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The Klein Doctrine

Wrong Kind of Green

December 3, 2015

Klein OECD

Photo: 24 November 2015: Naomi Klein (left) and Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Gurría launched the “New Approaches to Economic Challenges”, “an OECD reflection process on the lessons from the crisis with the aim to upgrade OECD’s analytical frameworks and develop a comprehensive agenda for sustainable and inclusive growth.” Gurría’s background is extensive, currently serving on the Advisory Board for the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF). 3GF’s works on building public-private partnerships for a “global green growth agenda”: “This industrial transition has the potential to unlock new growth engines and spur global economic growth… Studies on green growth opportunities from the OECD, UNEP and the World Bank conclude that the economic opportunity in ‘going green’ is worth several trillion dollars between now and 2030.” ” [3Gf website] [Photo: Julien Daniel / OECD]

Excerpt from the December 2, 2015 article Obama’s Cop21 Climate Speech Signals Coming Authoritarian Rule Over Unfolding Climate Disaster:

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

Read the full article: Obama’s Cop21 Climate Speech Signals Coming Authoritarian Rule Over Unfolding Climate Disaster:

OECD Klein

24 November 2015 – Naomi Klein, Canadian author, social activist, and filmmaker speaking at the OECD. Mrs. Klein came to the OECD in the context of the “Coffees of the Secretary-General” series. Paris, France. “Since 2010 some of the world’s foremost thinkers–economists, historians, environmentalists, writers, artists, photographers–have come to the OECD to meet Secretary-General Angel Gurría and chat about the world over a relaxing cup of coffee… After coffee, the conversation then opens out into a lively discussion with a packed audience of OECD experts.” [Source: OECD]

 

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

Convergence State Update

December 2, 2015

by Luke Orsborne

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

avaaz_peoplesclimatemarch

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

Klein TIFF

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

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

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

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

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

Klein OECD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

COP15 FLASHBACK: The Dead End of Climate Justice

Counterpunch

January 8, 2010

by Tim Simons and Ali Tonak

COP15--Angry-Mermaid-awar-019

(From L) Paul de Clerck (Friends of the Earth International), Dorothy Guerrero (Focus on the Global South) and  Naomi Klein announces the winner of the Angry Mermaid award on December 15, 2009 at COP15. Monsanto received 37% of the votes ahead of Royal Dutch Shell 18% and the American Petroleum Institute 14%.

Six years later, in 2016, Klein serves as the Rockefeller financed 350.org’s most valuable asset. Although Klein awarded Monsanto the “Angry Mermaid” award in 2009, consider 350.org founded TckTckTck (GCCA) with partner WWF (and 18 other NGOs) prior to COP15 where the TckTckTck alliance dominated the international conference grossly undermining small nations such as Bolivia. WWF’s alliance with Monsanto is extensively documented. [Photograph: Olivier Morin/guardian.co.uk]

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On the occasion of its ten-year anniversary, the antiglobalization movement has been brought out of its slumber. This is to be expected, as anniversaries and nostalgia often trump the here and now in political action. What is troublesome, though, is not the celebration of a historical moment but the attempted resurrection of this movement, known by some as the Global Justice Movement, under the banner of Climate Justice.

If only regenerating the zeitgeist of a radical moment was as simple as substituting ‘Climate’ for ‘Global’; if only movements appeared with such eas! In fact, this strategy, pursued to its fullest extent in Copenhagen during the UN COP15 Climate Change Summit, is proving more damaging than useful to those of us who are, and have been for the past decade, actively antagonistic to capitalism and its overarching global structures. Here, we will attempt to illustrate some of the problematic aspects of the troubled rebranding of a praxis particular to a decade past. Namely, we will address the following: the financialization of nature and the indirect reliance on markets and monetary solutions as catalysts for structural change, the obfuscation of internal class antagonisms within states of the Global South in favor of simplistic North-South dichotomies, and the pacification of militant action resulting from an alliance forged with transnational NGOs and reformist environmental groups who have been given minimal access to the halls of power in exchange for their successful policing of the movement.

Many of these problematic aspects of the movement’s rebranding became apparent in Copenhagen during the main, high-profile intellectual event that was organized by Climate Justice Action (CJA) on December 14 . CJA is a new alliance formed among (but of course not limited to) some of the Climate Camp activists from the UK, parts of the Interventionist Left from Germany, non-violent civil disobedience activists from the US and the Negrist Disobbedienti from Italy.

The event, which took place in the “freetown” of Christiania, consisted of the usual suspects: Naomi Klein, Michael Hardt, and CJA spokesperson Tadzio Mueller, and it was MCed by non-violent activist guru Lisa Fithian. In their shared political analysis, all of the speakers emphasized the rebirth of the anti-globalization movement. But an uncomfortable contradiction was overarching: while the speakers sought to underscore the continuity with the decade past, they also presented this summit as different, in that those who came to protest were to be one with a summit of world nations and accredited NGOs, instead of presenting a radical critique and alternative force.

Ecology as Economy and Nature as Investment Capital

“What’s important about the discourse that is so powerful, coming from the Global South right now, about climate debt, is that we know that economic debt is a tool of domination and enforcement. It is how our governments impose their neoliberal capitalist policies around the world, so for the Global South to come to the table and say, ‘Wait a minute, we are the creditors and you are the debtors, you owe us a huge debt’ creates an equalizing dynamic in the negotiations.”

Let’s look at this contemporary notion of debt, highlighted by Naomi Klein as the principal avenue of struggle for the emerging climate justice movement. A decade ago, the issue of debt incurred through loans taken out from the IMF and World Bank was an integral part of the antiglobalization movement’s analysis and demand to “Drop the Debt.” Now, some of that era’s more prominent organizers and thinkers are presenting something deemed analogous and termed ‘climate debt’. The claim is simple: most of the greenhouse gases have historically been produced by wealthier industrial nations and since those in the Global South will feel most of its devastating environmental effects, those countries that created the problem owe the latter some amount of monetary reparations.

The idea of climate debt, however, poses two large problems.

First, while “Drop the Debt!” was one of the slogans of the antiglobalization movement, the analysis behind it was much more developed. Within the movement everyone recognized debt as a tool of capital for implementing neoliberal structural adjustment programs. Under pressure from piling debt, governments were forced to accept privatization programs and severe austerity regimes that further exposed local economies to the ravages of transnational capital. The idea was that by eliminating this debt, one would not only stop privatization (or at least its primary enabling mechanism) but also open up political space for local social movements to take advantage of. Yet something serious is overlooked in this rhetorical transfer of the concept of debt from the era of globalization to that of climate change. Contemporary demands for reparations justified by the notion of climate debt open a dangerous door to increased green capitalist investment in the Global South. This stands in contrast to the antiglobalization movement’s attempts to limit transnational capital’s advances in these same areas of the world through the elimination of neoliberal debt.

The recent emergence of a highly lucrative market formed around climate, and around carbon in particular cannot be overlooked when we attempt to understand the implications of climate reparations demands. While carbon exchanges are the most blatant form of this emerging green capitalist paradigm, value is being reassigned within many existing commodity markets based on their supposed impact on the climate. Everything from energy to agriculture, from cleaning products to electronics, and especially everything within the biosphere, is being incorporated into this regime of climate markets. One can only imagine the immense possibilities for speculation and financialization in these markets as the green bubble continues to grow.

The foreign aid and investment (i.e. development) that will flow into countries of the Global South as a result of climate debt reparations will have the effect of directly subsidizing those who seek to profit off of and monopolize these emerging climate markets. At the Klimaforum, the alternative forum designed to counter the UN summit, numerous panels presented the material effects that would result from a COP15 agreement. In one session on climate change and agricultural policies in Africa, members of the Africa Biodiversity Network outlined how governments on the continent were enclosing communally owned land, labeling it marginal and selling it to companies under Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) for biofuel cultivation. CDMs were one of the Kyoto Protocol’s arrangements for attracting foreign investment into the Global South under the guise of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. These sorts of green capitalist projects will continue to proliferate across the globe in conjunction with aid given under the logic of climate debt and will help to initiate a new round of capitalist development and accumulation, displacing more people in the Global South and leading to detrimental impacts on ecosystems worldwide.

Second and perhaps more importantly, “Climate Debt” perpetuates a system that assigns economic and financial value to the biosphere, ecosystems and in this case a molecule of CO2 (which, in reductionist science, readily translates into degrees Celsius). “Climate Debt” is indeed an “equalizing dynamic”, as it infects relations between the Global North and South with the same logic of commodification that is central to those markets on which carbon is traded upon. In Copenhagen, that speculation on the value of CO2 preoccupied governments, NGOs, corporations and many of the activists organizing the protests. Advertisements for the windmill company Vestas dominated the metro line in Copenhagen leading to the Bella Center. After asserting that the time for action is now, they read “We must find a price for CO2”. Everyone from Vestas to the Sudanese government to large NGOs agree on this fundamental principle: that the destruction of nature and its consequences for humans can be remedied through financial markets and trade deals and that monetary value can be assigned to ecosystems. This continued path towards further commodification of nature and climate debt-driven capitalist development runs entirely antithetical to the antiglobalization movement that placed at its heart the conviction that “the world is not for sale!”

The Inside in the Outside

One of the banners and chants that took place during the CJA-organized Reclaim Power demonstration on December 16 was “Whose summit? Our Summit!”. This confused paradigm was omnipresent in the first transnational rendezvous of the Climate Justice Movement. Klein depicted her vision of the street movements’ relationship to those in power during her speech in Christiania as follows:

“It’s nothing like Seattle, there are government delegations that are thinking about joining you. If this turns into a riot, it’s gonna be a riot. We know this story. I’m not saying it’s not an interesting story, but it is what it is. It’s only one story. It will turn into that. So I understand the question about how do we take care of each other but I disagree that that means fighting the cops. Never in my life have I ever said that before. [Laughs]. I have never condemned peoples’ tactics. I understand the rage. I don’t do this, I’m doing it now. Because I believe something very, very important is going on, a lot of courage is being shown inside that center. And people need the support.”

The concept that those in the streets outside of the summit are supposed to be part of the same political force as the NGOs and governments who have been given a seat at the table of summit negotiations was the main determining factor for the tenor of the actions in Copenhagen. The bureaucratization of the antiglobalization movement (or its remnants), with the increased involvement from NGOs and governments, has been a process that manifested itself in World Social Forums and Make Poverty History rallies. Yet in Copenhagen, NGOs were much more than a distracting sideshow. They formed a constricting force that blunted militant action and softened radical analysis through paternalism and assumed representation of whole continents.

 

 

In Copenhagen, the movement was asked by these newly empowered managers of popular resistance to focus solely on supporting actors within the UN framework, primarily leaders of the Global South and NGOs, against others participating in the summit, mainly countries of the Global North. Nothing summarizes this orientation better than the embarrassingly disempowering Greenpeace slogans “Blah Blah Blah, Act Now!” and “Leaders Act!” Addressing politicians rather than ordinary people, the attitude embodied in these slogans is one of relegating the respectable force of almost 100,000 protesters to the role of merely nudging politicians to act in the desired direction, rather than encouraging people to act themselves. This is the logic of lobbying. No display of autonomous, revolutionary potential. Instead, the emphasis is on a mass display of obedient petitioning. One could have just filled out Greenpeace membership forms at home to the same effect.

