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Pacifism as Pathology

The Shapers of Slavery – A Global Project of the World Economic Forum [Winter Oak Series]

Winter Oak

January, 2021

 

“The Shapers of Slavery”. A 5-part investigation of the World Economic Forum’s “Global Shapers” initiative – by Winter Oak.

 

“Over 900 Global Shapers joined World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab for talks on the Great Reset initiative. Putting the world back on a path towards inclusive and sustainable development will require more than a global recovery. It will require a Great Reset that places all citizens, especially young people, at the heart of social and economic systems.” — Global Shapers Community Annual Report 2019–2020

 

Source: http://killercoke.org/

 

Part I, January 9, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the plan

Excerpt:

“But, in fact, Schwab’s Great Reset is not just rhetoric: he and his corporate accomplices have been busy, for many years, building up a massive networks of collaborators to spring their heist.

 

One of these is the Global Shapers Community, set up by Schwab in 2011, registered in Geneva, Switzerland, and based at the World Economic Forum offices.”

Global Shapers - The Foundation Board

Global Shapers – The Foundation Board

 

Part II, January 10, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the leadership

Excerpt:

“A democratic society shapes itself – by means of the participation of its citizens in discussing and deciding how things should be organised and to what ends.

But, as even their name reveals, the Global Shapers want to “shape” society from above and in their own interests.”

Part III, January 11, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the empire

Excerpt:

“This is a world of “social impact investing”, of lucrative human and natural “capital”, a world of blockchain, robotics and AI, of equity funds and pharmaceutical businesses, a world of exponential profit and exploitation hidden behind a rhetoric of “inclusivity”, “sustainability” and “systemic change”.

World Economic Forum Electoral Candidates, British Columbia, Canada, 2020

World Economic Forum Electoral Candidates, British Columbia, Canada, 2020

 

What Will the World Look Like When the New Generation Leads? | Time.com

Part IV, January 12, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the virus

Excerpt:

“As the pandemic awakened the collective to long-standing system gaps, we mobilized a global community to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.”

March 19, 2020, Twitter: Global Shapers Response to COVID-19

March 19, 2020, Twitter: Global Shapers Response to COVID-19

 

" As the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, the World Economic Forum, acting as partner to the World Health Organization, is mobilizing all stakeholders to protect lives and livelihoods."

“As the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation, the World Economic Forum, acting as partner to the World Health Organization, is mobilizing all stakeholders to protect lives and livelihoods.”

 

Part V, January 13, 2021:

Shapers of slavery: the awakening

Excerpt:

“We would encourage everyone to explore and expose the identity and activities of hubs in their own area, starting with the information the Global Shapers have so helpfully provided for us.

 

We would also encourage you to seek out your local Global Shapers and confront them with questions, whether via social media or in the real world.”

#WeSeeEqual - a Procter & Gamble's (P&G's) Gender-Equality Corporate Branding Campaign

#WeSeeEqual – a Procter & Gamble’s (P&G’s) Gender-Equality Corporate Branding Campaign

ABB on Twitter: "We are very proud to have our collaborative #YuMiRobot on the cover of @TIME magazine's special #WEF19 edition demonstrating how humans and robots work side-by-side without barriers. Special print

The Mechanism of Invisible Hand, Invisible Cage, and Invisible Empire over Humanity and Nature

Dissident Voice

February 9, 2021

By Hiroyuki Hamada

 

 

When the whole society becomes a theater of absurdity, the puppeteers become kings and queens of insanity. The society loses its logic, history, facts, honesty, sincerity, creativity and imagination, as  the monstrous imaginations of the deranged ruling class devour humanity and nature.

The invisible cage of authoritarianism comes in the shape of a bottomless pyramid.  Fear and hopelessness fill the dimly lit bottom layers. Layers and layers separate us, alienate us and dehumanize us. The? pain of “others” becomes your gain.  The power of oppressors becomes your safety: The safety of living in the dangerous imaginations of the kings and queens.

But? such a thought vanishes as quickly as our minds get flooded back with the numbing noises of the insane theater, while our remaining logic, seriousness and honesty are ridiculed and attacked by fearful fellow humans with cynicism, hopelessness and cowardliness.

The world doesn’t look like that at all for those who belong to the club of kings and queens. The unruly mass with no understanding of the righteous path of “humanity” has been inherently expendable for them. This has been shown over and over: colonization of natives by Europeans, enslavement of African people, genocides of many sorts.

But one also sees the same blunt inhumanity embedded among us today:  homelessness, deaths by treatable diseases, hunger, deaths by substance abuse, suicide, poverty, refugees, mass incarceration, state violence, the psychological torture of alienation.  The kings and queens don’t recognize those as issues to be solved with their resources.  Instead those issues represent forms of punishment for those who fail to secure viable positions within the capitalist hierarchy.  The fear of the punishment and the fear of the authority work together to lock us in positions in the hierarchy, forcing us to protect our positions which systemically and structurally threaten our well-being 24/7; we live in a system of structural extortion.

As we have become free-range people in the “divine farm” of modern-day kings and queens, we have lost our access to the fundamental material reality. A sterile cage with screens, mandatory injections, electronic tracking within the invisible fence; human mice for profits, feed for data harvesting, an ever greater degree of spiritual death. It is not hard to start connecting the dots to see how things can lead into a grim future.

But what does such a fear do to the population, which has tolerated an assortment of abuses as their “punishment”? To those who manage to ignore their fellow humans living on the streets as invisible beings or fail to feel the pain of those being cornered into substance use and desperate acts of self-destruction?

Would they believe the words of those who question, or the words of the ruling class promising a glorious future of AI, green capitalism, genetic engineering, digitization and financialization?

And before we ask such a question, one must wonder if such a question is even allowed when the socioeconomic/political trajectory of the empire has been firmly within the imperial framework of the two capitalist political parties.

The capitalist hierarchy absorbs what it needs by allocating special positions within it:  Natural resources, narratives, facts, history, people, political ideologies or anything that sits in time and space.  The kings and queens monopolize them— material resources as well as people with skills and knowledge are captured to serve.  Once monopolized, the valued items are commodified, to be distributed in ways that benefit those same kings and queens.

Meanwhile such a process occurs in layers and layers, projecting myths, exploitative narratives, false history and erroneous facts onto our collective consciousness—a fake reality which covers our eyes while we push our mortal bodies around in the real world.

The images projected onto our psyche vary according to our positions in the hierarchy.  Each narrative validates and justifies our positions in the hierarchy. Kings and queens find themselves to be worthy rulers of the universe, while the masses see themselves as freedom loving people who do their best in a world of opportunities.

In such an equation authoritarianism presents itself as a swinging pendulum between fascism and social democracy as it moves forward on the capitalist path in space and time.  The carrot and stick carefully manage projected images to stay within the capitalist framework of acceptable ideas. Corporate politics and corporate activism play crucial roles in making the pendulum swing, therefore ensuring that the capitalist interests always go forward while appearing to be “democratic”.

Those who rely on terrorist tactics of various sorts attempt to resist the system by attacking the valuable, captured elements that work for the system.  The damage compromises social dynamics in ways that deprive those who are already deprived, while dividing the population that should be uniting to dismantle the oppressive system.

Guided by agent provocateurs and corporate NGOs, righteous anger against oppressors turns into a justification for draconian measures, destruction of communities for urban renewal, and a catalyst for new projects of exploitation.

As a set of capitalist imperatives pushes the capitalist contradiction to the limit, completely depriving people’s ability to reconcile the false perceptions and the material reality, it is time for an urgent mobilization to change the trajectory of exploitation into a new field with a new set of rules.  We are told that enemies are coming, a natural disaster is coming or a disease is coming, forcing us to mobilize ourselves to adjust to a new path of plundering for the kings and queens.

Any crisis, real or not, against the backdrop of a hierarchical structure imposes two sets of momentum that keep us within the capitalist farm.   The first set has to do with fear of the authority, which keeps our frustration directed against ourselves, each other and oppressed “others”, while firmly gripping the destabilized psyche of the population—creating an ironic psychology of supporting oppressive authority against our own interests.   The second set has to do with the material constraints imposed by the particular crisis—we become enemies to each other fighting amongst ourselves to survive.   We are put in the capitalist cage.   And we are forced to protect our cage, which is constructed with vertical strength to withstand fear of the authority, horizontal strength to withstand   attacks by competitors, and a solid floor to prevent one from falling down from the position in the hierarchy. The whole structure is held together with violent force of exploitation and subjugation.

“The Great Reset”

“The Great Reset” is packaged as a “great solution”.  Just like how the ruling class has marketed “green capitalism”—carbon trading, carbon capture, reforestation, and other resource exhausting green schemes and technologies for profit, it’s designed to prop up capitalism but it is also intended to transform capitalism to have more effective control of social relations while keeping the capitalist hierarchy intact.  Capitalism is getting a new OS, and it needs to be restarted.  Just as “green capitalism” has destroyed real environmentalism in the name of saving the planet, it is designed to destroy anti-capitalist activism in the name of “revolution”.

One of the prominent leftist tools under a capitalist framework has been grass roots activism to affect state regulations and state guidelines to contain momentums of exploitation and subjugation created by Wall Street as well as capitalist social institutions.  The stock market guided economy (falsely advertised as the only system that works) allows the ruling class to dominate social policies according to their interests; it prioritizes ruling class wealth accumulation while sacrificing social relations among the general population; it is extremely inefficient, unstable and economically unjust. The capitalist state has been a great tool in ensuring the interests of the ruling class to be a priority. The socialist revolution takes over the capitalist state, it nationalizes corporate entities and sets up the economy, education and the rest of social institutions and social relations to be guided by people’s interests.  Various incarnations of the above strategies to counter capitalist exploitation and encroaching imperial hegemony have attempted to do two major things. First, they have prioritized people’s interests by emphasizing projects that benefit the general population while providing social safety nets, infrastructure for the people, environmental regulations and so on. Second, they have allowed economic activities based on people’s needs which can grow organic community dynamics based on humanity and nature.

“The Great Reset,” on the other hand, is a project of the ruling class meant to take away those measures from the people and utilize them to further solidify their dominance over the people.  Since the owners of the farm are plenty rich already, they won’t need a big farm. Their social engineering skills as well as the greater control over the economy will be put to a test in building a sustainable farming business with a smaller herd.

This is why it seems that all activism has turned into enforcing or defying the various virus lockdown measures which have been instrumental in enforcing the trajectory of “The Great Reset.” Remember how all environmental activism was swallowed by the single idea of reducing carbon emission? Fearmongering slogans of apocalyptic narratives involving climate change, strong NGO guided activism, and corporate science emphasizing the topic of global warming have created the huge snowballing momentum to fight climate change at all costs, sidelining and co-opting all other important environmental activism. This has also contributed to the idea that it is no longer relevant to insist on being a part of systematic efforts in dismantling the capitalist system and building an alternate system which allows humanity and nature to prevail in harmony;  we are told that we don’t have time to build socialism anymore. We are encouraged to be a part of green solutions by the capitalists as a result.

