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WATCH: 21st Century “Environmentalism” Explained in less than 90 Seconds

December 21, 2016

 

 

The following excerpt is from the article Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 6 | Conclusion]

“Environmentalism is dead. Today we bear witness to 21st century anthropocentrism. The goal is no longer to protect nature and all living things. In stark contrast, the goal is to now propel technology at the expense of nature and all living things. A “clean energy revolution”, at the expense of what little remains of nature and non-human life, for the gratification of human desires. In this sense western societies have collectively devolved to the most contemptible depths imaginable. Yet, as a conditioned society, few notice. As always, youth are targeted and groomed, the sacrificial lambs for continued capitalism….

Collectively, Western society has been conditioned to believe that anthropocentrism is environmentalism and anthropocentrists are environmental activists. It is quite possible that this may be one of the best examples of successful social engineering to date, as financed by the world’s most powerful oligarchs.”

 

Further reading:

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 6 | Conclusion]

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

 

 

 

Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits [Part 2]

Wrong Kind of Green

December 6, 2016

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

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

 

“In crushing detail and shining a floodlight on the history of the co-optation of Indigenous struggles since the pivotal year of 2010, Cory Morningstar has put together this series to give deep context to the events at and around Standing Rock. Most vitally, this series contrasts the tiny amounts of money spent at the grassroots against the vast sums spent at the ‘business’ end of the non-profit industrial complex where personal data helps behavior-change B-corporation executives exercise the will of corporate philanthropists, corporations, and imperialist governments.

In this “age of peak spectacle” Morningstar and Forrest Palmer present the invisiblization of crude-via-rail and the manipulations of Warren Buffett and his BNSF empire while showing that not all water is treated as precious, not all pipelines get scrutiny, and not all Indigenous land needs to be treated as sacred if it doesn’t serve the interests of the non-profit industrial complex and those brands that maximize profits through Dave Matthews concerts. You will find stunning passages of clarity in each of part of this series which includes indispensable details of political context and networked hegemony for any true fireball activist.” — Activist Michael Swifte

 

Religion Meets Extinction (“Last Chance”) Tourism 

Last Chance Green Road Sign Over Clouds and Sky.

Last Chance Green Road Sign Over Clouds and Sky

 

October 24, 2016, from the article Planning to Travel to Standing Rock? Now Is The Time published on the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale:

 “‘The entire training experience was so insightful, not just as I looked into myself, but also tried to understand things from the eyes of the oppressor,’ Lopez said… Thanks to this training, I realized that when engaging in non-violent direct action, I can go straight to prayer. This reminded me of who I am, and what I am here for. I remembered that prayer, peace, and love can take us farther than anything.”

November 25, 2016 from the article People are treating the DAPL protest like Burning Man, Standing Rock has reportedly been overrun with white demonstrators trying to soak up the ‘cultural experience’:

“The concerns have been raised by protestors in a series of tweets and Facebook posts. According to them, people have turned up to the Standing Rock demonstration to soak up the ‘cultural experience’, and are treating the camp like it is ‘Burning Man’ festival or ‘The Rainbow Gathering’….  ‘I even witnessed several wandering in and out of camps comparing it to festivals. Waiting with big smiles expectantly for us to give them a necklace or an ‘indian’ name while our camp leader was speaking… The situation has reportedly got so bad that an open letter detailing the camp’s ground rules has started trending on Twitter. Responding to the new influx of support, it reminds demonstrators that the camp is ‘not a vacation.'”

The Saviours: 350.org

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350.org website

“The international environmental movement soon took notice, including, 350.org, an environmentalist group that helped defeat the Keystone XL pipeline. In July, the group sent a delegation to the Sacred Stone Camp to see how they could help. In many ways, the Dakota Access pipeline drew its inspiration from the fight to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, according to organizers from 350 and other environmental groups. ‘We didn’t have to totally reinvent the wheel,’ said Josh Nelson of Credo, a progressive advocacy group.” — From prairie to the White House: Inside a Tribe’s quest to stop a pipeline, September 26, 2016

On cue, standing in the shadows until the campaign becomes so colossal it is somewhat safe from accusations of co-optation, 350 corrals Standing Rock supporters to bring the various individuals and groups back into the fold of the NPIC.  Sign the petition: Tell President Obama to stop the Dakota Access pipeline – sign the petition now. (At the time of this writing their live petition progress was: 105,336 signatures.)  Few (if any) stop and question who exactly benefits from personal information divulged to NGOs for their many campaigns. This information is shared with “allies” such as Unilever, Ceres, The B Team, Avaaz, Purpose, etc. etc.:

“We may share your name and/or email address with trusted organizations that share our mission to solve the climate crisis. These organizations include the 350.org Action Fund (350.org’s affiliate organization) and partner organizations that may be organizing climate action events in your area. We will not share your information with any individual or organization who is not engaged in furthering the success of 350.org… In an ongoing effort to accomplish our mission and understand Web Site visitors better, 350.org may conduct research on its visitor’s demographics and interests based on the Personal Information and other information provided to us. This research may be compiled and analyzed on an aggregate basis, and 350.org may share this aggregate information with its affiliates and allies. 350.org may also disclose aggregated visitor statistics in order to describe the size, scope, and demographics of its network.”

To be clear, 350.org and its partner NGOs are STRONG ALLIES of corporations that have redefined their goals to fall under the faux banner of “sustainable capitalism” and behavioural change agents such as Avaaz and Purpose. This data is of tremendous value to those whose expertise is behavioural change – the modification of whole societies to conform to the wishes and desires of the elite classes.

“We’ve been talking in a broader way about the future of consumer activism, of organizing people not as citizens but as consumers.” — Jeremy Heimans, Avaaz/Purpose, 2011

The Continued DeKlein of the Postmodern Imperial-Liberal Left

Lending credence to George Orwell’s “doublespeak”: “first they steal the words, then they steal the meaning” doublespeak today functions in tandem with ever evolving holistic linguistics crafted by 21st century Euro-American anthropocentrists amidst a thriving networked hegemony. The word “radical”, Latin meaning radix “root”, going to the origin, has been turned on its head. Radical has been made into a word equated with terrorists. Radical has been employed by McKibben to describe Exxon CEOs and their ilk.

Marketed and branded opposition to capitalism by 350’s Naomi Klein et al is not opposition to dismantle capitalism in its entirety as is required (a concept unapologetically outlined by the unwavering Stephanie MacMillan), rather, the “opposition” is limited to specific forms of capitalism identified and categorized by our 21st century thought-leaders. “Crony capitalism” , “corporate capitalism” and “the excesses of capitalism” (terms used by Avi Lewis for Klein’s NGO campaign, “The Leap Manifesto”) comprise the framework for capitalism as a whole in an attempt to make it wholly acceptable. Simultaneously, the national and global “clean energy” campaigns thrust into the public domain by these same institutions and individuals who claim to oppose “corporate capitalism” in reality guarantee the expansion of capitalism. Critical discussion on imperialism has been wholly replaced with “extractivism”. Anti-capitalist expression has become hollowed rhetoric made vogue for social media metrics dispersed by those of privilege by elite foundations via their pet NGOs.

“… the higher up the media chain where Naomi Klein speaks, the farther she detaches herself from any critique of capitalism as being the root cause of the global warming emergency. In fact, notwithstanding the subtitle — “Capitalism Vs. The Climate” — of her 2014 best-selling book, there is very little hard, anti-capitalist critique in her writings and speeches. That is also true of the many uncritical published reviews of the book and of the [Leap]manifesto itself. — Taking forward the political vision that inspires the Leap Manifesto, October 14, 2016

In similar fashion, Avi Lewis (Klein’s husband and son of pro-interventionist Stephen Lewis), submits that “the heart of the problem with capitalism is the variant he calls ‘extractivism’. Lewis considers ‘extractivism’ to be a distinct phase and element of the capitalist system, explaining that capitalism and extractivism emerged in parallel at the outset of the industrial revolution. He calls the surge of human economic pillaging emanating from Europe in the early stages of mercantile expansion ‘extractivism’ and ‘colonialism'” and explains that “these were then “turbocharged” by “industrialism.” [Source]

Black revolutionary Omali Yeshitela succinctly explains how capitalism is in fact imperialism developed to its highest stage. Yeshitela explains capitalism as a product of imperialism – not vice-versa. Both Lewis and Klein avoid making any connection between imperialism and capitalism. Consider the word imperialism receives one mention in Klein’s 505 page book about climate change and capitalism.[1]  This must be considered a creative re-framing of history by our “thought leaders” thus it is worth asking why such a glaring omission exists while the term “extractivism” is concurrently pounded into our psyche. The reality is simple. The global “clean” energy structure Klein campaigns for (at the bequest of her many funders) is dependent upon and impossible without both the expansion and acceleration of imperialism. This is indisputable. Those very Indigenous Nations Klein, et al, profess to support – are the very Indigenous nations that will be impacted in the future. The very same Indigenous nations being impacted now. Like the gross undermining of Indigenous nations at COP15 in Copenhagen. Like the gross undermining and marginalization of the Indigenous led 2010 Peoples Agreement drafted in Bolivia at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth that ultimately was deliberately made invisible by NGOs who comprise the NPIC. These were ultimately replaced with Manifestos espousing western, white and empirical values such as Klein’s Leap.

