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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.]

 

 

We Are Many.  The Oppressors Are Not.

We Are Many. The Oppressors Are Not.

August 3, 2021

By Hiroyuki Hamada

 

Kadhim Hayder (1932-1985), title unknown, Iraq

 

I remember chatting with a man from Iraq in 2016.  He was driving a taxi in Germany.  I wrote about him in one of my essays [1]:

“Last month, I was chatting with an Iraqi taxi driver in Berlin. My 12 year old son and I took a cab from the Museum for Contemporary Art to our hotel. I couldn’t help but ask the cab driver why he ended up in Berlin. He said it was something to do with the availability of the visa. He stressed that he had to leave because he didn’t like Islam. He said Muslims were killing each other.

 

I felt very slightly sad because he sounded like he had to say that to prove that he wasn’t a “terrorist”. I told him that it was the US that supported Saddam when it was convenient. Then, the US flipped, changing its policy, as doing so became more convenient. I asked him, Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS, same old story, no?

 

Then he said something unexpected. He said it was a “people’s revolution”. “We stood against Saddam”.  He was referring to the first gulf war in 1991. He went on to describe how it didn’t go as people wished, and it brought about the devastating trade embargo, more war, ISIS and so on.  His voice was passionate.  I felt the anger and frustration against war and imperialism that I also feel myself, in his voice.”

The imperial war against countries that defy the US hegemonic imperatives involves a few steps.  The target population is deprived of their basic necessities by economic embargo, trade sanctions, travel restrictions and demonization of its leader.  The society is destabilized by the lack of resources and economic activities.  The opposing forces in the country are generously funded by the empire to build a momentum against the defying “regime” in the name of “revolution,” “democracy,” “freedom” and etc. The communities are divided.  The institutions are compromised to serve capital, adding more confusions and predicaments to the population.

Quite often this is sufficient enough to silence those who defy such interventions and it results in an overthrow of the existing order.  The society is transformed to suit the colonial policies concocted by western industries, which result in resource extraction, privatization, financialization, exploitation of cheap labor, construction of US military bases and so on.

Quite a few middle eastern countries have defied such interventions resulting in proxy wars and western military interventions.

That was the war on terror which continues to this day as the US forces are freely employed against the world according to its “war on terror legal framework,” while its measures are still in place as restrictions against our legal rights as well as restrictions at airports and so on.

Many of us raised our voices against the obvious crime of invading other countries, colonizing them and subjugating them.  To my surprise there were people who objected to our assertion saying that if we didn’t invade them, they would have invaded us, they were “terrorists,” and so on.

Enormous profits were generated by this huge public project, war, at the expense of the people in the war torn countries as well as oppressed people in some of the richest countries of the world. No one was held accountable for deaths and destruction.  The war to save people from terrorists was a huge capitalist project to expand the power and wealth of hardened criminals who call themselves politicians, philanthropists, businessmen, intellectuals, patriots, academics, and so on.

Clockwork eyes by Mick Ryan

The underlining mentality of neocolonial violence is based on prejudice against the peoples of the targeted countries.  Those peoples, who reside within countries governed by “leaders” who have sworn to obey imperial policies, are subjected to tighter measures of exploitation and subjugation in order to serve the interests of the imperial institutions. The predicaments of the subject population—poverty, social unrest, and corruption, which stem from the economic subjugation, justify the mental superiority among westerners, falsely proving the inferiority of the “barbaric” population which must be “assisted” by westerners.  If the leader of a colonized country attempts to amend the unfair situation by implementing policies that serve that country’s own people, the western authority would mobilize policies to remove such an element.  The policies are firmly backed by the prejudice amongst the imperial population.  Simple slogans and key words such as “he is killing his own people,” “save the children,” “regime,” “dictatorship” and “genocide” can trigger the colonial mentality as well as the white savior mentality in the imperial population.

“In the cage there is food. Not much, but there is food. Outside are only great stretches of freedom. Nicanor Parra Bird Nightmare by Mick Ryan”

Fast forward to 2021–the era of war on virus. We are experiencing a massive wealth transfer to the rich and powerful, which can be best described by Jeff Bezos thanking his workers and customers for his rocket ride. [2] The cynical exploitative violence inflicted against workers is found in all sectors across the country, creating destruction of small community businesses, massive homelessness, suicide surge, spike in drug related deaths.  Lockdown measures are wreaking havoc in vital social relations, which must now be reorganized.

