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Inconvenient Truths About Tar Sands Action

Manufacturing Dissent

April 24, 2012

The Insider | Counterpunch

 

August 2011’s 350.org/BillMcKibben-lead Tar Sands Action was hailed by its ring-leaders as both “unprecedented” in nature, and in size, “the largest collective act of civil disobedience in the history
 of the climate movement.”    At the commencement of the action it even appeared as if a collective front had formed to do whatever it took to close down TransCanadas proposed Keystone XL pipeline, or “shut down the machine,” ala Mario Savio, if you will.

With a blaring headline, the Tar Sands Action announced on August 24, 2011 that the “Nations Largest Environmental Organizations
Stand Together To Oppose Oil Pipeline.” It was on that day that leaders from groups including Greenpeace USA, the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, Friends of the Earth and the Environmental Defense Fund co-signed a letter to President Barack Obama telling him

“We want to let you know that there is not an inch of daylight between our policy position on the Keystone Pipeline and those of the very civil protesters being arrested daily outside the White House…It’s perhaps the biggest climate test you face between now and the election. If you block it, you will trigger a surge of enthusiasm from the green base that supported you so strongly in the last election.”

350.org Founder Bill McKibben remarked on the groups’ letter in a triumphant manner, “They’ve all shown that there is one way to demonstrate to the environmental base that the rhetoric of Obama’s 2008 campaign is still meaningful—and that’s to veto this pipeline.”

When all was said and done, some 1,252 activists from all walks of life had been arrested in front of the White House. A “movement is being born,” declared McKibben on September 3.

Really? Let’s examine this new “movement.”

Clearly it has thousands of fans, and has been widely celebrated as a stunning climate “victory” by grassroots activists. But is that the real story? Or was it in fact a manipulated charade, funded and run with loads of money from pro-Obama Democrats through non-transparent organizations like the Tides Foundation?

Noam Chomsky’s famous book on the American system of media and propaganda is titled, “Manufacturing Consent.” In this case of the Tar Sands Action we see how big liberal Democratic funders have mastered the propaganda technique of “manufacturing dissent.”

As will be seen, what occurred over the past several months was nothing more than well-funded, political theater and public relations. It was not social change, nor was it grassroots empowerment.

Quite the opposite, Tar Sands Action was a sophisticated, extremely well-funded model for creating the illusion of movement building, complete with mass civil disobedience, but the real goal, mirroring its cousin, “The 99 Spring,” was (and is) to hammer Republicans and fire up grassroots enthusiasm for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

Tar Sands Action: Part of Broader Tides Foundation “Tar Sands Campaign” 

When green groups announced, in an elated manner, that they had a united front to shut down the Keystone XL, what they really should have said, if they were being honest, is that they had a united funding pool and accompanying message machine, feeding from the trough of the Tides Foundation, a non-transparent slush fund into which numerous other institutional and wealthy private money managers pool cash into political “activist” campaigns.

To the public the campaign was referred to as the “Tar Sands Action,” but to insiders it is simply known as the “Tar Sands Campaign,” and sometimes also referred to as the No Tar Sands Coalition or the No Tar Sands Oil Coalition.” The Tar Sands Action is but one small piece of an ongoing multiyear campaign that began in August  2009, with Corporate Ethics International (CEI) serving as the Campaign’s “nerve center.”

The timing of the Tides Foundation August 2009 gift was interesting given that it began several months into the President Barack Obama’s first term. Perhaps the raison d’etre was to manufacture an Obama a “green victory” during his first term in the run up to the 2012 election? More on that to come.

The Campaign is the “largest cross-border collaborative environmental campaign ever waged,” proclaimed CEI on its website. CEI oversees the Business Ethics Network, or BEN. Kenny Bruno, a former member of Greenpeace USA’s Board of Directors, serves as the Campaign Coordinator, according to this LinkedIn page. His “speciality,” according to his Linked In, “is the combination of research, writing, media work, advocacy, coalition building and action known as ‘campaigns.’”

The key funder of this Campaign — though not made public by CEI — is the Tides Foundation. A January 2012 story in the Financial Post explains, “In both the U.S. and Canada, a large number of the groups that campaign against [tar sands] oil are funded by Tides USA…Tides USA and its sister organization, Tides Canada, have paid a total of US$10.2-million to 44 organizations…In 2010 alone, Tides USA made grants to 36 groups specifically for something called the ‘Tar Sands Campaign.’”

The story goes on to explain, “The top recipient of money for the Tides ‘Tar Sands campaign’ is [CEI]…From 2009 to 2010, Tides USA nearly doubled payments to CEI, to $1,450,000 from $750,000.” The list of the NGO’s funded by “Tar Sands Campaign” slush fund can be seen here. Naturally, it was most of the organizations “standing together” on the front lines of the Tar Sands Action to stop the Keystone XL Pipeline.

A July  2008 PowerPoint presentation goes further in demonstrating how the Tar Sands Campaign funding stream works, with insiders at the meeting referring to the millions flowing in simply as the “Tides Tar Sands Fund.”

Presenters at this meeting included the likes of Michael Northrop, Program Officer of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; Michael Marx, then Executive Director of CEI and now head of the Sierra ClubsBeyond Oil Campaign; and Susan CaseyLefkowitz, Director of the Natural Resource Defense Council’s International Program. “Tax records from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund indicate that it sent $1.25 million to Michael Marx’s organization, Corporate Ethics International, between December 2007 and November 2010,” explained the right-wing website, The Daily Caller, in a February 2012 investigation.

Rockefeller Brothers Fund, it should also be recalled, is the key patron of Bill McKibbens 350.org (of Standard Oil fame), which explains 350.org’s role in leading the Tar Sands Action.

What’s obvious here is that the Tar Sands Action was the climax of the years-long elite-funded Green NGO campaign to stop the Keystone XL. But why all the money invested to stop one measly pipeline anyway?

Unpacking the Tar Sands Action: Reviving “Brand Obama” 

Never mentioned in the Tar Sands Campaign/Tar Sands Action conversation by the likes of Bill McKibben and Friends, of course, was the fact that Obama had already approved a key tar sands pipeline in August 2009: Enbridges Alberta Clipper Pipeline. The Alberta Clipper moves tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada southeastward to Superior, WI at a rate of 450,000 barrels per day, where it is taken to the Murphy Oil refinery, then piped to various key markets. To borrow former Vice President and now “climate hawk” Al Gore’s documentary title, this is “an inconvenient truth,” to be certain.

Given the completely disastrous environmental track record of the President with an AllTheAboveenergy policy during his first term, ranging from boisterous approval of offshore oil drilling, Arctic drilling, shale gas drilling (“fracking”)support forclean coal development,” support for nuclear energy, you name it, the Tar Sands Action, it is clear for those willing to look, was a beyond desperate effort by Obama’s key patrons, funneling money to green NGOs vis-a-vis the Tides Foundation, to manufacture a green “victory” prior to the 2012 election to sell to his “voting base.”

It is really no wonder then, that Obama imagery and language reigned supreme for the Action. Examples:

?      In the June 2011 “call to actionfor the Tar Sands Action, McKibben and Friends wrote a letter requesting that actionists wear their Obama 2008 “Hope and Change” memorabilia to the front lines: “And another sartorial tip—if you wore an Obama button during the 2008 campaign, why not wear it again? We very much still want to believe in the promise of that young Senator who told us that with his election the ‘rise of the oceans would begin to slow and the planet start to heal.’”

?      NoKXLsigns featuring the ObamaOlogo from the his 2008 presidential campaign.

?      The trademarking of the “Yes We CanStop the Pipeline” chant, a throwback to the ridiculous ObamaYes We Canspeech he made in January 2008 in the aftermath of the New Hampshire primary second place finish, and the creepy chant it inspired in the run-up to his 2008 electoral victory over John McCain.

?      Scores of references to “exciting the green voting base” and “not alienating volunteers,” including asking Obama to “live up to his 2008 campaign promises.”

?      A peeved Ralph Nader described his experience at one of the days of the Action: “Observers told me that there were to be no criticisms of Barack Obama. McKibben wore an Obama pin on the stage. Obama t-shirts were seen out in the crowd.”

?      Most obvious, perhaps, was the Nov. 6, 2011 “make anOchain around the White Houseevent called for by the Tar Sands Action, symbolizing an “O” for Obama.

In the Sept. 3, 2011 Tar Sands Action “movement being born” statement, McKibben went so far to say, “We are not going to do President Obama the favor of attacking him. We are going to hold the Obama campaign to the standard it set in 2008. Denying this pipeline would send a jolt of electricity through the people that elected this president.”

English translation: The Tar Sands Action was nothing more than an astroturf movement and pawn of the elite Tides Foundation Democratic Party allied funders. It served merely as an attempt to reinvigorate his “voting base” that fell in love with what author Chris Hedges refers to as “Brand Obama” in 2008.

“Brand Obama offers us an image that appears radically individualistic and new. It inoculates us from seeing that the old engines of corporate power and the vast military-industrial complex continue to plunder the country,” explains Hedges. “Corporations, which control our politics, no longer produce products that are essentially different, but brands that are different. Brand Obama does not threaten the core of the corporate state any more than did Brand George W. Bush.”

The “Victory” Dance Charade 

On multiple occasions, the Tar Sands Action/Tar Sands Campaign and its supporters have danced thevictorydance, proclaiming a big win for the climate justice movement.

“Um, we won. You won,” stated McKibben on November 10 after the Obama Administration kicked the can down the road on the Keystone XL Pipeline decision until after the 2012 electoral campaign. “It’s important to understand how unlikely this victory is. Six months ago, almost no one outside the pipeline route even knew about Keystone,” he continued. “The American people spoke loudly about climate change and the president responded. There have been few even partial victories about global warming in recent years so that makes this an important day.”

Nearly 10,000 people shared the euphoric (and propagandistic) statement by McKibben on Facebook.

“In case you haven’t heard the thunderous celebration by the North American climate movement, today the State Dept is set to outright reject the Keystone XL pipeline. #booyah,” stated  350.org organizer Joshua Kahn Russell. “This is a reminder that people power works. Direct Action works. Social movements work. Grassroots organizing works. Lets take some time today to celebrate another huge victory. Every time we win, it builds our resolve for the next fight.”

Even principled radicals were elated and drank the kool-aid on this one. This includes the likes of the website Waging Nonviolence, the socialist group Solidarity, and author Naomi Klein.

The victory dance, of course, rings hollow for the indigenous communities suffering who live in Alberta close to tar sands extraction sites, for the suffering communities where tar sands pipelines and refineries are already a daily reality; for citizens who live in North Dakota where, due to lack of pipeline infrastructure, fracked oil and gas is being flared ofat unprecedented rates; and generally speaking, for those who understand full well how expansive the tar sands industry already is in North America. As Mother Jones made clear in a great January 2012 article, there’s no hiding fromthe tar sands oil at this point in time in this continent.

Another inconvenient truth: the tar sands oil will be transported with or without the Keystone XL.

This is due to the fact that one of President Obama’s most loyal billionaire patrons, Warren Buffett (one of the richest men on the planet), owner of the holding company Berkshire Hathaway, owns the railroad company BNSF via Berkshire. BNSF, in turn, has the capacity and will to rail more barrels of tar sands crude per day to the U.S. than does the Keystone XL, according to a January report written by DeSmogBlog.

Meanwhile, the oil continues to flow to coastal Texas anyway, with a lateMarch rubber stamp by the Obama Administration of the TransCanada Cushing Extension.

Tar Sands Action and Manufactured Dissent 

John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, in their book “Toxic Sludge is Book For You: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry” have a key chapter titled “Divide and Conquer,” which explains how well-paid and well-trained PR professional work overtime, applying the classic tools of counterinsurgency (think “winning hearts and minds”) to destroy radical grassroots activist movements.

They explained:

“The public relations industry . . . carefully cultivates activists who can be coopted into working against the goals of their movement. This strategy has been outlined in detail by Ronald Duchin, senior vice-president of PR spy firm Mongoven, Biscoe and Duchin [MBD]. . . In a 1991 speech to the National Cattlemen’s Association, he described how MBD works to divide and conquer activist movements. Activists, he explained, fall into four distinct categories: ‘radicals,’ ‘opportunists,’ ‘idealists,’ and ‘realists,.’ He outlined a three-step strategy: (1) isolate the radicals; (2) ‘cultivate’ the idealists and ‘educate’ them into becoming realists; then (3) coopt the realists into agreeing with industry.

According to Duchin, radical activists ‘want to change the system; have underlying socio/political motives’ and see multinational corporations as ‘inherently evil. . . These organizations do not trust the . . . federal state and local governments to protect them and to safeguard the environment. They believe, rather, that individuals and local groups should have direct power over industry. . .

Duchin defines opportunists as people who engage in activism seeking ‘visibility, power, followers and, perhaps, even employment. . .The key to dealing with opportunists is to provide them with at least the perception of partial victory. . . If your industry can successfully bring about these relationships, the credibility of the radicals will be lost and opportunists can be counted on to share in the final policy solution.’”

Put in the context of the Keystone XL Pipeline, the “radicals” have long been isolated and were boxed out of having a voice at Keystone XL rallies. Ralph Nader, as one example, was denied a chance to speak and wrote publicly about the shenanigans surrounding that particular decision.

The “idealists” here were the rank-and-file day-to-day worker-bees writing press releases and doing social media work for 350.org and Friends who became True Believers in the mission, as well as the 1,000+ arrestees, many of whom ironically probably flew to Washington, DC to get arrested on planes fueled by tar sands crude.

The “realists”? Those who soon realized President Obama is a puppet of the oil and gas industry and will simply lie and cajole Obama into winning a second term and four more years cutting deals for multinational corporations at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

He is such a puppet, in fact, that one of the senior advisors of his campaign team, Broderick Johnson (husband of NPRsAll Things Consideredhost Michelle Norris), was formerly a lobbyist for Bryan Cave LLP and was contracted by TransCanada to lobby the Obama Administration on the Keystone XL pipeline. In addition, the Administration’s State Department team assigned to approve or disapprove of the pipeline was — surprise, surprise — stacked to the brim with revolving door ties to TransCanada, in a situation DeSmogBlog described well, calling it “State Department Oil Services.”

Exhibit A of “realist” behavior: the behavior of the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action, and Environment America, who, in completely predictable fashion, have already endorsed Obama for President in 2012 despite his completely atrocious environmental record.

“The Sierra Club and our 1.4 million members and supporters share the same vision for America as the president for a prosperous and innovative economy that protects the air we breathe, the water we drink and the health of our families,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a statement to The Hill that could have come straight out of The Onion.

Coming full circle, 350.org and Democratic Party allied Friends have now re-charged their email lists for the upcoming election, having gained thousands upon thousands of new people to spread their message to and convert into clicktivists who will hopefully contribute money to the ObamaIm In” 2012 Presidential campaign, ecological landscape be damned.

“Civil Obedience” 

Activist John Stauber, author of the aforementioned “Toxic Sludge is Good for You,” weighed in on the manner, telling The Insider,

“Martin Luther King must be turning in his grave.  The much-hyped victory for civil disobedience at the White House claimed by 350.org last November is a mirage. Rather than civil disobedience, it looks now like civil obedience, pursuing the goal that President Obama smell like an Earth Day rose for his heroic stand against the XL Pipeline. The commentators in the mainstream corporate media never bought the progressive liberal hype flooding the blogosphere and media from Democracy Now! to The Nation. The crusty corporate media observers knew at the time that Obama was simply signaling that in 2013 he would be approving XL. Connecting the dots, as 350.org likes to say, it’s clear that the XL victory was a setup of epic proportions.”

Stauber continued,

“The truth is that real non-violent civil disobedience is a powerful strategy and tactic in the hands of a genuine, transparent movement of grassroots organizers. But both 350.org and its cousin The 99 Spring are driven by invisible funders with their own financial and political agenda who supply the money to do the organizing.

The jig’s up, says Stauber, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost.

“I would love to see the real people who have bought the hype and taken these civil disobedience trainings, and who have gone through the arrests, rise up and seize control of their own movement.”

Genuine movements come from the grassroots, not the invisible patronage of millionaires and billionaires. As the old adage goes, “You live and you learn.”

The Insider is the pseudonym of an activist who works inside the Liberal Foundation-Funded Democratic Party-Allied Belly of the Beast.