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In the documentary video produced by Avi Lewis for Al Jazeera English (uploaded  May 20, 2010) Lewis devotes significant film footage to the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth (35,000 participants from 142 countries) hosted by Bolivia. More than two thirds of the Bolivian population has Indigenous origin giving Bolivia the largest proportion of indigenous people in Latin America. The film contains great footage of commentary by both the late revolutionary Hugo Chavez and Indigenous President Evo Morales. In this footage Lewis focuses  on extraction while ignoring the global economic capitalist system and the 1% it serves who create 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions. He notes that 80% of Bolivia’s extraction is exports that drive the extraction. Lewis observes “it’s no surprise that in climate negotiations Bolivia is emerging as a leader among developing countries advancing radical proposals and analysis that’s making rich countries distinctly nervous.”

“In Bolivia we like to dream. And we like to dream so much that we have the first Indigenous president. We love to dream. We love to dream so we have fifty percent of women that are ministers now. We love to dream so much that we have a new constitution now that has more rights than even the United Nations. So is it worth dreaming? It is absolutely worth dreaming.” — Angelica Navarro, Bolivian Climate Negotiator, 2010

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Bolivia’s progressive positions also made rich elites distinctly nervous. By the following year (2011), Klein had joined the board of Rockefeller’s 350.org. Providing critical discourse by way of the single most radical declaration to ever be recognized by the United Nations (thanks only to the efforts of the Bolivian state), a divestment campaign designed by both McKibben, Klein, as well as 350.org and it’s “friends on Wall Street”, would soon be global in scale in partnering with such entities as the United Nations and The Guardian. By 2015, with the Indigenous led “People’s Agreement” (which Klein and Lewis both participated/attended) now completely and utterly buried by the NPIC, Klein would introduce her own “Leap Manifesto” to the world.[2] Omali Yeshitela  sums up Klein, et al’s actions best: “Today’s white left is also locked into a worldview that places the location of Europeans in the world as the center of the universe. It always has.”  Meaning that no matter how progressive and radical the thought processes, concepts, ideologies, and proposals that Indigenous Nations or non-Anglos propose – we whites can do it better. We are smarter. We are superior.

“The climate summit that just wrapped up in Cochabamba was the polar opposite of Copenhagen, not only because it occurred literally on the other side of the world. Instead of being led by the most powerful people of the world, it was led by those at the margins: the poor countries, indigenous peoples, and social movements.” – The Cochabamba AccordAn Alternative to Copenhagen’s Failure, June 28, 2010

It is vital to watch the following video “World People’s Conference on Climate Change Part 2”  which highlights praise for the Indigenous led People’s Agreement, by climate change “leaders” from Nnimo Bassey (Friends of the Earth), Klein, and Maude Barlow (Council of Canadians)  all who possess a far reach and all of whom allowed the agreement to be buried. Here it must be noted that a mere five years later, many of these same “leaders” would flock to endorse, highlight and campaign on Klein’s Leap manifesto (including Maude Barlow).

At the end of the above video Morales is filmed speaking to the people: “Now our job is to convince, persuade and explain. And if they do not listen to us, we will have to organize and gain power through our social movements around the world, to focus the developed countries to respect the conclusions made by the worlds social movements. Homeland or death! Long live the first worlds social movement gathering for the rights of Mother Earth!”

“When Morales invited “social movements and Mother Earth’s defenders…scientists, academics, lawyers and governments” to come to Cochabamba for a new kind of climate summit, it was a revolt against this experience of helplessness, an attempt to build a base of power behind the right to survive.” – Naomi Klein, April 22, 2010

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But the First World’s social movement gathering for the rights of Mother Earth would not live. Bolivia’s “attempt to build a base of power behind the right to survive” would be dismantled via deliberate marginalization. Akin to Jeremy’s Hemans, co-founder of Avaaz/Purpose who concluded “progressive” capitalists would have to  “kill green” in order to save it – this radical blueprint for a global transformation of economics and superior ideologies, would also have to be killed in order to save capitalism. This would be accomplished using empire’s most potent weapon: the NGOs that comprise the NPIC. Adding salt to the wounds, tiny land-locked Bolivia, one the poorest nations in Latin America (in a monetary sense only), paid for the flights of many privileged North American NGO “activists” to attend.