We are being told that casino capitalism for profits must end to introduce “stakeholder capitalism”.  But of course, since the notion is coming from the profiteers who have colonized, corporatized, militarized and financialized, we can presume that they are talking about ensuring their own interests by directly guiding the economic decisions instead of continuing the show called the economy by the “invisible hand.” We are told that we should be provided with universal basic income, free housing and other social services as long as we follow the regulations and policies of public-private partnership.  What sort of conditioning will we be subjected to after being deprived of our inherent relationships to ourselves, to each other, to our communities and to nature, forced to be a part of destructive industrial farming, digitalization of everything with massive resource extraction, colonization of our communities with multinational franchises and enslavement of our souls in the invisible cage of indoctrination and propaganda?  We already have such a system in the US—it’s called mass incarceration in the private prison system.  We are being told that the economy must not be merely guided by growth and it must be replaced by a sustainable one.  However, coming from those who have greatly restricted meaningful economic growth among the general population in order to subject livelihoods to the brutal capitalist framework, what they really mean is to restrict productive social relations among the people so that they must subsist with bare minimum requirements, eventually cornered to be a smaller herd, more manageable with less resources—an economic solution which can only be conceived by criminal minds. Who knows what role vaccines will play in it.  Who knows what sort of living hell people will be subjected to as our lives are treated like numbers in high frequency trading, or our entire lives are put on hold by AI customer representatives.

Note how the policies will be designed to be achieved by co-opting leftist agendas.  The invisible hand has been busy building a brand new invisible cage to perpetuate the violent reign of kings and queens in the name of “revolution”—a fascist revolution that is.

Now, I would like to emphasize that these trajectories are not set in stone. The problem is that those possibilities are highly unlikely to be examined by concerned people within the capitalist framework. There is a structural problem in the system. Let me go back to the pendulum.  Just like any other capitalist social institution, the capitalist political institution serves the ruling class;  it can serve as a crime laundering devise. As soon as a topic involving criminal activities is destined to be “political”—it dissociates itself from criminal elements and becomes “legitimate”. Various social institutions kick in to support such a view since they are all funded by the ruling class—media presents it as such, legislature codifies it as such, executive branch executes it as such, judicial branch judges it as such, academics support it as such, educational institution cements it as such and so on. It becomes normalized to be a part of social policies. Once the topic is on the political table embellished with a glorious history and myths of the nationhood of the United States of America, the topic becomes officially “political”, not criminal, and it is now safely and generously handled by the corporate entities.

The rendered topic floats in an artificial realm of political myths, tradition, and the gladiator battle culture of political authorities as a commodified symbol representing a fictitious version of the actual topic. Ordinary people can’t approach it coherently for what it is anymore unless they are rich and influential enough to access all moneyed social institutions.  Moreover, all the criminal records of officials are discarded, forgiven and forgotten as a new regime comes in every four years.

This is how destructive foreign policies of colonialism, corporatism and militarism, and exploitative predatory domestic policies of all sorts have been implemented against people in the name of freedom, justice and humanity.  This is how environmental concerns have turned into “green capitalism”.  This is how we are being mobilized today under the guise of virus lockdowns.

People watch and cheer the pendulum swing between political extremes within the capitalist framework.  Bits and pieces of awareness beyond the imperial framework can only be perceived with tools approved by the framework, effectively keeping those with the awareness within the ideas of the ruling class.  If you hold a world view that does not fit in it, you end up being categorized as a supporter of a political villain or simply labeled as “fascist”, “communist” and so on.  Needless to say those terms are solely defined by acceptable ideas, acceptable history and acceptable myths of the capitalist hegemony.  The fact that the US government has supported fascist regimes across the globe while brutally intervening against socialist countries across the globe won’t be admitted for instance.

How Capitalist Hierarchy Shapes Ideas

If one holds a view that defies the prevalent narrative, the individual can become a target of the authority as well as a target of multiple political extremes within the capitalist hegemony.  For instance, if you oppose Israeli war crimes from an anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist position, you can be persecuted as a dissident by the establishment, while being labeled as anti-Semitic by supporters of Israeli policies. (You may also be labeled a Zionist shill by those who believe that Jews are taking over the world and so on).  The position that points out that Israel is a crucial part of the imperial structure, serving the imperial hierarchy while benefiting from its generous support, cannot be fully discussed due to how narratives are formed by the network of the imperial institutions.

The political pendulum doesn’t only create an illusion of “democracy”, it also defines what is acceptable while tearing communities apart. It utilizes its violence as a springboard to perpetuate and strengthen its grip on the exploited. That’s why the living hell for Palestinian people keeps functioning as a devise for imperialism—the more Palestinians suffer, the more anti-Semitic sentiment emerges, which in turn justifies Israeli violence, which in turn serves the imperial agendas. That’s why victims of Katarina had to be victimized by “urban renewal” after going through the gravely tragic event. Capitalist hegemony does not allow an honest discussion because imperialism is kept invisible by default, the capitalist cage is invisible and the guiding hand of capitalists is invisible. The capitalist framework simply corners people into having dead-end arguments. Period.

With the virus situation, we are told that there are good people who wear masks and stay home and bad people who selfishly defy the rules and spread “conspiracy theories”.  The dynamics among acceptable narratives within the capitalist framework create the circular arguments of a screaming match. These dynamics exclude and belittle any understanding which goes beyond the artificial range of ideas created by the capitalist institutions:  you are fake news, you are a denier, you are a conspiracy theorist, you are a grandma killer, communists are taking over and so on. Without recognizing this mechanism, any attempt to unify the momentums will result in a populism which emulates the existing social structure—another reactionary revolution at best, but more likely it will create more divisions and destabilization among the people, resulting in perpetuation of the capitalist hierarchy. This is why there is no discussion of accountability for the death and suffering created by lockdown measures and there is no discussion about the meaning of why we are going through a structural shift.  And when the deaths and sufferings will be put on the political table, financial vultures will devour them in the emerging social impact bond markets (see studies by Wrench in the Gears).

The invisible hand that is supposed to guide us to freedom, justice and humanity has created an empire ruled by the unprecedented accumulation of power for the few.  The invisible hand has created an invisible cage over us, and it has been blinding us and dividing us, allowing the ruling class to exploit us and subjugate us.

Now, it must be clearly stated that what we perceive as the dystopian future of The Fourth Industrial Revolution—AI, blockchain, digitalization, financialization, green capitalism and so on—can’t be separated from the invisible hand and the invisible cage. It cannot be allowed to be defined by capitalist institutions as a “legitimate political topic” instead of what it really is. The newly built cage hasn’t been built, but if we fail to see it for what it is in its context, we will simply be forced to embrace some version of it as one of the “legitimate” capitalist trajectories. That’s how it works when our society is a theater of absurdity.

I want to live a life that breaks open the invisible cage and firmly shake hands with nature and humanity.  If you have stuck around this far with me, I trust that you feel the same…or not. Either way, we must start our conversations.

Further Readings

Wrong Kind of Green Website

John Steppling Website

Winter Oak Website

Wrench in the Gear Website

 

[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 Virtual Education Shock Doctrine

The Virtual Education Shock Doctrine

California’s online-schooling model is a glimpse into the future of digital austerity.

The Bellows

October 4, 2020

By Alex Gutentag

 

Long-distance learning

(Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters)

In California, the nation’s most populous state, 90% of students started the school year entirely online. When schools closed in March, 50% of low-income California students lacked the necessary technology to access distance learning. Broader tech distribution was available for the 2020-21 school year thanks to donations from companies like HP, Lenovo, Amazon, Apple, T-Mobile, Microsoft, and Google. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey even personally donated $10 million to the city of Oakland’s tech initiative. With chromebooks and wifi hotspots now available for every student, California legislators and corporations congratulated themselves on closing the “digital divide.”

Despite their improved tech access, many students have more pressing material needs. Over 260,000 California students experience homelessness every year, and over 20% of California children live below the poverty line. The tech industry has not made massive donations to medical and therapy services, which low-income students often receive through community schools. Likewise, there is no private backing for the state’s free grab-and-go meals program.

Distance learning is a sleight of hand. Framed as a panacea, online education is actually the vehicle for a long-desired economic restructuring.

Online schooling will generate a treasure trove of data tech firms can buy and sell. Free meals will not. Silicon Valley boasts a yearly output of $275 billion and has a GDP similar to that of Qatar. Yet California, the world’s fifth largest economy, is currently withholding $11 billion from schools. Districts have been given IOUs for state funding and will not be reimbursed until next year. In contrast, California billionaires increased their net worth by over 25.5% ($175 billion) in the first three months of the pandemic.

Students throughout California are now stuck at home in hot, crowded rooms that occasionally fill with wildfire smoke. 19% of these students are English language learners and almost 13% of them have disabilities. Every day on Zoom they fall more and more behind both academically and socially. In Los Angeles Unified, the state’s largest district, students are receiving 90-170 minutes of daily live instruction (depending on their age), after which they are expected to do independent work. Compared to the traditional six- or seven-hour school day, online education is laughably inadequate.

In real time, teachers and families are watching important developmental windows close for vulnerable children. Meanwhile the California Democratic Party and its affiliates tout virtual schooling as a solution for mitigating COVID-19 transmission. This policy is the result of an alignment between the Democratic Party, corporate power, and a bureaucratic teachers’ union. The purpose of their alignment is to rationalize austerity and boost commercial profits. Distance learning is a sleight of hand. Framed as a panacea, online education is actually the vehicle for a long-desired economic restructuring.

School Closures: An Unscientific and Regressive Policy

The Dreambox mathematics application: "Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization." [page 9]

The Dreambox mathematics application: “Within one minute of work, the program can collect, analyse and respond to more than 800 pieces of data about a student and how he or she learns, according to the organization.” [page 9]

California’s introduction of online schooling was driven by financial concerns, not medical or moral ones. Reopening safely would have required physical distancing plans, distribution of face shields or masks, sanitizing supplies, systems for daily health screenings, regular testing, widespread use of outdoor spaces, alternative schedules, smaller class sizes, and a massive hiring initiative. The primary reason these proposals were shot down was not rising COVID-19 cases as the governor, Gavin Newsom, asserted. California cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have been declining since August 1, but since then Newsom has only made reopening guidelines stricter.

The full prohibition on in-person learning directly contradicts the advice of medical and scientific experts. In June the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued recommendations for school re-openings, stating, “the AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine issued similar guidance. Schools, the authors argue, provide essential services to students and families.

