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WATCH: The Betrayal by Technology: A Portrait of Jacques Ellul

Produced by Rerun Productions

Amsterdam

1992

 

French sociologist and technology critique Jacques Ellul in his studio in Pessac, France. Photo taken as part of the filming of the documentary “The Betrayal by Technology” by ReRun Productions, Amsterdam, Netherlands. December 12, 1990

 

“This movement is invading the whole intellectual domain and also that of conscience. … What is at issue here is evaluating the danger of what might happen to our humanity in the present half-century, and distinguishing between what we want to keep and what we are ready to lose, between what we can welcome as legitimate human development and what we should reject with our last ounce of strength as dehumanization. I cannot think that choices of this kind are unimportant.”

 

— Jacques Ellul, Ce que je crois (1987) [What I Believe] translated by Geoffrey W. Bromiley (1989), p. 140

 

“Technology forces us to go faster and faster. One does not know where one goes. The only thing that matters is the speed.” French philosopher Jacques Ellul has analyzed modern Western society on basis of the premise that technology has become an autonomous, all-determining factor.

In 1950, Ellul finished his manuscript La Technique ou l’enjeu du siècle (The Technological Society), his seminal analysis of the way technology shapes every aspect of society. As contemporary thinker, he was strongly influenced by Kierkegaard, Marx and Barth. After a life, in which he wrote close to fifty books, Ellul died in the summer of 1994, at the age of 82.

The team of ReRun Producties visited Ellul in 1990. During five subsequent days, long interview sessions were held with him in his old mansion in Pessac. The Betrayal by Technology is one of the very few existing filmed recordings of Jacques Ellul speaking.”

54 minutes

 

 

 

 

Forgive Us Our Debts

Quodlibet

September 28, 2022

By Giorgio Agamben

 

“Hope Dies Last”, Athens, Greece. Artist: WD (Wild Drawing)

The prayer par excellence – the one that Jesus himself dictated to us (“pray like this”) – contains a passage that our time strives to contradict at all costs and which it will therefore be good to remember, precisely today that everything seems to be reduced to the one fierce double-sided law: credit/debit. Dimitte nobis debita nostra… «forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors». The Greek original is even more peremptory: aphes emin ta opheilemata emon, «let go, remove our debts from us». Reflecting on these words in 1941, in the middle of the world war, a great Italian jurist, Francesco Carnelutti, observed that, if it is a truth of the physical world that what has happened cannot be erased, the same cannot be said for the moral world. which is defined precisely through the possibility of forgiveness and forgiveness.

First of all, it is necessary to dispel the prejudice that debt is a genuinely economic law. Even leaving aside the problem of what is meant when one speaks of an economic “law”, a summary genealogical investigation shows that the origin of the concept of debt is not economic, but juridical and religious – two dimensions that the more one goes back towards prehistory the more they tend to get confused. If, as Carl Schmitt has shown, the notion of Schuld , which in German means both debt and fault, is at the basis of the law edifice, no less convincing is the intuition of a great historian of religions, David Flüsser. While one day he was reflecting in a square in Athens on the meaning of the word pistis, which is the term that in the Gospels means “faith”, he saw in front of him the inscription trapeza tes pisteos in large letters . It didn’t take him long to realize that he was standing in front of a bank sign ( Banco di credito) and at the same time he understood that the meaning of the word he had been reflecting on for years had to do with credit – the credit we enjoy with God and which God enjoys with us, from the moment we believe in him. For these Paul can say in a famous definition that “faith is the substance of things hoped for”: it is what gives reality to what does not yet exist, but in which we believe and trust, in which we have staked our credit and our word. Something like a credit exists only to the extent that our faith manages to give it substance.

The world we live in today has appropriated this juridical and religious concept and transformed it into a lethal and implacable device, before which every human need must bow. This device, in which all our pistis, all our faith has been captured, is money, understood as the very form of credit/debit. The Bank – with its gray officials and experts – has taken the place of the Church and its priests and, governing credit, manipulates and manages the faith – the scarce, uncertain trust – that our time still has in itself. And it does so in the most irresponsible and unscrupulous way, trying to make money from the trust and hopes of human beings, establishing the credit that everyone can enjoy and the price he must pay for it (even the credit of states, who have meekly abdicated their sovereignty). In this way, by governing credit, it governs not only the world, but also the future of men, a future that the emergency wants ever shorter and with a maturity. And if today politics no longer seems possible, this is because the financial power has de facto confiscated all faith and all the future, all time and all expectations.

The so-called emergency we are going through – but what is called an emergency, this is by now clear, is just the normal way in which capitalism works today – began with an ill-advised series of credit operations, on credits that were discounted and resold dozens of times before they could be made. This means, in other words, that financial capitalism – and the banks which are its main organ – works by playing on credit – that is, on the faith – of men.

If today a government – in Italy as elsewhere – really wants to move in a different direction from the one that is being sought everywhere to impose, it is above all the money/credit/debt system that it must resolutely question as a system of government. Only in this way will a policy become possible again – a policy that does not accept being strangled by the false dogma – pseudo-religious and not economic – of the universal and irrevocable debt and restores to men the memory and faith in the words they so often recited as children : «forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors».

 

[Giorgio Agamben is a philosopher and writer. His work is translated and commented all over the world. With the Homo sacer project he marked a turning point in contemporary political thought. Among his works published by Quodlibet: Italian categories. Studies in poetics and literature (2021), Where are we? The epidemic as politics (2020), Intellect of love (with Jean-Baptiste Brenet, 2020), Homo sacer. Unabridged Edition (2018), What is Philosophy? (2016), Taste (2015), Idea of ??prose (new augmented edition, 2002-2013, 2020), The man without content (1994, 2013),Bartleby, the formula of creation (with Gilles Deleuze, 1993, 2012). For Quodlibet he curates the Ardilut series.]

 

 

‘Our Defeats’ Review: A striking Post-Mortem of the Revolutionary Dream

Far Out Magazine

September 8, 2021

By Swapnil Dhruv Bose

 

“I realized after the shooting, and some discussions with them, that it was the first time they had discussed politics.”
— filmmaker Jean-Gabriel Périot [Source]

French filmmaker Jean-Gabriel Périot, who received international acclaim for his 2015 documentary A German Youth, is back with another fascinating work called Our Defeats. Featuring a group of high school film students from the Lycée Romain Rolland in Ivry-sur-Seine who work as cast and crew, Our Defeats is a comparative study between the charged sociopolitical climate of France in the late 1960s and the prevailing attitude of modern students.

More than anything else, Our Defeats is an intellectual exercise in political thought which constantly refers to the revolutionary works of auteurs like Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker and Alain Tanner among others. As a part of the film’s explorations, Périot makes the students recreate pivotal scenes from the vastly influential French political masterpieces from that period before asking them about trade unions, capitalism and the revolution.

In an interview, Périot explained that he wants his films to challenge the audience. “For me, cinema is first of all a place to feel,” the filmmaker said. “I like music for the same reason. But cinema is also, at least for me, as audience or filmmaker, a place to think. I do not like films where everything is clear, obvious or underlined, [whether we] talk about fictions or documentaries. I like films with contradictions, lacks, and questions.”

The powerful scenes that are enacted by the students are immediately deconstructed by the follow-up questions posed by Périot. A student quotes Chairman Mao with deadly conviction, preaching to us that “a revolution is not a dinner party… A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.” However, he falters and hesitates when he is asked about his own opinions regarding capitalism and the revolution that has been indefinitely deferred.