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Participants sit in bleachers at the packed World People’s Summit on Climate Change and Mother Earth’s Rights, Photo by The City Project

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Naomi Klein (right) with Council of Canadians’ Maude Barlow at the Leap Manifesto launch.

Between 2010 and 2015, Bolivia, under the Morales government, went from an emerging global climate leader (2009-2010) to being cast as a demonized as “extractivist” state. Throngs of articles regarding “extractivisim” (written by the 1% creating 50% of the global greenhouse gas emissions being anyone who can afford to get on a plane) would paint Morales as a hypocrite. Bolivia as a model for climate change was thrown in the trash bin. Mission accomplished. [Further reading on how anti-imperial governments of vulnerable states must work within the confines of existing structures/systems inherited from capitalists or western puppets: FUNDACIÓN PACHAMAMA IS DEAD – LONG LIVE ALBA | PART III]

Land-locked Bolivia stands on the front lines with Indigenous Nations as those that feel the deepest impacts of climate change and ecological collapse as the world turns a blind eye. Bolivia’s Chacaltaya glacier (home to the highest ski lift in the world at 5,421m)retreated and disappeared in 2009, six years earlier than predicted by scientists. In 2009, the World Bank warned of the disappearance of many glaciers in the tropical Andes within the next 20 years. These glaciers provide fresh water for nearly 80 million people in the region. Lake Poopó, once Bolivia’s second-largest lake, was officially declared evaporated in December 2015. With it, biologists report the disappearance of 75 species of birds and the displacement of hundreds of locals. [Source] This month, Bolivia has issued a state of emergency due to drought. Like vultures, imperial forces have seized this opportunity in an attempt to create civil panic and strife (for possible and continually sought destabilization).

In summary, Indigenous president Evo Morales would be demonized for extractivism by the very people attending the climate conferences, individuals possessing first world privilege, and those entitities that drove (and continue to drive) extractivism.  Bolivia would present alternate proposals to REDD/UN-REDD (The United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries) and lead the fight by Indigenous nations worldwide, while simultaneously, the NGOs and the NPIC establishment ensured it would not succeed.

NGOs are accomplices of the elite power structures. The postmodern NPIC today serves as the key instrument for the furthering of both colonization and imperialism in the 21st century.  The non-profit industrial complex cannot be reformed – it must be abolished.

Further dystopian framing is in full display – to an audience blinded by rose-tinted glasses. Guerrilla rebel/freedom fighter revolutionary Jose Mujica must be considered perhaps the single best example of selflessness and environmental stewardship (in exchange for the pursuit of knowledge) for aspiration by all global citizens. Yet, empire has instead manufactured actor Leo Dicaprio – one of the planets most self-indulgent egoists to ever walk the earth – to serve as the hero for climate change and environment (and incidentally divestment). In an age of peak spectacle combined with savoir-faire social engineering – the masses applaud.

In Klein’s April 22, 2010 article “A New Climate Movement in Bolivia” (written while participating in the conference) she writes: “In Copenhagen, leaders of endangered nations like Bolivia and Tuvalu argued passionately for the kind of deep emissions cuts that could avert catastrophe. They were politely told that the political will in the North just wasn’t there. More than that, the United States made clear that it didn’t need small countries like Bolivia to be part of a climate solution. Yet Bolivia’s enthusiastic commitment to participatory democracy may well prove the summit’s most important contribution.”

Yet the following year, in 2011, Klein would join the board of 350.org. This was a major reversal on her part since 350.org is one of the key NGOs that undermined Bolivia’s and the G77’s proposed deep emissions and radical targets. This was accomplished via the Global Call for Climate Action (GCCA ) umbrella it founded (with 19 other NGOs – most famous for the TckTckTck campaign) that dominated both the Copenhagen climate conference and the collective Euro-American psyche. To further illustrate Klein’s support of empire even outside the realm of environmentalism, additional irony arises by her support of Canadian MP Nathan Cullen, who voted in support of NATO’s intervention in the sovereign nation of Libya also in 2011. This regime-change invasion would destroy a prosperous Libya – a country were the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya upheld a national direct democracy movement. This slaughter resulted in over 500,000 dead, 30,000 in terrorist-run prisons, 2.5 million exiled, tens of thousands of refugees and horrific ethnic cleansing and lynching of black Libyans and migrant workers.