Keystone XL Theatre | Why did Obama Choose NRDC Founder John Bryson as his Commerce Secretary?

Keystone XL Theatre | Why did Obama Choose NRDC Founder John Bryson as his Commerce Secretary?

Published January 26, 2012 by Political Context

By Cory Morningstar

Frances Beinecke, president of NRDC, on the nomination of NRDC founder John Bryson by President Barack Obama: “As one of the founders of NRDC, John Bryson is a visionary leader in promoting a clean environment and a strong economy. He has compiled an exemplary record in public service and in business that underscores the strong linkage between economic and environmental progress.”

“The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.” – David Rockefeller, the current patriarch of the Rockefeller family

As 350.org/1Sky/Tar Sands Action Coalition continue to fill the self-proclaimed “progressive media” airwaves with self-congratulatory articles of strategic grassroots efforts and so-called victories, many are aware of the fact that a key player collaborating with the “Tar Sands Action” coalition is the NRDC (Natural Resources Defence Council). Forgetting for a moment the beginnings and correlation between 350.org/1Sky, the Rockefellers, the Clintons and big business, what other ties to the very industry and administration could these “environmental groups” such as NRDC behold? One such revelation known to few is the fact that NRDC’s John Bryson was confirmed as Barack Obama‘s Commerce Secretary on 20 October 2011. Who nominated Bryson to fill this position? President Barack Obama himself nominated Bryson as Secretary of Commerce on 31 May 2011. Obama’s nomination was endorsed by key corporate players including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Bryson co-founded NRDC in 1970 by way of a $400,000 grant, courtesy of the Ford Foundation. Bryson has served on the United Nations Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on Energy and Climate Change alongside other elite associates of powerful corporations such as Tata (India) and ESKOM Holdings (South Africa). (And as Rio+20 will prove, the United Nations has become as corrupt an institution as the nations that control it; an instrumental tool for serving the world’s powerful oligarchy. It is nothing less than a Greek Tragedy that it has taken 20 years to figure this out – a further tragedy being that we citizens still delude ourselves that we can influence these negotiations, in any meaningful way. We cling to denial, our fingers blue, eyes wide shut. [1])

When Will Environmentalists Ever Wake Up? The Great Pipeline Scam

When Will Environmentalists Ever Wake Up? The Great Pipeline Scam

January 19, 2012

counterpunch

by MICHAEL LEONARDI

In another ridiculous moment of political trickery, Obama managed to dupe a major chunk of the American environmental movement yesterday by refusing to authorize the construction of the Keystone Pipeline now. The keyword in that sentence which seems like it is being largely ignored by the enviros is now, because what Obama did do is leave open the possibility of authorizing the construction of a pipeline any time in the future, say just after the election? And not that it matters much, as pipeline or not Tar Sands are already being refined all across the United States in increasing amounts. This great victory being celebrated by 350.org, Bill Mckibben and the no carbon crusaders out there is a complete farce to manipulate voters as we head into the latest corporate sponsored election.

Little Scraps of Humanity | The Keystone XL “Victory”

Little Scraps of Humanity

By Press Action

January 18, 2012

“I have a question for you. How do you do it? How do you come into offices like this and squabble with people like me over a few extra inches? How is that you can sit there in your politeness and your grace and basically ask people for nothing? How do you do it? How do you beg for little scraps of humanity?” – Fast-food executive Richard Cranehill, grilling an animal welfare group representative in the film Bold Native.

The Sierra Club is running a “high-saturation” television advertising campaign in major media markets in Ohio, thanking President Barack Obama for protecting Americans from toxic pollution.

Some political observers wondered whether Obama would lose the support of Big Green groups, given his penchant for appeasing business interests at the expense of the environment. But most astute analysts understood that the mainstream enviros would always come back to Obama, no matter how bad his policies were for the environment.

Indeed, the Sierra Club’s advertising campaign indicates Obama’s reelection bid is on a fast track toward receiving the group’s endorsement. Given how Ohio is expected to be a proverbial swing state in this fall’s presidential election, one could argue that the Sierra Club is already campaigning for Obama through this advertising blitz. And once Mitt Romney or another candidate essentially clinches the Republican nomination, the other Big Green groups will follow suit with their own endorsements of Obama, followed by the launch of a campaign of scare tactics against the Republican nominee.

“STOP THE MACHINE” OR HOW TO DEMORALIZE A MOVEMENT

About the author: John Murphy was the independent candidate for House of Representatives in the 16th Congressional District of Pennsylvania in 2006 and 2008. He is one of the founding members of the Pennsylvanian Ballot Access Coalition , working to change ballot access laws in Pennsylvania.

“The protest planned by “Stop the Machine” will do more to harm the progressive movement than advance it. The organizers have misunderstood the messages of Gandhi and King. They are trying to make resistance harmless and turn it into a circus sideshow. Both violent and nonviolent tactics are necessary to end the corporate ownership of our government.”

“STOP THE MACHINE” OR HOW TO DEMORALIZE A MOVEMENT

John A. Murphy

04.10.2011

Members of the liberal intelligentsia, the liberal elite, are often heard to say things like “violence begets violence” or “if you use violence against exploiters, you become like the exploiter”. Where they got such notions no one seems to know. They probably picked them up on sale at the same place where they got the ideas that the nonviolent antiwar demonstrations of the 60s and 70s had something to do with ending the Vietnam War or that the nonviolent demonstrations of Martin Luther King resulted in the civil rights legislation of the 60s. The same superstore of revised history also sells an interesting yarn about how the nonviolent demonstrations of Mohandas Gandhi brought about Indian independence. In any event the members of the liberal intelligentsia are the people who have “organized” the “Stop the Machine” demonstration and sleepover scheduled for Washington DC in October.

It is difficult to imagine how it could be said that a woman who blows out the brains of a man who is attempting to rape her is begetting more violence. If someone kicks an IDF soldier in the groin and disarms him, preventing him from murdering a Palestinian family, it is hard to imagine how it could be said that this violence has begotten more violence. Violence, of course, can beget many things. Violence, for example can beget slavery and submission as when a master beats a slave. Some slaves will ultimately fight back, in which case nonviolence will indeed beget more violence; but some slaves will submit the rest of their lives. Some will even create a religion or spirituality that attempts to make a virtue of their submission. Some will write and others repeat that their freedom must not come at the expense of others. Some will speak of the need to love their oppressors. As the Wall Street capitalists have shown us, violence can beget material wealth. Violence can beget a cessation of violence when someone fights off or kills an assailant. But to suggest that violence begets violence as a general rule is clearly absurd. [6]

Equally absurd is the notion that “if you use violence against exploiters, you become like they are”. There is nothing in the real world that lends any credence at all to such a notion but that generally does not stop the people who have taken nonviolence and turned it into the religious cult of anti-violence. Their flawed assertion is based on the equally flawed notion that all violence is the same. Again, it would be obscene to suggest that a woman who kills a man attempting to rape her becomes like a rapist. It is obscene to suggest that the Jews who fought back against their exterminators at Auschwitz and Treblinka became like the Nazis. [6]

The leaders of events like “Stop the Machine” also tell us that violence never accomplishes anything. The tens of millions of Africans killed in the slave trade would be surprised to learn that slavery is not the result of widespread violence. The millions of prisoners stuck in gulags here in the United States and elsewhere would be astounded to discover that they can walk away any time they want, that they are not held in place by violence. Working people have not handed over their wealth because they enjoy being impoverished. Women do not submit to rape just for the hell of it but because of the use or threat of violence. One reason why violence is used so often by those in power is because it works. It works very, very well. Violence, however, can work for liberation as well as for subjugation.

EXPOSING THE GANDHI-KING MYTH

The same people who preach the false gospel that “violence begets violence” tell us that the anti-Vietnam war protests of the 1960s and 1970s ended, or helped to end the war on the people of Southeast Asia. A simple trip into history reveals something quite a bit different. Four students were murdered in 1970 at Kent state University by the National Guard. After that incident the antiwar movement was gutted and slowed dramatically. In 1973 president Nixon ended the draft and with the same stroke of the pen ended what little remained of the antiwar movement but the war continued on for another two years. The Vietnam War came to an end because of superior violence used by the North Vietnamese regular Army against the United States Army. The United States was militarily defeated and that is why the Vietnam War ended.

Martin Luther King was a wonderful man who did much to call the nation’s attention to the Jim Crow laws and to have them abolished. His nonviolent demonstrations however had nothing to do with the policy changes, the civil rights legislation, of the 1960s. Those changes came about due to the violence in the streets by young African-Americans primarily the Panthers in the North and the Deacons in the South. But there was no way that the United States Congress would deal with people like Stokely Carmichael or H Rap Brown so they canonized Dr. King has the champion of civil rights. Even his campus supporters, originally called the “Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee” knew that nonviolence would not achieve their ends so they changed their name to the “Student National Coordinating Committee”. Ralph Abernathy was sure to appear in Congress to take advantage of the most recent street violence. In that way, Martin Luther King can be said to have contributed to the civil rights legislation but certainly not his nonviolent demonstrations. [5]

Similarly, in India, the nonviolent demonstrations of Gandhi came at the end of a 100 year period of violent revolution. Even while Gandhi himself was leading nonviolent demonstrations, other revolutionaries were destroying the infrastructure in India. Great Britain was burdened by the cost of two world wars and simply was no longer able to deal with the destruction caused by the violence of the revolutionaries. Just as the United States used Martin Luther King, so also did Great Britain make use of Gandhi. The British press turned Gandhi into a saint but nonviolent demonstrations only caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Hindus and Muslims since he was added to the committee which ultimately determined the nature of Indian independence.

Nonviolence has never brought about any kind of significant policy change in the United States or anywhere else. There are even members of the liberal elite who will claim that it was the nonviolent boycotting of South Africa which ended, apartheid forgetting all about the violence of the ANC and in particular of Nelson Mandela, who was called a terrorist by the British and is now called a hero and patriot.

Given that nonviolent protests, in and of themselves, have never produced major policy changes, why will all of the big names in the liberal elite, from the ridiculous to the sublime, from Medea Benjamin to Bill Moyer, be attending the “Stop the Machine” charade on October 6 in DC? The answer is disturbingly simple. On the one hand most of these people have actually bought into the revised history of nonviolent demonstrations and secondly, with no intended cynicism, these folks simply miss the real feel-good experience they have gotten from previous outings in Washington. The junket planned by “Stop the Machine” promises to be a particularly superlative feel-good experience featuring not only a carnival atmosphere, complete with an exhibition of real live unemployed people, but with all the warmth and sense of false community created by a sleepover motif.

A FORMULA FOR FAILURE:
CREATING THE CULT OF ANTI-VIOLENCE

There is a formula for this type of spectacle. First there will be the usual concert and then the congregation will be assembled in orderly fashion, listening to a cast of speakers calling for an end to this or that while condemning some lethal government action. They will be carrying signs “demanding” the same thing. The singers will be enunciating, lyrically, the worthiness of the demonstrators’ agenda as well as the plight of the various victims they are here to “defend” and – typically – the whole thing is quietly disbanded with exhortations to the assembly to “keep working” on the matter and to please sign a petition and/or write letters to Congress people requesting that they alter their offending actions. [6]

The “Stop the World” jamboree not only promises to follow this formula but has gone to extreme limits to turn this into a fundamentalist religious service in honor of the deity of anti-violence. Yes, they have taken the simple tactic of nonviolence and turned it into the cult of anti-violence! The “Stop the Machine” website is downright frightening; it might have passed for a bit of fiction from George Orwell. Not only are these people suggesting that this demonstration be nonviolent, the attendees are required to take an oath to that effect! [1]

But that is only the beginning! To ensure that no one breaks the anti-violent rules of the “organizers” there will be special marshals carrying “peace cameras” [2] and attendees are encouraged to bring their own cameras with them so that they can snitch on their fellow demonstrators who might break away from the orthodox fundamentalism of this perversion of resistance. Those who dare depart from this orthodoxy are of course branded “agent provocateurs” [2]. Yet that is not the end of the nightmare. There is a request that members of the congregation undergo “nonviolence training” while all have been assured that the entire carnival has been choreographed with the police. This is serious. This stuff is right out of the “How to Build a Cult and Recruit Members” handbook.

MAKING RESISTANCE HARMLESS

The whole atmosphere of “Stop the Machine” is shrouded in a kind of magical thinking which has given rise to propositions such as:
• Thou shalt turn thy “anger at injustice into a positive, non-violent force”.
• Thou shalt “embrace an attitude, as conveyed through [thy] words, symbols and actions, of openness, friendliness, and respect toward all people encountered, including police officers and military personnel”.
• Thou shalt “agree to be obedient to the organizers” of the action or be cast into exterior darkness. [3] Of course there will be:
• No destruction or vandalism of non-sentient objects; • No running or other “threatening” motions; • No insulting or swearing; • No verbal or physical assaults on those who oppose or disagree with us (i.e., police) “even if they assault us.” [3]

Getting arrested is all part of the act – the brass ring, so to speak. The police have told the demonstrators precisely which laws they can break and the folks taking place in this modern day revival meeting have been told that everyone will get a warning prior to being arrested so that everyone knows what to do, on cue. Just as the people who participated in the Keystone pipeline demonstration a few weeks ago were given the opportunity to have their pictures taken with their respective arresting police officers,[4] the same photo ops will be given, free of charge, to the folks in the “Stop the Machine” entourage.

When the nonviolent offenders are taken giddily off to the hoosegow, there will be attorneys there to represent them and make sure they are properly charged; there will be other people to provide food; other people to provide any bail necessary and people who have been designated to provide transportation for those happy campers who have nonviolently chained themselves to the White House and paid the unspeakable price of being arrested for disorderly conduct. This should prove to be a real feel-good experience for the attendees and the vicarious who will watch at home on Democracy Now.

“STOP THE MACHINE” COLLUDES WITH THE CORPORATE OWNED GOVERNMENT

What makes this demonstration so dangerous is not just its mystical believe in the power of nonviolence but that the organizers have even restricted their concrete, nonviolent activities to limits sanctioned by the state (the police). This identifies the protesters as endeavoring to displace resistance with opposition thereby turning the left into nothing more than a variant of “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition”. This attempt at disarming the left, while attempting to pacify resistance, is the goal of the very system which “Stop the Machine” purports to be “resisting” and puts them in direct collusion with that system.

How did such an incredible state of affairs come to be? How is it that a demonstration will take place in Washington which has no measurable, hence achievable goals, no strategy, no direction, no vision, no mission and no discernible leadership? Did somebody deliberately start out by saying, in the fashion of the old Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movies, “hey kids let’s put on a show”? Did they deliberately start out to put together an event which does literally everything wrong?

Even the very place itself is wrong! One of the statements the group makes is that it plans to “kick off a powerful and sustained nonviolent resistance to the corporate criminals that dominate our government”. If they are out to “resist” the “corporate criminals”, what are they doing in Washington? Why are they not on Wall Street? Washington, the government, is simply the collective hit man for the top 1,500 multinational corporations. If the corporate criminals are to be symbolically resisted by a protest in Washington, one might expect that the demonstration would at least take place on K Street.

A quick look at the qualifications of the organizers gives a clear indication as to how this pre-Halloween party has materialized in such a puerile fashion. Here is a list of qualifications, taken from the resumes of the “Stop the Machine” “organizers”:

• long-time community organizer and peace and justice activist • a full-time peace and justice activist who serves on national boards or committees • She dreams of a world where war is no more, • 30-plus years of activism • organized and participated in protests for health care, peace and economic justice • a longtime antiwar and social justice activist • anti-war advocate since being chased off the campus of Cal State Northridge, California in 1968 • proud member of Healthcare-NOW!
• Full time organizer and activist for 11 years.
• a proud loudmouthed feminist and rabble-rouser • a recovering attorney and full-time, rogue peace and justice activist • a licensed addictions and domestic violence counselor • more than 30 years’ experience of writing, speaking and advocacy across a broad range of issues around peace, justice and democracy[8]

Not one MBA in the group! In fact, if the organizers had been told that they should have an MBA or two on their planning committee, they probably would have objected to such a notion since, after all, MBAs work in the business world! Conflating the business world with the corporate dominance of government is a common mistake made by people employed in public service or who have spent their lives as mushroom covered “activists”! MBAs are trained in strategic planning and, just like everyone else in American society, they run the gamut from devotees of Ayn Rand to a variety of anti-capitalists and Marxists. In any event, with qualifications like the “organizers” boast, it is no wonder why “Stop the Machine” has no goals, no direction, no purpose, no leadership, no vision, no mission and no discernible leadership!