Only after large school districts decided to stay closed did the AAP revise its original guidance to fit a perceived political consensus. Many clinical studies and reviews supported their original conclusion, demonstrating that children are less likely to transmit COVID-19 than adults, and school closures are an ineffective method of disease control. Not only will these irrational closures deepen class disparities, the policy has also overruled some children’s civil right to public education—a right that became universal in federal law less than 50 years ago.

It was not until 1975 that people with disabilities won a “Free and Appropriate Public Education” through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Before IDEA people with intellectual disabilities were often put in underfunded and abusive state schools, such as the infamous Willowbrook state school in Staten Island. Similarly, discrimination against English language learners was allowed until the 1974 passage of the Equal Education Opportunity Act.

Dismantling these gains is apparently of no concern to the California Democrats and the California Teachers Association (CTA), the state teachers union. Virtual learning effectively limits educational access for high-need populations. Yet as public resources are funneled into online learning platforms, the CTA regularly claims to be fighting back against billionaires and politicians. In reality, the teachers union is acting as an astroturfing and financing arm of the tech industry and the Democratic Party. There is no real conflict between these entities because their interests are identical.

The Teachers Union as Controlled Opposition

The Global Education Coalition was launched on March 25, 2020, by UNESCO. Founding partners include the World Bank, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, the BBC, and the Global Business Coalition for Education.

The Global Education Coalition was launched on March 25, 2020, by UNESCO. Founding partners include the World Bank, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, the BBC, and the Global Business Coalition for Education.

 

The median teacher salary in California is $65,252. On average, California teachers pay $1,072 in dues, and the majority of dues do not go to local organizations—they go to the CTA. In 2018 at least twelve CTA officers and directors made six-figure salaries. The CTA president took home about $340,000, and the union’s Associate Executive Director over $1 million. It is extremely difficult for teachers to find out how much of their dues money goes to political activities, let alone which of these activities actually help secure better working conditions and wages for teachers.

However, some information is available. California teachers’ dues directly contribute to the CTA’s PAC. Although teachers can opt out from donating to the PAC, this option is only given when they sign the form to join the union. While there are limits to the CTA’s donations to individual candidates through its PAC, the CTA can donate greater amounts through independent expenditure committees. For example, the CTA’s PAC donated only $29,000 to Newsom’s election campaign in 2018, but its independent expenditure committee gave $1 million to “Education Organizations for Gavin Newsom for Governor 2018.”

The National Education Association, which the CTA is a part of, is likewise opaque about how much dues money is used for political activities and what those activities are. In 2018 the NEA contributed about $5.4 million to candidates and political campaigns and spent close to $2.9 million on lobbying. After endorsing Joe Biden in March, the NEA now invites teachers to become “Educators for Joe” through its website.

The relationship between the union and the California Democratic Party extends to the CTA’s organizing work for ballot initiatives. Most recently, local California unions have asked their members to collect signatures and join rallies for Prop 15, the Students and Communities First Initiative. The slogan for Prop 15 is “Tax the Rich,” but the tax will not be on wealthy individuals, or directly on the revenue of California’s largest industries (tech, agriculture, tourism, and entertainment). The tax will instead be on business properties exceeding $3 million in value. The initiative is backed by national politicians like Elizabeth WarrenBernie SandersPete Buttigieg, and Michael Bloomberg. The Chan Zuckerberg Foundation has contributed over $6.3 million to support Prop 15.

Union members should be concerned about the fact that, according to the CTA’s own Prop 15 calculator, the plan will fund privately-operated charter schools in addition to public schools. Charter schools are property leasing schemes that exploit low-income communities for the benefit of investors. In using public school teachers to organize for this funding, the CTA has promoted an initiative that will allow investment capital to benefit from industrial property taxes, an expense that some worry will fall on small businesses in the form of increased rents. Given the level of mismanagement, cronyism, and anti-teacher animus plaguing the administrations of many California school districts, it is also worth wondering if Prop 15 money will go where it is truly needed (staffing), or whether it will be wasted on more tech products.

Ultimately, there is no real tension between the political project of the teachers union and that of the Democratic Party. Both are working toward the same outcomes. In the case of COVID-19, the desired outcome is the purchase of hardware, software, and online learning subscriptions on an enormous scale. This ploy relies on a politics of anti-solidarity in which teachers stay home on computers while risk is pushed onto lower-paid staff or contractors who lack union protection.

Woke Justifications for Academic Decline

January 2020, World Economic Forum: "The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education."

January 2020, World Economic Forum: “The notion of an educator as the knowledge-holder who imparts wisdom to their pupils is no longer fit for the purpose of a 21st-century education.”

 

While low-income students and families struggle to adapt, many educators are willing to push rhetoric that presents virtual learning as liberation. In some cities, local union leaders, district administrators, and other organizations have entered into an endless competition to prove who is more woke and more pro-lockdown. Racialized social justice politics have created distractions that serve to rationalize and excuse the absence of public health infrastructure and other services.

In Oakland, for example, ongoing conflicts between professionals have done little to help communities in need, and disguise a de facto consensus around school closures. California’s online learning mandate was largely decided at the state level by the governor’s office. This did not stop the Oakland teachers’ union from holding a pro-closure demonstration in front of the Oakland schools superintendent’s home. The Oakland NAACP wrote a letter condemning the action for targeting the superintendent, who is a Black woman. The East Bay DSA responded in support of the union, citing the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black communities.

Virtual learning is training affluent students for a life of self-directed work at home. It is training low-income students for a life of no work at all.

Around the same time, elementary school principals in Oakland wrote a letter asking middle class parents to refrain from forming independently organized educational “pandemic pods,” arguing that this would be “exacerbating educational inequities.” Meanwhile, the Oakland teachers’ union was spending valuable time in reopening negotiations demanding a Black Reparations Fund. The union proposed that Local Control Funding Formula money for foster youth, English language learners, and low-income students be redirected to new “Black Sanctuary District” programs.

The woke posturing in Oakland demonstrates a pattern of California educators and other professionals wielding their cultural power to uphold tech profits while taking for granted the profound economic inequalities caused by the COVID-19 lockdown. The major stakeholders, while supposedly at odds, all supported government frugality as a science-based safety measure. With online learning now fully in place, social justice narratives contend that staring at screens is emancipation.

Various tech initiatives like the Modern Classrooms Project allege that online learning is progressive because it allows for self-pacing. The concept of virtual self-pacing is tied to declarations that some students are “thriving” through online education. School, proponents of distance learning claim, is perhaps too long, too demanding; the standards and expectations may be too high. Distance learning, they argue, allows kids to organize their own time, regardless of whether it is developmentally appropriate or not.

Similarly, education theories such as “Abolitionist Teaching” posit that white supremacy creates trauma for Black students at school. Therefore, the fundamental structures of school must be rethought. Intellectuals and writers who characterize school as inherently racist are assisting in a union-busting project. Abolitionist theorists even call on teachers’ unions themselves to demand curriculum and personnel changes, and scheduling that adheres to anti-racist thought.

The digitization of schools is an initial step toward digitization of society as a whole. Just as the school bell schedule was designed around the factory model, so the current model of virtual learning is training affluent students for a life of self-directed work at home. It is training low-income students for a life of no work at all.

Rejecting a Lockdown Future

“The long-term effects of school closures will define a generation. Children are facing increased rates of severe abuse and a mental health catastrophe. We’ve told children that their existence is harmful and their lives are unimportant. We abandoned them and they won’t forget it.”

"Greater income inequality, increased unemployment, growing dependence on government, and more mass migrations are a few of the most pressing problems that failing to train the next generation of workers for the digitally driven economy will bring." [page 3]

“Greater income inequality, increased unemployment, growing dependence on government, and more mass migrations are a few of the most pressing problems that failing to train the next generation of workers for the digitally driven economy will bring.” [page 3]


Given this threat to the teaching profession, the CTA and local unions must divest from corporate interests that aim to dismantle labor. Bribing politicians can only get educators so far. Teachers can no longer give in to the mafia-style antics of the Democratic Party if they want to survive. Union dues should not be spent on Newsom’s reelection campaign, but on a state-wide strike fund. Charter school champions benefit when public schools lose enrollment because of systematic mismanagement. They will also benefit when the union starts hemorrhaging membership due to its corruption and negligence.Since March the American left has framed neoliberal lockdown policies as the only morally viable option for dealing with COVID-19. In doing so, they have fetishized teachers’ unions and used their labor negotiations as the prime example of worker support for lockdown. Now that the damage has been done and soaring unemployment has disempowered all workers, the left may begin to roll back its discredited justifications for lockdown. No matter what challenges arise, social services and public institutions should be non-negotiable for any socialist, populist, or pro-worker politics.

Schools are necessary for communal and individual well-being—they are just as essential as health care. In their education children do not only learn content; they also learn by example and through experience. It is our collective task to consider what message continued policies of school closure and austerity send to the younger generation. They will not forget it if we fail to develop alternatives.

[Alex Gutentag is a public school teacher in California and a former union representative. You can follow her on Twitter at @galexybrane]

Presentation: Biometric Health Passports and The Panopticon

November 24, 2020

 

 

Independent researcher Alison McDowell: “In early November 2020, I presented to a group in upstate New York that has been organizing in opposition to Governor Cuomo’s proposed vaccine mandate for all residents. This talk is about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset” and how this agenda is linked to the adoption of CommonPass heath passports and the creation of a global biosecurity state to scale human capital bond markets. These markets are built on manufactured poverty and social impact investing schemes aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

 

 

 

It’s Not a Social Dilemma – It’s the Calculated Destruction of the Social [The Enclosure of Africa, Part II]

October 30, 2020

By Cory Morningstar

 

Part two of a three-part investigative series. [Part 1] [Part 3]

 

2Africa: Digital Colonization Meets White Paternalism – The Facebook Enclosure of Africa

 

“Zuckerberg’s team has another related project named 2Africa. A “mission”, as they call it… Civilians have been quite silent about it this time, but not because they don’t have an opinion. It looks like many civil society groups in the continent are financed by Facebook itself. Ironic, right? Well, it seems like the missionary-like good guys from up North are going to save the world again.”

 

August 18, 2020, “There’s a 2.0 form of colonialism happening under our very eyes”

 

 

“Facebook realizes it’s running out of room to grow in developed markets. Instead of waiting for developing countries to build adequate infrastructure for its apps, Facebook wants to help develop the infrastructure and lock users into its ecosystem.”

 

May 22, 2020, Facebook Will Bring Expanded Internet Access to Africa in $1 Billion Project

 

 

“Big Tech corporations are wreaking havoc on the Global South. There’s a crisis in the tech ecosystem, and it’s called digital colonialism.”

