Archives

Tagged ‘Capitalism‘

Assetization – Turning Things into Assets in Technoscientific Capitalism

MIT Press

Paperback

ISBN: 9780262539173

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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 Great Reset: The Final Assault on the Living Planet [It’s Not a Social Dilemma – It’s the Calculated Destruction of the Social, Part III]

The Great Reset: The Final Assault on the Living Planet [It’s Not a Social Dilemma – It’s the Calculated Destruction of the Social, Part III]

November 28, 2020

By Cory Morningstar

 

Part three. This is the final segment of a three-part investigative series. [Part 1] [Part 2]

 

Artificial intelligence, Automation – & Cyberwarfare

 

Announced at the Global Inclusive Growth Summit on October 21, 2019, the Imperative 21 RESET campaign was launched to the public on September 13, 2020. A front campaign of The Business Roundtable, the six founding coalition partners are The B Team, JUST Capital, B Lab, Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP), Inclusive Capitalism and Conscious Capitalism. [Further reading: The Business Roundtable/CURT a Systematic Destruction of Labor]

 

“It’s an unprecedented coalition of business networks that have come together to raise our ambition. Not just to help our individual CEOs succeed,  we’ll do that for sure. But to actually bring their voices together to help shift culture. So that the pushback on the BRT [Business Roundtable] from different business publications or other people within the business community lessens. So there’s less of a headwind culturally for this type of leadership.”

 

Jay Coen Gilbert, co-founder of B Lab and B Corporations [Source]

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is described as, “systems that combine sophisticated hardware and software with elaborate databases and knowledge-based processing models to demonstrate characteristics of effective human decision making.” [Source] The World Economic Forum recognizes AI as “the engine of the Fourth Industrial Revolution”. [Source] AI as applied/ utilized by social media platforms is trained with an objective and exploitative function: target users with ads for maximum ad revenue, by highlighting the newsfeed ensuring users remain on the platform for as many hours, minutes and seconds as possible. This function is highlighted by The Social Dilemma, while, ultimately, the sole function of every corporation, that of increasing revenues and maximizing profits – ad infinitum, is kept opaque.

Any technology that has power can be corrupted. In this respect, AI is perhaps the most dangerous. Hacking (PC, mobiles, viruses) is accomplished by injecting code – code that can be then detected. Deep learning, referred to as artificial intelligence, is a giant array of numbers. The AI models are self-modifying on a continuous basis, thus, it is unknown how hacking AI can – or will – be aptly detected. [Source: October 5, 2018, The Artificial Intelligence Race and the New World, Order, Council on Foreign Relations – The Malcolm and Carolyn Wiener Lecture on Science and Technology]. “Imagine tens of millions of numbers in the deep learning algorithm that’s updating itself anyway, because it’s getting more data, retraining itself. Some bad people just tweak a few numbers and all of a sudden, it might be out of control.” [Source] Meaning, for example, a hacker may succeed in turning autonomous vehicles into autonomous weapons that kill people en masse. Imagine fully autonomous nuclear weapons or autonomous nuclear power plants, the hacking of which – or malfunction of – could result in the annihilation of an entire nation, or the entire planet.

Here again, it is more important what both The Social Dilemma and the Center for Humane Technology do not divulge, rather than what they do. The Fourth Industrial Revolution cannot come into fruition without the 5G infrastructure that will run the Internet of Things. “Smart” cities must be understood within the context of global policing and the military industrial complex. Cybersecurity will be the battle space of the 21st century.

“The potential for nuclear escalation in a conventional conflict with autonomous systems is compounded by the way that autonomous systems could enable adopters to fight faster than those operating non-autonomous systems do at present… A military force that is heavily invested in AI could essentially enable faster operations by autonomous systems relative to remotely-piloted or inhabited systems. Some Chinese scholars have hypothesized that this trend could result in a “battlefield singularity,” in which the pace of action on the battlefield eclipses the speed of human decision-making.” [Source]

Remarks to the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Convention, October 4, 2016, as Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, Washington, D.C.:

Q:  “You didn’t mention about autonomous systems. In light of the third off-set strategy, what is your thinking about letting in the future autonomous systems make lethality decisions without a human in the loop?”

 

A:  “I purposely didn’t talk a lot about the technology behind the third off-set because in a audience like this, you get that the most important thing is the operational concepts and the organizational constructs that employ that technology. But let me state this, state it this way.  There will be some instances where operations are happening at machine speeds and we will have to rely upon A.I. and autonomy to actually fight.” [Source]

Automation bias is when humans effectively surrender their judgment to machines:

“Of particular concern in the design of intelligent decision support systems is the human tendency toward automation bias, which occurs when a human decision maker disregards or does not search for contradictory information in light of a computer-generated solution which is accepted as correct. Operators are likely to turn over decision processes to automation as much as possible due to a cognitive conservation phenomenon and teams of people, as well as individuals, are susceptible to automation bias.” [Further reading: Automation Bias in Intelligent Time Critical Decision Support System, AIAA 1st Intelligent Systems Technical Conference, 20-22 September, 2004]

To fully comprehend this risk, a cognitive conservation phenomenon, one must contemplate the Stanislav Petrov incident.  In 1983, the satellite-based Soviet Oko nuclear early warning system detected that an intercontinental ballistic nuclear missile had been launched by the United States. The automated system reported, with the “highest” confidence, that a U.S. missile strike was underway. Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov, on duty, was responsible for alerting his Soviet superiors of the attack. The siren sounded while a large screen instructed “launch” in bold red letters. The siren continued to sound as the computer identified a secondary, third, fourth and fifth missile launch, changing its instruction from “launch” to “missile strike.” Doubting the accuracy of the computer system, Petrov did not react with counter missiles, later explaining “I had a funny feeling in my gut”. He resisted falling victim to automation bias and reported a system malfunction to his superiors, rather than responding with a counter strike. Rather than launching a nuclear war. Rather than ceding his own judgment to a machine. If this had of been a fully autonomous system, as desired by global technocrats, the counter strike would have been automatic, likely unimpeded by human intervention.

[In his own words: Ex-Soviet officer Stanislav Petrov reported a possible 1983 US missile launch as a false alarm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7EmLf4Xlq0]

In 2003, U.S. army investigators found that automation bias was pervasive within the “Patriot community”, which espoused a culture of “trusting the system without question”. “Patriot operators” exhibited an “unwarranted and uncritical trust in automation. In essence, control responsibility [was] ceded to the machine.” [Source]

“The more a country fears that, in a world without using autonomous systems, its ability to retaliate to a nuclear strike would be at risk, the more attractive autonomous systems may appear.”

 

A Stable Nuclear Future? The Impact of Autonomous Systems and Artificial Intelligence, December 2019

6G promises increased bio-cybernetic identity (identity critical service architecture, sensing based machine learning, distribution of trust) and cyber security. Now consider activity that is deemed criminal by larger society. Rather than obtaining physical keys and/or passwords to acquire access, one will require biometric access. That is, heads (face recognition), eyes (retina scanning), and/or hands.

The AI arms race between China and the US is already well underway (with China having launched its blockchain in April 2020, for global commercial use). The idea that regulation and safeguards cab be applied to AI, ensuring both privacy and data are protected, borders on the edge of a collective psychosis. Such are the lies we tell ourselves in order to sleep at night.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution and Its Impact on Occupational Health and Safety, Worker’s Compensation and Labor Conditions”, September, 2019:

“In FIR [fourth industrial revolution], nonstandard employment will be common. As a result, it is difficult to receive OHS services and compensation. Excessive trust in new technologies can lead to large-scale or new forms of accidents. Global business networks will cause destruction of workers’ biorhythms, some cancers, overwork, and task complexity. The social disconnection because of an independent work will be a risk for worker’s mental health. The union bonds will weaken, and it will be difficult to apply standardized OHS regulations to multinational enterprises.”

The Unfinished Network includes Ashoka, Aspen Institute, Ford Foundation, For Freedoms, Georgetown University, Imperative 21, the Max Steinbeck Charitable Trust, McCourt, Mil M2, PolicyLink, and The Shed.

Tristan Harris, co-founder, The Center for Humane Technology. ” By tapping into the power of communities, creative media and new technology, Unfinished connects thought leaders, culture shapers, policy makers and innovators to provoke ideas, elevate unheard voices and pursue collaborations for greater impact. Unfinished is headquartered in New York City and its network partners span the world.” [Source]

Rather than a collective demand from the citizenry to terminate the foray into unchartered territory, fully recognized as extremely dangerous and high-risk by those pushing the technologies forward, a discourse is manufactured. Fearing global opposition, the public is safely re-routed and encouraged to, “demand” a future that respects “humane technology”, with adherence to the precautionary principle, kept both out of sight and out of mind. In public relations, this is referred to as “crisis management”. That is, getting ahead of a crisis – monitoring, controlling and shaping public perception at all times. The wish for a “humane technology” is one that will not come true.

Smash the Smartphone

As of July 2020, there were over 290 million Facebook users in India. With 2.6 billion monthly active users, 98% of active Facebook users access the platform via mobile, with over 90% of Facebook’s ad revenues coming in via the device. [Source] Mobile advertising has become the lion’s share of Facebook’s total advertising revenue in recent years, growing from a mere 11% in 2012 to a whopping 92 percent in 2018. This translates to over 50 billion U.S. dollars in annual mobile ad revenues.” [Source]

Graph: Share of Facebook's mobile advertising revenue from 2012 to 2018, Source: Statista

Graph: Share of Facebook’s mobile advertising revenue from 2012 to 2018, Source: Statista

 

In the fiscal quarter ending March 31, 2020, 98% of Facebook’s revenue was generated through advertising. The social network’s global mobile sponsored stories account for approximately half of this advertising revenue – while approximately 50% of Apple’s revenue came from a single device, the iPhone. [Source] [Source]

Facebook revenues at a glance:

-Approximately 2.7 billion monthly active users

-98% of Facebook users access the platform via mobile

-Over 90% of ad revenues are earned via mobile

-98% of revenue was generated through advertising in 2020

-The network’s global mobile sponsored stories account for approximately half of the advertising revenue

Harris is quick to point out that, “The solution isn’t abstinence, the solution is connection.” [Thrive Global interview with Tristan Harris, April 9, 2017] Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. The solution isn’t connection – via the mobile, the solution is abstinence.

More than just abstaining, the solution has to be for everyone who owns a smartphone to trash it – never looking back. It is fact that “the fourth industrial revolution [“Great Reset”] flows through a mobile”. [Source] The smartphone is the conduit. Although the smartphone is the key to unlocking future nightmares, it’s also very much a double-edged sword. In the same way it serves to uphold the Fourth Industrial Revolution architecture, unveiled to the public as the “Great Reset”, without the smartphone, this very foundation would collapse like a house of cards. The truth is, if no one purchased smartphones, they would give them away in cereal boxes.

But this window is closing.

In the 2030 6G era, “smart phones are likely to be replaced by pervasive XR experiences through lightweight glasses”. [“Virtual (VR)11, 12 augmented (AR)13, and mixed reality (MR) technologies are merging into XR, which encompasses wearable displays and interaction mechanisms that create and maintain perceptual illusions.”] [Source: 6G Research Visions 1, September 2019]

“In the most advanced countries, today’s digital consumers (using PCs and smartphones) will likely become tomorrow’s augmented customers, adopting emerging technologies such as AI (via smart speakers) and immersive reality.”

 

— The Mobile Economy 2019, GSMA Intelligence, [Source]

It is critical to note that a vast majority of internet users (91%) now use mobile devices exclusively to go online. [Source] This is significant for a couple of reasons. First of all, this sheds much light on the ever devolving critical thinking skills by those in the West most impacted and captured by the mobile phone. Detailed information, required for in-depth critical thinking, is largely impossible to decipher and analyze using a tiny mobile device.

One should know full well by now that the success of corporate products with names preceded by the word smart – are hinged on the hope that the “consumer”, or targeted demographic, is vacuous. Anything “smart” serves capital first and foremost. Humans have survived successfully for millennia without mobiles. All we require for our survival is healthy food, clean water, clean sanitation, and shelter. And as social animals, we seek physical community, companionship, joy, and love.

The Internet Society, The United Nations & The World Economic Forum

On September 25, 2018, the Internet Society (ISOC), situated in the US and Switzerland, partnered with Facebook to expand internet connectivity in Africa. [Source] Since then, IXP [internet exchange points] workshops have been held in Morocco, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Togo, Lesotho, Burundi, Mauritius, Guinea, Benin and Chad. [Source] Internet Society partners include Access Now (a tentacle of Avaaz) [1] and Center for Democracy & Technology. The Board of Directors, serving as the Center for Democracy & Technology’s governing body, includes Julie Brill,Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Microsoft and Philippa Scarlett, Former Deputy Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, The White House. Advisory council members include affiliates of the Charles Koch Institute, RAND Corporation, Walmart, Facebook, Twentieth Century Fox, Amazon, MasterCard and Verizon. [Full list]

The Center was founded in 1992 by internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn. Widely referred to the “Fathers of the Internet,” Cerf and Kahn co-designed the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet”, with both having held executive positions at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Cerf serves as Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google since October 2005 with a focus on the future of tech in areas such as artificial intelligence. Since 2010, Cerf has served as a Commissioner for the UN Broadband Commission for Digital Development while Kahn serves as chairman, CEO and president of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives. Cerf also serves as member of the UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, and was present at the launch of the Panel’s first report, “The Age of Digital Interdependence” released on June 10, 2019. [Source]

The Internet Society “is leading and facilitating the multi-round meetings for the Stakeholders Dialogue to collect, compile, and submit the inputs of the worldwide professionals and experts for future governance of the Internet.”

“I used to think it was a funny joke to say [that] the thing I worry about is 100,000 refrigerators attacking [the] Bank of America. That’s not a joke anymore.”

 

— Vint Cerf, 2020

In January 2019, the UN High Level Panel on Digital Cooperation convened. Created at the behest of the UN Secretary-General the year prior, such a high-level panel is rare, with only around 20 having been convened in the UN’s 70-year history. The 20-strong panel is co-chaired by Jack Ma, founder of Aliba, member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum, Foundation Board of World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community, Member of the Board of Trustees, World Economic Forum, Global Board of Directors, The Nature Conservancy, co-founder and board of the Breakthrough Energy Ventures (with a focus on nuclear), and Melinda Gates:

“In his appeal to a UN panel of experts led by philanthropist Melinda Gates and Alibaba founder Jack Ma, Secretary-General António Guterres called on its members to reflect on the risks and benefits of our digital age – the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. ‘We need new thinking and innovative ideas to harness the benefits and manage the risks of this digital age,’ he said via video-link, while urging the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation to reflect on how technology could accelerate the 2030 Agenda on sustainable development.”

