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The Big Green Lie

Survival International

 

 

At the next Convention on Biological Diversity summit [phase one: 11-15 October 2021], world leaders plan to agree turning 30% of the Earth into “Protected Areas” by 2030.

Big conservation NGOs say this will mitigate climate change, reduce wildlife loss, enhance biodiversity and so save our environment. They are wrong.

Protected Areas will not save our planet. On the contrary, they will increase human suffering and so accelerate the destruction of the spaces they claim to protect because local opposition to them will grow. They have no effect on climate change at all, and have been shown to be generally poor at preventing wildlife loss.

It is vital that real solutions are put forward to address these urgent problems and that the real cause – exploitation of natural resources for profit and growing overconsumption, driven by the Global North – is properly acknowledged and discussed. But this is unlikely to happen because there are too many vested interests that depend on existing consumption patterns continuing.

Who will suffer if 30% of Earth is “protected”? It won’t be those who have overwhelmingly caused the climate crisis, but rather indigenous and other local people in the Global South who play little or no part in the environment’s destruction. Kicking them off their land to create Protected Areas won’t help the climate: Indigenous peoples are the best guardians of the natural world and an essential part of human diversity that is a key to protecting biodiversity.

We must stop the push for 30%.

These Khadia men were thrown off their land after it was turned into a protected area. They lived for months under plastic sheets. Millions more face this fate if the 30% plan goes ahead.These Khadia men were thrown off their land after it was turned into a protected area. They lived for months under plastic sheets. Millions more face this fate if the 30% plan goes ahead. © Survival

The truth about Protected areas

In many parts of the world a Protected Area is where the local people who called the land home for generations are no longer allowed to live or use the natural environment to feed their families, gather medicinal plants or visit their sacred sites. This follows the model of the United States’ nineteenth century creation of the world’s first national parks on lands stolen from Native Americans. Many US national parks forced the peoples who had created the wildlife-rich “wilderness” landscapes into landlessness and poverty.

This is still happening to indigenous peoples and other communities in Africa and parts of Asia. Local people are pushed out by force, coercion or bribery. They are beaten, tortured and abused by park rangers when they try to hunt to feed their families or just to access their ancestral lands. The best guardians of the land, once self-sufficient and with the lowest carbon footprint of any of us, are reduced to landless impoverishment and often end up adding to urban overcrowding. Usually these projects are funded and run by big Western conservation NGOs. Once the locals are gone, tourists, extractive industries and others are welcomed in. For these reasons, local opposition to Protected Areas is growing.

“If the jungle is taken away from us, how will we survive?”
Kunni Bai, a Baiga woman, denounces efforts to evict her people in the name of “conservation”.

Why should we oppose it?

Doubling Protected Areas to cover 30% of the globe will ensure these problems become much worse. As the most biodiverse regions are those where indigenous peoples still live, these will be the first areas targeted by the conservation industry. It will be the biggest land grab in world history and it will reduce hundreds of millions of people to landless poverty – all in the name of conservation. Creating Protected Areas has rarely been done with the consent of indigenous communities, or respect for their human rights. There is no sign that it will be any different in the future. More Protected Areas are likely to result in more militarization and human rights abuses.

The idea of “fortress conservation” – that local peoples must be removed from their land in order to protect ‘nature’ – is colonial. It’s environmentally damaging and rooted in racist and ecofascist ideas about which people are worth more, and which are worth less and can be pushed off their land and impoverished, or attacked and killed.

The conservation industry is looking to get $140 billion every year to fund its land grab.

Say NO to 30%

What do we propose?

We must fight against this big green lie and and respect indigenous peoples’ rights.

If we’re serious about putting the brakes on biodiversity loss, the cheapest and best-proven method is to support as much indigenous land as possible. Eighty per cent of the planet’s biodiversity is already found there.

For tribes, for nature, for all humanity. #BigGreenLie

HELP STOP THE BIG GREEN LIE

Stop the push for 30%


More information on the 30% land grab:

Mapping For Rights: The ‘Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework’

‘New Deal for Nature: Paying the Emperor to Fence the Wind’

#DecolonizeConservation: Tribal Voice videos

Joint statement by NGOs: concerns over the proposed 30% target

The Big Green Lie: an infographic explainer

EU Conference on 2030 Biodiversity Strategy

30% by 2030 and Nature-Based Solutions: the new green colonial rule

 

 

More information on colonial conservation

Wall Street’s Takeover of Nature Advances with Launch of New Asset Class

Unlimited Hangout

October 13, 2021

By Whitney Webb

 

A project of the multilateral development banking system, the Rockefeller Foundation and the New York Stock Exchange recently created a new asset class that will put, not just the natural world, but the processes underpinning all life, up for sale under the guise of promoting “sustainability.”

Last month, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) announced it had developed a new asset class and accompanying listing vehicle meant “to preserve and restore the natural assets that ultimately underpin the ability for there to be life on Earth.” Called a natural asset company, or NAC, the vehicle will allow for the formation of specialized corporations “that hold the rights to the ecosystem services produced on a given chunk of land, services like carbon sequestration or clean water.” These NACs will then maintain, manage and grow the natural assets they commodify, with the end of goal of maximizing the aspects of that natural asset that are deemed by the company to be profitable.

Though described as acting like “any other entity” on the NYSE, it is alleged that NACs “will use the funds to help preserve a rain forest or undertake other conservation efforts, like changing a farm’s conventional agricultural production practices.” Yet, as explained towards the end of this article, even the creators of NACs admit that the ultimate goal is to extract near-infinite profits from the natural processes they seek to quantify and then monetize.

NYSE COO Michael Blaugrund alluded to this when he said the following regarding the launch of NACs: “Our hope is that owning a natural asset company is going to be a way that an increasingly broad range of investors have the ability to invest in something that’s intrinsically valuable, but, up to this point, was really excluded from the financial markets.”

Framed with the lofty talk of “sustainability” and “conservation”, media reports on the move in outlets like Fortune couldn’t avoid noting that NACs open the doors to “a new form of sustainable investment” which “has enthralled the likes of BlackRock CEO Larry Fink over the past several years even though there remain big, unanswered questions about it.” Fink, one of the world’s most powerful financial oligarchs, is and has long been a corporate raider, not an environmentalist, and his excitement about NACs should give even its most enthusiastic proponents pause if this endeavor was really about advancing conservation, as is being claimed.

How to Create a NAC

The creation and launch of NACs has been two years in the making and saw the NYSE team up with the Intrinsic Exchange Group (IEG), in which the NYSE itself holds a minority stake. IEG’s three investors are the Inter-American Development Bank, the Latin America-focused branch of the multilateral development banking system that imposes neoliberal and neo-colonalist agendas through debt entrapment; the Rockefeller Foundation, the foundation of the American oligarch dynasty whose activities have long been tightly enmeshed with Wall Street; and Aberdare Ventures, a venture capital firm chiefly focused on the digital healthcare space. Notably, the IADB and the Rockefeller Foundation are closely tied to the related pushes for Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and biometric Digital IDs.

The IEG’s mission focuses on “pioneering a new asset class based on natural assets and the mechanism to convert them to financial capital.” “These assets,” IEG states, make “life on Earth possible and enjoyable…They include biological systems that provide clean air, water, foods, medicines, a stable climate, human health and societal potential.”

Put differently, NACs will not only allow ecosystems to become financial assets, but the rights to “ecosystem services”, or the benefits people receive from nature as well. These include food production, tourism, clean water, biodiversity, pollination, carbon sequestration and much more. IEG is currently partnering with Costa Rica’s government to pilot its NAC efforts within that country. Costa Rica’s Minister of Environment and Energy, Andrea Meza Murillo, has claimed that the pilot project with IEG “will deepen the economic analysis of giving nature its economic value, as well as to continue mobilizing financial flows to conservation.”

With NACs, the NYSE and IEG are now putting the totality of nature up for sale. While they assert that doing so will “transform our economy to one that is more equitable, resilient and sustainable”, it’s clear that the coming “owners” of nature and natural processes will be the only real beneficiaries.