 

March 13, 2019, “Digital colonialism is threatening the Global South”

“Many countries will face a shrinking population. For Europe, this challenge may come sooner. The region is projected to face the highest dependency ratio—the number of people of nonworking age (over 65) compared with those of working age—by 2050. At 75 percent, this ratio is higher than for any other region… Not all populations are shrinking or getting older, though. Africa—the only region whose population is expected to grow more than 1 percent a year—will have the youngest median age, 25, by 2050.” [Source: International Monetary Fund, Finance & Development, March 2020] 

Today, four in ten people, that is, 42% of the global population, are aged under 25. Now consider that 76% of youth aged 18–24 use Facebook. [Source] “While the majority of most populations in the Global North are decreasing or flatlining, in Sub-Saharan Africa the populations are growing with nearly half of the world’s youth living in Sub-Saharan African countries.” [Source]

“As Africa meets the 4IR Fourth Industrial Revolution], its youth will be one of its most important assets”

 

August 25, 2020, World Economic Forum, How can Africa succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

According to a 2019 Pew Research Center analysis, for the first time in modern history, the planet’s human population “is expected to virtually stop growing by the end of this century, due in large part to falling global fertility rates.” [Source] In a mere ten years, by 2030, it is expected that one in five people will be African. [Source] By 2100, half of all babies born in the world – will be born in Africa. [Source]

The race to recolonize African citizens, as techlonial subjects, has begun.For decades, population has been made a convenient scapegoat for climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and expressed concerns over biodiversity and sustainability. It has gained an upsurge in popularity with New Deal For Nature influencers David Attenborough and Jane Goodall (selected by the World Economic Forum, WWF et al.) promoting this narrative (a narrative with a fixation of black and brown bodies). Although it is Western countries responsible for the absolute bulk of these emissions and ecological devastation across the globe, it has not been African groups nor black academics calling on population controls for the West. Rather, it is Western and European groups, predominantly white and male, relentlessly targeting African nations and the sovereign bodies belonging to African women. Consider that in 1900 Europe held 25% of the global population, triple that of Africa. Yet by 2050, Europe is on track to hold a mere 7% of the global population (one-third that of Africa). With white supremacy as a foundational structure of the ruling class, the feigned concern over both ecology and poverty rings hollow. The race to recolonize African citizens, as techlonial subjects, has begun.

“Up until 1950, more than half of historical CO2 emissions were emitted by Europe. The vast majority of European emissions back then were emitted by the United Kingdom; as the data shows, until 1882 more than half of the world’s cumulative emissions came from the UK alone. Over the century which followed, industrialization in the USA rapidly increased its contribution. It’s only over the past 50 years that growth in South America, Asia and Africa have increased these regions’ share of total contribution.”

A 2013 map demonstrates fourteen nations account for approximately 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In 2019, an advance chapter of the 2019 Emissions Gap Report, released ahead of the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit, reported G20 member states account for almost 80 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. [Source] The top three greenhouse gas emitters— China (with a population of1.4 billion), the European Union and the United States contribute more than half of global greenhouse gas emissions, while the bottom 100 countries account for a mere 3.5 percent. [Source]

Bob Collymore (1958-2019), Former CEO of Safaricom and leader of The B Team

Forecasts for this year (2020) show only one non-African country – Afghanistan – placed in the top 20 countries for the highest youth populations. [Source] For these reasons, Africa has been a target of both “fourth industrial revolution” technologies (digitalized healthcare, education, identities, etc.), as well as the United Nations-World Economic Forum Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) is also recognized as a key target market. Under the guise of alleviating poverty, protecting climate and biodiversity, the SDGs are in reality, emerging markets, with their implementation driven by the World Economic Forum, partner to the United Nations. Children and youth are to become human data commodities on the blockchain. This is the foray into the machinations underpinning the new global poverty economy. The majority of climate investments earmarked in Annex 1 states in the Global North will be invested in emerging markets in the Global South – created by the West, for the West.

“Tech giants have been finding new ways of gathering data from citizens, this time with major investments in connection infrastructure in the global South.”

 

August 18, 2020, Digital Colonialism

On May 13, 2020, Facebook announced its plans to encircle the entire continent of Africa with subsea cable. At 37,000 kilometers long, the 2Africa cable will be nearly equal to the entire circumference of the Earth.

The 2Africa project, valued at approximately USD 1 billion, is considered one of the largest subsea cable projects in the world. It will interconnect 16 countries in Africa, the Middle East (via Saudi Arabia), and Europe.

“Facebook hasn’t disclosed how much money it’s contributing to the project, but it won’t be a significant percentage of its projected revenue of $78 billion this year.” [Source]

Facebook’s 2Africa partners include some of the globe’s largest telecom corporations, including: the U.K.’s Vodafone Group, France’s Orange SA, China’s Mobile, stc (Saudi Telecom), Europe’s GlobalConnect, and Africa’s West Indian Ocean Cable Company (WIOCC). The two African wireless carriers involved in the project are MTN Group (Johannesburg) and Telecom Egypt. Nokia Oyj’s Alcatel Submarine Networks has been contracted to build the cable. [Source]

“2Africa, whose aim is surrounding the whole African continent with undersea fibre-optic cables, is an infrastructural feat that in usual circumstances would be considered the exclusive domain of governments.”

 

August 17, 2020, Inside Facebook’s new power grab, From cables to internet cafes, Mark Zuckerberg is leaving his mark on the global South

According to Bloomberg, “tech giants, led by Facebook and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, are behind about 80% of the recent investment in transatlantic cable, driven by demand for fast-data transfers used for streaming movies to social messaging.” If one juxtaposes such priorities, with our dire planetary ecological crisis and unprecedented biodiversity loss, one catches a glimpse of a society in intellectual and ethical freefall. As we enter a “fourth” industrial revolution, consider that after an approximately 260 years of “progress”, 30% of the global population still has no access to clean drinking water, while approximately half the world’s population lacks access to safe sanitation. In tandem with diet, nutrition, and shelter, it is these most basic necessities that prevent disease and sickness. “An estimated 801,000 children younger than 5 years of age perish from diarrhoea each year, mostly in developing countries. This amounts to 11% of the 7.6 million deaths of children under the age of five and means that about 2,200 children are dying every day as a result of diarrheal diseases. Unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation together contribute to about 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases.” As these black and brown deaths occur in the Global South, the populace of Global North remains largely and seemingly willfully blind to this normalized atrocity, while as of March 27, 2020, The Lancet reported outside of two reported deaths in China of children who tested positive for COVID-19, there were no accounts of COVID-19 deaths of children in the published literature. Since this time, fatalities in children from/with COVID-19 remain extremely rare.

Although at first glance, that COVID-19 is being prioritised over providing clean drinking water and safe sanitation must be considered insane, in fact, one must understand this as marketing: “Suggesting that the digital sphere “amplifies existing inequalities”, the UN official noted that among the most pressing challenges are tackling the lack of internet access in the world’s poorest nations – where fewer than one in five people has regular electricity.” [Source] One cannot feed their children with the internet. One cannot bathe their child in a virtual world. The concern over internet access inequality – the push for equal access for all – is nothing more than public relations and strategic marketing seeking social license. This feigned concern over inequality – is the storytelling that simultaneously conceals and drives the emerging markets. Oppression is reframed as empowerment. Data is the new oil.

Let them eat virtual cake – on their smartphones.

“‘We’ve been able to work with the local partners who are providing internet service in the most challenged areas,’ says Facebook’s Rabinovitsj. ‘Some of these places are really large slums in and around large urban centres and typically the disposable income is less than a few dollars a month for households.’ ‘We are able to, with our partners, come up with a sustainable model that provides internet access for [those] families.” [Source]

[Source: Smart Growth Is Colonialism Reinvented]

Award digital badges for “Smart Learning”. Mine the data. Feed the artificial intelligence and machine learning. Continue the theft of resources (biological communities) from the pillaged continent of Africa – that underpin the imperial “great reset”. Enslave the children via technology. Smart slavery. Smart enslavement. Smart colonialism.

“Facebook has long tried to lead the race to improve connectivity in Africa in a bid to take advantage of a young population, greater connectivity and the increasing availability and affordability of smartphones.”

 

Bloomberg, May 14, 2020, Faster Internet Coming to Africa With Facebook’s $1 Billion Cable

September 12, 2016: “NAIROBI, Kenya, “Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is in Kenya after a three-day visit in Lagos, Nigeria in his first visit to Africa. Zuckerberg is expected to meet tech entrepreneurs, developers and talk to stakeholders in the ICT industry. Zuckerberg: “Just landed in Nairobi! I’m here to meet with entrepreneurs and developers, and to learn about mobile money – where Kenya is the world leader.” [Source] [Image]

May 17, 2017: “Black Facebook users are having their accounts banned for speaking out against racism: It seems the intent behind silencing outspoken Black folks hasn’t changed in the last few hundred years. And while Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t yet sentenced me to “thirty nine lashes on [my] bare back,” I can’t say for certain that penalty isn’t hidden somewhere… I’ve lost count of how many Black organizers have had their Facebook accounts temporarily or permanently banned for posting content that even remotely challenges white supremacy.”

Facebook’s announcement of the 2Africa project followed “a long and complex restoration process of an unprecedented simultaneous cable break”. The two Atlantic Ocean based 16,000 km cable systems (connecting South Africa to the UK) occurred early in the morning on January 16, 2020. The breaks in the cables, only eight years old, took place approximately 1,964 km apart from one another – with one break occurring near Libreville, Gabon, while the second break occurred south of Gabon, in the vicinity of Luanda, Angola. [Source] This same day, an 18-year-old cable called SAT-3 that runs along the same route was also reported broken.