The virus event has turned the dwindling healthcare system into mask wearing, social distancing and getting injected with extremely lucrative experimental genetic modification drugs—which are surrounded by  unprecedented numbers of injuries and deaths, far surpassing all combined prior vaccine injury and death reports to the CDC reporting system VAERS.  The lockdown measures and profit oriented measures against the virus further narrowed the capacity of the general healthcare system, resolution in huge numbers of patients without vital care for their urgent conditions. Destroying the healthcare system for the sake of saving lives is only an aspect of the current mobilization.  The education system, which has been under attack for generations by corporate forces, has received a blank check to fire faculties, turn classes into online tutorials, and pursue a new mission to create obedient workers for the Forth Industrial Revolution.  The financial institution has accelerated its herding of the population into the digital realm where people are conditioned, commodified, and exploited as data.  In every industry, a massive restructuring process for profit is occurring in the name of Covid measures.

Now, I understand that respiratory illnesses can be very dangerous.  If you look up articles from pre-Covid time, you find desperate calls from healthcare professionals screaming about the risk of flu epidemics due to the lack of facilities and resources. This has become reality after Covid, as massive death tolls have resulted from nursing home lockdowns.  Profit oriented treatment options have been promoted while effective options were restricted, resulting in yet even more deaths and hospitalizations.  But statistically, all these deaths in the US had not exceeded the range of year to year variation in death rate.  This crucial fact has been observed in various countries.  The Covid situation, if anything, is very much a man-made event. It can not be described as a deadly pandemic comparable to the bubonic plague. This should shatter virus event narratives propped up by “cases“ concocted by unreliable PCR tests—its inaccuracy has been highly criticized by many scientists—including the inventor of the PCR test himself–due to its arbitrary results depending on the degree of amplification in search of the targeted DNA fragments. [3][4]

The above observation is strictly based on the opinions of numerous healthcare professionals, doctors, and scientists across the globe. At the very least, it must be recognized that there are significant disagreements within the field of science on every aspect of Covid-19, its treatments, and lockdown measures. [5][6]

However, none of those are examined in a serious manner by the establishment.  In fact there are many instances of healthcare professionals being disciplined for reporting cases of vaccine injury, speaking against the treatment policies, and questioning the prevalent assumptions regarding the virus.  Healthcare professionals are actively forced to play along with the official Covid narrative.

For the general public the mixed emotions over the contradictions have turned to frustration, and the frustration has turned anger as if we are stuck in a pressure cooker made with official narratives and structural impediments of lockdowns and forced vaccine injection.  The heat and pressure have broken down the social fabric as our daily routines are dictated by “new normal.”

So many things have happened since last year.  But somehow things don’t seem to fit in right places in our heads.

We mark our sense of time and space with traditional events, daily routines and our common knowledge.  When we lose those, we are left with a series of elements and dynamics without those markers.

But alternate markers have been provided by those who have deprived us of the markers.  Our lives are marked with lockdowns, masks and social distancing–the “new normal”.

Now we mark our lives with it.

We are told that there is a deadly disease out there and the only solution is to vaccinate.  Our life and death are determined by one of the largest corporate entities, the medical industrial complex.

Just as the war on terror was described as a “crusade”—legitimizing the twisted religious and cultural superiority of the colonizers, disguising white man’s burden as humanitarian obligation —  the war on virus crowns “science” as its guiding force.  However, needless to say, the credibility of the “science” is proportional to the accompanying might of wealth and power—just as the facts of war are bought and sold as “journalism”. Propaganda lies fill the air as those who oppose are marked as “others” who  deserve to be castigated as being outside of the protection of the gated community.

This way of framing—the medical industrial complex—is useful in understanding the dynamics within the capitalist hegemony.  However, such an entity is also a part of the media industrial complex, non profit industrial complex, political industrial complex, and of course military industrial complex.  In short, our lives are dictated by multiple dynamic forces of oligarchs, orchestrating a “reality” which firmly manifests as a capitalist framework—a cage to condition our lives based on its imperatives.

