beneath the system.

And as Orwell spoke of cold war (as a general term), our hypocrisies and refusal to address White supremacy will lead to the same place:

“For forty or fifty years past, Mr. H. G. Wells and others have been warning us that man is in danger of destroying himself with his own weapons, leaving the ants or some other gregarious species to take over. Anyone who has seen the ruined cities of Germany will find this notion at least thinkable. Nevertheless, looking at the world as a whole, the drift for many decades has been not towards anarchy but towards the reimposition of slavery. We may be heading not for general breakdown but for an epoch as horribly stable as the slave empires of antiquity. — George Orwell, 1945, You and the Atomic Bomb

Aversive Racism: A Universal Language

The first layer: The masses acquiesce – vile and venomous hatred is directed at the “dictator” as deemed by imperial states. Hatred is amplified via the echo chambers of corporate/”progressive” media and the non-profit industrial complex. The medium is the message. In this layer, the aversive racism is hateful.

The second layer: The boldly painted beautiful natives, whom we at once recognize from the glossy pages of National Geographic, fan our smoldering flames of romanticism and lost meaning. In this layer of aversive racism, the Euro-American embraces his/her White paternalism.

Yet, rather than resist such elite manipulation that is seductive by design, the Left enshroud themselves within it like moths ensconced in silk cocoons.

Let us ignore the fact that despite the Obama Administration’s continued oppression and exploitation of First Nations peoples in the United States – a continued genocide in slow-motion – there is no such thing as an international campaign being waged against the Obama Administration (Obama, the ultimate dictator, yet never referred to as such). No. There is neither romanticism nor mystique to be found, or more importantly, felt, amongst the Indigenous whose land we have stolen. Outside of the Amazon Rainforest, the branding/marketing campaigns developed to create an equal intrigue of Indigenous People on what is now referred to as American soil are non-existent. The Native faces we recognize all too easily from our own communities are marginalized and ignored. Such sentimentality reserved for the exotic faces in far-away lands will never be found on our soil – such notions are not funded.

Nor does anyone care to listen to the clan mothers and elders in our own communities. Not when one can pay thousands of dollars to see the “real” Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon – where the privileged can feign great concern and enlightenment before they fly back home to their house, cottage and two cars.

“We have to constantly critique imperialist white supremacist patriarchal culture because it is normalized by mass media and rendered unproblematic.” ? Bell Hooks, Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism

We love and support Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez only when he is dead. We expect Bolivia’s Evo Morales to perform magical feats within the chains of an industrialized capitalist system. We condemn him when he fails to provide the long-awaited path to Utopia. Ignore the question of whether an Indigenous president of one of the poorest states in the world (one that has not contributed to the climate crisis) should even be expected to accomplish what none of us yet know how to do. Ignore the fact that the courageous and profound alternative proposals we demanded our Leftist leaders such as Morales were ignored, marginalized and buried by our “movements.” And when Leftist leaders fail, the Left chimes, “See, I told you.” Ignore the fact that we do not hold our own “leaders” to any such accountability. Ignore the fact that revolutionary changes are most difficult if not impossible within the industrialized capitalist system. Ignore the fact that both Morales and Chavez championed against the capitalist system at much ridicule. They said out loud what the Left did not have the courage to say, even if they do not have the luxury to act to the extent we wish were possible. Ignore the fact that the necessity and responsibility to dismantle industrialized capitalism belongs to those who gained through exploitation of others, not those who suffered through exploitation and continue to do so.

In fact, as we criticize an Indigenous leader such as Morales for being a “closet neoliberal” or an “extractivist,” our own countries (who treat First Nations like garbage) are doing a million times more ecological damage on any given day (think tar sands in Canada and Bakken oil fields in the US). Yet, the “leaders” of the North are spared the same scathing scrutiny and labels. It is critical to ask where is the International Avaaz campaign to vilify Obama and stop the development of the Bakken region in Dakota? When was the last time Avaaz launched an international campaign to shut down the world’s dirtiest project – the tar sands – coupled with the demonization of Harper? Where is the international global campaign to stop Obama’s expansion of fracking loaded with disparaging remarks? You will not find any such campaigns as Avaaz is safely tucked away in the pocket of hegemony. Latin American leaders are thrown under the bus while the liberal Left can be found on its knees hailing the latest speech by Obama. Why does the hostility toward non-white, monetarily poor governments far supersede any hostility shown toward the most egregious and wealthy (via plundering) governments on Earth?

In fact, Amnesty International, Avaaz, Pachamama Alliance, and other NGOs who can afford the world’s most sophisticated advertising/marketing firms have so successfully demonized leaders who refuse to fall in line with imperial interests that the collective populace is more than willing to ignore both the interference and the facts. Indeed, the hatred toward such leaders emphatically supersedes the foundations of the oligarchs and most powerful corporations, USAID, and even the world’s greatest war criminals masquerading as presidents who are responsible for the death of millions.

Perhaps the truth is that we in the North are simply jealous – that we do not possess the tenacity of the social movements in Latin America, nor their courage. [Latin American presidents deliver powerful speeches at the UN]

R2P Media Pysops

And so it begins. On January 3, 2014 a scathing Newsweek [2] article appears with a main objective being the criticizing of Correa’s government. In the article sensationally titled “After All the People We Killed We Felt Dizzy” the author writes:

“Salvation for the Yasuni may have to come from outside Ecuador, and it may hinge on the human rights of the Taromenane. Lawyer Veronica Potes says a legal claim has been submitted to get the Inter-American Human Rights system involved. Since the government is now approving oil extraction in their territory without studying how it will affect the uncontacted groups, Potes thinks there’s grounds for international intervention.” (emphasis added)

A Glimpse into the Left Approach

It appears that a large part of the Left has conflated imperialism with the globalized capitalist economic system. The logic is as follows: if you are against the neoliberal ideology of the globalized economy, you are anti-imperialist. Thus, if it appears one panders to the neoliberal ideology of the globalized economy – this person is not anti-imperialist. And if a leader is an “extractivist” then, by default, this leader panders to neoliberalism, therefore, such a leader is no longer anti-imperial.

Yet this conflation is largely inaccurate. The Oxford definition of imperialism is “policy of extending a country’s power and influence through diplomacy or military force.”

Further, every state on this planet is “extractivist.” And most every community extracts at some level. To allude that Ecuador or any of the ALBA states are imperial by default, if they seek capital, is not accurate.

If we take this further and ask the question: Do NGOs of imperial states “extend a country’s power and influence through diplomacy”? – the answer is an unequivocal yes. Therefore, NGOs must be considered a tool of imperialism.