Per the IEG, NACs first begin with the identification of a natural asset, such as a forest or lake, which is then quantified using specific protocols. Such protocols have already been developed by related groups like the Capitals Coalition, which is partnered with several of IEG’s partners as well as the World Economic Forum and various coalitions of multinational corporations. Then, a NAC is created and the structure of the company decides who has the rights to that natural asset’s productivity as well as the rights to decide how that natural asset is managed and governed. Lastly, a NAC is “converted” into financial capital by launching an initial public offering on a stock exchange, like the NYSE. This last stage “generates capital to manage the natural asset” and the fluctuation of its price on the stock exchange “signals the value of its natural capital.”

Source: IEG

However, the NAC and its employees, directors and owners are not necessarily the owners of the natural asset itself following this final step. Instead, as IEG notes, the NAC is merely the issuer while the potential buyers of the natural asset the NAC represents can include: institutional investors, private investors, individuals and institutions, corporations, sovereign wealth funds and multilateral development banks. Thus, asset management firms that essentially already own much of the world, like Blackrock, could thus become owners of soon-to-be monetized natural processes, natural resources and the very foundations of natural life itself.

Both the NYSE and IEG have marketed this new investment vehicle as being aimed at generating funds that will go back to conservation or sustainability efforts. However, on the IEG’s website, it notes that the goal is really endless profit from natural processes and ecosystems that were previously deemed to be part of “the commons”, i.e. the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. Per the IEG, “as the natural asset prospers, providing a steady or increasing flow of ecosystem services, the company’s equity should appreciate accordingly providing investment returns. Shareholders and investors in the company through secondary offers, can take profit by selling shares. These sales can be gauged to reflect the increase in capital value of the stock, roughly in-line with its profitability, creating cashflow based on the health of the company and its assets.”

Researcher and journalist Cory Morningstar has strongly disagreed with the approach being taken by NYSE/IEG and views NACs as a system that will only exacerbate the corporate predation of nature, despite claims to the contrary. Morningstar has described NACs as “Rockefeller et al. letting the markets dictate what in nature has value – and what does not. Yet, it’s not for capitalist institutions and global finance to decide what life has value. Ecosystems are not ‘assets.’ Biological communities exist for their own purposes, not ours.”

A New Way to Loot

The ultimate goal of NACs is not sustainability or conservation – it is the financialization of nature, i.e. turning nature into a commodity that can be used to keep the current, corrupt Wall Street economy booming under the guise of protecting the environment and preventing its further degradation. Indeed, IEG makes this clear when they note that “the opportunity” of NACs lies not in their potential to improve environmental well-being or sustainability, but in the size of this new asset class, which they term “Nature’s Economy.”

Source: IEG

Indeed, while the asset classes of the current economy are value at approximately $512 trillion, the asset classes unlocked by NACs are significantly larger at $4,000 trillion (i.e. $4 quadrillion). Thus, NACs open up a new feeding ground for predatory Wall Street banks and financial institutions that will allow them to not just dominate the human economy, but the entire natural world. In the world currently being constructed by these and related entities, where even freedom is being re-framed not as a right but “a service,” the natural processes on which life depends are similarly being re-framed as assets, which will have owners. Those “owners” will ultimately have the right, in this system, to dictate who gets access to clean water, to clean air, to nature itself and at what cost.

According to Cory Morningstar, one of the other aims of creating “Nature’s Economy” and neatly packaging it for Wall Street via NACs is to drastically advance massive land grab efforts made by Wall Street and the oligarch class in recent years. This includes the recent land grabs made by Wall Street firms as well as billionaire “philanthropists” like Bill Gates during the COVID crisis. However, the land grabs facilitated through the development of NACs will largely target indigenous communities in the developing world.

As Morningstar notes:

The public launch of NACs strategically preceded the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the biggest biodiversity conference in a decade. Under the pretext of turning 30% of the globe into “protected areas”, the largest global land grab in history is underway. Built on a foundation of white supremacy, this proposal will displace hundreds of millions, furthering the ongoing genocide of Indigenous peoples. The tragic irony is this: while Indigenous peoples represent less than 5% of the global population, they support approximately 80% of all biodiversity.

IEG, in discussing NACs, tellingly notes that proceeds from a NAC’s IPO can be used for the acquisition of more land by its controlling entities or used to boost the budgets or funds of those who receive the capital from the IPO. This is a far cry from the NYSE/IEG sales pitch that NACs are “different” because their IPOs will be used to “preserve and protect” natural areas.

The climate change panic that is now rising to the take the place of COVID-19 panic will surely be used to savvily market NACs and similar tactics as necessary to save the planet, but – rest assured – NACs are not a move to save the planet, but a move to enable the same interests responsible for the current environmental crises to usher in a new era where their predatory exploitation reaches new heights that were previously unimaginable.

 

[Whitney Webb has been a professional writer, researcher and journalist since 2016. She has written for several websites and, from 2017 to 2020, was a staff writer and senior investigative reporter for Mint Press News. She currently writes for The Last American Vagabond.]

What’s Really at Stake with Vaccine Passports

Centre for International Governance Innovation

April 5, 2021

By Elizabeth M. Renieris

 

In February, 2021, ID2020 launched Good Health Pass

Elizabeth M. Renieris is a technology and human rights fellow at Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, a fellow at Stanford University’s Digital Civil Society Lab and an affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. In May 2020, Renieris, an adviser to the ID2020 Alliance, which aims to bring digital identities to billions of people, resigned over the organization’s direction on digital immunity passes and COVID-19. In her resignation Renieris cited ID2020’s opacity, “techno-solutionism” and corporate influence along with the risks of applying blockchain to immunity passes. [Source: CoinDesk]
 

As the world looks to slowly emerge from the grip of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and more than a year of associated border closures, travel restrictions, widespread shutdowns and other limitations on once-normal activities, the idea of a digital “vaccine passport” for COVID-19 is also gaining momentum. While proposals come in different varieties, sometimes called “vaccine passports,” “immunity certificates” or “green passes,” among other names, the underlying idea is the same — to provide a digital certificate or credential intended to prove something about an individual’s health status with respect to the pathogen responsible for COVID-19, such as whether the individual has been vaccinated against, tested negative for or recovered from the virus.Each implementation requires a combination of health information, identity verification tools and a mechanism for presenting the certificate or credential, typically in the form of a digital wallet that can present a Quick Response (QR) code or another digital artifact. While we are quite focused on the health information and technology components, we should not lose sight of the third identity-related pillar. In fact, rather than thinking about vaccine passports as temporary, isolated, public health-related measures, we should view them as just one example of how the pandemic is accelerating the rollout of digital identity infrastructure and consider the broader implications for society, particularly as commercial and economic incentives predominate.

To date, the conversation around vaccine passports has largely focused on the trade-offs between their potential utility for reopening economic activities and the privacy and security risks they present to individuals. For example, when the European Union’s President Ursula von der Leyen initially announced the Digital Green Pass, she asserted that it would “respect data protection, security [and] privacy.” But this narrow lens ignores a wide array of other, potentially more worrying concerns, particularly with regard to the risks of driving further inequity, discrimination, exclusion and stigmatization. In addition to expressing serious concerns about the digital tools and technologies implicated in vaccine passport schemes, public health experts and ethicists have also raised critical issues of inequitable vaccine distribution and vaccine nationalism.

Evidence of the need for — or utility of — vaccine passports is unclear, particularly as compared to the many risks. For example, a group of public health experts convened by the Ada Lovelace Institute in the United Kingdom found that “there may be a comparatively narrow window where there is scientific confidence about the impact of vaccines on transmission and enough of a vaccinated population that it is worth segregating rights and freedoms. Once there is population-level herd immunity it will not make sense to differentiate, and passports would be unnecessary.” Despite additional warnings from public health experts about the insufficient scientific foundations or evidence for such vaccine passports and the serious concerns from civil society about the associated risks, there is tremendous pressure from economic and commercial interests. Proponents typically fall into three camps — travel industry stakeholders, economies heavily dependent on tourism, and the wider digital identity industry.

Long before vaccination schemes were even under way, airlines, such as Qantas and British Airways, and trade associations, such as the International Air Transport Association, announced their plans to implement digital vaccination passport schemes for international air travel. Similarly, the Airports Council International, which represents nearly 2,000 airports worldwide, became a member of the World Economic Forum’s Common Trust Network, which is promoting the CommonPass platform for digital health credentials with thin details about its technical architecture or implementation. In the United Kingdom, the government is also facing pressure from the Association of British Travel Agents, while President Joe Biden is facing mounting pressure to support vaccine passports from travel industry stakeholders in the United States, even as his administration had previously rejected the federal government’s involvement in such a scheme. Despite the pressures from industry, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to caution against the passports’ use on the basis of significant practical and ethical considerations, although it has also opened a public solicitation for comments on a potential “Smart Vaccination Certificate.”