Handover of the Report of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation to Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

 

Serving the 20-throng panel is “His Excellency” Mohammad Al Gergawi, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future, Chairman of the UAE Council for the Fourth Industrial Revolution; Fadi Chehadé, partner at ABRY in Boston, a private equity firm, and advisory board member with the World Economic Forum’s Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution; Dr. Cathy Mulligan is a Visiting Research Fellow at Imperial College Centre for Cryptocurrency Research and Engineering, a Senior Research Associate at University College London in Blockchain and a Fellow and Expert Member of the World Economic Forum’s Blockchain Council; Marina Kolesnik, co-founder of internet ventures and Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum. [Full list]

“Growing opportunities created by the application of digital technologies are paralleled by stark abuses and unintended consequences. Digital dividends co-exist with digital divides. And, as technological change has accelerated, the mechanisms for cooperation and governance of this landscape have failed to keep pace.”

 

— June 10, 2019, “The Age of Digital Interdependence” — Report of the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation

At this same time, the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace meeting took place where a more candid, somber and cautionary tone presided, with the UN’s Fabrizio Hochschild, Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination, remarking:

After years of unbridled optimism – justified optimism – surrounding the development of digital technologies of cyberspace, we now have come to the sober realization that those positive developments carry downsides.

 

We’re at the point of asking ourselves, will emerging technologies contribute to peace overall or will they undermine it? Will they generally further access to sustainable development or will they further inequality? Will they facilitate respect for human rights or will they provide new tools to those who wish to contain or violate the realization of human rights?

 

Some 30 States have the capacity to defend themselves and those capacities are daily being built up. But where does that leave the other 163 countries that don’t have such a capacity, or the financial means, or political means to defend themselves?” [Source]

The high-level panel chaired by Gates and Ma has proposed three models: a Digital Commons Architecture (DCA), a Distributed Co-Governance Architecture (CoGov) (voluntary solutions rather than legal instruments), and a reformed Internet Governance Forum (IGF+) (enhances and extends the IGF established in 2005). The proposed “Digital Commons Architecture” would aim to synergise efforts by governments, civil society and businesses to ensure digital technologies promote the SDGs under the pretext of addressing risks of social harm, in addition to developing certification schemes for high-risk technologies such as “autonomous intelligent systems” operated by artificial intelligence (AI). [Source: The Age of Digital Interdependence Report of the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation, June 10, 2019] AI and cybersecurity certification schemes represent another lucrative emerging market, with billion dollar certification schemes having served to greenwash, thus secure, the continued plunder of the planet since the early 1990s. Such schemes can serve as a key apparatus in providing and/or maintaining the required social license to operate.  [The EU cybersecurity certification framework]

“Think of personal data as the digital record of “everything a person makes and does online and in the world.”

 

– Personal Data: The Emergence of a New Asset Class, World Economic Forum, January 2011

The panel also placed an emphasis on Blockchain. In 2017, the United Nation’s World Food Programme (WFP) piloted the “Building Blocks” project in Sindh, Pakistan, employing the Ethereum Blockchain to distribute aid and test biometrics. This program falls under SDG #2, “zero hunger” (an emerging market in the poverty economy), and #17, partnerships. Following the test-run with 100 citizens, the second phase was then rolled out in Jordan at two refugee camps. This phase commenced with 10,000 refugees, then scaled to 100,000. The next phase is to increase the refugee participants to 500,000. Whereas in the Pakistan pilot, smartphones were used for the transactions, the Jordan project switched over to a private blockchain – with eye-scanning hardware to confirm the identity of those receiving aid. Refugees received a debit in the form of a “virtual wallet”  to be spent exclusively within the giant WFP-contracted supermarkets (“hypermarkets”). Checkout would be authorized via the IrisGuard “EyePay”.

 

“Syrian refugees receive foodstuff through the iris scan service launched by the World Food Program at Tazweed centre in the Al-Zaatari refugee camp, in Mafraq, Jordan, near the border with Syria, November 23, 2016.” Reuters/Muhammad Hamed [Source]

The first major testing ground, the Zaatari Refugee Camp, encloses 80,000 displaced citizens (150,000 in 2013) – with nearly 60%  of the displaced (55.8%, January 2020) under 17 years of age. Overseen by 44-45 organizations such as USAID, UKAID and NGOs including Oxfam, ACTED and IRD, Zaatari [2] is now referred to as one of the many growing permanent settlements: thousands of acres of land, holding tens of thousands of displaced people, enclosed within barbed wire fence perimeters, contained by police and military. Today, these open prisons, created by imperialist aggression against targeted sovereign states, are being redesigned and redefined as “liveable cities” and “smart cities. In 2014, it was reported that Zaatari costs approx. a half million dollars per day to run (with half a million pieces of bread and 4.2m litres of water distributed daily.) The second testing ground, the Azraq Camp (holds roughly 40,000 displaced peoples in 2020) would result in 100,000 blockchain transactions (totaling 1 million dollars) and retina scans. The WFP has a record of every transaction – with data as a new asset class. These transactions and iris scans will remain on the blockchains utilized (both public and private) – for eternity. In this video overview, the imperial destabilization and attempted annihilation of Syria is framed as a “civil war”, while the data harvesting itself is framed as privilege. Building Blocks is growing and set to expand.[Source][Source] [Source][Source] Jordan remains the second largest refugee host per capita worldwide with 650,000 – 750,000 displaced peoples. [Source]

The World Food Programme has three foundation partnerships: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Corporate supporters include PepsiCo, MasterCard, and Unilever. [Corporate Partners]

“Personal data is the new oil of the Internet and the new currency of the digital world.”

 

Meglena Kuneva, European Consumer Commissioner, March 2009, Personal Data

On June 11, 2020, UN Secretary-General Guterres announced the issuance of his report, Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, “on the impact of rapid technological change on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and targets”. High Level Speakers included: Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, Ajay Banga, Chief Executive Officer, MasterCard, Nick Read, Chief Executive Officer, Vodafone Group, Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utolkamanu, High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS), “Baroness” Joanna Shields OBE, Chief Executive Officer, BenevolentAI, and Andrew Sullivan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Internet Society. [Source]

June 11, 2020, The State of the Digital World Today / Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, Klaus Schwab:

“Since the onset of Corona Virus, internet usage has increased by 70%, the use of communication apps has increased by 300%, and virtual collaboration tools by 600 percent. And some video streaming services have grown twenty fold.”

Schwab goes on to point out that this increase is only true for those connected to the internet. And that 30 years after the invention of the world wide web (1989) by Timothy John Berners-Lee, global internet users comprise just 53% of the world population. To accelerate the goal of internet access and consumption by every human being on Earth, the World Economic Forum has developed a joint action plan with the ITU, the World Bank, GSMA and industry partners. The plan seeks immediate acceleration of private public partnerships in 170 countries with a focus on digital infrastructure, user expansion, digital identity and digital payment systems and currencies. Schwab: “This fast-track partnership is deeply encouraging. A number of our partners have highlighted that we have made more progress in the last four months than in the last ten years.” [June 10, 2020]

“It is clear so the COVID-19 crisis is a watershed moment for digital infrastructure and services. Digital is the fabric of our post-covid lives. We will continue to rely on technology more and more. Unless we rapidly tackle the challenge to bring high quality universal internet access to all we will not be able to build inclusive economies or achieve our system.”

 

World Economic Forum founder and CEO Klaus Schwab, June 10, 2020

Data Centers: A Hyperscale Tsunami of Renewable Energy Consumption is Underway

ANSHUN, CHINA – MARCH 13: Aerial view of Tencent’s biggest data center under construction in the mountainous area of the hinterland on March 13, 2018 in Anshun, Guizhou Province of China. As Tencent’s chairman Pony Ma Huateng referred in a media briefing in Beijing, his firm will continue to mine vast amounts of data to bolster a number of businesses including its own. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

“It has recently been discovered that data-intensive algorithms, such as at-scale machine learning training algorithms, are much more energy-intensive than was previously assumed.”

The Hyperconnected World of 2030–2040, 2019 [Source]

 

“The international data corporation estimates that 152,000 new devices will be connecting to the internet every minute by 2025.”

 

“This will become completely unsustainable by 2040.”

 

— Anders Andrae, Senior Expert of Energy Efficiency, Emission Reduction, Sustainability and Life Cycle Assessment, Huawei Technologies, Sweden

Disconnected from the natural world, Western academia, sciences et al., continue to assign names to technology belonging to the very things being lost or systematically destroyed: “walled garden” (“a closed ecosystem in which all the operations are controlled by the ecosystem operator” i.e. Facebook and Google), “walled gardens of things” (constraint), “spiderweb of things” (transformation), “asteroid belt of things” (collapse), islands of things (growth), data center server “farms”, the internet and digital “ecosystems”, “apple”, Amazon, the “cloud”, “pollinators”. The list is endless.

“Behind the peaceful image of a white cumulus is a less poetic reality, that of data centres composed of thousands of servers that not only need plenty of energy to run, back up and store your files, but also air conditioning, 24 hours a day.”

 

What Colour is the Cloud, June 21, 2019

The Social Dilemma, the Center for Humane Technology, and society at large, may speak of climate change, yet what is not addressed, in addition to militarism being a key driver of climate change, is the growing energy demand of information communications technology (ICT) which includes traditional data centers (server farms), network services, and hyperscale data centers. There is growing alarm over the energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions belonging to the exponential growth of the ICT industry. Of particular concern are the hyperscale data centers which are owned and operated by corporations Microsoft, Google, and Apple, etc. [“Hyperscale refers to the capability of an IT [information technology] system or architecture to scale exponentially and rapidly to respond to demand that is increasingly heavily.”][Source] There are now over 8 million data centers littering the planet, with 541 hyper scale data centers worldwide. At present, there are currently 176 more hyper scale data centers in development.

In 2017, data superseded oil, becoming the world’s most valuable commodity.

Often described as the “cloud”  – successfully conjuring up a comforting perception that nothing exists beyond your device or laptop) – servers exist in real-world data centres. Information technology spending on data center systems worldwide in 2020 alone is estimated at USD 208 billion. [Source] On January, 15, 2020, Technavio released a report stating “hyperscalers” have invested approximately USD 200 billion in capacity expansion and opening of new data centers. For just a moment, contemplate the fact that those who promise an illusory “stakeholder capitalism” will spend billions to house data, while the subjugated and vulnerable remain homeless.

“We are using an immense amount of energy to drive this data revolution. It has real implications for our climate.”

 

— Jane Kearns, environment and technology expert, MaRS Discovery District, Toronto

The sheer magnitude and size of hyperscale data centers place enormous power demands upon global energy resources. Cisco estimates that by 2021, traffic within hyperscale data centers will have quadrupled, with hyperscale data centers accounting for approx. 55% of all data center traffic. [Source] At the local level, hyperscale data centres embody colossal electricity demand loads, adding pressure to electricity grids which are often already operating under duress. This is especially true for smaller or impoverished countries. Ireland is forecasting that 30% of their entire national grid will be earmarked for data center power consumption by 2028. One only needs to reflect upon the sheer enormity of these facilities proliferating the globe, to recognize the dire ecological impacts and consequences that lie ahead – upon an already plundered and decimated landscape and biosphere.

To ignore the ecological impact behind the exponential growth of ICT (information and communications technology), infrastructure, paramount for the Fourth Industrial Revolution to materialize, is in itself, a deliberate sleight of hand. A hypocritical genre of climate denialism practised and perfected by self-identifying liberals and progressives. At a moment’s notice, this faux left can be assembled on cue by those that preside over the non-profit industrial complex.

2017: Construction on the USD 1 billion 970,000-square-foot hyperscale Facebook data center. The 328-acre site became operational in 2019. At present, Facebook has 12 hyperscale data centers, nine in the U.S. and three in international markets amounting to nearly 15 million square feet of data center space completed or under construction, with several million more feet in the planning stages. [Source]

ICT (Information and Communications Technology)

Today the ICT industry represents the largest growing consumer of energy on the planet, with greenhouse gas emissions on par, or, more likely, far in excess of aviation. Depending on scope, in 2020 ICT accounts for up to 8% of the total global electricity. [Source] At the current rate of growth, approximately 9% each year (2018), the total electricity consumption of ICTs is projected to require 20% of the world’s electricity by 2025, and 30% all energy produced by 2030. [Source]

As concerns over data center energy consumption mount, obtaining the required data in order to ascertain the level of ecological damage resulting from the data centers becomes even more difficult. As criticisms of the industry grow, the global energy demands by data centers are being deliberately skewed downwards. Downward estimates are able to withstand scrutiny, due to the simple fact that there are no nationally reported statistics for data centers – and no global records. In a global corporatocracy, where hyper centers are privately owned by Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, et al., it is of little surprise that the tremendous energy consumed within these vast infrastructures is kept deliberately obscure. [3]

In 2010 there was a broad consensus that worldwide, data centers consumed approximately 194 TWh (terawatt-hours of electricity) of energy, representing about 1% of total demand. This is on par with the entire energy consumption of Iran that same year. [Source] In 2017, the EIA repeated this number for the year 2014: “Data centres worldwide consumed around 194 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2014, or about 1% of total demand. Although data centre workload is forecast to triple by 2020, related energy demand is expected to grow by only 3% thanks to continued efficiency gains.” In 2018, the figure for global energy consumption by data centers was said to have increased to 205 TWh. [“A 6% rise in power use with data-center computing growing by 550%”] [Source]

Today we can reflect on the past decade. Data centers have undergone “a ten-fold increase in traffic with a 25-fold jump in worldwide storage.” [Source] Yet, in 2020, data center consumption continues to be largely cited as approximately 200 TWh per year – (1% of global electricity consumption).

In 2011 Emerson Network Power stated that there were 509,147 data centers worldwide, taking up 285.8 million square feet of space – the equivalent of 5,955 football fields.

Again, reflect upon the annual cited consumption of data centers over the ten year time frame: 194 TWh in 2010, and ten years later, in 2020, 200 TWh. The estimate of 1% global energy consumption is referred to for both 2010 and 2020 – despite adding, roughly, 7.5 million data centres.