Patrice Letarnec’s Human Zoo project

As the current virus mobilization reframes our society, obliterating existing values, norms and beliefs, the corporate institutions and their owners are consecrated as absolute beings which determine our life and death. This is why decrees legitimated by the “emergency”  are acceptable political means now.  This is why large corporations have gained enormous wealth.  This is why our lives are herded into the digital realm where we are commodified, conditioned to be exploited, and truncated to be stripped of the mystery of life and the unknown.

But where do the anger and frustration go?

The US establishment is well aware of the boiling anger and frustration over the situation.  The momentum of anger is cultivated and it is being shaped to put the people against each other—an old corporate duopoly trick, which has grown steadily as a dynamic tool of social engineering in the US.  The ghosts of the Civil War still determine the means of enslavement, while allowing the ruling class to preside over the theater of “democracy,” “freedom” and “humanity”—a manufactured “reality.”  Individualism, self-determination and a sense of freedom based on the sacrifices of many oppressed people are a privilege only allowed to people with economic security.  This is a part of the reason why the resistance against the Covid lockdown measures encompasses a reactionary element.  In particular, erroneously defining the trajectory as “socialism” or “communism”.  This ironic twist, the capitalist oppression being blamed on the enemy of capitalists, once again reveals the mechanism of the imperial duopoly as well as the expansion of the exploitative violence against a formerly economically secure segment of the population, which will require tighter measures of draconian restrictions.

It is not a coincidence that the red states have embraced the opposing positions while the blue states firmly adhere to the official narratives on vaccines and lockdown measures.  The subject populations are allowed to choose the mode of enslavement, but the slight differences in the choice are big enough to activate colonial hatred toward each other.  The unresolved historical pain, emotion and grudge have found urgent expression against “enemies” among us.  A fight between teeth baring wolves and cunning foxes, as Malcolm X would call it, channels the anger and frustration safely within the capitalist framework.  The media, politicians and major institutions carefully instigate conflicts among the people by demonizing opponents over vaccines and lockdown measures, while protecting “pandemic” narratives one way or the other.

Some people might think that things must get worse before it gets better. Things can certainly get worse but it looks like it only means more fragmentation of communities and destabilization of institutions, which allows further erosion of people’s interests by the capitalist domination along with justifications for its draconian measures.  This probably gives a comfortable feeling for those privileged ones in gated communities. This also accompanies the exacerbation of fascist momentum, which always justifies the forces of western imperial hegemony—remember how the Trump phenomenon pushed neoliberal policies, which are embraced by the both corporate parties, while justifying anything else to oppose Donald Trump, who was largely perceived as an obvious caricature of the narcissistic failing empire?  The US capitalism moves forward while oscillating left and right within the acceptable spectrum of imperialism.

In short, everything is under control according to those who destroyed the middle eastern countries.  The only difference is that now the target is us. We are under attack.  Some of us are demonized by the establishment to play the role of scapegoats.  Some of us are praised as heroes saving lives and sacrificing themselves. Our communities are being destroyed to be further consumed by the colonizers of humanity and nature.

Crying tree – Ontario, Canada, 2021

The war on virus is meant as a crucial background of destabilization and fear which helps extract huge amount of public spending in the name of saving lives, saving environment and saving people’s livelihoods—which are all under attack by the savagery of the very capitalist domination.   Since the war on virus is largely targeting the public money, we are bombarded with an unprecedented amount of wholesale propaganda narratives, as if we are thrown into the process of corporate electoral process—we are supposed to vote yes to those lucrative capitalist fixes for the capitalist problems by going along with the narratives.  Public outcries against the policies are safely consumed among the populations as people are forced to fight among themselves.  Moreover, the war on virus is meant to be a perpetual war.  Inconceivable “mistakes” will be made, victories would be declared here and there, facts will be revealed when convenient, while much of the facts are distorted to prop up the pretense of this vast protection racket scheme by the oligarchs.  One step forward, and one step backward, our lives swirl within the torturous theater of the “medical crisis,” but the real solution is never to be found within it.  The empire can not lose the war but the empire has no intention of winning the war either, for the winning can destroy the domesticated momentum of the in-fighting among the people, as well as an assortment of “activism” backed by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, which effectively drives capitalist agendas in the name of “our democracy”.  After all, we are many.  The oppressors are not.  The mechanism of the domestication must be kept in place to tame the masses within the feudal hierarchy of money and violence.  Meanwhile, fear, doubt and real threat against our livelihood in the form of economic strangulation continue to force us to swallow the protection racket deal with the criminal enterprise.