Some within the Left will lend solidarity to the State’s closure of the Pachamama Foundation (FP en español), only with a condition: It must be proven that the closure of FP by the government of Ecuador was not truly based on the anti-oil protest, but rather, was closed down only because the government of Ecuador is anti-imperialist, which also must be “proven.” (Of course, only if a coup should occur could it be “proven” that the leader was not a co-operative driver of neoliberalism. The coup would thus prove the leader would not acquiesce sufficiently to the will of imperial states. We may not have to wait too long for such “proof.”) In reality, one could safely say yes the closure was likely a direct result of both: because of the protests, on top of the reality that it is connected to imperial interests.

One must ask how it is possible to “Stand in Solidarity with Fundación Pachamama” when standing directly behind Fundación Pachamama are US interests. It is vital that we separate the Indigenous people from the Fundación Pachamama as the Foundation (an entity – not a person) is tied to those we claim to oppose and therefore must resist.

It is critical to consider the fact that such ties to hegemonic interest alone, as evidenced with Pachamama Foundation, all but discredit any/all legitimate dissent.

Destabilizing Arsenals

On December 12, 2013 in the article Bogota Mayor Falls Victim to Another Right-Wing Coup in Latin America, the author writes: “While the press, as well as the U.S. government, will not acknowledge it, the elimination of progressive political leaders by coups d’état is taking place in Latin America with increasing frequency. The most recent casualty of such measures is Gustavo Petro, the mayor of Bogota (population 6.7 million), who was removed from office this week by the Inspector-General, Alejandro Ordoñez, who alleges that Petro’s efforts in 2012 to de-privatize the garbage collection services harmed ‘the principle of freedom of enterprise.’ Quite shockingly, Ordoñez also banned Petro, who was expected to run for president in 2018, from holding any public office for the next 15 years.”

On February 4, 2012, in the article Destabilizing Arsenals Concealed in US Embassies, the author writes: “Pressing for unchallenged hegemony in the Western Hemisphere, Washington keeps the populist regimes in Latin America under permanent pressure. Outwardly, the U.S. Administration pledges not to resort to military force to displace the ALBA governments in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, or Cuba, but in reality Washington’s efforts to undermine them are a constant background of the continent’s political picture. The activity began under president G. Bush and shows no signs of subsiding under president Obama. Supposedly, plans are being devised in the White House that a series of color revolutions will erupt across Latin America in 2013-2014 and derail the continent’s advancement towards tighter integration in the security and other spheres. As the fresh experience of Libya showed with utmost clarity, Washington’s new brand of color revolutions will – in contrast to the former coups which used to be accompanied with outpourings of pacifist rhetoric – involve ferocious fighting and massive fatalities.”

On November 3, 2012, in the article Laws vs. Color Revolutions in Latin America, the author writes: “The US intelligence is making systematic efforts to energize the political opposition in Latin American countries deemed unfriendly in Washington. The strategy encompasses the radicalization of the existing political parties and groups plus the creation of new ones pursuing ever more aggressive agendas, and the formation of a network of seemingly harmless NGOs ready to launch massive attacks against the regimes in their respective countries whenever their sponsors and curators chose to unleash them.… It should also be noted that an important line on the Ecuadoran government’s list of priorities is occupied by the task of tightening the oversight of the NGOs which proliferate in the country at a breakneck rate. Correa and his closest co-workers evidently count among the key short-term risks the possibility of a coup attempt in which, in line with a US scenario, NGOs receiving additional financial infusions on the occasion would be supposed to guarantee the involvement of large numbers of protesters.” [emphasis added]

And of course it was on June 22, 2012 that Paraguay fell to a coup. In an excellent investigative report, Natalia Viana, director of Publica, Brazil’s first nonprofit investigative journalism center, deconstructed the events.

As well, one must not forget the Bolivian TIPNIS conflict of 2011 (amplified by NGOs) that threatened the destabilization of the MAS Government. On November 20, 2013 it was announced that one of the TIPNIS leaders joined a rightwing party.

The Left demands “evidence” that the US NGO (in this particular case, Fundación Pachamama) is “bad,” while simultaneously embracing an international NGO campaign that cries “Correa might arrest a leading activist!” They will believe the NGO with no evidence (financed by foreign interests) while rejecting the very real possibility of an escalating destabilization campaign – which history (even the most recent) shows is very, very real. The Left will also reject any communications from the state under attack, since 1) the Left cannot support the state (except in the form of an imperial NGO) and 2) perhaps subconsciously, might and white is right.

Summary: If Correa is a “neoliberal in disguise,” then the Left condones the US NGO situated on Ecuadorian soil, i.e. foreign interference. Therefore, in the eyes of a seduced and indoctrinated Left, Ecuador only has a right for self-determination if they reject all neoliberal policy (that our own governments initiated) – again, standards we do not apply to our own states or any other states.

Where the possibility of destabilization is very real (in this instance, Ecuador) the liberal Left will only oppose NGOs tied to corporate interests if the president under attack is the all-encompassing dream of a perfect leader (as imagined by the privileged Left). Yet, if a destabilization/coup were to occur, it would not be Correa alone that would be harmed. It would be the whole of Ecuador.

As always, the Left believes the voice of authority: the non-profit industrial complex in tandem with the media. Critical facts are ignored and discarded. Orwell rolls in his grave.

 

Next: Part IV

 

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

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

 

EndNotes:

[1] The Pachamama Alliance website creates an emotive hook/storyline that it was the Achuar who first decided to “reach out to the modern world”: “In the 1990’s, facing oil development on their ancestral lands, Achuar elders decided to reach out to the modern world that was threatening their very existence. They issued a call for allies who would work to ‘change the dream of the modern world’ and transform the culture of overconsumption driving the destruction of the rainforest. The Pachamama Alliance was created as an answer to their call.” The reality is slightly less poetic. The Pachamama Alliance was created as a partnership with the Achuar to help organize and support a new multi-million dollar tourism development for which Indigenous Peoples needed to be trained in western commerce, the service industry, the English language and marketing. In essence, the Achuar were to be carefully integrated with the modern world.” [Source: Fundacion Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part I of an Investigative Report]

 

[2] Fareed Zakaria, a Newsweek columnist and editor of Newsweek International, attended a secret meeting on November 29, 2001, with a dozen policy makers, Middle East experts and members of influential policy research organizations that produced a report for President George W. Bush and his cabinet outlining a strategy for dealing with Afghanistan and the Middle East in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. The meeting was held at the request of Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense. The unusual presence of journalists, who also included Robert D. Kaplan of The Atlantic Monthly, at such a strategy meeting was revealed in Bob Woodward’s 2006 book State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III. Woodward reported in his book that, according to Mr. Kaplan, everyone at the meeting signed confidentiality agreements not to discuss what happened. [Source]

The Peace Industrial Complex (PIC) and the Failure of Movements

The Soapbox

August 14, 2014

by Cindy Sheehan, Editor in Chief

 

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Dwight David Eisenhower, Farewell Address to the Nation, 1961

Military Industrial Complex: an informal alliance of the military and related government departments with defense industries that is held to influence government policy.

camp casie

Camp Casey II, August 2005

As I write this, it is eight years since I marched up Prairie Chapel Road in Crawford, TX on August 6th to demand a meeting with then (p)resident, George W. Bush. I, a Gold Star Mom, who was, and is still profoundly against war, had heard Bush say that the US troops who died in Iraq, gave their lives for a “noble cause.” Not one of the corporate media present at such an absurd pronouncement asked George, “What is that noble cause,” so I resolved to go to Crawford to ask the War Criminal myself.

