Archives

Non-Profit Industrial Complex

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

We Suspect Silence

July 4, 2022

By Michael Swifte

 

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

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

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

The qualifier

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

[SOURCE]

Ignoring the qualifier

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

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

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

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

Headline:

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

Subtle acknowledgement:

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

[SOURCE]

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

Headline:

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

Carefully selected IPCC quote:

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

Headline:

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

David Turbull:

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

Kelly Trout:

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

David Tong:

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

[SOURCE]

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

Headline:

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

Body:

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

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

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

Equinor plans to rely heavily on CCS

ExxonMobil expressly aims to rely heavily on CCS

BP’s targets explicitly depend on CCS

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

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

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

[SOURCE]

Last minute changes to the COP 26 draft text

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

Headline:

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

Reasserting an untruth:

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

Headline:

End of Coal in Sight at COP26

Body:


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

[SOURCE]

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

Headline:

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

Body:

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

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

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

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

[SOURCE]

The contradictions of Guterres

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

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

 

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

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

[SOURCE]

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

17 June 2022:

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

[SOURCE]

19 June 2022:

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

[SOURCE]

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

Hoping we’ll forget

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

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

 

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

WATCH: Negating Colonial Lies About Russia

WATCH: Negating Colonial Lies About Russia

Streamed live on March 20, 2022.

 

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

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

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

 

FEATURED SPEAKERS

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

 

 

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

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

Uhuru Solidarity

February 22, 2022

 

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

How the Left betrayed the Truckers

The convoy is despised by those who should support it

Unherd

February 9, 2022

By Malcom Kyeyune

 

A protester walks in front of parked trucks as demonstrators continue to protest the vaccine mandates implemented by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on February 8, 2022 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Dave Chan / AFP) (Photo by DAVE CHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

They call it “The Honkening”. Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, is currently being besieged by a novel kind of protest. Honkening is a fairly appropriate name for what’s going on. Thousands of truckers have driven to the capital, and barraged the city with the noise of truck horns creating a cacophony of sound. Elsewhere, on the border between the United States and Canada, truckers, farmers and cowboys have blockaded traffic.

As the protests enter another week, Ottawa’s mayor has declared a state of emergency. Jim Watson described the truckers — ostensibly protesting against Canada’s harsh Covid mandates — as “out of control”. Watson sees anarchy; the truckers fulminate against Covid authoritarianism. But this battle is really about working-class discontent.

The naive among us could be forgiven for thinking that this protest signalled something auspicious about “late capitalist” society. For decades, the common folk wisdom for both the Left and the Right was that the West’s working classes had been completely neutralised as a political force, and that class conflict itself was a relic of the past.

This idea took hold in the Sixties, when Herbert Marcuse theorised that Western workers had been subjected to a “socially engineered arrest of consciousness”. Their vested interest in the existing capitalist order made them impossible to radicalise. Ever since, finding new theoretical models to explain the unreliability (and stodgy conservatism) of workers has been a recurring activity on parts of the Left. Marxists had made a horrific discovery: the working class were not their foot soldiers. As Joan Didion once put it: “The have-nots, it turned out, mainly aspired to having.”

OTTAWA, CANADA, FEBRUARY 3: Truckers continue their rally against coronavirus (COVID-19) measures and vaccine mandate in Ottawa, Canada on February 3, 2022. (Photo by Amru Salahuddien/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

 

Many on the Left came to believe that without their corporatist union structures, and without their shop stewards and political organisers, the working classes were done for. They were little better, to paraphrase Marx, than a “sack of potatoes”.

Without proper leadership, the workers would be too inert and stupid to do anything about their plight. As such, the decades after the fall of the Soviet Union (and the defeat of the strike waves of the Eighties) saw many Leftists indulge a wistful nostalgia for a time when the workers stuck it to the powers that be. Celebration of the good old days of the Left, and of “working-class power” in general, was thus central to the aesthetics of the now completely defunct wave of Left populism in the 2010s.

With that backdrop in mind, the explosion of worker militancy over vaccine mandates — and, on a related note, high fuel taxes in Europe — ought to have been greeted by enthusiasm by the Leftist activist and organiser set. Yet nothing could be further from the truth. The truckers in Canada have instead triggered a primordial sense of dread in the hearts of the urban classes, in the people who Canadian trucker Gord Magill has dubbed “the email job caste”.