“But you won’t find Naomi Klein writing the Libyan chapter of the ‘shock doctrine’ (Gulf News, 26/10/2011)–Naomi Klein was too busy throwing her support behind a Canadian politician, Nathan Cullen, who voted in support of NATO’s intervention in Libya, with little regret.” – Author Maximilian Forte, February 19, 2013,  Counterpunch

Further, when 4 simple questions were put forward to Klein (via twitter) challenging her silence on 350.org partner Avaaz campaigning for No Fly Zones on Libya (followed by Syria), and 350.org’s undermining of Indigenous Nations in both Copenhagen and Bolivia, Klein’s only response was to immediately block.

This clearly demonstrates a terrifying observation that has became more and more apparent over the past few years following the Bolivian conference held in the tiny town of Cochabamba. No has acknowledged it, let alone discussed it. The observation is clear: the NPIC has full control of the “grass roots movements’. When those who comprise the NPIC (including designated/appointed thought leaders deemed acceptable by the establishment) stopped momentum for the Indigenous led People’s Agreement – it all stopped. The whole world went silent.

Indeed while the NPIC continues to shove the illusion of a third industrial revolution that intends to be global in scale, into the collective consciousness, Indigenous Nations around the world are already fighting industrial solar and wind projects, land acquisition disputes and a host of other clashes (mining conflicts, eco-tourism, REDD, etc. etc.) that come with the “new economy”. Yet, the NGOs continue, un-phased, unabated. They do not bat a proverbial eyelash. Here and there, multi-million dollar certification schemes are introduced to ensure business as usual – the worst of humanity, the unfathomable, made a little more friendly/bearable with a green rubber stamp to mollify guilt. With the postmodern imperial liberal left, solidarity is not a given. Solidarity is extended only when and if it is of benefit to the NGOs (branding) or their benefactors (strategy). NGOs are not allies. NGOs are tentacles of power under the guise of friendship. NGOs are friendly fire.

Stephen Lewis (father of Avi Lewis) has suggested that the Canadian New Democrat Party (NDP) could gain support (votes) by using The Leap Manifesto as a means of embedding itself and utilizing momentum created by popular movements (which time and again have become quickly co-opted): “And when you consider the social movements in this country … Idle No More, Occupy, Black Lives Matter … there is a ground swell with which we can amalgamate to make our presence dramatically felt in the next campaign.” [Source]

Perhaps the best example of “Indigenous solidarity” demonstrated by NGOs is a very recent Canadian “victory” on a tar sands deal spearheaded by Leap author and initial signatory, Tzeporah Berman. Due to her machinations and scheming, the Alberta tar sands industry will be allowed to further emit up to 100 megatonnes (from the current 70 megatonnes) of GHG emissions under the guise of victory. Berman, who works hand in hand with We Mean Business (350.org divestment partner Ceres, The B Team, Carbon Tracker, etc.), Suncor and other corporate entities will continue to enjoy luxurious lifestyles (on stolen native land) while the Indigenous nations downstream will continue to suffer the worst impacts.

 

Any vestiges of a legitimate movement belonging wholly to citizens – completely outside and independent in all forms from the NPIC, are gone. There is absolutely no hope for legitimate revolution rising from the liberal class. This class is now wholly indoctrinated.

The only hope that remains lies with the working class and Indigenous nations. Thus, it should be of no surprise that we now witness a new level of co-optation, in essence a national pacification experiment, being carried out via the Standing Rock campaign in North Dakota.

 

End Notes:

[1] “Extractivism is also directly connected to the notion of sacrifice zones—places that, to their extractors, somehow don’t count and therefore can be poisoned, drained, or otherwise destroyed, for the supposed greater good of economic progress. This toxic idea has always been intimately tied to imperialism, with disposable peripheries being harnessed to feed a glittering center, and it is bound up too with notions of racial superiority, because in order to have sacrifice zones, you need to have people and cultures who count so little that they are considered deserving of sacrifice. Extractivism ran rampant under colonialism because relating to the world as a frontier of conquest—rather than as home—fosters this

particular brand of irresponsibility. The colonial mind nurtures the belief that there is always somewhere else to go to and exploit once the current site of extraction has been exhausted.”  (p. 148)

[2] The problem begins when more radical environmental thinkers and activists, including would-be Marxists, choose not to rock the Leap Manifesto consensus. They opt to limit their vision to the limited outlook of Klein, Lewis and the proposals in the Leap Manifesto. [Source]