“It was unprecedented that two completely geographically separate cables run by completely separate companies would fail within hours of each other,”

 

— Afrihost CEO Gian Visser speaking to Business Times

The breaks, cited as catastrophic, the cause as-yet unspecified, resulted in frustrated users in over 24 sub-Saharan African countries. Upon announcing the full restoration on February 19, 2020, Openserve, the infrastructure arm of South Africa’s Telkom, charged with co-ordinating the repairs on two damaged cable lines (WACS and the SAT3/WASC) stated it would “conduct a full analysis of the unusual dual-cable break.” As a side note, in February of 2008, outages on five separate undersea cables in the Middle East were attributed to sabotage by a UN official. Such acts of sabotage are not as rare as one may think:

“What’s the least sophisticated, but probably the most foolproof, way to cut off a country’s Internet traffic? Literally cutting it by severing undersea Internet cables. That’s what the Egyptian navy caught three scuba divers doing in the waters 750 meters off the port city of Alexandria on Wednesday… The effects of the ship taking out that cable were experienced as far away as Pakistan and India…”

 

— Divers Caught Cutting Internet Backbone Cable, March 28, 2013

The cable break disruption in Africa created a well-timed segue for the 2Africa project announcement by Facebook, which otherwise may well have generated backlash: “When completed, this new route will deliver much-needed internet capacity, redundancy, and reliability across Africa; supplement a rapidly increasing demand for capacity in the Middle East; and support further growth of 4G, 5G, and broadband access for hundreds of millions of people.” [May 13, 2020] Par for the course, and leaving no stone unturned, Facebook has taken a page from its capitalist predecessors, financing any possible opposition:

“This is hardly the only reason backlash has been muted. Activists on the African continent are often battling internet shutdowns, connectivity and other issues – and also struggle to make headlines in the western media even more than their counterparts in India. And there’s an additional complication: many of the African civil society groups are themselves funded by Facebook.” [Source]

 

“They have so many projects at the moment,” van der Spuy remarks. “They’re funding so many civil society people, including people that you wouldn’t think of, and they fund them to go to conferences and things. There’s a lot of soft and hard lobbying on the continent.” — Dr Anri van der Spuy, a senior associate at Research ICT Africa, a policy and regulation think-tank [Source]

 

Smart Colonialism

 

August 21, 2020, Algorithmic Colonisation of Africa: “In the age of algorithms, this control and domination occurs not through brute physical force but rather through invisible and nuanced mechanisms such as control of digital ecosystems and infrastructure.”

“Similar to the technical architecture of classic colonialism, digital colonialism is rooted in the design of the tech ecosystem for the purposes of profit and plunder. If the railways and maritime trade routes were the “open veins” of the Global South back then, today, digital infrastructure takes on the same role: Big Tech corporations use proprietary software, corporate clouds, and centralised Internet services to spy on users, process their data, and spit back manufactured services to subjects of their data fiefdoms. ”

 

March 13, 2019, “Digital colonialism is threatening the Global South”

The 2Africa cable project is expected to be in operation by 2024. It will surpass the combined capacity of all existing sub-sea cables serving Africa.

For an idea of the massive profits to be realized from the capture of data, one only needs to look at the monetary outlay corporations are willing to place up front. The population of St. Helena, Africa is 5,000. Research suggests that approximately 60% of these 5,000 citizens will use the Internet, for a total of 3,000 Internet users. For this tiny demographic, Google will spend USD 30 million. [Source]

Fiber optic specialist and industry insider Sunil Tagare was selected by Wired magazine as one of the “Wired 25” in 1999; a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum, and is a Charter Member of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs) New York. According to Tagare, Facebook’s share of the 2Africa project will amount to approximately 80 million dollars and use 10-20% of the bandwidth. This percentage of bandwidth will generate 21 billion dollars per year in revenues increasing Facebook’s market cap by USD 178 billion. [Source]

According to Tagare, 2Africa will be “the first smart cable with sensors to cross the Atlantic.” [Source]

The real prize here is not merely Facebook’s billion dollar revenues and growing global dominance. Rather, it is the infrastructure that underpins the further expansion of both 5G, that is, the fifth generation technology standard for broadband cellular networks (rolling out now with virtually no dissent) and 6G (foreseen for 2030). 5G networks underpin the global expansion of Internet of Things, big data, artificial intelligence, biometrics, global digitalization, digital identification, autonomous lethal weapons, cyber security, an automated global workforce, etc. At 10 gigabits per second, theoretically, 5G is said to be up to one hundred times more powerful than the current 4G technology. 6G is expected to support 1 terabyte per second speeds. This level of capacity and latency will be unprecedented, extending the capabilities of 5G applications. [Source]

Whereas US and China corporations own the platforms, Europe, China and South Korea, lead on 5G. Those that control 5G will control all the infrastructure upon which 5G technology is based. Together, China (#1), the US (#2), and the EU (#3) represent the three largest economies in the world (although the order in which they reign is sometimes contested). The three combined represented 48% of the world economy.

On June 28, 2019, Google announced “Equiano”, its new private subsea cable that will connect Africa with Europe. [Source] Named after Olaudah Equiano, a Nigerian-born writer and abolitionist who was enslaved as a child, today’s woke slavery for children is to be repackaged with digital badges earned for their very own, unique, digital passport. Perhaps such appropriation and irony is even too rich for Facebook. Consider the 2Africa project was originally named “Simba” named after the Lion King character. (After initial involvement, Google left the Simba consortium.) The first phase of Google’s Equiano project, connecting South Africa with Portugal, is expected to be completed in 2021. Between 2016 and 2018, Google invested USD 47 billion in capital expenditures, which includes the billions being invested in further expanding its global infrastructure.

“As Facebook’s core product (social) starts seeing a significant downward trend and is certainly a non-starter with the millennials, it will increasingly have to depend on other verticals which will compete with Google.” [Source]

African Telecom providers have warned that the Facebook and Google projects threaten the survival of the local and mainstream operators:

“Virtual operators like Facebook are organisations that mainstream operators have to watch out for because a number of services they render today are free of charge. Their revenue is mostly from advertisement. They don’t have tax obligations; they don’t have any obligation like the conventional licensee have to the government.”

 

June 8, 2020, Telcos Threatened As Facebook, Google Plan Subsea Cable

 

“Silicon Valley corporations are taking over the digital economy in the Global South, and nobody is paying attention. In South Africa, Google and Facebook dominate the online advertising industry, and are considered an existential threat to local media.”

 

March 13, 2019, “Digital colonialism is threatening the Global South”

 

Facebook’s “Internet.org” – Rebranded to “Free Basics”

 

“Most importantly, for Free Basics users, Facebook becomes the homepage of the Internet. Free Basics builds brand loyalty among users. It contributes to Facebook’s dominant position in emerging markets with tremendous demographic growth.”

 

Inside Facebook’s new power grab, From cables to internet cafes, Mark Zuckerberg is leaving his mark on the global South, August 17, 2020

Free Basics homepage

 In partnership with Samsung, Ericsson, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia and Qualcomm, Facebook launched Internet.org in 2013:

“Basic data-light web services would be available through a free app, owned and curated by Facebook. By marketing its new product as ‘the internet’, Facebook could make itself the centre of their online world. There was no email provision, no Google services, no other social media platforms – and often no content in that country’s native tongue. In effect, Facebook was offering a heavily censored version of the American internet, accessed through a Facebook app which directed everything back to its own services.” [Source]

In 2014, Internet.org launched the ‘Internet.org app’ in four African countries. Users could access 13 websites without data charge, including Google, Facebook, Wikipedia, and a Johnson & Johnson-sponsored maternal health site.

On February 10, 2015, Internet.org announced the upcoming launch of its app in six Indian states. Following intense backlash (*”Facebook was acting as a gatekeeper of the Internet by pre-selecting services available on Internet.org, without transparency and with a Western bias detrimental to local services and start-ups”) the business venture was rebranded to “Free Basics” in September 2015, prior to a nationwide roll-out. [*Source]

 

“Based on current figures provided by Facebook, some 2.99 billion people currently use at least one of Facebook’s apps every month. The population of the entire world is, according to Worldometer, around 7.8 billion, so when you take into account the aforementioned stat that 3.5 billion can’t access the web, and add to that the fact that 1.4b Chinese citizens are technically unable to use Facebook due to government restrictions, Facebook’s apps, based on these calculations, are used by pretty much everybody who’s able to access them, in some form.  Given this, you can see why Facebook’s keen to maximize its presence in India, and its reach among that nation’s 1.4 billion people.” [Source]

In February 2016, regulators banned Facebook’s Free Basics service in India. In nationwide protests, citizens argued that Free Basics expanded Facebook’s monopoly power while simultaneously subjecting users to both censorship and surveillance. This was a massive blow to Facebook. With a population of 1.4 billion citizens, India represented Facebook’s largest target market. Since this time, Facebook quietly rolled out a new initiative into India and other targeted demographics with Wi-Fi hotspots, called Express Wi-Fi. This initiative gives retailers the option to offer its users open access to Free Basics. In effect, Free Basics was re-routed through Express Wi-Fi.

“In 2015 researchers found that 65% of Nigerians, and 61% of Indonesians agree with the statement that “Facebook is the Internet” compared with only 5% in the US.” [Source]

On November 3, 2016, Facebook announced 40 million people were using internet.org. Despite the February 2016 ban of Free Basics in India, Facebook quietly continues its monolithic expansion, relatively free of scrutiny, into most developing countries, including India, while Free Basics is proliferating in dozens of countries. [Source: March 13, 2019, Digital colonialism is threatening the Global South] To successfully enable the Free Basics expansion into Africa, Facebook ceased to publicize its Free Basics pursuits, and instead focused on engagement with and financing of “civil society”(NGOs). This was largely accomplished via the Praekelt Foundation – funded by heavy hitters including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Omidyar Network, Johnson & Johnson, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Ford Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund, and USAID. As of June 2019, it was reported that Free Basics was present in 65 countries with a large part of the expansion saturating African countries, which went largely unnoticed, unreported and uncontested. [Source]

As of July 2020, there are over 290 million Facebook users in India, with a population closing in on the 1.4 billion mark.

Graph: Leading countries based on Facebook audience size as of July 2020 (in millions) Source: Statista

“I argue that Free Basics’ quiet expansion across Africa was notably made possible by the combination of two key interrelated phenomena: (1) Facebook’s evolving strategy, particularly its growing engagement with civil society organizations and (2) the focus of digital rights activists across the continent on other issues, including Internet shutdowns, government censorship, and the lack of data privacy frameworks.”

 

Access granted: Facebook’s free basics in Africa, April 22, 2020

Graph: “Number of news stories about ‘Free Basics’ and ‘Internet.org‘ across 1,500 Global English Language sources, June 2013 to July 2019″ [Source

“Free Basics also fits within two broader and interrelated trends in the digital industry, digital experiments on marginalized populations and data extraction. There is increasing evidence that vulnerable and disadvantaged populations, such as minority groups, refugees, and impoverished communities are prime, albeit largely nonconsenting subjects of digital experiments – be they designed to ‘help’ or surveil these communities (Latonero and Kift, 2018; Madianou, 2019; Mann and Daly, 2018). Data extraction, for its part, is central to the digital economy (Zuboff, 2019). It is key to building unique, rich datasets that train competitive algorithms, which are then generally used to connect businesses to customers.”

 

Access granted: Facebook’s free basics in Africa, April 22, 2020

 

“Anti-Colonialism has been economically catastrophic for India for decades. Why stop now?”

 

Facebook board member Marc Andreessen, February, 2016

Looking back momentarily, in 2015, Facebook announced that internet.org was operating in 11 countries, allowing about one billion people to access its services for free. [Source] On April 25, 2018, Mark Zuckerberg would clarify the actual number of users. In response to Facebook’s Q1 2018 earnings call Zuckerberg stated: “our Internet.org efforts have helped almost 100 million people get access to the internet who may not have had it otherwise”. [Source] This was up from 40 million users in November 2016, a 60 million increase in users in approximately 16 months.