Eight years later and with tons of blood passing under the bridge of Imperial doom, I am still asking that question. However, I know now as I probably did back then in 2005, that there is no “noble cause” for Empire expansion and the millions of people and trillions of dollars that are sacrificed on the altar of the Military Industrial Complex. The question that I and others repeatedly ask since then is, “why can’t our movements for peace and justice be effective?”

I think one of the reasons that our people and principle driven movements are ultimately destined to fizzle or fail, is that any movement that is perceived as powerful by the establishment, is immediately channeled into the black hole of US partisan politics. I have written extensively about that, but this political derailment could not be accomplished on the left without the help of the Peace Industrial Complex.

The Peace Industrial Complex (PIC) resembles its counterpart of the Military (MIC) sort by its very alliance with the Democratic wing of the War Party and must bear a great responsibility for the continuing war tactics of the Empire. Language is important, and just because the Democratic wing of the War Party calls its Imperial transgressions, “humanitarian interventions” does not make it right, or the lives lost any less tragically unnecessary and sad.

 

war-party-2008

Why do I tie in the idea of the PIC with my experience at Camp Casey? On one of the last days of the nearly month long peace encampment on Prairie Chapel Road, I was overwhelmed that Reverend Al Sharpton and Martin Sheen both came out, we had a wedding, and I was involved in a photo shoot for Oprah’s magazine. The wonderful activist Eve Ensler had pitched a story to the magazine and was told that she could do it as long as there was no, “Bush bashing.” This is still the problem, when one tells the her truth about the pain of burying her oldest child for absolutely no reason, except the he was killed in another war for profit based on lies, or actually gives facts, that person is perceived as “bashing.” Once the Empire shifted to being “led” by a Democrat, who was also a person of color, my heart truth and facts began to be characterized as “bitterness” by some of the very same people who joined me in “bashing” Bush at Camp Casey.

Oops, I got off the subject. Anyway, on that final Sunday of our first campout in Crawford, I was told by one of the leading members of the PIC, that I was the most “powerful woman on the planet.” Then, I was whisked away on a two-year adventure around the world and throughout the US where I believed I was bringing peace, but looking back, what I was really doing was being used by the PIC to deliver the House of Representatives back to the Democrats. After that was accomplished, and a few of us were still trying to hold the Democrats accountable to end the wars (by ending war funding and investigating the Bush regime), we were kicked to the curb like old garbage and the PIC found the language of the right useful in demonizing me and my cause.

In 2008, for example, for the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, I was even told by United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) that there would be no mass demo in DC because it would “embarrass” the complicit Democrats and told by another organization that we had helped so much Iraq Veterans Against the War, that I was banned from attending its Winter Soldier event in DC in March of that year. Why? Because not all of the vets who would be testifying were “antiwar” and wouldn’t want to be seen associating with me. I was hurt, but not defeated, and vowed to always be in the principled struggle for peace, and not on the side where war is only wrong if a Republican regime is waging it.

I look back after nine years of very hard struggle and when I remember the power and serendipity of Camp Casey in 2005 I see that we have very little to show for it in regards to policy, or peace.  I recall how naïve I was when I said, “the wars will end and Bush will be impeached.” Heck, at the time, I even belonged to a “peace” organization that forbade us members from saying that Afghanistan was wrong because most Americans supported it because we were “attacked on 9/11.” We won’t end wars or hold USAian War Criminals accountable when we even have to overcome the obstacle of people we think are our comrades who block any kind of relevant action or analysis of Empire.

flag-draped-coffins-airplane

Another example, by October of 2005, the US was going to surpass the horrid milestone of 2000 troops lost in Iraq. Of course, the US troops killed in the “good war” in Afghanistan didn’t count, and the innocent people our troops killed never counted, either. So, an organization that I thought was in favor of peace, but now I know it only wants peace when a Republican is in the Oval Office, MoveOn.org, called for “candlelight vigils” to commemorate that sad number. I was in DC at the time, and I called for civil disobedience in front of the White House. MoveOn.org denounced that action and moved their candlelight vigil so as not to be near to the lawlessness of our action. MoveOn.org raised a lot of money and increased its membership dramatically when I was camped in Crawford and my break with MoveOn.org began while I was still camped there.

One hot Crawford day, two MoveOn.org operatives requested a meeting with me at Camp Casey, so we went to my trailer and they informed me that I should back a bill in Congress co-sponsored by two Democrats and two Republicans that was for a slow, phased withdrawal based on “progress reports” and conditions on the ground. One thing the affiliated organizations at Camp Casey did agree on was demanding “troops out, now,” and I told MoveOn.org that I could not endorse their “troops out, eventually” bill. That’s when MoveOn.org withdrew its support and the “help” of the Fenton P.R. agency, who were only there to try to point our protest only in the direction of the “Rs,” anyway.

Subsequently, when the Ds took over control of the House of Reps in 2007, the question of war funding came up and MoveOn.org polled its members with two questions, and the only alternative was to support the Democrats in continuing the supplemental war funding because MoveOn.org knew that PelosiCo would never stop the funding, so the energy of MoveOn.org is to give Democrats cover for any crimes they want to commit. MoveOn.org’s very livelihood (profit) derives from covering the crimes of the Democrats and diverting our attention away from those crimes and in blaming only one small part of the problem.

During Camp Casey, I had received some support from director/actor/movie producer, Rob Reiner, and his wife, Michelle. After Camp Casey closed up shop for the summer, I was invited to their home in L.A. to meet them and chat. In lockstep with MoveOn.org, Rob informed me that I should stop saying “troops home, now” because all of our troops couldn’t get “home now” and I sounded “loony” saying that. I was stunned because I can’t believe that people would think that the US Commander in Chief was some kind of djinn who could fold his arms and blink his eyes and get all the troops home in a matter of seconds. I presumed, and still do, that it takes planning and logistics and I reminded Rob that during the insanity of Vietnam, an Admiral was asked how the US could remove troops from Vietnam and he said, “by boat and plane, the same way they got there.”