 

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

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

 

Further Reading:

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

350: Agent Saboteur

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

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

This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe

The Limits of the Political Vision of the Authors of the Leap Manifesto

Counterpunch

October 14, 2016

by Roger Annis

 

Author and environmentalist Naomi Klein published a feature article in the Globe and Mail‘s edition of Saturday, Sept 24 in which she defends against its detractors the Leap Manifesto issued in Canada in April 2016. Her unique argument in this essay explains that Canada’s “founding economic myth” has been that of the ‘good’ created by the vast pillaging of the country’s natural resources following the arrival of settlers from Europe. She argues that the myth’s endurance helps to explain the failure of Canada’s contemporary capitalist elite to making the necessary political and economic changes in the face of the global warming emergency.

Klein explains that Canada is on course to blow past the already risible greenhouse gas emission targets it assumed at the international climate change conference in Paris in December 2015, including an industry-planned increase of Alberta tar sands production of 43 per cent. The tar sands industry wants to see four new bitumen pipelines built to carry their raw product to foreign markets.

Klein asks, “Why is it so hard for Canadian political leaders, across the political spectrum, to design climate policies that are guided by climate science?”

She explains that to the European mercantilists driving settlement of the Americas, “the so-called New World was imagined as a sort of spare continent, to use for parts. And what parts: Here seemed to be a bottomless treasure trove – fish, fowl, fur, giant trees, and later metals and fossil fuels. And in Canada, these riches covered a territory so vast, it seemed impossible to fathom its boundaries.”

“Again and again in the early accounts, the words “inexhaustible” and “infinite” come up – to describe old growth forests, beavers, great auks, and of course cod (so many, they ‘stayed the passage’ of John Cabot’s ships).” (Cabot was an early British explorer of the North Atlantic.)

Klein makes an unconvincing comparison between settlement of the U.S. and Canada, saying that the absence in Canada of a slave-powered agricultural economy gave an especially acute dimension to natural resource pillaging compared to what occurred in the United States. But her main point stands–that the ideology of “unlimited” natural resources available for plunder is deeply rooted in Canada’s dominant historical narrative. It’s a useful insight for educating today’s population about the dangerous consequences of such an abiding myth.

That said, Klein’s essay regretfully provides little hint of an alternative to the founding myth she deftly critiques. She makes a characteristic argument that happens to be inaccurate and also misleading when she writes:

“… Other countries are moving ahead with policies that begin to reflect the scientific realities. Germany and France have both banned fracking.

“Even in the United States, there is a wider spectrum of debate. The new platform of the Democratic Party, for instance, states that no new infrastructure projects should be built if they substantively contribute to climate change – essentially the same position that caused all the outrage around The Leap Manifesto…”

Any comparison to the Leap Manifesto, a genuinely radical critique of the environmental status quo, and lofty but empty words by the U.S. Democratic Party is quite misplaced. The comparison illustrates that the higher up the media chain where Naomi Klein speaks, the farther she detaches herself from any critique of capitalism as being the root cause of the global warming emergency. In fact, notwithstanding the sub-title–‘Capitalism Vs. The Climate’—of her 2014 best-selling book, there is very little hard, anti-capitalist critique in her writings and speeches.

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That is also true of the many uncritical reviews of the book which have been published and of the manifesto itself.[1]. The manifesto was issued in April 2016 in an effort to spark serious discussion in the moribund New Democratic Party (Canada’s party of the soft left) and in Canadian society more broadly concerning the global warming emergency. (Read the manifesto here: The Leap Manifesto: A Call for a Canada Based on Caring for the Earth and One Another.)

To wit…

Avi Lewis expounds on the Leap Manifesto

A co-author to Klein of the Leap Manifesto, Avi Lewis, engaged in a two-hour debate about the document in Ottawa on Sept 15, 2016 together with Thomas Homer-Dixon. The debate is broadcast on the CPAC cable television channel and website. Lewis’ contributions to the debate provide insight into the strengths as well as weaknesses of the political outlook of the manifesto and its authors.

Lewis’ debating adversary authored a Globe and Mail op-ed in April 22, 2016 opposing the central tenets of the Leap Manifesto. It was titled ‘Start the Leap revolution without me‘. Thomas Homer-Dixon is the CIGI chair of global systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs at the University of Waterloo, Ontario.

