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Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 1]

Wrong Kind of Green

December 5, 2016

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

Standing Rock Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]:  Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Addendum

 

While the world celebrates from the pause the Army Corps Of Engineers has forced in the development of the Dakota Access Pipeline, Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer string together an important and critical history of the environmental and climate change movement. The funders of this nonviolent, peaceful, prayerful resistance are the exact individuals who profit from an oil-railroad-transport industry that can only survive when pipeline projects are defeated. Solar power projects and “coal-free” investment portfolios rise in value as indigenous youth are arrested and maced. The recent history is a pattern minimally documented via alternative news and with relatively little critical oversight. This is part one of an investigative series to be published over the next few days. 

 

All Eyes Off the Sacagawea Pipeline

In the article “All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide” published September 13, 2016 by Wrong Kind of Green, a pipeline was highlighted that the non-profit industrial complex (NPIC) has absolutely no interest in discussing: The *Sacagawea Pipeline (*Hidatsa, North Dakota spelling) which will carry Bakken crude under Lake Sakakawea – the source of drinking water for several western North Dakota cities.

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Lake Sakakawea: Credit: North Dakota Tourism Departmentlake-s

Above: Lake Sakakawea

Consider the August 5, 2016 article, “Former Worker Says Lake at Risk of Oil Leak, Pipeline Contractor Defends Workmanship”:

“A former crew member on an oil pipeline under construction in North Dakota claims that pipe installed under Lake Sakakawea was not properly inspected and he fears the lake could be at risk… Pipeline contractor Kenny Crase writes in a sworn statement filed with the PSC and federal regulators that he was ordered to skip a final coating inspection on a section of the Sacagawea Pipeline before another contractor installed the pipe under Lake Sakakawea in July. External coating protects the steel pipe from corrosion. To me, it’s an accident waiting to happen.” — Pipeline contractor and whistleblower, Kenny Crase

Crase, a pipeline contractor with 34 years of experience (including five years as a pipeline inspector) was fired by contractor Boyd & Co. for exposing the “defects in the pipe coating that could cause oil to spill in the reservoir”.  It is worth repeating that this reservoir serves as the source of drinking water for several western North Dakota cities.

According to Crase, “the coating crew was not allowed to complete their work. In addition, the crew was told to stay in their trucks and not allowed to do a final inspection of the coating as another contractor installed the pipe under the lake.”

“I cringed when they hooked to it and pulled it because we never made a single run through there when we didn’t find holidays, which is bare metal. If I was a betting man, I’d bet there’s bare metal spots.”— Kenny Crase

 

“It’s frightening to think that pipe could have been pulled under Lake Sakakawea without being properly inspected.” — Kevin Pranis, spokesman for the Laborers Union

So, why was there no interest by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in a pipeline that even evoked fear in the Labourers Union? We summarized as follows: “What is absolute is that it is those who own the media (not coincidentally, the same elites that own the Non-Profit Industrial Complex) that decide on who and what the media spotlight will shine upon. Native land defenders are essentially ignored, unless it furthers elite interests.

But it’s actually much simpler than that. The NGOs that comprise the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC) have no interest in this pipeline – or the water source they proclaim to care so deeply about – not simply because the tribes (Grey Wolf Midstream) have a financial stake in the project (a mere 12%). Rather, it is because the Sakakawea serves Warren Buffett’s interests via the expansion of rail infrastructure and terminals.

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Sierra Club banner presented to Standing Rock

To be clear, NGOs that comprise the NPIC do not care about native sovereignty issues, as demonstrated by Sierra Club representing Standing Sioux Rock Nation as legal Counsel (via Earth Justice). Native tribal law is a very sensitive and specialized area, usually comprised/represented of native attorneys or tribal law experts for this very reason.

Most recently (November 15, 2016) seven environmental groups including the Sierra Club and National Resources Defense Council settled with BNSF (Warren Buffet’s railroad line) for coal train violations: “BNSF does not admit to any violations of the Clean Water Act, but has agreed to pay one million for environmental projects in Washington state.”  [“The $1 million that BNSF will pay is a small fraction of the penalties it might have incurred if found in violation of the Clean Water Act, which Wallace said could have been in the trillions. ] The article notes that “whereas violation fees would have gone to the U.S. Treasury, these payments will be spent locally.” Whose bank account the one million dollar funds are deposited into and to which environmental projects they are distributed AND at whose discretion the one million dollars is spent is not disclosed. Yet it is safe to assume it is at the discretion of the seven NGOs who brought the suit forward. The seven NGOs agreed not to bring any similar litigation against BNSF for 5 years.

standing-rock-earth-justice-lawyers

Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2016: Jan Hasselman, left, representing Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and Phillip Ellis, right, press secretary for EarthJustice, walk together before speaking to members of the media outside U.S. District Court in Washington, DC. Members of the tribe had petitioned a federal judge to temporarily stop work on parts of the Dakota Access Pipeline to prevent the destruction of sacred and culturally significant sites near Lake Oahe. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) [Source]

In what is essentially a rinse, lather, repeat performance of Stop the Keystone XL – again, all eyes are now on #NODAPL. At the same time, Buffett is expanding the rail infrastructure for more Bakken crude to move across North America with absolutely zero dissent. More crude means the ongoing genocide of Indigenous people and nations in the Bakken will only accelerate.