Facebook’s capture of India has barely begun. In 2019, Facebook acquired the Indian eCommerce platform Meesho. Facebook also seeks to roll out its cryptocurrency – initially focused on funds transfers in the Indian market – in the coming months. Globalcoin is the new cryptocurrency “Libra” founded by Facebook, in conjunction with “Novi”, a digital wallet. “While Libra itself is a cryptocurrency that can be used to make purchases or gain access to services through Facebook, Calibra is the wallet that will be used to store Libra and whatever other forms of crypto the user may have, only this time, the wallet will no longer be known as Calibra, but as Novi… As part of the verification process, customers of Libra and Facebook will be required to upload a government-issued identification card.” [Bitcoin News, June 1, 2020] [Forbes, August 17, 2021: “Between Crypto, Libra, Stablecoins, And Digital Dollars, Congress Introduced 35 ‘Blockchain’ Bills’]

April 22, 2020: “If you wanted to know how much value Facebook sees in the emerging Indian market, this deal certainly provides some indication. After recent reports that Facebook was looking to acquire a stake in Indian internet provider Jio, The Social Network has now confirmed that it has purchased a majority stake in the Reliance-owned venture for a massive $US5.7 billion… the acquisition will provide Facebook with a new way into the Indian market, which it’s been looking to gain a foothold in for many years, with varying levels of success.” [Source]

 

India, and its 1.4 billion citizens, is the next key battleground for the tech giants, with both Facebook and Google both working to gain a foothold in the Indian market in order to expand their audience base, provide new business tools, and build revenue-generating partnerships that will facilitate significant opportunities to expand their respective empires… India is now the world’s second-largest smartphone market after China, while the number of internet users in the nation is expected to top 850 million by 2022. For comparison, the US is expected to reach around 300 million internet users at the same stage.” [Source]

September 6, 2017 video: “Facebook creates digital map showing where every human lives”:

 

The Colonization of Space & Skies

With Facebook’s growth slowing in the West, the corporation must diversify. August 17, 2020: “Today, the internet is estimated to have around four billion users. More than two billion of them use Facebook products. But growth is slowing, and the social network has its eyes firmly set on the three billion people without a connection as their hope for the future.” [Source]

On September 1, 2016, a SpaceX rocket exploded prior to its scheduled launch. Facebook had contracted SpaceX to deliver the first Internet.org satellite into orbit, in order to secure new internet customers in large portions of sub-Saharan Africa. This would be key in providing basic connectivity via Internet.org, to the entire world’s population. [Source] The Amos6 satellite was built by Israeli communications firm Spacecom Ltd., while owned and operated by Eutelsat, France.

In May 2019, the IEEE Spectrum reported that Facebook had established a subsidiary called PointView Tech, to develop “low-Earth-orbit satellites” under the codename Athena.

On February 12, 2020, Business Insider reported that Facebook was going forward with its plan to build a constellation of thousands of satellites with the first one launching into space in March 2020.

Last month, on September 3, 2020, Facebook launched its first satellite into orbit. A rocket encompassing “700,000 pounds of thrust” (made possible only with massive quantities of fossil fuels), successfully launched over French Guiana:

“The first satellite released into a 320-mile-high (515-kilometer) orbit by the Vega’s AVUM upper stage was Athena, a 304-pound (138-kilogram) spacecraft built by Maxar in California. Athena is a small experimental communications satellite for PointView Tech, a subsidiary of Facebook, that will test technologies that could be used in a future constellation of small satellites to provide global broadband Internet services. Athena is PointView Tech’s first satellite.”

 

September 3, 2030, Vega rocket deploys 53 satellites on successful return to flight mission, Spaceflight Now

September 3, 2020: Facebook launched its first satellite into orbit

At present, with approximately 2.7 – 3 billion users (stats differ), Facebook is closing in on almost half of the global population. Barriers include no access to China, with a population of approximately 1.4 billion citizens;  India, due to the fact that fewer than 20% of India’s citizens, in a population on par with China, have access to the Internet; and sovereign states that ban Facebook, recognizing that it serves as an instrument to empire for foreign interference and destabilization. Such targeted geopolitical hotspots include the sovereign nations of China, Iran, Syria, and North Korea (the majority of North Korean citizens do not access the Internet). This is in line with the threat of foreign and Western NGOs that serve Western foreign policy and capital. Consider Access Now, an arm of Avaaz (which led a leading role in the annihilation of Libya, as well as the attempted destruction of Syria), was created with the specific intent to destabilize Iran. [Link] (One can be certain that if Middle Eastern countries were attempting to overthrow Western states, with social media serving as a key apparatus, controlled by NGOs serving Iran, North Korea, Syria, etc. – social media would be blocked in our countries as well.)

Thus, to reach the global populace that remain off-limits, and to secure the foundation and expansion of 5G, that the “fourth industrial revolution” architecture is absolutely dependent upon, the race for satellites in space has begun. Although completely asinine, human centric and short-sighted, approximately 57,000 satellites are to be launched into space in this single decade. [This is explored in further detail later in this report.]

In tandem with industry’s servitude to planned obsolescence, coupled with the rapid acceleration of technology, satellites will eventually be far more important than subsea cables. In the not-so-distant future, (possibly the 6G era) sea cables may become altogether obsolete.

Next: Part III

 

WATCH: Ella Baker: “The Fight for Freedom Every Day”

WATCH: Ella Baker: “The Fight for Freedom Every Day”

“Life-long human rights activist and movement organizer, Ella Baker, addresses 1974 Puerto Rico solidarity rally about the need for every person to make the struggle for human dignity and freedom every day.”

TRANSCRIPT:

Friends, brothers, and sisters in the struggle for human dignity and freedom. I am here to represent the struggle that has gone on for three-hundred or more years — a struggle to be recognized as citizens in a country in which we were born. I have had about forty or fifty years of struggle, ever since a little boy on the streets of Norfolk called me a nigger. I struck him back. And then I had to learn that hitting back with my fists one individual was not enough. It takes organization. It takes dedication. It takes the willingness to stand by and do what has to be done, when it has to be done.

A nice gathering like today is not enough. You have to go back and reach out to your neighbors who don’t speak to you. And you have to reach out to your friends who think they are making it good. And get them to understand that they–as well as you and I–cannot be free in America or anywhere else where there is capitalism and imperialism. Until we can get people to recognize that they themselves have to make the struggle and have to make the fight for freedom every day in the year, every year until they win it.”

[Source: Peaceable Power”]

WATCH: Conspiracy AND Class Power [Michael Parenti Lecture, 1993, Berkeley, CA.]

WATCH: Conspiracy AND Class Power [Michael Parenti Lecture, 1993, Berkeley, CA.]

 

 

“No ruling class could survive if it wasn’t attentive to its own interest consciously trying to anticipate control / initiate events at home & abroad both overtly & secretly.”

 

“The dirty truth is that many people find fascism to be not particularly horrible.”

 

— Michael Parenti

 

Defend critical thinking.

Defend the right to question/challenge narratives that serve ruling class.

Lecture by Michael Parenti discussing the relationship of conspiracy to the larger political economic context.

“The speech on Conspiracy and Class Power (1993) was lost for several years and only recently discovered in the collection of a listener in Seattle. Michael Parenti spoke before an overflow audience in Berkeley, CA.” [Source: Dandelion Salad]

 

Timpsila, Medicine for Tech-No-Logic

Wrench in the Gears

August 7, 2020

By Alison McDowell

 

 

John Trudell, Native American activist and poet, spoke prophetically of a predator energy that mines the “being part of humans.” He called it tech-no-logic. Every January since the early 1970s, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) power brokers have assembled in Davos to plot out the next steps of their planned tech-no-logic coup. We’ve now reached a tipping point with the introduction of “stakeholder capitalism.” It is a vast program of poverty mining meant to transform the masses into human capital data commodities for financial speculation and ubiquitous surveillance. This emerging investment sector runs on poverty and trauma, two things the response to Covid-19 has manufactured in abundance.

We are experiencing the lead up to WEF’s planned transhumanist future. Covid has paved the way for a reset meant to usher in their Fourth Industrial Revolution. This is a revolution in which artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, 5G, robotics, and synthetic biology threaten to consume humanity. We’re on the brink of normalizing biocapitalism – humans and nature as batteries for financial markets. Picture derivatives mixed with bioengineered eugenics, deceptively sold to the public under the brand of “green” capitalism. The plan is to channel the concentrated wealth of the world’s largest asset holders through structured deals aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Pull back the curtain and see a program unthinkingly embraced by so many progressives and liberals exposed for what it is – not climate justice and not liberation of the poor and dispossessed, but instead an orgy of mechanistic spirit eating.

“What Is The Fourth Industrial Revolution?”

The next phase of Davos’s mining program involves deploying nano-tech human computer interfaces at the population level to begin to meld us into a single hive mind. This technology will be packaged as cutting-edge therapeutics meant to keep us “safe and healthy.” Liability waivers will be put in place to ensure the companies developing such abominations, in coordination with DARPA’s mad scientists, are never held responsible for the harm they cause. I anticipate “personalized medicine” and “preventative care” in the form of a series of mRNA vaccines will be mandated to harness humanity to Bill Gates’s “software of life.”

mRNA Software Of Life Moderna

 

Moderna Gates

 

The Harvard Business Review asserts this global campaign must be rolled out “equitably.” Satellites are poised to track Black and Brown bodies from space and compel the full vaccination coverage needed to carry out these malevolent intentions. Look up Microsoft’s planetary computer. The oligarchs speak of a world where “no one is left behind.” Everyone tagged and tracked into the Internet of Humans master database, domesticated livestock with no autonomy whose life force is sucked dry to satisfy the unrelenting greed of predator energy. GAVI’s vaccines, which are being integrated into digital identity systems, may very well push humanity across the threshold into the WEF’s terrible vision.

Harvard Vaccines Satellite

 

Globalists have long targeted vulnerable populations as “social impact” fuel, this is corporate predation branded as paternalistic “care.” Within the tech-no-logic system, total compliance will be demanded. Approved behavior becomes currency, tokenized on blockchain and monitored by sensors and AI. They are training us for a future where we compete with one another to see who is the best behaved, the most docile. Surviving will mean conforming to the strident terms of psychopathic financial agreements. To obtain the data needed to verify claims embedded in twisted “pay for success” deals, our mother, the earth, must be remade as a geo-fenced digital prison using 5G and satellite constellations. All of your data will be added to your “permanent record” to evaluate your value as human capital for investor portfolios. The billionaires envision a future where freedom is a privilege limited to themselves, their functionaries, and the robots they control. Be assured AI is already keeping tabs, and social credit scoring is well underway.