 

This sense of fear and dread at the machinations of the proles is hardly something unique to Canada. Indeed, even the United States saw a large increase of worker militancy and wildcat strikes over oppressive vaccine mandates. Like their compatriots in Canada, America’s various professional friends of the working class responded with horror and scorn. The well-known Marxist economist, Richard Wolff, was mobbed on Twitter for suggesting that workers striking over mandates were actually part of something called “class struggle”, rather than merely an expression of “fascism”.

Ottawa’s truckers are a symptom of the massive class divide that is opening up across the West. Marxists are sticking their heads in the sand about this generational moment, or papering it over with absurd topsy-turvy leaps. In one recent display of moon logic, the Canadian activist, writer and self-described socialist Nora Loreto complained that “labour” was invisible in the resistance to the “fascist” truckers that had occupied Ottawa. An exasperated comrade chimed in with a story of being a shop steward for a teamster (truck driver) union, and — horror of horrors — the painful truth was that many teamsters were more likely to be in the protest themselves than protesting against it.

The exchange is modern Western Leftism in a nutshell. Is there a single better illustration of the contradictions of the moment? An “activist” and organiser” recoiling in horror at a bunch of truckers — people who work in the real, material economy, ferrying the foodstuffs and goods we all depend on to survive — staging a political protest, only to then ask “but where is the organised working class in all of this?”. Isn’t it obvious to the point of parody that the workers are the people inside the trucks?

It’s easy to laugh at this sort of absurdity, but the lesson here is anything but a joke. The divorce between “the Left” and “the workers” is now complete and irrevocable. Nora Loreto may not be a person with calloused hands, and she may very well belong to Gord Magill’s “email jobs caste”. But for the longest time, the political rhetoric and worldview of the Left depended on the idea that the trucker and the activist were merely two sides of the same coin.

Without the activist and the “organiser”, the trucker would never be able to know how to organise himself and his fellows politically; without the trucker, the activist and the organiser would not have a cause for which to organise. Now it seems that the trucker — and by extension, the pilot, the garbage collector, and the bus driver — does not need or want this caste of self-appointed leaders.

Paul Aubue: ‘This whole thing has been going on for two years and it seems everyday there’s something more. We don’t need a vaccine passport.’ Photograph: Amru Salahuddien/The Guardian

This divorce has happened all over the world in recent years. After the massive rejection by Red Wall voters of Jeremy Corbyn and his activist base in the smart, urban, and highly credentialed parts of Britain, one started to see a rhetoric of open loathing for the dumb, uneducated gammons and proles. In Germany, the Left party Die Linke has endured several rounds of severe internal fighting and strife. As in the UK, the younger, more urban, more credentialed parts of the Left have fought a running battle — and thrown pies — against pro-worker “racists” such as Sahra Wagenknecht.

In Canada, that loathing has now turned into fear — and into outright hatred. The problem of the truckers is not really the honking (which the Guardian sniffily calls “crude behaviour“), because sooner or later, that honking will stop. The state of emergency will end. But the protests, significantly, have shown how confused and weak the opponents of the working classes are today.

During the pandemic lockdowns, the email jobs caste loved to talk about essential workers, and luxuriated in public displays of gratitude for them. But this caste of genteel urbanites never realised that this choice of nomenclature was in fact much more meaningful — and ominous – than they understood. Some people, it seems, simply are critical to the functioning of the economy, pandemic or no pandemic. Once those people — and truck drivers are perhaps the most critical of them all — start to demand to be listened to, they have ways to make those demands felt.

For the Left, the problem of the truckers is their newfound political independence. Nostalgia really is a thing of the past now; the dinosaurs that were thought long extinct are back now, and they are hungry. Gone are the halcyon days of dreaming about halcyon days – where serious working class militancy was just a distant myth.

The real danger of any trucker’s strike, or any pilot’s walkout, or any fuel tax protest in Europe, is that every new confrontation sets a precedent: a precedent that says that the Gord Magills are done taking orders from the Nora Letos of the world.

