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SMALL IS STILL BEAUTIFUL

Resurgence

Issue 299
November/December 2016
Brave New Worlds

By Paul Kingsnorth

Paul Kingsnorth argues that ‘progressive’ green thinkers have been seduced by the EU and bypassed by a modern-day Peasants’ Revolt.

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Illustrations by Edd Baldry www.eddbaldry.co.uk

In his introduction to the 1979 edition of his novel Pig Earth – the first in a trilogy chronicling the decline of peasant life in Europe in the 20th century – John Berger makes a distinction between what he calls a “culture of progress” and a “culture of survival”. The culture of progress, he says, “was born with the bourgeoisie as an ascendant class, and has been taken over by all modern theories of revolution”. In the contemporary West, virtually every political ideologue – capitalists, communists, liberals, modern conservatives – is in this sense a progressive. They believe in constant improvement, constant change: their differences amount, says Berger, to “a fight about the content of progress”.

The culture of survival, by contrast, is the culture of the peasantry, of Indigenous people; of pre-modernity. It is the culture of the great majority of human history, and of many people still, and it is exemplified for Berger by the French peasantry among whom he still lives. A culture of survival does not have an end goal: it just is. Its purpose is to live from day to day and year to year. It is a repeating pattern. The end goal of the culture of progress, meanwhile, is at its grandest the abolition of death itself. For this goal, the destruction of traditional ways of being and seeing, and much of the world’s wild beauty, is a sacrifice worth making.

Back in 1979, the peasantry of France, and across Europe, was haemorrhaging from the land. This was no accident: it was a planned extinction, and Berger was quite clear who the agents were – the European Economic Community, as it then was. “The economic planners of the EEC”, he wrote, “envisage the systematic elimination of the peasant by the end of the century. For short-term political reasons, they do not use the word elimination but the word modernisation. Modernisation entails the disappearance of the small peasants (the majority) and the transformation of the remaining minority into totally different social and economic beings.”

Forty years on, the process of elimination (sorry, “modernisation”) in Western Europe is complete, and the EEC – now the EU – is turning its attention to Eastern Europe. The destruction of the peasantry, and the naturally diverse landscapes they inhabited and created, is now being rolled out in Romania, Poland, Hungary and other EU nations. The epic destruction created by Europe’s Common Agricultural Policy – the wiping out of hedgerows, forests and wildlife, landscape features, small and family farms, and the promotion of industrial farming and agricultural free trade – has arguably done more damage to the rural landscapes of Europe in fifty years than any other single instrument in the previous five hundred.

Back in the 1970s, when Berger was writing, most radical thinkers, including most greens, were clear about the damage being wrought by the undemocratic, bureaucratic and centralised European Economic Community. E.F. Schumacher, Leopold Kohr, Edward Goldsmith, Tony Benn and many others could be heard making a clear case against the culture of progress it represented. Unelected, created by stealth, operating in the interests of big business, the EEC had a clear aim: to diminish, if not abolish, the democratic sovereignty of European nations, and to “pool” that sovereignty in the interests of creating a giant, borderless free-trade zone. Though it was dressed up with talk of peace, equality and brotherhood, it was, as its name implied, primarily an economic edifice. Its culture of progress was a culture of homogenisation, centralisation, control and profit.

Fast forward four decades, and what is now the European Union has been highly successful in achieving this aim. From a six-nation free-trade zone, it has morphed into a 28-nation superstate with its own currency, its own government and its own laws, which apply equally to all member states regardless of their specific cultures and traditions. It has removed “barriers to trade” within its border, including local ways of living, national laws and, most controversially, the right of nation-states to control inflows of people from elsewhere. Accountability, distinctiveness and localism have been crushed beneath its weight.

“Whenever something is wrong,” wrote Leopold Kohr in his classic book The Breakdown of Nations, “something is too big.” Virtually everything in the EU is too big these days, and it shows. The impossibility of maintaining one financial model for 28 nations has required the EU to cast the people of its poorer periphery nations, from Ireland to Greece to Spain to Portugal, into debt peonage or mass unemployment in order to keep its superstate dream alive: something it has done with extreme ruthlessness. The economic crisis this has caused, combined with the cultural and social impact of its open borders policy, has led to the rise of far-right parties in many EU nations: the very thing defenders of the union say it exists to counter. Economically, culturally and politically, the giant is staggering: giants always do. Small, after all, is beautiful, right?