The 200 TWh of energy consumption per year claim (that remains flat) claim is further challenged by the European Union’s own research that concluded European data centers consumed 130 TWh in 2017, a 25% increase from 2014 (104 TWh), while Greenpeace reported China’s data industry to amount to 160 TWh in 2018. Together, these two figures alone suggest an annual total of 290 TWh. [Source] Further, consider that the consumption does not remain flat in the EU, despite having the newest, therefore most efficient, data centers.

In 2015, Siemens reported the global power demand for data centers as 416.2 TWh (far exceeding the UK’s total consumption, approximately 300 TWh).

Adding an additional 100 TWh to the 290 TWh cited above (the EU and China), in 2016, a Berkeley laboratory report for the US government estimated that the country’s data centres could require over 100 TWh of electricity a year by 2020, the rough equivalent of 10 large nuclear power stations. [Source] In 2017, data centers in the US alone used more than 90 TWh, the rough equivalent of 34 coal-powered plants generating 500 megawatts of power each. [Source]

2015 graphic, Siemens

In 2017, Hewlett Packard cites the energy consumption by data centers worldwide at 400 TWh:

2017 Hewlett Packard Presentation [Source]

While in 2018, “Nature”, Bloomberg, IEA, etc., continued to promote 200 TWh.

2018 Nature graphic

2018 Nature graphic

 

 

On January 6, 2020, the Uptime Institute assessed the global consumption of data centers as high as 500 TWh per annum. [Bashroush & Lawrence, 2020]. For some added perspective, 500 TWh is the equivalent of 50 large nuclear power stations:

“It seems likely that the annual consumption of energy by data centers is somewhere between 400 terawatt-hours (TWh) and 500 TWh, depending on what is counted as a data center. To put things in perspective in terms of demand, research by Uptime Institute Intelligence shows that every time an image is posted on Instagram by the Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo (who at the time of writing has the highest number of followers on the platform), his more than 195 million followers consume nearly 30 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy to view it.”

 

Beyond PUE: Tackling IT’s wasted terawatts, Uptime Institute Intelligence report, Jan 6, 2020

The most dire assessments on the growing magnitude of energy consumed by communications technology and data centers comes from Anders Andrae, senior researcher at Huawei Technologies in Sweden. At the October 2017 Nordic Digital Business Summit Andrae forecast that communications technology may account for more than 20 percent of global energy consumption (20.7%) by 2025, accounting for 5.5% of the world’s total carbon emissions. These numbers represented the expected case scenario taking into account future energy efficiencies.

In respect to growing the exponential growth of data centers, Andrae cautions that data center energy consumption could increase a staggering 15-fold by 2030, amounting to roughly 11% of the global demand.

"The share of ICT of global electricity usage: 2015 to 2025 with and without high global energy efficiency gains" [p. 18, Andrae, Anders, 2017/10/05, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

“The share of ICT of global electricity usage: 2015 to 2025 with and without high global energy efficiency gains” [p. 18, Andrae, Anders, 2017/10/05, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

[p. 18, Andrae, Anders, 2017/10/05, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

In Andrae’s worst-case scenario, it is suggested that communication technologies could use as much as 51% of global electricity in 2030. In this scenario, “CT [communication technologies] electricity usage could contribute up to 23% of the globally released greenhouse gas emissions in 2030”.

[Annual electricity efficiency (EE) improvements were calculated at 15% (best), 10% (expected), and 5% (worst). From 2022, for EE only, 5% is assumed possible for all scenarios as the authors expect it will become more difficult to improve the electricity efficiency via Moore’s Law.] [p. 28, Andrae, A.S.G.; Edler, T. On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030. Challenges 2015, 6, 117-157.]

“The results shown in Figure 9c imply that the data centers and FAN [Fixed Access Networks] could drive a staggering 66% of the global CT electricity use in 2030, with fixed access Wi-Fi 15% and data centers 26%.” [p. 24, Andrae, A.S.G.; Edler, T. On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030. Challenges 2015, 6, 117-157.]

Figure 8. "Share of communication technology of global electricity usage 2010–2030 As shown in Figure 8 [], the share of CT Sectors, depending on scenario, in 2010 is 8%–14%, in 2020 6%–21% and in 2030 8%–51%, respectively.' [p. 22, Andrae, A.S.G.; Edler, T. On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030. Challenges 2015, 6, 117-157.]

Figure 8. “Share of communication technology of global electricity usage 2010–2030 As shown in Figure 8 [], the share of CT Sectors, depending on scenario, in 2010 is 8%–14%, in 2020 6%–21% and in 2030 8%–51%, respectively.’ [p. 22, Andrae, A.S.G.; Edler, T. On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030. Challenges 2015, 6, 117-157.]

[p. 21, The share of different sections of ICT of global electricity use in 2015 and 2025, Andrae, Anders, 2017/10/05, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

[p. 21, The share of different sections of ICT of global electricity use in 2015 and 2025, Andrae, Anders, 2017/10/05, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

[Andrae, Anders, 2017/10/05, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

In regard to the Internet of Things, Andrae suggests that billions of internet-connected devices alone could produce 3.5% of global emissions within a ten year timeline, growing to 14% of global emissions by 2040. [Source]

And as bleak as these scenarios are (with even the best case scenarios projecting substantial increases in emissions) – the overall situation is much worse for one simple reason: the authors’ reliance on renewable energies as a means of mitigating overall impact (damage):

“However, until 2030, globally-generated renewable electricity is likely to exceed the electricity demand of all networks and data centers.” [Abstract, On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030]

 

“We believe that CT driven optimization of the electricity systems is a strong trend and a prerequisite for renewable power sources.” [p. 17, On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030]

 

“However, the trend of using renewable power is strong [157,158] and likely many data centers can be run GHG efficient, even if they do not find ways to reduce the absolute electricity usage.” [p. 17, On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030]

 

“To mitigate the worst-case scenario for climate change related to CT, the challenges related to introducing renewable electricity need to be overcome.” [p. 27, On Global Electricity Usage of Communication Technology: Trends to 2030]

 

“It seems though that planned power saving measures and innovation will be able to keep the electricity consumption of ICT and the World under control.” [p. 25, 2017, Total Consumer Power Consumption Forecast]

 

“Despite evident risks, it seems though that planned power saving measures and innovation will be able to keep the electricity consumption of ICT and the World under some kind of control.” [p. 2, 2019, Projecting the chiaroscuro of the electricity use of communication and computing from 2018 to 2030]

Yet, when one acknowledges the reality that industrial scale renewable energy is not sustainable – a key premise in modelling the ecological impacts of data centers (minimizing impact) – all such assumptions go straight out the window.

Here we can add that Andrae predicted that data centers on their own could produce 1.9Gt (or 3.2% of the global total) of carbon emissions by 2025. [Source] The DXC Technology white paper published in November, 2016 [Data centers play key role in Reducing GHG emissions] estimated that while consuming approx. 3 percent of global electricity, data centers worldwide already accounted for approximately 2% of total GHG emissions:

“Worldwide, it is estimated that data centers consume about 3 percent of the global electric supply and account for about 2 percent of total GHG emissions. That’s about the same as the entire airline industry. Producing electricity consumed by data centers will result in the release of 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) by 2020, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.” [Source]

What becomes lost in discussion, amidst a declared planetary emergency, is the fact that we are adding exponentially to our energy consumption, cancelling out any real emission reductions. The massive growth of data centers that began in the US is now standard in Europe, with hyperscale data centers now expanding into South Asia where average year round temperatures for the humid region hover around 27 degrees Celsius. All while according to studies, approx. 40 percent of the total energy that data centers consume is due to the sensitive cooling [4] requirements of IT technologies. July 9, 2019: “With a projected compound annual growth rate of 13 percent, APAC [Asia Pacific] could eventually surpass the United States and European market.” [Source] In South Asia, a region of deep poverty where 20% of the world’s population reside, 2017 research suggests “that by the end of this century climate change could lead to summer heat waves with levels of heat and humidity that exceed what humans can survive without protection.” [Source]

At the May 2018 Around the World Conference in Canada, Andrae reiterated that ICT infrastructure cannot slow its overall electricity use by 2025, even with most optimistic improvements in data center and network technology. In 2019, Andrae increased his projection: “ICT infrastructure cannot slow its overall electricity use until 2030 and it will use several times more TWh than today. [p. 3, Projecting the chiaroscuro of the electricity use of communication and computing from 2018 to 2030, February, 2019]

Based on the aforementioned information (in addition to that which follows), it is safe to suggest that the energy consumed by data centers worldwide today is an extremely conservative  400-600 TWh – in line with 3-4% of all electricity produced on the planet – and far exceeding the greenhouse gas emissions produced by aviation.

In February 2019, Andrae published an update of his calculations and forecasts presented in 2015. In this study Andrae suggests we may see an increase in the energy demand of data centers worldwide to 1,929 TWh by 2030. For this calculation, Andrae calculated the global energy consumption of data centres in 2018 at 211 TWh. [Andrae, Anders, 2019/02/28, Predictions on the way to 2030 of internet’s electricity use]

On January 2020, CBC News reported that Andrae now expects that the world’s data centers alone will account for a colossal 651 TWh of electricity in the next year:

“Anders Andrae, a researcher at Huawei Technologies Sweden whose estimates are often cited, told CBC News in an email he expects the world’s data centres alone will devour up to 651 terawatt-hours of electricity in the next year. That’s nearly as much electricity as Canada’s entire energy sector produces. And it’s just the beginning.”

 

[Jan 2, 2020, ‘Completely unsustainable’: How streaming and other data demands take a toll on the environment] [International Journal of Green Technology, 2019, Comparison of Several Simplistic High-Level Approaches for Estimating the Global Energy and Electricity Use of ICT Networks and Data Centers, Anders S.G. Andrae]

In 2018, the total amount of electricity generated from the wind industry was 1 263 TWh, with the total from solar industry constituting 562 TWh. [5]

Corporate Damage Control – Hyperscale Greenwash

“We’ll also need vigorous development and deployment of emerging technologies — such as energy storage, advanced nuclear, and carbon capture and storage — that boost the availability of carbonfree energy around the clock.”

 

— Google: Moving toward 24×7 Carbon-Free Energy at Google Data Centers: Progress and Insights, Oct 2018

“Hyperscalers” such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft gloss over the growing concerns over their massive energy consumption by securing renewable-power purchase agreements. With unlimited budgets for public relations campaigns communication strategies, branding, and marketing, the corporate entities heavily publicize commitments to large-scale renewable energy initiatives. “net zero”, and “carbon negative” storytelling. Corporate press releases boast of commitments toward 100 percent renewable energy, as well as the promotion of investments in “*carbon free” energy sources. On September 19 2019, Google, which identifies itself as the “largest corporate buyer of renewable energy in the world”, announced they had made “the biggest corporate purchase of renewable energy in history”. These investments enable Google to declare it matches 100% of its global annual electricity consumption (for all global operations including data centers), through direct purchases of renewable energy. In layman’s terms – this is called offsetting – without mention of the word itself. It is nothing new and not nearly as exciting as Google would have you believe. Referred to as “CO2 colonialism” by indigenous peoples, offsetting is the means to privatize the skies and Earth’s forests while continuing to expand emissions.

[“Each Google facility is connected to its regional power grid just like any other electricity consumer; the power mix in each region usually includes some carbon-free resources (e.g. wind, solar, hydro, nuclear), but also carbon-based resources like coal, natural gas, and oil. * We define carbon-free energy as any type of electricity generation that does not directly emit carbon dioxide. This includes renewable like solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, and biomass. Nuclear power is also carbon free. In the future, our framework can be extended to other technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, that are yet to be deployed at scale but could enable carbon-free power generation from additional sources.] [Source: Google: Moving toward 24×7 Carbon-Free Energy at Google Data Centers: Progress and Insights, October 2018]

Apple announced in 2018 that all of its facilities worldwide including its data centers are now powered by renewable energy. By saturating the public relations spin with never-ending references to wind and solar, this greenwash is made palatable to the liberal class – the non-profit industrial complex having successfully framed these two technologies as “clean”. The “carbon free” energy sources that do not make the headlines are those most sought by the corporate sector: biomass, nuclear, and capture carbon and storage (CCS).

“Amazon committed to achieve “net zero” emissions by 2040, which means it would need to offset any remaining emissions from its operations through investments in carbon removal projects… Amazon is following in the footsteps of another Seattle-area tech behemoth. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced it would spend $1 billion on “carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies,” as part of an effort to offset the software company’s emissions across its entire history.”

 

June 23, 2020, Amazon creates a $2 billion climate fund, as it struggles to cut its own emissions

And despite the fact that “renewable energy” is neither “clean”, nor “green”, nor “emissions free”, as marketed, on September 18 2019, Fortune reported “only 12 percent of Amazon’s Loudoun County data centers and 4.0 percent of Google’s are powered by renewable energy, despite their promise to shift to 100 percent renewable energy”.

Amazon owns nearly half of the cloud market. In July, 2019, it was reported that the annual revenues of Amazon Web Services, had grown to $15.5 billion in the global cloud infrastructure market with revenues of $32.4 billion. Data center industry leaders recognize Amazon Web Services (AWS) as “the invisible foundation of much of the internet.” Microsoft sits at second place, with 15% of the market share. [Source] This same week, Amazon launched a network of new data centers situated in Bahrain, increasing what Amazon cites as “availability zones” to 69 zones across 22 geographic regions, with plans to build nine new zones in Indonesia, Italy and South Africa. Today, Amazon Web Services spans “77 availability zones within 24 geographic regions around the world, and has announced plans for 15 more Availability Zones and 5 more AWS Regions in India, Indonesia, Japan, Spain, and Switzerland.” [Source] Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, is a co-founder of Breakthrough Energy, launched in 2015 (alongside Mission Innovation at COP21 in Paris), with a keen focus on both nuclear and carbon capture and storage technology now being marketed to the public (a key aspect of expanding data center energy consumption). Between March and October, 2020, during the said pandemic, US billionaires saw their “net worth” rise by almost $1 trillion with Bezos on top with a net worth of approx. 200 billion USD. Here we can infer, that the person whose corporation now leads in mass global land degradation, resource use, energy consumption and subsequent greenhouse gas emissions, is also the wealthiest. All while Amazon continues to exploit its workers. All while those in the Global South face literal starvation. This is your new “stakeholder capitalism” as touted by World Economic Forum et al.