Likewise, the governments lobbying hardest for vaccine passports are, unsurprisingly, from countries that are highly dependent on travel and tourism. Efforts in Europe have been led by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who has been pushing for an EU-wide COVID-19 vaccination certificate and entering into various bilateral agreements with countries around the world. Similarly, the Thai government is exploring the use of vaccine passports in an attempt to revive tourism as the country faces one of the worst economic contractions since 1998. Israel has already introduced a “green pass” that effectively creates a two-tiered system, opening large swaths of the economy, including hotels, bars and restaurants, to those who can present “proof” of either vaccination or presumptive immunity after having recovered from COVID-19. Some law makers also appear to be motivated by the pressure to get ahead of industry. For example, in a February press conference, European Commission President von der Leyen said that the Commission needed to put forward a “European solution” for digital vaccination certificates before large American technology companies such as Apple and Google introduce them, despite no evidence that either company is working on such a solution.

Underlying all of these schemes is the question of digital identity, a complex and hard-to-define socio-technical concept. Technologists often reduce digital identity to a “set of claims made by one [digital] subject about itself or another subject” or “the unique representation of a subject engaged in an online transaction.” These definitions are misleading as non-digital subjects, i.e. real people, have a lot at stake with respect to digital identity, both online and off, as vaccine passports clearly demonstrate. Digital identity encompasses all of the systems and methods by which we identify ourselves through the use of digital tools in the context of specific interactions or transactions, which need not be digital — we might present an app or QR code when boarding a plane — but it is achieved at least partially through digital means. All vaccine passport schemes rely on digital identity systems that implicate sensitive personal data (i.e. health status), and often rely on advanced biometrics like facial recognition and highly experimental technologies such as blockchain or distributed ledger technology. Proponents wield the usual buzzwords of “speed,” “convenience,” “frictionless interactions” and, especially popular in light of the pandemic, “safety,” which is increasing the adoption of “touchless” or “contactless” digital payments and identity solutions (despite little scientific evidence of viral transmission through surfaces).

While digital identity is already a multi-billion-dollar industry projected to exceed USD $30 billion by the year 2025, the pandemic is accelerating its growth more generally. Researchers predict that the number of digital identity apps in use will exceed 6.2 billion in 2025, a 520 percent increase from 2020, driven in large part by the pandemic hastening a shift toward digital services. The pandemic is also supercharging funding for digital identity ventures, which, despite previously struggling with adoption, are now raising money at record levels. Recent examples include an identity start-up raising USD $100 million in a Series C round, based on a unicorn-status USD $1.5 billion valuation; an artificial intelligence and machine learning-focused identity verification start-up raising $100 million in a Series D round, based on a USD $1.3 billion valuation (growing its customer base by more than 85 percent in 2020); and another UK start-up raising USD $100 million at an undisclosed valuation. In this context, it should come as no surprise that identity industry participants, large and small alike, are among the most active proponents of digital vaccination certification schemes.

While industry interests are driving much of the rollout of this digital identity infrastructure, little is known about the particulars of these solutions, because the pathway from vendor to end user is typically a matter of obscure procurement processes — with limited consultation of the public or civil society along the way. As those in the digital identity industry know, creating secure, interoperable digital credentials at scale is exceedingly difficult (e.g., implementation of the Real ID Act in the US has been delayed multiple times since its passage more than 15 years ago). And even as privacy and data protection-by-design norms and standards are growing in popularity, most of these solutions are designed and implemented without due consideration for the fuller array of the individual and collective rights at stake in the broader context of these systems in practice, including in the case of vaccine passports. We also have limited accountability mechanisms for systems or solutions designed, developed and controlled by the private sector (with some industry participants proactively pushing for liability protections for their experimental technologies).

It is critical that we consider vaccine passports in this broader context of accelerating digital identity adoption, with the risk that digital identity infrastructure built and deployed in response to COVID-19 becomes permanent. To assuage to these concerns, some governments promise the solutions are temporary. For example, the European Commission has said, “The Digital Green Certificate system is a temporary measure [that] will be suspended once the World Health Organization (WHO) declares the end of the COVID-19 international health emergency.” But history tells us that the infrastructure and tools deployed as “temporary measures” are unlikely to disappear, especially when they are already being built as “extensible” solutions that will be applied in so many other contexts, including workplaces, schools, the hospitality sector, entertainment venues and more. As a result, rather than asking how a given digital vaccination passport scheme protects individual privacy and security, we must examine how the introduction of these schemes would shift power and normalize ubiquitous identification across many aspects of our lives.

As Harvard scholar Shoshana Zuboff outlined in her seminal work, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, thwarted any momentum for emerging online privacy efforts in the United States, instead ushering in an era of surveillance exceptionalism and contributing to the rise of surveillance capitalism. As the US government came to see the internet and large Silicon Valley companies as instrumental to the intelligence community’s mission, it pushed for sweeping and extraordinary measures that privileged security over privacy or any liberty, among them the USA PATRIOT Act, which dramatically increased the government’s ability to surveil and collect information. Twenty years after 9/11, the PATRIOT Act and other “temporary” measures remain in effect.  If 9/11 ushered in an era of mass surveillance, the pandemic has the potential to introduce the “ID turn” or the age of ubiquitous identification and the end of anonymity. Such a shift would, in turn, threaten the notion of “public” life, which requires the ability to be one of many in the crowd. In this way, what may appear to be temporary public health-related measures could risk embedding permanent digital identity infrastructure without our full consideration of the consequences.

 

 

WATCH: The New Financial Markets on Nature’s Destruction Explained to my Grandmother – Frederic Hache

Published November 24, 2020

 

 

“This video summarizes the below reports: – 50 shades of green part II: the fallacy of environmental markets – 50 shades of green part III: sustainable finance 2.0″ [Source: Green Finance Observatory] [Download: 50-shades-biodiversity-final]

“This [] illustrates why protection of nature based on a price mechanism is more unstable than protection based on law.” — Frederic Hache

 

[Frédéric Hache is a financial expert. He worked for twelve years in investment banking, selling and structuring currency derivatives. After that he was head of policy analysis at the NGO Finance Watch for six years, analysing EU legislation linked to systemic risks / financial stability. He now heads the Belgian think tank Green Finance Observatory, lectures in sustainable finance at Science Po Paris, works as a freelance expert on sustainable finance and environmental markets and is pursuing a PhD in political economy. His research interests are about market-based solutions applied to environmental and social policies. They include natural capital, carbon and biodiversity markets, catastrophe bonds and sustainable finance.]

WATCH: White Saviors and Latin America: Profiting from Humanitarianism

ANTICONQUISTA


August 22, 2021

 

“ANTICONQUISTA will discuss the recent news coming out of Latin America. There are few if any media sites that provide an overview of what’s happening in Latin America especially for those of us in the diaspora. The omission and separation of our people from what is happening in the homelands is intentional. It alienates us from our people and from knowing the abuses and exploitation going on day to day. Our new program seeks to provide a roundup of news in Latin America to make those connections between our people. Continue to support ANTICONQUISTA and the work we do on Patreon and our website where we post articles. All of our money raised goes to funding anti-imperialist movements in or allied with Latin America. https://www.patreon.com/anticonquista https://anticonquista.com/“.

 

 

The Pandemic Response as Contemporary Imperialism

Left Lockdown Sceptics

August 16, 2021

By Addison Reeves

 

August 22, 2021: Police fire rubber bullets at protesters near Victoria Market. Sydney, Australia

The almost uniform support for totalitarian lock-down measures and mandates from those on the left has been shocking to see and has resulted in a feeling of political homelessness for those whose leftist values are what lead them to view the response to the pandemic with a sharp critical eye. This article shows that the reason why so many on the left have abandoned the values of freedom of speech and movement, bodily autonomy, and economic justice is because those people belong to the ideology of progressivism, which exists outside the left-right dichotomy.

Progressivism is an ideology that champions limitless growth, unbridled use of technology and the control of nature over any intrinsic sense of worth or fulfillment. We all get dragged along on the march of ‘progress’ because progressives assume any deviance from their values is inferior and because they tend to control the world’s resources. Progress under this model is linear; the future is always an improvement on the past, and any attempt to resist change or divert course is seen as regressive and unscientific.