A big impetus in forging an alliance with NGOs lay in the activists’ undoubtedly genuine desire to be in solidarity with the Global South. But the unfortunate outcome is that a whole hemisphere has been equated with a handful of NGO bureaucrats and allied government leaders who do not necessarily have the same interests as the members of the underclasses in the countries that they claim to represent. In meeting after meeting in Copenhagen where actions were to be planned around the COP15 summit, the presence of NGOs who work in the Global South was equated with the presence of the whole of the Global South itself. Even more disturbing was the fact that most of this rhetoric was advanced by white activists speaking for NGOs, which they posed as speaking on behalf of the Global South.

Klein is correct in this respect: Copenhagen really was nothing like Seattle. The most promising elements of the praxis presented by the antiglobalization movement emphasized the internal class antagonisms within all nation-states and the necessity of building militant resistance to local capitalist elites worldwide. Institutions such as the WTO and trade agreements such as NAFTA were understood as parts of a transnational scheme aimed at freeing local elites and financial capital from the confines of specific nation-states so as to enable a more thorough pillaging of workers and ecosystems across the globe. Ten years ago, resistance to transnational capital went hand in hand with resistance to corrupt governments North and South that were enabling the process of neoliberal globalization. Its important to note that critical voices such as Evo Morales have been added to the chorus of world leaders since then. However, the movement’s current focus on climate negotiations facilitated by the UN is missing a nuanced global class analysis. It instead falls back on a simplistic North-South dichotomy that mistakes working with state and NGO bureaucrats from the Global South for real solidarity with grassroots social movements struggling in the most exploited and oppressed areas of the world.

Enforced Homogeneity of Tactics

Aligning the movement with those working inside the COP15 summit not only had an effect on the politics in the streets but also a serious effect on the tactics of the actions. The relationship of the movement to the summit was one of the main points of discussion about a year ago while Climate Justice Action was being formed. NGOs who were part of the COP15 process argued against taking an oppositional stance towards the summit in its entirety, therefore disqualifying a strategy such as a full shutdown of the summit. The so-called inside/outside strategy arose from this process, and the main action, where people from the inside and the outside would meet in a parking lot outside of the summit for an alternative People’s Assembly, was planned to highlight the supposed political unity of those participating in the COP15 process and those who manifested a radical presence in the streets.

Having made promises to delegates inside the Bella Center on behalf of the movement, Naomi Klein asserted that “Anybody who escalates is not with us,” clearly indicating her allegiances. Rather than reentering the debate about the validity of ‘escalating’ tactics in general, arguing whether or not they are appropriate for this situation in particular, or attempting to figure out a way in which different tactics can operate in concert, the movement in Copenhagen was presented with oppressive paternalism disguised as a tactical preference for non-violence.

The antiglobalization movement attempted to surpass the eternal and dichotomizing debate about violence vs. non-violence by recognizing the validity of a diversity of tactics. But in Copenhagen, a move was made on the part of representatives from Climate Justice Action to shut down any discussion of militant tactics, using the excuse of the presence of people (conflated with NGOs) from the Global South. Demonstrators were told that any escalation would put these people in danger and possibly have them banned from traveling back to Europe in the future. With any discussion of confrontational and militant resistance successfully marginalized, the thousands of protesters who arrived in Copenhagen were left with demonstrations dictated by the needs and desires of those participating in and corroborating the summit.

Alongside the accreditation lines that stretched around the summit, UN banners proclaimed “Raise Your Voice,” signifying an invitation to participate for those willing to submit to the logic of NGO representation. As we continue to question the significance of NGO involvement and their belief that they are able to influence global decision-making processes, such as the COP15 summit, we must emphasize that these so-called participatory processes are in fact ones of recuperative pacification. In Copenhagen, like never before, this pacification was not only confined to the summit but was successfully extended outward into the demonstrations via movement leaders aligned with NGOs and governments given a seat at the table of negotiations. Those who came to pose a radical alternative to the COP15 in the streets found their energy hijacked by a logic that prioritized attempts to influence the failing summit, leaving street actions uninspired, muffled and constantly waiting for the promised breakthroughs inside the Bella Center that never materialized.

NGO anger mounted when a secondary pass was implemented to enter the summit during the finalfour days, when presidents and prime ministers were due to arrive. Lost in confusion, those demonstrating on the outside were first told that their role was to assist the NGOs on the inside and then were told that they were there to combat the exclusion of the NGOs from the summit. This demand not to be excluded from the summit became the focal politic of the CJA action on December 16. Although termed Reclaim Power, this action actually reinforced the summit, demanding “voices of the excluded to be heard.” This demand contradicted the fact that a great section of the Bella Center actually resembled an NGO Green Fair for the majority of the summit. It is clear that exclusionary participation is a structural part of the UN process and while a handful of NGOs were “kicked out” of the summit after signing on to Reclaim Power, NGO participation was primarily limited due to the simple fact that three times as many delegates were registered than the Bella Center could accommodate.

In the end, the display of inside/outside unity that the main action on the 16th attempted to manifest was a complete failure and never materialized. The insistence on strict non-violence prevented any successful attempt on the perimeter fence from the outside while on the inside the majority of the NGO representatives who had planned on joining the People’s Assembly were quickly dissuaded by the threat of arrest. The oppressive insistence by CJA leaders that all energy must be devoted to supporting those on the inside who could successfully influence the outcome of the summit resulted in little to no gains as the talks sputtered into irreconcilable antagonisms and no legally binding agreement at the summit’s close. An important opportunity to launch a militant movement with the potential to challenge the very foundations of global ecological collapse was successfully undermined leaving many demoralized and confused.

Looking Forward: The Real Enemy

As we grapple with these many disturbing trends that have arisen as primary tendencies defining the climate justice movement, we have no intention of further fetishizing the antiglobalization movement and glossing over its many shortcomings. Many of the tendencies we critique here were also apparent at that time. What is important to take away from comparisons between these two historical moments is that those in leadership positions within the contemporary movement that manifested in Copenhagen have learned all the wrong lessons from the past. They have discarded the most promising elements of the antiglobalization struggles: the total rejection of all market and commodity-based solutions, the focus on building grassroots resistance to the capitalist elites of all nation-states, and an understanding that diversity of tactics is a strength of our movements that needs to be encouraged.

The problematic tendencies outlined above led to a disempowering and ineffective mobilization in Copenhagen.Looking back, it is clear that those of us who traveled to the Copenhagen protests made great analytical and tactical mistakes. If climate change and global ecological collapse are indeed the largest threats facing our world today, then the most important front in this struggle must be against green capitalism. Attempting to influence the impotent and stumbling UN COP15 negotiations is a dead end and waste of energy when capital is quickly reorganizing to take advantage of the ‘green revolution’ and use it as a means of sustaining profits and solidifying its hegemony into the future.

Instead of focusing on the clearly bankrupt and stumbling summit happening at the Bella Center, we should have confronted the hyper-green capitalism of Hopenhagen, the massive effort of companies such as Siemens, Coca-Cola, Toyota and Vattenfall to greenwash their image and the other representations of this market ideology within the city center. In the future, our focus must be on destroying this reorganized and rebranded form of capitalism that is successfully manipulating concerns over climate change to continue its uninterrupted exploitation of people and the planet for the sake of accumulation. At our next rendezvous we also need to seriously consider if the NGO/non-profit industrial complex has become a hindrance rather than a contribution to our efforts and thus a parasite that must be neutralized before it can undermine future resistance.

 

[Tim Simons and Ali Tonak can be reached at: anticlimaticgroup@gmail.com]

 

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

The Art of Annihilation

September 24, 2015

Part thirteen of an investigative series by Cory Morningstar

Divestment Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IXPart XPart XIPart XIIPart XIII

 

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” Frantz Fanon, in Black Skin, White Masks

 

Prologue: A Coup d’état of Nature – Led by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

It is somewhat ironic that anti-REDD climate activists, faux green organizations (in contrast to legitimate grassroots organizations that do exist, although few and far between) and self-proclaimed environmentalists who consider themselves progressive will speak out against the commodification of nature’s natural resources while simultaneously promoting the divestment campaign promoted by the mainstream groups allegedly on the left. It’s ironic because the divestment campaign will result (succeed) in a colossal injection of money shifting over to the very portfolios heavily invested in, thus dependent upon, the intense commodification and privatization of Earth’s last remaining forests (via REDD, environmental “markets” and the like). This tour de force will be executed with cunning precision under the guise of environmental stewardship and “internalising negative externalities through appropriate pricing.” Thus, ironically (if in appearances only), the greatest surge in the ultimate corporate capture of Earth’s final remaining resources is being led, and will be accomplished, by the very environmentalists and environmental groups that claim to oppose such corporate domination and capture.

Beyond shelling out billions of tax-exempt dollars (i.e., investments) to those institutions most accommodating in the non-profit industrial complex (otherwise known as foundations), the corporations need not lift a finger to sell this pseudo green agenda to the people in the environmental movement; the feat is being carried out by a tag team comprised of the legitimate and the faux environmentalists. The public – wholly ignorant and gullible – has no comprehension of the following:

  1. the magnitude of our ecological crisis
  2. the root causes of the planetary crisis, or
  3. the non-profit industrial complex as an instrument of hegemony.

The commodification of the commons will represent the greatest, and most cunning, coup d’état in the history of corporate dominance – an extraordinary fait accompli of unparalleled scale, with unimaginable repercussions for humanity and all life.

Further, it matters little whether or not the money is moved from direct investments in fossil fuel corporations to so-called “socially responsible investments.” All corporations on the planet (and therefore by extension, all investments on the planet) are dependent upon and will continue to require massive amounts of fossil fuels to continue to grow and expand ad infinitum – as required by the industrialized capitalist economic system.

The windmills and solar panels serve as beautiful (marketing) imagery as a panacea for our energy issues, yet they are illusory – the fake veneer for the commodification of the commons, which is the fundamental objective of Wall Street, the very advisers of the divestment campaign.

Thus we find ourselves unwilling to acknowledge the necessity to dismantle the industrialized capitalist economic system, choosing instead to embrace an illusion designed by corporate power.

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The Increasing Vogue for Capitalist-Friendly Climate Discourse

“…there comes with celebritus politicus a kind of ‘plausible deniability’ – similar to … ‘conspicuous redemption’ – in the context of climate change celebrities – that gets turned into a kind of caring deniability designed to set loose the philanthropic sensibilities and materialities of celebritus politicus that very often work to hide the systematic and subjective violences upon which neoliberal capitalism are based.” — Age of Icons, Exploring Philanthrocapitalism in the Contemporary World, 2013

 

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“We can expect more with her new book, which focuses on climate politics and is due for release in September 2014, well timed to intervene in the debates surrounding the big UN talks in New York. Klein offers an alternative amongst the increasing vogue for capitalist-friendly climate discourse, though her 2011 article Capitalism vs the Climate may be showing its age.” — Road to Paris Website, 20 Women Making Waves in the Climate Change Debate, ICSU website. [1]

Road to Paris 2

Road to Paris 1

“It is a bitter irony of source journalism … that the most esteemed journalists are precisely the most servile.” — Lee and Solomon, 1990

Note the above reference to Klein’s book “This Changes Everything” and its September 2014 release date as “well timed to intervene in the debates surrounding the big UN talks in New York.” Indeed, This Changes Everything was the springboard for the “new economy” sought by Wall Street and empire. Note the framing of a new ideology around the word capitalism: “the increasing vogue for capitalist-friendly climate discourse” as well as “capitalist-friendly discourse”.