I believe that we always advocate for the greatest good and the highest victory, because the incrementalism of the PIC guarantees failure and more heartbreak,  torture, and death. I was booted to the curb by the Reiners when I refused to support warmonger, Hillary Clinton because they told me she was our “only hope.” However, the Reiners did not mean she was our only hope to end Empire, but for the Democrats to regain the “prize” of the Blight House. Even that sell-out didn’t work out too well for them, did it?

Where would the MIC be without its wars and, similarly, where would the PIC be under the same circumstance?

I work my ass off to make my activism obsolete. I am not interested in perpetuating wars or political loyalty to make a buck, or gain influence with the very criminals that I loathe and protest. Organizations in the PIC seem to have unlimited resources to hire staff and open offices, where organizations like mine try to do the best we can with the limited resources and volunteers that we do have.

I was very new to activism in 2005 and now I know that there are establishment and revolutionary versions of every movement and that’s why movements, by and large, fail. For example, the Environmental Industrial Complex fails when it says, “Democrats, we want you to do X, but if you don’t, we’ll still vote for you.” How about focusing on principles and successful and honest ways to get there? The slimy Democrats deserve your support as much as do the equally slimy Republicans.

Peace and accountability will not happen unless we guard against the “unwarranted influence” of the Peace Industrial Complex.

Upworthy Reveals Audience Behavior, Begins “Collaborations” With Brands, NGOs

Unilever will be first commercial brand in new program, underwriting curated content around building a brighter future for children

Digital Journal

April 1, 2014

NEW YORK, PRNewswire

WKOG admin: Aside from embracing misogyny, more recently, Unilever, with Kellogg’s, General Mills, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Kraft, and other corporate entities  funneled big money into defeating Prop 37. Now, Unilever, one of the largest consumer products corporations in the world, is looking to  employ “effective story-telling” to help Unilever “engage with people more meaningfully” in order to “create a better future for children.” (We can assume this is the same children unwittingly being fed genetically modified “foods”). (More on Unilever here.)

It is critical to note that one of the two co-founders of Upworthy is Avaaz co-founder Eli Pariser, as well as president/chairman of MoveOn.org’s board. [“Prior to position of chair, Pariser served as the Executive Director of MoveOn.org. Pariser has worked directly with former Vice President Al Gore on drafting MoveOn-sponsored speeches and assisted in fundraising for John Kerry’s presidential campaign. In December 2003 Pariser worked with Jonathan Soros, son of George Soros, on a MoveOn.org campaign. On December 9, 2004, one month after Kerry’s defeat, Pariser declared that MoveOn had effectively taken control of the Democratic Party.” Source]

220 Members of FAWU, employed by Unilever`s Food Solutions and Tea Factory divisions in Pietermaritzburg have embarked on strike on Friday, 17 January 2014 as a result of a dispute between the company and the union. – See more at: http://www.cosatu.org.za/show.php?ID=8359#sthash.mLmo2iH9.dpuf
220 Members of FAWU, employed by Unilever`s Food Solutions and Tea Factory divisions in Pietermaritzburg have embarked on strike on Friday, 17 January 2014 as a result of a dispute between the company and the union. – See more at: http://www.cosatu.org.za/show.php?ID=8359#sthash.mLmo2iH9.dpuf
220 Members of FAWU, employed by Unilever`s Food Solutions and Tea Factory divisions in Pietermaritzburg have embarked on strike on Friday, 17 January 2014 as a result of a dispute between the company and the union. – See more at: http://www.cosatu.org.za/show.php?ID=8359#sthash.mLmo2iH9.dpuf

Fergie Teams up with Unilever on Universal Children's Day

Utilizing celebrities: Effective behavioral change and indoctrination of children into corporate culture.

The average Upworthy post generates 42x as many Facebook interactions as the average post from a top 50 U.S. media site. Promoted brand content on Upworthy.com performs at 73x the average. These and other first-time insights into the highly engaged Upworthy audience will be shared later today at the Ad Age Digital Conference here. The company will also announce its initial revenue approach, and that Unilever will become the first commercial brand to join a new “Upworthy Collaborations” advertising and sponsorship program.

Upworthy lands Unilever as first brand customer #aadigital

Today, Upworthy has one of the most engaged audiences on the Web:

  • The average piece of Upworthy content drives more than 75,000 Facebook likes per post, some 12x more than BuzzFeed, according to engagement data from Newswhip.
  • In 2013, the average unique Upworthy.com visitor spent 11.44 hours with the company’s curated content. Currently, the site is registering more than 5 million “attention minutes” per day.
  • Unique monthly visitors to the site now consistently top 50 million.
  • And 78% of Americans on Facebook have either Liked Upworthy or have a friend who has.

“Billions of sharing actions take place in our network, and Upworthy consistently ranks number one across many of our social metrics, from shares-per-post to percentage of incoming traffic from social networks,” said Sachin Kamdar, CEO of Parse.ly, a provider of content analytics solutions for publishers, whose clients include Conde Nast, Fox News, Atlantic Media, and The Cheezburger Network.

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

Unilever Marketing Vice President Kathy O’Brien will join Upworthy co-founders Eli Pariser and Peter Koechley on stage at Ad Age Digital to discuss the companies’ partnership to promote the core values of Unilever’s Project Sunlight. The program aims to engage people in more sustainable behaviors that will create a better future for children. Upworthy will curate content from across the web, highlighting stories of leaders working toward a more sustainable world, and will work with Unilever agency partner Mindshare to promote the best Project Sunlight content.

“Unilever’s leadership in moving to improve child welfare and contribute to a more sustainable world made them a strong fit for this program,” said Upworthy’s Pariser. “The heart of Project Sunlight matches several of the top topics our audience voted to see more of in 2014. We look forward to working together to bring more attention to young people who are making the world more sustainable.”

First Three Types of Upworthy Collaborations

Participation in the Upworthy Collaborations program will extend to brands, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and foundations. It will take three initial forms:

  • Promoted Posts — Here, participants create content and pay Upworthy to present and distribute it on Upworthy.com and Upworthy social channels. Pilots of this approach in 2013 included one with Skype.
  • Sponsored Curation — Here, participants underwrite Upworthy’s curation costs on a given topic. In this category, Upworthy retains full editorial control of both the selection and presentation of the content. Pilots of this approach in 2013 included All 7 Billion with The Gates Foundation.
  • Content Consultation — Here, Upworthy will work with participants to advise on content selection, packaging, and distribution strategies with a focus on testing and optimization to draw shared insights as a relationship evolves.

The program blends these elements with additional reader-engagement tactics to build always-on content partnerships, fueled by shared learning, organic optimization, and true relationship building with the Upworthy community.

Reception to the paid-content pilots in 2013 was positive, with strong performance of the individual posts and praise from the Upworthy community for how clearly the content was marked.

Upworthy Collaborations launches amid continued strong performance from the two-year-old company:

 

  • Upworthy’s core community of subscribers now tops 7 million, comprising nearly 6 million Facebook fans, 1.6 million email subscribers, and more than 350,000 Twitter followers. All receive Upworthy.com content daily and form the core of a massive sharing community.