“Do your symbolic duty” the organizers tell the feel-good group of nonviolent revelers, “then you can devote yourself to the prefiguration of the revolutionary future society which you think will replace the present social order, having persuaded the multinational corporations to voluntarily abandon their control of our government through the sheer moral force of your arguments”. The participants in this demonstration, which is barely even the husk of opposition, are every bit as guilty of global violence as are the perpetrators themselves.

PACIFYING RESISTANCE

The purveyors of nonviolence always promise that the harsh realities of state power can be transcended by way of good feelings and purity of purpose rather than by the necessary violence required for self-defense. These anti-violent fundamentalists, with all the force of the medieval alchemists, tell us that the negativity of the modern corporate owned government will atrophy through defection and neglect once there is a sufficiently positive social vision to take its place.

Violence is neither morally good nor bad; it is simply a tactic. It is a most useful tactic when employed for purposes of self-defense and following the same criteria as set down for the conduct of just wars.[7] The multinational corporations which are controlling our government not only want the liberty of the American people but their lives as well. They would see to it that Americans have the lowest paid jobs possible, that that have no healthcare other than that which they can purchase, that they would have no free public education. In short they would foreclose on lives as well as houses. Those who do not see the threat posed by these multinational corporations as mortal and deserving of the most efficient and effective means of opposition must be living in an alternate universe or have deeply imbibed of the anti-violent fundamentalists’ Kool-Aid served up by people like the “Stop the Machine” “organizers” .

The “Stop the Machine” demonstration will have a major demoralizing effect on those in the left who are serious about resisting corporate fascism. It is reasonable that they will see this demonstration as just another symbolic gesture in a long line of failed nonviolent demonstrations stretching back nearly a half-century. False hopes combined with naïve ideas are the parents not only of demoralization and frustration but of resignation. The best possible outcome for this misadventure would be that it receives little or no press and that it is forgotten as quickly as possible so that others might model future resistance efforts on those exhibited by American trade unions in the early 20th century.

THE INEFFECTIVENESS OF NONVIOLENT OPPOSITION

The thought of nonviolent opposition to our corporate owned government is as ludicrous as nonviolent opposition to National Socialism itself. One of the smartest things the Nazis did was make it so that every step of the way it was in the Jews’ rational best interest not to violently resist. Many Jews had the hope – and this hope was cultivated by the Nazis – that if they played along, followed the rules laid down by those in power, that their lives would get no worse, that they would not be murdered.[6] They were even told by their own leaders not to violently resist getting an ID card or they might get killed; don’t violently resist the Nuremberg Laws or they might get killed; don’t violently resist getting into a cattle car or say might get killed; don’t violently resist getting into the showers or they might get killed.

There is something important to remember however, the Jews who participated in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, including those who went on what they thought were suicide missions, had a higher rate of survival than those went nonviolently into the showers. Never forget that. The obligation of those who resist the corporate ownership of our government is not to be personally pure. “The obligation is to affect measurable change.” [6]

There will never be a group of nonviolent demonstrators who will force American corporations to give up their control of government by the sheer force of their moral argument.

Imagine that Ted Bundy is still alive and it is 1976 again. It would be difficult to comprehend that someone would seriously believe that they could sit down with Ted Bundy and talk him out of committing his gruesome murders and unspeakable obscenities. Again, imagine that the suave, urbane, erudite fictional character, Hannibal Lecter, could be real for a little while. Once more it would be difficult to comprehend that someone would seriously believe that they could talk some sense into Dr. Lecter. A few minutes into the conversation the good doctor would have already ordered the fava beans and Chianti and the anti-violence fundamentalist would be on the menu.

WHAT MUST BE DONE

What should a real resistance movement do to end the corporate control of our government which spreads war and misery on a global scale, sacrifices the economic well-being of its own people to that of corporate greed while eroding its citizens’ civil liberties? Would it organize nonviolent demonstrations? Would its members put together strongly worded protest signs? Would they write letters to the editor? Would they sign thousands of petitions to the President and the Congress? Would they vote for the lesser of two war criminals?

The type of action required is what is usually called guerrilla warfare or urban guerrilla warfare. This would entail organizing groups consisting of no more than 12 to 15 people. Appropriate targets would be identified; participants would do what is required and disappear into the night. While this type of political violence is called “terrorism” by the government, it must be understood that one person’s terrorist is another person’s patriot. Nelson Mandela comes to mind immediately. What is definitely not required is an attempt to attack the police or the military or even the CEOs and major stockholders of the top 1,500 corporations. The attack would be on the corporate property and so-called private property of those people.

Corporations make their major policy decisions taking into consideration a cost-benefit analysis performed on those policies. As long as it is cost-effective for corporations to own our government, they will continue to do so. The only way that corporations would relinquish their ownership of government would be when the cost of ownership becomes too high. It is the job of a resistance movement to change the balance of that ratio; to increase the cost by massive destruction of property. Unfortunately, the “Stop the Machine” organizers are more interested in discovering what kind of politics in which they can engage that will both allow them to posture as progressives and allow them to avoid incurring harm to themselves.

How long would Caterpillar continue selling their equipment to Israel so it can be used to destroy Palestinian homes once a resistance movement starts blowing up their machinery or some of their manufacturing plants?

How long would take corporate America to get the message if there were massive violent attacks against the corporate property and so-called personal property of the senior managers and major stockholders of the top 1500 US corporations?

*****
John Murphy was the independent candidate for House of Representatives in the 16th Congressional District of Pennsylvania in 2006 and 2008. He is one of the founding members of the Pennsylvanian Ballot Access Coalition , working to change ballot access laws in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at: johnamurphy.

[1] Stop the Machine! Create a New World!
http://october2011.org/statement
[2] Facebook Statement about Provocateurs http://october2011.org/blogs/margaret-flowers/facebook-statement-about-provocateurs

[3] Non-violence Guidelines and Principles http://october2011.org/pages/non-violence-guidelines-and-principles

[4] Daryl Hannah Arrested At Keystone XL Pipeline Protest http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/30/daryl-hannah-arrested-keystone-protest_n_942072.html

[5] Nonviolence: Its Histories and Myths Professor Michael Neumann, http://tamilnation.co/ideology/neuman_on_non_violence.htm

[6] Pacifism as Pathology
Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America Ward Churchill Introduction by Derrick Jensen AK Press,
2007

[7] Can Terrorism be Justified?
Tomis Kapitan
April 28, 2007
http://www.niu.edu/phil/~kapitan/pdf/CanTerrorismbeJustified.pdf

[8] “Stop the Machine”: About Us
http://october2011.org/about

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement [PART III OF AN INVESTIGATIVE REPORT] [Unravelling the Deception of a False Movement]

Published September 23, 2011 by Political Context: http://bit.ly/n8KiGL and Canadians for Action on Climate Change: http://bit.ly/qYogFD

Part three of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part I Part II  [Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”] Part III [ Unravelling the Deception of a False Movement]

 

 

 “The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim” – Gustave Le Bon, 1895

In 2007 Pembina Institute submitted their infamous tar sands Carbon Neutral by 2020 report to the federal government for hearings on energy and greenhouse gas emissions regulations. This report is a most valuable asset to industry as it portrays the false illusion that it is possible for the tar sands to become “sustainable”. Further, it is an environmental “leader” making the claim as opposed to industry – a gift to the industrial capitalists. The false solutions used to perpetuate such a myth are clearly defined under the Pembina “key conclusions” such as:Carbon neutrality can be achieved by combining on-site GHG reductions using measures such as energy efficiency and/or fuel switching (to lower carbon fuels), carbon capture and storage, and/or purchasing offsets.” On November 14, 2010, Globe and Mail Business reported that Pembina (while standing as a lead ENGO in Climate Action Network [1]) essentially supports the continuation of the tar sands. In the article, Jennifer Grant, oil sands program director with the Pembina Institute, was quoted as saying: “The government needs to identify what the environmental limits are in a cumulative sense for oil sands development to proceed responsibly….”

“We can only hope that the last vestiges of manifest destiny don’t kill us off completely. Poisoning our earth in the name of profits and billionaire well-being, this is what our capitalist society stands for. Everyone wants their name at the top of the marquee in this play of the grand delusion.” — Harold One Feather

On February 25, 2010, a Globe and Mail article titled “What the forestry industry is teaching the oil sands” is most revealing. In 1996, Tom Stephens was named chief executive officer of MacMillan Bloedel Corporation, whose clearcutting of old-growth forests had provoked rage, as well as the single-largest act of civil disobedience in Canadian history at Clayoquot Sound in B.C. Caught up in a public relations nightmare, MacMillan Bloedel had the insight that it would be far wiser to engage with specific leaders: “Rather than continuing to fight the protesters, they decided to engage with them, setting in motion a transformation of forest practices that not only assuaged opponents, but also led to more profits.” One such young protester who made up the “Women of Clayoquot” was today’s “green capitalist” Tzeporah Berman, who now works for Greenpeace International. (Berman is also an endorser of the Ottawa Tar Sands Action) Janet Annesley, who campaigned for Greenpeace on the Clayoquot Sound issue, is now vice-president of communications for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Today, Stephens finds himself in a new environmental battle: “He is a director of TransCanada Corp., whose pipelines serve the oil sands and whose fortunes ride on their success. He knows the value of an industry confronting its environmental demons.” [Emphasis added]

That’s an understatement.

Video: Paul Watson speaks on Greenpeace (Running Time: 7:20)

Language

 

“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable …” George Orwell

Over the past years the original campaign phrase/message of “shut down the tar sands!” has slowly dissolved into much more passive language and verbal communication such as “there must be no more exploration of the tar sands until it can be done without destroying the environment.” On September 15, 2011 Council of Canadians announced the Canadian version of the tar sands civil obedience action to occur on Parliament Hill, Ottawa on September 26, 2011. The announcement calls for “an end to the destruction caused by the tar sands.”

The end of destruction caused by the tar sands is much different then calling for the shutting down of the tar sands. What constitutes destruction is not the same as ending production.

Further, even if it were possible – to extract tar sands without exploiting the Earth (which it is not), the end result is that the refined fossil fuels are burned. Burning equals CO2. Burning equals pollution.

On August 1, 2011 the following excerpt is taken from an article featured on the Indigenous Environmental Network website (quote originates from Chief Allan Adam of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation):

“Until Alberta makes meaningful efforts to protect land, regulate industry and ensure that First Nations are at the table as full partners to develop solutions to the serious environmental challenges that government and industry are creating, they can count on our opposition to further development within the region.” [emphasis added]

 

Above image: The 2010 Boreal Award was presented to Chief Allan Adam by Boreal Leadership Council member Bob Walker, of Northwest and Ethical Investments. 2009 nominees in attendance included Kimberly-Clark, Suncor Energy Inc. Stephen Harper’s henchman, John Baird was presented with an award in 2008. The 2009 and 2010 gala was sponsored by Nexen, Al-Pac, Domtar and Suncor.

The Inner Workings of Corporate Environmentalism

“Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” – Elizabeth Stanton

From “The Decline of Big Green, Part One Shaky Foundations: Toxic Sources, Tainted Money” by Jeffrey St. Clair:

Philanthropy and its purposes haven’t changed much since Rockefeller millions were dispensed to winch the family name out of the mud, particularly after the Ludlow massacre when Rockefeller minions broke a strike by spraying with oil and then igniting tents filled with women and children.

…Nearly a century later, the environmental movement, supposedly big oil’s implacable foe, found itself on the receiving end of about $50 million a year from three oil conglomerates, operating through front groups politely described as private foundations. [2]

…In 1948 the family set up the Pew Charitable Trust, based in Philadelphia, with an endowment totalling nearly $4 billion in the year 2000. [3] …The utility of buying the loyalty of liberals impressed itself on the family rather late, in the 1980s. But since then they have more than made up for lost time. By the beginning of the second Clinton term, the Pew Charitable Trusts represented one of the largest donors to the environmental movement, with about $250 million a year invested. [4] …Pew rarely went it alone. It preferred to work in coalitions with those other foundations, which meant almost no radical opposition to their cautious environmental policies can get any money. [5]

…But this did not tell the full story of coercion through money. One of the conditions attached to the receipt of Pew grant money was that attention be focused on government actions. Corporate wrongdoers were not to be pursued. With Pew money rolling their way, the environmental opposition became muted, judicious and finally disappeared. As long-time New Mexico environmentalist Sam Hitt put it: “Pew comes into a region like a Death Star, creating organizations that are all hype and no substance, run by those whose primary aim is merely to maintain access to foundation funding.”

Meanwhile, the endowed money held by these trusts was carefully invested in the very corporations that a vigorous environmental movement would be adamantly opposing. An examination of Pew’s portfolio in 1995 revealed that its money was invested in timber firms, mining companies, oil companies, arms manufacturers and chemical companies. The annual yield from these investments far exceeded the dispensations to environmental groups. [6]

…In the crucial Clinton years, Alton Jones [another oil company that funds environmental groups] maintained an endowment of $220 million and in 1994 handed out $15.8 million in grants. [7]

…The last of the three big environmental foundations is the Rockefeller Family Fund. [8] …The Rockefeller Family Fund, in its 1993 IRS filing, held $3.5 million in oil and gas stocks, including Amerada Hess (one of the first companies to drill on Alaska’s North Slope and company convicted of price fixing) … and extensive holdings in the Ten Worst Corporations. [9] …The Rockefeller Family Fund also maintained hefty investments in mining companies, including ASARCO, an outfit with a distinctly noxious environmental rap sheet. Its activities have laid waste to western Montana, easily overwhelming the yelps of the Mineral Policy Center, which conducted a futile campaign against the company, partially funding by the RFF.

The Ross-run fund also invested money in FMC and Freeport-McMoRan, whose worldwide depredations were on the cutting edge not only of ecocide but – in Indonesia – of genocide as well. The Rockefeller Funds’ mineral and chemical companies holdings exceeded a million dollars in 1993.

In that same year, the RFF had a strong position in timber giant Weyerhaeuser, the largest private landowning company in North America. The potential for conflicts of interests endemic to all foundations with the ability to influence federal policy is sharply illustrated here. The Rockefeller Family Fund was one of the lead architects of the foundation-funded campaign to protect ancient forests on federal lands in the Pacific Northwest. Any reduction, actual or prospective, of timber available for logging on public lands drives up the value of privately-held timber tracts. The Fund was in a position to make a killing by buying Weyerhaeuser stock low and selling it high, before large-scale logging resumed on public lands.

The Family Fund was nicely covered because it also had holdings of $237,000 in Boise-Cascade, which at the time was the largest purchaser of federal timber sales in the Northwest. Indeed, in 1993 Boise-Cascade bought the rights to log the controversial Sugarloaf tract of 800-year-old Douglas fir trees in southern Oregon’s Siskiyou National Forest, courtesy of a released injunction engineered by a deal between the Clinton administration and environmental groups funded and closely supervised Ross’s organization. Ross also played a key role in the hiring of Democratic Party hack Bob Chlopak (another former Naderite) to oversee the conversion of a tough national grassroots movement to fight Clinton to the death over the permanent protection of old-growth forests into a supine national coalition that swiftly draped itself in the white flag of surrender.

Even after Donald Ross left the Rockefeller Family he continued to stride between two worlds. Ross formed a lobby / PR shop called M + R Strategic Services, where his clients, according to SourceWatch, included both environmental groups (the Nature Conservancy, NRD.C., the National Wildlife Federation and Earth Justice) and environmental foundations (Hewlitt Foundation, Patagonia, Lazar Foundation, and Wilberforce – as well as the Rockefeller Family Fund). He didn’t forget the corporations either. In 2009, Ross became chairman of the board of a defanged Greenpeace.

All of these foundations had their bets nicely covered, both politically and financially. The once unruly grassroots green movement was brought under tight control through annual disbursements of funds, rewarded on the condition that these groups follow the dictates of the funders. At times this meant giving up hard-won legal injunctions. In other instances, it meant refraining from filing politically sensitive lawsuits to stop timber sales or gold mines and muting its public criticism of Democratic politicians.