This becomes a recurring theme, with many students voicing their disapproval of police brutality and societal oppression but not being able to appropriately address questions about the subjective definitions of abstract topics like politics in general as well as objective descriptions of important things like trade unions. As a result of the restrictive curriculum of the Ideological State Apparatus that is the school, we are confronted with the brutal reality. The people in power systematically and silently quashed the revolution before it ever began by not providing proper education to the next generation.The greatest achievement of Our Defeatsis that Périot does not pass his judgement. As a documentarian, his job is to chronicle the condition and that’s exactly what he does. The outcome is stiflingly tragic, a harrowing analysis of young school students whose vocabularies are being stripped off ideas like communism and workers’ rights. Périot starts a dialogue between the past and the present by confronting the future of the revolution that has been laid to rest by youthful cynicism, censorship and the bourgeois constructs of modernity.
 

[Swapnil is a Kolkata-based columnist who specialises in film history, global cinema and media studies. He is deeply interested in the dynamic frameworks of contemporary media culture and their impact on sociopolitical structures.]

 

 

Elena Lopèz Riera, Visions du Réel, 2019: “Jean-Gabriel Périot asked students of a Parisian high school to participate in an experiment on the militant filmmaking of May 68. These students will constitute the film’s technical crew and they will also be its actors, performative bodies through which the subject of politics today will be articulated. They will re-enact legendary scenes from the films of Tanner, the Groupe Medvedkine or Godard. But in the voice of these young people, the instructions of May 68 resonate poorly with regard to the contemporary world, noting that in terms of political wording there are still more doubts than certainties. What is the working class? What is capitalism? What is a trade union? Through these questions addressed to the high school students, Périot tackles a new generation, without judgement, in an attempt to answer the essential question of the film: have we failed? Thus, some of the concepts that have marked the history of 20th century ideologies, such as communism, fascism or class consciousness, are called into question by a youth that claims the right to their own voice. A film about the urgency of reformulating political debate.” [Source]

 

 

Also showing at Mubi, A German Youth. SYNOPSIS: “Germany, late 60s. The post-war generation revolts against their parents, disillusioned by anti-communist capitalism and a state in which they see fascist tendencies. This film follows the rise of The Red Army Faction, revolutionary terrorist group founded by Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof. OUR TAKE: “A film that opens with Godard and closes with Fassbinder can only have a combative soul. Bravely refusing audio narration, Périot’s collage of stunning archival footage from post-war Germany’s political unrest is a superb, enthralling meditation on radicalization that is of utmost relevance today.”

 

When Thinking About Fossil Fuel Phase-outs: The Key Word is ‘Unabated’

We Suspect Silence

July 4, 2022

By Michael Swifte

 

[*This textual analysis is a follow up to my op-ed for Off-Guardian in November 2021. It’s a long read, but you will see how the realities I pointed out in during COP 26 were papered over through management of language in the intervening months.]

Qualifying language makes a statement less certain. Any leader who says that they want to “phase out fossil fuels” will receive applause from climate warriors and have their message amplified in the media. For media organs like The Guardian and the various climate activist NGOs and think tanks, applause is all that matters. When conforming to particular attention-metrics yielding narratives, climate warriors and their stenographer friends in the media will ignore crucial qualifying language.

The word ‘unabated’ is the preeminent qualifier applied to language relating to phasing out fossil fuels under net zero modelling and commitments. Its application makes statements and commitments less certain by assigning them to one category of fossil fuels – those with CO2 abatement applied. When stenographers and narrative slaves choose not to attend to the uncertainty caused by the qualifier ‘unabated’, they are choosing to misinform the people.

The qualifier

The think tank E3G put out a good explainer on the meaning of ‘unabated’ ahead of COP26 in June 2021. In essence ‘unabated’ means: without some form of carbon capture and storage applied.

In May and June 2021, the term featured prominently in the IEA’s Net Zero Energy report and the official communiques from meetings of G7 Ministers and Leaders.

[SOURCE]

The term appears 52 times in the IEA Net Zero by 2050 report. In the Summary for Policy Makers – ‘Priority Action’ section, a call is made for a “massive clean energy expansion”.

Policies should limit or provide disincentives for the use of certain fuels and technologies, such as unabated coal?fired power stations, gas boilers and conventional internal combustion engine vehicles.

[SOURCE]

Ignoring the qualifier

There are any number of examples of stenographers and pundits ignoring the qualifying term in question. Fiona Harvey ignored the ‘unabated’ qualifier when the IEA Net Zero by 2050 report was released in May 2021.

No new oil, gas or coal development if world is to reach net zero by 2050, says world energy body: Governments must close gap between net zero rhetoric and reality, says International Energy Agency head

When discussing Fatih Birol’s position on new technology, Harvey underplays the scope of CCS technology in development. The role projected for biomass as a feed stock and fossil hydrogen production at new decarbonisation hubs in Europe should be explored. The decarbonisation hubs planned around the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line should be considered when claims that CCS has not been proven ‘at scale’ are made. Blue ammonia import deals being hammered out in Asia should be analysed and the oil and gas giants like Saudi Aramco and Woodside making those deals should be investigated. The new CO2 pipelines proposed for Iowa, North Dakota, Illinois, Nebraska and Wyoming should be explained in terms of the political will and long term legislative efforts behind their development.

The crucial new technologies in development are: advanced batteries, particularly for use in electric vehicles; hydrogen; and carbon capture.

[SOURCE]

Damian Carrington provided a classic example of misrepresentation through silence in September 2021.

In May, an IEA report concluded that there could be no new oil, gas or coal development if the world was to reach net zero by 2050.

[SOURCE]

The Executive Director of the IEA, Fatih Birol used the ‘unabated’ qualifier in a session on ‘Navigating the Energy Transition’ at Davos Agenda in January 2022. He wasn’t ignoring the qualifier, but rather he was forefronting energy efficiency. His comments were largely ignored.

Either we continue to use unabated fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – and live with climate change, much more frequent extreme weather events, or we change the way we produce and consume energy.

[SOURCE]

The recent ‘carbon bombs’ series at The Guardian entirely avoided the crucial qualifier and reasserted the unqualified claim made a year earlier.

The IEA advised almost exactly a year ago that no new gas, oil or coal development could take place from this year onwards if the world was to limit global heating to 1.5C.

The Guardian seem to be keen to avoid mention of the over-reliance on CCS in modelling and phase out-out commitments. In order to make the ‘carbon bombs’ argument they need to frame out the political will for CCS and the state of its development. In their 13 May 2022 article they included a picture of the Saudi Aramco, Hawiyah NGL gas plant which deploys CCS and pipes the produced CO2 to an enhanced oil recovery project. They did not mention that the Hawiyah NGL plant was a CCS facility. Surely a gas CCS plant is not a prime example of a carbon bomb?

[SOURCE]

The 195 projects listed in The Guardian ‘carbon bombs’ series were identified in the study titled ‘“Carbon Bombs” – Mapping key fossil fuel projects’. The study which was revised in February 2022 makes no specific mention of “unabated” fossil fuels, biomass or CCS, but it does contain an assertion that completely negates the existence of the ‘unabated’ qualifier and the stated strategies for deploying large scale CCS outlined in the IEA Net Zero by 2050 report.