“Basically your ministers are not people who go in for decisions on the part of people, I don’t know whether you realize it or not…they had been looked upon as saviors.” – Ella Baker [Beyond MLK]

The simple reality that we kill capitalism – or capitalism kills us – does not draw billions in advertising revenue nor does it allow for the obtainment of public acquiescence to the financialization of Earth’s remaining commons. Thus, the framing of capitalism itself is most critical: “[Klein] leaves too much wiggle room for capitalism to escape a definitive condemnation…. She seems clear enough in the analysis that pervades the book that it is capitalism, yet she repeatedly qualifies this position by decrying ‘the kind of capitalism we now have,’ ‘neoliberal’ capitalism, ‘deregulated’ capitalism, ‘unfettered’ capitalism, ‘predatory’ capitalism, ‘extractive capitalism,’ and so on.” [When History Knocks, December 2014]

Capitalist friendly climate discourse has only become increasingly vogue because that’s what global media, on behalf of their owners, wish to sell us. And they have succeeded. The storyline has been swallowed, hook, line and sinker.

Klein’s contributions have not threatened capitalism; rather her efforts are utilized to not only protect it, but strengthen it.

Klein Reformist Capitalism 1

The United Nations Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 document states that “with concerted efforts at all levels, we can achieve the goals and targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020.” (Note again the re-occurring references to the year 2020 in this report.) This is identified as critically important, as the world/UN intensifies its actions to meet the Millennium Development Goals, and “craft a successor agenda for sustainable development, and adopt a meaningful legal climate change agreement – all by the year 2015.”

And although the targets are not being met (the UN did not meet its Millennium Development Goals by 2015, for example; nor did nations adopt a legally binding climate change agreement that impact climate change), it matters little as the key goal is not mentioned in articles (such as those published in the Guardian) that focus solely on biodiversity loss. The Strategic Plan includes a set of 20 targets (the Aichi Biodiversity Targets) [2], most of which are supposedly to be achieved by 2020, with the overarching goal “ultimately aimed at achieving a 2050 vision of a world where biodiversity is valued, conserved, restored and wisely used, maintaining ecosystem services, sustaining a healthy planet and delivering benefits essential for all people.”

2015: On the Road to Paris

This Changes Everything: The 2015 TckTckTck

Based on the premise that “in December 2015, the world will get a new climate deal at the COP21 meeting in Paris,” it follows that the UN and those whose interests it serves had a vested interest in ensuring that the campaign “This Changes Everything” superseded the last campaign of this scale, which was the 2009 TckTckTck campaign leading up to COP15 in Copenhagen.

“This Changes Everything, initiated by an independent and growing network of young activists and campaign groups, aims to support the global movement against climate change by building bridges with social justice movements and the science that supports them. We want to raise awareness and participation, launching a wave of protest and direct action in the run up to December’s UN climate summit in Paris – and beyond.” [See screenshot below]

This Changes Everything Campaign Screenshot

TckTckTck was a corporate-driven communications campaign from its very inception. TckTckTck’s gross undermining of the world’s most vulnerable states that fought to defend the Earth will one day be understood as one of the greatest crimes against humanity the world has ever known. The following text is from a press release obtained from Havas advertising:

As its co-founder and co-creator, David Jones has led Kofi Annan’s ‘Tck TckTck Campaign for Climate Justice’ and is Global CEO of Havas Worldwide, running all creative, marketing and design companies throughout the network of more than 300 offices. Kate Robertson is one of the co-founders of the TckTckTck campaign and has been Chairman of the Euro RSCG Group since 2006.”

It is critical to note that 350.org, Avaaz , Greenpeace and Oxfam are the first NGO signatories to have partnered in this effort (as well as founding members of Global Campaign for Climate Action) with many of the planet’s most powerful corporate entities such as EDF (owns/operates three of the world’s top ten nuclear power plants by capacity), Virgin Group and Lloyds Bank. According to Hoggan and Associates Public Relations Firm (a venture of the DeSmog Blog co-founder, Jim Hoggan), during the 5 months of the campaign, TckTckTck and its partners registered 15.5 million names worldwide on an online petition. Also note that GCCA/TckTckTck was the leading NGO behind the 2014 People’s Climate March.

Consider the cunning and exhaustive marketing endeavour to re-frame the corporate global capture of nature’s commons (ecosystem services) as holistic, honest and ethical. Thus, one could reasonably hypothesize that the foundations and institutions that brilliantly strategize for the protection and expansion of hegemonic power would gladly welcome, and far prefer, the “This Changes Everything” campaign. A multi-million dollar “Tck-esque” campaign, financed by the United Nations, is as old and tired as the “green economy.” The patina is damaged. A citizen-led mobilization lends much needed legitimacy – for the most fraudulent agenda to ever be realized by the world’s most powerful psychopaths.

With the 350.org divestment movement and Klein at the helm, in addition to its partnership with The Guardian (which has also partnered with Klein personally outside of 350.org) and endorsement from the UN, 350.org et al have a position in the media to create mobilizations on cue, simply by calling out its army of divestment students, now global in scope. In the This Changes Everything website it should be noted that within Klein’s bio, 350.org continues to be referred to as a global grassroots movement – disregarding the fact that 1Sky (which merged with 350 in 2011) was an incubator project of the Rockefeller Foundation; it is still an NGO whose annual incomes exceeds millions; and it rewards staff with six-figure salaries. Due to its now global size (not to mention its oligarchic origins), 350.org is very far removed from the true concept of grassroots. The word disingenuous, in regard to this claim, is an immense understatement.

The Message

Of course. disingenuous is to be expected when one looks at the financing behind Klein’s This Changes Everything book and film project, formerly referred to as The Message.

Susan Rockefeller is the Co-Executive Producer of the documentary film This Changes Everything and founding partner of Louverture Films, LLC. Louverture is the production company for the documentary film This Changes Everything in partnership with The Message Productions, LLC / Klein Lewis Productions.

The fiscal sponsor of this endeavour was New York-based Sustainable Markets Foundation (SMF). SMF is financed by a multitude of foundations including Rockefeller Family Fund, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Energy Foundation, Park Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, Schmidt, Global Wallace Fund, Tides, etc. In addition, Tides receives millions in funding from Warren Buffett laundered through the Buffett family foundation NoVo.

“‘The Message’ is a multi-platform project on climate change. The first part of the project is a non-fiction book expected for release in fall 2014 by Naomi Klein, to be followed by a documentary currently in production. In 2011 and 2012, SMF received donations for and distributed grants to ‘The Message.’ Specifically, in 2011, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund gave SMF $50,000 for ‘The Message,’ Wallace Global Fund gave SMF $75,000 for ‘The Message,’ and Schmidt Family Foundation gave $40,000 to SMF ‘to support development of a film titled, The Message.’

 

“While those donations total $165,000 in 2011, that year SMF gave $112,360 – the difference seemingly represents SMF’s fiscal sponsor fee. The following year, the Schmidt Family Foundation gave SMF $100,000 ‘to support “The Message” film.’” [Source: United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Minority Staff Report, July 30, 2014]

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Photo: Susan Rockefeller at her home on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, New York, on Sept. 8, 2015. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

“But what appears as a natural property of the charismatic celebrity is actually produced by discourses of celebrity. (Matt Hills, 2005:151) The capitalist system uses celebrities to promote individualism and illusions of democracy (the ‘anyone can do it’ myth) […] capitalism retains its hold on society, by reducing all human activity to private ‘personalities’ and the inner life of the individual.” (Giles, 2000:19 and 72)

NAOMI KLEIN

“Credible celebrity endorsers can be deadly efficient in cutting into the toughest markets and combating the fiercest consumer resistance.” —Celebrity Culture, 2006

 

 

“Any account of celebrities must be predicated on the recognition that ‘the interests served are first of all those of capital.’” — Celebrity Culture, 2006 citing Graeme Turner

 

When promoting her 2000 book, No Logo, in an interview with the Guardian, Klein claimed that Apple and other corporations were selling the consumers’ own ideas back to them (by tapping into their aspirations and dreams). Klein stated: “People are drawn to these brands because they are selling their own ideas back to them. They are selling the most powerful ideas that we have in our culture such as transcendence, and community, even democracy. These are all brand meanings now.” Her observation was dead-on. This begs the question of how an individual, once astute, can 15 years later, be blind to the parallels: an almost identical global marketing scheme now being applied to the populace in order to capture and privatize the natural environment. Today, Wall Street and other corporations are selling back to consumers their own ideas by tapping into their aspirations and dreams.

Just as hopes and dreams can now be bought and sold by advertising moguls, states and corporations, nature will be bought and sold by states and corporations, in large part made possible by the same social media that serves as the gateway for unprecedented manipulation, coercion, social engineering, and distraction. People are drawn to the manufactured illusions and false promises (renewable energy for all, a green utopia, etc.) precisely because they are being sold their very own ideas (embodied in aspirations and dreams). Indeed, as Klein herself stated, “They are selling the most powerful ideas that we have in our culture such as transcendence, and community, even democracy. These are all brand meanings now.” The difference is that Apple and other corporations delivered on ideas embodied in aspirations and dreams via singular consumer products. But the “new economy” that Klein et al advocate for has every intention of delivering on our ideas embodied in aspirations and dreams – in relation to our future within the natural world – by further expanding capital and commodifying the whole of Earth’s natural commons. Klein and her ivory tower cohorts provide the hope and dreams (“The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed system and build something radically better,” said Klein in This Changes Everything) while the world’s most powerful institutions and oligarchs provide the predetermined solutions – “solutions” that the nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC) ensures remain shrouded in darkness behind the façade of solar panels, wind mills and co-operatives.

Some things don’t change. Two things that don’t change are 1) permanent/continual economic growth is a non-negotiable imperative of the capitalist economic system, and 2) capitalists will stop at absolutely nothing to grow/expand their capital. It is only through the acquisition of the labour of “visible minorities,” the oppressed and colonized peoples (via racism, classism, imperialism, colonialism and patriarchy) that the privileged can cling to their belief that the current crisis is somehow salvageable. With this in mind, the strategy is to have a global populace not only simply acquiesce to, but also demand that global leaders roll out “sustainable capitalism” (in other words, payment for ecosystems services, which is marketed, and consequently interpreted by the public, as nothing more than the “new economy,” sold by McKibben, Klein and others under the guise of vogue, capitalist-friendly climate discourse).

This strategy must be considered the most brilliant hoax since Buffett’s KXL. The people taking to the streets, demanding what the establishment decided upon long ago, is surely worth a toast of champagne on Wall Street as the world’s most powerful capitalists laugh all the way to the bank.

The paradox of having been blinded by the spectacle is the cult-esque faith that the new economy will save us, even as it further propels us to complete and absolute annihilation.