The difference in the two campaigns (NOKXL vs. NODAPL) is the presence of Indigenous leadership in the latter, which continues to be undermined by NGOs within the Non-Profit Industrial Complex. However, as the indigenous are out front in regards to this movement, any critical analysis, such as this one, makes one subject to being framed as “anti-Indian” or “anti-solidarity” when that is not the case. The presence of Indigenous leadership, that is always strategically kept at arm’s length within the NGO hierarchy, makes this movement almost bullet-proof from any/all investigation or critical analysis.

With that being said, should we be surprised that the resistance to this pipeline by an Indigenous nation was brought to the mainstream by Bold Nebraska – an organization created with start-up money connected to Buffett money? The media’s compliance is creating the snow-ball effect that we witness today and demonstrates a carefully orchestrated strategy. [Further reading on Jane Kleeb’s Bold Nebraska: All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide, Subsection, Hero Worship in Death Cult]

Seed money for Kleeb’s organization was provided by the late Richard Holland…. Holland, ‘the Nebraska advertising executive who helped link up one of the great partnerships in business history, the one between Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Chairman Warren Buffett and his deputy, Charles Munger.'” All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide

August 12, 2016, from the article Big Dakota pipeline to upend oil delivery in U.S.:

“BNSF Railway declined to discuss future freight movements, but said that at its peak, it transported as many as 12 trains daily filled with crude, primarily from the Bakken. Today, it is moving less than half of that….

 

It may seem odd that the opening of one pipeline crossing through four U.S. Midwest states could upend the rail-based movement of oil throughout the country, but the Dakota Access line may do just that.

 

Currently, crude oil moving out of North Dakota’s prolific Bakken shale to ‘refinery row’ in the U.S. Gulf must travel a circuitous route through the Rocky Mountains or the Midwest and into Oklahoma, before heading south to the Gulf of Mexico.

 

The 450,000 barrel-per-day Dakota Access line, when it opens in the fourth quarter, will change that by providing U.S. Gulf refiners another option for crude supply.

 

Gulf Coast refiners and North Dakota oil producers will reap the benefits. Losers will include the struggling oil-by-rail industry which now brings crude to the coasts.

 

Moving crude by pipeline is generally cheaper than using railcars. The flagging U.S. crude-by-rail industry already is moving only half as much oil as it did two years ago: volumes peaked at 944,000 bpd in October 2014, but were around just 400,000 bpd in May, according to the U.S. Energy Department.

 

Ponderosa Advisors estimated that the start-up of the pipeline could reroute an additional 150,000 to 200,000 bpd currently carried by rail to the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast…

bnsf-profits

May 6, 2016, Bloomberg: “More recently, BNSF has been cutting staff after low oil prices and a nationwide shift away from coal have depressed demand for shipping.” [Source]

Due to “a global economy near stall speed” (Larry Summers, October 7, 2015) there is a massive surplus of oil that has resulted in a more than 50% decline in crude shipments via rail. This decrease in rail revenue would be compounded by the loss of an additional 150,000 to 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) currently carried by rail that would be lost to the Dakota pipeline once in operation. This is not a scenario Buffett nor his BNSF shareholders would likely be happy with since the 750 rail cars currently used to transport this oil would disappear into thin air. This would reflect negatively on the BNSF balance sheet and, most importantly, the stock price.  [Source]

February 4, 2016, the article “U.S. Crude By Rail Industry Slows Down After Six Years of Rapid Growth,” declares that “the loading of crude oil at more than a dozen North Dakota rail terminals now faces a financial squeeze.”

And confirming more of the same:

The delay of the Dakota Access pipeline could help stabilize crude-via-rail:

“Erika Coombs, energy analyst for BTU Analytics in Lakewood, Colo., said the Sandpiper delay and potential delay in another proposed Bakken pipeline though Iowa could help stabilize the crude-by-rail industry. ‘If both pipelines are delayed or don’t get built, those are volumes that need to continue to move by rail,’ Coombs said.”

But it’s more than that since the intricate nature of the fossil fuel industry and bringing foul, dirty energy to market can make one pipeline a foe and another one a friend. Hence, whereas the delay of the Dakota Access serves the interests of BNSF via feigning off unwanted competition in harsh economic conditions, the expedient completion of the Sacagawea Pipeline (under Lake Sakakawea) serves BNSF’s interests. This is why NGOs are not highlighting or assisting Indigenous resistance to it, even when they have ample evidence (provided by the aforementioned courageous whistleblower Kenny Crase and the Labourers union) to hinder the project which could never be more in their favor and gain the support of public opinion due to the current political climate at the grassroots level. The Sacagawea Pipeline pipeline is an immense benefit to BNSF.

buffet-photo

Gloat Like Rockefeller When Watching Trains: Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I