The recent IEA roadmap for net zero by 2050 which arrived at the conclusion that no new oil and gas fields nor coal mines are needed (Bouckaert et al., 2021) aligns well with the argument

[SOURCE]

The IEA Net Zero by 2050 report uses the ‘unabated’ qualifier liberally, but it also spells out clearly the infrastructure needed for large scale CCS.

And the required roll?out of hydrogen and CCUS after 2030 means laying the groundwork now: annual investment in CO2 pipelines and hydrogen-enabling infrastructure increases from USD 1 billion today to around USD 40 billion in 2030.

Fossil Fuel Treaty, an organisation spearheaded by Tzeporah Berman made a subtle acknowledgment that the IEA modelling allows future opportunities for CCS in their May 2021 media release. In doing so they contradicted their headline. They also made no mention of the crucial qualifier.

Headline:

New IEA scenario finds fossil fuel expansion is needless and incompatible with 1.5°C

Subtle acknowledgement:

At the same time, the IEA net zero report ignores the imperative of winding down oil, gas and coal production.

[SOURCE]

In an April 2022 media release Fossil Fuel Treaty selectively quoted the IPCC Working Group 3 on mitigation AR6 contribution, and provided a misleading headline. The term ‘unabated’ appears 21 times in the report. Section C on ‘system transformation’ contains the quote provided by Fossil Fuel Treaty in their media release. For contrast: the text immediately following the quote that was selected by Fossil Fuel Treaty contains an explanation of how “modelled mitigation strategies” support “transitioning from fossil fuels without CCS”.

Headline:

IPCC report reaffirms urgency to phase out fossil fuels to stave off climate crisis

Carefully selected IPCC quote:

all global modelled pathways that limit warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot

[SOURCE]

Here’s the full quote from the ‘Working Group III Contribution
to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)’.

C.3 All global modelled pathways that limit warming to 1.5°C (>50%) with no or limited overshoot, and those that limit warming to 2°C (>67%) involve rapid and deep and in most cases immediate GHG emission reductions in all sectors. Modelled mitigation strategies to achieve these reductions include transitioning from fossil fuels without CCS to very low- or zero-carbon energy sources, such as renewables or fossil fuels with CCS, demand side measures and improving efficiency, reducing non-CO 2 emissions, and deploying carbon dioxide removal (CDR) methods to counterbalance residual GHG emissions.

[SOURCE]

Oil Change International (OCI) need to be called out for their vigorous efforts at ignoring the crucial qualifier. The headline on their press release following the publication of the IEA Net Zero by 2050 report fails to reflect the space held for CCS in the future. They selectively quote the report which contains the contradictory phrase that helped facilitate misrepresentation. This can be seen in the quote provided in David Turnbull’s comment. The authors celebrated the IEA report as a “tremendous win” while simultaneously acknowledging the projected “4,000 percent increase in carbon capture and storage by 2030”. One of the authors went on to argue that the IEA is not “accelerating the phase-out of fossil gas and coal” by “banking” on CCS. This is, in effect, an admission that the IEA are promoting a phase out of ‘unabated’ fossil fuels rather than all fossil fuels as their headline and selective quoting suggests.

Headline:

IEA’s first 1.5°C-aligned scenario bolsters call for no new fossil fuel extraction

David Turbull:

Critically, the 1.5°C-aligned scenario finds “no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply.” This represents a break from past IEA reports that boosted new oil and gas development by focusing on scenarios that steered the world towards catastrophic levels of warming. As next steps towards reform, energy analysts are calling on the IEA to transform the WEO to focus on 1.5°C-aligned policies and investments and fix persistent modelling flaws. The new scenario continues to underestimate wind and solar while overselling riskier, more polluting alternatives.

Kelly Trout:

It’s huge to have the world’s most influential energy modellers bolstering the global call to stop licensing and financing new fossil fuel extraction. Governments, banks, and Big Oil and Gas companies can no longer use the IEA as a shield to claim that their support for fossil fuel expansion is consistent with the Paris Agreement. The IEA’s own modelling now shows new oil and gas fields are not compatible with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees.

David Tong:

Today’s report is a tremendous win for climate advocates who have been demanding that the IEA align its analysis and communications with the critical 1.5?C limit. While we applaud the IEA for taking this step, they can rest assured that advocates will continue pushing for the institution to complete the job. Gambling the climate on a 4,000 percent increase in carbon capture and storage by 2030 is extraordinarily risky and, the IEA’s own analysis shows, not necessary. Instead of banking on a consistently underperforming and still polluting technology, the IEA should be accelerating the phase-out of fossil gas and coal by relying on proven wind and solar solutions.

[SOURCE]

At the same moment that the OCI authors were ignoring the crucial qualifier, Kelly Trout was unironically pointing out the difference between the IEA headlines and their CCS gamble without ever mentioning the word ‘unabated’ or quoting one of the 52 instances in which the word appears in the IEA report. Again, the headline didn’t match the details revealled in the body.

Headline:

IEA’s First 1.5°C Climate Model Rejects New Fossil Fuel Extraction

Body:

Clinging to fossil gas. By gambling on a massive scale-up of CCS taking away some of its emissions, the IEA’s 1.5°C scenario also makes room for dangerous levels of fossil gas reliance this decade.

[SOURCE]

A year after the IEA Net Zero by 2050 report was released and 6 months on from COP 26, David Tong and Kelly Trout, along with an extensive list of NGO supporters, produced ‘Big Oil Reality Check 2022’. This time the introduction continued the misrepresentation of the IEA Net Zero by 2050 report and the World Energy Outlook 2021.

Also in 2021, the International Energy Agency (IEA) concluded that there is no room for new fossil fuel expansion beyond fields and mines already under development in its first-ever full 1.5°C-aligned scenario

Here are some quotes directly from the OCI report that reveal the real agenda.

To achieve its targets while continuing to produce fossil fuels, Shell plans to use large volumes of carbon sequestration and offsets

Equinor plans to rely heavily on CCS

ExxonMobil expressly aims to rely heavily on CCS

BP’s targets explicitly depend on CCS

Though Eni has set a 2050 “net zero” target…the company’s climate goals depend on extensive uses of CCS

TotalEnergies plans to rely significantly on technological CCS, alongside afforestation and other “nature based solutions”

The IEA’s 1.5°C scenario depends on less carbon dioxide removal than some other scenarios, but still includes a 4,000 percent increase in energy sector CCS by 2030

[SOURCE]

Last minute changes to the COP 26 draft text

On 4 November 2022, a week before the first draft text came out, The Guardian reported on the commitments lauded by the UK establishment. On that day COP 26 produced multiple statements with the word ‘unabated’ used frequently as a qualifier when discussing coal phase-outs and fossil fuel phase-outs. Again the headline misrepresented statements being cited.

Headline:

More than 40 countries agree to phase out coal-fired power

Reasserting an untruth:

The IEA has said all new development of fossil fuels must cease from this year, if the world is to stay within the 1.5C limit.

[SOURCE]

39 countries signed the ‘Statement on International Public Support for the Clean Energy Transition’.

the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and IEA net-zero analysis show that in the pathways consistent with a 1.5°C warming limit and the goals of the Paris Agreement, the global production and use of unabated fossil fuels must decrease significantly by 2030;

[SOURCE]

45 countries signed the ‘Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement’.

Unabated’ coal power generation is described by the G7 and the IEA as referring to the use of coal power that is not mitigated with technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, such as Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS).