Homer-Dixon argued in the debate that while he appreciates the sentiments underlying the Leap Manifesto and even acknowledges that the economic system of “capitalism” is a contributing cause of the global warming emergency, he says there are many more causes at play. He calls the Leap Manifesto “divisive” and says it is “muddled” due to the excessive breadth of the issues it addresses. He also says the focus of the manifesto on “capitalism” as the source of global warming is misdirected; there are many additional sources unrelated to capitalism.

Lewis’ lead-off in the debate is a sharp critique of what he describes as the excesses of “capitalism”. His explicit use of the term is in contrast to the speeches and interviews of Naomi Klein as well as the texts of ‘This Changes Everything’ and the Leap Manifesto itself.

Lewis says that nothing short of a frontal challenge to the expansion dynamic of capitalism is required if rising greenhouse gas emissions causing global warming are to be slowed and eventually reversed. But later in the exchange, Lewis steps back from this central argument. He says the heart of the problem with capitalism is the variant he calls “extractivism”.

Lewis considers “extractivism” to be a distinct phase and element of the capitalist system, saying that capitalism and extractivism emerged in parallel at the outset of the industrial revolution. He calls the surge of human economic pillaging emanating from Europe in the early stages of mercantile expansion “extractivism” and “colonialism”. These were then “turbocharged” by “industrialism”.

This method of analyzing the parts of a social phenomenon distinct from one another leads to a failure to properly understand the whole. While Lewis acknowledged in his talk that the expansion dynamic of industrial capitalism is why the global warming emergency is upon us and is proving so intractable to solve, his division of the constituent whole–capitalism–into seemingly distinct parts–extractivism, colonialism, etc–confuses the subject.

What is the alternative?

The reader can listen to Avi Lewis in the debate with Thomas Homer-Dixon and then judge for himself or herself his proposed political response to the global warming crisis.

He begins rather well. He says there must be a “systematic challenge to every major pillar of our current economic order” if the world is to successfully confront the global warming challenge. He says a victory on the “ideological level” over capitalism is required to create the political conditions to overcome the crisis. He suggests six necessary themes to that ideological challenge:

* Governments must lead the fight against global warming. No other entity in society commands the necessary resources and authority to do so. (Lewis then provides another misleading tangent, saying that what is needed today is a societal mobilization similar to the one sparked by the fight against German Nazism in World War Two. The problem here is that the outcome of WW2—the victory of the U.S.-led imperialist alliance–laid the foundation for the vast expansion of consumerist capitalism which today threatens the planet.)

* There should be higher taxes on the wealthy and carbon taxes which discourage Environmentally damaging consumer and industrial purchasing choices.

* Market mechanisms to lower greenhouse gas emissions have failed, Lewis argues, citing the example of the European carbon emissions trading-credit system.

* “We have to smash the austerity mindset once and for all.”

* The ‘free trade’ investment and trade deals of recent decades be torn up.

* Finally, Lewis argued for ending the global consumerism treadmill that impoverishes the global south. “Over-consumption” must be lowered across the board, he says.

Lewis added that transition to a society burning fewer fossil fuels is not a barrier to progress. It is “the wind beneath our wings”.

As refreshing as are Lewis words and proposals, they beg two large sets of action that are required to meet the global warming challenge.

Emergency retrenchment

Nothing short of an emergency retrenchment of all the waste and destructive excess of capitalist production is required today. That means taking radical political and social measure to curb the relentless capitalist expansion dynamic. Without this corollary to action, all the dire warnings of the dreadful consequences of rising average global temperatures merely sow fear and uncertainty. Yet, Lewis and the Leap Manifesto say far too little on this score.

Last month, the CBC reported:

The Leap Manifesto… calls for Canada to be “powered entirely by just renewable energy” within 20 years, to end trade deals that don’t benefit local economies and pitches the idea of a national childcare program and universal basic annual income.

“It’s actually about giving power to those who have been disempowered and it’s about taking some power away from people who have too much,” said [Avi] Lewis.

Taking “some power” away from those who have too much hardly meets the political challenge.

A centrepiece of the Leap Manifesto vision is this: “We could live in a country powered entirely by renewable energy.” But if the production and consumption of “things” were powered by “renewables” instead of fossil fuels, then human society would still be headed for the precipice.