With court injunctions lifted, there was only one way for environmentalists to confront illegal and ecologically destructive operations: civil disobedience. And that was a tactic the big foundations would never underwrite. Disobey these conditions and a group risked the annual renewal of its funding. Precious few did.”

That is, until now. The web of deceit has grown much more sophisticated.

The Precedent for the Tar Sands Sell-Out Has Already Been Set – Junk Environmentalism

This is nothing new and we’ve seen it before.

It is imperative that citizens and grassroots recognize that many of the big greens behind The Tar Sands Action campaign (including RAN, Greenpeace, and the David Suzuki Foundation) are the same organizations that sold out the Boreal Forest in 2008 and 2010. Not all the groups sold out. There were exceptions. Most recently Greenpeace, WWF, and RAN are all under fire for what Dr. Glen Barry calls The Great Rainforest Heist: The FSC and REDD + conspiracy to log Earth’s last primary forests.

Daniel Kessler, the communications person for Tar Sands Action Group, now works for RAN as their Energy & Finance Communications Manager. RAN played an integral role in the sell-out of the Boreal Forest referred to in the above article. Prior to RAN Kessler worked as Manager of Communications at Greenpeace International. Kessler’s view of an environmental “success” mirrors his belief in the false illusion that green capitalism will save us. Kessler: “For Apple to go green would be a tremendous symbolic move for the green industry.”

Video: The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement (Corporate Environmentalism in a Nutshell) (Running time: 61 seconds) Posted by The Forest Products Association Canada: The Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement – Toronto News Conference highlights, with Avrim Lazar (FPAC) and Richard Brooks (Greenpeace).

Secret Agreement in the Works Between ENGOs and Tar Sands Industry

November 9, 2010: In the article titled “Secret Agreement in the Works Between ENGOs and Tar Sands Industry,” journalist Dru Oja Jay writes:

Will environmentalists continue to allow foundation funding to dictate to the movement? A slew of recent articles have pointed to the likelihood that some foundation-funded environmental groups and the tar sands extraction industry are getting ready to make peace and sign a deal. The precedent, these reports note, has been set with the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement and the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement. What the media coverage doesn’t mention is the actual character of these previous deals, and the unprecedented consolidation of funder influence in the hands of one man that is driving environmental groups toward such an agreement. [10] [11]

…On October 21, John Spears of the Toronto Star interviewed FPAC’s Avrim Lazar, who told Spears of the calls he was fielding from oil company executives curious about the logging companies’ experience finding common ground with environmental groups. Lazar said that an important precursor to an agreement is for both parties to recognize that tar sands operations have an environmental impact, but for environmentalists to ‘stop calling oil sands extraction an abomination that has to be stopped.’

…Oil companies left no doubt about their interest in an agreement. What about their ENGO partners?

They waited until October 23 to express interest. Ross McMillan, CEO of Tides Canada Foundation, wrote a letter to the Financial Post in response to a right wing attack on foundation funding for anti-tar sands work published on October 15.

“At Tides Canada we are working to bridge these two polarized camps,” wrote McMillan, referring to environmentalists and oil companies. McMillan, who was also slated to attend the aborted “fireside chat” [see 9] in April, went on to cite Tides’ role in the 2001 Great Bear Rainforest Agreement, which dealt with a massive area of BC’s central coast. When that agreement was signed, ForestEthics negotiators emerged from secret negotiations with logging companies to announce that they had signed a deal for 20 percent protection. That was less than half of what scientists said was the minimum area that would need to be preserved to avoid damaging biodiversity, and it violated protocol agreements they had signed with local ENGOs and First Nations. None of that mattered to the signatories, who proclaimed themselves victorious.

There are two key differences between agreements signed ten years ago, and those anticipated today.

First, deals have become even more transparently meaningless. Greenpeace and company literally declared that they had ‘saved the Boreal forest’ by signing an agreement that actually makes no net change in the amount of logging. No CBFA signatory can say with a straight face that they have protected an area the size of Germany, though press releases on their site still make that claim. Even the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement completely preserved 20 percent of the vast forest. Though some activists say that ENGOs subsequently turned a blind eye to clearcutting on Vancouver Island, negating even those gains.

Second, and most crucially, funders have consolidated control of funding for anti-tar sands campaigns to an unprecedented extent. Anyone who wants foundation funding (which most ENGOs rely on) for their campaigns has to talk to Corporate Ethics founder Michael Marx. Marx and his coordinators set funding priorities through the “Tar Sands Coalition,” a structure that, according to internal documents, is supposed to remain “invisible to the outside.”

All of the money for the Tar Sands Coalition comes through Tides Canada Foundation. We know little about where it originates, though the bulk of it comes from U.S. mega-foundations like the Pew Charitable Trusts, which outed itself as the architect of the CBFA after giving millions to environmental groups doing Boreal forest work. Other big donors include the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the David & Lucile Packard Foundation.

Together, they have given at least $4.3 million to tar sands campaigns since 2000. Together, they hold vast power to decide the fate of those campaigns.

Control over the vast majority of ENGO funding for tar sands work is firmly in the hands of Michael Marx, on behalf of foundations with a taste for collaborative agreements. Journalists seem willing to print claims about “saving the Boreal forest” or “protecting an area the size of Germany” without seeing any actual agreement. [12]

350.org Quietly Infiltrates Canada

 

3 March 2011, as found on The Pearson College website: “Dear Friends, Something exciting is brewing in Canada right now. 350.org is working with a new political organization called Leadnow, spearheaded by our friend Jamie Biggar, and we wanted you to be on the ground floor of this exciting initiative.”

Jamie Biggar is the co-founder and executive director of leadnow.ca. Biggar is an endorser and likely key organizer of, the Tar Sands Action in Ottawa. Adam Shedletzky is founding director and board representative of LeadNow modeled after MoveOn.org (USA) and GetUp.org.au. Shedletsky was the Canadian coordinator for the 350.org 10/10/10 global work party and a former management consultant. His background/education is global strategy and finance. In 2005 he co-founded It’s Getting Hot In Here (asdiscussed in the article Rockefellers’ 1Sky Unveils the New 350.org | More $ – More Delusion).

In the 2 September 2011 article, 350.org/LeadNow: Leadership or Sabotage?, the author states “Leadnow.ca is yet another unfocused, fuzzy, unprovocative and unimaginative organization dedicated to all the good things liberals crave. They are a perfect fit for our 350.org/1Sky group, detached as they are from political reality and dedicated to distracting and detaching the rest of us from meaningful, forceful action on global warming and the environment.”

Big Oil Funds the “Opposition”

“The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.” – David Rockefeller, current patriarch of the Rockefeller family and only surviving grandchild of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, founder of Standard Oil

Another big green “leading the opposition” to the Keystone expansion is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The largest donors to the NRDC include the Pew Foundation (Sun Oil/Sunoco), the W. Alton Jones Foundation (Citgo), and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (Standard Oil/Exxon Mobil). The Rockefeller family initiated the Environmental Grantmakers’ Association. The British Royals (BP) as well as Prince Bernhard (Shell) and the Rockefellers were principal actors in initiating the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) as well as the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWFN). The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) NGO partners with corporations such as Shell and boasts “corporate green” members such as NRDC. The IUCN has funding of approximately $100 million in 2010 with funding from the private sector increasing considerably. The three largest conservation organizations worldwide – The Nature Conservancy, WWF, and Conservation International combined revenues exceed $2 billion (2007), more than double their revenues in 2000. Of this, the three groups received at least $35 million more from their corporate partnerships in 2010 than in 2003, although their annual reports do not clarify all sources of corporate funding. Nature Conservancy’s president and CEO is former Goldman Sachs Group executive Mark Tercek. Former Nature Conservancy presidentHenry Paulson also made his rounds through the revolving doors of Goldman Sachs. Nature Conservancy board member, Muneer Satter, also originated from Goldman Sachs.

Access and control over the environmental movement ensures the ability of capitalism to shape and control the movement. This is why the corporations initiate and fund NGOs, co-opting militant environmentalism, and diminishing possible dissent. Funding NGOs, via tax-exempt foundations, is a good business investment. As an example, the Packard Foundation currently has approximately one billion dollars invested in the false illusion of successfully drilling methane hydrates.

“350.org: $1,661,440.00. 1Sky: $3,425,549.00. The plutocracy owning and controlling the movement? Priceless.”

Since 2000, U.S. foundations have provided approximately $300 million to Canadian organizations to undertake Canadian conservation initiatives and “reform” of Canadian resource-based industries. At minimum $210 million came from five U.S. foundations: the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. Over $120 million in U.S. foundations’ money was designated to the Great Bear Rainforest Initiative on the coast of British Columbia and the Boreal Forest Initiative.

Since 2002, The Pew Charitable Trusts has spent $44 million on the Boreal Forest Initiative in Canada. Canada’s forests cover some of the planet’s largest deposits of minerals and energy resources. Two of Pew’s grants for the Boreal Forest Initiative are audaciously titled “British Columbia Mining.”

Many U.S. foundations have made grants that explicitly spell out over-reliance on fossil fuels as a matter of national security.

National security is an understatement.

Burn Your Obama Buttons

“The amount of blood thirst in this country is fucking barbaric.” – Nathaniel St. Clair, Counterpunch

 

Like victims of abuse, the liberal Left call upon our abusers for a kinder, gentler, more “ethical” abuse. They stand by and support those who continue to tell us to wear our buttons to demonstrate our unwavering support of, and steadfast belief in, our abusers. They work hard to convince us that we, such moral citizens, can appeal to and thus change the abusers. Such illusion will sentence most all life on Earth to certain death.

In a July 2011 article, McKibben told us: “Bring Your Obama Buttons – Momentum Builds for White House Tar Sands Action.”

From the Bill McKibben article appearing July 10 2011, The Great American Carbon Bomb:

If you want to sign up to be part of it, here’s the place to go … Two weeks ago, for instance, a few veteran environmentalists, myself included, issued a call for protest against Canada’s plans to massively expand oil imports from the tar sands regions of Alberta. We set up a new website, tarsandsaction.org, and judging from the early response, it could result in the largest civil disobedience actions in the climate-change movement’s history on this continent, as hundreds, possibly thousands, of concerned activists converge on the White House in August. They’ll risk arrest to demand something simple and concrete from President Obama: that he refuse to grant a license for Keystone XL, a new pipeline from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico that would vastly increase the flow of tar sands oil through the U.S., ensuring that the exploitation of Alberta’s tar sands will only increase.

Lecture by John Pilger: “Obama Is A Corporate Marketing Creation” (Running Time: 5:28). John Pilger is an Australian journalist and documentary maker. He has twice won Britain’s Journalist of the Year Award, and his documentaries have received awards in Britain and the U.S..

And the Oscar goes to Barack Obama, for his portrayal of an African American president …

And anyone to wear an Obama button in 2011 – as U.S. led occupations escalate, as the bombs fall on the citizens of Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya, while covert wars are underway in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan – and as corporatism eats us alive – must seriously consider hiding their face in shame.

“If you tremble with indignation at every injustice, then you are a comrade of mine.” — Ernesto “Che” Guevara

If we wish to live in a world free of war, exploitation, oppression and ecological devastation, then we must embrace the reality that the global capitalist industrialized economic system – which serves the small ruling class – must be dismantled. There is no other way. And this is the unabated truth that McKibben and his disciples (think Greenpeace, RAN, NRDC, and on and on the list goes) choose to ignore. These groups, funded by the industrial machine itself, believe in the system; therefore they support the atrocities being committed in the name of profit. Ironically, the very groups that bask in the halo of non-violent civil disobedience are the very ones who constitute the authoritarian social relationships that prop up and defend violence.

Grassroots groups have been co-opted, marginalized, drowned out and made essentially irrelevant, if not invisible, by the institutional Left and their funders. Their symbolic campaigns and “efforts” to convey essential information regarding our ecological crisis have succeeded in ensuring that any attempt to convey the truth of the severity of our crisis is framed, thus perceived by the public at large, as “radical” and “fear-mongering.” (Radical is another term co-opted by the Right and now perceived by the public as a negative trait rather than its true meaning; to get to the root of the problem.) Any real movement to prevent the eradication of all life, from what is now aptly termed by scientists as “the sixth mass extinction,” must insist that all decisions be based on real-life circumstances and not on arbitrary ideologies that allow us to remain aloof.

Essential Reading

Essay: Pacifism as Pathology by Ward Churchill; 1984:

Pacifism as Pathology

Revised 2007 Version

How Non-Violence Protects the State by Peter Gelderloos: http://zinelibrary.info/files/How%20Nonviolence%20Protects%20The%20State.pdf

References

[1] The founding of the Climate Action Network (CAN) in 1988 can be traced back to the early players in the ENGO community, including Michael Oppenheimer of the corporate NGO, Environmental Defense Fund. CAN is a global network of over 700 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The stated goal of CAN is to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels. This goal is severely problematic in (at minimum) 2 fundamental ways: 1) There is no such thing as “ecologically sustainable levels” of climate change, and 2) as opposed to states having to respond to approximately 300 groups demanding action on climate change, states instead bask in the comfort of having to deal with only one (that of CAN), which essentially demands little to nothing. CAN has seven regional coordinating offices that coordinate these efforts in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, Europe, Latin America, North America, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Members include organizations from around the globe, including the largest corporate greens such as World Wildlife Fund [WWF], Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth.

[2] through [9] Source: Jeffrey St. Clair is the author of Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature and Grand Theft Pentagon. His newest book, Born Under a Bad Sky, is published by AK Press / CounterPunch books.

[2] According to an analysis of financial reports from the Clinton years, the top givers were the Sun Oil Company (Sunoco) and Oryx Energy, which controlled vast holdings of natural gas in Arkansas and across the oil patch. The Pew family once entirely controlled both Sunoco and Oryx, maintained large holdings in both, and was, in fact, sued for insider trading by Oryx shareholders. Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.

[3] In its early days the foundation (a collection of seven separate trusts) was vociferously rightwing, with money going to the John Birch Society, to Billy Graham. Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.

[4] During Clinton’s time, the Pew environmental sector was headed by Joshua Reichert. Reichert and his subordinates, Tom Wathen and John Gilroy, not only allocated money to individual Pew projects, such as the Endangered Species Coalition, but they also helped direct the donations of other foundations mustered in the Environmental Grantmakers’ Association. Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.

[5] There were some notable foundations that objected to Pew’s leveraged buyouts of environmental campaigns, notably the Levinson, Patagonia, and Turner Foundations. Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.

[6] Take just one of the seven Pew trust funds: the Pew Memorial Trust. This enterprise made $205 million in “investment income” in 1993 from such stocks as Weyerhaeuser ($16 million), the mining concern Phelps-Dodge ($3.7 million), International Paper ($4.56 million), and Atlantic Richfield, which was pushing hard to open even more of the Arctic to oil drilling ($6.1 million). The annual income yield from rape-and-pillage companies accruing to Pew in this single trust was twice as large as its total grants, and six times as large as all of Pew’s environmental dispensations that year (about $20 million in 1993). Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.