On September 14, 2020, Google released its most asinine statement to date: “As of today, we have eliminated Google’s entire carbon legacy (covering all our operational emissions before we became carbon neutral in 2007) through the purchase of high-quality carbon offsets. This means that Google’s lifetime net carbon footprint is now zero. We’re pleased to be the first major company to get this done, today.”

Here we must note that “net zero” has nothing to do with zero emissions, that carbon offsets, an instrument of imperialism and colonialism, do nothing to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions – and that Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, are all co-founders of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition (launched in 2015), which houses a $1 billion energy venture fund. Other co-founders of the coalition include aforementioned Jack Ma, and Marc Benioff. Breakthrough’s Mission Innovation, with its focus on nuclear, has partnered with 24 member states in addition to the EU.

“The [Google] white paper also highlights other technologies that could help bridge the gap between renewable power’s inherent intermittency and the consistent needs of its facilities, including “advanced nuclear, enhanced geothermal, low-impact hydro, long-duration storagegreen hydrogen, and carbon capture and storage.” These are the same list of technologies that utilities, states and countries with zero-carbon commitments are planning to rely on to reach their goals.”

 

Sept 14, 2020, Google Pledges 24/7 Carbon-Free Energy by 2030 [Emphasis added]

More to the point – even if renewable energies at scale were in fact a solution (which they are not), effectively replacing fossil fuel energies and lowering greenhouse gas emissions – this newly produced energy is effectively being devoured by the ICT sector. Here we witness the Jevons paradox; the easier it is to consume the product, the greater the increase in consumption. In 2019, coal was the world’s largest source of electricity, representing 35.18% of the total (despite a 3% year-on-year fall), followed by natural gas (23.52%), hydro (16.54%), nuclear (10.52%), wind (5.44%), other fossil fuels (3.47%).  Solar accounted for 2.71%, biomass and waste accounted for 2.24%, with “other renewable” coming in at 0.4%. [Source]

Damage Control by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

Academia, propped up by media – financed and owned by the ruling class – reacts swiftly in such instances. They are aided by those that worship at the altar of capital. [6] A broad consensus is formed that the growing trepidation surrounding exponential energy use and greenhouse gas emissions – corresponding with an exponential growth of data centers – is unfounded. To counter the concerns they cite rapid efficiency gains, and growth in renewable energies at scale (being built into the assumptions). The more the information generates concern, the greater the response by the gatekeepers. In this particular instance the issue is quickly reframed, utilizing the argument that the massive uptake in energy consumption will result in future efficiencies, or, that the growth is countered by rapid increased efficiencies, adding that cloud providers (such as Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Salesforce, etc.) are rapidly moving to zero emissions sources. A 2008 report produced by the World Wildlife Fund is an example of one such paper cited as a response to Andrae’s bleak assessment: ” A report [May 2008] from the World Wildlife Fund estimated that by 2030 efficiencies from smart devices and systems can potentially reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 8 gigatons, a figure approaching one quarter of total global emissions in 2018.” Here it can be noted that the World Wildlife Fund, which bears responsibility for the displacement and torture of Indigenous and tribal peoples (see the work of Survival International), is leading the charge to financialize nature in partnership with the World Economic Forum and other conservation NGOs.

“One has to search very hard to find a truthful statement from WWF. Lies have become their stock in trade.”

 

conservation ecologist Dr. Mordecai Ogada

 

“The drivers for more energy use are simply too great to be offset by efficiency gains.”

 

Jan 2020, Data center energy use goes up and up and up

The “decoupling” of growth and greenhouse gas emissions has become the preferred method of storytelling by global institutions such as UN-WEF et al., reverberated by those serving capital.

Another prime example is the public relations effort at Ericson: “Ericson, ICT and the climate – Have you ever worried how your online activities impact the climate? According to this report, the true impact may be a lot smaller than you think. [Source] The ICT sector’s carbon footprint could be reduced by over 80 percent if all electricity consumed came from renewable energy sources. [p. 3] 50 years – For the carbon emissions of a person making a transatlantic return flight, a smartphone could be used for over 50 years.” [p. 5] [A quick guide to your digital carbon footprint Deconstructing Information and Communication Technology’s carbon emissions, February 2020] In theory, that a smartphone (of obsolete design) could be used for over 50 years, is perhaps true – yet in reality, Westerners with money (and more importantly, access to debt), replace their smartphones with a new one every two years on average.

In addition to the magic trick of 7.5 million data centers coming online – with little to no added impact to global energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions, is the complete omission of embodied energies and vast “natural resources” (biological communities) extracted (plundered) for the infrastructure. The stunning growth of the data center industry and its increasing demand for energy presents a stark ecological cost to our natural world – with ecosystems already collapsing due to the effects of industrial civilization, driven by the capitalist economic system. It is a tragic irony that this acceleration commences alongside alarm over climate change and protection of biodiversity feigned by the ruling class and industry.

[Source of graphic: Estimating a Data Center’s Electrical Carbon Footprint, White Paper 66, 2010. Note the 10-year life cycle of the data center itself.]

Woke Imperialism

If one considers that the production phase of a smartphone represents 90% of the direct energy consumption – we can safely assume the production required for hyperscale data center technologies, and subsequent impacts of such, are gargantuan.

The “green economy” can only flourish on the foundation of imperialism. Electronic devices are made from rare metals and rare earth elements which can only be extracted and refined using vast amounts of energy. More often than not, these are water-intensive processes. In the process of resource theft, it is those most vulnerable and impoverished who mine the required metals – in countries kept deliberately, and permanently, destabilized by foreign corporate interests and colonial states. Such destabilization and foreign interference will persist until the targeted state becomes depleted of the resource. In addition, land, forests and water become barren toxic wastelands, poisoning all life and the biosphere itself. The “great reset” of the global economy is the rebooting of imperialism and colonization of the Global South.

 

 

Add to this the fact that the Fourth Industrial Revolution architecture, built upon, dependent upon, 5G and 6G communication internet technologies, may very well require more metals than the Earth can provide. As a result, industry has already begun its pursuit of yet another emerging market –  seabed mining, at scale.

And as oligarchs forge ahead with their plans to mine the planet’s oceans as the next terrain for industrial plunder, global tech giants have yet another vision of what the full colonization of oceans may entail. On September 14, 2020 Microsoft announced “underwater data centers are a go” after its researchers retrieved the prototype  sealed capsule of a data center, off the shores of Orkney Islands, Scotland, where it had been submerged in the spring of 2018. [Source] The experiment, Project Natick was the second carried out by Microsoft. The first capsule was submerged off the California coast in 2014.

Energy intensive recycling, on almost every level, has proven to be a spectacular failure – and yet it has morphed into another trillion dollar industry. For this reason, storytelling, to convince the citizenry to believe that recycling will be a key component of mitigating environmental impacts and destruction going forward, will persist.

Added to the aforementioned issues, to which we are collectively blind, or perhaps oblivious to, is the obsolescence by design. In most cases, the life span of a data center is typically 10 years at best. Hyperscale data centers are expected to last between 15 and 20 years. These short life spans are still out of sync with the far faster pace of the internet technologies (IT) that comprise the centers with a vast amount of the components being replaced at a 2-5 year refresh cycle: “Hyperscalers use IT equipment for only a few initial years of its much longer useful life, and for them that’s it. It’s onto the next best CPU, or the next best storage technology.”[Source]

In addition to this accelerating nightmare, coolants for data centers require toxic/hazardous chemicals, while large diesel generators are required for power shortages and outages. Consider that the Apple data center which was planned for Athenry, Co. Galway, Ireland, but scrapped in 2018 would have required 144 large diesel generators as back-up for when there was no wind, or insufficient renewable energy production, to support the power demands. [Source] In addition to diesel generators, battery (lead acid) back-ups are required for power shortages. This leads to another nightmare, now unfolding.

Lithium.

Here we must take into account, the escalating global tensions as power shifts to China. Rare earth metals and minerals are coveted by the world’s most powerful states. Access to these geographical regions, where the metals and minerals are found in abundance, is today a non-negotiable imperative for imperial governments and the transnational corporations they serve.

“A 2018 Bloomberg New Energy Finance report forecasted that Li-ion technology will comprise 40 percent of all data centre backup batteries by 2025, and that in the hyperscale sector, Li-ion will become the predominant battery technology, accounting for 55 percent of UPS [Uninterruptible Power Supply] batteries.” [October 23, 2019]

January 11. 2020: “The uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is the cornerstone of the modern data centre, and is one of the primary culprits of inefficient usage of hardware. Traditional lead-based batteries are becoming increasingly redundant… Huawei’s SmartLi UPS solution answers the call by leveraging the company’s cutting-edge Li-ion battery technology and delivering a ‘reinvention’ of the power supply system for the next generation of data centres… Reliability is further enshrined within the product with its 10-year, 5,000 cycle lifetime.” [Source: The importance of the lithium-ion battery for future data centers]

No further do we need to look, to see the “green energy transition”, as imperialism, quantified, than the November 11, 2019 coup in Bolivia, a country holding vast reserves of Earth’s lithium. (The single largest lithium deposit in the Salar de Uyuni, a salt pan, is so massive, it can be seen from space.)

 

Musk on Twitter, July 25, 2020: ""We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it."

Musk on Twitter, July 25, 2020: “”We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.”

 

On July, 25, 2020, billionaire and SpaceX founder Elon Musk responded to a comment directed toward him on Twitter. The comment read: “You know what wasn’t in the best interest of people? The U.S. government organizing a coup against Evo Morales in Bolivia so you could obtain the lithium there.” Musk responded with “We will coup whoever we want! Deal with it.” Evo Morales, the first Indigenous president of Bolivia, overthrown in a coup, responded to Musk, drawing attention to the massacres that resulted from the coup, with a reminder of the Bolivian peoples’ sovereignty and self-determination: “We will always defend our resources!” That Musk is a grotesque human being, yet celebrated in our rapidly devolving Western culture, as a person to be both worshipped and emulated, speaks to our declining ability to even recognize the world’s problems, much less solve them. The Western worldview, which Musk et al. espouse, is founded on white supremacist ideology, an ideology shared by a large component of those that identify as liberal or progressive. Subjected to centuries of conditioning, generation after generation, this racist ideology hums beneath the global, capitalist economic system. A conditioned populace no longer recognizes it.

Further, the global race toward blockchain technology, dependent on the colossal expansion of militarized 5G networks, has already begun. On April 25, 2020, China launched the world’s largest Blockchain network (BSN) as the country rapidly transitions to digital central bank currency, digital wallets, digital identifications, automation, IoT, AI and biometrics at scale. On August 10, 2020, China rolled out its international website with Google and Amazon Web Services listed as cloud service providers. This vast lead in central bank digital currency (CBDC), digitalization and 4IR technologies, is recognized as a major security threat to the US. [Source]

Data centers are the heat engines of the internet. Eight million running 24/7 in order to meet the global demand. A demand now set to expand exponentially under Fourth Industrial Revolution digitalization. The more data produced – the more the storage infrastructures must expand. This growth will be unprecedented.

Here we can momentarily contemplate the World Economic Forum’s stakeholder capitalism storytelling, best described as a public relations rebranding exercise. Data centers are proliferating, while approximately 1 billion people, after 270 years of industrial revolutions, still have no access to electricity.

5G as Catalyst for Voracious Energy Consumption

The IEA forecasts that data and digital services will result in global internet traffic doubling by 2022. Internet of Things (IoT) connections (“a prevalent system in which people, processes, data, and things connect to the Internet and each other”, Cisco), will triple from 9.1 billion in 2018 to 25 billion in 2025, while global IoT revenue will quadruple to $1.1 trillion (a fourfold increase from 2018). The exponential growth of these devices is driven by “intentional obsolescence”. Mobile subscribers are projected to approach 6 billion by 2025. A projected 79% of all internet users will use smartphones exclusively to access content (up from 60% in 2018). [“In the most advanced countries, today’s digital consumers (using PCs and smartphones) will likely become tomorrow’s augmented customers, adopting emerging technologies such as AI (via smart speakers) and immersive reality.”] [Source: The Mobile Economy 2019, GSMA Intelligence] The exponential growth of digitalization [7], coupled with rapid growth of smartphone and social media users in Asia Pacific, followed by Africa, will drive unprecedented exponential growth in data center and network services.

According to Cisco, 60% of the world’s population will be online by 2022. But that was predicted in 2018 – prior to the COVID-19 “great reset”. By June 11, 2020, online access had reached 53% (Klaus Schwab), and in July 2020 the number of global internet users worldwide was reported as having reached 59% (Statista). That’s a full two years ahead of schedule.

“ICT systems give a non-negligible contribution to world electricity consumption and carbon dioxide (CO 2) footprint. This contribution will sustain since the increased demand for user’ s connectivity and an explosion of traffic volumes necessitate continuous expansion of current ICTs services and deployment of new infrastructures and technologies.”

 

November 8, 2019, Greener, Energy-Efficient and Sustainable Networks: State-Of-The-Art and New Trends

Of particular concern is the rapid growth of streaming video and gaming. By 2022 traffic from internet video is projected to have doubled from 2019, with online gaming projected to quadruple – amounting to 87% of consumer internet traffic by 2022. [Source] In addition to this dismal reality, emerging fourth industrial revolution technologies (5G, blockchain, virtual reality) will place further demands on our energy consumption, our natural world, and our collective well-being. While reading and contemplating these analyses and resulting data, it is important to bear in mind that these were compiled prior to “COVID-19, The Great Reset“. Recall Schwab, on June 11, 2020, proudly sharing the fact that some video streaming services have already grown twenty fold during this “watershed moment”.

“As blockchain applications become more widespread, understanding and managing their energy-use implications may become increasingly important for energy analysts and policy makers.”

 

— Data Centres and Data Transmission Networks, On track, International Energy Agency, June 1, 2020

Graph: “A recent IDC study claims that by 2025, worldwide data traffic will have grown by 61 percent to 175 zettabytes, with roughly 75 percent of the population having at least one data interaction every 18 seconds.” [Source]

The energy intensive 5G cellular networks serve as the very foundation of the new global architecture, as designed and sought by the ruling class. ICT experts suggest that “thanks to a combination of massive MIMO antennas, legacy networks in multiple bands and the massive proliferation of small cells”, 5G networks will consume three and half times more electricity as present 4G networks. [Source, October 30, 2019] A more recent report by ABI Research forecasts 5G energy consumption to increase by a magnitude of 61 times by the end of this decade:

“By 2028, 5G is expected to overtake LTE [Long-Term Evolution]. By this stage, both 5G NR Radio Access Network (RAN) and SA core network will be fully commercialized. As such, 5G energy consumption is expected to increase by 61x from 2020 to 2030.”