Sophisticated propaganda campaigns and strategic cooptation of grassroots movements have groomed the public to embrace this model with open arms. The trap has been set. Submit now and EVERY aspect of life, which through bioengineering can now be tweaked at the cellular level, will be controlled to profit the global elite. This is not just about surveillance and policing, it is about the wholesale domination of mind, body, and spirit through smart technologies. Biometric health passports will bring these systems to scale through ID2020. Central banks will soon bring latent human capital bond markets online.

Moreau River

 

This planned future, however, is NOT preordained. Totalitarian transhumanism is not a foregone conclusion. Trudell’s remedy? Change our perception of reality through active non-cooperation. Manifest in our hearts, minds, and actions the world we desire. Where they engineer disconnect, RECONNECT with intention; not only with one another, but with ALL our relations and the land and the spiritual beings that exist beyond our senses. We must synchronize to change the vibrational reality, and that power exists within us as children of the earth.

Our relationship to the sun, sky, and universe is the cosmic web that must be rewoven. According to Trudell, awakened humans have a responsibility to use the intelligence given to them by the creator to face the violence of the tech-no-logic machine. It is up to those of us who see to do this with clarity and coherence. By becoming “thinkers” we reclaim our stability and step outside the control system that manipulates those who passively “believe.”

Trudell’s philosophy inspires me and offers a bulwark against the panic I feel watching the rise of tech-no-logic fascism steeped in medical martial law. To counter this grim vision, I want to share with you a story of the timpsila braid hanging in my kitchen. To me, it embodies the triumph of the creator and Indigenous life over disastrous tech-no-logic white western thinking. It is a reminder to check my tendencies towards despair and to work to manifest a different reality within my heart as a clear-thinking and feeling human being. When I am tempted to dig deeper into the darkness I will strive to shine a light and imagine a future of reciprocity, gratitude, community, and care.

Timpsila, Psoralea esculenta or prairie turnip - a wild food gathered by the Lakota people.

Timpsila, Psoralea esculenta or prairie turnip – a wild food gathered by the Lakota people.

 

Timpsila, Psoralea esculenta or prairie turnip, is a wild food gathered by the Lakota people. Its silvery green leaves and piercing purple flowers punctuate the prairie hills. Its tubers are wild-harvested in June after flowering. The tops are carefully placed back in each dug hole so their seeds can complete the life cycle and restore what has been taken. Slender roots braided together allow the tubers to be dried for storage. Rehydrated, they are used in stews or ground as flour. It is a durable food, a survival food. A Timpsila braid is a sign of abundance and a deep connection to the earth.

I was given two gifts this summer, the first was a gift of a month on the land and the second was the gift of the braid. That first gift extended a chance for me to knit myself back into the cosmos. My being had come perilously close to slipping into the dark embrace of algorithmic “life.” Wrenchinthegears.com is my blog, and it has been literally wrenching to watch the treacherous plans I’ve been investigating for years emerge full-blown against the Covid backdrop. Time and space to disconnect from tech-no-logic’s predator energy was an unexpected and precious offering that took me by surprise.

Initially I hesitated. Could I leave my family for the six weeks needed to drive, quarantine, and do what was needed? Could I step away from my job for that long? Was my 50-year-old not-too-fit body up for the task? I’d never done anything like that before. There was a world out there waiting beyond my kitchen table. Perhaps I would find community; perhaps I would learn more about myself; perhaps I would restore my relationship with nature – so many possibilities. In the end, I chose to step away from my laptop, put my power-mapping on hold, shift from brain work to heart work, and put my body into a project I hoped would help to feed people.

I bought a tent and dehydrated food, gathered up books and yarn and my teddy bear then headed west as spring gave way to summer. If you know you me in person, you know I’m a planner, a box-checker, and a striver. Not proud of it, but its part of the package of how I was trained up to be. To make this choice felt highly irregular, but also profoundly right. Uncertain times led me to look inside myself and trust the process. If we’re committed to changing the dominant paradigm, one shaped by empire, violence, competition, and hyper-consumerism, we have to be willing to risk healing when a door is opened – to follow the lines, as John Trudell said, with intelligence and coherence. Maybe in doing the work of healing ourselves we can help heal the world and build anew.

Before I set off, a friend who stewards an African-diaspora urban farm told me to move slow. Learn the land first. The work needed to come from a spiritual place. He offered some horticultural guidance, but cautioned that I might not end up doing what I thought I was going there to do. The challenge was to be attuned and humble. Look closely and listen carefully. Another friend suggested I go down to the river, the Schuylkill, before my trip and ask for guidance on the journey. I’m new to and rather clumsy with ceremony and ended up ankle deep in the gooey tidal mud. In a real sense I was hoping this gift of time and space would offer a measure of transformation. So the lesson I took away from my visit to the river is that if your goal is transformation, there is no tiptoeing around the edges. You have to be willing to step forward with both feet and get dirty.

 

Tidal mud

 

In the days before I left I saw many precious garter snakes, including one that was nestled in a strawberry plant in a bed I was weeding. A beautiful blue racer sped out of the tall grass to greet me in the garden one of my first days there, and the day before I left a five-foot bull snake spread itself luxuriously across a back road as a friend and I looked on appreciatively. Surely on this journey I was meant to shed some of my old skin.

To change the world, we must be willing to look deeply within ourselves. We must unpack the ways in which compulsory education, religion, politics, and consumer culture seek to contain us within a larger control system. Thus confined, the predator energy of which Trudell spoke can easily feed off the manufactured discord that is continuously inflamed to profit the Davos elite. If we can secure a new lens and commit ourselves to restoring right relationships, we might then be able to chart a new course. At this pandemic moment of the WEF’s attempted global economic reset (aka global coup via mass impoverishment) my goal was to unplug, step out of time, and carry out my own internal reboot.

So, I pointed my aging Subaru away from life in a “smart” city to a land of grass, wind, and sky. At the end of the road the IDEA of a vegetable garden waited for me in a quiet river valley. Those who’d asked me to come wanted to build a garden that would complement a chicken-raising effort: manure, insect control, feed, a circular system. The goal was to develop a prototype that with material and technical support might allow small communities to access healthier, more affordable food.

Food independence is radical. This is why counter-insurgent warfare targets the people’s ability to feed themselves. This is why the Black Panthers were considered so dangerous to the power structure. This is why corporations keep us sick with highly processed GMO consumables. This is why we are seeing consolidation of supply chains under Covid. Advancement of hydroponic, petro-chemical fertilizer-based vegetable production and lab-grown “meat” are a central feature of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Food is meant to be medicine for body and spirit. Putting hands to earth is medicine. Saving open-pollinated seeds is medicine. Heirloom seeds contain histories of struggle and survival. I arrived with a spade and shovel seeking to be part of this medicine work, my hands ready.

 

Vertisol Soil

 

When I first saw it, the area for the planned garden was a lush carpet of grasses, yarrow, wild onions, and sagebrush. They grew out of a silty clay soil unlike anything I’d ever put my hands in before. It is the kind of soil that when moist you can turn into a clay pot, but once dry hardens like concrete and splinters into an infinite web of delicate cracks that shelter velvety wolf spiders as big as your hand. Vertisol soil – we came to know one other well in the weeks to come.

On the land my learning began. Before I left I gathered bird guides, grass identification charts, treatises on ethno-botany of the northern prairies. I soaked up the written word, but heart work truly blooms through the lived experience of the body. In those weeks of quarantine I walked gravel roads to distant horizons and encountered the diverse residents of the grass nation. I lived the beauty of each moment – every week new seed heads, blooms, insects, and birds to greet. As Robin Wall Kimmerer says – we are the young siblings with much to learn from the older beings around us. The prairie was my teacher, and I am forever grateful for the lessons gifted to me outside the control matrix.

Cottonwood tree

 

The wooden stakes set amidst the grass behind the chicken coops offered only a vague hint of what would emerge there. We decided to experiment with different approaches using local materials and see what worked best and what could be brought to scale. The final garden included three tilled beds with cover crops, eight hand-dug beds with new topsoil brought in, a trenched bed for potatoes, ten sod berms, and three compost piles. There was also a tilled bed amended with cattle manure where we planted corn, beans, and squash – the three sisters.

Early on my friend visited me in the garden. He tried to convince me that the soil, even though to MY eyes seemed impossible, would be fine. His ancestors had farmed the river bottom. He held that knowledge, and I am ashamed that in my uncertainty and concern over “succeeding” at this garden project, I did not fully embrace those teachings. And so in the trials we did, the bed that was tilled with just a little manure – the three sisters bed – grew as my friend assured me it would. The leaves of corn unfurled, then the beans, then the squash. By the time I departed all of the seeds had made their presence known. We decided to call it Three Sisters Sanctuary. After a stormy night that poured an inch of rain onto the cracked earth, I packed up my muddy tent and headed east knowing the sanctuary would be well cared for by my friend. After all, it was his land. He knew its life force in his heart.

During my stay, this friend generously shared aspects of life close to nature on the prairie. The June moon in Lakota is called tinpsinla itkahaca wi or moon when the seedpods of the wild turnip go to seed. He filled a five-gallon bucket and showed me how to prepare them for storage. My first attempts to peel the tubers with my rarely used pocketknife were rather dismal. I was too tentative, but eventually got the hang of how to slide the blade in near the stem end and slough off the rough husk to expose the smooth, moist flesh of the turnip inside. Supremely satisfying. In that liminal space between time zones, in many ways outside of time entirely, a midday break sitting in the shade to peel timpsila felt perfectly right. There was a rhythm to reweaving torn connections between one human and the earth. Bit by bit, tuber-by-tuber, slow, slow, slow, the bucket emptied – a small act of non-cooperation against a mechanized world defined by speed, industrialization, and global supply chains.

Peeled Timpsila

 

I was granted the opportunity to see timpsila in their proper place among other plant beings, clear ponds, and rock rings under a sky painted with clouds that filtered a dramatic pre-storm light. These are not the domesticated plants of a garden plot, not tomatoes or peppers, but wild offerings made by the creator to the being part of human. I greeted them on those hills the night of the Solstice on land that had been in one family for over a century. That crisp bite of a fresh dug turnip on that sacred land was powerful medicine. I will carry it in my heart, and I am profoundly grateful for it.

Prairie Solstice

 

The night my friend gifted me the braid he came out to my tent. It had been raining, and as he turned his head, his headlamp shown briefly on the fence. There, a spider was deftly weaving a web. It glistened with raindrops and took my breath away. We stopped for a moment to watch in the cool night air the spider going about her work. Just like the spider, those of us who are awake are empowered to be world builders. Even though we may feel overwhelmed by the dark and the rain, we have the option of creating a new story – the potential of the silken thread that lies at the core of our being. We do not have to remain trapped within the current paradigm. The old, tattered web can be consumed and made anew. Together we have the creative power to weave a future where tech-no-logic is banished from our lives.