Progressives often engage in leftist rhetoric, but their proposals always result in strengthening and expanding the existing, inequitable system and further entrenching the current, elite class. Progressives propose superficial policies rather than measures that would truly allow citizens to become more self-sufficient or otherwise reduce inequality because that would undermine their primary goal of unlimited growth. That is why progressives increasingly take refuge in identity politics; it allows them to talk about changing the system without actually having to challenge the exploitative aspects of society that they rely on for profit and growth. They then blame the increasing disparities on their opponents for resisting ‘progress’.

Progressivism is the direct descendant of the imperialism that dominated much of Western history for centuries. While the common narrative of modern history would have us believe that imperialism faded away in the 20th century as military aggression was replaced with international, economic cooperation and democratic revolutions, imperialism never died. In the United States and other countries there has always been a championing of Enlightenment ideals of liberty and equality alongside the denial of these same values to other groups who were conquered, exploited, or oppressed for imperialist goals of expansion and profit. The legacy of imperialism is just as deeply imprinted on the minds of Americans as liberalism is.

 

 

August 8, 2021: “Firefighters Lead Protests Ahead of Vaccine Passports Being Required in France [Source: Newsweek]

Progressivism = imperialism

Imperialism is the practice of one group of people forcibly subjecting other groups of people to its authority and control for its own benefit, though the imperialists often rationalize their actions as an attempt to save or improve its victims. The history of imperialism in the United States has lent certain traits to its successor progressivism: an extractive belief system, an antipathy towards the natural world, a rigidly prescriptive mindset, and a pathological feeling of supremacy.

Progressivism, like imperialism, is built on the depletion of natural resources, with little concern for sustainability. This attitude extends not just to the plants, animals, and minerals we consume, but to humans (‘human resources’ or ‘human capital’) as well. Thus, the extractive belief system is evident in the slave and sweatshop labor that has and continues to subsidize the economy as well as the rapacious attitude towards nature. As an acquisition-focused philosophy, progressivism treats humans as objects to be possessed and controlled, especially for financial profit. Progressives show no qualms about manipulating people or depriving them of freedom or livelihood to coerce them into compliance because they have no respect for personal agency, seeing other humans as just another resource to be mined.

Progressives view humans as separate from the natural environment, treating nature as something merely to be tamed and conquered. Nature is treated as inherently flawed and in need of improvement by humans. Human solutions, especially technological solutions, are always seen as better than letting nature run its course even when the problems are man-made ones.

Progressives are obsessed with using data, technocracy, and standardization to create a false veneer of objectivity that they use to reinforce the belief in the supremacy of their ideas and to discount the viewpoints that are discordant with progressive ideology, often disdaining opposition as unscientific and false. This is true even where the dissent is unfalsifiable, like satire or an opinion. Progressive imperialists see their own opinions as absolute truth and fail to recognize their own biases and implicit assumptions, just like how early American imperialists deemed their own racialized worldview as scientific and used whatever differences they could quantify between whites and blacks as further evidence of their own supremacy.

Imperialists’ belief that they have ownership of truth fuels their belief in their own supremacy in a circular manner. They believe they are better and smarter than everyone else and therefore that their beliefs are also superior. Deviants and dissenters are perceived as inferior just by virtue of their deviance from the dogma of progressivism. Like the imperialists before them, progressives’ belief in their own superiority is what is used to justify forcing their will on everyone else. They see no problem with censoring criticism, depriving individuals of freedom, and forcing lifestyle choices on others.

Domestic imperialism today

August 21, 2021. Montreal, Canada, Italy, Holland, Australia… resistance against draconian lock-downs and vaccine passports continue. Working class resistance continues against vaccine passports. In France, 220 demonstrations took place nationwide 220 for the sixth consecutive weekend, including Paris. Video: Amsterdam Protests, August 21, 2021, Source: Wytse Koetse
 

One can recognize progressive imperialists because they are the ones who think their own beliefs are facts and those of the opposition are misinformation to be censored. They may pay lip service to freedom of choice, but upon further questioning you will find that that they also believe that people who make a choice in contradiction of progressive orthodoxy should be punished for exercising that ‘freedom’. They are the ones who increasingly believe that people on the wrong side of progressivism should lose their livelihoods or be excluded from society. They are the ones who believe they are morally justified in forcing other autonomous humans to bend to their will.

The phrase ‘vaccine hesitancy’ is characteristic of progressive imperialism today. The term is a propagandistic tool to pathologize non-compliance with an imperialist vision. Notably, the term implies that there can be no choice on the matter, that it is only a matter of time until everyone gets the vaccine. The entire discussion has been framed in starkly imperialist terms—asking how the state can overcome people’s objections and force compliance—rather than in the liberal terms of personal sovereignty and pluralism (acknowledging that different viewpoints are equally valid and that the decision should be based on personal choice).

Johannesburg, South Africa, July 1, 2020. JOHANNESBURG — “Anti-vaccine sentiment in Africa is ‘the worst I’ve ever seen,’ the CEO of the GAVI vaccine alliance, Seth Berkley, told an African Union vaccine conference last week.” [Source: PBS] REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Some will protest that the sacrifice of individual autonomy and the state coercion of vaccination is morally defensible because the intention is ostensibly to save lives. That very response is a perfect illustration of the uniquely imperialist mindset. That certainty that one’s position is objectively, morally right; that there can be no room for diversity on the matter; and that one’s superiority of belief is so obvious that it justifies forcing other individuals to submit their very bodies (and, in the case of those who may suffer fatal reactions, possibly their lives) is the epitome of imperialism, the basis from which much oppression has been borne. The assumption of infallibility and the feeling of entitlement to play God with someone else’s health is pure colonization of other human beings. The tendency to assume that someone else’s personal choices about his or her own life should be subordinate to your beliefs is the essence of imperialism. It is an expectation that one can and should dominate others.  Such a person is carrying on the storied legacy of the numerous imperialists before them. Every generation has them, and these people are this era’s imperialist oppressors, though of course, like all imperialists, they see themselves as heroes.

This is particularly salient when you consider the racial dynamics at play with regard to ‘vaccine hesitancy,’ with reluctance to take the vaccine being higher among blacks and other people of color. What could be a more striking example of domestic imperialism than today’s white elites assuming that the reluctance of people of color (as well as non-compliant whites) to take the vaccine is invalid and ignorant and must be overturned? The means that they are employing to entice these communities to comply—using everything from free fast food to hip hop videos—suggests that progressives do not think people of color are capable of having intellectual and philosophical rationales behind their decisions to opt-out. Consequently, progressives rely on cheap attempts to manipulate them emotionally, such as by producing a hip hop video telling people to get vaccinated. It is the kind of patronizing appeal that could only come from people who already assume they are superior and have no respect for the intelligence of any groups they seek to control.

Once again, we see the privileged white upper class acting as missionaries to spread their beliefs as absolute truth to classes of people they deem inferior to themselves, the modern-day savages whom they must tame, control, and manipulate in service of their supposedly objective worldview.

 

Ama Attaa Aidoo, Ghanaian author, poet, playwright and academic, 1987: “You brought us tuberculosis – we didn’t have this big cough until white people came here.” [Source: @alikoto_roller]

And like the missionaries of old, progressives rationalize their tyranny by claiming that they are doing it for the good of their victims and society. But the end-goal is their own progressive cause. That is why, despite claiming that their desires for vaccine mandates are about saving lives, progressives express little concern for the lives of those people who died after getting these novel technological interventions. Those people died in service of progressive goals so their deaths do not matter. To a progressive imperialist, every such death is a righteous one because humans are just another tool to fulfill progressive ends.

The topic also highlights the progressive loathing of nature. The idea of reliance on natural immunity—what humans have relied on for the maintenance of health since the dawn of human history—rather than on a completely novel technology is disdained by progressives as ignorant and pseudo-scientific. We are no longer permitted to live as human beings have lived for millennia because progressives have decided that such ways of life are outdated and wrong. We cannot opt out of new technologies.