 

 

Upworthy brings massive amounts of attention to things that matter in the world. Every day, curators unearth and spotlight awesome, important content using a proprietary approach that combines deep social science, strong voice, and a passionate community. Co-founders Eli Pariser and Peter Koechley have raised $12 million in initial financing from a group that included prominent venture capital firm Spark Capital, the Knight Foundation, and leading individual investors such as Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and BuzzFeed co-founder John Johnson. Each month, more than 50 million people experience Upworthy content. Learn more at http://www.upworthy.com.

Logo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140401/AQ95317LOGO

SOURCE Upworthy

 

How Tides Canada Controls the Secret North American Tar Sands Coalition

Tzep

[photo] Ms. Berman presenting a “Green” Award to former Liberal Party of B.C. premier, Gordon Campbell … the man who privatized British Columbia, sold it to General Electric and other international corporations, who built highways across farmland and called it “green;” who reversed dioxin effluent safeguards that we fought for and instituted in B.C. to protect our water; who sold off the public and natural heritage of British Columbia and opened the doors to General Electric to occupy hundreds of watersheds, devastate riparian ecosystems, and destroy forests for transmission lines to carry expensive power to mines in the north and to sprawling cities in the U.S. – Photo source: BC government.

Repeat This Aloud

Counterpunch

October 16, 2013

By Macdonald Stainsby

Before Tzeporah Berman began her current position as head of the North American Tar Sands Coalition, Tides Canada had already established these structures to create near-total control over budgets– and therefore, most decisions– for staggering numbers of organizations. Berman was around at the time, working for PowerUp pushing forward offsets garnered by river destruction. Some of the participant organizations already had working partnerships with multiple tar sands producers. The over-whelming majority were already greased by primarily high donors and foundations. Thus, joining the NATSC meant, essentially, double dipping.

The Tides Foundation began the NATSC as a project with earmarked funding coming from other large philanthropic foundations. This unelected and unseen structure was created to stand as a vehicle to help forge a similar backroom strategy for and likely negotiation of a “final agreement” to end campaigns against either certain segments or corporations involved in tar sands, likely borrowing from concepts involved in crafting similar deals with forestry corporations.

In 2009, as a part of producing Offsetting Resistance, a full strategy paper document was leaked to myself and Dru Oja Jay. It was an internal paper from a few months prior that outlined the secret nature of the coalition, the internal structures, the over-all short, middle and long term goals of a foundation funded, and foundation directed entity that was earmarked as a project of Tides Canada, and not as a separate NGO.

The pressure applied and leveraged would be out of the hard work of other people. The people who had worked at a community or first nations grassroots level were not only to not be consulted, if deal negotiations were to happen it was without anyone but a select few ever knowing anything about it. Until the press conference.

The documents make this point specifically: “This document is confidential” reads the front page of the strategy paper for the single most important climate campaign of their multi-million dollar philanthropy. But the real kicker is the breakdown of the structures. Under the heading “Enroll key decision makers while isolating opponents” : We will not make the decisions to slow and clean up the tar sands – those in positions of authority will.”

Though there are many problematic proposed solutions contained within the program (carbon offsets, for example), this was written by Michael Marx, then head of Tides’ Tar Sands Coalition in 2008. Specific demands, strategy and more may well have moved on, especially in the face of new coalition partner, Bill McKibben, and the PR group that has brought the world 350.org. Pipeline struggles, in years past, were not as heavily focused upon as now. Keystone (both of them) gets only a whiff in the paper by name; Enbridge Gateway is described but not named. Indeed, how times have changed.

Instead of predictions about the terms of a sell-out, the focus here should be on the structures as they are described. We know automatically the terms will be detrimental to the needs of the climate or of community, simply because the Canadian Boreal Initiative, Environmental Defense, WWF, CPAWS and other organizations who do more than negotiate backroom deals– but publicly embrace and partner with corporations like Suncor, Nexen, Dow Chemical and more– are leading members. The coalition groups are now under the twin auspices of Tides and Pew funding, as well Tides and Pew membership as further “partners.”

This further blurring of foundations who are increasingly “activist” in their own right, speaking and campaigning as “just another green group” is accelerating. In the past few years, new brazen language has come from Tides Canada, previously unthinkable: “At Tides Canada we are working to bridge these two polarized camps (environmentalists and tar sands corporations– MS). As a convener of diverse interests, we’ve played this role before, most notably in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest.1”

The quote above was a letter penned by President and CEO of Tides Canada, Ross McMillan. When the Great Bear Rainforest backroom deal was announced, it was publicized as a triumph of “Rainforest Solutions Project,” then comprising ForestEthics, Sierra Club BC, Greenpeace Canada and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN has since withdrawn support for the agreement). Tides was then, to use their jargon, “invisible to the outside,” but now speaks publicly as both a “stakeholder” and financial lifeblood. Now they advertise prior secretive involvement.

When looking at the real structures of the “North American Tar Sands Coalition” remember that it “shall remain invisible to the outside and to the extent possible, staff will be “purchased” from engaged organizations.”

“Purchasing” staff means that a person who is acting in the capacity of the directives of the paymaster coalition is never to public refer to the actual job, or even the organization. As such, even though someone took a leave from, say, the Pembina Institute to become a coordinator within the Tar Sands Coalition steering committee, and cashed paycheques from Tides referencing this work, they would publicly identify with their former employing organization, the Pembina Institute.

In fact, the above perfectly described the Canadian tar sands coordinator for Tides previously, Dan Woynillowicz. Google his name and he appears only as Pembina. The fact that demands, media, talking points, statements and interviews and paydays all then came from Tides direction was to “remain invisible to the outside.” He stepped aside for Jennifer Lash, who appears publicly as Executive Director of Living Oceans BC. She is, in fact, coordinator of Tides Canadian section.

Michael Marx is the former “lead coordinator” from the tar sands steering committee, above the American and Canadian coordinators. These three, in collaboration with media coordinators, form the power nucleus. Other foundations centralize campaign contributions to the Tides Coalition, and will re-direct appeals for tar sands funding to the national coordinators from this one group. This has effectively narrowed the overwhelming portion of all tar sands funding from foundation sources, leaving astronomical power in the hands of an unseen entity.

How does the final say evolve? According to Marx while he was still coordinator: “While NGOs generally prefer a network structure that allows for maximum communication, and minimal centralized control, foundations investing most heavily in the campaign have a vested interest in exercising some control over the process”(emphasis mine).

Michael Marx has moved on as mentioned, for Tzeporah Berman to become head of the North American Tar Sands Coalition. Marx himself is officially a campaigner once again with the Sierra Club in the United States.