“On September 16, 2016 Federal Judge Daniel Hovland has struck down a restraining order from the Three Affiliated Tribes and Chairman Mark Fox against Paradigm Energy Partners, LLC drilling two pipelines, one for natural gas and the other for oil, underneath Lake Sakakawea, allowing the project to continue. Paradigm Energy Partners is building the pipeline for Sacagawea Pipeline Company, a joint venture owned 50 percent by Phillips 66 Partners. Fox and the Three Affiliated Tribes filed for the restraining order against Paradigm Energy Partners, LLC, on August 19 for their construction of the Sacagawea Pipeline.” [Source]

Two years earlier…on November 21, 2014, from the article Phillips 66 Partners Teams Up to Move Bakken Crude:

The Sacagawea pipeline will connect to a 710-acre rail terminal in Palermo, which is expected to provide access to the East and West coasts through the BNSF railway. Designs call for the Palermo Rail Terminal to have an initial capacity of 100,000 barrels per day, with the flexibility to expand to 200,000 barrels per day. The two companies will share construction costs and Phillips 66 will own and operate the terminal.”

The Sacagawea Pipeline Company is developing the Sacagawea pipeline to deliver crude from points in McKenzie and Dunn Counties south of the river to points north of Lake Sacagawea. “Sacagawea Pipeline Company is a joint venture between Paradigm Energy Partners, *Phillips 66 Partners, and Grey Wolf Midstream. Grey Wolf Midstream is an affiliate of Missouri River Resources, a Three Affiliated Tribes chartered energy company in North Dakota.” The Three Affiliated Tribes are the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Sahnish (Arikara) (MHA). [*Buffett’s firm Berkshire Hathaway now owns 14% of Phillips 66 shares, making it Berkshire’s sixth largest holding. Source: Warren Buffett’s $1 billion bet on oil, February 5, 2016][“Joint partner” Grey Wolf Midstream owns a mere 12%.]

“In statements and in meetings with surface transportation authorities, railroads such as Warren Buffett’s BNSF Railway Co. have denied putting crude oil on the fast track over grains… BNSF is on track to invest a record $6 billion in its domestic track network this year to help relieve the stress, and other railroads have followed suit with their own multibillion-dollar pledges.” — Farm group sees oil pipelines easing everyone’s rail congestion, July 27, 2015

 

“Paradigm’s Bakken efforts are focused on creating integrated crude gathering, storage, transportation and rail solutions that provide producers with economic outbound optionality and premium multi-market access.” — Paradigm Energy Partners website

March 9, 2016, from the article Paradigm Midstream Services to build new crude gathering system:

“‘Our game plan is to connect to all the downstream markets and help facilitate more competition for the producers…It’s furthering our strategy of adding more gathering assets to our larger system, which adds a lot of storage and transportation to a lot of the different markets within the Bakken.’

 

Under the agreement—secured through an acreage dedication—the 23-mile-long gathering system will deliver approximately 17,000 acres of production from the Ross Field in northern Mountrail County to Paradigm Energy’s joint venture rail terminal in Palermo, North Dakota.

 

From Palermo, producers will have access to East and West Coast markets via the BNSF Railway, as well as downstream markets near Stanley where Paradigm Energy has other pipeline connections…

 

In January, the North Dakota Public Service Commission approved a siting permit for a $125 million pipeline to be built by Sacagawea Pipeline Co. that will carry Bakken crude under Lake Sakakawea. The Sacagawea Pipeline Project is a new 70-mile long, 16-inch diameter pipeline and associated facilities in McKenzie and Mountrail counties.”

dapl-lake-s-paradigm

Image: Paradigm North Dakota System: The 710 acre Palermo Rail Terminal will serve the BNSF line and has initial plans to include 100 MBbl/d loading capacity and 300 MBbl of operational storage. Rail Facility Detail:710 Acre footprint with 2.5 miles of rail frontage, initial design for up to 100 MBbl/d, six truck off loading lanes with room for expansion 14 high-speed loading arms, capable of loading a full train in 13 hours (expandable to 28 arms on second loop), and three loop track design allows for expansion to 2+ unit trains per day. Provides adequate staging off BNSF Main Line. 2 x 103 MBbl tanks, with two additional tanks planned. [Source]

The Sacagawea Pipeline and Palermo Rail Terminal are designed to enhance logistical options for crude oil transportation in the Bakken region. Phillips 66 Partners and Paradigm will each own a 50 percent interest in the Sacagawea Pipeline. The Palermo Rail Terminal is owned 70 percent by Phillips 66 Partners, with Paradigm owning the remaining 30 percent interest.