[SOURCE]

On the same day that the transition statements were released the UNFCCC put out a misleading headline that was not supported by the body of the text.

Headline:

End of Coal in Sight at COP26

Body:


At least 25 countries and public finance institutions commit to ending international public support for the 
unabated fossil fuel energy sector by the end of 2022

[SOURCE]

On 10 November 2021 the first draft agreement was released. The word ‘unabated’ does not appear and the phase out commitment is specific to coal and subsidies.19.

Calls upon Parties to accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels;

[SOURCE]

On 11 November 2021 it was reported that climate advocates found the first draft to be “vague” and lacking in ambition. A new draft would need to be hammered out.

A new version of the draft agreement text is expected to be published at some point Thursday night, but COP26 President Alok Sharma made it clear the negotiations are far from over — so don’t be surprised if they continue past the deadline.

[SOURCE]

When The Guardian reported on the second and final draft on 12 November 2021 they quoted both key phase-out texts, but focused on the word “inefficient” with regard to subsidies rather than “unabated” with regard to mitigation. The headline asserts that the language has “softened”, but there’s nothing in the article to suggest that the inclusion of the word ‘unabated’ was part of that softening.

Headline:

Second Cop26 draft text: Coal phaseout remains in but some language softened

Body:

The latest draft proposal from the Cop26 chair, released soon after 7am on Friday in Glasgow, calls on countries to accelerate “the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.The addition of “inefficient” could help countries that want to retain some fuel subsidies for the poor, while removing subsidies for major fossil fuel interests. This change to the language could also provide cover for countries that want to retain subsidies, however.

The word ‘unabated’ appears 3 times in the article. 2 of those instances can be found in a quote by Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change. In the quote he sums up the concession position on CCS held by the members of the Design to Win group of philanthropies and many of the recipients of funding spearheaded by John Podesta.

The call for countries to phase-out unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies is very important and historic. Unabated coal power releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and all subsidies for fossil fuels are inefficient.

[SOURCE]

Item 19 in the first draft agreement became item 20 in the second and final draft. Unlike the transition commitments made a week before, the qualifier ‘unabated’ is only applied to coal power rather than to fossil fuels in general.

20. Calls upon Parties to accelerate the development, deployment and dissemination of technologies, and the adoption of policies, to transition towards low-emission energy systems, including by rapidly scaling up clean power generation and accelerating the phaseout of unabated coal power and of inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels;

[SOURCE]

In a 12 November 2021 article titled ‘COP26 cop-out on coal as fossil fuel phaseout diluted’, Helen Mountford, World Resources Institute vice-president for climate and economics identified the inclusion of the word ‘inefficient’ as a weakening point.

but the reference to “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies “does weaken that a little”.

[SOURCE]

On 13 November 2021 statements from Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan were published. Morgan described the outcomes from COP 26 as weak, but stated they send a “signal”. The inclusion of the word ‘unabated’ in relation to phasing out coal power suggests to me that coal extraction will only end when we have dug it all up. Does Morgan not see this?

It’s meek, it’s weak and the 1.5C goal is only just alive, but a signal has been sent that the era of coal is ending. And that matters.

Morgan, who is now Germany’s special climate envoy described the phase-out item as a “breakthrough” despite its weakness. It’s hard to tell if the inclusion of the word ‘unabated’ is the reason Morgan perceives the phase-out item as weak. Greenpeace International have provided weak resistance to CCS development, but are on record as critical of an over-reliance on CCS and offsets.

The line on phasing out unabated coal and fossil fuel subsidies is weak and compromised but its very existence is nevertheless a breakthrough, and the focus on a just transition is essential.

[SOURCE]

The contradictions of Guterres

On the night before Greta Thunberg’s big speech in New York in September 2019 the UN Secretary General’s special adviser gave an address to the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI). I don’t believe the remarks were ever meant to be made public, but a group of activists made it into the swanky event. It’s unlikely they knew the significance of the transcript they provided to the journalist Emily Atkin who was a favourite of Bill McKibben at the time. It’s unlikely that any of the activists were aware of the embargoed media release which contained an announcement of the OGCI’s massive global ‘Kickstarter’ plan to fund CCS decarbonisation hubs.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 82

 

Your industry has the assets and the expertise to demonstrate the ambition we need and to lead the way. The world needs, and is demanding, an ambitious road map to reduce the carbon intensity of your industry, and to demonstrate your commitment to align with the goals of the Paris agreement.

Robert Orr, Special Adviser to Antonio Guterres, September 22, 2019

[SOURCE]

At the completion of COP 26 Guterres gave a pre-recorded address in which he neglected to acknowledge the ‘unabated’ qualifier.

I reaffirm my conviction that we must end fossil fuels subsidies. Phase out coal.

[SOURCE]

Guterres continues to ignore the qualifier. In recent tweets Guterres has echoed the sentiments he expressed at COP 26, but not the sentiments he expressed via his assistant in that luxury New York hotel with the world’s wealthiest oil and gas executives.

17 June 2022:

For decades, the fossil fuel industry has invested in pseudo-science & public relations, with a false narrative to minimize their responsibility for climate change & undermine ambitious climate policies. They exploited the same scandalous tactics as Big Tobacco decades before.

[SOURCE]

19 June 2022:

The only true path to energy security, stable power prices, prosperity & a livable planet lies in abandoning polluting fossil fuels – especially coal – and accelerating the renewables-based energy transition. Renewables are the peace plan of the 21st century.

[SOURCE]

Why has Guterres neglected to attend to the significance of the ‘unabated’ qualifier? Is he too a narrative slave like most of the climate justice movement? It’s clear that in not attending to the qualifier he poses no threat to the OGCI.

Hoping we’ll forget

In the muddied waters of time, most of the disingenuousness, douchebaggery and outright deception will be disappeared or be forgotten. Is this what the stenographers, pundits, NGO spokespersons and leaders are hoping for? How will the narrative framers respond as many of the projects they currently ignore come to fruition? Perhaps John Podesta and the billionaire philanthropists he represents have already got a plan?

We should remember that the captains of industry always like to turn a waste product into a feed stock for value adding. There are numerous examples of waste products being used as fillers, and there are celebrated examples of companies transforming their waste products into cost lowering and even profitable revenue streams. CO2 has, for decades, been viewed by the fossil fuel industry as a waste product that could be transformed into a valuable feed stock. This is precisely what is being deployed by virtually every major fossil fuel company on the planet. Is it conceivable that the oldest and wealthiest pillar of industrial globalist power could contrive to use philanthropy and every other covert means available to shape and compromise the resistance to their efforts? It certainly is!

 

[Michael Swifte is an Australian activist and a member of the Wrong Kind of Green critical thinking collective.]

Why Many Progressives Misrepresented and Condemned the Ottawa Trucker Protest

Chicago ALBA Solidarity

March 27, 2022

By Stansfield Smith

 

Mothers hold the line.” – Photo: Cory Morningstar, Twitter, February 18, 2022, Ottawa Truckers Protest

 

Canada’s “Freedom Convoy” began with protesting rules implemented in January by the Canadian and later the US governments requiring truck drivers to be fully vaccinated to enter their country. It snowballed into a demonstration against dysfunctional coronavirus restrictions. The Ottawa trucker protesters demanded: No Lockdowns, No Mandates, No Vaccine Passports, and if not, that Trudeau resign.