The “Tar Sands Solutions Network” appears to be the vehicle for a public face to negotiate a “win-win” deal. A couple of years ago, the Mediacoop.ca and later on the Globe and Mail reported a leak of an attempted “fireside chat” that was to happen with no fanfare, media or record of its existence. This chat was to involve some of the largest players in energy corporations operating in the tar sands, “with beer in hand” alongside some of the more compromised and right wing environmental organizations.

That particular meeting was aborted after the leak.

There are other secret meetings as well, ones where you have to sign before hand not to release any information about what is discussed. There– without the input of the multiple indigenous communities and other active community resistance movements that target tar sands on both sides of the colonial border– strategy for the short, middle and long terms are drawn up.

Foundations spring for the event, foundations also “influence” talking points, strategy is laid out and so on. Recently, for example, there was such a meeting held off the coast of British Columbia. People who organize in other areas would likely know many of those who attended. Attendees are all sworn overtly not to speak out about its mere existence.

The coalition is the same invisible Trojan Horse that so many “collaborative model” agreements have come from in the past. Berman is simply the public face of capitalism’s last ditch attempt to save itself. The system needs reinvention as it collapses under strain, and the new class of would be green capitalists seek to emerge out of this crisis like Henry Ford did from the Depression. Exploitation of the working class, continued indigenous colonialism at home, war mongering imperialism, permanently expanding growth economics– all with climate effects being transferred onto the over-exploited majority world– this is all “just the way things are,” because “we don’t have time to try and transform the system,” and so on are invoked in defending a strategy of accommodation to capital.

The reality is it results in defeat; the tar sands are a cornerstone– as is all oil– to a growth economy. Fracking, tar sands, offshore, coal to liquids, mountain top removal and the prize of Utah and Colorado’s oil shale, every last bit of it and more must be opposed. Growth is the problem. Green capitalism is a false promise to unite a growth economy with a healthy atmosphere. It is a lie.

If the economic framework of assigning value to land to be converted to resources for dollars is not challenged, oil will continue. It is not a renegade or rogue industry. It is a perfectly normal, capitalist industry.

Big Energy’s power is a reflection of the centrality of energy, leading to influence. It is a logic completely at peace with accumulation of profit and the dominance of capital. More than “not a rogue industry,” it is the flagship, the pinnacle of industries under late industrial capitalism.

Oil exploitation has existed in every industrial society of the last few centuries; however, like the arms industry, the power nexus of its placement in the over-all economic structure of the West makes it absolutely impossible to decouple a dismantling of the power structure with any hope of weakening some falsely labelled “rogue” industry. We need at minimum to declare no right of any backroom negotiation around tar sands. Nothing can green them, nothing can legitimize discussions. Public or private.

Growth is the elephant in the living room we must confront. We must reject a “green shift” that panders to “have your cake and eat it too” eco-populism, the lefty-green rhetoric of a new green bourgeoisie trying to burst forth.

By making capital sacrosanct (“[F]oundations investing most heavily in the campaign have a vested interest in exercising some control over the process.”), the negotiation process cannot do anything about the situation of capital dominance.

Capital is most dominant in the North American political party system. The pro-Obama language of the “Tar Sands Solutions Network” likely indicates a nod to board member Bill McKibben, whose own Rockefeller funded, pro-Obama organizing in 350.org has become stuck on a hamster wheel chasing the Keystone XL. Simply put, the same PR professional thinking below the border that designed the Democrats’ Moveon.org are now more than likely having influence on crafting part of the over-all trajectory of tar sands big money organizing. Brand Obama sells, but the products are made of oil.

Let us ask: Can choreography win the day? In the excellent article “The Climate Movement’s Pipeline Preoccupation” from last week, four Rising Tide community organizers pointed out:

“[T]he mainstream Keystone XL and Northern Gateway campaigns operate on a flawed assumption that the climate movement can compel our elected leaders to respond to the climate crisis with nothing more than an effective communications strategy.”

The people who would negotiate away the work done in other diverse communities are unseen, unelected, unaccountable and have friendly relations with large corporations for a reason. They are not even a large minority of those organizing in opposition to tar sands and the energy industries, however. Those whose resistance have done the most to create this situation?

Some have warm relations with certain facets of Big Green, but all have organized independent of Big Green structures, built separate movements of their own, evolving community directed demands. Through a process of building, what it is that cannot be negotiated has evolved for every different movement in their own manner. There is not just one movement, and there are just as many different sets of principles.

Impacted indigenous communities are building opposition to Line 9 expansion with allies of theirs from outlying communities; People in Utah & Texas are engaged in creative responses of resistance to proposed tar sands mining or pipeline construction; indigenous territory has been reclaimed and rebuilt blocking all energy pipeline construction: Tar sands oil, fracked gas, none of it is being allowed across Unist’ot’en Territory near the Pacific Ocean coastline. There are other paths being walked.

People can now raise a clear voice in opposition to further moves to negotiate a final agreement that no one has any mandate to work on. We must reject the collaborative model succinctly for the tar sands, whether expressed by pipeline deals or in Alberta and Saskatchewan at the source of developments. The impacts globally from setting a North American tar sands collaborative process in motion could irreparably damage resistance to tar sands in places where it is now just getting off the ground around the world.

The current Big Green structures are undemocratic and cloak and dagger in appearance. The participants are organizations and certain individuals with a history of bad democratic practice and serious pro-corporate sympathies.

There comes a time, as has been said, when silence is betrayal. Let this be known as just such a time. Let us celebrate the existing diversity of the movements in opposition to tar sands and fossil fuels, and that have targeted the immediate, essential need to make clear the impossibility of parceling the land as a solution.

We must make certain solidarity is a true bottom line for those who are seen as allies in the battles over tar sands and climate. Solidarity cannot come from secret conversations with the enemy. Let us speak too, of this reality: Big energy is the enemy. Not bad practices within it, but the energy and growth economy itself.

The equivalent of the Canadian Tea Party crowd has filled newspaper columns with stories to frighten you and I about the power of American money. Much of the foundation-led anti-tar sands cash has been coming from the United States, and as such we are supposed to cringe at the origin. Yet it would not matter if the paper trail led one to the moon– resources in and of themselves are not the issue. Were spending resources to be the issue, big energy companies and the federal government within Canada itself have vastly outspent the foundations on both sides of the 49th parallel, promoting unfettered tar sands. The problem is the distortion of active resistance, and the hi-jacking of a public process.

These are battles that determine whether or not we can make a grim situation survivable. Capital has caused this near calamity, we surely need to stop trying to save it from itself any longer. Capital has also polluted our own thinking– and actions– from within. We must reinvigorate a democratic environmental movement through a refutation of back room deals– and organize active resistance to those who would try and negotiate one.