[At this point, it’s important to keep in mind that aside from Buffett’s Berkshire owning BNSF, Phillips 66 is Berkshire’s sixth largest holding.][Further reading: Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I, April 12, 2013]

In summary:

“The Sacagawea Pipeline will own an 88 percent interest in Sacagawea Pipeline Company, LLC, the owner of the Sacagawea Pipeline with the remaining 12 percent interest owned by Grey Wolf Midstream, LLC. Additionally, the Sacagawea Pipeline will construct and own a crude oil storage terminal and central delivery point for various crude gathering systems located in Keene, North Dakota (the “Keene CDP”). The Sacagawea Pipeline project is a 91-mile pipeline being developed to deliver crude oil from various points in and around Johnson’s Corner and the Paradigm CDP, located in McKenzie County, North Dakota, to destinations with take away options for both rail and pipeline in Palermo and Stanley, North Dakota. Paradigm is constructing the pipeline and Phillips 66 Partners will be the operator (of Keene CDP, Sacagawea Pipeline, and the Palermo Rail Terminal). The pipeline is anticipated to commence operations in the third quarter of 2016.” [Source]

“The Palermo Rail Terminal consists of a crude oil rail-loading facility currently under construction on a 710-acre site near Palermo, North Dakota. The terminal will have an initial capacity of 100,000 barrels per day, with the flexibility to be expanded to 200,000 barrels per day. It is located on a railway main line with two mainline switches, allowing east- and west-bound rail traffic. The terminal is anticipated to include a pipeline delivery and receipt connection to the Sacagawea Pipeline, allowing the terminal to receive crude oil from areas in Dunn and McKenzie County, North Dakota, and deliver it to terminals and pipelines located in Stanley, North Dakota. The terminal will also include adequate space for up to 12 truck unloading facilities and approximately 300,000 barrels of operational storage, with permits allowing total storage capacity of up to 2.4 million barrels. The terminal is anticipated to be completed and in service in the fourth quarter of 2015.” [Source]

“The boom would not be as big, nor would it have happened as fast, without BNSF, owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Because of limited pipeline capacity in the region, there would be no place for much of the oil to go. BNSF says it is transporting more than half of the oil produced in the North Dakota and Montana regions of the Bakken. Pipelines and a rail competitor, Canadian Pacific, get much of the rest. Most of the oil comes from North Dakota…” Without BNSF, the Great North Dakota Oil Boom Wouldn’t Be As Big, June 8, 2013

When analyzing the Dakota Access pipeline campaign whereby a key slogan for the resistance is the expression “water is life”, one might ask: which water? which life? Is it that all lakes are equal, but some lakes are more equal than others? Such appears to be the case for Lake Sakakawea.

The production and infrastructure for Bakken crude continues to expand. The genocide and ecological devastation it propels also expands simultaneously. Grey Wolf Midstream holds a 12 percent interest with the Indigenous  having to endure 100% of the devastating impacts.

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Can a Rich Culture Rooted in Warrior Ideology be Tamed through Nonviolent Direct Action Training?

oka-three-armed-warriors

Photo: Mohawk Warriors, Oka Crisis, Canada, 1990. Photograph: Armed warriors at Kanesatake during the 1990 “Oka Crisis.” / Gazette John Mahoney (CTY).

In the summer of 1990 the Kanesatake Mohawks erected a protest camp and barricades on the road to the proposed development site of a members-only golf course and luxury condo development on a pine grove and cemetery where many Mohawk families’ ancestors were buried. A standoff with the state ensued. “The army had tanks, armored personnel carriers, helicopters and surveillance planes. The Mohawk warriors had a few hundred weapons, including AK-47s, hunting rifles and shotguns. With some clever psychological warfare, however, they projected a much more intimidating presence.” The golf course/development which triggered the 78-day crisis was never built. [Source]

“The Mohawks used a variety of homemade devices to imitate the high-powered weapons the army thought they had. A circular cutting tool used in ironworking became an imitation M72 rocket launcher. An ordinary black plumbing tube was placed in the back of a pick-up truck and camouflaged so that it resembled an anti-tank missile launcher…. They wandered around an empty field, looking at a map, to pretend they were picking their way through a minefield. It was all part of a deliberate strategy to keep their enemies off guard and confused.” — Geoffrey York & Loreen Pindera, “People of the Pines: The Warriors & the Legacy of Oka,” 1992

At this juncture it remains unclear if the interest in Standing Rock by the NPIC is exclusively  to protect Warren Buffett’s rail investments (BNSF) in an already weak economy … or, if it is that the NGOs that comprise the NPIC (functioning on a foundation of white supremacist ideology) simply cannot resist the opportunity to colonize the remaining Indigenous nations/peoples that have not yet been assimilated by the church[1]  or if this is simply an experiment. Perhaps this is a large scale experiment to study whether methods of nonviolent direct action (NVDA) as the only acceptable means to confront state violence and/or oppression can be successfully applied to the only remaining group of people the state still fears: Indigenous nations. Perhaps this is an experiment in creating a passive citizenry via framing and training in NVDA.

By using the same isolation tactics, reward system, and revisionist history/story-telling carried out again and again over the past few decades via the NGOs and media that comprise the NPIC (intensifying after 1999 WTO Seattle protests), has the hegemonic system reached its maximum potential in the pacification and obedience of the liberal masses in the face of chaos as we head into a far more chaotic, increasingly fascist and uncertain planet in great peril?

Can the same behavior modification, social engineering, societal conditioning and religious indoctrination of whole societies be applied to control and tame Indigenous peoples who embody a deep-rooted (and enviable) warrior ideology? Can the first group influence the latter? Perhaps the best answer is that Standing Rock is the killing of three birds with one stone. [1) Protection of BNSF profits, 2) Continued colonization of Indigenous Peoples, 3) An integral observation lab to study NVDA training impacts/results on non-Anglo cultures in recognition that NGOs are now rolling out NVDA training “programs” across the globe.