Working people are increasingly angry at the failures of the neoliberal regimes in Canada and the US to meet our needs. Unfortunately, we on the left are not positioned to effectively utilize this sentiment and grow our forces, leaving an open field for leaders with rightwing solutions to fill the vacuum. They played on public resentment to advocate getting the state off our backs rather than our demand that the state prioritize our well-being.

Working class activists should participate and build these protests, bring working class solutions to the problems we confront and lead the people in fighting back. Instead, many on the left condemned the trucker convoy, or sat on the sidelines, seeing themselves as mere critics, not leaders in this class struggle.

Liberal Party Prime Minister Trudeau called the truckers “a few people shouting and waving swastikas,” a “fringe minority” conspiracy theorists “with the tinfoil hats.” They “don’t believe in science.” He threatened, “Do we tolerate these people?”  These elitist anti-working class statements echo Hillary Clinton’s dubbing Trump supporters “deplorables.” The hysteria led by Trudeau and the corporate media even reached the point where a Member of Parliament absurdly declared trucker honking of horns meant Heil Hitler. Trudeau’s Big Business dictated covid policies even denied visas to vaccinated Cubans because they had Cuban, not Big Pharma vaccines.

Anti-trucker Leftists Repeat Trudeau’s Smears

Many left criticisms of the truckers follow the rulers’ talking points. For instance, they spread a corporate media cartoon smear, Bryan Palmer’s condemnation of the truckers as a “lumpen” alt-right petty bourgeois protest, as well as anti-war activist Stephen Gowans’ early attack on the Ottawa occupation as “a far-right movement of racists, evangelicals, union-haters, and conspiracy-minded lunatics, inspired and supported by the likes of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Elon Musk.” Gowans complained the Ottawa police had “done nothing to liberate the city” from what were peaceful protesters.

Rather than refuting the rulers’ smears, many either repeated them or remained silent in face of the onslaught. They, in effect, allied with the imperial state’s attacks on the truckers and their working-class allies. They compounded their error by making only mild objections to the central rightwing feature of the Ottawa occupation: Trudeau using martial law measures to crush peaceful protests – measures which could be used against leftists in the future if we become a social force.

What were some of the distortions so many disseminated in their unwitting role as transmission belts for ruling class propaganda against the truckers?

  1. That the protesters were racists and fascists was repeated over and over. Enough evidence shows this was not a racist protest (and here), It was claimed, with scant evidence, that the protest contained numerous Nazi and Confederate flags. A photo showed a man with a Nazi flag and another one or two with a Confederate flag. One man had the Nazi flag on a long pole underneath a sign on top saying “F*ck Trudeau,” which could mean he was equating Trudeau with Nazis. The person holding a Confederate flag was considered to be a provocateur made to leave the protest. Government agent provocateurs have played a role in other Canadian protests.

Benjamin Dichter, who is Jewish, and key spokesperson for the protest, said “Let’s assume there were guys there who did have a Confederate flag. They believe in the Confederacy of states’ rights in a foreign nation? I don’t care. I’m not here to police people’s ideas.” In a swipe at Trudeau, Dichter added “I want to hear unacceptable opinions because I want to challenge them.”

Another Freedom Convoy leader was Metis, Tamara Lich. Pat King, a fanatic racist in the Nazi mold, was portrayed as convoy leader, but this was denied by the actual leaders (and here).

  1. That the right funded the trucker protest became a key charge. Republicans do fund popular protests to further their aims. So do the Democrats, as the women’s marches testify. A protest bringing out masses of people likely involves corporate political party funding. It is a political mistake to condemn or boycott movements, MeToo, Black Lives Matter, anti-vaccine mandate, or climate change protests because they had corporate donors. To condemn a protest funded by Republican corporate donors, but not those funded by Democratic ones, given these donors serve the same ruling class owners of the US, is a double standard. To do so suggests aligning ourselves with the Democratic (or Liberal) Party faction of the ruling class.

Reports on big rightwing funders of the trucker convoy failed to establish significant dollar contributions. PressProgress gave “a round up of some of the big money donors.” The corporate donors listed contributed merely $67,300 of the $10 million raised. That amounts to less than 1% of the total, showing corporate donors gave very minor support.

GiveSendGo raised another $8.6 million for the protesters. The largest, $215,000 came from an anonymous donor, $90,000 from billionaire Thomas M. Siebel, and $75,000 from another anonymous donor. Even if we assume these three are by big rightwing donors, that amounts to $380,000, 4.4% of the total.

A Washington Post article on donors noted, “Only a handful of contributors gave more than $10,000 apiece,” which does not substantiate corporate and billionaire funding of the protests.

It seems these donations do not include seed money for the Freedom Convoy, but they do show it was no “fringe,” but gained broad support.

The GoFundMe platform raised $10 million dollars for the convoy before being shut down. The reason given was for “violating the platform’s Terms of Service prohibiting the ‘promotion of violence and harassment.’” Yet no protester had been charged with violence. Defenders of civil liberties should have condemned that repression, not approve of it.

  1. That the trucker convoy represented a social fringe is belied simply by some news reports, such as this or this.
  2. Many falsely claimed the Freedom Convoy protesters were anti-vaxxers, pointing out that 90% of Canadian truckers are vaccinated. However, the protesters were united against vaccine mandates, not against vaccines. Benjamin Dichter and Chris Barber, two convoy leaders, said they were not anti-vaxxers but fully vaccinated.
  3. Some asserted the truckers were petty bourgeois owner-operators, therefore not working class, because they owned their instruments of production. Even assuming some of the truckers are in the petty bourgeoisie, that in itself is no reason to condemn a petty bourgeois movement in struggle with the big bourgeoisie.

Aren’t owner-operators among the millions of workers who companies “contract out” to cut labor expenses and increase their profits? Are Uber drivers also middle-class owner operators? Or any worker hired by a business as an “independent contractor”? This new category of atomized workers is a product of the long neoliberal offensive to weaken solidarity among workers.

  1. Many used Trump’s support for the truckers as another reason to condemn it. That makes no more sense than saying if Biden or Trudeau opposes the protest, we should too. This liberal-left fear and loathing of Trump ignores a number of commendable statements he made on issues anti-imperialists advocate for.
  2. Some bolstered their attacks on the truckers by referring to the Teamsters and Canadian Labour Congress. The Canadian Teamsters condemned the trucker convoy as a “despicable display of hate lead by the political Right,” but provided no evidence to back that up. The statement said nothing against the central demands of the protest. The Teamsters represent only 15,000 long haul truck drivers of the 300,000 long haul drivers in Canada.

The Canadian Labour Congress condemned the protest but was also silent on vaccine mandates. “This is not a protest, it is an occupation by an angry mob trying to disguise itself as a peaceful protest.” Of course protesters are angry, otherwise they do not protest. Being angry does not mean you are not peaceful. The CLC adds “This occupation of Ottawa streets…is having a devastating effect on the livelihood of already struggling workers and businesses.” Such statements could be used against the Occupy Movement in 2011, or against Black Lives Matter protests, as Trump did. “Frontline workers, from retail to health workers, have been bullied and harassed.” Yet so was at least one pro-trucker Ottawa store owner bullied and harassed for simply donating to the protest.

True, the Freedom Convoy had no working class demands for government action to ease the hardships workers face. Neither did the CLC or Teamsters, actual workers class organizations with the social and economic weight to have their demands met.

  1. Many followed Trudeau and claimed the convoy organizers were violent and extremists. However, the police reported no physical violence, and none of the protest leaders were arrested for violent acts.