Never mind the fact that proof of natural immunity has been the consensus in the scientific community until last year when progressives censored any scientists that failed to corroborate their directives. Progressives hate nature and refuse to respect its laws. We must all fear nature and live in disharmony with it. Progressives will not allow any other philosophy of living but their own. Yet, for all this faith in technology, the fact that people can still get and transmit the virus after getting the vaccine makes it in fact little more than a superstitious ritual that we all must observe as unwilling participants in the religion of progressivism. It, along with the rest of the hygiene and distancing theater, is an example of how adept imperialists are at transforming their own neuroses and self-interest into moral imperatives for everyone else.

The supremacy attitude and the entitlement to control others and deprive them of rights and privileges are the hallmarks of imperialism, the same qualities that have under-girded all the major human atrocities of the past and those underway and to come.

 

 

[Addison Reeves is a lawyer, political scientist, philosopher, and civil rights and civil liberties advocate based in New York. Addison critiques modern culture from a radical, leftist perspective at ModernHeretic.com or you can follow her on Telegram or Twitter.]

 

Further reading:

Vaccination: Most Deceptive Tool of Imperialism


https://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2020/04/15/vaccination-most-deceptive-tool-of-imperialism/


How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled

NPR

September 11, 2020

By Laura Sullivan

 

Landfill workers bury all plastic except soda bottles and milk jugs at Rogue Disposal & Recycling in southern Oregon. Laura Sullivan/NPR

Note: An audio version of this story aired on NPR’s Planet Money. Listen to the episode here.

Laura Leebrick, a manager at Rogue Disposal & Recycling in southern Oregon, is standing on the end of its landfill watching an avalanche of plastic trash pour out of a semitrailer: containers, bags, packaging, strawberry containers, yogurt cups.

None of this plastic will be turned into new plastic things. All of it is buried.

“To me that felt like it was a betrayal of the public trust,” she said. “I had been lying to people … unwittingly.”

Rogue, like most recycling companies, had been sending plastic trash to China, but when China shut its doors two years ago, Leebrick scoured the U.S. for buyers. She could find only someone who wanted white milk jugs. She sends the soda bottles to the state.

But when Leebrick tried to tell people the truth about burying all the other plastic, she says people didn’t want to hear it.

“I remember the first meeting where I actually told a city council that it was costing more to recycle than it was to dispose of the same material as garbage,” she says, “and it was like heresy had been spoken in the room: You’re lying. This is gold. We take the time to clean it, take the labels off, separate it and put it here. It’s gold. This is valuable.”

But it’s not valuable, and it never has been. And what’s more, the makers of plastic — the nation’s largest oil and gas companies — have known this all along, even as they spent millions of dollars telling the American public the opposite.

This story is part of a joint investigation with the PBS series Frontline that includes the documentary Plastic Wars, which aired March 31 on PBS. Watch it online now.

NPR and PBS Frontline spent months digging into internal industry documents and interviewing top former officials. We found that the industry sold the public on an idea it knew wouldn’t work — that the majority of plastic could be, and would be, recycled — all while making billions of dollars selling the world new plastic.

The industry’s awareness that recycling wouldn’t keep plastic out of landfills and the environment dates to the program’s earliest days, we found. “There is serious doubt that [recycling plastic] can ever be made viable on an economic basis,” one industry insider wrote in a 1974 speech.

Yet the industry spent millions telling people to recycle, because, as one former top industry insider told NPR, selling recycling sold plastic, even if it wasn’t true.

“If the public thinks that recycling is working, then they are not going to be as concerned about the environment,” Larry Thomas, former president of the Society of the Plastics Industry, known today as the Plastics Industry Association and one of the industry’s most powerful trade groups in Washington, D.C., told NPR.

In response, industry representative Steve Russell, until recently the vice president of plastics for the trade group the American Chemistry Council, said the industry has never intentionally misled the public about recycling and is committed to ensuring all plastic is recycled.

“The proof is the dramatic amount of investment that is happening right now,” Russell said. “I do understand the skepticism, because it hasn’t happened in the past, but I think the pressure, the public commitments and, most important, the availability of technology is going to give us a different outcome.”

Here’s the basic problem: All used plastic can be turned into new things, but picking it up, sorting it out and melting it down is expensive. Plastic also degrades each time it is reused, meaning it can’t be reused more than once or twice.

On the other hand, new plastic is cheap. It’s made from oil and gas, and it’s almost always less expensive and of better quality to just start fresh.

All of these problems have existed for decades, no matter what new recycling technology or expensive machinery has been developed. In all that time, less than 10 percent of plastic has ever been recycled. But the public has known little about these difficulties.

It could be because that’s not what they were told.

Starting in the 1990s, the public saw an increasing number of commercials and messaging about recycling plastic.

“The bottle may look empty, yet it’s anything but trash,” says one ad from 1990 showing a plastic bottle bouncing out of a garbage truck. “It’s full of potential. … We’ve pioneered the country’s largest, most comprehensive plastic recycling program to help plastic fill valuable uses and roles.”

These commercials carried a distinct message: Plastic is special, and the consumer should recycle it.

Industry companies spent tens of millions of dollars on these ads and ran them for years, promoting the benefits of a product that, for the most part, was buried, was burned or, in some cases, wound up in the ocean.

Documents show industry officials knew this reality about recycling plastic as far back as the 1970s.

Many of the industry’s old documents are housed in libraries, such as the one on the grounds of the first DuPont family home in Delaware. Others are with universities, where former industry leaders sent their records.

At Syracuse University, there are boxes of files from a former industry consultant. And inside one of them is a report written in April 1973 by scientists tasked with forecasting possible issues for top industry executives.

Recycling plastic, it told the executives, was unlikely to happen on a broad scale.

“There is no recovery from obsolete products,” it says.

2020 forward: Facemasks, Personal Protective Equipment – a new genre of pollution and microplastics, global in scale

It says pointedly: Plastic degrades with each turnover.

“A degradation of resin properties and performance occurs during the initial fabrication, through aging, and in any reclamation process,” the report told executives.

Recycling plastic is “costly,” it says, and sorting it, the report concludes, is “infeasible.”

And there are more documents, echoing decades of this knowledge, including one analysis from a top official at the industry’s most powerful trade group. “The costs of separating plastics … are high,” he tells colleagues, before noting that the cost of using oil to make plastic is so low that recycling plastic waste “can’t yet be justified economically.”

Larry Thomas, the former president of the Society of the Plastics Industry, worked side by side with top oil and plastics executives.

He’s retired now, on the coast of Florida where he likes to bike, and feels conflicted about the time he worked with the plastics industry.

“I did what the industry wanted me to do, that’s for sure,” he says. “But my personal views didn’t always jibe with the views I had to take as part of my job.”

Thomas took over back in the late 1980s, and back then, plastic was in a crisis. There was too much plastic trash. The public was getting upset.

Garten Services, a recycling facility in Oregon, where paper and metals still have markets but most plastic is thrown away. All plastic must first go through a recycling facility like this one, but only a fraction of the plastic produced actually winds up getting recycled. Laura Sullivan/NPR

In one document from 1989, Thomas calls executives at Exxon, Chevron, Amoco, Dow, DuPont, Procter & Gamble and others to a private meeting at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington.

“The image of plastics is deteriorating at an alarming rate,” he wrote. “We are approaching a point of no return.”

He told the executives they needed to act.

The “viability of the industry and the profitability of your company” are at stake.

Thomas remembers now.

“The feeling was the plastics industry was under fire — we got to do what it takes to take the heat off, because we want to continue to make plastic products,” he says.

At this time, Thomas had a co-worker named Lew Freeman. He was a vice president of the lobbying group. He remembers many of the meetings like the one in Washington.

“The basic question on the table was, You guys as our trade association in the plastics industry aren’t doing enough — we need to do more,” Freeman says. “I remember this is one of those exchanges that sticks with me 35 years later or however long it’s been … and it was what we need to do is … advertise our way out of it. That was the idea thrown out.”

So began the plastics industry’s $50 million-a-year ad campaign promoting the benefits of plastic.

“Presenting the possibilities of plastic!” one iconic ad blared, showing kids in bike helmets and plastic bags floating in the air.

“This advertising was motivated first and foremost by legislation and other initiatives that were being introduced in state legislatures and sometimes in Congress,” Freeman says, “to ban or curb the use of plastics because of its performance in the waste stream.”

At the same time, the industry launched a number of feel-good projects, telling the public to recycle plastic. It funded sorting machines, recycling centers, nonprofits, even expensive benches outside grocery stores made out of plastic bags.