[7] Next of the big three in environmental funding was an oil company known as Cities Services, which endowed the W. Alton Jones Foundation, based in Charlottesville, Virginia. (In the merger frenzy of the 1980s, Cities was ultimately taken over by Occidental Petroleum, in a move that saved Ivan Boesky from financial ruin. It was later parceled off to the Southland Corporation, owners of Seven Eleven; then finally, in 1990, it was sold to Petroleos de Venezuela). According to the charity’s charter, the purpose of the foundation was two-fold: preservation of biological diversity and elimination of the threat of nuclear war. Although, Alton Jones doled out about $14 million a year to environmental causes during the Clinton years with the same engulf-and-neuter tactic of Pew, this apostle of peace maintained very large holdings in arms manufacturers, including Martin-Marietta ($3.26 million), Raytheon ($1.32 million), Boeing ($1.38 million), and GE ($1.4 million). Alton Jones’ portfolio was also enhanced by income from bonds floated by Charles Hurwitz’s Scotia-Pacific Holdings Company, a subsidiary of Maxxam, which was at that very moment trying to cut down the Headwaters Grove, the largest patch of privately owned redwoods in the world. The charity’s annual statement to the Internal Revenue Service also disclosed a $1.4 million stake in Louisiana-Pacific, then the large purchaser of timber from publicly-owned federal forests. The company had been convicted of felony violations of federal environmental laws at its pulp mill in Ketchikan, Alaska, where L-P was butchering its way through the Tongass National Forest. At the same time, Alton Jones maintained a position (just under $1 million in stock) in FMC, the big gold mining enterprise, whose dousing of endangered salmon habitat in Idaho with cyanide at the Beartrack Mine was greased by Clinton’s Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Picking up revenue from FMC’s salmon destruction with one hand, in 1993 the foundation gave about $600,000 with the other hand to supposedly protect salmon habitat in the same area. The grants went to the compliant and docile groups in the region, such as the Pacific Rivers Council. At a crucial moment in January 1994, Pacific Rivers Council and the Wilderness Society – another recipient of W. Alton Jones cash – demanded that a federal judge suspend an injunction the groups had – to their great alarm – just won. The injunction had shut down FMC’s Beartrack Gold Mine, from which the company expected to make $300 million courtesy of the 1872 Mining Act, whose reform the Clinton administration carefully avoided. When the Wilderness Society’s attorneys asked Judge David Ezra to rescind the injunction, he was outraged, but had no alternative but to comply. FMC’s stock promptly soared, yielding extra earning for Alton Jones’ holdings in the mining concern. Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.

[8] “In the Clinton era, the RFF was run by ex-Naderite Donald Ross, who pulled down, according to IRS filings, $130,000 a year, plus another $23,000 in benefits. The relationship of the Family Fund to Rockefeller oil money scarcely needs stating. Though, the Fund dispensed a relatively puny $2 million a year in grants, it exercises great influence by dint of the foundation’s leadership of the Environmental Grantmaker’s Association. The Fund also functioned as a kind of staff college for foundation executives. Pew’s John Gilroy and Tom Wathen both learned their trade under Ross’s tutelage. In the 1980s, when the Multinational Monitor revealed that the ten largest foundations in America owned billions in stock in companies doing business in South Africa, Donald Ross lamented that many foundations “simply turn their portfolios over to a bank trust department or to outside managers and that’s the last they see of it.” Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.

[9] “… as listed by Multinational Monitor …” Excerpted from Green Scare: the New War on Environmentalism by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank.

[10] Things got started back in April, when a secret “fireside chat” was planned between oil industry executives and ENGO leaders, including former Great Bear Rainforest Agreement negotiators Tzeporah Berman and Merran Smith, and representatives from Tides Canada, World Wildlife Fund, Pembina Institute, and others. After word circulated about the “informal, beer-in-hand” discussions, the meeting was called off – temporarily. Excerpt from the “Secret Agreement in the Works Between ENGOs and Tar Sands Industry” by journalist DruOja Jay.

[11] The idea hit the corporate media in September 2010, with reports that Syncrude Chairman Marcel Coutu had solicited David Suzuki to broker an agreement between environmentalists and tar sands operators. Suzuki rebuffed him, saying that a dialogue was not possible while oil companies were funding lies about their environmental impact. But the idea didn’t die – and neither did the lies. In October 2010, during a major ad campaign from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers that compared tar sands tailings to yogurt, the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald published a report by Sheila Pratt titled “Is an oilsands [sic] truce possible?” Pratt interviews Avrim Lazar, CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC), the group of logging companies that signed an accord with Greenpeace, the David Suzuki Foundation, and several other Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations (ENGOs). That was the “Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement” (CBFA). Pratt repeats the false claim that the agreement preserves 72 million hectares of forest. In fact, the CBFA maintains the current rate of logging, simply shifting a small portion (about the size of metro Toronto) to areas outside of the Caribou Range. Furthermore, it requires ENGOs to defend the logging companies that signed against criticism and help them market their products. Of all of Pratt’s interviewees, only Greenpeace’s Mike Hudema states the obvious: it is not possible to green the tar sands. Excerpt from the “Secret Agreement in the Works Between ENGOs and Tar Sands Industry” by journalist DruOja Jay.

[12] “Our future hinges on the tar sands. Will any level of environmental destruction, loss of human life, or climate change be considered an acceptable cost to continue consumption of fossil fuels? Or is there a limit to the amount of destruction we will accept? If a secret agreement is allowed to go forward, then those who cannot accept ever-escalating destruction will have to fight other ENGOs in addition to fighting the oil companies. Will the Tar Sands Greenwashing Accord continue as planned?” Excerpt from the “Secret Agreement in the Works Between ENGOs and Tar Sands Industry” by journalist DruOja Jay. For more about ENGOs and the collaborative model, read the 2009 report “Offsetting Resistance: The effects of foundation funding from the Great Bear Rainforest to the Athabasca River,” by Macdonald Stainsby and DruOja Jay.

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement [PART I OF AN INVESTIGATIVE REPORT]

 

Published September 15, 2011 by Political Context: http://bit.ly/oxDG33 and Canadians for Action on Climate Change: http://bit.ly/nyA0kB

Part one of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part I Part II  [Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”] Part III [ Unravelling the Deception of a False Movement]

Only Death Will Save Us

“Only death will save us. Mediocrity begets mediocrity. It is tragic that the conditioning of civil society is so deep – that most everything relevant beating them on the head is received as nothing more than a cool breeze.” — Harold One Feather

What are the underlying motivations and loyalties of the social and political forces involved in the Tar Sands Action campaign, and, indeed, the bourgeois environmental movement as a whole? In our inability to avert an oncoming ecological collapse, coupled with what appears to be an insurmountable climate genocide, we must understand how the forces we seek to resist constantly absorb opposition, through compromised NGOs and other means. Never underestimate the strategies and mechanisms of the global elites for retaining their power, control, and domination of Earth and her inhabitants.

Cognitive dissonance compromises environmental activism. We must open our eyes, even if the ugliness is difficult to accept. Many seemingly credible activists who are paid to “lead” environmental organizations cannot admit to themselves that they have caved into the very systems they purport to oppose; there is no acceptable excuse for such lack of judgement and foresight – for if it is ignorance, it is willful. It is no longer singular individuals who create and shape our systems. Instead, the plutocrats construct and mould the systems and sustain illusory movements. As the majority of environmentalists and citizens who support such movements are not fully conscious of the role they play in propping up the industrial machine, this article attempts to inspire the courage to break free, re-organize, and move forward.

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” — Elwyn Brooks White

Remix version 2011:

“I arise in the morning torn between a desire to enjoy the world and a desire to tear down the systemic structure that is destroying the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

Prologue — Lambs to the Slaughter

“As with any pathologically-based manifestation, hegemonic pacifism in advanced capitalist contexts proves itself supremely resistant – indeed, virtually impervious – to mere logic and moral suasion.” — Ward Churchill, Pacifism as Pathology, 1984

Holding hands, singing songs, and forming circles has little effect beyond making individuals feel good about themselves. Of course, this is the main objective of the mainstream NGO: to appeal to one of our ugliest human traits – that of individualism, which our toxic culture celebrates. Such niceties also serve as fine fodder for media and for rounding up donations.

To have falsely promoted what was at best an educational campaign (which did not speak to the root causes of climate change) as “civil disobedience” was disingenuous, if not fraudulent. Yet, the NGOs continue to promote their publicity stunt under this guise. And it worked. Branding agencies and marketing executives will take note of this latest “success.” In truth, this (in)action merely succeeded in having seduced the public into a false belief that this system, into which violence is inherently built, can be overcome with moral suasion. At the eleventh hour, campaigning to build upon such a notion is not only incredibly deceiving – it is incredibly dangerous.

Organizations both within and outside of the nonprofit-industrial complex continue to unabashedly further the idea that passiveness, obedience and submissiveness to the corporatized state – which has made the conscious decision to allow billions to suffer and die – is the only moral choice. They insist that we must dismiss reality (that the Earth and her inhabitants are being killed all around us) while they dismiss the fact that moral suasion cannot stop this. They insist that we embrace their delusion at any cost. Tragically, such a suicidal position only serves to further weaken our own position as it strengthens the position of the corporate state tenfold. Like lambs, we are being led to the slaughter with stops all along the way for refreshments and photo ops. It’s the final step in the art of annihilation that the NGOs have adherently become so skilled at. The puppet masters are shaking in their boots, not with fear but with derisive laughter.

Those who know better, who choose to lend legitimacy to such organizations by way of supporting or promoting such grand spectacles of illusion, are in fact biting their own foot. Some of the statements heard echoing off the walls of delusion are “But where would we go?” and “Yes, I know, I agree, but it’s better than nothing.” Yet subduing and disempowering citizens is not better than nothing. And silence is complicity.

A “better than nothing” approach for a campaign such as Tar Sands Action is deeply flawed. By supporting / promoting compromised organizations and/or leaders of such compromised organizations, one provides a tract of general legitimacy for those who continue to prop up the malignant, capitalistic system and guarantee planetary demise while undermining the grassroots. Right or wrong, when we vocalize support or otherwise endorse such sanitized “actions” and the players behind them, we are seen as sanctioning them on the whole, and it makes walking the fine line of organizing an effective movement much more difficult.

Directing thousands of well-intentioned citizens to follow a false god with the last name of McKibben – whose organization (350.org/1Sky) is funded, overseen and partnered with the planet’s most powerful corporations and families – only ensures that society will be led to believe in the false illusion of “green capitalism” – what the corporate enviros have termed “climate wealth.” In McKibben’s own words: “Greed Has Helped Destroy the Planet – Maybe Now It Can Help Save It.” A vision based on rejecting ethics while further nurturing one of the worst human traits is one that any sane person working towards a just world must automatically reject. A vision based on the very same system that has now brought us to the precipice is a fool’s game, a deadly game that flies in the face of logic.

Many of the corporate greens can demonstrate strong points in regard to many issues – this is of little surprise as it is imperative for them to retain a level of credibility. Furthermore, they have millions of dollars available for specialized reports, which makes it easy. Of course, rarely will they campaign on such reports when they are released (quietly in most cases) to the public. We have to accept the fact that much of the environmental movement is now funded primarily with Rockefeller Family money (McKibben himself now states this proudly after a somewhat embarrassing incident on Climate Challenge TV) and corporate funnelled foundation money, which defines (dilutes) success in increments that, in the grand scheme of things, mean little. We can’t tolerate another 6,000 mW of coal active in FL, for example, but that is a victory to the Beyond Coal campaign because they managed to stop another 13K mW. In the next cycle, industry will again ask for 20K mW, and will get 5-8k mW. And that will be labeled another victory. At which point are these victories pyrrhic?

Eyes Wide Shut – Death by Denial

April 2011 Statement by the Indigenous Women of the Movement:

We felt that this was not an issue of semantics, that this was deliberately being taught to our peoples, our youth and our communities by the interests of government and corporations, who we began finding out more and more, were actually helping to fund well-paid activists who ran well-funded workshops, training and retreats on “non-violence” and “civil disobedience.” Some of this was traced back to funding which came from “ethical oil” strategies, and that’s when we started realizing the sickening accuracy of our premonitions…. We believe in honouring the dreams of women, in freeing ourselves from judgement and bias, decolonizing our minds and our hearts. We believe in being action-oriented, not paper-oriented. We don’t need Canada’s approval or consent, and we don’t need government or corporate funding. We have always had what we will always need: the Kaianerenkowa, the Medicine Wheel, our teachings, our clan systems, our languages, our ceremonies…. We can empower ourselves, we don’t need to wait for an NGO or a suit to tell us how to feel empowered. We aren’t the ones who need “non violence training”; the ones who need to stop using violence are the ones in power: police, government and corporations.

In the article “A Tar Sands Partnership Agreement in the Making?” social justice activist and journalist Macdonald Stainsby writes: “Many other foundations – most but not all American – now play the same game of social manipulation in the environmental field. Foundations such as Rockefeller Brothers, Ford and Hewlett have not only entered into the fray in a major way, in the case of the tar sands campaigns, they have collaborated with the Pew to take social manipulation to a new level.”

What the manipulated public does not understand, is the fact that, while these environmental groups have had years to unite behind a sane, comprehensive, unified energy policy that would have included opposition to tar sands and oil shale, and other false solutions, they have done nothing to this effect.

The money powers (who fund our “movement”) have decided that clean, zero-carbon, everlasting energy will not take over from fossil fuel energy or even increase its market share (see International Energy Agency World Energy Outlook 2010). The money powers do this consciously, in the face of evidence that the failure to make such a transition spells the end of the world. The insane logic behind such policy is that, as fossil fuel resources run out, corporations will increase profits. The devastating consequences for the biosphere are ignored.

We are hence warned once again that the campaigns dominating our movement are nothing more than impromptu, “whatever is popular at the moment,” laissez-faire, feel-good public relations escapades. This is not a movement that has any chance of staving off guaranteed climate genocide on top of multiple global crises, all happening simultaneously.

Corporate environmentalism is merely a movement designed to make us feel good today – much like capitalism – while killing us slowly.

From climate change, to the BP oil spill, then onto the tar sands bandwagon, these symbolic campaigns are orchestrated and echoed throughout the faux environmental movement.

Is the Left Suffering from Stockholm Syndrome?

 

Hooray for Change!

“Somehow we need to get back the President we thought we elected in 2008. We are just now finishing up the largest civil disobedience in this country in this century. We won’t attack the President. We will only hold him to the standard he set in 2008. We have been arrested for two weeks straight, but without bitterness or hate. Only joy and resolve.” — Bill McKibben

To believe Obama or the state will be moved by moral suasion as bombs are dropped on occupied countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya while covert U.S. wars are underway in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia – murdering untold numbers of men, women and children – all in the name of resource exploitation (under the egregious auspices of democracy and liberation) is nothing more than delusion bordering on insanity.

Let’s break this down.

“Somehow we need to get back the President we thought we elected in 2008.”

First of all, the president that the people “thought” they elected in 2008 has proven himself (beyond a doubt) a mere voicebox for the plutocracy and a bona fide war criminal.

“We are just now finishing up the largest civil disobedience in this country in this century.”

Secondly, the Tar Sands Action must not be considered true civil disobedience when it was sanctioned by the state, while demonstrating to the state absolute compliance. It is only a massive withdrawal of compliance that actually has any possibility of even slight effect. Civil disobedience draws its strength from open confrontation and noncooperation – not from evasion or subterfuge. History has proven this time and time again. Demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of citizens have failed in a world of corporate-dominated government. Case in point would be the protests against the illegal invasion of Iraq by the U.S. and Britain. This was the largest global civil disobedience in our history. Citizens numbered in the millions. Yet the occupation continues to this day. As citizens, we can only retain as much power as we refuse to relinquish to the state. If one insists on calling the Tar Sands Action in Washington, D.C. a true civil disobedience, it is a sad reflection on what the meaning and intent of true civil disobedience has been reduced to.

Third, to call 1253 trained protesters (with the exception of the first day, all who were arrested over the course of the two weeks were released within an hour or two – approximately 90 people per day including the elite “leaders” and staff of a slew of mainstream NGOs) “the largest civil disobedience in this country in this century” is delusional. There have been protests against globalization in the U.S. in which citizens numbered in the thousands.

“We won’t attack the President. We will only hold him to the standard he set in 2008.”

Fourth point – citizens are extremely fortunate to have John Pilger and others who will attack the president openly, as the public needs and deserves to hear the truth. Why would any rational person hold Obama to a fantasy standard, when we know, based on his actions to date and our knowledge of corporate dominance, that Obama will never meet any standard that could stop the ongoing ecocide?

“We have been arrested for two weeks straight, but without bitterness or hate. Only joy and resolve.”

Fifth point – We should be bitter, pissed off, furious and sickened that our planet is being killed and that our children are going to not live long enough to reach old age. The myth that emotions such as bitterness, hate and anger are destructive prevents us from trusting our own intuition based on our life experiences. As we stand on the precipice, bitterness, hate and anger are all normal feelings upon coming to the full realization that the corporate state has chosen economic growth over life itself. Those who protect it are deserving of our bitterness and hatred. And if you’re not angry that our planet is being raped before our eyes – then perhaps you have forgotten what love is.