 

[Malcom Kyeyune is a freelance writer living in Uppsala, Sweden]

LISTEN: Dr. Mordecai Ogada – A Case for Scrutinizing the Climate Narrative

Death in the Garden

November 13, 2021

Podcasts by Jake Marquez and Maren Morgan

 

 

Image

 

“On this episode of “Death in The Garden,” as COP26 ends in Glasgow, Jake and Maren share their second interview with Dr. Mordecai Ogada, carnivore ecologist, activist for the Decolonization of Conservation, and co-author of The Big Conservation Lie. In our previous conversation with Mordecai, he mentioned the “Our Land, Our Nature” congress in Marseille, which we were lucky enough to attend and acquire this interview in person. This time we go deep into speculating about the more nefarious side of the global climate change narrative, including the obsession with the fertility of African women, the prospect of protected areas being refuges for elites, the establishment of decentralized colonies headed by colonizing NGOs, and conservation being a smoke screen for extraction and industry.

In a time where there are so many “solutions” being thrown up in the air about climate change, we feel it is very important to question everything and consider every detail. Where is the money coming from, and where is it going? Listen to Mordecai Ogada make the case for increasing our scrutiny of conservation NGOs, and demanding accountability and transparency for their dealings, as well as the narrative of climate change as a whole.”

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/“.

 

 

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]

From Eritrea to Bolivia: Who Supported the Washington Backed Coup?

Hafash – Awet N’ Hafash! Victory to the Masses!

December 24, 2020

By Filmon Zerai

IN DEFENSE OF ERITREAN LEFTISTS COMMENTARY

 

 

On October 18th, 2019 Eritrean activist Vanessa Tsehaye quote tweeted an article from Bolivian activist Jhanisse Vaca Daza published on the Human Rights Foundation page, encouraging the overthrow of socialist leader Evo Morales.

“If democracy and human rights are further compromised, Bolivia could become the next Venezuela. The presidential election on October 20 is a critical opportunity to remove Morales from power and restore justice in Bolivia. Our planet cannot afford another authoritarian leader who remains in power at the expense of the natural world.”

A few weeks later in Bolivia, the world witnessed a successful coup by the fascist junta and the ousting of Evo Morales, leaving him in exile, humiliated, and targeted.

The new regime immediately went on a killing rampage, murdering dozens, massacring Indigenous protesters, and overturning all economic and political gains made by the socialist government. The coup advanced Washington’s foreign policy that has been consistent from Latin America to Africa in targeting socialist leaders or any non-compliant state.

Who is Vanessa Tsehaye, and why is an Eritrean activist so close with a Bolivian regime change activist?

The connection is the Human Rights Foundation, where Jhanisse V. Daza is the manager of the Freedom Fellowships, a program they selected Vanessa to be a part of on May 21, 2019. Jhanisse revealed on the announcement of the fellowship program : “Anyone running a non-profit or civil society organization or start-up needs help and guidance with personal leadership, movement building, marketing and media strategy, fundraising, and digital security. My own experience was transformative, and I’m looking forward to bringing world-class expertise in each of these areas to 10 new Fellows.”

What is her experience and who are the “world-class experts”?

A more detailed examination of Jhanisse Vaca Daza’s connections and working relationships reveal that she guides an international network of Washington-backed regime change operations from Bolivia, Hong Kong and other strategic regions.

As first reported by Wyatt Reed and Ben Norton from the GrayZone, Daza is linked to Venezuelan figures Leopoldo Lopez, and Thor Halvorssen, the founder and CEO of the Human Rights Foundation. They are both connected to the right-wing and racist oligarchy who have been waging a long campaign of destabilizing Venezuela with the support of Washington.

Furthermore, Daza is associated with Srdja Popovic, the former organizer with the group Otpor which had substantial financial support from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The Otpor group was one of many decades-long sophisticated operations to target socialist Yugoslavia and break it apart.

As per the investigative report by The GrayZon revealed:

“CANVAS had been funded largely through the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA cut-out that functions as the US government’s main arm of promoting regime change.”

 

According to internal emails from Stratfor, an intelligence firm known as the “shadow CIA,” CANVAS “may have also received CIA funding and training during the 1999/2000 anti-Milosevic struggle.”

 

CANVAS grew out of the Otpor! movement, a US-backed cadre of youth activists that brought down Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, who was targeted for overthrow by NATO for being insufficiently compliant.

 

An email by a Stratfor staffer boasts: “the kids who ran OTPOR grew up, got suits and designed CANVAS… or in other words a ‘export-a-revolution’ group that sowed the seeds for a NUMBER of color revolutions. They are still hooked into U.S. funding and basically go around the world trying to topple dictators and autocratic governments (ones that U.S. does not like ;).”