 

— September, 2020, ABI Research, Environmentally Sustainable 5G Deployment: Energy Consumption Analysis and Best Practices

As a tool for deployment of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the World Economic Forum seeks social license by leveraging the biodiversity crisis (caused by these very people, entities and institutions) as a means to obtaining social licence. That feigned concern for the ecology of the planet, and health of all life, quickly reveals itself when one becomes aware of the environmental threats that come with 5G, as well as the associated health risks, to all life forms. Although 403 scientists and doctors (as of September 23, 2020) across the European Union have signed a declaration calling for all 5G roll-out plans to be stopped, such appeals to the EU, and the World Health Organization, have been met with silence. “Listen to the science” and “unite behind the science”, but only when the science serves capital. The 2018 emerging risks report, from the European Commission’s SCHEER (Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks) committee calls attention to the potential effects on wildlife due to increases of electromagnetic radiation.

Worse, but par for the course, those tasked with protecting capital, in servitude to the hand that feeds, have deliberately framed very real 5G concerns as “conspiracy theory“, in a calculated effort to roll out 5G with as little dissent as possible.

“The overall energy and emission impacts of 5G are still uncertain.”

 

— Data Centres and Data Transmission Networks, On track, International Energy Agency, June 1, 2020

 

“The data streamed by an autonomous car would completely fill an average laptop’s 240GB hard drive in less than a minute.” [Source]

 

“5G will prompt Energy Consumption to Grow by staggering 160% in 10 years” [Source]

 

Automation at scale, artificial intelligence (AI)/machine learning, 3D printing, blockchain, crypto currencies, autonomous vehicles, virtual and augmented reality, Internet of Things (IoT), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), precision agriculture, gene editing, robotics, “smart” cities: the list is endless and ever expanding as the world’s most powerful technocrats lead the transition from bricks to mortar, to an online, digitalized fourth industrial revolution education for our children, fourth industrial revolution healthcare (ehealth, digital medicine) and an automated global workforce. With this digitalization, comes the merger of human with machine: augmentation and neuro-technological brain enhancements. Cybersecurity will be the battle space of the 21st century. Emerging technologies that drive militarism, including Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS), drone targeting, and hypersonic weapons are predicted to become the norm, further dividing and destroying.

“Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Tuesday that electricity consumption will double if the world’s car fleets are electrified, increasing the need to expand nuclear, solar, geothermal and wind energy generating sources.” — Reuters  [8]

A permissioned blockchain ‘ecosystem’ “is the key infrastructure-of-infrastructures that allows the vertical integration of cloud computing, 5G communications, industrial IOT, AI and big data, with fintech and other application-level services overlayed on the stack”. [Source] 5G broadband is the instrumental network that transports the data – with data centers as the heat engines. Together, they create a digital technosphere, purposely eroding our physical biosphere, coupled with a coming ecological nightmare which will be unprecedented in scale. All under the guise of climate mitigation and the protection of biodiversity.

The following is an excerpt from the article “The World in 2030. Hyper-connected and Hyper-fragmented”, authored by Mark Leonard, Director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, and past Chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Geo-economics:

“Connectivity can cause conflict… Rather than creating a harmonious global village, we increasingly recognise that the very same forces that have brought people together and broken down boundaries between peoples and nations are leading to nationalism, protectionism, and a desire for control. The world of 2030 will therefore likely be more closely bound together than at any time in history, but also one where political fragmentation is at an all-time high. It will be a world in which connections between people and countries become instrumentalised and weaponised… The Digital Revolution has brought people together in a single connected web and is going to lead to further fragmentation of societies…

 

Migration and the movement of people will be weaponised and will also be the defining topic for politics, even more so than already now and both in countries which are scared for their existence due to demographic changes and countries that are experiencing migration influxes. Moreover, international law and institutions will grow increasingly weaponised: the idea of lawfare, using the norms and processes of these institutions to damage the opponent, is going to be a very well-known concept. We thought of law and institutions as a constraint on competition and a way of regulating our relations in the past. They will now become a core means and field for competition at the same time.” [Source]

To further demonstrate the illusory concern over the biodiversity crisis, being leveraged with COVID-19, by the World Economic Forum et al., as a means of ushering in the “great reset” as rapidly as possible, satellites are already being launched into space that will support the 5G and 6G networks, connecting  trillions of devices. On November 11, 2019 SpaceX’s Starlink broadband network, owned by Elon Musk, rocketed 60 satellites into orbit. This followed a launch of 60 SpaceX satellites launched in May 2019. By February 2020, SpaceX had launched five batches of 60 Starlink satellites into orbit – with a long-term goal of 30,000.

But Musk is far from alone in his quest to dominate the sky. There are 57,000 satellites planned through 2029. “When there are 50,000 satellites in the sky, ‘you’ll see the sky crawling,’ says Tony Tyson, a University of California Davis astronomer and physicist. ‘Every square degree will have something crawling in it.'” In addition, unregulated rocket launch emissions will further impact the global atmosphere while adding enormous quantities of space debris. [Source] While “corona” serves to distract a global populace, a virus Klaus Schwab describes as “mild” in his book COVID-19 The Great Reset, one thing is clear – billionaires are the most dangerous virus of all.

“Soon, Earth may be blanketed by tens of thousands of satellites, and they’ll greatly outnumber the approximately 9,000 stars that are visible to an unaided human eye.”

 

January 29, 2020, The night sky is increasingly dystopian

The absolute lack of regard for the subsequent harm that this will inflict upon nocturnal sentient animals and fauna is beyond pathological. The arrogance is blatant, astounding, and unequivocal. In addition to physiological harm, this new and unprecedented form of light pollution will disrupt navigation and migration patterns that have evolved within animals, birds, and insects, over millennia.”The rhythm of life is orchestrated by the natural diurnal patterns of light and dark, so disruption to these patterns impacts the ecological dynamics.” [The Hague]

The Dire Ecological Impacts & Consequences that Lie Ahead

Here it is imperative to note the consolidation of power happening in real time. World Economic Forum founder and CEO Klaus Schwab refers to this consolidation as a new global architecture; the new global governance. The following dates of are of paramount significance. On May 18, 2018, the World Bank partners with the United Nations. On June 13, 2019, the World Economic Forum partners with the United Nations. On March 11, 2020, the World Economic Forum partners with the World Health Organization (a UN body) launching the COVID Action Platform, a coalition of 200 of the world’s most powerful corporations. This number would quickly swell to over 700. On this same day, March 11, 2020, the WHO declares COVID-19 a pandemic. The UN-WEF partnership firmly positions Word Economic Forum at the helm of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, also referred to as the Global Goals), which they are frothing at the mouth to implement. This is not because they care about poverty, biodiversity, the climate, or world hunger. Marketed with holistic language, dressed with beautiful images of brown smiling children, SDGs represent the new poverty economy (impact investing/social impact bonds) and emerging markets. Children as human capital data to be commodified on blockchain linking behaviour to benefits. Coercion has been repackaged as empowerment. The human population to be controlled via digital identity systems tied to cashless benefit payments within the context of a militarized 5G, IoT, and an augmented reality environment. A world where every function of nature is monetized, to be bought, sold and traded on Wall Street.

"Around $6 trillion a year will need to be invested to deliver the SDGs, most of it in emerging markets."

“Around $6 trillion a year will need to be invested to deliver the SDGs, most of it in emerging markets.”

 

Fourth revolution technologies, in particular 5G and the ICT, fall under the SDG #9: “Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”; 9c: “significantly increase access to ICT and strive to provide universal and affordable access to Internet in the LDCs (least-developed countries) by 2020”. These are central to the goals of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). A critical component toward the full implementation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (“Industry 4.0”) is digitalization. In the EU, 4.0 digitalization is being rolled out under the EU Green Deal in service to Klaus Schwab.

“Around $6 trillion a year will need to be invested to deliver the SDGs, most of it in emerging markets.”

 

At Last… Climate Consensus on the Magic Mountain, February 3, 2020, SYSTEMIQ

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a term largely accredited to Schwab. He describes it as being “characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres.” The World Economic Forum website adds that it will impact “all disciplines, economies and industries, and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.” [Source] One may question why collectively, we would accept an architecture that will further destroy the natural world – to become only further disconnected from our natural world. A world that will be further devastated by the very global architecture purported to save it.

“Once we can access people’s thoughts and people’s emotions, we have to create a space that enables people to think freely, to think divergent and creative thoughts.  And in a society where people fear having those thoughts, the likihood of being able to enjoy progress is significantly diminished.” [The Fourth Industrial Revolution | Full Version, World Economic Forum, April 13, 2016]

 

“The very idea of humans being some sort of natural concept is really going to change. Our bodies will be so hightech, we won’t be able to really distinguish between what is natural and what is artificial”

 

The Fourth Industrial Revolution | Full Version, World Economic Forum, April 13, 2016

In closing this segment, we can juxtapose Andrae’s suggestion that communications technology may account for more than 20% of global energy consumption by 2025, with this observation articulated by The Guardian’s John Vidal back in 2017: “The industry has encouraged the idea that the digital transformation of economies and large scale energy efficiencies will slash global emissions by 20% or more.”

Thus, the power elite intend to crush the informal sectors and whole societies in the Global South – and across the world, in order to usher fourth industrial revolution digitalization, utilizing COVID-19 as the catalyst. Under the guise of protecting the biosphere and mitigating climate change, the “Great Reset”, decades in the making, has been foisted upon us by the ruling class. The new global architecture masks its intentions with illusory concern over ecological crises that they created. That they accelerate. To “slash global emissions by 20% or more” by rolling out an infrastructure that may well translate to 23% of all global emissions by 2030. At the cost of further plundering the Earth. At the cost of a growing, collective mental duress.

Imperative 21: Allies for System Change, a Virtual Convening of the Skoll World Forum - April 1, 2020

Imperative 21: Allies for System Change, a Virtual Convening of the Skoll World Forum – April 1, 2020

 

This depraved psychosis only makes sense when one understands that “action on climate” is not about mitigating climate change. Rather, it serves as an opportunity to “reset” capitalism as it teetered on the verge of collapse with global debt having reached a staggering 253 trillion dollars. [The global debt has since ballooned to a whopping 272 trillion dollars.] We are embarking on an inescapable and irreversible technological enslavement.

“Who survives? Amazon, Netflix, Google, Comcast, Facebook, et al. Those who control the screens control the world. It is a new morning in hell.”

 

John Steppling, Morning in Hell, October 7, 2020

The more that states, industries, institutions, platforms and devices rely on data and internet interconnectivity to function, the more our global energy consumption will soar.

Assessing “the silicon footprint, [and the] environmental impact of hyperconnected technologies”, the Institute for the Future concludes, “These facts considered together increase the probability that the net environmental impact of a hyperconnected world will be negative.” [The Hyperconnected World of 2030–2040; made possible by the support of the Office of Director of National Intelligence; IFTF convened a team of technology experts and researchers to look at the future of the hyperconnected world in a day-long workshop in 2019.]

The ruling classes intend to assign monetary value to nature, global in scale. The monetization of “social and human capital” will follow. This would entail the greatest transformation to the economic system in modern history. “Natural capital” valuation is expected to replace GDP (Gross Domestic Product) with nature to be bought, sold and traded on Wall Street. This, coupled with “protected areas” that would further displace Indigenous peoples. In addition to data as the new oil, classifying nature as an asset class represents a global corporate coup of the commons. With capitalism having reached its limits, and physical labour now disposable, to be replaced by automation/robotics, data and nature represent new and untapped emerging markets. Utilizing the very real fact that nature is vital to all life, we are told to believe that it can only be valued properly by humans if monetized (i.e. “natural capital” and “payments for ecosystem services”). Yet consider this: In just a few months the World Health Organization (partnering with the World Economic Forum on March 13, 2020), and the United Nations (partnering with the World Economic Forum on June 11, 2019) – in unison with the sycophant institutions, academia, sciences, media and NGOs that serve them. et al. – effectively utilized cognitive sciences, psychology, conformity and fear, to convince an entire global population that masks must be worn in order to save lives. In this same way, if they truly desired to convince a population that it is critical to protect nature against development, industry, privatization, corporate capture and monetization – as nature is vital to all life, and should be respected as such, they could easily do so. They do not – because it is they, primarily, who are wholly responsible for the bulk of the plunder they wish to continue. The global decimation of nature, from which they build and retain their fortunes and status.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has caused and will continue to cause mass upheaval, displacement, severe impacts, and untold suffering to the peasantry, Indigenous, working class and those belonging to the informal economy. The middle class will not be spared. Yet this depraved new global architecture, dangerous to life, human, sentient and biological, is pushed forward despite advanced knowledge of foretold tragedy – solely for the pursuit of money, profits and power. It is this very fact that shows us unequivocally and irrevocably that promises for a just transition, green deals, new deals, build back better schemes, are nothing but empty, hollow assurances, void of intent. These are the lies they tell. Promises and assertions that are nothing more than alibis.

Western and ruling class ideologies have played a crucial and cruel role in the violent transformation of the peoples, ecosystems and biosphere. The Fourth Industrial Revolution represents the most violent transformation of all. For as long as the ruling class is allowed to exist, social and environmental justice remain pipe dreams.

The ruling class has weaponized the power of both fear and conformity against us. That Covid-19 is the catalyst to usher in a new global architecture, that is the 4IR, is not conjecture, not “conspiracy theory“, but a fact. Full compliance is the goal. A physical transformation away from our physical world, towards a full embracing of an artificial, digital, virtual world, is being engineered, right before our very eyes. The social engineering of a collective consciousness. Social license is being harvested to reset the capitalist system – under the guise of a climate emergency and saving the planet. This we know: the planet will not be saved by those that have destroyed it.

 

 

End Notes:

[1] The September 11, 2020 article “The Social Dilemma Wants You to Delete Facebook”, is somewhat disingenuous, with the film’s emphasis on deleting notifications, rather than the social media platform. Yet what is of interest, and on the mark, is the reference to a TED Talk by Eli Pariser explaining “filter bubbles are the result of internet platforms’ race to feed users the information that will keep them coming back.” Pariser should know – as a co-founder of both Avaaz and Upworthy – with cofounder Chris Hughes of Facebook.