“In the run-up to the UN climate change conference in December 09, an advertising industry initiative, ‘Hopenhagen,’ was supported by Coca-Cola, DuPont and BMW, among others. Clearly, some organisations do not grasp the concept of irony. Nevertheless, more than six million people from around the world signed up. Hamilton wonders when such well-meaning individuals will begin to think ‘I have been doing the right thing for years, but the news about global warming just keeps getting worse.’ In other words, when will the dreadful reality hit home?

 

“…Clinging to hopefulness becomes a means of forestalling the truth. Sooner or later we must respond, and that means allowing ourselves to enter a phase of desolation and hopelessness, in short to grieve.

 

“…Painful though it is to do so, we come to terms with grief and loss. We mourn, we feel periods of shock and anger; slowly, we adjust. Adjustments may be unhealthy – denial, as we have seen, or apathy or nihilism. A healthy adjustment involves accepting the loss, making it part of who we are and what we will become.” — Clive Hamilton, Requiem for a Species: Why we resist the truth about climate change

Of course McKibben (and his disciples, whom he apparently believes he speaks for) have no bitterness or hate, only joy and resolve as their greatest sacrifice (by only a handful) was 48 hours in jail while the rest paid a hundred bucks and were home in time to watch themselves on the 4 o’clock news. One can appreciate the good intentions of citizens who are no doubt desperate to somehow make a difference. Yet at the same time it must be acknowledged that we are becoming completely out of touch with reality if we choose to lend the words “sacrifice” and “courage” to educational outreach media blitz campaigns.

One must wonder if McKibben would feel such “hope” for the president if his family was murdered in one of the occupied countries Obama continues to pummel with bombs. One must wonder if McKibben would be such a kind and kindred spirit to Obama if he was on the other end of the stick of industrialized capitalism – working in a mine developing lung cancer in order to feed his children one meal a day. If the Left is buying into this charade – and it appears they are – we must the conclude that the emasculated Left is indeed suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

In psychology, Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a real paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness. (Source: Wikipedia)

Video: Obama celebrates Earth Day. (Running time: 0:44)

The Choice

“In concrete terms, this means … civil disobedience; and life and death confrontations with the powers that be. Like King, we need to put on our cemetery clothes and be coffin-ready for the next great democratic battle.” — Cornel West, Dr. King Weeps From His Grave, New York Times, 26 August 2011

It’s time we remove our comfortable cocoons of self-righteousness and moral superiority and fully recognize / acknowledge that we are all participating in a culture where violence is now inherently built into the system. Thus we all have blood on our hands and there can be no denying this fact.

The movement must choose for what type of future we wish to fight. A future of the people, by the people, for the people? Or a future of the corporations (i.e. corporations via foundations), by the corporations, for the corporations (i.e., commodification of the last remaining elements of nature; continued violence until the remaining elements of nature are destroyed, or mass extinction by way of climate genocide a.k.a. green capitalism)?

We must choose one. We cannot have both.

Choosing the first provides a future for all life our Earth graciously sustains. It will not be given. It must be taken.

Further, the future we resolve to claim must be articulated.

Meanwhile in the real world of activism (being eclipsed by the state-sanctioned Tar Sands Action and its negotiated arrests), more Amazon Rainforest activists receive death threats as assassinations escalate. Closer to home, in Messina, New York, on 11 August 2011, Larry Thompson, a Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) man was arrested. Thompson, “sick of waiting for a General Motors Superfund site cleanup that will never happen,” took a backhoe to a toxic landfill site. “Thompson drove onto the notoriously polluted mound, scooped up contaminated soil and loaded it into railroad cars that were waiting to cart away debris from the GM building that is being torn down in the wake of bankruptcy proceedings…. Larry was given this order by the Clan Mother. She directed him to do this. So he had to do it. No matter what, she is the supreme law of the land.” Of course, the criminals that poisoned the land (i.e. those responsible for the violence) continue to walk free.

A Very Civil Civil Disobedience

“I believe it’s a crime for anyone being brutalized to continue to accept that brutality without doing something to defend himself.” — Malcolm X

“When, in the course of human development, existing institutions prove inadequate to the needs of man, when they serve merely to enslave, rob, and oppress mankind, the people have the eternal right to rebel against, and overthrow, these institutions.” — Emma Goldman

20 August 2011: The article “A Very Civil Civil Disobedience” said it all. Anything other than submissive obedience to the police state is not to be considered “civil.” The word “civil” is loaded. How “civilized” is a society whose very existence is dependent upon the violent and relentless assault on the planet, while simultaneously exploiting the struggling classes?

Organizing citizens to get themselves peacefully arrested in order to “appeal to the better nature of Obama” are based on a delusional strategy. Appeals to Obama and other members of the ruling class serve to distract us from the unwillingness of states to change their practices without being forced to do so. Mainstream environmentalists’ calls for “rolling sit-ins” (10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. daily) and other passive tactics would be considered by many to be an insult to activists throughout the world who have fought against state and police repression with their very lives.

Who knew you would have to RSVP to the “revolution,” agree to the conditions, be trained by God himself, and that a dress code would be in effect? On 28 August 2011, a participant to the Tar Sands Action sent out a mass email to her lists. Within the communiqué she states, “The action was relatively simple, to be honest, and I don’t feel super brave for ‘risking arrest’ when it was a simple procedure and a $100 fine. (A ‘post and forfeit’ thing, similar to a traffic violation, not a misdemeanor or anything that would be likely to taint a record). It was fun to ride in the paddy wagon with 15 other awesome activists, kinda like a sauna. The cops were nice to us and some of us helped educate them on why we were there. (The organizers are encouraging everyone to cooperate and pay the fine, to seem dignified in the media, and to keep the story on the pipeline rather than on ‘us vs. them’ with the parks police. Yet they did say that, if we’re not listened to here, perhaps for a future action the strategy may be different.)”

And although the McKibben show pumps out headlines loaded with words such as “terrified”, “scared out of my mind”, “risk arrest”, and on and on, Darryl Hannah (the ultimate triumph for any campaign in today’s celebrity-obsessed culture) topped them all off, proclaiming “Sometimes it’s necessary to sacrifice your freedom for a greater freedom.”?These words/descriptions are so over-the-top (to be kind), they are ludicrous. Let’s be honest – most of us cannot even begin to comprehend what real sacrifice means. Here is another much more honest commentary posted on September 1, 2011:

“Getting arrested in the Tar Sands Action was fun and it felt like the right and responsible thing to do. The scariest part of it was navigating the D.C. Metro. No, that’s not exactly true. It was the anticipation of navigating the D.C. Metro that terrified me, not the actual navigation. … The female officer took my ID but stuffed my money back in my bra. Then they took my mug shot, handed me my ID and squeezed me into the paddy wagon with Kidder. It was very hot and close in there but we joked around with the cute police officers, told stories and had a pretty good time…. I was released at 12:46 p.m.” (The author notes she was arrested at 11:33 a.m.)

From the Tar Sands Action website:

Question: Does this demonstration have a permit, or are we by attending breaking a regulation?

Answer: As long as you are on the sidewalk in front of the White House and keep moving you aren’t breaking any regulations. The action organizers have applied for permits to be on the sidewalk in front of the White House for the entirety of the action.

Question: What should we do if there are opponents trying to disrupt the action or people who start to act outside of the agreed Action Guidelines?

Answer: Dealing with inappropriate escalation (or confrontation from our opponents) is going to be a main duty of the support team that will be on site for every action. They’ll be ready to talk with folks who seem to be getting out of hand and to help direct energy to the more strategic, productive parts of the action.

Did Rosa Parks obtain a permit from the state before she decided she would sit at the front of the bus? Why do citizens choose to submit to an authority who that tells us / convinces us that we must seek approval to stand on a public sidewalk, a sidewalk that has been paid for by the people themselves?

State Sanctioned “Civil Disobedience” & Propaganda Wars

20 August 2011: The article “Tar-sands protesters in jail longer than expected” states:

In negotiations with the police prior to the action that began on Saturday, the police were very clear that what would happen after people were arrested was the vast majority would get what’s called “post and forfeit,” where you put up $100, get released from jail after several hours, and you don’t have to come back again. It’s basically like a traffic ticket.

The article continues:

But this is not what they did. Instead, after arresting the first day’s 70 people, they decided to hold most of them, all those not from within a 25-mile radius of Washington, D.C., in jail until a Monday afternoon arraignment. This works out to 48 or more hours in jail before being released. [Emphasis added]

We can sense that the author is appalled the police did not honor their pre-arranged deal. He appears to be outraged that middle class citizens were inconvenienced for 48 hours or more. The author continues that another “action” earlier this year ran into a similar situation where “despite many weeks of communication between the protest organizers and various state, county and local government officials, agreements to camp overnight were revoked.” Such comments reveal how state-sanctioned “civil disobedience” has become normalized. But no worries, the author plans to hope and pray that the tar sands “action” will “rise to the occasion” – whatever that means in real life.

In a true act of civil disobedience, one adopts a position of absolute non-cooperation with the state, the perpetrator of both violence and oppression. No prior negotiations. No obedience.

Adding further Orwellian bizarreness, it was announced in a media advisory issued 1st September 2011, by the Indigenous Environmental Network what would occur on the following day: “Native Americans and First Nations to be arrested at White House protesting TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline.”

Recognizing that this protest involved several hundred well-intentioned individuals looking for direction and a way to make a difference, the Washington, D.C. “civil disobedience” cannot truly be considered disobedient when it has been organized with the very state they are supposedly resisting. Prior to the action, the organizers fully engaged / conversed with police in order to find out exactly what risk they would be susceptible to in undertaking such a protest in Washington, D.C. en masse. We see this over and over again. It is only once it is established that the “approved” action will be most benevolent with trivial consequences (no real risk) that the privileged classes then build upon such campaigns. The ruling class does not fear such campaigns in the least.

Yes … the state will undoubtedly be so moved by our arguments and our good behaviour that it will voluntarily, someday soon, overthrow itself and join us in a circle of sing-songs.

States only fear acts of civil disobedience and direct actions when they threaten to disrupt the system through a demonstration of overwhelming strength. They do not respond to appeals to morality or guilt. When a protest is controlled, sanctioned and supported by the state, the action will not be feared, because the state will never fear what it can control. Planting seeds of love is a beautiful thing, yet on their own, in the absence of struggle and true sacrifice, such seeds of love have never won any revolutions.

Tar Sands Action Civil Obedience Campaign

Naomi Klein under state sanctioned arrest.

Naomi Klein should be mortified at promoting and participating in such a staged event – as she knows better. In her book “No Logo: Taking Aim at Brand Bullies” (2000), Klein remarks: “Since the days when Abbie Hoffman and the Yippies infused self-conscious absurdity to their ‘happenings,’ political protest had lapsed into a ritualized affair, following a fairly unimaginative grid of repetitive chants and scripted police confrontation.”

Nine Nobel Peace Laureates including “Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama” have written to President Obama, urging him to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. A media release states that “the opposition to the pipeline has surged in recent weeks as more than 1,250 people were arrested in 14 days of sit-ins at the White House – perhaps the largest wave of civil disobedience ever for an environmental cause in the U.S…. In asking you to make this decision we recognize the thousands of Americans who risked arrest to protest in front of the White House between August 20th and September 3rd. These brave individuals have spoken movingly about experiencing the power of nonviolence in that time.”

And there is the language, the sound bites, highlighted yet again to further pacify our public as our multiple crises escalate: references to religion and the “power of non-violence” when speaking to civil disobedience and arrests. McKibben and friends had to have recognized and taken solace in the fact that the public is severely naïve to have even attempted to pass off the state-sanctioned orchestrated event as true civil disobedience.

What kind of civil disobedience is it where the police themselves carefully fold up protesters’ banners (with weapons completely exposed) and collect the protest signs prior to the arrests? It is telling that the “Park Police” were placed in charge of the daily 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. rolling sit-ins. It appears that the only exception was the initial week-end, commencing Saturday, August 20th, the first day of arrests (which included McKibben) when the D.C. police arrested the protesters and held the non-resident arrestees until Monday.

It also appears that no one other than McKibben and participants from his group ever went to jail. (A media bonanza that legitimized McKibben). All other trained arrestees for the remaining 2 weeks were police-escorted (motorcycle escorts with sirens wailing) to the Anacostia station of the Park Police where they simply paid a $100 fine. During training, the organizers instructed the participants to pay the fine rather than opt to go to jail – stating that otherwise, the police would get angry and treat subsequent arrestees less courteously. The multiple references comparing this “civil disobedience” to the sacrifice and bravery demonstrated during the civil rights movement, as well as references to Martin Luther King throughout this campaign, are abominable. In reality, in direct contrast to civil disobedience, this “action” must be considered an act of passive civil obedience.

How is it that North America has become so completely removed from reality? How is it that such weak and cowardly leadership – so out of touch with what is happening all over the world – can be considered noble, rather than what it really is – an embarrassment?

The photos below from the Tar Sands Actions Flickr account tell a story far more revealing than anything anyone can attempt to reveal in a piece of writing. The intention was to include photos of people smiling and laughing when placed under arrest. Unfortunately it is not possible, simply because there are too many that fall under this description. In fact, this action may be the happiest and most enjoyable “civil disobedience” to have ever been presented to the public. Let’s have a look:

Organized! Police set up a convenient processing station on the site.

Protesters were trained to march up to the front of the fence. The protesters lined up and were then adjusted by the organizers. Citizens were permitted to walk into the front area, however, they were not permitted to remain in this area as it was reserved for tourists and media to take photographs. The police gave three warnings for the protesters to leave or be arrested. Citizens who did not wish to be arrested left the area. It was at this point the police assisted in carefully gathering up the signs and banners and placed barricades at all sides of the arrestees (the back is a fence). Processing was done on site (see above). Then the arrestees were driven for approximately ten minutes to the Anacostia station of the Park Police where they finalized paperwork, paid a $100 fine and were released (with the exception of August 20th). The yellow tape reads ‘Police Scene – Do Not Cross’.

Confronting the state.

A policeman taking photos.

Policeman folds banner with much care.The officer, apparently under extreme duress and fear, has forgotten he has a gun on his side belt in reach of the “resistance.”

A 350 supporter is arrested by the Park Police. The first people arrested, including McKibben, were turned over to the D.C. police who unexpectedly kept them 48 hours (as this is not what the organizers had negotiated in advance). Following this initial arrest it was then managed by the Park Police who were apparently very nice. They handcuffed and took the trained protesters to a tent where they were frisked. The arrestees were then brought inside the tent where their photo was taken. They were then given a number and placed on a bus or wagon. (The buses were air conditioned and the wagons were hot). Arrestees were then police escorted to a station where the Park Police removed the plastic zip handcuffs, checked ID once more, took the money, and then sent the released protestors off towards the Metro. We can only hope the approx. $130,000 raised by the police, goes to the park to assist with the trees dying from polluting ozone. We can only assume the police escort was necessary in order to prevent any real protesters from trying to beat some sense into them.

Image of Park Police.

Everyone is in great spirits including the Park Police.

Compare the Tar Sands Action to civil disobedience in other countries who are being brutally oppressed and exploited by the violent system we participate in on a daily basis. Apathy in the face of injustice is also a form of violence.

Photo above: An indigenous woman holds her child while trying to resist the advance of Amazonas state police who were expelling the woman and some 200 other members of the Landless Movement from a privately-owned tract of land on the outskirts of Manaus, in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, March 11, 2008. The landless peasants tried in vain to resist the eviction with bows and arrows against police using tear gas and trained dogs, and were evicted from the land. (REUTERS/Luiz Vasconcelos-A Critica/AE)

Another real act of confronting and resisting the state is the G2O protests.

 

Two leaders of civil disobedience in North America: Betty Krawczyk and the late Pacheedaht warrior Harriet Nahanee/Tsibeotl (above).

Indoctrination

The Tar Sands Action organization, initiated and led by 350/1 Sky spokesperson Bill McKibben, actually has no plan in place for when the Keystone pipeline is approved by Obama. What escalating tactics will be pursued? What does the state have to fear?

Intoxicated by the idea that Obama can be won over with moral persuasion and reject a pipeline which promises billions in projected profits, and which will enable his crumbling empire to control North America’s oil this action is merely an educational campaign to draw attention to the appalling tar sands. And this is where the problem lies. Citizens are being led to believe that pre-negotiated civil disobedience – one that assures no sacrifice or risk will be endured by citizens as long as they abide by the rules of the state – can stop the violence being waged upon our shared Earth. Not so. We know it will not. It never has, and never will. (See Pacifism and Pathology, by Ward Churchill, 2007 Version.)