Ultimately, the trajectory points to a complete domestication of our species through management of all means of production, its products, and the distribution system.  As the peoples become products themselves with biotech procedures, the social relations within the digital realm seamlessly merge with the fabricated reality, virtually cementing the feudal hierarchy of the absolute power.

As we operate within social media outlets, as we present our identities within their frameworks, and as we are injected with genetic modification  drugs to modify our physical response to the natural world, we have already stepped into a dangerous stage which might very well spell the end of our species as we know it.

The Arsenal, 1928, Diego Rivera

What could Iraqis do as they suffered the deadly embargo and invasions?  The question is ours now.  Unfortunately, many of those who stood with the empire are still insisting on fighting the imperial war as we have become the targets of the war, demonizing our community members as enemies, repeating slogans and talking points to justify the imperial restructuring, as our communities fall apart to be devoured by the colonizers.  It is no coincidence that those who oppose the current mobilization are accused of being racists, conspiracy theorists, or fascist worshipers—just as not agreeing with bombing brown people would be accused of letting brown children die by the hand of a “dictator.”

Our real enemy is not the “antivaxxers,” or the gullible people swallowing the corporate propaganda.  The real enemy is the imperial oligarchs who are shaping our society in order to continue their ways of exploitation and subjugation.  They are shaping the capitalist cage to squeeze the last remnants of our imagination and our connection to humanity and nature.  How can we defy the colonization of humanity and nature?  How can we be a part of the resistance against the criminal pyramid scheme which is bound to implode with its destructive nature?  How can we build our ways to be in harmony with ourselves, with each other and with nature?  We are a part of the countless people who have held the dream of such a harmony.  We stand strong with them in solidarity.  We are many. The oppressors are not.

 

[1] Hiroyuki Hamada, How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together? September 23, 2016

[2] Lauren Elizabeth, Jeff Bezos Made Some Revealing Comments After His Trip into Space. July 20, 2021

[3] Apoorva Mandavilli Your Coronavirus Test Is Positive. Maybe It Shouldn’t Be.  August 29, 2020

[4] International Consortium of Scientists External peer review of the RTPCR test to detect SARS-CoV-2 reveals 10 major scientific flaws at the molecular and methodological level: consequences for false positive results.  November 27, 2020

[5] Off Guardian 12 Experts Questioning the Coronavirus Panic March 24, 2020

[6] Dr. Mike Yeadon Bitchute MICHAEL YEADON – HELA INTERVJUN – [SVENSK UNDERTEXT] June 8, 2021

 

[Hiroyuki Hamada is an artist. He has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe and is represented by Lori Bookstein Fine Art. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. In 1998 Hamada was the recipient of a Pollock Krasner Foundation grant, and in 2009 he was awarded a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship. He lives and works in New York.]

The World Computer, Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism

The World Computer, Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

 

The Message is Murder…

ICA Miami welcomed media theorist and scholar Jonathan Beller to the Knight Foundation Art + Research Center for a free public lecture titled, “From the World Computer to Post-Capitalist Economic Media?” This lecture was presented in conjunction with the Fall 2020 semester, “Recodings and Renewals.”

From Beller: “The colonization of expressivity and semiotics by capital converts nearly everything we can say or do into value for media platforms cybernetically interfaced with our brains. From the art world to social media, qualitative values (even those of protest and dissent) are stripped of their content and converted into capital that is accumulated hierarchically and that reinforces regimes of property founded on dispossession and genocide. Deterritorialized factories (that is media companies) convert the horizontal expression of values into the hierarchical accumulation of value such that, as has been said, it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism. This talk tries to change that dynamic by proposing that cryptocurrency should be understood as the historical emergence of a new medium. If crypto is like photography in 1845 or cinema in 1898, we need to wonder what can anti-racist, feminist, socialist, and communist movements do with it?”