Few of these projects actually turned much plastic into new things.

NPR tracked down almost a dozen projects the industry publicized starting in 1989. All of them shuttered or failed by the mid-1990s. Mobil’s Massachusetts recycling facility lasted three years, for example. Amoco’s project to recycle plastic in New York schools lasted two. Dow and Huntsman’s highly publicized plan to recycle plastic in national parks made it to seven out of 419 parks before the companies cut funding.

None of them was able to get past the economics: Making new plastic out of oil is cheaper and easier than making it out of plastic trash.

Both Freeman and Thomas, the head of the lobbying group, say the executives all knew that.

“There was a lot of discussion about how difficult it was to recycle,” Thomas remembers. “They knew that the infrastructure wasn’t there to really have recycling amount to a whole lot.”

Even as the ads played and the projects got underway, Thomas and Freeman say industry officials wanted to get recycling plastic into people’s homes and outside on their curbs with blue bins.

Liesemer’s job was to at least try to make recycling work — because there was some hope, he said, however unlikely, that maybe if they could get recycling started, somehow the economics of it all would work itself out.

“I had no staff, but I had money,” Liesemer says. “Millions of dollars.”

Liesemer took those millions out to Minnesota and other places to start local plastic recycling programs.

But then he ran into the same problem all the industry documents found. Recycling plastic wasn’t making economic sense: There were too many different kinds of plastic, hundreds of them, and they can’t be melted down together. They have to be sorted out.

“Yes, it can be done,” Liesemer says, “but who’s going to pay for it? Because it goes into too many applications, it goes into too many structures that just would not be practical to recycle.”

Liesemer says he started as many programs as he could and hoped for the best.

“They were trying to keep their products on the shelves,” Liesemer says. “That’s what they were focused on. They weren’t thinking what lesson should we learn for the next 20 years. No. Solve today’s problem.”

And Thomas, who led the trade group, says all of these efforts started to have an effect: The message that plastic could be recycled was sinking in.

“I can only say that after a while, the atmosphere seemed to change,” he says. “I don’t know whether it was because people thought recycling had solved the problem or whether they were so in love with plastic products that they were willing to overlook the environmental concerns that were mounting up.”

But as the industry pushed those public strategies to get past the crisis, officials were also quietly launching a broader plan.

In the early 1990s, at a small recycling facility near San Diego, a man named Coy Smith was one of the first to see the industry’s new initiative.

Back then, Smith ran a recycling business. His customers were watching the ads and wanted to recycle plastic. So Smith allowed people to put two plastic items in their bins: soda bottles and milk jugs. He lost money on them, he says, but the aluminum, paper and steel from his regular business helped offset the costs.

But then, one day, almost overnight, his customers started putting all kinds of plastic in their bins.

“The symbols start showing up on the containers,” he explains.

Smith went out to the piles of plastic and started flipping over the containers. All of them were now stamped with the triangle of arrows — known as the international recycling symbol — with a number in the middle. He knew right away what was happening.

“All of a sudden, the consumer is looking at what’s on their soda bottle and they’re looking at what’s on their yogurt tub, and they say, ‘Oh well, they both have a symbol. Oh well, I guess they both go in,’ ” he says.

Unwanted used plastic sits outside Garten Services, a recycling facility in Oregon. Laura Sullivan/NPR

The bins were now full of trash he couldn’t sell. He called colleagues at recycling facilities all across the country. They reported having the same problem.

Industry documents from this time show that just a couple of years earlier, starting in 1989, oil and plastics executives began a quiet campaign to lobby almost 40 states to mandate that the symbol appear on all plastic — even if there was no way to economically recycle it. Some environmentalists also supported the symbol, thinking it would help separate plastic.

Smith said what it did was make all plastic look recyclable.

“The consumers were confused,” Smith says. “It totally undermined our credibility, undermined what we knew was the truth in our community, not the truth from a lobbying group out of D.C.”

But the lobbying group in D.C. knew the truth in Smith’s community too. A report given to top officials at the Society of the Plastics Industry in 1993 told them about the problems.

“The code is being misused,” it says bluntly. “Companies are using it as a ‘green’ marketing tool.”

The code is creating “unrealistic expectations” about how much plastic can actually be recycled, it told them.

Smith and his colleagues launched a national protest, started a working group and fought the industry for years to get the symbol removed or changed. They lost.

“We don’t have manpower to compete with this,” Smith says. “We just don’t. Even though we were all dedicated, it still was like, can we keep fighting a battle like this on and on and on from this massive industry that clearly has no end in sight of what they’re able to do and willing to do to keep their image the image they want.”

“It’s pure manipulation of the consumer,” he says.

In response, industry officials told NPR that the code was only ever meant to help recycling facilities sort plastic and was not intended to create any confusion.

Without question, plastic has been critical to the country’s success. It’s cheap and durable, and it’s a chemical marvel.

It’s also hugely profitable. The oil industry makes more than $400 billion a year making plastic, and as demand for oil for cars and trucks declines, the industry is telling shareholders that future profits will increasingly come from plastic.

And if there was a sign of this future, it’s a brand-new chemical plant that rises from the flat skyline outside Sweeny, Texas. It’s so new that it’s still shiny, and inside the facility, the concrete is free from stains.

Chevron Phillips Chemical’s new $6 billion plastic manufacturing plant rises from the skyline in Sweeny, Texas. Company officials say they see a bright future for their products as demand for plastic continues to rise. Laura Sullivan/NPR

This plant is Chevron Phillips Chemical’s $6 billion investment in new plastic.

“We see a very bright future for our products,” says Jim Becker, the vice president of sustainability for Chevron Phillips, inside a pristine new warehouse next to the plant.

“These are products the world needs and continues to need,” he says. “We’re very optimistic about future growth.”

With that growth, though, comes ever more plastic trash. But Becker says Chevron Phillips has a plan: It will recycle 100% of the plastic it makes by 2040.

Becker seems earnest. He tells a story about vacationing with his wife and being devastated by the plastic trash they saw. When asked how Chevron Phillips will recycle 100% of the plastic it makes, he doesn’t hesitate.

“Recycling has to get more efficient, more economic,” he says. “We’ve got to do a better job, collecting the waste, sorting it. That’s going to be a huge effort.”

Fix recycling is the industry’s message too, says Steve Russell, the industry’s recent spokesman.

“Fixing recycling is an imperative, and we’ve got to get it right,” he says. “I understand there is doubt and cynicism. That’s going to exist. But check back in. We’re there.”

Larry Thomas, Lew Freeman and Ron Liesemer, former industry executives, helped oil companies out of the first plastic crisis by getting people to believe something the industry knew then wasn’t true: That most plastic could be and would be recycled.

Russell says this time will be different.

“It didn’t get recycled because the system wasn’t up to par,” he says. “We hadn’t invested in the ability to sort it and there hadn’t been market signals that companies were willing to buy it, and both of those things exist today.”

But plastic today is harder to sort than ever: There are more kinds of plastic, it’s cheaper to make plastic out of oil than plastic trash and there is exponentially more of it than 30 years ago.

And during those 30 years, oil and plastic companies made billions of dollars in profit as the public consumed ever more quantities of plastic.

Russell doesn’t dispute that.

“And during that time, our members have invested in developing the technologies that have brought us where we are today,” he says. “We are going to be able to make all of our new plastic out of existing municipal solid waste in plastic.”

Recently, an industry advocacy group funded by the nation’s largest oil and plastic companies launched its most expensive effort yet to promote recycling and cleanup of plastic waste. There’s even a new ad.

New plastic bottles come off the line at a plastic manufacturing facility in Maryland. Plastic production is expected to triple by 2050. Laura Sullivan/NPR

“We have the people that can change the world,” it says to soaring music as people pick up plastic trash and as bottles get sorted in a recycling center.

Freeman, the former industry official, recently watched the ad.

“Déjà vu all over again,” he says as the ad finishes. “This is the same kind of thinking that ran in the ’90s. I don’t think this kind of advertising is, is helpful at all.”

Larry Thomas said the same.

“I don’t think anything has changed,” Thomas says. “Sounds exactly the same.”

These days as Thomas bikes down by the beach, he says he spends a lot of time thinking about the oceans and what will happen to them in 20 or 50 years, long after he is gone.