“We will tell you what you want to hear. You need not ever look in the mirror. We are your moral alibi. Love us. Protect us. We are you.” —Ivory Tower Saviours

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While Klein writes that “What the climate needs now is a contraction in humanity’s use of resources; what our economic model demands is unfettered expansion”, her push on divestment promises us the exact opposite. The “renewable energy revolution” (for those of privilege) based upon and dependent upon infinite and unfathomable amounts of steel, cement, aluminum and copper (all to be pillaged from an already exhausted planet), represents just one aspect of a goal grounded in denial. Further, when one takes into account that approx. 70% of all wind turbine supplies are manufactured by just 10 corporations, we can better comprehend a global campaign whose goal is to further empower the technocratic elite classes and strengthen corporate dominance. In the paper Fetishisms of Apocalypse, the author observes the pervasive framing of what mirrors the divestment ideology: “ruling elites have to be persuaded to act in their own interest now… forcing a wholly separate Society to homogenise itself around elite managers and their technological and organisational fixes.”

billionairesmeeting

Branding the Bourgeoisie

While Oprah Winfrey’s goal/vision is to divert protesters into Martin Luther King’s “strategic” model, Klein’s efforts divert protestors into the establishment’s “strategic” model. Klein’s celebrity partner Russell Brand (at the forefront of the 21st century trend of the bourgeoisie-revolutionary), makes his revolutionary stance clear (This Changes Everything UK, March 28, 2015) when he instructs his followers that “a facility for the will of the people [is] to be represented… so we have the ability to influence the institutions that control us….” Unfortunately, Brand has not been privy to a simple fact articulated by legitimate revolutionary voice, Assata Shakur, who warned long ago that “nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” Brand adds that “if we can’t influence those institutions, then the institutions have to go.” Yet, the reality is that institutions are merely bureaucracies “whose very functions are, first: to make money, and second: to pacify the masses by diverting their discontent into compromises with capital.” [Source] In Brand’s urging to create a facility “so we have the ability to influence the institutions that control us,” he reinforces both the system’s authority and the illusion of democracy.

The following observation is quickly becoming most prophetic as the populace continues to be enraptured by the spectacle:

“These historical distortions aren’t just academic: they affect how we view militancy and moderation today. If activists and supporters aren’t aware of the contribution that rowdy non-nonviolent marches made to the campaign, they might instead chalk it up to King’s horse-trading, and thus submit to elite calls for tighter leadership and a cooling-off period – a course that would undermine the crucial momentum of the movement. (Selma producer Oprah Winfrey has said it’s precisely her intention to divert protesters into King’s ‘strategic’ model.) If they come to associate the archetype of the well-funded, well-connected leader with strategic wisdom, they may find themselves embracing the next faux messianic figure who emerges to channel revolutionary energies into reformism, despite the fact that decades of liberal church leadership have brought real losses to the black community, including rollback of the Voting Rights Act.” Beyond MLK

Poet and writer Ryszard Kapuscinski once offered that “oil is a resource that anaesthetizes thought, blurs vision, and corrupts.” Perhaps this anaesthetization also lends itself to the origins of infinite growth as sacrosanct, coupled with a collective and insatiable thirst for artificial needs and false prophets – which seemingly cannot be quenched. Like the 17th century mad hatters poisoned by mercury, perhaps the thought processes of today’s productivist environmentalists have been anaesthetized, blurred and corrupted – by oil.

Embracing Our Icons of Privilege

“Celebrities are developed to make money.” — Graeme Turner, 2004

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Vogue Magazine (August 26, 2014: “Naomi Klein on This Changes Everything, Her New Book About Climate Change”)

 

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Getty Images

“A high-profile sports star like Michael Jordan or David Beckham can become a one-man super brand (Naomi Klein, 2001), able to move his audiences into new regimes of consumption.” — Understanding Celebrity, 2013

It is not mere coincidence that the progressive left’s most cherished idols are white, privileged, lucratively financed, climate/environmental “activists” that continuously jet-set around the globe. This is the same progressive left addicted to their Starfuck lattes, semi-annual vacations, cottages and shiny new cars. Rather, they love their idols – because they identify with them. Take a day to listen to likes of activists such as Dhoruba bin Wahad, Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin, or Omali Yeshitela, and one quickly realizes that today’s white, privileged, lucratively financed appointed “leaders” are as flimsy, weak and homogenized as a loaf of Wonder Bread.

Even if our progressive left crowd stumbles across radical and critical thinkers – even when facts hit our progressives between the eyes – they do not dismiss their false prophets. Rather, insulated within their own identities and obscured by privilege, the liberal left is quick to dismiss any and all factual information and rush to their idols’ defense. Never before has it been so easy for pied pipers to lead the credulous astray.

Bill+McKibben+Marisa+Tomei+23rd+Annual+Environmental

Actress Marisa Tomei, honoree Bill McKibben and wife Sue Halpern arrive at the 23rd Annual Environmental Media Awards and after party, presented by Toyota and Lexus at Warner Bros. Studios on October 19, 2013 in Burbank, California

Bill+McKibben+United+Nations+Equator+Prize+fX0ulmRx9VTl

350.org co-founder Bill McKibben speaks on stage during the United Nations 2014 Equator Prize Gala at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center on September 22, 2014 in New York City. Partners behind the celebrity-fetishized event include Conservation International, Nature Conservancy, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Foundation, and USAID.

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Honoree Bill McKibben at the 23rd Annual Environmental Media Awards and after party, presented by Toyota and Lexus at Warner Bros. Studios on October 19, 2013 in Burbank, California.

It is not mere coincidence that most liberals admire those that tend to reflect their own lives, those with whom they can identify. Until recently, 350.org board member Naomi Klein lived between two homes in Canada; one home in Metropolitan Toronto and one on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. Klein is an author. Klein is married to a documentary film-maker. She is a jet-setter. Her fan base is somewhat similar in status. The same holds true for McKibben with homes in both the Green Mountains and the Adirondacks: A beautiful custom-built home with panoramic views of red pines on land once owned by the poet Robert Frost (Vermont) complete with a wood-fired hot tub. A second home in Johnsburg, New York, deep in the beautiful Adirondacks [Source]. Cars, travel, famous friends and a good job. Both McKibben and Klein are appointed and given celebrity status by the establishment, in a culture that feeds on celebrity fetish. It is safe to say that everyone who believes in them already lives like them – or wants to live like them. They do not identify with someone like Omali Yeshitela, whose rightful anger is not hidden, and who constantly is subjected to harassment by cops, on behalf of the state. Nor do they identify with any Indigenous radicals other than the tiny token handful who are stamped and certified by the NPIC. How can they identify with Indigenous radicals who face increasing suicide rates, impoverishment, lack of access to clean drinking water, and worse, on a daily basis? The critical thinkers and thought leaders in these unpopular realms would only invoke guilt for the privileged supporters of 350.org, etc. – most with good jobs and ample money and who very much want to keep their aforementioned privilege, good jobs and ample money. The liberal left embraces those who make them feel good and deserving of their privilege.

McKibben 1990 Wood Fired Hot Tub Nixed for Climate

Sarasota Herald-Tribune, February 7, 1990: “Faced with his belief that the world is literally going to hell, McKibben decide not to construct a wood-fired hot tub in his backyard. Instead he bought thermal-pane windows… And so it seems it has come to this…. That forsaking hot tubs and powerful leaf blowers and environmentally unsound communication is simply not enough. We must do more.”

McKibben 2012 Decides on Hot Tub

What a difference a day makes… The Boston Globe, January 22, 2012. “McKibben is no Luddite: His house near Middlebury College has indoor plumbing, a microwave, and a wood-fired hot tub.”

“Clearly activism is not what it used to be. Resistance was never what it was understood to be. And, capitalism is always reinventing itself. The power of capitalism as a global force has always been in the capacity of a system to adapt, incorporate and expand. Yet the prevailing sense that capitalism is undergoing a new phase in relationship to activism and resistance is palpable. [It is] in this shifting, murky, hard to define terrain, that critical consumer studies has emerged as an important new field of study.” — Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times, 2013

The “new economy” promises that this is possible. And that is what people of privilege want (and need) to hear. Who wants to ride a bike or take public transit when you can be seen in your new Tesla wearing your Prada scarf – a latte in one hand and the latest smart phone in the other?

Video: Ac”CLIMATE”izing Society to the “New Economy” featuring “actress” (celebrity) Michelle Rodriguez (running time 1:30)

 

 

Why should the 1% creating 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions give up flying – when you can simply “fly clean,” dismissing the fact entirely that 95% of the world’s population have never flown. (“Air travel hit new records as well: in 2004, 1.9 billion passengers traveled 3.4 trillion kilometers. Yet only 5% of the world’s population has ever flown.” [Source]) With so many innovative consumer products, and collaborations that promise a sustainable future as pitched by the green new economy (designed exclusively for the wealthy), why give up anything at all? It is little wonder that the status quo have fallen in love with the illusion that the new economy will miraculously save us.

“In this, these markets of emotion and care come into their own: celebritis politicus is used to sell causes, contributions, concerns and socially responsible consumerism through a competitive market for poverty and enviro-tainment designed to develop, capture, and ‘use’ the fans of this poverty and enviro-tainment towards progressive ends.” — Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times, 2013

The irony is that while nature requires our colossal consumption to come to a grinding halt, the signals embedded in our messengers and subtexts (celebrities, sponsors, advertising, false hope and minimizing of reality, etc.) ever so subtly and skillfully demand the opposite. Collectively, the cognitive dissonance (in all political spectrums: left, centre and right) stemming from our disregard as a species for Earth’s natural limits guarantees the destruction of the shared biosphere and most likely, all life within it. Adding to this multifaceted psy-war is the fact that if fossil fuels were actually to be removed from the equation, whole societies would quickly collapse and cease to exist. As seductive as clean energy tales are as told by the UN, the NPIC and the media – at the bequest of the oligarchs, on whom they depend – there are no new Lexuses, Toyotas or Teslas, designer clothes, Vanity Fairs or jet travel in a fossil fuel-constrained world. Such desires will have to be wrestled from the hands of the privileged. Voluntary curtailing of consumption by those that consume the most is mere fantasy. Alas, such a fantasy is not only the last thing the elites would wish for, but indeed their greatest nightmare.