We cling to our deep belief of business-as-usual. The inertia makes this easy. The gradual systemic violence upon us is a gentle, slow kill. This month feels no different than last month, therefore everything must be okay. Our intense desire for non-disruption in a life we perceive as non-violent traps us into a false belief system.

“The Biggest Environmental Disaster You’ve Never Heard Of”

"The Biggest Environmental Disaster You’ve Never Heard Of"

September 5, 2011

Wit’s End Blog

Participating in the Tar Sands Action was a decision I made with much ambivalence. I was not sure it would produce any results commensurate with the risk of arrest and expenses for travel; I objected to the organizers’ authoritarian remonstrations regarding clothing; I doubted the strategic emphasis on one solitary source of oil; and to ignore the issue of corporate corruption of government, and the unsustainability of American consumerism seemed both a cowardly and calculated, narrow focus.

Now that it’s over and I’m home, all of the ambivalence I felt has only deepened, echoed and articulated in a worthwhile essay by Ward Churchill, introduced by Cory Morningstar in a post titled "Eyes Wide Shut – The Tar Sands Action Protest and the Paralysis of a Movement". I highly recommend reading it in its entirety so I won’t duplicate it here, just my comment to her post:

A scathing description of exactly what occurred at the Tar Sands Action […] – you might have been there it was so exact! Except you missed what Bill McKibben said on the very last day as he congratulated everyone on being serious and grown-up. “It’s not about stunts, and silly costumes,” he said.

Yes he did!! Mothra wept a little at that.

Later everyone wearing black t-shirts lined up and on cue, stripped them off, threw them in the air, leaving them on the ground like little pools of spilled oil. Never have I seen so many pale white hairy tubby potbellies, other than at a beach. But I guess because 350 planned it that was not a stunt.

With uncanny accuracy she illustrated her post with precisely the sort of photo that we had been admonished over and over to avoid:

The reason we were to present a solemn and grave demeanor was supposedly to show the proper respect for people dying from tar sands pollution, and to exemplify the importance of preventing construction of the pipeline. But perhaps an underlying reason is that which was elaborated upon with devastating clarity in [the] essay – that the pre-arranged choreography of arrest is cheerfully accommodated by the police, and those arrested are hardly "risking" very much at all, only because the demands are non-threatening to the status quo – indeed, actually facilitate business as usual, because it enables the participants to have the illusion something is being accomplished.

Even though I have yet to locate a picture of my Mothra costume or Susan’s polar bear in any of the official photostream posted online, I guess we looked sufficiently respectable and glum on the day of our arrest to be featured in the 350.org petition to Obama. (Hey, 614,428 people signed it!!)

Is it too cynical and ungracious of me to speculate that this shot was deliberately posed? The young man in the center was placed there by the organizers, many photos were instantly taken in a rapid blur of clicks by several professional-quality cameras in our faces…and then he was instructed to leave that position. I don’t know where he disappeared to after that, or if he was arrested. Is it possible he was centered in front of the White House, nestled between two older White People, to make the protest look more racially diverse than it in fact was? I don’t know!

Perhaps it was just all part of the reshuffling…but both he and the man next to him were gone later when the police collected the signs and banners.

The campaign seemed to be assiduously careful to post at least one photo of each arrest, and neither of those guys are in any other of that day’s photographs. That doesn’t prove anything, of course, not everybody planned on staying through to be arrested. But I’m just sayin’.

And then too, I feel compelled to wonder why 350 continually holds up jailed protester Tim DeChristopher as a role model, since certainly what he was convicted and sentenced for was a theatrical (and noble) stunt.

Several people in the audience groaned in dismay when McKibben uttered those gratuitous and unnecessary words, "stunts and silly costumes", clapping in support of this creatively tarred and feathered pair in our midst.

Also neglected in the 350 version of events (as far as I can tell) was this enormous mock-up of a pipeline that paraded through the park, which I thought was quite clever.

I especially liked the "Hopeless" stenciling, using Obama’s campaign symbol as a pointed critique.

I guess these colorful signs do not fall into the "stunt" category.

And here are pictures of 350’s "non-stunt" where people took off their black t-shirts and tossed them in the air.

Frankly in my opinion, it was an embarrassing spectacle – and not nearly as fun, interesting or relevant as Mothra, the Polar Bear or the tarred duck.

And I didn’t think that abandoning shirts on the ground was a particularly effective way to promote sustainability, even though they were picked up later to be donated to a shelter.

At least, it started to get a little more exciting as the very last to be arrested were handcuffed and loaded onto the police vans.

Supporters who had been disbursed around the park pressed towards the barricades, and began sweatily chanting, hollering, cheering, and whistling.

Probably by then everyone had learned that Obama instructed to EPA to back off stricter ozone rules, and anger was palpable.

People of all ages were well represented and expressed their outrage vociferously. Judging from the passion unleashed by that decision, and by the participation from the people whose lives are literally poisoned by tar sands extraction and coal mining, the climate change activist and science communities should rethink their obsession with CO2. It’s stupid of them not to forge stronger ties with environmentalists whose first concern is pollution that directly kills people and ruins ecosystems. The emissions come from the same processes, after all. And dying from cancer or starvation is a much more immediate and powerful motivator for most people than melting glaciers. Duh.

They shouted enthusiastically at the top of their lungs, "This is what democracy looks like!"

It was kind of exhilarating!

After the last van pulled out, we gathered obediently in a circle around the rose hedges for the final speeches, promising more action, which I gather is to be Moving Planet on September 24. "A Bicycle Ride" as one person scornfully described it. I suppose the prospect of this show of force and power is making Obama and CEO’s of corporations everywhere lose sleep.

Let’s get back to trees, since that is what this blog is about. Walking back and forth from the hotel to the park afforded endless examples of dying vegetation, even though it was a short distance.

It was all I could do not to warn these children that climbing trees isn’t as safe as it once was.

Their branches are far more likely to break, because they are damaged from exposure to ozone.

On that note, let us digress to storm damage in Wisconsin. A storm occurred earlier this summer but it made news recently, because it wasn’t until August 18 that Governor Scott Walker declared a state of emergency and called in the National Guard to help with the cleanup. Appropriately enough, the story ran in the Business Section of the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal SentinalJS Online, because there is a very large timber industry which stands to lose quite a bit of money. Here is part of the article:

"Even for fast-growing trees, it will be decades before some areas recover.

‘It’s really disrupted the forest management plans,’ Schienebeck said. "In spots that were leveled, they are basically starting over now."

‘We’ve got trees that blew down that were 10 or 15 years away from being mature,’ Ericson said. ‘Then you’ve got wood that was 30 years from being mature.’

Mature trees were clobbered, too.

‘That storm blew down 200-year-old white pines,’ Ericson said. ‘I was cutting up white pine that was three feet (in diameter).’

Note the schizophrenia coming, get ready…in 1…2…3…

In other cases, blown-down trees had reached their maximum life expectancy, making them susceptible to wind damage, said Neil Ambourn, a Webster forester who consults with private landowners.

The wind was nature’s way of clearing the forest of old, weak timber.

So young trees and old trees BOTH went over…but it’s nature’s way of clearing old timber. Right.

Even though things are a mess now, the forests will come back.

‘These forests are resilient and sustainable,’ Ambourn said. ‘Most are going to regenerate naturally.’

That means fewer of the tall, stately North Woods forests, though.

‘We’re going to have a lot of young forests,’ Ambourn said.

‘Aesthetically, we may not like those forests. But they are healthy and sustainable and making forest products for future generations,’ he said.

‘Environmentally, it’s not catastrophic.’"

NOT catastrophic – ha! I left this comment:

Determining the speed of the wind by surveying the damage is putting the cart before the horse. The trees are blowing over in such massive unexpected and unexplained numbers, because they are dying. They are dying because air pollution – yep, that same ozone that Obama just refused to tighten regulations on – is toxic to vegetation.

The same extreme tree damage occurred up and down the East Coast from Irene, perplexing many, since the winds WERE measured, and they just weren’t strong enough to account for the actual damage.

Wake up people! Trees of all ages, species and locations are falling over, their branches are breaking off, bark is splitting and oozing, leaves started turning early color in midsummer – or just brown – and were falling off before Irene. Conifers are thin and transparent. They all have one thing in common – the composition of the atmosphere. The nitrogen cascade – reactive nitrogen that produces ozone from sources like transportation and power emissions and fertilizer – is, according to Dr. Townsend of the U. of Colorado, "the biggest environmental disaster that nobody has heard of."

And don’t forget – scientific research has demonstrated in many studies that plants weakened by ozone are more likely to be fatally attacked by insects, disease and fungus. Trees allocate fewer carbohydrates to their root system when battling ozone absorption by their foliage, and hence more likely to fall over.

See this post about the tree damage from Irene.

Here is what NOAA reported:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN
305 PM CDT SAT JUL 2 2011
…DAMAGE ASSESSMENT RESULTS FROM BURNETT COUNTY…
A NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE STORM SURVEY TEAM WAS DISPATCHED TODAY TO
INVESTIGATE WIDESPREAD REPORTS OF DAMAGE ACROSS BURNETT…
WASHBURN… AND SOUTHERN DOUGLAS COUNTIES.
IT HAS BEEN DETERMINED THAT THE DAMAGE IN BURNETT COUNTY WAS THE
RESULT OF WIDESPREAD STRAIGHT LINE WINDS. THESE RESULTS ARE A
COMBINATION OF GROUND SURVEYS BY THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TEAM
AND AERIAL SURVEYS CONDUCTED BY LOCAL OFFICIALS.
ACROSS THE ENTIRE COUNTY…DAMAGE WAS GENERALLY ALL BLOWN DOWN
FACING A NORTHEAST OR EAST DIRECTION. THIS IS CONSISTENT WITH
NON-TORNADIC WINDS.
A LARGE PORTION OF BURNETT COUNTY LIKELY RECEIVED 60 TO 80 MPH WIND
GUSTS AS THE LINE OF STORMS MOVED THROUGH SHORTLY AFTER 7 PM CDT ON
JULY 1ST. ALL COMMUNITIES SUSTAINED AT LEAST SOME SORT OF TREE
DAMAGE.
THERE WERE ALSO SEVERAL CORRIDORS OF VERY INTENSE DAMAGE RELATED TO
SIGNIFICANT DOWNBURSTS. THIS INCLUDED THE AREA NEAR GRANTSBURG…
JUST WEST AND NORTH OF DANBURY… AND NEAR WEBSTER. WINDS IN THE
STRONGEST DOWNBURSTS WERE VERY LIKELY IN EXCESS OF 100 MPH. THESE
WIND SPEED ESTIMATES ARE BASED ON PRIMARILY SOFTWOOD TREE DAMAGE
INDICATORS. ENTIRE STANDS OF HEALTHY PINE TREES…SOME MANY ACRES IN
SIZE AND INCLUDING THOUSANDS OF TREES…WERE COMPLETELY LEVELED WITH
MOST OF THE TRUNKS SNAPPED OFF.
ONE FATALITY OCCURRED IN BURNETT COUNTY DUE TO FALLING TREES AT A
CAMPGROUND. LOCAL OFFICIALS ALSO CONFIRMED 39 INJURIES…WITH MOST
OF THOSE PEOPLE HAVING BEEN QUICKLY TREATED AND RELEASED.

Note there is no PROPERTY DAMAGE mentioned, only TREE DAMAGE…and they based wind speed on the amount of tree damage.

from the same system, NOAA:

PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DULUTH MN
900 AM CDT SUN JUL 3 2011

ON THE NEXT PROPERTY TO THE NORTH…JUST ACROSS RAMEL ROAD…AND TO
THE EAST OF FERGUSON ROAD…MANY TREES WERE UPROOTED. A WINDOW ON
THE HOUSE WAS BLOWN IN AND AN ANTENNA WAS SNAPPED. JUST TO THE EAST
OF THIS HOUSE…ALONG FERGUSON ROAD…SIGNIFICANT TREE DAMAGE WAS
FOUND. THIS INCLUDED A LARGE TREE THAT WAS WELL KNOWN TO RESIDENTS
OF SOLON SPRINGS AND WAS A FEW FEET WIDE AT THE BASE OF THE TRUNK.
TREE DAMAGE CONTINUED TO BE NOTED FOR AN ADDITIONAL 1.4 MILES TO THE
NORTHEAST…BUT NO OTHER STRUCTURES WERE IMPACTED. THE TORNADO ENDED
NEAR COUNTY HIGHWAY A…TO THE WEST OF SOLON SPRINGS.
IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE DAMAGE NEAR THE SOLON SPRINGS AIRPORT
WAS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH THIS TORNADO…AND OTHER TREE DAMAGE AROUND
THE AREA WAS ASSOCIATED WITH STRAIGHT-LINE WINDS. THE TORNADO DAMAGE
PATH WAS NARROW AND DISTINCT…AND INCLUDED ONLY THE AREAS
PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED.

Here’s a letter I wrote to Dr. Townsend, about the report mentioned in my comment. I haven’t heard back from him yet, although I certainly would like to. It’s the usual letter I send – skip past it for photos of trees!

Dear Dr. Townsend,

I was delighted to come across this article that quoted you describing nitrogen pollution as ‘… the biggest environmental disaster that nobody has heard of" since just yesterday I posted about the EPA Science Advisory Board’s report on Reactive Nitrogen.

I have been trying to get people to understand that ozone is an existential threat to trees (and ultimately the entire ecosystem and humans) but of course, nobody wants to hear about it. Now I see that looking at it as a more comprehensive issue deriving from the nitrogen cascade might be more productive.

I’m writing to tell you, in case you don’t know, that trees of all species, ages and locations are dying at a rapidly accelerating rate. The evidence for this alarming trend is plain to see if you just look at them. Of course most people blame insects, disease, fungus, drought, climate change or storm damage. But the trajectory of decline is universal – only the composition of the atmosphere can explain why plants being watered in pots and young saplings in nurseries have the same exact damaged foliage as large old trees in remote forests and urban habitats.

At this point I think we have passed a tipping point and are doomed (on a number of fronts) however, it occurs to me that there is a possibility that the reason that trees and other plants are exhibiting such an abrupt and dramatic decline is due to a large-scale change, rather than just a steadily growing increase in ozone. Having considered and rejected numerous potential sources (methane escape from hydrofracking, UV radiation etc) I believe it could be biofuel emissions (acetaldehyde, PANs) that are particularly long-lived and toxic to vegetation.

Do you think that could be so? Because if it is the underlying reason, then it would be relatively easy to stop burning them and return to a slower pace of destruction.

Please let me know if you have any comments or questions. If you click on the link above it goes to my blog which has reports from many locations of trees turning fall color and dropping leaves in summer.

Thank you so much for your attention.

Sincerely,

Gail Zawacki

Oldwick, NJ

Following are photos of trees from the past week in Washington, D.C.

Just like in New Jersey, they started turning fall colors in August.

This is looking across Lafayette Park towards the White House. Note the bare branches on the right, and the thin ones on the left.

It’s especially significant to see such injury because this part in the nation’s capital has to be one of the most meticulously maintained spaces in the country.

This once-majestic oak is inside the fence at the White House. It’s got alarming cracked bark, holes, and streaks.

If you follow the branches up from the main trunk into the crown, it is apparent that they have been severely pruned amputated.

This magnolia had a major branch removed recently, it is still raw. Behind it are little trees that are an attempt to replace older, historic trees that have been removed completely.

Trees in the park have leaves that are turning brown.

These trees are giants in the park. Holes like this are indicative of internal rot.

The Japanese maple below shows a common pattern – a crown of older, singed leaves – with newer growth above, which hasn’t been exposed as long to ozone, so it is still green. If, as certain annoying people persist in believing, the reason trees are visibly suffering is because they experienced drought a year or two or three ago, they would NOT be able to produce healthy growth on top of injured leaves this season.

All these photos are from just a few blocks between Rhode Island Ave and the park, and some looking down side streets, like this infamous address.

Crepe myrtle was blooming in many gardens.

The leaves are almost as brilliantly colored as the flowers…but of course, they’re not supposed to be.

The large gap in this crown has dead seed pods.