This timpsila braid is a token of friendship, a connection across time and space. It is a powerful affirmation of Indigenous resistance to the vicious forces of capitalist growth that seek to annihilate and erase world views grounded in the care and wellbeing of the earth and all its creatures. This includes all the children of the earth who have stewarded Turtle Island, Africa, India, Australia, and Asia through these dark colonial times.

Prairie Storm

 

Imagine if non-Indigenous people had it within them to become “thinkers” as Trudell describes them. No longer indoctrinated by the control matrix feeding off their pain and strife, but instead intent on cultivating a culture of gratitude, ceremony, community, and reciprocity – all of it grounded in a connection to the earth and the cosmos. THAT could very well be the antidote to the mechanistic spirit eating of tech-no-logic “green” capitalism. It would kill the human capital bond market before 5G and wearable-tech shackles ever got off the drawing board, unleashing a power beyond anything we can imagine. We can make it so.

With clarity and brave hearts we can bring forth a new world. We commit to that and heal or submit to the tech-no-logic matrix and lose our souls. Let us embrace one another as “thinking” human beings, web weavers who dare write a different story. As Robin Wall Kimmerer teaches, we do not have to carry it all. Each of us has gifts for the bundle.

Know your gifts and how to share them. Stay grounded in the soil. Open your heart to receive true teachings. Find the others; they will cross your path. Slow down and look to the horizon, so you have eyes to see them. We are not alone. We are not isolated. Together we can nurture one another not as digital brands and avatars but as precious fellow travellers on a journey from darkness to light.

This piece is itself a web of many silken threads graciously offered up by beloved collaborators. Thank you friends.

If you’re in a position to support Lakota food independence efforts, gifts of any size will help pay for next spring’s seeds. Chas Jewett on Venmo @chas-jewett-1. Wopila.

This is a tour of Three Sisters Sanctuary. Know the past and build a better future.

WATCH: COVID-19! Black People Fight Back! Chairman Omali Yeshitela Overview

WATCH: COVID-19! Black People Fight Back! Chairman Omali Yeshitela Overview

Black is Back Coalition

April 19, 2020

 

“The reason this discussion is happening is not because of the numbers of people who are dying – but because who is dying. Because it is something that can also possibly affect white people…”

 

 

“Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the Black is Back Coalitions, sets the tone and sums up the political events such as COVID-19 and upcoming U.S. elections that forces the Coalition to organize the “COVID-19 Pandemic: Black People Fight Back” webinar.” [Running time: 11m:49s]

 

 

[Born in St.Petersburg, Florida, USA Omali Yeshitela is Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party USA and the African Socialist International. Full bio]

Lockdown Therapy for Capitalism

Lockdown Therapy for Capitalism

April 23, 2020

By Hiroyuki Hamada

 

Vogue, Special Edition: Freedom on Hold. The issue has sold out. 

A migrant worker’s child sleeps on a highway in locked-down New Delhi, India, March 29, 2020. On March 30 2020, 8 year-old Rakesh Musahar died of hunger as his family struggled to make ends meet during the lockdown. Rakesh hailed from the Mahadalit Musahar community. He was a ragpicker & sold junk in the market. His father Durga Prasad Musahar was a porter. Rakesh died on Mar 26. His family waited for several hours for local admin. officials to come & make arrangements. However, nobody arrived. Dejected, Durga Prasad & a few other locals finally carried the boy’s body on a cart and cremated him.” [Source] REUTERS – Adnan Abidi

One might think that artists wouldn’t mind being isolated and having more time in studios on account of the current Coronavirus situation.  After all, we spend an enormous amount of time alone, and isolation allows us to have uninterrupted amounts of time to let our imaginations fly.But there are other elements in play when we examine creativity.  For example, it is crucial that we feel safe to expose all our senses to our environment so that we ground our minds properly to our surroundings, harmoniously with all our channels open.

When the “lockdown” started I was at an art residency in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  I lived in a communal setting with twenty other artists and writers.  As soon as public spaces became inaccessible and “social distancing” became the norm at the residency, many of the fellow artists experienced lack of productivity.  I felt an immediate blockage to my making process.

Perhaps, since our society does not make artists’ activities a priority, this might be the last thing one would consider as a serious “problem”.  And to a lesser extent such a concern might be secondary to many artists themselves who will be subjected to enormous economic difficulties.

It is “understood” that this is a “crisis” and we must “fight together“ against our “common enemy” which is the virus.  
But who could blame those of us who are very much suspicious of such a momentum, as we hear “decrees” being issued to dictate our social activities while all instruments of state violence and repression are in place to regulate our behaviors.  
After all we live in the same society which has baselessly demonized Muslims while bombing, colonizing and destroying their countries in the name of “war on terror”.  Young black people have been openly demonized to justify gentrification, mass incarceration, exploitation through substandard labor conditions and so on and so forth in the name of “war on drug” and “tough on crime”.

We know that a “crisis” presents opportunities and tools for the ruling class to shape and perpetuate the social structure.  The system in which they thrive is always “too big to fail” while oppressed people keep failing so that they are safely cornered into hopelessness, cynicism and complacency to the feudal order of money and violence.

Caption: “I’ve joined @voguearabia in the fight against Covid-19 to support their #stayhome campaign, and emphasize the importance of safe habits during the pandemic. #strongertogether

Townships are in lockdown — but many Africans fear hunger more than Covid-19. In South Africa, three people have been killed as police have attacked crowds with whips and rubber bullets for defying a lockdown to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Five more were killed in Kenya, including a 13-year-old boy hit by a stray bullet fired by police enforcing a stay-at-home order in Nairobi. In Uganda, soldiers shot and injured two people for riding on a motorbike during a curfew, Population of Kenya: 51.39 million (2018). Deaths with/from COVID19 in Kenya: 14 (April 21, 2020), Getty images, Source

It is not a speculation that there are people who prosper and even benefit during an economic crisis—as smaller business owners struggle, large corporations and banks benefit from huge government subsidies, giving them more power to buy failing small businesses, for example.  And it is a fact that many of those people have enormous economic power to shape the policies that can benefit themselves. It is not a speculation that they would appreciate having strict measures of control against the people by limiting their freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom to travel, or by installing means of surveillance, check points and official certifications for activities that might give freedom to the people beyond the capitalist framework.  It is not a speculation that they would benefit from moving our social interactions to the digital realm, which can commodify our activities as marketable data for the advertising industry, insurance industry and any other moneyed social institutions Including education, political institution, legal institution, and financial institution.  Such matters should be seen within the context of the western history being shaped by unelected capitalists with their enormous networks of social institutions.  In fact, private foundations and NGOs are working with governmental organizations and global institutions to implement potentially dangerous policies of draconian measures as well as financialization of our activities for sometime.  According to researchers—Cory MorningstarAlison McDowell and others, the potential impact of the transformation which is about to take place through the Internet, block chain technology, artificial intelligence, and etc. under the banner of the fourth industrial revolution can be devastatingly inhumane to our species’ path.  Examining those matters must not be subjected to being labeled as “conspiracy” and dismissed.

Needless to say, a draconian momentum against the capitalist hierarchy accelerates hardships of “invisible people” who struggle against economic deprivation and social repression.  How do homeless people “stay home”?  How do people in jail practice “social distancing”?   How are people vulnerable to domestic violence protected?   How do small business owners continue to stay in business?  How do poor people survive while public services and spaces are eliminated, while affluent people are stock piling in their generously equipped gated communities.  How do people with addiction stay sober?  How do people with suicidal tendency secure their dwindling connection to humanity?

Food distributed to homeless migrant workers in New Delhi. The painted circles on the ground are to maintain social distancing. Vikram Patel, Harvard Medical School, April 17, 2020:  “Since the first case was reported in late January, there have been (as of 15 April) about 400 confirmed deaths. During this same period of roughly 75 days, if we extrapolate data from recent years on mortality, over 1.5 million Indians will have died due to other causes.” [Population of India: 1.3 billion (2018). Deaths with/from Covid: 603 (April 21, 2020)]

But those discussions are rare among us.  A hint of doubt can trigger those people who are “fighting together”.  Because once our creative minds learn to live safely in an authoritarian framework of draconian rules and decrees, the narrow framework restricts our thoughts and ideas.  Our minds get weaponized to uphold the authoritarianism as a path to “democracy”, “freedom”, “justice” and “humanity”, which have been mere euphemisms to describe blank checks given to the ruling class.  Once people turn into soldiers of the authoritarianism, the path to the ”solutions” is paved by their  relentless adherence to corporate political parties, official decrees and carefully concocted narratives within the capitalist framework.  Our discussions cease to be mutually respectful exchange, instead, they become battle grounds in which dissenting voices are vetted, attacked and eliminated.

A society that can’t sustain artists is a society that kills minds to care, understand, empathize and share.  A society that enforces its imperatives with fear instead of trust in humanity deprives a healthy mechanism to guide itself.

As I see how public sentiment is developing over the virus situation, I must mention one more thing.  There has been a proven method of silencing anti-capitalist voices within our society, used by media, political figures, corporate dissidents and others.  It requires a few steps.

First, amplify the voices of people who willingly sacrifice those who they consider to hold lower positions than they do in demanding their righteous positions within the capitalist hierarchy.  The voices might come from racist nationalists, patriarchal misogynists, flag waving anti-immigrant activists or heartless Trump supporters demanding old people to die during the coronavirus pandemic.  Those people recognize that an aspect or a policy of the establishment will compromise their lives—after all they are also oppressed by the capitalist order.  However, they do embrace the capitalist order in essence.  They do not tolerate sharing their positions with people who they despise.

Second, claim that you are with victims of racism, misogyny or xenophobia, or old people who are vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.

Third, falsely equate an anti-capitalist perspective with that of those political villains.

Forth, dismiss those who are calling out the ruling class agenda as “racist”, “misogynists”, “fascist worshiper” and so on.

This method has been very effective.  I am sure that anyone who has expressed a concern over capitalist domination can recall being labeled as what they actually oppose.

The method achieves a few things at the same time.  First, it obscures the mechanism of capitalist hierarchy. Second, it divides people who should be fighting against the system together—obscuring the meaning of class struggle.  Third, it augments the capitalist hierarchy.  Forth, it vitalizes the political legitimacy of corporate political parties which utilize the division.  Needless to say, the narrative of division is actively generated by corporate political parties as well.

It is imperative that we recognize the predicaments of the people who are most oppressed within our society, while we firmly recognize the dynamics within the capitalist hierarchy, and stay away from being a part of the mechanism which safely turns our predicaments into driving forces of capitalism.

I hope above writing can generate much needed discussions on the topic among us.

[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.]