 

Stratfor revealed that CANVAS “turned its attention to Venezuela” in 2005, after cultivating opposition movements that led pro-NATO regime-change operations across Eastern Europe. Among those trained by CANVAS were the leaders of Venezuela’s coup attempt this year, including Juan Guaido, Leopoldo Lopez, and scores of figures associated with the US-supported Popular Will party.”

Bolivian anti-Evo Morales activist Jhanissa Vaca Daza (center) with Otpor leader and CANVAS founder Srdja Popovic (right)

On July 19th, 2019, Vanessa also tweeted in support of Srdja Popovic: “We can only succeed by learning from the ones who fought similar before us”.

Meron Estefanos is another Eritrean activist that is also associated with Human Rights Foundation and connected with Srdja as seen by the tweet below in May of 2015. Both Meron and Vanessa’s Twitter accounts are verified and are always centered on all news developments to give the impression of representing an impartial Eritrean voice, despite their connection to shadowy elements and aims for the state. Vanessa Tsehaye was also nominated for the Index on Censorship’s Freedom of Expression Award in 2016:

As reported by Morning Star :

“Index on Censorship continues to function today, posing as an organisation that promotes freedom of expression across the world. But a cursory glance at its major donors sets alarm bells ringing. As well as the aforementioned Ford Foundation, it is funded by Open Society Foundations, Open Democracy and the shady soft power organisation the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)”

What can we infer about the active harm on the state of Bolivia and Eritrea from Vanessa in the Eritrean diaspora spaces, and her links with Jhanisse Vaca Daza/Human Rights Foundation? Her emergence is part of many counter-revolutionary aims over the years to defang the Eritrean revolution of its socialist roots, demoralize the Eritrean people’s sense of revolutionary nationalism, and weaken the state. The strategy of Washington has been multi-faceted and sophisticated in its deployment and execution in the diaspora since 2007, as stated in WikiLeaks cables from former Ambassador Ronald K. McMullen. The Impeccable achievement of the Eritrean revolution under the guidance of ELM, ELF initially and then EPLF, which had a socialist foundational aim after independence, was a threatening example for Africa. Therefore, Eritrea has been a victim of imperialist design and destruction for decades:

-1890-1945-Survived and resisted Italian colonialism without the influence of Italian culture, language, and the racist period of the fascist era.

-1945-1960 Survived and resisted British colonialism objectives in partitioning Eritrea and dividing its people.

-1961-1991 Survived and resisted US/UK/USSR supported Ethiopian colonialism and brutal occupation.

-1991-1998 Peace and transition.

-1998-2000 Survived western supported invasion of Eritrea by Washington backed TPLF just like it did years later in Somalia.

-1998-2018 Survived and resisted Washington aggression and support of the Ethiopian regime aims at state collapse, destabilization, and economic sabotage to make the people revolt and submit.

-2009-2018 Survived debilitating UN sanctions against the state, defense capability, and collective punishment of the people.

The prevailing emergence of neoliberal diaspora activism currently led by Vanessa/OneDaySeyoum is operated on individual issues in a celebrity-like consideration over the community and collective struggle. This is why it is social media-driven with no serious offline popular legitimacy with the Eritrean community, as the aim is not unity but to sow discord, political fragmentation and externalize all of the actual problems in Eritrea. Neoliberal diaspora activism is directed by Twitter likes, metrics and online drama, like the dogpiling of comedian Tiffany Haddish who visited Eritrea on a personal narrative and wanting to publicize her father’s country. It must be understood Tiffany Haddish was viscously targeted, when she was not a political voice at all. Vanessa purposely used the social media bullying of Tiffany to publicize her organization and use that public stunt toward centering her organization and profile.