 

[Macdonald Stainsby is an anti-tar sands and social justice activist, freelance writer and professional hitchhiker looking for a ride to the better world, currently based in Vancouver, Canada. He can be reached at mstainsby@resist.ca]

 

99 Percent Spring: the Latest MoveOn Front for the Democratic Party

MoveOn.org Poster

WKOG editor: Note that MoveOn.org (with Res Publica) is the founder of Avaaz.

It is worth noting that this site has been critical of many components of the Occupy movement – not for what it purports to represent, but for its hypocritical acquiescence to the elite through overt cooperation with police and the FBI. The anonymous author of this piece points to one severe hypocrisy – that of the direct connection to the Democratic Party. However, this author fails to mention – thus far – the inherent weaknesses in Occupy campaigns organized by Zeese and others throughout the country – Occupations that don’t really occupy much of anything; enact Occupy codes of conduct demanding participants attempt no mechanisms of self-defense; and employ self-policing strategies where Occupiers are expected to cooperate with authorities and, in fact, turn one another in to said authorities. We hope “The Insider” will shed more light on these components of the movement that will also lead to its co-optation and eventual failure, should more effective strategies and tactics not be employed.

The Guns That Smoked

Counterpunch | Weekend Edition March 16-18, 2012

by THE INSIDER

A new social movement has arrived on the scene and it even has a sexy brand: “The 99% Spring.”

Combining the “99 percent” meme, made famous by the Occupy Wall Street movement, with the “Arab Spring” meme, made famous through the ongoing struggle for democratic rights in the Arab world, the organizers of the movement say they will attempt to carry the momentum created in these social movements forward in the coming weeks and months ahead.

This is exciting stuff, to say the very least.

The 99% Spring movement states its goal with stark clarity:

“In the tradition of our forefathers and foremothers and inspired by today’s brave heroes in Occupy Wall Street and Madison, Wisconsin, we will prepare ourselves for sustained non-violent direct action.

 

From April 9-15 we will gather across America, 100,000 strong, in homes, places of worship, campuses and the streets to join together in the work of reclaiming our country.

 

(Snip)

This spring we rise! We will reshape our country with our own hands and feet, bodies and hearts. We will take non-violent action in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi to forge a new destiny one block, one neighborhood, one city, one state at a time.”

Dozens of organizations have already signed onto the call for what looks to be a looming massive uprising.

On March 24-25 grassroots activist leaders, it appears, will be put through a training to lead the 100,000 rallying of the troops.

The revolution, it could be said, has begun!

Or has it?

Yet Another MoveOn.org Front Group?

Beyond the triumphant rhetoric lies a sober truth: “The 99 Spring” is yet another calculated and carefully planned MoveOn.org front group.

Smoking gun one: A WhoIs domain name search yields that The99Spring.com was created on February 9 and the Administrative Contact is none other than MoveOn.org Co-Founder, Wes Boyd.

Smoking gun two: The homepage of The99Spring.com includes a hot link that reads“Get Involved in the 99% Spring.” A click on the link takes you directly to a MoveOn.org “99% Spring Action Training” webpage, where you can either sign up for a listed 99% Spring Training in one’s respective locality, or create your own training.

Smoking gun three: A look at the bottom of the webpage shows the website was designed by Agit-Pop.comAgit-Pop.com is the website for Agit-Pop Communications, a public relations firm which describes itself as “an award-winning one-stop creative studio delivering strategic messaging, cutting edge New Media and boots-on-the-ground campaigning to the progressive netroots.”

At the very top of its list of clientsMoveOn.org, but of course.

Smoking gun four: A conference call to prepare leaders for trainings will be lead by a MoveOn.org Field Organizer, David Greenson on March 14, according to a 99 Spring email blast.

Smoking gun five: The 99 Spring sent out an email with a subject line that read, “Become a 99% Spring Trainer” from Liz Butler and Joy Cushman. The question then is who are these two?

Butler, her LinkedIn page shows, is the Campaign Director for 1Sky, which in April 2011 merged with 350.org to become known simply as 350.org, the organization chaired by journalist and climate activist Bill McKibben.

MoveOn.Org and Friends Attempt to Co-Opt Occupy Wall Street Movement

Tuesday 11 October 2011

by: Steve Horn, Truthout | News Analysis

101011co.jpg

Demonstrators with the Occupy Wall Street protests in Zucotti Park in New York, October 7, 2011. Protests in Wall Street section of New York enter their third week, with similar efforts springing up in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and Seattle. (Photo: Michael Appleton / The New York Times)

Gandhi once said of growing movements of social protestation, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” The trajectory of the ever-evolving and growing Occupy Wall Street movement follows the same pattern almost to a “T,” with slight variation.

Now, apply that model to the most recent public relations and marketing ploys of organizations like MoveOn.org, the ascendant “Reclaim the American Dream Movement” and the general segment of society author and journalist Chris Hedges calls the “Liberal Class” in his most recent book titled “The Death of the Liberal Class” (of which the former two are both a part).

In so doing, one can observe a perfect case study of the liberal class in action, in four distinct acts, with one exception: “then they fight you” can be replaced with “then they attempt to co-opt your movement.”

Act One – Getting Ignored: In the early planning stages of Occupy Wall Street, few eyes were on those working behind the scenes to make this vision a reality. With little funding backing their cause, the activists calling for this action, to those even paying any attention to them at all (few and far between), seemed quixotic or at the very least, overly optimistic. This was the case even to those highly sympathetic to the cause and its accompanying ideology.

How in the world does a rag-tag bunch of activists take on the financial power center of the world that calls the shots politically in statehouses around the country, on a federal level and around the world? Because the task was such a monumental undertaking, these activists were essentially ignored all throughout the planning stages and into the opening days of the occupation itself.

The liberal class, predictably, was nowhere to be seen in the planning stages of Occupy Wall Street, wholeheartedly ignoring the fact, or simply not even knowing the fact, that this occupation was in the works.

Act Two – Getting Laughed at: Once it was seen that, while not yet a movement, the people occupying Wall Street had, at the very least, legitimate grievances, the liberal class resorted to scornful tactics like mockery of the type of people in the movement – ad hominem attacks, if you will.

The scorn was well-depicted by liberal environmental blogger, Grist’s David Roberts, who tweeted, “I’ve been reading about #occupywallstreet for the last hour or two & it’s just horrific. Practically designed to discredit leftist protest.” It was also on perfect display with liberal blogger David Atkins, who mockingly tweeted, “If you want to #occupywallstreet, 1) shave 2) wear some decent clothes 3) coordinate signs about inequality 4) get a media spokesperson.” The diatribe proceeded for multiple tweets, Atkins having listed ten points.