“Celebrities offer peculiarly powerful affirmations of belonging, recognition and meaning.” — Chris Rojek

Akin to how Halo cars serve to, first and foremost, capitalize the brand (Bloomberg: “The Beauty and Logic of the Million-Dollar Car”), our celebrity “leaders” are constructed in the same way: to capitalize the “new economy” (or “next system,” etc.) brand. The same holds true for the privileged left – those with purchasing power. The real value is in the association … the tapping into the elite aura emitted by the upper-echelon luminaries who have been appointed as the messengers for the environment. “[T]he everyday drivers of the lower-tier cars get to feel like they’re part of the correct club.” Indeed, “…celebrity culture can be visualized as a form of corporate incarceration, confining consumers in a tight social space in which they can aspire to the Good Life and find gratification only by following the imagined lives of others and striving to emulate them. If this is a prison, then it is one where the prisoners are ‘busily keeping the walls intact.’” [Source]

Patel Puma Awards

Avaaz founder Ricken Patel (left) and Zadie Smith (celebrity/author). PUMA Impact Award, The Times Center, November 13, 2013, NYC (Photo by Lauren Colchamiro)

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Left to right: Avaaz co-founder Ricken Patel, celebrity Susan Sarandon, and author/celebrity Zadie Smith for the PUMA Impact Award, The Times Center, November 13, 2013, NYC

Kumi Puma

Executive Director of Greenpeace Kumi Naidoo (left) and celebrity/actor Djimon Hounsou (right) at the 3rd Puma Creative Impact Award. Radialsystem V, Berlin, Germany, 13 Nov 2012 (photo: Zucker Kommunikation)

Olivia Zaleski, Kate Dillon, Michael Brune, Summer Rayne Oakes== RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK Hosts the Opening Night Party for The GreenShows ECO Fashion Week== King of Greene Street, NYC== September 15, 2009== ©Patrick McMullan== Photo - WILL RAGOZZINO/PatrickMcMullan.com== ==

Left to right: Kate Dillon, Olivia Zaleski, Michael Brune and Summer Rayne Oakes, at RAN’s Don’t Bag Indonesia’s Rainforest campaign launch at the GreenShows, New York Fashion Week, December, 2009. Prior to his position as executive director working for the Sierra Club, Michael Brune was the executive director of the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) for seven years. Prior to his employment at RAN (1998-2010), Brune worked for Greenpeace as a public outreach director. Photo credit: Rainforest Action Network

amy-goodman-and-susan-sarandon-attend-puma-gettyimages

Amy Goodman (L) of Democracy Now and Susan Sarandon. PUMA Impact Awards at Times Center, November 13, 2013, New York City. (Photo: Robin Marchant)

opportunity green

Avaaz and Purpose Inc. co-founder, Jeremy Heimans (far right) in Opportunity Green panel discussion for the “green economy,” with celebrity spokesperson Don Cheadle (second from left) (2011)

As author John Stauber observes: “Liberals need to believe reform is possible, liberal oligarchs need investments, liberal politicians need votes, liberal activists need jobs, and it all is done in acceptance of a corporate oligarchy which needs to make sure no real threat arises to its status quo. So we have many marriages of convenience.”

Those of privilege will not make leaders of non-white activists who identify privilege and whiteness as systemic constructs of an institution structured to maintain and expand the privileges of tyrannical powers – a system, within a structure, that promises nothing more than the acceleration of our global, ecological crisis, unparalleled in magnitude. Nor will those of privilege accept as their mentors those who accurately warn that the very structure and systems that protect and maintain privilege must be dismantled (and other ugly truths we refuse to acknowledge). There is a reason why Indigenous activists such as Kat Yang-Stevens take Rockefellers’ poster boy, Bill McKibben, to task – while 350’s Naomi Klein, in partnership with the Guardian, presents McKibben as a 21st century deity.

The truth is, we’re not going to talk about avoiding the catastrophic temperatures we’ve already allowed to transpire 1) because it is more than likely no longer possible to avoid them and, more importantly, 2) because collectively, the 1% creating 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions will not willingly risk or give up their privilege. The wealthy minority, largely Euro-Americans of the western and northern hemispheres, will never voluntarily stop over-consuming energy – or anything else. The system demands that we continue. A contrived, false belief system rewards us for doing so. All necessary, disruptive, difficult and radical pathways are avoided by embracing illusory fantasies of a world where our privilege stays intact, simply by adding more infrastructure and expanding capital markets. Thus, we embrace the environmental “leaders” that the oligarchs have sanctioned / pre-approved for us, those with whom we, the privileged, identify and made iconic via the media, their most vital asset.

“Spectacle celebrities like Naomi Klein, while raising valid (albeit hypocritical) criticism of the complex, count on infantile consumers to maintain their activist credentials. Serving as proxies for consumer rage, yet asking nothing serious of them as citizens, makes these capitalist activists popular and profitable PR puppets. (I especially love Ms. No Logo’s logos.)” — Degrees of Evil: Savoring the nuances of co-optation, September 6, 2013, Intercontinental Cry

The Art of Conflation

Khrizantemy-Chrysanthemums-Yevgeni-Bauer-Vera-Karalli-(10)-Vera-flower-drop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chrysanthemums (translit. Khrizantemy; 1914): a conflation of art, performance, and death  [Source]  

 

conflation
verb from “conflate”
occurs when the identities of two or more individuals, concepts, or places,
sharing some characteristics of one another, seem to be a single identity
— the differences appear to become lost.

 

bono clinton 2007

2007: “Former President Bill Clinton and musician Bono appear on stage during ‘Giving – Live At The Apollo’ presented by the MTV and Clinton Global Initiative at the Apollo Theater on September 29, 2007 in New York City.”

bono clinton 2

2008: “U2 singer Bono speaks with Al Gore during the opening session of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on September 24, 2008, in New York City. Gore attended the fourth annual meeting of the CGI, a gathering of politicians, celebrities, philanthropists and business leaders to discuss pressing global issues.” (Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

 

In the October 12, 2007, CNN article The Bono-ization of Activism, Klein (rightly) criticizes the “Bono-ization” of the protest movement:

“…the new style of anti-poverty campaigning, where celebrities talk directly with government and business leaders on behalf of a continent (such as Africa) is another form of ‘noblesse oblige’ where the rich and powerful club together to ‘give something back.’ They are saying we don’t even need government anymore, it’s the replacement of nation states with corporate rule — this Billionaires Club, including Bill Clinton, that gets together to give a little something back.”

And yet, eight years later, Klein has fully immersed herself in this same (yet even more powerful) “Billionaires Club,” having replaced nation states with corporate rule. If anyone could be characterized as embracing “another form of ‘noblesse oblige’” it is Klein, the 350.org NGO she serves, and the climate cartel they run with – inclusive of Wall Street.

In 2007, Bill McKibben launched the national ‘Step It Up’ campaign (Clinton Global Initiative Commitment 2007) targeting members of the U.S. Congress to be ‘real leaders’ on climate change. Presidential candidates including Senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton attended Step It Up events and issued statements of support for 1Sky’s goals. Step it Up then morphed into 1Sky. 1Sky was an incubator project of the Foundation at its inception. [Further reading: Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New 350.org | More $ – More Delusion] At the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative, then President Clinton announced the 1Sky campaign. [Video, September 29, 2007: 1Sky at Clinton Global Initiative published by Step It Up][Clinton Foundation Press Release, September 27, 2007: “Working with partners 1Sky will raise $50 million to advocate for a simple set of goals and policy proposals to improve the federal government’s policies on climate change.”]

Four years (2011) after voicing very strong criticisms of the anti-poverty campaign’s engagement with Bill Clinton, a campaign that coincided with the 2007 Step It Up and 1Sky alliances with the Clinton Foundation, Klein would choose to serve on the 350.org board of directors as it officially merged with 1Sky.

“What’s complicated about the space that Bono and Geldof (Bob Geldof, founder of Live Aid) are occupying is that it’s inside and outside at the same time – there’s no difference. What’s significant about the Seattle movement (the WTO protests in 1999 and 2000) is that it’s less the tactics but the fact that it identifies that there are real power differences, winners and losers in this economic model.” [Klein: The Bono-ization of Activism]

In similar fashion, the space that 350.org and the NPIC “are occupying is that it’s inside and outside at the same time” – they are part and parcel of the same elite power structures Klein criticizes. “There’s no difference.” Like Bono’s Live Aid that Klein condemned, the divestment campaign, which Klein actively promotes, deliberately avoids the fact that “there are real power differences, winners and losers in this economic model” (i.e., the divestment model).

“Klein believes when celebrities such as Bono engage in talks with world leaders at forums such as Davos they are legitimizing the structures in place, and the inequalities that arise from these structures, rather than promoting any radical change. ‘The story of globalization is the story of inequality. What’s been lost in the Bono-ization is ability to change these power structures. There are still the winners and losers, people who are locked in to the power structures and those locked out.’” [The Bono-ization of Activism]

The official Road to Paris website cites Klein as one of the top twenty influential women in respect to this year’s “Road to Paris, United Nations Conference of the Parties” (with McKibben being cited as one of the top influential men). Like Bono lending legitimacy to Davos, Klein’s and McKibben’s luminary (and manufactured) status is being fully utilized in the same fashion: legitimizing the structures in place and the inequalities that arise from these structures. While Klein spoke to Bono’s legitimizing of globalization and inequality, 350’s partnership with the United Nations is stealth marketing that serves to whitewash the United Nations’ pivotal role as part of the finance/credit cartel subverting state sovereignty and undermining Indigenous autonomy. [Absence of the Sacred]

Failure to publicly expose and condemn the third pillar of the new economy – the commodification of nature via implementation of ecosystem services accounting – not only legitimizes the current power structures in place, but expands them and shields them from reproach. The inequalities that arise from this one single, and most critical, false solution (of many) not only legitimizes inequalities, it guarantees the finish line for the ongoing genocide – nothing less than total annihilation – of the world’s Indigenous peoples. The NPIC, as the third pillar of contemporary imperialism [3], which Klein has submerged herself in, ensures current power structures are not only kept intact, but strengthened and insulated.

Of course, this is not the first time 350.org has taken to subverting state sovereignty and undermined Indigenous autonomy.

“Bono’s Red initiative is emblematic of this new Pro-Logo age. He announced a new branded product range at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland last year called Product Red. American Express, Converse, Armani and Gap were initial partners, joined later by Apple and Motorola. The corporations sell Red branded products, with a percentage of profits going to Bono-approved causes. In this Pro-Logo world there is an irony of consuming to end poverty. Perhaps an even bigger irony: through initiatives like the Red card, consumer culture and branding is buying a stake in anti-globalization and alleviating poverty movement.” [The Bono-ization of Activism]

The global divestment campaign (as was the Stop the KeystoneXL! campaign) is emblematic of the increasingly sophisticated 21st century Pro-Logo age. Today, Bono’s 2008 branded product range promoting his Product Red has been replaced in the public realm with the divestment campaign’s ‘Fossil Fuel Free’ Funds and portfolios (while in the background, hedge funds and private investments comprise the portfolios of the ultra wealthy). Responsible Endowments Coalition, Energy Action Coalition, Sierra Student Coalition, As You Sow, Better Future Project (financed by Wallace Global Fund) and Ceres were initial partners, joined later by the Guardian and the United Nations. In this “capitalism vs the climate” world, there is a strengthening/expanding of capital markets to counteract capitalism. Perhaps an even bigger irony: through initiatives like the global divestment campaign, investment (which furthers consumption/consumer culture) is buying a stake in the anti-capitalist and environmental movements.

“What they’ve tapped into is a market niche. There’s nothing that’s inherently wrong with these initiatives except when they make radical claims that it’s going to end poverty. There’s a long history of radical consumption – what’s pretty unbelievable about this (the Red Label) is that they say it’s revolutionary and it’s going to replace other forms of politics.” [The Bono-ization of Activism]

What the divestment campaign has tapped into is a market niche. While the future will bear witness that there is / was everything inherently wrong with the divestment (dis)course, the framing that the campaign is in service to the fight against climate change is more than insulting. Remix: There’s a long history of “radical” consumption – what’s pretty unbelievable about this current version (the divestment campaign) is that they say it’s revolutionary and it’s going to replace other forms of politics.