Jonathan Beller is a Professor of Humanities and Media Studies and co-founder of the Graduate Program in Media Studies at Pratt Institute. His books include The Cinematic Mode of Production: Attention Economy and the Society of the Spectacle (Dartmouth UP, 2006); Acquiring Eyes: Philippine Visuality, Nationalist Struggle, and the World-Media System (Ateneo de Manila UP, 2006); The Message is Murder: Substrates of Computational Capital (Pluto Press, 2017) and The World Computer: Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism (Duke UP, 2021). He is a member of the Social Text editorial collective. [https://icamiami.org/seminar/jonathan-beller/]

Read:

The World Computer

Derivative Conditions of Racial Capitalism

Published: February 2021

“In The World Computer, Jonathan Beller charts the lineage and lineaments of ‘computational racial capital.’ In the code-based mode of capitalist production now consolidating itself with hegemonic reach, the image replaces the commodity as the fundamental value form, and as it does the meaning of labor mutates. Racism, Beller argues, is not just an incidental effect of ambient bias contaminating this new machinery of extraction. It is written into its DNA. The World Computer is a passionate analysis of how the phase-shift of contemporary capitalism we are currently experiencing carries forward from its colonial past a coefficient of exploitation that intensifies apace with capital’s exponentially increasing powers of abstraction. Beller’s provocative genealogy of contemporary capitalism is an essential contribution to understanding the evolving economy as a formation of power, in symbiosis with systemic racism.”

 

— Brian Massumi, author of 99 Theses on the Revaluation of Value: A Postcapitalist Manifesto

Duke University Press: “In The World Computer Jonathan Beller forcefully demonstrates that the history of commodification generates information itself. Out of the omnipresent calculus imposed by commodification, information emerges historically as a new money form. Investigating its subsequent financialization of daily life and colonization of semiotics, Beller situates the development of myriad systems for quantifying the value of people, objects, and affects as endemic to racial capitalism and computation. Built on oppression and genocide, capital and its technical result as computation manifest as racial formations, as do the machines and software of social mediation that feed racial capitalism and run on social difference. Algorithms, derived from for-profit management strategies, conscript all forms of expression—language, image, music, communication—into the calculus of capital such that even protest may turn a profit. Computational media function for the purpose of extraction rather than ameliorating global crises, and financialize every expressive act, converting each utterance into a wager. Repairing this ecology of exploitation, Beller contends, requires decolonizing information and money, and the scripting of futures wagered by the cultural legacies and claims of those in struggle.”

Assetization – Turning Things into Assets in Technoscientific Capitalism

MIT Press

Paperback

ISBN: 9780262539173

“How the asset—anything that can be controlled, traded, and capitalized as a revenue stream—has become the primary basis of technoscientific capitalism”

 

In this book, scholars from a range of disciplines argue that the asset—meaning anything that can be controlled, traded, and capitalized as a revenue stream—has become the primary basis of technoscientific capitalism. An asset can be an object or an experience, a sum of money or a life form, a patent or a bodily function. A process of assetization prevails, imposing investment and return as the key rationale, and overtaking commodification and its speculative logic. Although assets can be bought and sold, the point is to get a durable economic rent from them rather than make a killing on the market. Assetization examines how assets are constructed and how a variety of things can be turned into assets, analyzing the interests, activities, skills, organizations, and relations entangled in this process.

The contributors consider the assetization of knowledge, including patents, personal data, and biomedical innovation; of infrastructure, including railways and energy; of nature, including mineral deposits, agricultural seeds, and “natural capital”; and of publics, including such public goods as higher education and “monetizable social ills.” Taken together, the chapters show the usefulness of assetization as an analytical tool and as an element in the critique of capitalism.

Free download via MIT Press: [“The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.”]

https://direct.mit.edu/books/book/4848/AssetizationTurning-Things-into-Assets-in

 

[Kean Birch is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at York University, Toronto. Fabian Muniesa is Senior Researcher at the Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation (CSI), a research center of Mines ParisTech]