And as he thinks back to those years he spent in conference rooms with top executives from oil and plastic companies, what occurs to him now is something he says maybe should have been obvious all along.

He says what he saw was an industry that didn’t want recycling to work. Because if the job is to sell as much oil as you possibly can, any amount of recycled plastic is competition.

“You know, they were not interested in putting any real money or effort into recycling because they wanted to sell virgin material,” Thomas says. “Nobody that is producing a virgin product wants something to come along that is going to replace it. Produce more virgin material — that’s their business.”

And they are. Analysts now expect plastic production to triple by 2050.

 

[Cat Schuknecht contributed to this report.]

[Laura Sullivan is an NPR News investigative correspondent whose work has cast a light on some of the country’s most significant issues. Sullivan is one of NPR’s most decorated journalists, with three Peabody Awards and two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Batons. She joined NPR in 2004 as a correspondent on the National Desk, covering crime and punishment issues. She joined NPR’s investigations unit in 2010. Her investigative reports air regularly on All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Full bio]

 

 

 

Further reading:

Face Masks: A Danger to Our Planet, Our Children & Ourselves

 

Defending Latin America’s Resistance Axis

Tortilla con Sal

August 2, 2021

By Stephen Sefton

 

Early in July this year Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah spoke to a conference in which he outlined the main elements of the region’s Resistance Axis’ media and communications strategy. He stressed the rightness of the Resistance cause challenging Western imperialism, in particular Israel’s genocidal, colonialist settler occupation of Palestine. He pointed out the strength, unity and resilience of the Axis, led by Iran and Syria, but including Hezbollah itself and allied movements in Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Yemen. Nasrallah also emphasized the importance of the Resistance Axis leadership’s determination to report the facts of events in the region truthfully with rigorously honesty when offering analysis.

Together moral right and political strength, truthful reporting and analytic honesty have created and nurtured deep, broadly based, committed support across the region. Few observers doubt that the Resistance cause will ultimately triumph in Syria and Palestine, given the relentless relative decline of US and allied imperial power relative to Russia and China and the steadfastness of Iran and Syria. The formidable unity and solidarity of the movements successfully challenging the US and Israel in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen offer lessons essential for their resistance counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Sayyed Nasrallah’s remarks have particular relevance to the Resistance Axis composed of the ALBA countries led by Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela whose governments all strongly support Iran and Syria. In varying degrees, these countries have also long suffered relentless aggression from the United States, its allies and regional proxies, in Cuba’s case for over sixty years. Nasrallah’s criteria defnitely apply to the experience of this bloc of resistance to US and allied imperialism in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The moral right of these countries is founded on their historic struggle against imperial domination and on the fundamental principles of modern international law, namely, non-aggression and the right to self determination. To circumvent that profund moral right the US and its allies seek to apply their own illegal “rules based order” applying all kinds of aggression on the basis of false accusations of human rights violations processed through the corrupt institutions of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. As in the case of Palestine and wider West Asia, this genocidal Western aggression is driven by profound nostalgia for the era of unlimited colonial and neocolonial domination.

The moral right of the ALBA countries to their resistance is undeniable and so too is the formidable political strength, unity and resilience they have mobilized to defend their cause against relentless economic, diplomatic, media and psychological warfare, domestic terror and even military attack. Over centuries, all these countries’ peoples have resisted foreign domination. Cuba’s Revolution triumphed in 1959 and has resisted Yankee and allied onslaught and destabilization for over 60 years. Likewise, Venezuela since Comandante Chávez became president in 1998 and Bolivia since Evo Morales was elected president in 2006, have also endured relentless US and allied hostility and aggression. Nicaragua has been the target of US intervention ever since the Sandinista Front for National Liberation overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.

Despite everything the US and its allies have attempted in recent years, these countries have stood firm in defense of their right to self-determination. In their case too, the combination of moral right, political strength and unity, truthful reporting and honest analysis has consolidated not only solid domestic support to resist US and allied aggression, but also national consensus rejecting neoliberal policies promoting corporate greed, in favor of socialist development programs focused on the needs of the human person. The frustration and desperation of the US, its allies and their regional mercenaries and proxies will certainly intensify as their efforts continue failing to break down broad popular support for the ALBA countries’s governments. All four governments are now well aware of the methods deployed by the US and its allies to carry out their wildly misnamed “soft coups”.

To expose, disarm and defeat the increasingly desperate imperialist campaigns of aggression effectively, the Resistance Axis led by Iran and Syria has shown the importance of ever closer unity and coordination between governments, popular movements, media outlets and all expressions of popular consciousness and awareness. Nicaragua has not suffered the same economic and military aggression as Cuba and Venezuela, but its leadership, especially Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, have been subjected to perhaps an even more systematic and comprehensive campaign of demonization, as intense as that against Muammar al Gaddhafi prior to and during the destruction of Libya. In fact, most progressive and even anti-imperialist media outlets and intellectuals tended to accept at face value the false imperialist media account of the failed coup attempt in 2018.

However, by telling the truth honestly in the most determined way, Nicaragua’s government has largely overcome the concerted psychological warfare campaign deployed against it, preserving and reinforcing support and solidarity where it is most needed, both among Nicaragua’s people and internationally in bodies like the Foro Sao Paulo. The government’s dignified, forceful and persistent presentation of the country’s reality at a diplomatic level has successfully defeated efforts by the US and its allies to isolate the country. Similarly, good faith reporting by international organizations, like the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Panamerican Health Organization, UNESCO, or even the World Bank, on their work with Nicaragua consistently contradicts claims by the corrupt human rights organizations of the UN and the OAS that the country’s government is a repressive dictatorship denying basic rights to its people.

The failed coup attempt in Nicaragua in 2018, the coup in Bolivia in 2019, continuing constant aggression of all kinds against Venezuela and, most recently, the US organized and funded protests in Cuba and the accompanying intensification of the blockade, are all part of what Stella Calloni and other writers have identified as the new Plan Condor. This reality is very well understood by now, both across the region and increasingly among the anti-imperialist movements in North America and Europe. As Sayyed Nasrallah has explained in the context of occupied Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, by persistently reporting events in the region truthfully and analyzing them honestly our governments and popular movements can build and consolidate the moral and political strength and unity necessary to overcome the US and its allies and achieve the definitive Second Independence of Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

 

 

Nicaragua – Varieties of Neocolonial Solidarity

Tortilla con Sal,

TeleSUR

July 7, 2021

View of the facade of the Organization of American States (OAS), today, in Washington (United States). | Photo: EFE

Just as in 2018, Nicaragua is once again the subject of the kind of mass international bad faith news coverage and perception management more usually associated recently with US and allied government offensives against Bolivia, Cuba, Iran, Syria and Venezuela. In Nicaragua’s case the current offensive is aimed at influencing the country’s elections scheduled for next November 7th. Currently, all the opinion polls show that, should President Daniel Ortega stand again for election, he and his FSLN party will win easily with over 60% support against around 20% for the the country’s right wing opposition.

The campaign against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government is clearly intended to encourage punitive coercive economic measures from the US and European Union governments aimed at influencing voter opinion in those November elections against President Ortega and the FSLN. Right now, the main false accusation is that “Ortega” has unjustly imprisoned over twenty opposition leaders, among them several presidential candidates. All US attempts to overthrow governments resisting US and allied government dictates depend on this kind of big lie. The standard big lie is that target governments are unpopular, repressive dictatorships. Invariably, the truth is very different if not the complete opposite.

For example, in 2009, the big lie in preparation for the coup against then Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was that the proposed Fourth Ballot referendum aimed to secure him re-election so as to impose a dictatorship. In Nicaragua’s case, the current big lie is that “Ortega” is arresting opposition leaders to prevent them defeating him in next November’s elections. These big lies only flourish in an essentially fascist culture of corporate dominated government in which truthful information is systematically suppressed and substituted by false beliefs.

Typical Western false beliefs or presuppositions are, for example, that the US and its allies are a force for good in the world, that Western culture is morally superior to others and that capitalism promotes optimal economic and social outcomes. These ridiculous false beliefs are fundamental tenets of Western intellectual life and public discourse. They make possible the kind of psychological warfare repeatedly unleashed against governments that obstruct the wishes of Western corporate elites and the governments they own.