So you would think that when a major nation like Britain chose to leave the EU and forge its own path, there would be some celebration amongst greens. It’s true, of course, that the EU has been the progenitor of a number of beneficial environmental regulations (imposed upon nation-states, rather than created and passed into law by their own parliaments, of course). But do they make up for the damage it has done to agriculture, to cultural distinctiveness, to the wildlife and the soil, to democracy? It’s an impossible calculation to make, but whatever side you come down on there should, at the very least, surely be a good degree of healthy scepticism amongst greens about the nature and future of the European Union.

And yet, most greens – most people who consider themselves in any way radical, in fact – seem to be crying into their muesli about Brexit. Or, worse, instead of simply complaining, many who voted Remain have been launching vicious attacks on those who chose to leave the union. Idiots! Racists! Selfish old fools! If only they had known what they were talking about, if only they had been properly educated, if only they hadn’t believed the nasty right-wing newspapers, they would have seen that their future lay with a sclerotic, unaccountable bureaucracy and its friends in big business.

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It’s been astonishing to watch. With a few notable exceptions – Green Party peer Jenny Jones, for example – green and supposedly “alternative” politicians, thinkers and public figures have thrown in their lot with the EU’s domineering culture of progress: and not just tentatively, but with huge enthusiasm. The decision to leave has been treated by some of them not as an opportunity, a throwing off of shackles or even simply a change that must be accommodated, but as a national disaster.

What is going on here? The EU violates just about every green principle going. It is the opposite of local; it is destructive to the natural world; it wipes out cultural distinctiveness; it is anti-democratic; it puts the interests of banks and corporations before the interests of its working people. Why – when – how – did the green movement abandon its commitment to localism and democracy, and jump into bed with a beast like this?

One answer, I would suggest, is that the European Union has become a symbol rather than a reality. I would guess that very few people who voted to either leave the EU or remain in it know much at all about how it actually works. Rather, they voted for or against what it symbolised to them. To those in favour, the EU is a symbol of continental cooperation, cosmopolitanism, free movement of people (and money, of course), and other such wholesome things. To oppose the EU, by contrast, represents nationalism, racism, small-mindedness and a lack of a university degree: all things against which most self-described “progressives” instinctively react. In other words, this is not a rational debate about the benefits or otherwise of a political union. It is a whose-side-are-you-on? battle: and increasingly, it is split along class lines.

Class has always been the fault line running down the middle of the green movement, and with the Brexit vote it has been exposed. Those who voted to leave wanted to regain democratic control of their nation. They wanted a voice, because many of them felt perpetually ignored. The working classes and the lower middle classes – not the cultural or political elites – pulled off a kind of modern-day Peasants’ Revolt, against the advice of every section of the establishment. The greens could have been on their side, making the case for relocalising power, reclaiming national democracy, and creating environmental and social regulations that apply specifically to this island and its bioregions. That’s what localism looks like, after all.

But the case was never made. Why? Perhaps because few greens come from the social classes that have been affected negatively by the EU and its part in the globalisation project. The greens have always been a movement primarily of educated, middle-class intellectuals. Unlike either the socialist left or the conservative right, they have never had a popular movement behind them, and at times like this it shows. Have many green voters had their wages undercut by mass migration? Have many eco-intellectuals felt unheard and unloved as the global liberal project rolls onward? Or have they been in the vanguard? At a moment when all is up for grabs – when an optimistic, genuinely radical case could be made for relocalising Britain – the greens, and the left generally, look like marooned members of an elite, clinging to each other for support, and wondering what just happened. They suddenly look very… well, conservative.

This, I would also suggest, is related to another problem that the green movement suffers from. A distinctive green politics has been subsumed over the last few decades into the broader politics of the “progressive”, globalist left. Once, the greens challenged that culture of progress on both left and right, and ploughed their own, ecocentric furrow, seeking to reconnect people with Nature, the planet and their local communities, trying to forge a new political narrative and language. But all this has long gone. Today, green politics is a subset of the fringe left: promoting top-down solutions and regulations; campaigning against “austerity” in a way that suggests that growth is a solution rather than a problem; pushing for open borders regardless of the social impact on the poorest third of society, and regardless of the population growth and consequent environmental destruction it causes. Once a radical political movement, the greens now look like social democrats with solar panels.