In the 2007 article, Klein argued that Bono’s supporters believed he was being constructive because his camp was engaging with power, which she disagreed with. Yet eight years later, Klein has aligned herself with some of the most powerful oligarchs and institutions in the world.

Toward the end of the 2007 article, the author quotes an unidentified activist who stated charity concerts were a way to recorporate the issue. The parallels are striking, for who could disagree that the divestment campaign does perform the exact same function – “a way to recorporate the issue”?

In a single quote that serves to be most prophetic, the unidentified activist added: “It changes nothing.”

manray3

Kiki de Montparnasse, Man Ray (Radnitzky, Emmanuel)

 

Klein’s partnership with the Guardian newspaper; her placating of 350.org’s foundation funding; her chosen decision to remain silent on warmonger NGOs such as 350.org’s strategic partner Avaaz (in large part responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands in Libya [4], which they seek to be repeated in Syria); her silence on the NPIC undermining of vulnerable states at COP15 (with Greenpeace, 350 and Avaaz being the first signatories of TckTckTck); her acceptance of 350’s undermining of a sovereign state and the world’s Indigenous peoples; her scant, almost non-existent references to the military-industrial complex in relation to its massive (and exempted) contribution to both climate change and ecological devastation (case in point, consider the US Air Force (USAF) is the single largest consumer of jet fuel in the world – the avoidance of this subject is even more unconscionable considering US President Barack Obama is one of the most (if not the most) militarily aggressive US presidents in history, authorizing various airstrikes and military operations in at least seven Muslim countries); her silence on industrialized factory framing (livestock stats); and her failure to disclose the relation between 350’s KXL campaign and Buffett’s 21st century oil by rail dynasty, etc. — all demonstrate Klein’s own “noblesse oblige.”

Klein’s most glaring “noblesse oblige” is the exclusion of ecosystem services accounting in her international best seller, This Changes Everything. The promotional description reads: “The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon – it’s about capitalism.” The solution is delivered in the next line: “The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed system and build something radically better.” The elites are indeed seizing this existential crisis to transform our failed system – it’s the financialization of the Earth’s commons referred to as “valuing ecosystem services.”

Consider that in a 505-page book written on climate and capitalism not a single chapter, or even a single page, explores the most pathological intent of the 21st century. One is tempted to conclude that investigative journalist Klein has simply overlooked another critical issue pertaining to the climate. Or perhaps Klein simply has no knowledge of this scheme. However, the word financialization does garner one vital mention – buried in the acknowledgements: “Two years ago, Rajiv and I were joined by Alexandra Tempus, another exceptional and diligent journalist and researcher. Alexandra quickly mastered her own roster of topics, from post–Superstorm Sandy disaster capitalism to financialization of nature to the opaque world of green group and foundation funding to climate impacts on fertility. She developed important new contacts, uncovered new and shocking facts, and always shared her thoughtful analysis.” (The single reference to ecosystems services within the book is found within one sentence on p. 34: “Nor have the various attempts to soft-pedal climate action as compatible with market logic (carbon trading, carbon offsets, monetizing nature’s “services”) fooled these true believers one bit.”)

Further consider an Earth Island Institute “Conversation” with Naomi Klein (Fall 2013) during which Klein is asked a direct question on monetizing ecosystem services. Interviewer to Klein: “It’s interesting because even as some of the Big Green groups have gotten enamored of the ideas of ecosystem services and natural capital, there’s this counter-narrative coming from the Global South and Indigenous communities. It’s almost like a dialectic.” Klein’s response is not only incoherent, she evades the question altogether:

Klein:

“That’s the counternarrative, and those are the alternative worldviews that are emerging at this moment. The other thing that is happening … I don’t know what to call it. It’s maybe a reformation movement, a grassroots rebellion. There’s something going on in the [environmental] movement in the US and Canada, and I think certainly in the UK. What I call the “astronaut’s eye worldview” – which has governed the Big Green environmental movement for so long – and by that I mean just looking down at Earth from above. I think it’s sort of time to let go of the icon of the globe, because it places us above it and I think it has allowed us to see nature in this really abstracted way and sort of move pieces, like pieces on a chessboard, and really lose touch with the Earth. You know, it’s like the planet instead of the Earth.

 

“And I think where that really came to a head was over fracking. The head offices of the Sierra Club and the NRDC and the EDF all decided this was a “bridge fuel.” We’ve done the math and we’re going to come out in favor of this thing. And then they faced big pushbacks from their membership, most of all at the Sierra Club. And they all had to modify their position somewhat. It was the grassroots going, “Wait a minute, what kind of environmentalism is it that isn’t concerned about water, that isn’t concerned about industrialization of rural landscapes – what has environmentalism become?” And so we see this grassroots, place-based resistance in the movements against the Keystone XL pipeline and the Northern Gateway pipeline, the huge anti-fracking movement. And they are the ones winning victories, right? I think the Big Green groups are becoming deeply irrelevant. Some get a lot of money from corporations and rich donors and foundations, but their whole model is in crisis.”

 

Noblesse oblige indeed.

Klein’s contributions have not threatened capitalism; rather her efforts are utilized to not only protect it, but strengthen it.

Perhaps this is the icing on the cake that is the Rockefeller and Clinton 350.org/1Skye project: Participation in the Clinton Global Initiative is by invitation only. The membership fee is $20,000 ($19,000 tax deductible) per year. 2014 annual meeting sponsors include HSBC, Barclays, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, Ford Foundation, Monsanto, Proctor and Gamble, The Rockefeller Foundation, Blackstone, Deutsche Bank, Dow, Exxon Mobil, and others. Clinton Global Initiative University includes McKibben’s Middlebury College within its network. (“These 70 schools have pledged more than $800,000 to support CGI U 2015 student commitment-makers.”) Thus, it is of little surprise to find that in December of 2014, Global CEO cites both McKibben and Klein as those within the top ten list of “inspirational CSR leaders” as voted by their readers.

Identified in the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative membership along with princes, baronesses, heads of states, and CEOs are none other than:

  • Mindy Lubber, President of Ceres (in 2013, Morgan Stanley created the Institute for Sustainable Investing – Lubber serves on the Institute’s Advisory Board, which is chaired by Morgan Stanley’s Chairman and CEO James Gorman), Stern Citi Leadership & Ethics Distinguished Fellow
  • Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation (Chair/president of Greenpeace and TckTckTck aka GCCA, International Advisory Council for 350.org and SumofUs)
  • Billy Parish, Coordinator and Co-Founder, Energy Action Coalition (1Sky Board of Directors)
  • Betsy Taylor, Chair 1Sky Campaign (Ceres Board of Directors, Greenpeace Board of Directors, President of Breakthrough Strategies and Solutions, SumofUs Advisory Board)
  • Lynne Twist, Trustee of The John E. Fetzer Institute (Pachamama Alliance founder)
  • Timothy Wirth, President of the United Nations Foundation (Next System Initial Signatory)

 

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Markets and Corporations: The Appointed Stewards of Nature

“Recognizing that public awareness of the economic value of ecosystems and biodiversity and the fair and equitable sharing of this economic value with the custodians of biodiversity are key incentives for the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components ….” [COP 10 Decision X/1, 2004]

Over the last decade, and in particular since Rio+20 in 2012, the goal to implement payment for ecosystem services (PES) has been further developed and expedited by UNEP, the World Bank, the UK Government, TEEB for Business Coalition, WBCSD, and a wealth of other institutional and organizational actors.

The promise of the “new economy,” in which the “biosphere economy” will play a pivotal if not leading role, can perhaps be best understood simply by carefully absorbing the following direct quotes. The quotes are taken from the report titled The Biosphere Economy: Natural Limits Can Spur Creativity, Innovation and Growth – a 2010 paper by Volans, Business for the Environment (B4E) and Tellus Mater. (Volans and Tellus Mater are discussed later in this series). Note that the new economy of ecosystem services, markets and corporate entities will be considered the custodians (as referred to at COP10) or stewards of Earth’s “natural capital.”

“…issues that governments, policy-makers and regulators should be considering as a matter of urgency: 1 Steward national natural capital. Take early steps towards the reshaping and eventual regulation of financial markets and business, based on their role as stewards of ‘national natural capital.’

 

 “This has led the Global Canopy Programme (GCP) to create the concept of tropical rainforests as ‘Eco-Utilities.’

 

“New markets are emerging in the ecosystems space, with marketplace intelligence provided by firms like the Katoomba Group and Ecosystems Marketplace, both part of Forest Trends. The biggest market is for carbon, with the world market growing from $11 billion in 2005 to $32 billion in 2006, $64 billion in 2007, $126 billion in 2008 and being forecast to reach $170 billion in 2010 and $3.1 trillion dollars in 2020, with $1 trillion of that value relating to the USA.”

 

“Other growing ecosystem-related markets include: $3.4 billion of regulated biodiversity offset transactions per year, water ($500 million in 2010), and ‘forest carbon’ ($149.2 million in 2008). Currently, there are at least 40 local water quality market experiments in the USA.”

 

“Mainstream banks already playing into this space include JP Morgan, which bought both the carbon broker Ecosecurities (for $130 million) and the offset intermediary Climate Care. Goldman Sachs is also increasingly active through its GS Sustain, while a steady trickle of new investment firms, among them EKO Asset Management Partners, are being formed to work in this space.”

 

“While most of these markets are still voluntary, and many focus on offsetting business impacts, other experiments are emerging that aim to direct capital flows to sustain ecosystem services. One example focuses on the creation of ‘forest bonds,’ driven by an agreement between UK-based Canopy Capital and the Government of Guyana. The central idea is to channel capital to preserve forest services such as rainfall generation, moderation of extreme weather, carbon storage and biodiversity maintenance. The shape of things to come?”

 

“Already, global economic losses due to the degradation of ecosystems and biodiversity from deforestation alone is estimated to be running at somewhere between $1.9 and $4.5 trillion – every year…. On the positive side of the coin, however, the market opportunities likely to be created by the shift in the prevailing market paradigm are likely to be at least as extraordinary.”

Among the “innovators” tailoring “ecosystem metrics for business” is Gretchen Daily, co-founder of the Natural Capital Project (NCP), a 10-year joint venture of Stanford University with the Nature Conservancy and the World Wildlife Fund.

Keep in mind that the Nature Conservancy and WWF represent two of the most corporate of all NGOs within the NPIC. The Nature Conservancy is in partnership with Monsanto and Lockheed Martin (to name just two). WWF is partnered with and greenwashes corporations such as Coca-Cola (responsible for the murder of union leaders in Columbia and Latin America) while actively advancing the agenda of Monsanto (invested in by Gates). The “green” capitalists who are proponents of a commodified ecosystem share Monsanto’s and WWF’s disturbing genetic engineering ideology. A said solution as designed by Natural Capital Project is the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVest) software:

“InVEST quantifies the ecological assets in a region – and models how their value will change under alternative scenarios. The metrics developed to assess the biophysical and economic value of ecosystem services are intended for integration into business strategy and policy decisions.” [Shaping Climate-Resilient Development: A Framework for Decision-Making, a Report of the Economics of Climate Change Adaptation Working Group by The ClimateWorks Foundation, Global Environment Facility, European Commission, McKinsey & Company, The Rockefeller Foundation, Standard Chartered Bank and Swiss Re, 2009.]