An important component of Western psychological warfare shaping the moral dimension of any given disinformation assault is the essentially class based solidarity with the target country’s imperialist proxies. This neocolonial solidarity operates in reactionary and progressive varieties, both claiming a Western monopoly on freedom, democracy and defence of human rights. Both essentially agree that governments resisting Western demands deserve to be attacked one way or another.

The reactionary variety, prevalent mostly among the business and financial classes and related professionals, insists on abandoning international law in favour of intervention based on Western dictated rules. The progressive variety, prevalent mostly among non profit organizations, academics and other socially oriented professionals, agrees but is more diffident about the means of intervention deployed, demanding alibis to satisfy susceptibilities over humanitarian and human rights concerns. The right wing variety generally favors aggressive, overt or covert military-based solidarity with armed opposition rebellion, while the progressive variety favors smart-power coercive measures prioritizing solidarity with some version of opposition civil society or popular movements.

Nicaragua experienced the first right wing version of neocolonial solidarity during the Contra war of the 1980s when president Reagan declared, with more truth than he realized, that the CIA-run narco-terror campaign was “the moral equivalent of the founding fathers”. Subsequently, ever since the Sandinista FSLN party returned to government in 2007, Nicaragua has experienced principally the progressive version of smart power neocolonial solidarity developed under president Obama. That policy, supporting Nicaragua’s anti-Sandinista opposition, intensified under president Trump and continues unchanged now under “Biden”.

Self-evidently, these varieties of neocolonial solidarity thrive on their respective class loyalties and ideological susceptibilities. In 2018, a massive disinformation campaign covered up the Nicaraguan opposition’s extreme violence and their deliberate campaign of destruction. As Harold Pinter remarked in relation to the 1980s Contra War, even as the opposition violence of 2018 was happening, the murders, the extortion, the arson, the torture, it was made to seem that nothing happened. Now, when the Nicaraguan authorities have acted to preempt a repeat of that failed 2018 coup attempt, a furious psychological warfare assault is taking place to conceal the coup mongering opposition’s treasonous collusion with the US and EU country governments.

As regards progressive and left wing opinion in general, militant foreign supporters of Nicaragua’s ex-sandinista opposition have long been important protagonists covering up the ex.sandinistas’ anti-democratic collaboration with Western imperialist intervention. Even before the 2006 elections, the US authorities had coopted ex sandinistas as collaborators. But when Daniel Ortega and FSLN won those elections, successfully managed the crisis of 2008-2009 and then triumphed in the 2011 elections, US government support for the opposition switched to promoting efforts at outright regime change. Inside Nicaragua, the ex sandinistas, devoid of popular support, abused their non profit networks to camouflage their political opposition to the government and the accumulation of resources necessary to mount the 2018 coup attempt.

That systematic abusive subterfuge has been eliminated and its protagonists held to account. So now foreign supporters of the ex sandinista opposition again cloak their militant, aggressive, politically driven advocacy under phony human rights concerns. In 2018, they did so to cover up the violent role of the ex sandinistas in the failed coup attempt. Now, they falsely allege human rights abuses to cover up ex sandinista US collaborators’ treasonous criminality. The false human rights propaganda motif makes it possible for proponents of the progressive variety of neocolonial solidarity in North America, Europe and elsewhere, to work in parallel with their right wing counterparts. Even many supposedly left wing figures have written articles or signed declarations in support of the ex-Sandinista US collaborators and those people’s right wing allies in Nicaragua. They do so for three main reasons.

Firstly, many supposedly left-wing figures attacking the Nicaraguan authorities for defending Nicaragua’s independence and sovereignty have some degree of friendship with the ex-sandinistas now under investigation, so they defend them for essentially personal reasons. Secondly, it is likely that many supposed left wingers supporting the ex Sandinista US collaborators have been duped by the massive psychological warfare assault on Nicaragua without bothering to question it. A third main reason for that kind of neocolonial solidairty from people who should know better, is that they fear alienating their support networks and are simply signaling how virtuous they are so as to avoid criticism.

In any case, the current situation, just like the 2018 coup attempt, categorically defines where everyone’s loyalties lie. People genuinely committed to the principles of sovereign independence and self-determination recognize the Nicaraguan authorities are applying the country’s laws and criminal code to defend the country against US intervention aimed at overthrowing the elected government. People who believe the bogus human rights accusations and claims that the current criminal investigations are driven by electoral considerations are engaging in the kind of neocolonial solidarity regularly deployed to justify yet another operation of imperialist regime change. For anyone foolish enough to credit the ex sandinista leaders denials of complicity with the US government, this series of photographs should help disabuse them of that false belief.

 

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

The Dasgupta Review Deconstructed: An Exposé of Biodiversity Economics

The Dasgupta Review Deconstructed: An Exposé of Biodiversity Economics

Published online: 26 May 2021

 

“In fact, there is nothing new in The Review’s orthodox economic ‘solution’ for loss of biodiversity,
namely, putting a price tag on Nature so that businessmen and financiers can recognize its
existence in their accounts, capture its value and profit from trading. Neither is there anything
new about an economist claiming he can direct environmental policy by correctly pricing Nature
to optimize resource management. However, Dasgupta does not stop there.

Human health, education and population are also to be monetized and treated like man-made
capital. Together three forms of capital – natural, human and produced – are taken to represent the
‘inclusive wealth’ of humanity. In this way, all social, ecological and economic aspects are equated,
allowing their aggregation and integration into national accounting systems. Conflicting objectives
and interests are assumed commensurable via reduction to monetary equivalents that support
financial wealth accumulation. There is no error in this ‘independent’ report having been commissioned
by the Treasury department under a ruling Conservative Party. While pricing, trading-off
and optimizing are traditional economic fare, the political vision here involves a far reaching public
policy agenda, promoting the total domination of non-financial aspects of life by finance.”  [p. 2]

 

Source: Capitals Coalition (formerly Natural Capital Coalition), Twitter

Clive L. Spash & Frédéric Hache (2021): The Dasgupta Review deconstructed: an exposé of biodiversity economics, Globalizations, DOI: 10.1080/14747731.2021.1929007

Institute for the Multi-Level Governance & Development, Department of Socioeconomics, WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna, Austria; Green Finance Observatory, Brussels, Belgium

The Dasgupta Review is the latest attempt at justifying financialisation of Nature, but also much more. It represents a high point in applying concepts of capital and wealth accumulation comprehensively to all aspects of human and non- human existence. Unravelling the flaws in the arguments, contradictions and underlying motives requires both understand of and cutting through the specialist language, neoclassical economic models, mathematics and rhetoric. We offer a critical guide to and deconstruction of Dasgupta’s biodiversity economics and reveal its real aim. Framing critical biodiversity loss as an issue of asset management and population size is a blind to avoid questioning economic growth, which remains unchallenged and depoliticized despite apparently recognizing natural limits. Dasgupta ignores long-standing problems with capital theory and social cost–benefit analysis. Rather than a scientific review of biodiversity economics he offers impossible to achieve valuation, based on old flawed theories and methods, embedded in an unsavoury political economy.

ABSTRACT

1. Introduction

2. Dasgupta’s political economy and its values

3. The world as different categories of capital

4. Other issues

Download the PDF: The Dasgupta Review Deconstructed – An Expose of Biodiversity Economics

 

 

[Clive L. Spash is Professor of Public Policy & Governance at WU in Vienna, Editor-in-Chief of Environmental Values, and former President of the European Society for Ecological Economics. As an ecological economist he has promoted the need for social-ecological transformation and a paradigm shift in economic thought. He has published widely in the fields of economics, political economy, social psychology, project and policy evaluation, environmental policy, philosophy and ethics. Over thirty years he has conducted research on climate change, biodiversity loss, air pollution, conservation and land-use. His books include: Routledge handbook of ecological economics: Nature and society (Ed., Routledge, 2017), Ecological economics: Critical concepts in the environment, 4 Volumes (Ed., Routledge, 2009), and Greenhouse economics: Value and ethics (Routledge, 2002). More information can be found at www.clivespash.org.]

[Frédéric Hache is a financial expert. He worked for twelve years in investment banking, selling and structuring currency derivatives. After that he was head of policy analysis at the NGO Finance Watch for six years, analysing EU legislation linked to systemic risks / financial stability. He now heads the Belgian think tank Green Finance Observatory, lectures in sustainable finance at Science Po Paris, works as a freelance expert on sustainable finance and environmental markets and is pursuing a PhD in political economy.]