OneDaySeyoum/Vanessa Tsehaye did not oppose the Susan Rice lobbied sanctions on the state of Eritrea from 2009 to 2018 and was silent on the 18-year war of aggression from Washington backed regime in Addis Ababa. Most of the Gen Z diaspora youths who support her on Twitter are being misled into an imperialist undertaking, filled with superficial campaign and PR with no serious impact on the Eritrean people nor the state. The social media campaign only helps to build the “activists brand” and their profile, it doesn’t materially address the problems of the Eritrean people. They politically exploit the serious problem of Eritrean refugees in Libya to blame the state only, with no mention of the role of imperialism in destabilizing Libya and the aggression on Eritrea. This is likened to being an arsonist at night but performing like firefighters in daylight. What does supporting sanctions, economic/military destabilization of the Eritrean state have to do with advocating for refugees? Additionally, Vanessa gained notoriety and social media capital off Ciham’s misfortune in Eritrea. We must move away from single issues social media campaigns as that itself is liberalism, and truly engage in a high-level approach to supporting the Eritrean people beyond PFDJ by not selling out to imperialism. Advocating for Ciham’s freedom is the right thing to do, but there is no reason to engage in liberalism and align the campaign with Vanessa Tsehaye, who is funded by the Human Rights Foundation. The social media campaign around Ciham and its performative spectacle only benefited the career profile of Vanessa Tsehaye. As Ivan Marovic, one of the founders of Otpor stated: “It’s not cool.  Normal people hate politics . . . but . . . you need normal people if you’re gonna make change.  To do that, you need to make politics sexy.  Make it cool.  Make it hip.  REVOLUTION as a FASHION LINE”

In Defense Of Eritrean Leftist Commentary

“Hide nothing from the masses of our people. Tell no lies. Expose lies whenever they are told. Mask no difficulties, mistakes, failures. Claim no easy victories…”

 

-Amilcar Cabral

Over the years there has been an external push toward a neoliberal flavored type of activism that aims to reverse the legacy of the elder generation of Eritreans with leftist politics and a sense of revolutionary nationalism. The revolutionary nationalism itself is being targeted, although it must be clear that PFDJ has been failing Eritrea and the diaspora to be a vanguard in the same spirit as the true socialist vanguard EPLF. The elder Eritrean generation who were active in the late 1980s and 1990s with revolutionary nationalism, built up the diaspora communities and developed a long-lasting movement to help Eritrea.  The rise of Vanessa/OneDaySeyoum opposes the rich history of the community-owned activism and bottom-up grass-roots that was prevalent in the 1980/90s and early 2000s in the diaspora, originally shaped by the true socialist vanguard EPLF. The neoliberal diaspora activists are running counter to the history of Eritrean organizers, who stood for  solidarity, anti-imperialism, and collective struggle building that united Eritreans and defended the state and revolution.  Unfortunately, Isaias Afewerki and PFDJ have not been able to maintain that legacy and now we have youth who are vulnerable to grifters and counter-revolutionary warfare. The fear of critical leftist narratives against both PFDJ and the pro State Department elements like Vanessa is serious, and the counter-response is to spew ad hominem attacks and discredit any leftist criticism.

For example below, in the past few months, I have been targeted by Vanessa Tsehaye/OneDaySeyoum by spreading misinformation and gaslighting my commentary, dismissing me as a man who is misogynistic, sexist, and targeting Eritrean women for publicly condemning her ties to imperialist hands and her support of the coup in Bolivia. The below tweet of mine is addressing imperialism and Vanessa Tsehaye responded by falsey proclaiming that I’m misogynist:

(By the way, her name was Vanessa Berhe on all articles in the past, Al Jazeera interviews and that was the name I used before she changed her name,  I was not aware she changed her name but I have now updated as to respect her choice)

Is legitimate public criticism of a hyper-visible activist misogynist or sexist? If that is the case I have no problem being self-corrected, but this is motivated with aims to smear my political criticism.

Equally important, the individual’s account associated with Vanessa has sent direct messages to popular black leftists with large followings, by proclaiming with no public independent investigation, that I’m targeting Eritrean women when that is not true. My personal address has been doxxed by one of the vocal members of OneDaySeyoum with threats to do me harm offline, plus other Youtube comments threatening to call my family and publishing the name of my partner. Moreover, the individuals associated with Vanessa Tsehay/OneDaySeyoum have targeted the organization I’m a member of by continuously aiming to send their associates to monitor our activities, and to penetrate and sabotage our efforts. The HOA-PALS(Horn of Africa-Pan Africanist for Liberation and Solidarity is aiming to build an alternative leftist space that is multi-generational,women-led, and LGBTQ+ welcoming. Fallacious claims of me targeting Eritrean women are flawed, considering I am a member of a women-led organization where we have had various internal dialogue on how this was a political hit job to discard my commentary. My commentary is direct, blunt, and has no aim to harm marginalized communities, but to question reactionary elements, whether it is the activists or the cadres of PFDJ or Eritrean officials. I have been blocked by the Eritrean ambassador to Japan for criticizing his anti-Cuba/USSR/Marxist views, I have been blocked by WHO Director, Tedros Adhanom for his time as Foreign Minister under TPLF, I have been blocked by US ambassador in Djibouti, MC Hammer for support Selassie/Menliek and have had more issues with reactionary men in our community than women.