[2] “The sprawling camp, which is divided into 12 districts across 13 square kilometres, is surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by police and military. Refugees cannot leave without permission. If they want to move to a city elsewhere in the country, they need a Jordanian sponsor guaranteeing financial support – a condition that leaves many stuck in the camp.” [Source]

[3] Gov.UK: “We asked our hosting providers, Amazon Web Services, UKCloud and Carrenza, to tell us how much electricity we use, and how much CO2 we produce. Only one of our providers, UKCloud, agreed to give us data about our electricity usage. For Amazon and Carrenza, we made a guess about the amount of electricity we use, assuming a percentage of our monthly bill. In addition, neither Amazon nor Google currently shares information about how much CO2 their data centres produce.” [Source]

[4] Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the International Energy Agency (IEA), and Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) have concluded that room air conditioners alone — the typical window and split units used in most homes — are set to account for over 130 gigatons (GT) of CO2 emissions between now and 2050. That would account for 20–40% of the world’s remaining “carbon budget” (the most we can emit while still keeping global warming to less than 2?C above pre-industrial levels — the goal set at the Paris Climate Conference in 2015).” [Source] “If room air conditioners have a massive emission, then it is hard to imagine the immense emissions that is occurring on the industrial scale.”

[5] In 2018, the total amount of electricity generated from renewables was 6 586 TWh. Renewable hydro accounted for about 63% of this (4 149 TWh), followed by wind energy (1 263 TWh), solar energy (562 TWh), bioenergy (523 TWh), geothermal energy (88 TWh) and marine energy (1 TWh). [Source: IRENA – Renewable energy highlights, July 1, 2020]

[6] “But data centers are rapidly becoming more energy efficient, and new research suggests there’s no longer a close link between more cloud computing and more energy use. A report published Thursday in Science credits the progress to better management, more efficient hardware and the rise of “hyperscale” data centers created by tech giants…The data-center industry’s 20% annual improvement in energy intensity dwarfs all other major parts of the economy. The power used today by data centers, 1% of the global total, is roughly the same as it was in 2010… This new research is the first major attempt to compile a bottom-up view of data-center energy use in a decade. Researchers based their work on reports published by Cisco Systems, Inc., Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the International Energy Agency, among other sources.” [Source]

[7] The Cisco Annual Internet Report, 2018-2023 predicts that by 2023, there will be 299.1 billion global mobile application downloads, up from 194 billion global mobile application downloads in 2018. By 2023, there will be 29.3 billion global devices and connections (3.6 devices and connections per capita), up from 18.4 billion devices and connections in 2018 (2.4 devices and connections per capita). Similarly, Gartner forecasts that 14.2 billion connected things will be in use in 2019, and that the total will reach 25 billion by 2021, producing immense volume of data. [Source]

[8] Quote added on December 4, 2020 after initial publication. [Source] Full quote as follows: “Total electricity power consumption obviously will increase. I mean when everything, when all transport goes electric, or road transport going electric, it will approximately double the electricity usage, um total electricity usage. Like I said, because most of its at night, [charging batteries], that doesn’t mean a doubling of the power plant. But we will need to increase the amount of solar and wind, geothermal, hydro, [and] nuclear, I think is fine. Like I said, in order to solve the needs of electric vehicles.” — AxelSpringer Award Talk with Questions from other CEOs, December 1, 2020 [Source]

 

[Cory Morningstar is an independent investigative journalist, writer and environmental activist, focusing on global ecological collapse and political analysis of the non-profit industrial complex. She resides in Canada. Her recent writings can be found on Wrong Kind of Green, The Art of Annihilation, Internationalist 360, Tortilla con Sal, and Counterpunch. Her writing has also been published by Bolivia Rising and Cambio, the official newspaper of the Plurinational State of Bolivia. You can follow her on twitter @elleprovocateur]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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”]

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.]

Feudal Japan’s Edo and the US Empire

Feudal Japan’s Edo and the US Empire

Dissident Voice

March 25, 2020

by Hiroyuki Hamada

 

After the warlord period of 15th century, Japan was united by a few families and then by a shogun family.  The period is called the Edo period. They disarmed civilians and established a mild caste system. The country was closed except for a few ports controlled by the central government, travel restrictions were put in place and certain technological developments were prohibited. The Edo period also had an interesting feature called sankinkoutai. It forced regional leaders to march across the country in formal costumes along with their armies in order to alternate their residences between their home regions and the capital of the feudal Japan, Edo.  It also forced leaders’ wives and family members to remain in Edo at all times. It was an elaborate system to keep the hierarchical structure intact.

The reign lasted a few centuries with no conflicts within the country until the US forced Japan to open in order to use its ports for the whaling business. I’ve been suspecting that the aim of some people among the ruling class circle is to establish such a closed hierarchical system which can function in a “sustainable” manner. But, of course, it is not exactly a system of equality and sharing as it would be advertised. The notion of “sustainable” is also very much questionable as we see blatant lies hidden behind carbon trade schemes, nuclear energy, “humanitarian” colonialism rampant in Africa and other areas, and so on.

Detail from a handscroll painting depicting the sankin kôtai procession of the lord of Iyo-Matsuyama han. Date unknown. National Museum of Japanese History

 

I mentioned the special feature, sankinkoutai, since I see an interesting parallel between it and “representative democracy” within the capitalist West today.  Of course, we don’t have such an obvious requirement among us, but similar dynamics occur within our capitalist framework. Our thoughts and activities are always subservient to the moneyed transactions guided by the economic networks. Our economic restrictions can force us to make decisions to do away with our needs—we might abandon our skills, interests, friendships, life styles, philosophies, ideologies, community obligations and so on. In fact, some of us are forced to live on streets, die of treatable illness, and suffer under heavy debt during our struggles. In a way, we surrender our basic needs as hostages to the system just as the Japanese regional leaders had to leave their family members under the watch of the Shogun family. Moreover, the more our thoughts differ from that of neoliberal capitalist framework, the more we must put our efforts into adjusting to it. Some of us might be labeled as “dissidents,” and such a label can create obstacles in our social activities. This functions similar to the fact that Japanese feudal regional leaders who were further away from the capital geographically had to put more efforts in marching across the country, requiring them to expend more resources. In the capitalist system, this occurs economically as well; those who are already oppressed by the economic strife must spend more resources to conform to the draconian measures to survive.

Now, one might wonder why regional leaders had subjected themselves to such an inhumane scheme. The march across the country was considered as a show of strength and authority; it was a proud moment to put on their costume to show off. The populations across the country were forced to respect this process with reverence and awe. There were strict regulations regarding how to treat such marches.

This situation can be compared to our political process: the presidential election in particular, in which our powers and interests are put in the corporate political framework to be shaped, tweaked, and distorted. Sanctioned by capitalist mandates and agendas, political candidates march across the nation while people proudly cheer their favorites. The more complicit with the capitalist framework the candidates are, the more lavish “the marches.” This forces the contents of political discourse to remain within the capitalist framework while marginalizing candidates and their supporters whose ideas are not obedient to it. “Representative democracy” within a capitalist framework can be one of the most powerful ways to install the values, beliefs and norms of the ruling class into minds of the people whose interests can be significantly curtailed by those ideas. All this can be achieved in the name of “democracy,” “free elections,” and so on.

Since people’s minds and their collective mode of operations are deeply indoctrinated to be a part of the capitalist structure, any crisis would strengthen the fundamental integrity of the structure. I heard a Trump supporter saying that “people should be shook up a little.” That’s actually a very appropriate description. When you shake their ground, people will try to hold onto whatever they think is a solid structure. Some of us might, however, try to hold onto a Marxist perspective, for example. That, of course, provokes reactions by those who go along with the capitalist framework because they will feel particularly threatened, sensing that their entire belief system might fall. Examination of facts and contexts during the time of crisis can generate divisions and opportunities to control and moderate opposing views.

Capitalist institutions are dominated by this mentality which might explain the extremely quick mobilization of the draconian restrictions and the demand for more restrictions during the time of “crisis”.  Economic incentives as well as self-preservation within the system force people to engage actively in unquestioning manner.  For example, we have observed concerted efforts in mobilizing media, government agencies, legal system and so on to “combat” “drug issues”, “inner-city violence” and so on which has led to mass incarceration, police killings and “gentrification” of primarily minority communities.  Needless to say, 9/11 has created enormous momentum of colonial wars against middle eastern countries.  No major media outlets or politicians questioned blatant lies surrounding WMD claim against Iraq, for example.  As a result, many countries were destroyed while one out of a hundred people on the planet became refugees.  Draconian regulations became normal, racism and xenophobia among people intensified and the term “global surveillance” became household.

This situation requires further examination since there are a few layers which must be identified.  First, we must recognize that there is an industry that commodifies “dissenting voices”.  The people who engage in this have no intention of examining the exploitive mechanism of capitalist hierarchy.  Some of them typically chose topics of government wrongdoings in contexts of fascist ideologies (jews are taking over the world, for example), space aliens and so on.  The angles are calibrated to keep serious inquiries away but they nonetheless garner major followings.  When certain topics fall into their hands, discussing them can become tediously unproductive as it prompts a label “conspiracy”.  It also contributes in herding dissidents toward fascist ideology while keeping them away from understanding actual social structure.

Second point is related to the first, when the topic enters the realm of “conspiracy”, and when we lose means to confirm facts, many of us experience cognitive dissonance.  The unspoken fear of the system becomes bigger than any of the topics at hand, and some of us shut down our thought process. As a result, we are left with hopelessness, cynicism and complacency.  This is a major tool of the system of extortion.  It makes some of us say “if there is a President who tries to overthrow capitalism, he or she will be assassinated”.  Such a statement illustrates the fact that understanding of violent system, fear and complacency can firmly exist in people’s minds without openly admitting to it.

Third, aside from the unspoken fear toward the destructive system, there is also unspoken recognition that the system is inherently unsustainable to itself and to its environment.  The cultish faith in capitalist framework is upheld by myths of white supremacy, American exceptionalism and most of all by our structural participation to it.   Any cult with an unsustainable trajectory eventually faces its doomsday phase.  It desires a demise of everything, which allows cultists to avoid facing the nature of the cult.  It allows them to fantasize a rebirth.  This in turn allows the system to utilize a catastrophic crisis as a spring board to shift its course while implementing draconian measures to prop itself up.  “The time of survival” normalizes the atrocity of structural violence in reinforcing the hierarchical order, while those with relative social privilege secretly rejoice the arrival of “the end”.

Any of those three dynamics can be actively utilized by those who are determined to manipulate and control the population.

Now, there is another interesting coincidence with the Japanese history.  The title Shogun had been a figurehead status given by the imperial family of Japan long before the Edo period.  Shogun is a short version of Seiitaishogun, which can be translated as Commander-in-Chief of the Expeditionary Force Against the Barbarians. The title indicates the nature of the trajectory more bluntly than the US presidency which is also Commander in Chief — which has engaged in numerous colonial expeditions over the generations. But as I mentioned above, the Edo period was not a time of fighting “barbarians”. It was a time of a closed feudal system and its hierarchy was strictly controlled by its customs and regulations.  The current trajectory of our time prompts one to suspect the inevitable path to be a similar one.

Our thoughts and ideas have been already controlled by capitalist framework for generations.  We knowingly and unknowingly participate in this hostage taking extortion structure.  While shaken by crisis after crisis, we have gone through waves of changes, which have implemented rigid social restrictions against our ability to see through lies and rise above the feudal order of money and violence.

I do understand that the above discussion is very much generalized.  One can certainly argue against validity of the parallel based on historical facts and contexts.  Some might also argue the Edo period to be far more humane on some regards, in terms of how people related to their natural surroundings, or the system being actually sustainable, for instance.  But I believe that my main points still stand as valid and worthy of serious considerations.  Also, it is not my intention to label, demean and demonize policy makers of our time in cynical manner. My intention is to put the matter as a topic of discussion among those who are concerned in a constructive manner.  The comparison was used as a device for us to step back from our time and space in evaluating our species’ path today.

Lastly, as I describe the historical trajectory of the US empire, one can not not examine the nature of the current coronavirus panic “lockdown”. Although the incident is still very much developing some of us have already raised many questions.  This article is from a Chinese state media outlet repeating questions raised by some regarding the origin of the Coronavirus. The questions are serious ones which can easily topple entire official US narratives on the matter and beyond.

If the illness has originated from the US military facility as it has been concluded by some and the US has covered it up and blamed the illness on China, the US didn’t only expose its own citizens to the virus, but it knowingly caused deaths and sufferings among its own people. It erroneously blamed China for not acting fast enough against the situation, while adding the coronavirus deaths to the US annual flu deaths—which is always high due to its dysfunctional healthcare system.

According to the allegations, some elected officials might have even profited from this murderous situation.

Subsequently, it stands to reason to question what has motivated the US to act in such a drastic manner against the virus after knowingly tolerating the deaths being caused by the virus for a few months.

Some points to keep in mind are:

1. A social crisis exacerbates structural violence against an already oppressed population leading to augmentation of ruling class interests.

2. A crisis allows bailout measures for those who are already being served generously by the system.

3. A crisis allows codification of draconian policies to further restrict an already oppressed population.

4. A crisis justifies the existence of the authoritarian system.

5. All of the above are various aspects of capitalist hierarchy to serve itself by harming its own people.

Please also refer to articles by Cory Morningstar on the topic.

When a crisis situation is identified in mobilizing the population, one common technique to contain dissenting voices is the use of false equivalency. For example, in discussing the US imperial war against Syria, one might have said that Russia was bombing just like the US.  However, needless to say, Russia was invited by the Syrian government to fight West-backed al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups in Syria.  The liberation efforts by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies brought back Syrian people to their own communities which were devastated by the US proxy war against Syria.

In the case of coronavirus situation, Chinese government detecting a disease epidemic so that it can allocate sufficient medical care to its people is very different from the US totally ignoring medical threats regularly and suddenly deciding to “care” in aimlessly draconian ways.

This Facebook post by Phil Greaves concisely lays out the difference:

“China:

 

-Lockdowns in only the most affected areas.

-Quarantine and hospital treatment for ALL suspected cases.

-Masks provided for everyone, no “two-meter” bullshit.

-200 million CPC members & volunteers mobilised to serve the elderly & vulnerable with food and medicine.

-ALL wages paid in full for anyone off work due to the virus, for the entire duration.

 

95% production regained after 4 weeks.