The very notion of “renewable” energy is a dangerous and reckless idea which far too many environmentalists give credence. Basic science tells us that every energy source requires inputs and it has emissions consequences. Hydroelectric dams ruin rivers, lands and forests and are damaging sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Solar panels are made from metals and fossil fuels; vast numbers of them are required if the goal is to replicate the vast quantities of fossil fuel-produced electricity. Electric engines (in vehicles, wind turbines, etc) consume vast quantities of metals and rare earth minerals. Wind energies require storage and back-up systems. All large-scale forms of “renewable” energy production require large-scale transmission systems. And so on.

Any form of large-scale energy production gives rise to large, centralized production and distribution systems, the opposite of the “democratically run” management of energy production called for by the manifesto.

The manifesto does speak, importantly, of “Moving to a far more localized and ecologically-based agricultural system would reduce reliance on fossil fuels, capture carbon in the soil, and absorb sudden shocks in the global supply – as well as produce healthier and more affordable food for everyone.” But this is a lot more radical and difficult than it sounds, as can also be said about the total re-casting of urban design with which capitalism has saddled the planet for many generations to come.

What form of government is needed to meet the climate challenge?

Lewis correctly states that government action is required to lead society out of the looming emissions calamity on the planet. But what kind of government is he talking about and on what scale? A lesser-evil variant such as the present Liberal government in Ottawa or a Hillary Clinton-led Democratic Party government in the United States?

What social classes have the interest and organizing capacity to lead the formation of governments that would act in the interest of society as a whole and not simply on behalf of the tiny, capitalist elite? What kind of political parties are required to achieve such a government?

These and other such important questions go unanswered in the world of Leap. We get a certain hint of an answer in this CBC Radio report on Sept 17:

Lewis compared the Leap movement to the Indignados, Spain’s anti-austerity movement that became a political party, and Bernie Sanders supporters in the United States, who are still trying to figure out what to do after his concession.

“It’s a critical question… I think the social forces in Canada need to be more than movements but less than parties,” Lewis said. “We have to be careful to not denigrate the power of grassroots action.”

“Less than parties”? Lewis’ statement came around the same time of his announcement that he would not run for the leadership of the NDP, disappointing many left-wing and environmental activists. So where does that leave us? Protest, and protest some more, all the while hoping that some people in high places are listening? But they are not listening; we know that for a fact.

Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein make an important contribution to thought and action on the global warming crisis. They are popular for good reasons. But their vision of the full scope of the global warming crisis and their proposals for what to do are inadequate.

That by itself is not a problem. They are who they are. The problem begins when more radical environmental thinkers and activists, including would-be Marxists, choose not to rock the Leap Manifesto consensus. They opt to limit their vision to the limited outlook of Klein, Lewis and the proposals in the Leap Manifesto.

Complicating matters further in Canada is that leftists and environmentalists are standing around waiting for a Jeremy Corby-type leadership miracle to take place in the NDP or something similar to take place in the conservative, pro-private enterprise Green Party. The urgently needed task of building a broad party of the political left gets left on hold.

This is the subject I addressed in my article six months ago reporting on the outcome of the national convention of the New Democratic Party. Delegates there voted to oust the right-wing party leader, Thomas Mulcair, which was most welcome. But this was mistakenly interpreted by leftists as opening a stage of wholesale renewal of the party. This has not taken place, nor can a deep renewal of the NDP be anticipated so long as there is no independent pressure operating on the party from the left.

My article was titled, ‘Climate change emergency shakes Canada’s corporate establishment and fractures the country’s social democratic party‘. It argued: “The socialist left in Canada has been without effective political voices since the 1970s. Only in Quebec has a partial break been made towards a strong and effective party of the political left, with the formation of Québec solidaire in 2006. Canada and Quebec need a party of the political left which can speak out and organize for socialism.”

Alas, no progress towards a party of the left has been made. The wait for a miracle in the NDP miracle is still on. Yet not a single leadership candidate has come forward to lead the moribund party. It is looking for all the world that the right-wing leadership in the NDP may seek to set aside the April 2016 convention vote and draft Mulcair to stay on as party leader. NDP members of Parliament voted unanimously in August that he stay on as interim leader until a party leadership convention in 2017.

So the gauntlet is still laying there on the ground. Who will pick it up?

Notes:
[1] One of the few substantive analyses of Naomi Klein’s 2014 best-selling book This Changes Everything was published in January 2015 by a writing collective calling itself ‘Out of the Woods’. Their review was titled ‘Klein vs Klein’ and can be read here.

[Roger Annis is a retired aerospace worker in Vancouver BC. He writes regularly for Counterpunch and compiles his writings on a ‘A Socialist in Canada’. He is an editor of the website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond. He can be reached at rogerannis@hotmail.com.]