Tamara Lich was charged with ‘counselling for the offense of committing Mischief,” convoy leader Chris Barber for the same charge, plus “counselling to commit the offense of Disobey a Police Order” and “counselling to commit the offense of Obstruct Police.” Pat King was charged with mischief, counselling to commit the offence of mischief, counselling to commit the offence of disobey court order, and counselling to commit the offence of obstruct police.

Many had claimed they were guilty of violence, sedition, and attempting to overthrow a “democratic” government. Here they are, charged with “counseling” mischief (interfering with or destroying someone’s property), telling people to defy a court order or police order. What activists have ever been innocent of these charges?

  1. It was claimed the police had treated the protesters with kid gloves. Maybe. Yet, once the police cracked down, they used horses to trample some protesters. When the 2011 union protesters in Madison Wisconsin seized the Capitol building – not for a day but for weeks – the police were not only letting us enter and exit, but periodically joined the protest (and here). That was no sign that the Madison protests were rightwing, nor did leftists object to their solidarity.

As Caleb Maupin pointed out, liberals and leftists took the Fox News playbook to denounce the Black Lives Matter movement and used the same methods to attack the trucker protest. Those who support Black Lives Matter suddenly were okay with police repression of the Ottawa protests. By favoring government crackdown on peaceful protests, we gave the ruling class rope to hang ourselves with.

Working Class and Rightwing Programs towards Covid and Health care

Being vaccinated protects you from getting very sick if you have underlying conditions but does not protect you from being infected or infecting others. People know that, so resent government vaccine requirements.

Mandates work when applied by governments that put the protection of citizens over the protection of corporate profits – not the case in the United States or Canada. Targeted lockdowns once covid makes its appearance, constant testing of the population, combined with a wide array of public health measures neither Canada nor the US ever instituted, has enabled China to almost eliminate deaths from covid.

China contained covid long before their vaccine was even developed. China provided house to house care for those locked down, constant and widespread testing, as well as relatively free health care for all. As a result, China has had three covid related deaths since January 2021, while the US has had one million.

Nicaragua, which has a free, universal preventive health care system, has by far the lowest covid death rate per million inhabitants of all the Americas, yet never instituted any sort of mandate or lockdown, beyond wearing a mask inside public buildings.

Participate in the Ottawa Protests with Working Class Demands

While the demands of the trucker protest had some merit, the Freedom Convoy leaders were ideologically rightwing. Their view of health care as an individual responsibility does not conflict with the neoliberal model. This benefits those with the privileges and financial resources to handle it.

Our working class view sees the state as the protector of public health, since health is a public issue, not simply a “free” individual’s responsibility.

We missed an opportunity to participate in the Ottawa occupation and organize working class solidarity with our message: government should meet the health and economic needs of the people affected by the pandemic; the government protects big business and big pharma super profits during the pandemic while our standard of living suffers; health care is a community issue and should be a human right. It should focus on prevention, with continuous education of the public, and establish clinics in every neighborhood, cultivating regular interaction between the health workers and the community.

If we fail to help lead workers and popular struggles, we leave the field open for middle class or rightwing leaders. Even the sometimes liberal Nation recognized, “the far-right origins of the protest shouldn’t be an excuse for ignoring the fact it is attracting the support of a segment of the population that doesn’t identify with the far right but does feel economically marginalized and hurt by a pandemic now entering its third year…Those who have sympathy for the convoy tend to be poorer, younger, and less educated.”

Some activists did stand for the working class approach to the Ottawa occupation. Dust James, a trucker, encouraged the left to join the protesters and explain to them that all truckers share a common problem with others: small businesses and workers are being crushed by the larger monopolies, big banks are ripping off all of us.

Richard Wolff said leftists made a serious error by not actively participating in and solidarizing with the trucker protest, showing workers how to use their power to achieve their demands. A struggle to push back against mandates that don’t work can ignite actions against other policies that don’t serve people’s interests. Struggles often begin as a fight against a specific injustice, eventually opening the door to struggles on more fundamental issues.

Leila Mechoui and Max Blumenthal applauded actions by working class people to improve their situation and resist impositions by private and public authorities. The truckers protest scared the rulers because they fear losing their control over who determines how society is run. They don’t want workers thinking they should have some say in societal decision-making. They don’t want workers to start thinking “why should we do what the bosses tell us to do if it doesn’t make sense.”

Richard Wolff and Jimmy Dore emphasized we should be and can be everywhere workers are struggling. “The left should not put itself in a situation where the protesters can lump them together with the authorities as enemies of their struggle, which is the case now.” Here, the left isolated themselves from the working class by attacking the movement as a whole.

Why Many Repeated Ruling Class Liberal Smears of the Truckers

Being an anti-war writer like Stephen Gowans does not mean you have close connections with working class struggles at home. Likewise, many working class fighters do not possess an anti-imperialist outlook.  Unfortunately, working class and anti-war fighters often operate in distinct social and political milieus.

Many have made critiques of the convoy and Ottawa occupation, such as a recent webinar by left intellectuals. Yet the problem we face is that the function of a working class leftwing goes beyond evaluating a movement. Our function should be to create a plan of action to participate in and help lead social struggles in a working class direction through demands that benefit the working classes as a whole. We are not there, nor are we making headway in building the army of working class activists needed to carry it out.

At present, far too many critics of the truckers feel in their heart of hearts that our white working class is full of “deplorables.” That illustrates the current disconnect of leftists from the white working class. Too many feel the working class may be the force that will overthrow capitalism and build a just society, but not with the working class we have. This white working class today is too ignorant, bigoted, backwards, bought-off, too white privileged. If it is not kept in check, things could only get worse.

So, where do they turn for a social power to rotate around for building progressive social change? Often it means to the more enlightened intelligentsia, the more progressive politicians. That leads to the Democratic Party or the Canadian versions: pressure them from the left and build support for them in their struggle against Trumpers. This approach became pronounced as fear of Trumpism grew.

This may explain why many on the left repeated Trudeau’s smears and may be why they – who normally support workers – sided with the government against working people when they organized and protested. Such an approach, if not corrected, leads to more police state repression and an increasingly divided working class confused over where to turn to solve their problems.

 

 

 

 

The Outrageous Depths to Which the Fallen Left Have Descended

Internationalist 360

February 22, 2022

By Alexandra Valiente

 

Featured Image: Orlando Figuera, beaten, stabbed, and burned alive by “protesters”, gangs of the fascist right-wing in Venezuela – a tragic victim of racist hate crimes during the Guarimbas.

As the dust settles over this fallen country, the faux left continue their psychological warfare operation, spinning narrative in a desperate effort to bolster the crumbling edifice of their fortress of deception. However, their workmanship is flawed, their statements unsubstantiated, porous and weak. No effort on their part can prevent their descent into oblivion. The tide of truth is rising. The dams of collective outrage are bursting.

The depths to which they have descended are astonishing. While attention was focused on immediate events, their evolving narrative grew ever more fantastic. One group of collaborators composed an odious statement, Guarimbas in Canada, where they attempted to garner support for their position through distortion and manipulation. The statement offered lame criticism of the Canadian government, while thoroughly demonizing the protesters, presenting as “facts”, statements from corporate and government-funded media and organizations serving empire, including Amnesty International, government-funded Antihate.ca and the utterly discredited Communist Party of Canada. None of the authors of this statement were actually present at the protests.