One thing is certain. The 2011 observation of a collective “pacifism as pathology” syndrome-like conformity continues to surpass all expectations:

“During the November 2 briefing in the Cannon Ball Community Center, Floberg reminded participants that they signed a pledge to keep the Standing Rock events of November 3 prayerful, peaceful, nonviolent and lawful. There were some who called for a more aggressive front-line approach elsewhere.” —  Nov 4, 2016, Peaceful, Prayerful, Nonviolent Stand of Solidarity With the Standing Rock Sioux

To illustrate how religion is used for indoctrination and mitigation purposes regarding the disenfranchised, note that Rev. John Floberg “is the supervising priest of the three Episcopal missions on the North Dakota side of the Standing Rock Reservation; there are six more mission churches on the reservation in South Dakota.”

Not surprising, 350.org founder Bill McKibben (a lay-Methodist) has a tight relationship with the Episcopal Church. [2] Colonization and assimilation via residential schools – where physical and psychological abuse was rampant – is considered by most today a horrific and shameful part of our collective history, although it came to a close not even a single lifetime ago. Yet, when these same ideals are repackaged as solidarity and dispersed via the NPIC, the only response is a silent adoration from those who believe their own cultural belief system upholds a moral superiority.

 

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Next: Part 2

 

 

End Notes:

[1] “Morse further wrote in his report: “The complete title to their [the Indians’] lands, rests in the government of the United States” (original emphasis). Notice that Morse’s use of “complete” contrasts with what he had written about the Indian title to the soil being “imperfect,” meaning “incomplete.” The title of the nations of Christendom, which Judge Catron called “every Christian power,” was regarded as “complete” or perfect (as in “perfect dominion”), whereas the title and independence of non-Christian “heathen-infidel” nations was regarded by the Christian powers as “imperfect” and incomplete.

So far as the U.S. government, including the Army Corps of Engineers, is concerned, the “heathen-infidel” Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Oceti Sakowin(“Great Sioux Nation”) may not contradict what the United States wants to do with the treaty-recognized territory of the Oceti Sakowin. This is because, based on the ideas of U.S. federal Indian law traced to Christendom’s law of nations, the original title of any “heathen-infidel” Indian nation is only an “imperfect title” of “mere occupancy” in the soil to which the U.S. claims a Christian “ultimate dominion.” [The Dakota Access Pipeline and ‘the Law of Christendom, August 26, 2016]

[2] April 24, 2012: “Episcopalians join religious voices at climate change conference” – “After opening calls to action from James Hansen, a scientist credited with bringing global warming to the world’s attention, and Bill McKibben, founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, participants attended break-out sessions in three focus areas: science, religion and culture.” [http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2012/04/24/episcopalians-join-religious-voice-at-climate-change-conference/]

May 4, 2012: “Diocese of Vermont dedicates 35-panel solar installation” – “Environmentalist Bill McKibben, Congressman Peter Welch, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger were among the featured speakers at the celebration and formal dedication on April 30.” [http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2012/05/04/diocese-of-vermont-dedicates-35-panel-solar-installation/]

April 29, 2013: “Presiding bishop preaches at ‘climate revival’ – “In addition to Jefferts Schori, the event was lead by the Rev. Geoffrey Black, general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, and included video messages from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Bill McKibben, an author, environmentalist and the founder of 350.org, a global grassroots movement aimed at solving the crisis of climate change.” [http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2013/04/29/presiding-bishop-preaches-at-climate-revival/]

May 8, 2013: “Rising with Christ: Confronting climate change” – “On April 27, 2013, the Climate Revival in downtown Boston gathered clergy and hundreds of Christians from across New England to participate in a morning and afternoon worship service in two historic churches – Old South Church and Trinity Church. Billed as “an ecumenical festival to embolden the renewal of Creation,” the Climate Revival traced the arc of the story of Lazarus as we listened for God’s consoling, chastening, and encouraging Word in relation to the climate crisis. Bill McKibben and Archbishop Desmond Tutu joined us by recorded video, and Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori preached an extraordinary sermon about the raising of Lazarus.” [http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2013/05/08/rising-with-christ-confronting-climate-change/]

 

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, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

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

 

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part II

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part III | Beholden to Buffett

Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part 1V | Buffett Acquires the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

KXL Rejection: The Real Story

All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement | Part I

Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”

Unravelling the Deception of a False Movement

Bloodless Lies

The New Inquiry

November 2, 2016

By Lorenzo Raymond

56bloodless-social

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

NVDA Training Teaches White Paternalism at Camp Standing Rock

Wrong Kind of Green

September 16, 2016

oka-three-armed-warriors

What the white man seeks to destroy and what the non-profit industrial complex is financed to carry out: the destruction of the Indigenous Warrior culture. This is not news to native people, however, this reality is all but lost on today’s white “left”. Photo: Mohawk Warriors, Oka Crisis, Canada, 1990. Photograph: Armed warriors at Kanesatake during the 1990 “Oka Crisis.” / Gazette John Mahoney (CTY). [Further reading: Part II of an Investigative Report into Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement, September 19, 2011]

