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Philanthropic Capitalist Foundations and Corporate Environmentalism

Le Partage

January 2019

By Nicolas Casaux

 

 

Translation from French to English via DeepL Translator

 

The two examples below of funding from Jane Goodall’s NGO (Jane Goodall Institute) and 350 (.org) are quite representative of how mainstream ecology works. The leading figures and organizations in the field of ecology, those that are often reported in the media, are rarely, if ever, revolutionary. Their discourse is often limited to various platitudes, encouraging all kinds of false solutions and stating relatively hollow proposals, or worse (ending poverty/developing green energy and technology/developing organic/go to work by bike/developing sustainable development/vote for the good guys/etc.). And their actions are palliative (which can, however, in some cases, be really important).

Jane Goodall’s NGO funding

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NGO 350.org funding

The same reasons that push the mass media (which, on the whole, belong to[1] – and broadly convey the ideology of – the same class of individuals found behind philanthrocapitalist foundations) to promote the ecologism of large NGOs and some subsidized personalities (by the private or public), push private philanthrocapitalist foundations and/or public organizations to finance these NGOs and individuals: they are harmless for today’s capitalist industrial society.

Thus the NGO 350.org was created and continues to be financed by the Rockefellers and many other ultra-rich capitalists; thus the Jane Goodall Foundation is financed by various philanthrocapitalist foundations and even directly by a few corporations, including an airline company; and thus WWF, which is financed by and collaborates with various multinationals (Coca-Cola, HSBC, etc.).) and foundations; and thus Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s , “founded with the support of three banks […] : BNP Paribas, the Swiss bank Lombard Odier, and Cortal Consors, BNP’s subsidiary specialising in online trading for individuals”, which collaborates with Total[2] and is “financed in particular by donations from companies such as Casino, Suez or BNP[3]”; thus Cyril Dion’s film Demain was subsidised by AFD and co-produced with France Télévisions, as well as his documentary film Après-Demain ; etc.

Ultimately, these heavily subsidized, funded and mediated NGOs and personalities are a kind of ecological guarantor of capitalist industrial society. They make it possible to channel and control popular concerns about the fate of the natural world. Their ecologism is to ecology what modern electoral systems are to democracy. A fraud. About these general public ecologists, Jaime Semprun’s Encyclopedia of Nuisances wrote in its Address to all those who do not want to manage nuisances but remove them, in June 1990, that they:

“are in the field of the fight against nuisances what trade unionists were in the field of workers’ struggles: intermediaries interested in preserving the contradictions for which they regulate, negotiators dedicated to bargaining (the revision of standards and harmfulness rates replacing the percentages of wage increases), advocates of the quantitative as economic calculation extends to new fields (air, water, human embryos or synthetic sociability); in short, new brokers of an economic subjection whose price must now include the cost of a “quality environment”. We are already seeing the establishment, co-managed by “green” experts, of a redistribution of the territory between sacrificed and protected areas, a spatial division that will regulate hierarchical access to nature goods. As for radioactivity, there will be something for everyone.

 

To say that the ecologists’ practice is reformist would still do it too much credit, because it is directly and deliberately in line with the logic of capitalist domination, which unceasingly extends, by its very destruction, the field of its exercise. In this cyclical production of evils and their aggravating remedies, ecologism will have been only the reserve army of an era of bureaucratization, where “rationality” is always defined far from the individuals concerned and any realistic knowledge, with the renewed disasters that this implies. […]

 

It is therefore not a kind of extremist purism, let alone “politics of the worst”, that invites us to stand out violently from all the ecological planners of the economy: it is simply the realism about the necessary future of all this. The consequent development of the fight against nuisances requires clarifying, through as many exemplary denunciations as necessary, the opposition between ecolocrats – those who derive power from the ecological crisis – and those who do not have interests distinct from all dispossessed individuals, nor from the movement that can enable them to eliminate nuisances through the “rational dismantling of all commercial production”. If those who want to suppress nuisances are necessarily on the same ground as those who want to manage them, they must be present as enemies, otherwise they will be reduced to figuring in the spotlight of the directors of spatial planning. They can only really occupy this ground, i.e. find the means to transform it, by asserting without concession the social criticism of nuisances and their managers, installed or postulated. »

Their criticism of nuisance management, which is also a criticism of the management of popular concerns and disputes, is in line with the denunciation of the NGOization of resistance formulated, among others, by Arundhati Roy:

The NGO-ization of Resistance, Arundhati Roy, August 16, 2004

Gil Scott-Heron had sung it, the revolution will not be televised, and the collective INCITE! rightly adds that it will not be subsidized either.

 

End Notes:

  1. https://www.bastamag.net/Le-pouvoir-d-influence-delirant-des-dix-milliardaires-qui-possedent-la-presse ?
  2. https://www.zonebourse.com/TOTAL-4717/actualite/Total-accord-avec-la-Fondation-GoodPlanet-25542889/?iCStream=1 ?
  3. https://www.lemonde.fr/les-decodeurs/article/2015/09/16/l-empire-yann-arthus-bertrand-en-5-chiffres_4759524_4355770.html ?

 

[Nicolas Casaux is a member of the international organization Deep Green Resistance.]