 

“Introduce natural assets as a key area of value across the C-Suite agenda. Map and understand your company’s critical dependencies on ecosystem services – and the early actions that can be taken to create a better balance between your business and nature. Again, pick high-powered partners, such as Global Footprint Network, the Natural Capital Project, the World Resources Institute, the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, TEEB (the Economics of Biodiversity and Ecosystems) project team, or WWF.”

 

“Take Pavan Sukhdev, former managing director of the Markets Division of Deutsche Bank – who later in 2010 will launch the findings of the TEEB study, the acronym standing for ‘The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity,’ an initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The focus of his work – and of a growing number of economists – is the creation in the coming decades of what we will call here the ‘Biosphere Economy.’ And the evidence suggests that this will be as profound in its impacts as the original Industrial Revolution, with the critical difference that this time the economy will be working with the grain of the biosphere, rather than against it.”


‘As NCP economists began preparing to include a value for ‘natural capital’ in Britain’s GDP calculations by 2020,” they recognized this concept as a move that promises to be the greatest change in national accounting practices since their creation 70 years ago. [Source: Whipple, 2012]

The Bank of Natural Capital is an “educational initiative” of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity project (TEEB), the brainchild of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the European Commission; the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety; and the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. [5]

Like climate, biodiversity is no longer about ecology – it’s about economics.

“The ‘biodiversity treasure trove’ provides the global economy with an invaluable and extensive potential for innovative products and processes that is still widely untapped.” — Sigmar Gabriel, Environment Minister of Germany, leading up to the Potsdam Initiative [6], March 9, 2007

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Who will be the Bill Gates of Ecosystem Services?

“The financial value at stake is mind-boggling – and the business opportunities likely to be created by the shift in the prevailing market paradigm are astonishing…. Who will be the Bill Gates of ecosystem services?” — The Biosphere Economy, 2010

The February 19, 2015 Stockholm Resilience Centre (Stockholm University) article, Time to Reconnect to the Biosphere, represents a brilliant example of how to skillfully and ever so subtly manufacture public acquiescence for payment of ecosystem services under the guise of ethics:

“Too many consider environmental issues to be an obstacle for development. But the conflict between financial growth and ecological sustainability is nothing but a mental construction…. It is time to realise that societies and economies are integral parts of the biosphere and start working on more adaptive ways of governing our natural capital, not for the sake of the environment only, but for our own development. Poverty alleviation and future human development cannot take place without a wider recognition of nature’s contribution to our well-being, health and security.” — Stockholm Resilience Centre, February 19, 2015

Johan Rockstrom, executive director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre [5], is a leading advocate for the valuation/payment for ecosystem services, the key pillar of the “new economy.” Rockstrom panders to the most powerful foundations, institutions and capitalists on the planet.

The Great Transition Initiative provides an example of how NGOs create the illusion of democracy and feigned concern, as detailed in the August 2014 article Monetizing Nature: Taking Precaution on a Slippery Slope. The article concludes the following: “Even though the trend toward the privatization of public goods has been pervasive over the past decades, we should not acquiesce so easily in allowing the privatization of the most basic public good of all – nature itself. We must meet the grave environmental challenges of the twenty-first century with boldness and prudence, using the precautionary principle, along with the principles of fairness and democracy, to set boundaries that human action must not transgress.”

Such articles give the illusion that NGOs will fight to ensure “democracy” is adhered to, with “boldness and prudence.” The reality is that such fence-sitting articles that feign concern are instrumental in the normalization, slowly over time, of specific language, terminologies and corporate ideologies in order to create acquiescence to further the corporate capture of nature and further the corporate domination of our minds. The objectification of Nature becomes normalized; both anthropocentrism and speciesism are strengthened. This is the identical strategy utilized for creation and gradual acceptance of the carbon trading mechanism REDD/REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries). [Further reading: Fundación Pachamama is Dead – Long Live ALBA | Part II]

When the public became aware of REDD, scores of NGOs spoke out against it, as did the Indigenous people across the globe. Yet while publicly the environmental “movement” appeared to be against REDD, behind closed doors, an army of NGOs and jet-setting climate “activists” were quietly and effectively building public consent, which was being sought by the foundations, corporations and the UN. As the Bolivian delegation stood alone on the world stage opposing carbon markets and REDD/REDD+ (while also developing and presenting alternatives), behind the marketing and branding veneer of the non-profit industrial complex, some realities were made crystal clear: “In September 2011, the 64th Annual UN DPI/NGO Conference took place in Bonn, Germany. About 1,500 people from 70 countries turned up. On the third day of the meeting, a remarkable thing happened. Not a single participant at the conference put up their hand to disagree with a declaration which promotes REDD as a carbon trading mechanism.” [Source]

“No one raised their hand to object to a single word in the declaration text. In an email distributing the document, Dodd states that, ‘The Declaration was accepted unanimously by the 1500 NGOs and other stakeholders present.’” Manufacturing Consent on Carbon Trading, Chris Lang

A similar strategy can be identified in respect to divestment.

Lock up the Treasury.

 

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One of the most human-centric beliefs of all those in pursuit of commodifying the commons must be accredited to Julia Gray, Head of Sustainable Development and Environmental Management, Allianz Group, who states: “It is clear that our man-made infrastructures and Nature’s ecological infrastructures are becoming increasingly interdependent.”

Nature’s ecological “infrastructures” (formerly known as ecosystems – and before that, forests, meadows, Nature’s gifts, etc.) have never and will never become dependent – in any way – on manmade infrastructures. Considering the Earth is billions of years old, and humans have been in existence for a mere blink of an eye, such a belief is nothing less than distressing. Yet so is the unceasing belief in the global economic capitalist system that is slowly but surely destroying us. The idea that nature needs humans in any way, shape or form must be considered human narcissism at its most extreme.

Carbon Disclosure Project

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in New York [Source: Unilever website], is cited as an independent not-for-profit organization, formed after an initiative led by the institutional investor community. [Source] CDP has 501(c)3 charitable status through Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors in New York and is a registered charity in the United Kingdom. [Source]

According to the Natural Edge Project, the Carbon Disclosure Project began in *2003 with a group of 87 institutional investors with assets of over US$9 trillion under management who wrote to the 500 largest quoted companies in the world, asking for the disclosure of investment-relevant information concerning their greenhouse gas emissions. [Source] [*Other sources show CDP was formed in 2002.]

By 2007, five years after its inception, CDP had morphed into a coalition of over 315 global investors with more than $41 trillion in assets. [Source: Unilever website]

In 2010, CDP was called “The most powerful green NGO you’ve never heard of” by the Harvard Business Review. [Source] A powerful alliance was formed that would engage with international bodies that implement policy described in the following way:

“The four regional climate change investor groups – IIGCC, INCR, IGCC and AIGCC – also announced today the formation of the Global Investor Coalition on Climate Change (GIC) to represent the international investment community on climate change policy and investment issues at a global level. The GIC, which will be working closely with other networks including UNEP FI (Finance Initiative), Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), will provide a focal point for engagement with international policy-making bodies.” — Principles for Responsible Investing, UNEP Financing Initiative, November 20, 2012

Note that the five institutions above (IIGCC (Europe), INCR (North America), IGCC (Australia and New Zealand), AIGCC (Asia) and GIC (Global Investor Coalition) are all Ceres NGOs.

By 2014 CDP’s coalition had again more than doubled: “More than 767 institutional investors support the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP). In total, these investors manage assets worth more than US$92 trillion, thus owning a stake in the majority of the world’s listed companies with the highest revenue.” [Source: Seimens Press Release]

Paul Dickinson is a co-founder of CDP, with Tessa Tennant and the financier Jeremy Smith. Prior to founding CDP (for which he continues to serve as executive chairman), Dickenson encountered the economist Dr. Hazel Henderson whose statement “turn your deepest purpose into a revenue stream” struck a chord with Dickinson. Dickinson is an author of numerous books, including Beautiful Corporations, which have been translated into six languages. [Source]

April 24, 2012, Ceres website:

“Tessa Tennant, President and co-founder of The Ice Organisation, has been awarded the fourth-annual Joan Bavaria Award for Building Sustainability into the Capital Markets. The announcement was made at Tuesday’s opening reception of the Ceres annual conference, which runs April 25-26 at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel in Boston, MA.”

Also a CDP co-founder, Tessa Tennant’s expertise in investment is extensive. Tennant co-founded The Ice Organisation, which “encourages consumers to purchase more sustainable products and services from a wide range of retail partners, mobilizing mass consumer purchase power to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change”; co-founded the UK’s first equity investment fund for sustainable development in 1988, now called the Jupiter Ecology Fund; is the chair and co-founder of the UK Social Investment Forum; co-founded the Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA) in 2001 and remains on the board; served as a member of the UK Government’s Advisory Committee on Business and the Environment in the early nineties; assisted in the development of the HRH The Prince of Wales’s Business in the Environment initiative, which educates senior business executives on practical ways to integrate social and environmental solutions into their business operations; is chair of the Global Cool Foundation; and served as a World Wildlife Fund UK Ambassador and fellow of the Schumacher Society. [Source: Ceres]

Another CDP co-founder and financier, Jeremy Smith, is a Partner at Berkeley Energy, a private equity firm focused upon renewable energy projects and project developers in the emerging markets. Smith has worked in the investment and clean energy realm since 2000. Prior to Berkeley, Smith gained experience with Tersus Energy, Conduit Ventures, and Gartmore (acquired by Henderson Global Investors in 2011). Smith began his career with Credit Suisse First Boston in the International Mergers & Acquisitions Group. [Source]

CDP corporate partnerships include Siemens, Turkiye Sinai Kalkinma Bankasi, Dell, Hewlett Packard, L’Oréal, PepsiCo, Cadbury Schweppes, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Tesco, Unilever, Lloyds TSB, Amcor, Johnson Controls, Métro-Richelieu, Schneider Electric, NH Hoteles, and Ventas, Inc.

The so-called clean energy economy (recognized as the greatest “climate wealth opportunity” of our time) is in dire need of a massive cash injection. The required magnitude is colossal:

“Financing (of renewable energy) must double by 2020 and double again to $1 trillion by 2030 in order to avoid global warming of more than 2 degrees Celsius, reports Ceres, the host of yesterday’s conference…. The goal of quadrupling investment from its current state ‘is the right order of magnitude.’” — Ceres Press Release, January 16, 2014

It is critical to once again note that Ceres has been both a key partner and an advisor to the divestment campaign from inception. In summation, today’s leading social capitalists insist the world must quadruple its investments in “renewable” energy by 2030, which also means that climate change is the greatest opportunity to expand capitalism beyond its current limits.