The following comment is from a film director who just returned from the camp at Standing Rock. What she witnessed is the historical paternalism that is reminiscent of the ‘Indian schools’ where proper comportment was wholly identified as the ability to assimilate into Anglo structures. We thank this person for recognizing and  sharing what she witnessed. That this took place on native land – shows egotism and white paternalism still very much exists, is being taught/modeled (via NGO “training”/*NVDA dogma), has no bounds – and no shame. (*non-violent direct action)

Camp participant:

“I just returned from the camp at standing rock and I can report that this[referencing the article: All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide] is exactly what has happened. I sat in on the first two non violent action trainings brought into the camp to help teach protestors how to “de-escalate” even to the point of pulling young men (warriors) aside and chastising them (gently of course) for their anger. They were also told not to wear bandanas over their faces but to proudly be identified. A chill went up and down me. The national guard was brought in a couple of days ago to “help with traffic” and now today protestors (called ” protectors”) were arrested by guards in complete riot gear. This will not end well.”

The following is an excerpt from the report: All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide, published September 13, 2016:

Enter #NODAPL Solidarity

One would be hard pressed to find on any website such extensive NVDA (non-violent direct action) dogma as found on the #NoDAPL Solidarity website (created on August 29, 2016 by Nick Katkevich, noted liberal strategist who is the co-creator of the group FANG – Fighting Against Natural Gas). Especially in light of this website being meant to be interpreted as representative of Indigenous resistance. Yet, Indigenous peoples do not espouse NVDA as an ideology – this is the ideology belonging to and peddled by the NPIC. The fact is, Indigenous peoples retain a deep-rooted (and enviable) warrior ideology – deeply ingrained in the Indigenous culture. This is what the NPIC seeks to destroy. Because of the arrogance and paternalism of those within the NPIC, they even believe they will be successful in doing so. This site is sponsored by Rising Tides North America (RTNA), which can be identified under the “Friends and Allies” (North America) section on the 350.org website. Many view RTNA as a sister org. to Rainforest Action Network, with a more radical veneer, the common link being Scott Parkin: “Scott Parkin is a climate organizer working with Rainforest Action Network, Rising Tide North America and the Ruckus Society.” (see the multitude of Ruckus documents/links on screenshot below). [Source]

nodapl-nvda

Further irony arises when one takes note of the Martin Luther King quote on the “indigenous led resistance” website (see screenshot above). Ask yourself why Indigenous resistance would choose to quote MLK (a long-time favourite co-opted and sanitized icon of the NPIC), rather than a quote from their own warriors.

Leave it to white “leftists” to retain their unwavering belief they have the right and superior knowledge to manage/shape how Indigenous struggles should be led. This is the same “left” (funded by the establishment) that has failed at virtually everything except for the main task assigned by the elites they kowtow to: keeping current power structures intact.

dakota-org

And yet…

Although the white left would never believe it to be true, the Indigenous Peoples have a wisdom and knowledge the Euro-Americans lack altogether. They are not part of our depraved society. So why would wise people succumb to the whims of the NPIC? There is perhaps a very good reason why the tribes standing with Standing Rock Sioux Tribe are not opposed to the white left saturation who will never fail to rush in front for the cameras: to place them in front to stop the bullets from being fired (“Don’t Shoot”). Indigenous peoples have been subjected to horrendous racism since the first European colonizers arrived, which continues to this day. The reality being white activists have no fear of being shot and killed by police regardless of their actions, whereby the same actions are opportunities for the state to kill natives, blacks and minorities.

For media sensation and photographs that will travel the globe, those at the helm of the NPIC ensure that publicly, Indigenous Peoples most always appear in the forefront – all while strategizing behind closed doors to take leadership. When they cannot do so, they vacate the movement, work to marginalize and if possible bury, the legitimate work they were unable to take over. The 2010 People’s Agreement (Cochabamba, Bolivia), led by Indigenous peoples, is an excellent example of just this. The white man has proven incapable of involvement if he is not soon in charge. He has proven himself incapable of following, learning, listening… standing behind. Keeping his mouth closed. The ugly reality is that these are racist, fascist organizations, only there to protect current power structures and count bodies. Social media metrics are far more important than disposable people.

“When the Enviros show up, their literature and banner is strung up against the wall. We are pushed into our place. Most have had a bad taste from wasicu hypocrisy.”  — Harold One Feather

Those at the helm of the NGOs that comprise the NPIC will not be joining land defenders that are willing to die to protect their land, people, culture and ancestry. For these cowards, the brand is too valuable, the price too high. The warrior culture too strong (unruly savages!) to contain. Instead they will throw a few crumbs and send their well-intentioned youth followers as the sacrificial lambs to test the waters. The Indigenous that live within the Bakken are the only credible organizers in opposition to the frack oil developments. It is an understood but unspoken reality that within this resistance, people are going to die.