 

Britain:

 

-Nationwide house-arrest.

-Shuts down nearly the entire economy, sacks millions of workers, does not guarantee pay for even half of them.

-Gives the banks hundreds of billions.

-Massively reduces healthcare capacity.

-Allows supermarket chains to exploit panic buyers.

 

Economic depression inevitable.”

It is also very different for the Chinese government to regulate circulation of false information in order to implement its policies effectively from the US censoring legitimate questions about its ineffective policies and its active policies to harm its own people and “others”.

The differences in the approach of the two countries toward the peoples across the globe during this time of crisis are also very clear.  While China is reaching out to other countries to help their struggles — sending medical equipment and experts to those countries — the US is actively punishing some of the hardest hit countries with trade sanctions, trade embargo and demonization campaigns against them.

Corona panic incident is yet another milestone in clearly marking inhumanity of the imperial order perpetuated by the western hegemony.

 

[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.]

“Virus or No Virus, We Can’t Lose Our Voice”: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities

Black Agenda Report

March 18, 2020

By Ann Garrison

 

“Coronavirus is just an extension of the war that we’ve been forced to fight under capitalism.”

 

“We’re assisting people who suddenly have no income and are stuck in their homes for the foreseeable future.”

Cheri Honkala has been organizing in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, one of the US’s most devastated, post-industrial communities, for over 30 years. As of the 2010 census, Kensington was 38.9% Hispanic of any race, 37.4% non-Hispanic white, 14.8% non-Hispanic Black, 6.2% Asian, and 2.7% all other. And it’s beginning to be threatened by gentrification.

Cheri is one of the founders of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC), and her work has been so impressive that Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein asked her to be her running mate  in 2008.

I asked her how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting Kensington.

Ann Garrison: Cheri, are you seeing cases of coronavirus there in your neighborhood yet? Does anyone have access to testing?

Cheri Honkala: No, we have no idea if we’ve come into contact with anyone who has the virus yet. There’s no testing, but we’ve most likely been exposed. Most of the poor people in Kensington go to St. Christopher’s Hospital, and a doctor working in the ICU there has tested positive. That will affect Kensington because he saw Kensington patients before testing positive, and because there is, for now, one less doctor working in Kensington.

Public clinics are postponing appointments at the last minute and rescheduling for July due to the virus, but these are services that people need now. We already have bad health. Our health has never much mattered, but there are good, caring doctors and nurses in the system.

“We already have bad health.”

Someone from the public health center said they’re moving to online appointments, but poor people don’t have computers to be talking to their doctors and getting checkups through the phone. We know that people in other parts of the world like Canada and Australia now have access to testing and an equitable response to the virus because they have universal healthcare. But we don’t have that. We seem to be moving further towards the privatization and corporate takeover of all public services and health access. And under the guise of protecting our health, it seems like they’re going to be scooping people up soon, with or without their permission, and putting them who knows where.

AG: Has Philadelphia’s Public Health Department  reached out to you in any way? Have you tried to reach out to them?

CH: No. Philadelphia is one of the poorest large cities in the country. PPEHRC and the Poor People’s Army  have been absolutely overwhelmed both in Philadelphia—where our headquarters is—and throughout the country. We’re assisting people who suddenly have no income and are stuck in their homes for the foreseeable future, if they can hold onto their homes.

We’re helping a woman who’s being released from the hospital to homelessness, a victim of domestic violence needing to get into safe housing, and people needing psychiatric care but not able to get into the hospital. And those are just a few examples of who we’re trying to help. Coronavirus is just an extension of the war that we’ve been forced to fight under capitalism. It’s not just the virus, but that’s made it worse.

The media is fear-mongering, and misinformation is spreading. Corporations, politicians, and poverty pimps are rushing to profit from this moment. Not only have they not reached out to us, but they’re hiding from us because they are either working remotely from home, or they’re operating from the politics of scarcity.

AG: As I write this it’s 49 degrees in Kensington and 49 degrees here in Berkeley, where there are roughly 1,000 homeless people on the street, in a city of roughly 125,000. But it’s still morning out here and it’s well past noon there. It’s not the dead of winter, but it’s not a good day to be homeless in either place, or to live in a house or apartment that doesn’t have heat. It’s not a good day to recover from coronavirus or any kind of cold or flu, especially if you don’t have running water to wash your hands. Do you have any estimate of how many people are facing one or both hardships there in Kensington, a city area of roughly 25,000?

CH: There are about 2000 homeless people on the streets in Philly on any given night. Because of advocacy efforts before the coronavirus, no one’s utilities can be shut off. But that doesn’t mean that utilities that were already shut off can be turned back on.

AG: At the 2016 Green Party Convention in Houston, you shared films about Kensington and said that you thought frontline communities should emulate the Black Panther Party. Could you talk about that here?

CH: For decades, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign has been teaching people how to reclaim abandoned houses across the country and reclaim land. And to grow food to feed ourselves. We need to move in our organizing work from a reformist model to a revolutionary model. Corporations and the rich are never going to care about us, never going to take care of us, so it’s time we get organized and reclaim our basic economic human rights to food and housing. And whether or not we have health care shouldn’t even be up for negotiations.

AG: Is the PPEHRC supported solely by donations and volunteers?

CH: We are trying to be the US version of the Zapatistas . We are separate from the nonprofit charity model, and are funded by individuals and small foundations. No banks and no corporations.

AG: Are you a 501(c)3?

CH: We have a 501(c)3 fiscal sponsor that accepts tax deductible donations for us.

AG: During the March 15 presidential debate, both candidates said repeatedly that victims of coronavirus must be “made whole” by financial support if they and their families lose work or housing after coming down with coronavirus. And I kept thinking about all the people who have already lost both, those living on the streets or in other desperate circumstances, who haven’t been “made whole.” Suddenly the welfare of all members of society is of concern because even those most marginalized can spread the disease to the upper echelons by going to work, not getting tested, or not seeing a doctor. The New Yorker published a report headlined, “How Much Is the Coronavirus Infecting World Leaders and Disrupting Governments? 

I’m sure you have something further to say about this.

CH: This coronavirus is infecting the upper classes, so they’ll look for ways to protect themselves, but it’s not about protecting us. As a formerly homeless mother I’ve always known that we and our children have never mattered. And I’m very clear that they try to create an us and them scenario–a deserving and undeserving poor. We know the reality is that most people are only a paycheck away from a disaster like the coronavirus. Those of us in frontline communities more than ever need to demand and take back our right to food, clothing, housing, and medical care, because we can’t sit on the sidelines waiting for someone to save us. That’s not gonna happen. We need to link arms and remember that all we have is each other, and we’d better get organized to take housing, to take land, to take back a future for ourselves and our children.

We know they’re going to use this as an opportunity to do more homeless encampment sweeps, enact curfews with the pretense of caring about our health, fast-tracking homeless mothers and their kids into foster care and adoption.

It’s really important right now that we check in on our brothers and sisters who are in prisons, nursing homes, and packed into one-room shelters. We have to advocate for them because authorities are not going to take care of them without pressure.

AG: Tell me what else you’d like to say about coronavirus in poor and homeless communities.

CH: It all comes back to the slogan we’re raising that we need to put #LivesOverLuxury, while they put the elite luxury class over any of us. They’re killing us. That’s why we’re taking this message to both the DNC and RNC, virus or no virus, because we can’t lose our voice, and we fundamentally need a different society to respond to ongoing crises like this that will only escalate.

The coronavirus has exacerbated class divisions. Our kids who were attending schools that weren’t good to begin with and are now supposed to attend them online, but many lack access to home computers. People are staying home and not making any money from jobs that are on pause, and they’re waiting for essential health services.

It’s also important that there’s a whole section of people who don’t speak English as their first language, and they’re already being targeted by ICE and state agents. But we’re going to continue to practice the politics of love where we aim for a different kind of society where we take care of each other. At a time when big nonprofits aren’t here, we are continuing to operate with boots on the ground out of necessity. Not that we’re being careless or not taking the virus seriously, but the reality of people’s economic situation is real and that’s what we’re going to be hearing over the days to come. Maybe the utility shutoffs, evictions, and foreclosures are on pause right now, but those bills aren’t going away, and people are losing money every day this goes on.

“The coronavirus has exacerbated class divisions.”

We encourage people to join the Poor People’s Army. We need to make sure we keep our eyes wide open, and keep the propaganda on TV from separating us, isolating us, and disempowering us. Join us at livesoverluxury.com  and plan on coming to the Democratic Convention in July.

On July 13th, at 4 p.m., we will be in Milwaukee to demand our share of the 67 cents of every single dollar that goes to feed the war machine and deny poor and working class people their right to health care, food, housing, and dignity.

We have nothing to lose because we are already on the frontlines, already sentenced to death by gun violence, economic violence, cuts in food stamps and public housing, and, for many outside this country, sanctions. Our government, both Democrats and Republicans, chooses war and corporate profits over ending poverty and homelessness. We see the abundance in our country, and the #PoorPeoplesArmy is organizing to take it back by practicing the politics of love. Coronavirus or not, we are moving forward in an army led by the poor. Capitalism has buried our loved ones for years. It’s time we bury it.

AG: What if the convention’s canceled, as seems likely right now?

CH: Eventually there will be a convention and an election. People can follow us on Facebook  or our website  for any sudden changes.

AG: OK. I want to close by sharing links to videos about your work in Kensington and beyond that you showed at the Green Party Convention in 2016. Readers can watch them here: The Philadelphia Story  and Homeless Hero .

Thank you, Cheri, for sharing everything you’ve said here, and for everything you do.

CH: Thank you too.

 

[Ann Garrison is an independent journalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2014, she received the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for her reporting on conflict in the African Great Lakes region. She can be reached at ann@anngarrison.com.]

Listen: What Do We See When We See Earth? Reading Act II of Cory Morningstar’s Research into the NGO Industrial Complex

Listen: What Do We See When We See Earth? Reading Act II of Cory Morningstar’s Research into the NGO Industrial Complex

Ghion Journal

September 18, 2019

“Listen: What Do We See When We See Earth? Reading Act II of Cory Morningstar’s Research into the NGO Industrial Complex”

 

By Stephen Boni

 

 

The planet Earth; the strange, beautiful, indifferent, often brutal, often tender home we inhabit, exists in a way that’s so much bigger, so much more complex, so much more mysterious than any civilization human beings can set on top of it.

When you step out of whatever shelter you’ve got each morning, all of that astonishing simply presented timelessness is just there. In all its IS-ness. On the land and in the air. I’ve written this before in other essays. If you’re really dialed in, you can feel the whole thing breathe. The pure being of this place, even with all of the concrete, fumes and trash we’ve imposed on it, is an enormous overwhelming pulse. It is it’s own inspiration, in a sense.

Despite cars and computers and nuclear fission and human beings, Earth itself remains stubbornly, ahistorically, gloriously uninterested in what we’re up to.

I used to believe this. I used to believe this was at least a piece of the ultimate truth that would necessarily live beyond my ability to comprehend.

But climate change has taught me something else. Earth reacts to what we’ve lain on top of it, underneath it and above it. It’s reacting right now. It’s been reacting for centuries. It’s not indifferent; not in the way I previously thought. And it’s heated reaction to our pollution, our war, our methane, and our ever-increasing carbon emissions is killing some of us—and may kill a whole lot more of us down the line.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

There’s a scene from the much-maligned Zabriskie Point, the 1970 counterculture film by Italian director Michaelangelo Antonioni, in which an American family, tourists, drive up to the edge of an extraordinary canyon. A geological testament to Earth’s paradox of constant change and absolute stillness. And the father of the family gets out of the car to look at this sublimity and says something to the tune of “wow, honey, this would be a great spot for a restaurant and a gift shop. We could make some real money up here.”

It’s a quick scene. The voices of the actors are muffled by the naturalistic sound design, the interference of car and wind. But it lands like a mule-kick. Antonioni set the film in the U.S. for a reason. In 1970, as now (though dwindling), we’re the hegemon. It’s our culture that sees nature as a chance to make a buck, and thus afford us luxuries that take us further away from the Earth on which our feet are planted (and what gives us life in the first place). He gives America too much credit, of course. The logic of capitalism is a near worldwide phenomenon and the United States is perhaps the current greatest devotee.

In Act II of her 6-part series about what lies behind today’s deceptively youth-driven climate justice movements, the independent investigative journalist/activist Cory Morningstar delves into non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the members of the corporate elite who conceive them, run them, and use them to redirect the passionate energies of young people, who want us to get off this toxic carbon carousel, towards profit-making projects.

You can listen to The Words of Others podcast to hear a reading of Act II, The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg: The Inconvenient Truth Behind Youth Co-Optation.

What Morningstar gets at in her research is this: the wealthy philanthropists, marketers, economists, politicians and corporate players are merely more well-heeled versions of the middle-class family man looking out and finding a way to unsee the massive canyon in Zabriskie Point. Although they understand that climate change is real, that the choking of earth’s ecosystems through waste and pollution is real, they don’t gaze upon this destruction as an impetus to abandon capitalism as a system. They don’t kneel down in shame and gratitude and rejoicing that we yet can remake our relationship to our home, this Earth.

Instead, they see it as a way to make a buck.

But they can only make a buck off of this rolling catastrophe if they shove a quiet, thoughtful teenager in front of us. Galvanize us through heart and empathy. And redirect our tender emotions not into collective ecosystem restoration, but rather into “make-a-buck” solutions that will only serve to reproduce our separation from this home, from one another, and from the ineffable meaning that could nurture our brief time here.

And I can’t help thinking how paltry it all is.

When you read about kids across the country getting off school to take part in the climate strike, pay attention to who stands behind brave Greta Thunberg. Pay attention to who talks after her.

Who is waiting there to channel your energy to heal this place into the weightless unmeaning futility of make-a-buck?

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for listening.

 

[Stephen Boni is both Ghion Journal’s current editor and a contributing writer. His main interest is in analyzing the workings of empire and exploring ways to dismantle and replace systems of oppression. A conflicted New Englander with an affinity for people, music and avoiding isms, he lives in Oakland, California with his wife and young daughter.]

 

Greta Thunberg, Green Barbarism and #ClimateStrike

By Azhar Moideen

Greta Thunberg,
Image Courtesy : Twitter/@GretaThunberg

 

Every few years, in a crisis situation, a child captures the attention of the world and plays a huge role in convincing nay-sayers, silencing critics and seemingly ties the hands of the global ruling establishment into taking swift action. It happened in Afghanistan more than once, in Iraq and recently in Syria.