Why the Oligarchs Have United in Pushing the Divestment Campaign

At a Glance:

 

  • The economic models of the 20th century are now hitting the limits of what is possible.
  • Assigning nature’s resources as monetary assets (ecosystem services/payment for ecosystem services) visible in national accounts and economic strategies is the key to growth in the 21st century.
  • The most vital pillar (of three) identified under the “new economy” is the valuing and mainstreaming of nature’s services (biodiversity) into national and international accounts.
  • Financial markets and business will be assigned as the new “stewards of national natural capital.”
  • Global growth has become stagnant, as identified by global institutions such as McKinsey: Can long-term global growth be saved? (January 2015, McKinsey and Company).
  • The IMF and World Bank Group identify a reduction in the growth of the global economy as a primary risk to the world (October 10, 2014).
  • The “greening of economies,” as recognized by the UN, is not a reduction in global economic growth, rather, it is considered a new engine of growth.
  • Changing the capitalist system is not to be considered (Generation Investment).
  • The three key dates are 2015 (international agreement), 2020 (sustainable capitalism and ecosystem services accounting in place), and 2050 (the Earth’s ecosystems and biodiversity to be fully commodified).
  • The mainstreaming of “sustainable capitalism” is to be in place by 2020 (Generation Investment).
  • Economists have been “preparing to include a value for ‘natural capital’ in Britain’s GDP calculations by 2020.”
  • The ideologies/concept behind the commodification of the commons began in earnest at least 25 years ago and likely far earlier than that.
  • $60-70 trillion over the next decade-and-a-half is required for planned mega-infrastructure projects [Source].
  • The biggest market is for carbon, with the world market growing from $11 billion in 2005 and being forecast to reach $3.1 trillion in 2020, with $1 trillion of that value relating to the USA.
  • A steady flow of new investment firms is expanding to exploit the emerging eco-systems markets.
  • Financing (of renewable energy) must double by 2020 and double again to $1 trillion by 2030; quadrupling investment from its current state is the stated goal.

 

From Part XI: 2 Degrees of Credendum | In Summary, Divestment as symbolism:

 

  • The Do the Math tour, as the precursor to the global Divestment campaign, established and reinforced the false premise that the world retains a “carbon budget” that enables us to safely keep burning for decades to come.
  • Like 1Sky/350, the campaign is top-down, not grassroots up as presented. Not only has this global “movement” been sanctioned by the elites, it has been developed in consultation with Wall Street and financed from inception by the world’s most powerful oligarchs and institutions.
  • The campaign successfully invokes a certain naiveté and innocence due to the said premise (a moral divestment imperative) of the campaign.
  • It provides a moral alibi and evokes illusions of white saviour/moral superiority of those that divest/divest-invest while the very people divesting are those that comprise the 1% creating 50% of all global GHG emissions (anyone who can afford to board an airplane). Shuffling their investments does not change this fact or alleviate/absolve one’s role in accelerating climate change and ecological destruction.
  • Protesting fossil fuels cannot and will not have any effect on fossil fuel consumption, production or destruction without legitimately and radically addressing Annex 1 consumption, economic growth under the capitalist system, human population (specifically in Annex 1 nations), the military industrial complex and industrial factory farming.
  • The chosen campaign of divestment rather than the boycott of fossil fuels in combination with proposed sanctions on fossil fuel corporations demonstrates the insincerity of the campaign and its true intentions as sought (and developed) by its funders.
  • Divestment effectively constructs the moral acceptance of “green” consumption. The global divestment campaign confirms that the “market” can be and is the solution.
  • The campaign constructs and further reinforces the falsehood that there is no need to change either the economic system (beyond reforming capitalism) or dismantle the power structures that comprise it; nor is it necessary to address the underlying values, worldviews, classism, racism, colonialism and imperialism that are driving this physical and psychic
  • It diverts attention away from the proliferation of private investments, hedge funds and privatization – key mechanisms in the “new economy.”
  • It provides a critical discourse to divert attention away from the most critical issue of the 21st century: the commodification of the commons (in similar fashion to how the Stop the KeystoneXL! campaign was instrumental in enabling Buffett’s rail dynasty, only far more critical in significance).
  • It builds on the 21st century corporate pathology “Who Cares Wins,” whereby “kindness is becoming the nation’s newest currency.” The pathology behind this intent is the corporate capture of “millennials” by manipulation via branding, advertising and social media.
  • Direct contact with “millennials” in colleges and universities around the world invokes pre-determined and pre-approved ideologies as sought after/controlled by hegemony while building loyalties: future NGO “members” / supporters, future “prosumers,” future “investors.”
  • The campaign draws attention to the statistic that “just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made emissions” while making no mention that a mere 1% of people are creating 50% of all the global GHG emissions – the very people that comprise their target audience.
  • Although highlighting the fact that “just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made emissions” is critical, this information is being conveyed and utilized only to implement the financialization of nature.
  • The campaign stigmatizes fossil fuel investments which, by default, protect the 1% creating 50% of the global GHG emissions from similar stigmatization.
  • Success is measured by the number of institutions divesting-investing, and “shares/likes” on social media, ignoring the fact that divestment does nothing to reduce emissions as the world burns.
  • The divestment campaign presents a capitalist solution to climate change, presenting, repackaging and marketing the very problem as our new solution. Thus, the global power structures that oppress us are effectively and strategically insulated from potential outside threats.

 

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“There is, of course, something contradictory in calculating a price for some­thing you do not wish to trade. Perhaps realising this, one ecological advocate of ecosystems valuation has tried to claim that: ‘Valuing ecosystem services is not identical to commodifying them for trade in private markets’ (Costanza, 2006: 749). That there is no commoditisation, or market-like exchange, implicit in ecosystem services valuation is plainly wrong. As the NRC report states: ‘The use of a dollar metric for quantifying values is based on the assumption that individuals are willing to trade the ecological service being valued for more of other goods and services represented by the metric (more dollars).’ This requires converting ecosystem functions into goods and services, and is clearly identical in approach to a model for trading commodities in a market. — Clive Spash, 2008 [Source]

Akin to those of privilege pretending their screen-addicted children are actually gifted computer geniuses, such are the lies we tell ourselves in order to believe in a system whereby we “benefit” at the expense of others and the destruction of nature.

 

Next: The final segments of this series will be published in 2016

 

 

[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]

 

 

EndNotes:

[1] ICSU’s principal source of “core” income is dues from members and a subvention from the host country, France. The other major sources of income are grants from various organizations and foundations. [Source]

[2] The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and its 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, were agreed by the international community in 2010 in Nagoya, Japan, and have since been re-affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly and at the Rio+20 summit in 2012. [Source]

[3] “Accordingly, a nonprofit-corporate complex (based in international non-governmental organizations, NGOs) dominating an array of social services, many of which were performed by the state in the past, emerged as the third pillar of the triangular structure of contemporary imperialism during the 1980s. It represents a kind of “Third Way” on the part of capital that privatizes state functions and occupies key strategic points within civil society (co-opting social movements) while seemingly outside the realm of private capital – thereby enabling an acceleration of privatization and reinforcing the hegemony of monopoly-finance capital globally.” [Source]

[4] 500,000 dead, 30,000 in terrorist-run prisons, 2.5 million exiled, tens of thousands of refugees.

[5] The original TEEB study was launched by Germany and the European Commission in response to a proposal by the G8+5 Environment Ministers in Potsdam, Germany in 2007, to develop a global study on the economics of biodiversity loss.

[6] The Environment Ministers of the G8 countries and of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, the European Commissioner for the Environment and senior officials from the United Nations and the IUCN (The World Conservation Union) met in Potsdam in March 2007. The meeting resulted in, among other things, the announcement of a course of action for the conservation of biological diversity and for climate protection: “The clear message of this meeting is that we must jointly strengthen our endeavours to curb the massive loss of biological diversity. It was agreed that we must no longer delete nature’s database, which holds massive potential for economic and social development.” [Source]

 

 


Fetishisms of Apocalypse

The Corner House

by Larry Lohmann

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

September 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

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

Justice Matters – Larry Lohmann

Published on Mar 13, 2015 

Digital Marginalisation and Obfuscation in the Messaging Sphere

We Suspect Silence

March 10, 2015

by empathiser

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shell-Peterhead-CCS-project

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

Life in the Celebrity Circuit

A Culture of Imbeciles

March 11, 2015

“Armed with their billions, these NGOs have waded into the world, turning potential revolutionaries into salaried activists, funding artists, intellectuals and filmmakers, gently luring them away from radical confrontation.”~ Arundhati Roy, Capitalism: A Ghost Story

 

Vogue Klein

The American aristocracy has long fostered activist charades as a prophylactic against democracy, but the wholesale choreography of fossil-fueled puppets is unprecedented. Arundhati Roy’s blurb on the cover of This Changes Everything is thus particularly disturbing.

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I wonder what kind of incentive was provided to Roy. What we know is that Arundhati is bright enough to comprehend Naomi Klein’s fraud, and that her name on the cover of Klein’s book functions as a shield for Naomi, and increases her prestige among the 350 cult.

Roy already has significant prestige herself, so the question is why she would publicly support a vapid sell-out who is undermining what Roy purportedly stands for. Was it bribery, extortion, or a misguided sense that Klein’s Wall Street-funded revolution could be hijacked by socialists? It doesn’t make sense.

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Revival or Survival

A Culture of Imbeciles

 

The three waves of 19th Century evangelical religious revivals in the US, known as the Great Awakening, are characterized by fervent enthusiasm. Designed by promoters to engage recruits on an emotional rather than intellectual level, these ecstatic gatherings resemble the recent wave of environmental enthusiasm associated with climate change.

While early waves of environmentalism responded to the petrochemical and nuclear crises noted by advocates like Rachel Carson and Helen Caldicott, later waves addressed systematic crises posed by militarism and consumerism. In the 21st Century, advocates like Arundhati Roy and Winona LaDuke invoked the environmental crises of human relationships, between indigenous nations and modern states under globalization.

Most recently, false prophets of the non-profit industrial complex, like Naomi Klein, hijacked environmental sentiments toward the crisis of fossil-fueled climate change, using funding from petroleum pooh bahs and oil train tycoons. Having misdirected the latest wave of environmental enthusiasm, these false prophets force a choice between revival or survival.

Social Capitalists: Wall Street’s Progressive Partners

Intercontinental Cry

February 24, 2015

by Jay Taber

 

One Hoax after Another

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CERES, Tides and 350*

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The New Economy

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

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

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

Illogic of the Climateers

Catsmob.com - The coolest pics on the net!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Invisible Environment

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Image Courtesy of Mark Gould

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

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

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

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

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

Seductive Energy Tales

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

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

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

New Age Ghost Dance

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

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

Divest-Invest Shell Game

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

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

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

 

Till the End of Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

350 Sacrilege

A Culture of Imbeciles

February 5, 2015

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350’s shameless usurping of Civil Rights icons in their propaganda is ripe for ridicule. Comparing the Rockefeller-sponsored Blue Team to the Freedom Riders, or the police-escorted People’s Climate March to the marches from Selma to Montgomery, or college campus divestment to BDS in South Africa is a sacrilege.

Absolution for the sin of consumerism is implied in 350’s scapegoating of industry that fulfills consumer demand. 350’s revolutionary rhetoric, that panders to progressive identity, exploits progressive frustration while institutionalizing progressive powerlessness.

Real revolution requires commitment, sacrifice and hardship. 350’s  Love Boat champagne circuit somehow fails to measure up to that standard.