“Much of the camp’s rhetoric is of the “Non-violent Direct Action” type. Lock your arm to this piece of deconstruction equipment and take a picture with a banner for Facebook. But the Warrior Culture that is so rich in Lakota memory seems to counter a lot of the liberal, non-violent, NGO types. Comrades saw what happened in Iowa, heard about the $1,000,000 in damage and got inspired. I wouldn’t say that it was publicly celebrated because the camp’s tactic of “Non-violence” is the image they want to perpetuate. Like I said, it is a tactic… not everyone thinks that is what we need to dogmatically stick to. It is one thing to use Non-Violence as a rhetorical device in corporate media to spread your inspirational actions but it is another thing to preach it as your dogma in your private circles and use it to stop material damage to the infrastructure of ecocide. I see the former being invoked much greater than the latter.” — A CONVERSATION ON THE SACRED STONE CAMP, Sept 4, 2016

One may also wonder about the Pledge of Resistance being “organized” by the CREDO corporation: “Many thanks to our friends at CREDO who organized the Pledge of Resistance against Keystone XL—the Bakken Pipeline pledge borrows liberally from their work.” Bold Iowa, Source]

ran-credo-kxl

Above poster from the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance, 2013

All eyes ON one (single) pipeline.

All eyes OFF the acceleration of genocide of Indigenous peoples in the Bakken.

All eyes OFF Bakken fracking oil.

north-dakota-crude-pipelines

Further reading:

All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide

Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”

 

Conspiracy Theories and Nonviolence

The Real News

January 6, 2014

by Michael Barker

otpor-srdjan-popovic-canvas-occupy-movement

 

In his December 2013 article published by The Real News as “Analysis of STRATFOR leaks misrepresents nonviolent movements,” professor Stephen Zunes correctly acknowledges the “inexcusable collaboration with the global intelligence company STRATFOR” undertaken by his former colleague, the Serbian activist Srdja Popovic. In retrospect Zunes observed, that: “Even prior to the recent revelations, Popovic’s activities were being increasingly recognized as problematic within the network of proponents of strategic nonviolent action, including many of us who had worked with him in the past.” Here Zunes might have been referring to my 2011 article “CANVAS[ing] for the nonviolent propaganda offensive,” but this seems unlikely, especially given the fact that in his latest article he chooses to falsely label me as being “notorious” for “conspiracy-mongering.”

Either way if criticism of Srdja Popovic were taken seriously amongst progressive circles committed to non-violence, I would imagine that it would have been a good idea for some of Zunes’ colleagues to publicly distance themselves from Popovic — a man that Zunes describes as a “left-of-center Serbian nationalist” who “believes more in himself more than any ideology…” I  make this recommendation because Popovic is still included upon the advisory board of Waging Nonviolence, a web-based project (for which Zunes is a regular contributor) where our problematic friend Mr Popovic sits alongside a number of Zunes’ colleagues from the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC).

Unfortunately, in spite of my ongoing dialogue with Zunes and his co-workers which go back to 2007, Zunes continues to misrepresent my carefully laid arguments. Thus vis-a-vis the ouster of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, he says that my work downplays the Serbian uprisings indigenous roots. This simply is not true, as can be demonstrated by a quick perusal of the article he is referring to which I published through ZNet in 2006 as “Promoting polyarchy in Serbia.” Here Zunes repeats the tired refrain of accusing me of being “notorious” for “conspiracy-mongering”; an accusation I rebutted at-length in 2008.

Re-appropriating Zunes’ own mis-analysis of imperial interventions into the peace community: “It is unfortunate, therefore,” that his own contributions to the theorizing of nonviolence have been “so compromised by [his] lack of understanding of this phenomenon.” For a detailed outline of the resulting problems resulting from such a compromised analysis, see “Blinded by people power: Stephen Zunes on the ousting of dictators.”

None of this implies that Peter Ackerman’s nonviolent activism is part of any sinister conspiracy. On the contrary he is quite open about it all; although it is rare that anyone draws attention to his shadowy hobbies.All this is quite ironic given the well-established imperial connections of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) whose academic advisory board Zunes has headed since 2006. We are after-all talking about a Center which is led and funded by a member of the ruling-class named Peter Ackerman, whose more anti-democratic activism I examined last year for Counterpunch; whose commitments to breaking unions in New York are ongoing, as are his efforts to escalate counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. None of this implies that Peter Ackerman’s nonviolent activism is part of any sinister conspiracy. On the contrary he is quite open about it all; although it is rare that anyone draws attention to his shadowy hobbies.

Although it is perhaps pedantic, I would also like to add that my 2008 article about “democracy promotion” in Serbia was not self-published on the ZNet bloggers’ space as Zunes argues. In fact, this bloggers space did not even exist during the years in which I regularly submitted articles to ZNet, therefore all work was posted online with the support of one of ZNet’s editors. That said, major Z Magazine and Znet stalwart Edward S. Herman did post a detailed criticism of Zunes’ defence of imperial interests in his ZNet bloggers space in 2010: this must-read piece was simply titled “Reply to Stephen Zunes.”