Now it has happened all over the world thanks to the passionate and compelling Greta Thunberg. In a world devoid of real adult heroes, children become unlikely superheroes to look up to. In just about a year after Thunberg began striking school to protest, alone, outside the Swedish Parliament, she has appeared on the cover of Time, featured in a Vice documentary, addressed climate and political conferences including the World Economic Forum and the United Nations (UN) Climate Action Summit, published a collection of her speeches (under the Penguin catalogue), won praise from world leaders, influenced the European Union’s budget and she has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. All this, for spearheading a global climate strike, which included protests in India.

‘India’s Greta Thunberg’: Seven-year-old Licypriya Kangujam from Manipur

In most respects, mobilising millions of people the world over, including trade union representatives, for what became the largest climate protest ever, is no mean feat. However, if the past be our guide, the working class should be cautious while extending support. Instead of being carried away by the number of people mobilised and the positive media coverage Thunberg got, the Third World needs to ask whether the movement has their best interest in mind. After all, even Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai was used by Western imperialist interests and discarded when she spoke against them.

Alongside the meteoric rise of Thunberg, last year bears witness to dubious new environmental NGOs such as Extinction Rebellion and We Mean Business. Over the same period, ideas like the Green New Deal also captured new ground. Investigative reportage (such as by Cory Morningstar) exposes the non-profit-industrial complex that boosts and benefits from the popular surge of interest that ‘influencers’ gain.

The coterie managing Thunberg’s media appearances include the world’s biggest philanthropic foundations, whose contributions to the climate debate have essentially weakened plans to mitigate the effects of climate change. Their interests controlled the negotiations that led to the Paris Agreement, which treats worst-case scenarios as an acceptable 50:50 chance. Dire warnings of negotiators from developing countries were conveniently forgotten.

These handful of philanthrocapitalists, despite contributing 0.1% to climate finance, have significantly influenced the climate debate: developing and promoting voluntary, market-based and bottom-up approaches can only be deemed a failure. They have erased the radical nature of grassroots environmental movements and propped up capitalist-friendly solutions such as carbon-trading instead. They call for “net-zero” emissions by pushing technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage, which have delivered poor results so far and only offset fossil fuel emission—or burn even more fossil fuel through Enhanced Oil Recovery.

If this is not enough, they now plan to implement “negative emissions” technologies such as the unproven BECCS, which, apart from uncertain benefits and large known nitrous oxide emissions, also requires vast tracts of land, fertilizer production and freshwater consumption. One scenario, for example, would require land three times the size of India. Such requirements have already led to large-scale land grab. Researchers are already talking of a new type of appropriation of nature called ‘green grabbing’. No wonder, the likes of Extinction Rebellion pit themselves against established climate activist groups.

The Green New Deal is another new buzzword, advertised through glitzy ad campaigns and supermodels. It is well known that funding NGOs such as Extinction Rebellion helps corporates mobilise people into backing a consensus created by them. Political leaders such as Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the United States (US), whose plans amount to Climate Imperialism, will end up forcing debt onto poor countries to purchase US-manufactured climate tech.

These “clean” technologies demand large amounts of minerals, which are currently being mined from Third World countries in unsafe environmentally-hazardous conditions. This is social engineering under the guise of action against climate change. And Greta Thunberg is their figurehead.

Thunberg famously was invited to make a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos and what she said was replete with the talking points and keywords these organisations use. She later appeared on a video sponsored by the WEF, along with David Attenborough and Jane Goodall, who frequently espouse neo-Malthusian ideas such as blaming over-population for climate change—a debunked racist myth being revived in climate-mitigating talks. They also raise fears over migrants and climate refugees, which later popped up in banners during the Climate Strike. All this, when the average American’s annual carbon footprint is around 2,000 times that of a Chad resident, and the average Briton’s carbon dioxide footprint in a day matches that of a Kenyan in an year.

The WEF, composed of big capitalist firms from all over the world, recently announced a Strategic Partnership Framework with the UN—a move roundly criticised for weakening of the role of nations in global decision-making. Apart from the Paris Agreement, they have dipped their toes into collaborations with Bill Gates’ Mission Innovation to develop instruments for public-private investment in clean energy.

Their promotion of “nature-based” climate solutions got a big boost when Thunberg and George Monbiot ran a campaign endorsing it. The list of “allies” they mention include the main promoters of the UN’s REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) programme as a carbon-trading mechanism, including The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International, and Nature4Climate.

The businesses which are planning to use these solutions to drive indigenous communities from their sources of livelihood and mint a seven-fold return on an annual investment of US$320 billion include Unilever, whose CEO is on the record that such climate action is the only way to grow the economy. No wonder, Shell has announced $300 million for it while burning fossil fuels. And the UN quietly complies.

Gone are the days when equity and common but differentiated responsibilities were integral to climate negotiations. Thunberg advocates that elected representatives “listen to the scientists”, but the background paper of the UN Climate Action Summit, United in Science, prepared by a “scientific advisory committee” abandoned any references to equity and common but differentiated responsibilities, thus placing the major burden of future mitigation on India and other developing countries.

The Climate Strike that led up to the Summit backed the call to declare a Climate Emergency, a move that could pave the way for governments to dig into public money to support green big business under the pretence of taking urgent action. Urgency has replaced equity as a basic element of climate action, poorer nations be damned.

It should not surprise that in all these plans, there is no talk about anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism, the bedrock of the radical environmental movement. No understanding that the exploitation of labour and nature go hand in hand. No mention that the US military is the biggest institutional polluter, producing more greenhouse gas emissions than most countries on the planet. No denunciation of war, an inevitable corollary of Imperialism, as a significant cause of environmental damage. No account for the colonization of the atmospheric space that is needed for the use of fossil fuels for the development of the global South. No acknowledgement that the effects of climate change exacerbates already existing global inequality, and environmentalism itself delivers enhanced revenue streams for corporations under this system. No space for indigenous people who fought for the cause, nor people’s agreements on climate change (which they led) that recognised that what was needed was the end of capitalism.

Capitalism is “in danger of falling apart” and the bourgeoisie are here to save it. This is environmental activism brought to you by the captains of the industry. The ‘NGO-ization of resistance’ ensures that there is a manufactured consent for the ruling class agenda – the ‘unlocking’ of public money to finance huge capital investments. Class consciousness has been erased and the oppressed are made to identify with the oppressor. It is no different in India.

The people organising the protests claim most Indians lack awareness about the issue and that the only ones conscious are the middle and upper class elites. They hide the fact that the poor, organised by progressive and democratic mass movements, are fighting for some measures required for mitigation—provision of public transport, prioritising basic needs over luxuries, and radical redistribution of wealth. They forget that adivasis are at the forefront of the fight against capitalism and its destruction of the environment.

Thunberg was one of the favourites to win the Nobel Peace Prize this year. It did not happen. But there will be more of her and #ClimateStrike in the near future. “We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is wake up and change,” says she, but what we see is capitalist “solutions” that demand our acquiescence. The rhetoric of the Left, of women’s empowerment, poverty-reduction, fighting inequality, rights of the disabled, and so on will all be used.

The  should not be distracted—it will not be long before imperialist attacks are sold under the name of the environment and, closer to home, authoritarianism is greenwashed. It is either Socialism or Climate Barbarism.

 

[Azhar Moideen is doing his Masters in Humanities at IIT Madras.]

To Adapt to the Escalating Climate Crisis, Mere Reform Will Not Be Enough

To Adapt to the Escalating Climate Crisis, Mere Reform Will Not Be Enough

Greanville Post

October 16, 2019

“To Adapt to the Escalating Climate Crisis, Mere Reform Will Not Be Enough”

By Rainer Shea

 

 

As I’ve watched young people around the world take part in the climate actions of the last month, I’ve gotten the sense that I’m watching a spectacle which has been orchestrated to create the illusion that we’re still in an earlier, more stable time for the planet’s climate. Legitimate as the passion and commitment of this generation of teen climate activists is, their efforts are being packaged by the political and media establishment in a way that encourages denial about our true situation. These ruling institutions neither want us to recognize the real solutions to the crisis, nor do they want us to see the irrecoverable and massive damage that’s already been done to the climate. We’re told that if we restructure capitalism with the help of the “green” corporations and NGOs that are backing Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion, a catastrophic outcome can be prevented. Supposedly radical politicians like Bernie Sanders promise that by making an appeal for corporations to partially reduce emissions within a capitalist framework, we can save the world. People want to believe the claims of these “green” capitalists because they want to believe that our living arrangements won’t fundamentally need to change in order for humanity to survive.

 

Sustainable Brands website, August 30, 2019 [Source] [Extinction Rebellion website]

These sources of false hope let Western capitalist society continue to ignore the primary role that imperialism and militarism have in the climate crisis, to view the capitalist governments as legitimate, and to not try to break away from the philosophy of capitalism and endless growth. The lifestyle tweaks that we’re told will save the planet—eating less meat, carpooling, flicking off the light when you leave the room—won’t be able to solve the problem even if society were to largely adopt them. The climate solutions that the capitalists present to us are designed to make us feel better while we keep letting the system move us closer to apocalypse.

To survive, we must recognize two truths about this crisis: that it’s no longer possible to avert a substantial catastrophe, and that global capitalism must be toppled in order for the human race to have a future. Once we understand the former fact, it becomes easy to accept the latter.

When you examine the state of the world, it’s not hard to see that something needs to drastically change. Extreme inequality amid neoliberal policies and rampant corporate power has made the Western countries in many ways part of the so-called Third World. As American power declines, the imperialist wars are continuing and tensions between the most powerful countries are escalating. Another global recession looms at the same time as a stable and comfortable life has become impossible even for most Americans to attain. Refugees are fleeing the worst dangers in their home countries, and are being met with inhumane treatment by the reactionary governments of the core imperialist nations. All of these capitalist crises are intertwined with the climate collapse that’s threatening the foundations of civilization.

The goals of the Paris climate agreement, which require reducing emissions by around 45 percent before 2030 so as to avoid a 1.5 degree Celsius warming, most definitely aren’t going to be met. Global greenhouse gas emissions hit a record high in 2018, indicating that we’ll be at 1.5 by 2030. The climate feedback loop will quickly turn this into 2 degrees in the following years, which will turn into somewhere between 3 and 5 degrees by 2100. It’s estimated that with just 2 degrees of warming, sea level rise will engulf 280 million people, earthquakes will kill 17 million, and over 200 million will die from droughts and famine.

Just ten years from now, this transition will be far enough along that the basic structures of capitalist society will no longer be stable. In June, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights issued a report which said that more than 120 million people could be forced into poverty by 2030 due to the destroyed property and resource scarcity that climate change-related disasters will cause. In response, more social services will be cut, society will become more militarized, and more immigrants will be deported, imprisoned, or left to die in disease-riddled concentration camps.

Such cruelties against the victims of climate change are realistic, and are all already being carried out because in a world that’s falling to pieces, the feeling of desperation drives a survival instinct that makes people devalue the lives of their fellow human beings. Capitalism, with its fixation on competition, is a key driver behind this impulse to exclude and eliminate the immigrants who seek to share in the West’s relative stability. This is why Philip Alston, the author of the U.N.’s June report, said that barring radical systemic change, “Human rights might not survive the coming upheaval.”

As the warming continues, increasing food and water scarcity, flooding, deadly heat waves, epidemics, and inequality will set off wars and civil unrest. Where stable states still exist, the prevailing paradigm will range from heightened government vigilance to outright martial law. Otherwise, borders will become less clearly defined and the existing governments will lose their power, making for a global version of the Middle East in the wake of the wars in Iraq and Syria. The vacuum will be filled with militant groups. In the Arab world these new monopolies on violence have been ISIS and Al Qaeda, and in North America they could easily become white supremacist paramilitaries.

None of this can be prevented by voting for Democrats, or changing one’s personal lifestyle, or participating in climate demonstrations that are sanctioned by the corporatocracy. The momentum of the climate’s destabilization is unstoppable, and the fascistic political forces that have emerged amid the crisis aren’t going away. However, my message with this essay isn’t to become apathetic in the face of what’s happening to us, but to embrace a worldview of realism that allows us to actually combat the problem.

We in the Western world must take guidance from the colonized people who are struggling for their liberation from imperial control and the capitalist carbon economy. Our goal should be not to reform capitalism, but to overthrow the capitalist centers of government and replace them with ecosocialist power structures. This is what the Chavistas are trying to do in Venezuela, which is moving towards an ecosocialist revolution where the country weans itself off from dependence on oil markets. Bolivia, whose socialist president Evo Morales has given the environment legal protections that are equivalent to human rights, provides further inspiration for the new systems that we’re capable of building.


The path to taking over the power of the state and seizing the means of production, as the socialists in these countries are trying to do, requires building mass movements that aren’t co-opted by the influence of the capitalist class. Our objectives need to be unambiguous: an end to capitalism and an end to all forms of imperialism, which entails decolonization.

The people of Venezuela and Bolivia are lucky to have been able to use electoral means to install a government that attempts to pursue these goals. In the U.S., where electoral politics are rigged against third parties and a deadly police state has been created, freedom will only be gained by working to usurp the authority of the capitalist state. India’s Maoist gurriellas (or the Naxalites) are doing this by taking territory away from their region’s government, as are Mexico’s communist Zapatistas. These groups are building strongholds for the larger movements to take down capitalism, which gain greater potential for victory the more that capitalism’s crises escalate; capitalist regimes that are under threat of being overthrown can already be found in Haiti and Honduras, whose U.S.-backed governments may well soon be ousted through sustained proletarian rebellions.

To replicate these liberation movements worldwide, we must stop denying the extremity of the crisis and fight capitalism with the knowledge that we’re fighting for our survival. To commit to their battle against India’s corporate-controlled government, the Naxalites have had to experience the desperation of living in a severely impoverished underclass that’s increasingly suffering from water shortages amid the climate crisis. We Westerners can’t be kept complacent by the fact that our conditions are marginally better than theirs.

In the coming years, we’re not going to be living out a scenario where capitalism changes itself into something sustainable. We’re counting down to the collapse of civilization’s current configuration and, in my view, all that can save us now is the construction of a new ecosocialist civilization in its place.

 

[Rainer Shea uses the written word to deconstruct establishment propaganda and to promote meaningful political action. His articles can also be found at Revolution Dispatch]