None of their statements were based on fact and are contradicted by “on the ground” reporting done by journalists from all sides of the political spectrum (extreme right, moderate right, moderate left, extreme left).

By invoking Guarimbas, they went too far. They mocked and desecrated those who died in that tragic wave of terrorist attacks as they cover for the Nazis that supported Guarimbas – the Canadian government.

I challenge these agents of deception to explain themselves. To account for their lies. Show us the corpses, the bodies of our Black or Indigenous brothers and sisters set on fire, or crucified by protesters in Ottawa! Where were the health clinics and maternity hospitals set ablaze with patients inside? Where are the bodies of those massacred in communes and poor neighborhoods in the night, while their homes burned to the ground? Where were the “white Al Qaeda/White Helmetsmercenaries? Where the flaming barricades? The armed gangs? Where was there evidence of right-wing terrorism in Canada’s protests?

If they have forgotten what happened in Guarimbas, there is an archive of these horrific events on this website.

There are no parallels between the Freedom Convoy protests in Canada and the Venezuelan Guarimbas. The only violence witnessed came from the government of Canada itself, deeply infiltrated by Nazis.

I would like them to explain why they ignored or concealed the multi-ethnic components participating in the protests?

[Source: Instagram]

Why did they ignore all the evidence from those on the ground reporting actual events as they unfolded, who shared the stories of the people?

The lies they have promoted are blatant media crimes, including lies of omission, all in service to the oppressor.

In this, they not only betrayed Canadian workers oppressed under the Trudeau dictatorship, they betrayed Venezuelans.

Another journalist who lost his way during the recent protests, made wonderful contributions to unmasking the Nazis in the Canadian government and military.

He said,  regarding their involvement in destabilization in Venezuela:

“Over the past two decades Ottawa has aligned with fascistic forces there in the hope of overthrowing a leftist government.
Ottawa supported Juan Guaido’s Voluntad Popular (Popular Will), which repeatedly instigated violent protests. Not long after the Democratic Unity Roundtable opposition coalition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles conceded defeat in a contentious election in January 2014, VP leader Leopoldo López launched La Salida (exit/departure) in a bid to oust Nicolas Maduro. VP activists formed the shock troops of “guarimbas” protests that left forty-three Venezuelans dead, 800 hurt and a great deal of property damaged in 2014. Dozens more were killed in a new wave of VP backed protests in 2017. At a blockade that year protesters burnt a 21-young Black man, Orlando Jose Figuera, alive in what was viewed as a racist, political, attack.” [Source]

Assimilate that.

The same government the faux left  provided cover for was behind the atrocities in Guarimbas, whose memory they now invoke to serve a dark purpose.

And let us not forget Canada’s involvement in the Lima Group, their support for the Bolivian dictatorship, for Bolsonaro’s fascist and racist government in Brazil, and in the sanctions and economic warfare against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.

If we are to be completely truthful, numerous valid comparisons can be found between the violent suppression of protests in Canada and those in Bolivia under the Canadian-backed coup dictatorship.

In that same article, the author describes how

“In Israel the Canadian government supports openly racist and fascistic forces. The Canada Revenue Agency subsidizes groups that promote racial/religious purity and that finance those colonizing the West Bank.”

And let this next truth be widely known, in defiance of the faux left gatekeepers shielding empire. In the Canadian Freedom protests there were Christians, Muslims,  Sikhs and Jews, united on the front lines to oppose the fascists in our government that are participating in the oppression of not only our own people, but many others in nations throughout the world. The multitude of incredible examples of unity terrified the Canadian regime. Does this truth in some way also threaten the faux left that they went to such extreme lengths to conceal it?

The author concludes, saying:

“Most Canadians have little idea that in many places their government actively supports groups that are far more fascistic than the People’s Party of Canada.”

If the faux left genuinely want to attack fascists, let them pursue and expose actual fascists and their criminal networks throughout the world.

I encourage people to search the Internationalist 360° website and the archives documenting the destruction of Libya I have constructed over the last 12 years. There are lessons contained therein that will serve us well today. I have always stood with the oppressed in every field of engagement. I have never deviated in my commitment and dedication to exposing Nazis and fascists – and will continue to do so. I am never confused about who the oppressor is in any situation.

The uprising in Canada is not the first time the “left” betrayed humanity.  During the war against Libya, “academics and intellectuals” of the left supported the destruction of the Libyan Jamahiriyah. They deployed the same tactics as have been seen today: ignored “on the ground” reports, citizen fact-finding missions, and the voices of the Libyan people. In their articles, letters and statements, they referred to and promoted propaganda by the same agencies  – mainstream media, human rights organizations aligned with MI6 and the CIA, and political opposition groups that were funded and backed by foreign governments and linked to international terrorism.  At the time this faction came to be known as the “cruise missile left”.  The war against Libya was not the only time they acted in this fashion. Many of the same left repeated this treachery against Syria.  Before that, they were not opposed to the Arab Spring, or the war against Iraq and Afghanistan. Always their position favored empire’s agenda.

Some analysts have pointed to a remarkable lack of humility and capacity for self-criticism and self-reflection in this faction of the “left”. I can only conclude from what I have observed in the past month from social media comments and articles produced about the uprising in Canada, that they are not acting from confusion, as some have suggested. There appears to be a strategic, willful complicity in the oppression of, and class war against the people, in alignment with fascists. And the defamatory statements made against protesters exercising their legitimate right to dissent were egregious incitements to hatred. This is fifth column phenomenon.

 

[Alexandra Valiente is the editor of Internationalist 360. ]

Further Reading:

 

 

 

Ukraine, International Law, and a Left Worth Wanting

Ukraine, International Law, and a Left Worth Wanting

Tortilla con Sal

March 10, 2022

By Stephen Sefton

 

 

Most commentary on Western progressive and radical media on events in Ukraine has failed to acknowledge the right to self-defense of the Russian Federation and its allies the Donetsk and Lugansk Popular Republics. This is one more example of the way North American and European progressive and radical movements collaborate with their ruling classes, just as they generally did over their governments’ repressive economic and social measures addressing Covid-19. The very Western movements claiming to be morally superior to both sides in the Ukraine war, by doing so, aid and abet the US government, its NATO allies and their Nazi sympathizer protegés in Ukraine.

The double standard could hardly be more clear. As distinguished international war crimes specialist Christopher Black notes: “When one takes account of all the factors that governed the Russian decision to send its forces into Ukraine it is clear that in law they had the legal right to do so whereas the United States continues its illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq and Syria to this day and the NATO media powers and governments say nothing, because they are all complicit in those invasions.” Now, Ukrainian military documents retrieved by the Russian authorities have demonstrated conclusively that their intervention preempted a large scale assault by Ukrainian armed forces against Donetsk and Lugansk, planned for early March this year.

So President Vladimir Putin was right to argue his government was acting in self defense in Ukraine after eight years of Ukrainian attacks on Donestk and Lugansk, since, as Christopher Black argues, Article 51 of the UN Charter applies, namely “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”

Which renders entirely specious the argument of many widely respected left wing commentators like, for example, Ignacio Ramonet that Russia’s action in self defense “is barely even a fig leaf, a barebones legal skeleton to explain away an unjustifiable attack on Ukraine”. The role of Ramonet, like so many similar commentators, is to cover the Left flank of their social democrat and liberal support networks in the European Union and the United States, giving cover for otherwise inexcusable EU and US policies. Such commentators played a practically identical role in 2011 making excuses for Nato countries’ destructive aggression against Libya, Syria and Ivory Coast.