In a post titled, “What’s behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests?” Salon.com blogger Glenn Greenwald aptly explained their behavior and tactics, writing, “Any entity that declares itself an adversary of prevailing institutional power is going to be viewed with hostility by establishment-serving institutions and their loyalists. That’s just the nature of protests that take place outside approved channels, an inevitable by-product of disruptive dissent: those who are most vested in safeguarding and legitimizing establishment prerogatives … are going to be hostile to those challenges. As the virtually universal disdain in these same circles for WikiLeaks (and, before that, for the Iraq War protests) demonstrated: the more effectively adversarial it is, the more establishment hostility it’s going to provoke.”

The liberal class, though, quickly realized that Occupy Wall Street was gaining traction, with leaders of the left like

, Naomi Klein, Cornel West and Joseph Stiglitz joining the cause in solidarity, and its leaders realized that it must co-opt the movement while time is still on its side.

Act Three – Co-Option: With Occupy Wall Street off the ground, but its longevity still in flux, MoveOn.org and its cousin, the Center For American Progress, and Van Jones’Reclaim the American Dream Movement, were nowhere to be found. Instead, they were busy planning the Take Back The American Dream Conference, which took place from October 3 through October 5.

“Taking back the American Dream,” Jones said in an interview appearing on AlterNet, will be a three-step process.

First, the planned November 17 “Rising Tide of Protest,” a protest, led by the Reclaim the American Dream Movement, will be held in a network of cities throughout the United States. As FireDogLake’s David Dayen explained, “[The] November 17 protests announced by the American Dream Movement … [are] a one-day protest across multiple cities across the country that organizers hope will be a massive activation of their supporters.”

Second, an amalgamation of coordinated house meetings and online teach-ins. “We’re going to try to get a million leaders in America online and talking with each other. And that’s going to be a major piece,” said Jones.

Third and most importantly to an organization “powered by,” (aka a project of) MoveOn.org, which among other things, is an organization that raises campaign money for Democratic Party candidates, Jones said the 2012 elections are a vital piece of the puzzle. “And then there’s a third piece and it’s new – and it seems to have escaped people’s notice – and that’s that we’ve said we’re going to run 2012 people for office in 2012. Now, that’s a big deal,” Jones stated.

“We’re talking about U.S. senators who want to run as American Dream candidates – soon to be announced. We’ve reached out to the House Democratic Caucus; there are House members who want to run as American Dream candidates,” he continued.

What this translates to, in layman’s terms, is the very process of co-opting a growing movement of democratic resistance and trying to replace it with a sales pitch to go out in 2012 and vote Democrat. Jones and the Democratic Party operations in disguise, namely the likes of MoveOn.org and the Center for American Progress, are taking a page out of the Dick Armey and Koch brothers’ Tea Party co-option playbook with this one.

Indeed, many forget that before the Tea Party was an Astroturf movement funded by Armey and the Koch brothers, it was an enraged grassroots movement, led mostly by Ron Paullibertarians. Then it got co-opted and now it is a rotten pawn of corporate elites.

If Occupy Wall Street organizers are not careful, this could also be their destiny.

Act Four – Win or Be Co-Opted? That Is the Question:Occupy Wall Street, now three weeks into the occupation, now finds itself in a pivotal moment. Will the nonpartisan, anti-establishment movement allow itself to be co-opted by the Democratic Party serving powers that be, i.e. by the MoveOn.orgs and Center for American Progresses of the world, or will it remain a strong, left, independent force that grows with each passing day and strikes fear into what the late sociologist C. Wright Mills calls the power elite?

One thing is for certain – the liberal class is working overtime to co-opt a burgeoning social justice movement.

Exhibit A: On October 5, Day 19 of Occupy Wall Street, MoveOn.org sent out an email calling on clicktivists (as opposed to activists) to “Join the Virtual March on Wall Street.” “The 99% are both an inspiration and a call that needs to be answered. So we’re answering it today, in a nationwide Virtual March on Wall Street to support their demand for an economy that serves the many, not the few … Join in the virtual march by doing what hundreds have done spontaneously across the web: Take your picture holding a sign that tells your story, along with the words ‘I am the 99%,'” wrote Daniel Mintz of MoveOn.org.

John Stauber is a longtime critic of organizations like MoveOn.org and Center for American Progress, and founder of the Center for Media and Democracy and co-author of “Toxic Sludge Is Good for You,” a book that exposes how corporations and vested interests work to co-opt movements for change. In an interview, he stated, “Don’t be fooled. This will primarily be an effort to co-opt the language and energy to salvage Obama and the Dem Party. This is how you co-opt movements. The Occupy Wall Streeters are not leader oriented. Van Jones will become the voice of this in the mainstream,”

“The same thing happened to anti-war in 2007. MoveOn.org was, to the mainstream, the voice of that movement,” Stauber continued. “It is easy to read between the lines. For one thing, there is no criticism of Obama in the ‘Reclaim the Dream’ messaging and marketing. No one with a national reputation is going to do anything to undermine his re-election efforts. There is huge money in supporting Obama and nothing but pain and punishment in not – both desperation and self interest are driving this at this point in time.”

As Stauber alluded to, one only has to look a few years down the memory hole to see that, as William Faulkner wrote in “Requiem for a Nun,” “The past is never dead. It’s not even past!”

In an article about how the Democratic Party, teaming up with MoveOn.org and other like-minded apparatchiks, viewed the Iraq war as a “gift” to wield for electoral purposes in the 2006 elections, Stauber wrote, “And how have the Democrats treated their gift now that they control Congress? The Democratic House and Senate have continued to fund the war while posturing against it …”

Later, in that same piece, Stauber juxtaposed the operatives with Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), an organization that is against imperialistic foreign policy no matter who is in office, writing, “[IVAW] are not the concoction of a liberal think tank or PR firm; they have very little funding; they are not avoiding criticism of Democrats; and they are not playing political games trying to bank-shot Democratic candidates into the White House and Congress in 2008. They are in open non-violent revolt against US foreign policy, criticizing politicians of all stripes who would exploit the war for political gain.”

Fast forward five years and a nearly parallel situation exists. An independent and democratic economic justice movement, ground zero of which exists at the power center of economic injustice, namely Wall Street, has now spread to every corner of the country in some form or fashion within the framework of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The Democratic Party vultures are waiting to swoop in, steal the thunder and then make sure the focus is on electing Democrats, who are just as much to blame as Republicans for the ascendancy of Wall Street. If anything, they are even more to blame for the pacification role they play in co-opting the overwhelming swath of the left time and time again, no matter what horrible policies they pass.

Will Occupy Wall Street of 2011 be a repeat of the Iraq war of 2006? Similar forces are at bay, that is for certain.

It will all depend on activists deciding whether they choose to be used as a “gift,” or if they choose to remain independent of the forces of co-option.

Act four, to say the least, should be interesting.

http://www.truth-out.org/moveonorg-and-friends-attempt-co-opt-occupy-wall-street-movement/1318259708