The Russian Embassy provided a classis juxtaposition. The very old, tallest tree has clearly lost some prominent branches, and the leaves are turning prematurely.

They have planted two maples to take its place but even though their leaves are reasonably green, their branches are splitting.

They have been busy sawing them off, but spectacularly cracked limbs remain.

Both maples have identical cracking.

The blackening of these leaves was nothing short of macabre.

Another example of healthier young leaves above injured foliage.

This has to be one of the most peculiar patterns that are indicative of ozone exposure.

This little Japanese maple, flanked by severely thin saplings, is a prime example. It has lost almost all of the leaves it originally produced in the spring, and has tried to start over with a fresh batch at the tips.

Here is a tuft of the new growth.

Soon all the trees will be either removed, or remain as "snags" like this one. What a poignant monument to the venerable living tree that once graced that corner in the city.

With that, farewell to DC!

It was all worthwhile, because I had a wonderful time with Roger and Susan Shamel…

In costume and out!

Plus, I made a new friend in Judith Joy Ross, a famous photographer from Pennsylvania!

portrait credit here
http://witsendnj.blogspot.com/2011/09/biggest-environmental-disaster-youve.html?spref=fb

350.org/LeadNow: Leadership or Sabotage?

By Lorna Salzman

September 2nd, 2011

Dear depressed frustrated American environmental activists: see article below please.

Leadnow.ca is yet another unfocused, fuzzy, unprovocative and unimaginative organization dedicated to all the good things liberals crave. They are a perfect fit for our 350.org/1Sky group, detached as they are from political reality and dedicated to distracting and detaching the rest of us from meaningful, forceful action on global warming and the environment.

There are some clever public relations people behind all this, including LeadNow’s own director, whose background in "global strategy and finance" qualifies him eminently to avoid the real causes of and solutions to the global ecological crises. If I were in his place I would do exactly what he and 350.org are doing: introduce all kinds of other extraneous issues into the mix, pretend that a few upbeat press releases about "action" and "renewable energy" will do the trick, and give the impression that serious political challenges to decision=makers and corporations will be forthcoming.

If I were a corporate bigwig, developer, foundation board member, congressman, or global financier, I could not be happier at seeing yet another feeble and fraudulent effort to fool people into thinking that something serious is being done. I would gladly open the deep pockets of my business or institution. I would pop the champagne cork and celebrate the ingenuity of 350.org and LeadNow in screening its disembodied hologram throughout the world.

But to be fair, let’s not blame opportunists for doing what they were born to do. Let’s look at our own society, at the paleoliberals, the centrists, the Democrats, the appeasers, the timid, the free marketees, the capitalists, the morally righteous, the religious, the uninformed populace, the corrupted media. But let’s give a special hard look at those purporting to be leaders and spokesmen and representatives of the "environmental movement", namely Bill McKibben and his faithful but blind acolytes, and their capitulation to big business, corporations, rich funders, and their stubborn refusal to confront the root causes and the radical remedies needed to save civilization.

THEY STILL HAVE NO AGENDA WHATSOEVER ON ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE. THEY HAVE NO PROPOSALS ON HOW TO REACH THEIR STATED GOAL OF 350 PPM. THEY HAVE DELIBERATELY REJECTED POLITICAL AND ELECTORAL CAMPAIGNS AND CONGRESSIONAL LOBBYING. THEY HAVE FAILED TO PROVIDE THEIR SUPPORTERS WITH SPECIFIC TASKS AND CONCRETE SUGGESTIONS FOR ACTION BEYOND DEMONSTRATIONS AND TREE PLANTING. THEY HAVE PROPOSED NO SOLUTIONS EXCEPT THE USUAL HOMILIES ABOUT RENEWABLE ENERGY.

IS THIS LEADERSHIP? OR IS IT SABOTAGE?

Gone are the principled uncompromising voices and vision of people like Dave Brower. Gone are the heady days of the 1970s when Pres. Nixon signed our most important pieces of federal legislation, only to be followed by hollow men like Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and, now, Barack Obama, supreme appeaser and capitulator to all the regressive forces extant today. Gone are the days when the dozen largest national groups in Washington DC jointly challenged the corporate establishment, pollution, overdevelopment and wilderness destroyers. Today, at the most critical juncture civilization has ever reached, we are lacking in people of conscience, conviction, commitment and above all intellectual honesty about both the root causes and about the imperatively radical actions that must be taken across society….not just in front of the White House but in our congress, state legislatures, media, civic associations, churches and synagogues, and communities.

Cowardice and moral retreat have replaced courage and honesty. Fast-talking sales promotion consultants and analysts dictate the direction and content of progressive movement’s missions and campaigns. Neologisms like "framing" and "narrative" dominate the almost-disappeared public dialogue. Truly, we are living in a time of virtual reality that has captivated and hypnotized us, seemingly beyond rescue.

The consequences of inaction are already being manifested, but there is little response beyond hand-wringing and writing of small checks. So ask yourselves this question: are you silent and immobile because you are a doubter, or because you think there are more important things to do, or because you think the situation is hopeless? None of these are acceptable responses.

Lorna Salzman

From: Cory Morningstar
Sent: Friday, September 02, 2011 12:25 AM
To: ‘Lorna Salzman’
Subject: VERY IMPORTANT – 350.org infiltrates Canada via new Canadian org. called leadnow.ca

Jamie Biggar is the co-founder and executive director of leadnow.ca (350.org is working with them-see below). It appears that he is likely a key organizer of, what will undoubtedly be, another state-sanctioned action Tar Sands Action in Ottawa. Biggar is also an endorser of the ‘action’.

Adam Shedletzky is founding director & board representative of LeadNow modeled after MoveOn.org (USA) and GetUp.org.au. Shedletsky was the Canadian coordinator for the 350.org 10/10/10 global work party and a former management consultant. His background/education is global strategy & finance. In 2005 he co-founded itsgettinghotinhere.org.

03/22/2011

Dear Friends,

Something exciting is brewing in Canada right now. 350.org is working with a new political organization called Leadnow, spearheaded by our friend Jamie Biggar, and we wanted you to be on the ground floor of this exciting initiative:

Dear 350 Community,

We are huge fans of yours, and deeply grateful for the opportunity to write you today. We’re writing because toxic politics and division are holding our country back and hurting our people and our planet. With a possible federal election right around the corner, it’s time to work together for change.

We are part of a team that has just launched Leadnow.ca—a people-powered movement bringing generations of Canadians together to take action for our future and hold politicians accountable.

Canada needs a positive vision, political cooperation, and more and more people committing to use their vote for change. You can make it happen.

Right now, Canadians like you, from all across the country, are creating the Declaration for Change—a call for politicians to work together for progress on the major challenges facing our country. Before the next election, you will be able to send a powerful message by joining thousands of Canadians to back the Declaration for Change with a commitment to vote for the politicians who rise to the challenge.

But first, you can help create the Declaration for Change by adding your voice to our online values survey at:

http://survey.leadnow.ca/

Many of the people working with Leadnow.ca started organizing in the youth climate movement, and we have participated in many awesome 350 events. We’re excited for the opportunity to write you because we know that when Canadians like you work together, we can change Canadian politics.

Last week, in over 75 events across the country, from St. John’s to Whitehorse, Canadians came together to share their values and voices to help create the Declaration for Change. Click below to join the process online, tell our politicians what you think, and see what Canadians like you want for our country:

http://survey.leadnow.ca/

We need a new kind of politics to face the interlocking crises that define our young century. We need people to lead.

With hope and respect,

Jamie and Adam on behalf of the Leadnow.ca team

PS—Have you seen our launch video, "Canadian Hot Tub?" It’s a quick tribute video to a time when politicians were willing to cooperate for progress – check it out & share with your friends at

You should join us on Facebook by becoming a fan of our page at facebook.com/350org and follow us on twitter by visiting twitter.com/350

To join our list (maybe a friend forwarded you this e-mail) visit www.350.org/signup

350.org needs your help! To support our work, donate securely online at 350.org/donate

350.org is an international grassroots campaign that aims to mobilize a global climate movement united by a common call to action. By spreading an understanding of the science and a shared vision for a fair policy, we will ensure that the world creates bold and equitable solutions to the climate crisis. 350.org is an independent and not-for-profit project.

What is 350? 350 is the number that leading scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. Scientists measure carbon dioxide in "parts per million" (ppm), so 350ppm is the number humanity needs to get below as soon as possible to avoid runaway climate change. To get there, we need a different kind of PPM-a "people powered movement" that is made of of people like you in every corner of the planet.

http://www.peernet.pearsoncollege.ca/content/canadians-please-read

Eyes Wide Shut | The Tar Sands Action Protest & The Paralysis of a Movement – Excerpt

Eyes Wide Shut | The Tar Sands Action Protest & The Paralysis of a Movement – Excerpt

Eyes Wide Shut | The Tar Sands Action Protest & The Paralysis of a Movement

August 30th, 2011

Cory Morningstar

Following is an excerpt from Ward Churchill’s Pacifism as Pathology, first published in 1986. For anyone interested in mitigating the global collapse of all ecosystems and deterring planet-wide and species-wide genocide, this is essential reading.

For anyone wishing to take a critical look at the Tar Sands protests by groups funded (in some cases created) by the Rockefellers and other corporate foundations – who will stop at absolutely nothing to keep the current power structures intact – the excerpt from this essay is sure to wake one from the paralysis trapping and constraining movements and societies to the status quo.  The parallels of Churchill’s essay and events in Washington DC being celebrated and endorsed, while the planet rests on the precipice, are nothing less than Orwellian.

The question central to the emergence and maintenance of nonviolence as the oppositional foundation of American activism has not been the truly pacifist formulation, “How can we forge a revolutionary politics within which we can avoid inflicting violence on others?” On the contrary, a more accurate guiding question has been, “What sort of politics might I engage in which will both allow me to posture as a progressive and allow me to avoid incurring harm to myself?” Hence, the trappings of pacifism have been subverted to establish a sort of “politics of the comfort zone,” not only akin to what Bettelheim termed “the philosophy of business as usual” and devoid of perceived risk to its advocates, but minus any conceivable revolutionary impetus as well.[55] The intended revolutionary content of true pacifist activism — the sort practiced by the Gandhian movement, the Berrigans, and Norman Morrison – is thus isolated and subsumed in the United States, even among the ranks of self-professing participants.

Such a situation must abort whatever limited utility pacifist tactics might have, absent other and concurrent forms of struggle, as a socially transformative method. Yet the history of the American Left over the past decade shows too clearly that the more diluted the substance embodied in “pacifist practice,” the louder the insistence of its subscribers that nonviolence is the only mode of action “appropriate and acceptable within the context of North America,” and the greater the effort to ostracize, or even stifle divergent types of actions.[56] Such strategic hegemony exerted by proponents of this truncated range of tactical options has done much to foreclose on what ever revolutionary potential may be said to exist in modern America.

Is such an assessment too harsh? One need only attend a mass demonstration (ostensibly directed against the policies of the state) in any U.S. city to discover the answer. One will find hundreds, sometimes thousands, assembled in orderly fashion, listening to selected speakers calling for an end to this or that aspect of lethal state activity, carrying signs “demanding” the same thing, welcoming singers who enunciate lyrically on the worthiness of the demonstrators’ agenda as well as the plight of the various victims they are there to “defend,” and – typically – the whole thing is quietly disbanded with exhortations to the assembled to “keep working” on the matter and to please sign a petition and/or write letters to congress people requesting that they alter or abandon offending undertakings.

Throughout the whole charade it will be noticed that the state is represented by a uniformed police presence keeping a discreet distance and not interfering with the activities. And why should they? The organizers of the demonstration will have gone through “proper channels” to obtain permits required by the state and instructions as to where they will be allowed to assemble, how long they will be allowed to stay and, should a march be involved in the demonstration, along which routes they will be allowed to walk. Surrounding the larger mass of demonstrators can be seen others — an elite. Adorned with green (or white, or powder blue) armbands, their function is to ensure that demonstrators remain “responsible,” not deviating from the state-arm banded sanctioned plan of protest. Individuals or small groups who attempt to spin off from the main body, entering areas to which the state has denied access (or some other unapproved activity) are headed off by these arm-banded “marshals” who argue — pointing to the nearby police – that “troublemaking” will only “exacerbate an already tense situation” and “provoke violence,” thereby “alienating those we are attempting to reach.”[57] In some ways, the voice of the “good Jews” can be heard to echo plainly over the years.

At this juncture, the confluence of interests between the state and the mass nonviolent movement could not be clearer. The role of the police, whose function is to support state policy by minimizing disruption of its procedures, should be in natural conflict with that of a movement purporting to challenge these same policies and, indeed, to transform the state itself.[58] However, with apparent perverseness, the police find themselves serving as mere backups (or props) to self-policing (now euphemistically termed “peace-keeping” rather than the more accurate “marshaling”) efforts of the alleged opposition’s own membership. Both sides of the “contestation” concur that the smooth functioning of state processes must not be physically disturbed, at least not in any significant way.[59] All of this is within the letter and spirit of cooptive forms of sophisticated self-preservation appearing as an integral aspect of the later phases of bourgeois democracy.[60] It dovetails well with more shopworn methods such as the electoral process and has been used by the state as an innovative means of conducting public opinion polls, which better hide rather than eliminate controversial policies.[61] Even the movement’s own sloganeering tends to bear this out from time to time, as when Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) coined the catch-phrase of its alternative to the polling place: “Vote with your feet, vote in the street.”[62]

Of course, any movement seeking to project a credible self-image as something other than just one more variation of accommodation to state power must ultimately establish its “militant” oppositional credentials through the media in a manner more compelling than rhetorical speechifying and the holding of impolite placards (“Fuck the War” was always a good one) at rallies.[63] Here, the time-honored pacifist notion of “civil disobedience” is given a new twist by the adherents of nonviolence in America. Rather than pursuing Gandhi’s (or, to a much lesser extent, King’s) method of using passive bodies to literally clog the functioning of the state apparatus — regardless of the cost to those doing the clogging — the American nonviolent movement has increasingly opted for “symbolic actions.”[64]

The centerpiece of such activity usually involves an arrest, either of a token figurehead of the movement (or a small, selected group of them) or a mass arrest of some sort. In the latter event, “arrest training” is generally provided – and lately has become “required” by movement organizers – by the same marshals who will later ensure that crowd control police units will be left with little or nothing to do. This is to ensure that “no one gets hurt” in the process of being arrested, and that the police are not inconvenienced by disorganized arrest procedures. [65]

The event which activates the arrests is typically preplanned, well publicized in advance, and, more often than not, literally coordinated with the police — often including estimates by organizers concerning how many arrestees will likely be involved. Generally speaking, such “extreme statements” will be scheduled to coincide with larger-scale peaceful demonstrations so that a considerable audience of “committed” bystanders (and, hopefully, NBC/CBS/ABC/CNN) will be on hand to applaud the bravery and sacrifice of those arrested; most of the bystanders will, of course, have considered reasons why they themselves are unprepared to “go so far” as to be arrested.[66] The specific sort of action designed to precipitate the arrests themselves usually involves one of the following: (a) sitting down in a restricted area and refusing to leave when ordered; (b) stepping across an imaginary line drawn on the ground by a police representative; (c) refusing to disperse at the appointed time; or (d) chaining or padlocking the doors to a public building. When things really get heavy, those seeking to be arrested may pour blood (real or ersatz) on something of “symbolic value.”[67]

As a rule, those arrested are cooperative in the extreme, meekly allowing police to lead them to waiting vans or buses for transportation to whatever station house or temporary facility has been designated as the processing point. In especially “militant” actions, arrestees go limp, undoubtedly severely taxing the states repressive resources by forcing the police to carry them bodily to the vans or buses (monitored all the while by volunteer attorneys who are there to ensure that such “police brutality” as pushing, shoving, or dropping an arrestee does not occur). In either event, the arrestees sit quietly in their assigned vehicles – or sing “We Shall Overcome” and other favorites — as they are driven away for booking. The typical charges levied will be trespassing, creating a public disturbance, or being a public nuisance.

Purchase the book: http://www.akpress.org/2007/items/pacifismaspathologyakpress

Read the full essay online (original): http://zinelibrary.info/files/pap_imposed.pdf

Read the updated version online (2007): http://bit.ly/qujy8b

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