As a cis Eritrean man, I understand the optics of publicly criticizing women and have been doing more to be careful in the language I use, reading Queer Marxist feminist works to better stamp out my internalized patriarchy to do better with my approach, while maintaining the guiding principles of anti-imperialists, and highlighting the problems of Washington foreign policy in the Horn of Africa.

To be a revolutionary Eritrean in the diaspora demands one not be associated with the Washington State Department on the one hand, or uncritically support Isaias Afewerki on the other. There is a transformative approach to transitioning Eritrea beyond Isaias Afewerki and it won’t work by being in collusion with the State Department/Human Rights Watch/Amnesty and activist(OneDaySeyoum). Eritreans have a right to defend the state and we should not be intimidated and gaslighted to work with imperialists and their lackeys. No Eritrean with revolutionary potential believing in our collective struggle is my enemy, whether they operate within PFDJ or in the opposition, as we must maintain a united frontline.

Kwame Ture spoke on the differences between mobilization and organization. He says, mobilization usually leads to reform action, not to revolutionary action.  “Those of us who are revolutionary are not concerned with issues, we are concerned with the system.” Mobilization of the masses on a bigger scale will require radical approaches through organizations focused on collective struggle rather than individual issues and social media spectacles.

The young diaspora Eritrean youths and non-Eritreans drawn by the emotionally targeted propaganda campaign on Twitter are innocent in that they don’t recognize they are being pulled into something dangerous for Eritrea and the region. This sophisticated campaign targets diaspora youths and individuals with large followings, who are unfamiliar with Eritrea.

One can engage in deconstructing the role of imperialism in how Eritrean refugees are displaced in Libya and facing grave threats, without excusing the internal failures of Isias Afewerki to reduce harm and destructive policies . One can be leftists without supporting PFDJ.

People’s class positioning in the diaspora reflects in their politics for the Horn of Africa. Class perspectives and analysis have been buried by diaspora neoliberal oriented activism towards single issues that deflect emotions and spectacles instead of historical analysis and deeper investigation.

Do you want freedom for your people? From what class positioning? We black leftists are duty-bound to be media savvy and well versed in informational warfare targeting Black America and Africa. Oftentimes people with liberal politics don’t understand piercing’ criticism and ideological persuasion. Do we have malicious intent by bringing to light the harmful political positioning of Eritrean elements from the pro-State Department accounts and pro-Isaias Afewerki accounts? No. The intent is to push the conversation to the left away from reactionaries via PFDJ or a few opposition accounts.

We have a problem with the rampant anti-socialist sentiment within the neoliberal Eritrean activist spaces and their continued online surveillance campaign with support of shadowy backers. Eritrean leftists are being targeted and harassed for their critical commentary and views. The Black global left needs to understand that elements like those in this article who want to discredit Eritrean leftist viewpoints and that those leftists who organize online, must be clear to investigate who they interact with and their shadowy associations.

As to discredit the Eritrean leftist position, any defense of the state or revolution is intentionally equated with the support of Isaias Afewerki and his failures. This is how pro-State Department Eritrean activists rationalize demonizing any defense of the state by deflecting to Isias/PFDJ. Defending Bolivia, Venezuela, Iran, China from western aggression does not mean one agrees with the internal politics or head of state just like Eritrea, but we are guided by the principles of anti-imperialism and a non-interventionist line.

In the spirit of Pan Africanism, the Black Radical Tradition, and anti-imperialism, the Eritrean leftist commentary and the Eritrean revolution must be defended beyond hyper-nationalism, neoliberal diaspora activism, and rightward tendencies.

 

[Filmon Zerai is an independent blogger with commentary on the Horn of Africa & global politics. His views have appeared on @ajstream, @Radio702, @bbc, @SputnikInt, @blkagendareport]