 

This explains why Ramonet’s claim that it is “difficult to understand why the United States did not do more to avoid this conflict in Ukraine” is fundamentally dishonest and false. Self-evidently the Western corporate elites have used the governments they own in North America and Europe to weaken and, if possible, destroy not just the independence and autonomy of the Russian Federation, but that of the European Union too. Western corporate elites will make enormous profits rearming Germany and the rest of Europe, and also Japan, and ensuring that Europe depends on US and allied country energy and food supplies. Turning Europe into a heavily militarized US vassal region prevents the US from losing the extremely lucrative, for now, European markets to Russia and China.

Also self-evident is the fact that commentators like Ignacio Ramonet and others assign completely disproportionate meaning to the recent UN General Assembly vote on the war in Ukraine which was so symbolic as to be practically meaningless. Countries representing an enormous majority of the world’s peoples chose to abstain or simply not take part in the vote. Here is the list of abstentions: Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Burundi, Central African Republic, China, Congo, Cuba, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, India, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikstan, Uganda, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Not taking part in the vote were: Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

So it is completely false to claim that the UN vote in any way at all represented a global condemnation of Russia by the majority of the world’s peoples. This is even more the case because, subsequently, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Brazil and Mexico have all made clear they are unwilling to apply illegal coercive economic and other measures against Russia. Nor is it likely that countries in Latin America and the Caribbean will act to damage their countries’s already fragile economies in the context of global efforts to recover from the effects of measures supposedly addressing Covid-19. These are incontrovertible realities that most Western progressives and radicals seem unwilling to acknowledge.

In turn, this means that what they think is practically irrelevant for the majority world. Very serious and committed anti-imperialist, class conscious writers openly discuss whether any kind of Left worth wanting exists any more in North America and Europe, for example Max Blumenthal and Cory Morningstar or the Black Agenda Report collective. These discussions may well be useful eventually for the cultural, social and political well being of Western countries, but in any case the majority world, despite the evil policies of the US and European ruling elites, will continue working successfully to realize their peoples’ right to a decent life, to their human development and to the sovereign independence of their nations.

[Stephen Sefton is a member of the Tortilla con Sal collective based in Nicaragua.]

Freedom Convoy – Support Black Truckers

Black Caucus Greens

Feb 22, 2022

 

The Green Party of the United States Black Caucus (GP-BC) has announced its support for the Freedom Convoy, an educational effort to help the public learn more about vaccine mandates and the best way to respond to government overreach.

 

“We are calling on all people to unite in solidarity.” says Philena Farley, National Media Co-Chair & Black Caucus Media Coordinator “The time to be divided is over. This is a time to stand together with our sisters and brothers, regardless of race or gender, in this struggle against tyranny. We are under attack by the corporate elites on every level of government. They are robbing us blind. The one thing the elites hate is unity among the working class because they thrive in dividing us by race, gender, politics, religion, class and more.”

Truckers against vaccine mandates is an international movement of citizens and truck drivers who are opposed to the forced use of government vaccines.  “Long-distance trucking has been part of my family history since 1975.” Black Caucus Co-Founder George Friday states in remembrance,  “My father was a long-distance trucker throughout my high school and college years and all of my brothers have also been truckers. Independence was the reason they chose that profession. A high amount of personal freedom and not too many interactions with racism or discrimination. They got to do things on their own terms and make their own decisions which is important for any of us.”

From Jamil Jivani  – debut in Newsweek – Stop Calling Truckers Racist –  to correct the record on the trucker convoy in Ottawa, Canada.

“We have no reason to believe the majority of truckers in the convoy are racist. In fact, appropriate for the month of February, the trucker convoy is actually a Black history moment.

Countless trucker convoy participants and supporters are Black. A popular Instagram account called “poc4freedomconvoy” (shorthand for People of Color for Freedom Convoy) with over 60,000 followers has documented the outpouring of support that the trucker convoy received from members of Black communities across Canada. The account’s first post is a picture of Chanceline Rukundo that reads, “I am Burundian/Canadian and I support the #freedomconvoy2022.”

This year’s Black History Month is a chance to see that Black people are not merely victims of history, but makers of it—exactly as Dr. Woodson intended. The trucker convoy is an example of Black people playing a meaningful role in shaping their countries. Don’t let liberal politicians or mainstream media corporations convince you of anything less.”

A post shared by POC 4 FREEDOMCONVOY (@poc4freedomconvoy)

The Green Party of the United States Black Caucus calls for the end of vaccine mandates and demands an immediate suspension of all state and federal mandates for vaccinations, including those for children and adults.

The Green Party of the United States Black Caucus, a coalition of Green Party leaders and activists within the African American community.

Please spread the word to fight against these mainstream media blackouts and support our mission to increase the participation and election victories in United States electoral politics of African and African Americans who support the GPUS Platform, and to ensure that the GPUS conducts and implements programs that concretize its platform in the interests of communities of African-American and African descent addressing community needs and disparities.

WATCH: Negating Colonial Lies About Russia

WATCH: Negating Colonial Lies About Russia

Streamed live on March 20, 2022.

 

Continued discussion on Russia’s defensive war in Ukraine against the global colonial powers.

“The attitude of the Russians were quite different because they are not attitudes that were born, that came from, [that] developed from slavery and colonialism like you find in the so-called West where the colonialism and slavery has its origins, and that continues to dominate the consciousness of white people, here, now. That’s why you see the white left, the so-called leftists in the United States, they are white nationalists. Most of them are like colonialist leftists. They are left colonizers and they’re not, generally speaking, able to unite against the oppression of the peoples of the world – including unite with Russia in this defensive war that is fighting against the United States through Ukraine…

This propaganda against Russia extends beyond just the war – the Russian people are being targeted in various places in the free world, in the colonial world. The fact of the matter is that this left, this left that comrade Tasha is talking about, this left that supports Ukraine,
is the same left that Lenin was criticizing more than a hundred years ago. It’s the same left. It’s an opportunist left. It’s a colonial base left. So it’s nothing new with how this left is acting. In the United States, or in much of Europe. This left supported French colonialism. At the same time the French claimed to be fighting against colonialism, fascism, in the 1940s – they were oppressing and killing black people in in Algeria – and and they continued to control something like fifteen different countries in Africa today under colonialism. And the communists of those countries supported that. They worked with that. So there’s a difference in a struggle against colonialism. If you don’t understand that – that the entire foundation of so-called western civilization rests upon colonial domination of Black people and other oppressed peoples around the world – that’s why we stand with Russia.”  — Chairman Omali Yeshitela

 

FEATURED SPEAKERS

Chairman Omali Yeshitela, African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), Alexander Ionov, President, Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia, LIVE from Moscow, Luwezi Kinshasa, Secretary General, African Socialist International (ASI) and Tafarie Mugeri, Director of Organization, ASI Africa Region.

 

 

WATCH: Russia & Ukraine – What’s Really Happening? [Feb 23, 2022]

WATCH: Russia & Ukraine – What’s Really Happening? [Feb 23, 2022]

Uhuru Solidarity

February 22, 2022

 

“African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC) Chair Penny Hess and Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM) Chair Jesse Nevel welcome special guest Chairman Omali Yeshitela for a discussion summing up the situation in Russia and Ukraine, from an African Internationalist point of view.”