Zunes concludes his article by drawing attention to an online petition he initiated in 2008 to address “a spate of bizarre conspiracy theories regarding nonviolent action theorist Gene Sharp…” At the time I was considered to be one of the primary instigators of such conspiracies, so in response I published “Sharp reflection warranted: nonviolence in the service of imperialism”; which in turn was followed by related criticisms from George Cicariello-Maher and Eva Golinger outlined in their excellent article “Debate on the Albert Einstein Institution and its involvement in Venezuela.” Sadly such reflections upon the troublesome relationship between imperialists and many well-meaning advocates of nonviolence has not been an issue that has been engaged with any vigour among many on the Liberal left — which is problematic to say the least. Nevertheless it is perfectly understandable why the ruling-class should seek to manipulate and intervene within progressive social movements, which makes it all the important that we discuss what actions we can take to protect our movements from such unwanted interventions.

 

 

 

Correction: the above-mentioned article “Reply to Stephen Zunes” was coauthored by Edward Herman and David Peterson.

Ruling-Class Peace?

April 7, 2014

by Michael Barker

Excerpts:

Systemic violence is a uniquely defining characteristic of capitalism: a soul-destroying system that places profit before human need. By way of a contrast, nonviolent activism offers a potent force for helping foment a socialist alternative that favours the needs of the many against the misrule of the few. Far-sighted members of the ruling class, however, take great pride in (vainly) trying to stay one step ahead of those they wish to dominate, and it is with such thoughts in mind that the highly problematic International Center on Nonviolent Conflict was formed in 2002 (for an overview of my criticisms of this group see “Capitalising On Nonviolence“). Yet despite this Center being a creature of imperial discomfort born from within the heart of the US ruling class, they still receive vital ideological support from a handful of progressives and anarchists.

One such liberal intellectual who has done yeoman’s services to publicly defending the reputation of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict is Professor Stephen Zunes, who is the longstanding chair (now co-chair) of the Center’s advisory board. Therefore, in an attempt to undermine the logic of Zunes’s many distortions, this article sets out to do just one thing; that is, to demonstrate how Peter Ackerman — the founding chairman and primary financial beneficiary of this Center — is without a doubt an enemy of all workers and individuals interested in promoting progressive social change.

A good starting place for examining Ackerman’s problematic influence over ostensibly progressive politics is the succinct summary kindly provided by William I. Robinson, professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “That Ackerman is a part of the U.S. foreign policy elite,” Robinson pointed out, “and integral to the new modalities of intervention under the rubric of ‘democracy promotion,’ etc., is beyond question.” Fleshing out some of Ackerman’s noxious ruling-class background, John Bellamy Foster, the editor of Monthly Review and professor of sociology at the University of Oregon, surmized in 2008:

Ackerman is not only a founding director of the [International Center on Nonviolent Conflict] and sits on the Freedom House board, but is also a director, along with the likes of Colin Powell, of the ‘imperial brain trust,’ the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR — where [James] Woolsey is also a prominent member). Ackerman sits on the key advisory committee of the CFR’s Center for Preventive Action, devoted to overthrowing governments opposed by Washington by political means (or where this is not practicable, using political low intensity warfare to soften them up for military intervention). The CPA is headed by Reagan’s former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John W. Vessey, who oversaw the invasion of Grenada. The members of the advisory committee of the CPA, including Ackerman himself, have all been heavily involved in helping to fulfill U.S. war aims in Yugoslavia, and the Center has recently focused on overturning Chavez’s government in Venezuela (see John Bellamy Foster, “The Latin American Revolt,” Monthly Review, July August 2007). On top of all of this Ackerman is a director of the right-wing U.S. Institute of Peace, which is connected directly through its chair J. Robinson West to the National Petroleum Council, which includes CEOs of all the major U.S. energy corporations. On the domestic front, Ackerman has been working with the Cato Institute to privatize Social Security.

….

The political clout of the military-peace nonprofit complex is growing apace, and too many people at home and abroad are in danger of being lulled and then crushed by an oligarchy capable of wearing both the iron heel and the velvet slipper. Such anti-democratic developments hold no surprises to opponents of the oligarchy, but apologists for the velvet slipper who seek to teach anti-democratic intelligence agencies about the power of nonviolent activism must be identified and excluded from further involvement with progressive social movements.

The history of the elite manipulation of social change has been well documented by popular writers like Howard Zinn, amongst many others, and to some extent even Jack London in his classic The Iron Heel (1907) gave a warning of how elites may act to defuse large-scale revolutionary movements. Indeed, in his fictitious autobiographical account of a revolutionary, London described how when his revolutionary movement was on the brink of launching “a sudden colossal, stunning blow” to the entire North American oligarchy, their forthcoming revolution was postponed when the oligarchy caught wind of what they planned and pre-empted them. The oligarchy did this by “deliberately manufactur[ing]” the social conditions that would precipitate an isolated and containable revolutionary uprising that could be destroyed. Back in the real world it is perfectly understandable why elites should seek to manipulate progressive social movements. Now we just need to decide what actions we can take to protect our movements from such unwanted interventions.

Read the full article: http://www.swans.com/library/art20/barker151.html