The final answer to the puzzle comes from the change in the green relationship to the state. Once, greens were suspicious of the size and power of both states and corporations. Today, though, much of the “green left”, true to the tradition of British state socialism, seems to see the state as a defender of the people against the market. If this is how you see things, then a superstate is a superdefender. This explains how we have got to the position where much of the green left appears to view the European Union as a benevolent sugar daddy, defending Britain against both corporations and its own elected government.

What can be done about this? As Britain prepares to leave the EU, it seems an urgent question. An exciting, radical case for a rejuvenated British democracy, free from EU bureaucracy, is there for the taking. If we are no longer subject to the dictates of the Common Agriculture Policy or the Common Fisheries Policy, for example, surely it is possible to at least propose a much more sustainable ways of managing the land and seas. The greens should be right in at the heart of this debate. But they are not. And until they start to understand why people voted to reject the EU, their message is likely to go unheard.

Something genuinely radical has just happened in Britain. A potential crack has opened in the culture of progress, and it has been opened not by intellectuals, ideologues or political philosophers, but by 17.4 million ordinary people. “Progressives” like to claim to speak on behalf of the “grass roots”: now they have seen what the grass roots looks like. If ever there were a moment that was ripe for the seizing, this is it. It could go in any direction now. What will the greens do?

 

[Paul Kingsnorth is a writer, former deputy editor of the Ecologist, and a co-founder of The Dark Mountain Project. His new novel, Beast, was published in July this year. He lives in Ireland. www.dark-mountain.net]

Further Reading:

June 27, 2016: So This is Brexit and What Have We Done

July 3, 2016:The Grief of the Elites [Excerpt: “The middle class left, which dominates Britain’s cultural conversation and assumes its right to guide it, is full of rage. This excellent piece dissects it, suggesting that ‘the disconnect between the majority of the voting public and the liberal left is vast, full of snobbery and is only growing.’ It seems that way from here. Who are these stupid, ageing, white, working-class idiots who have just destroyed our children’s’ glorious future, they demand? It’s a rhetorical question. They don’t seem interested in speaking to anyone who voted to leave. It is much easier to caricature them as racist bigots who need to get with the progressive future.”]

Soros Plays Both Ends in Syria Refugee Chaos

New Eastern Outlook

December 18, 2015

F. William Engdahl

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Since John D. Rockefeller was advised to protect his wealth from government taxation by creating a tax-exempt philanthropic foundation in 1913, foundations have been used by American oligarchs to disguise a world of dirty deeds under the cover “doing good for mankind,” known by the moniker “philanthropy” for mankind-loving. No less the case is that of George Soros who likely has more tax-exempt foundations under his belt than anyone around. His Open Society foundations are in every country where Washington wants to put ‘their man’ in, or at least get someone out who doesn’t know how to read their music. They played a key role in regime change in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe after 1989. Now his foundations are up to their eyeballs in promoting propaganda serving the US-UK war agenda for destroying stability in Syria as they did in Libya three years ago, creating the current EU refugee crisis.

We should take a closer look at the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis wreaking such havoc and unrest across the EU, especially in Germany, the favored goal of most asylum seekers today. George Soros, today a naturalized American citizen, has just authored a six-point proposal telling the European Union on what they must do to manage the situation. It’s worth looking at in detail.

He begins by stating, “The EU needs a comprehensive plan to respond to the crisis, one that reasserts effective governance over the flows of asylum-seekers so that they take place in a safe, orderly way…” He then says that, “First, the EU has to accept at least a million asylum-seekers annually for the foreseeable future.”

Soros does not elaborate where he pulled that figure from, nor does he discuss the role of other of his Soros-financed NGOs in Syria and elsewhere which manufacture faked propaganda to build a public sympathy lobby for a US and UK “No Fly Zone” in Syria as was done to destroy Libya.

The American hedge fund speculator then adds, among his points to be implemented, a series of proposals that would consolidate a de facto supranational EU state apparatus under control of the faceless, unelected bureaucrats of the European Commission. The Soros proposals call for creating what amount to EU-issued refugee bonds. He states, “The EU should provide €15,000 ($16,800) per asylum-seeker for each of the first two years to help cover housing, health care, and education costs – and to make accepting refugees more appealing to member states. It can raise these funds by issuing long-term bonds using its largely untapped AAA borrowing capacity…”

That issuing comes to 30 billion euros at a time when most EU member states are struggling to deal with domestic economic crises. Soros is generous with other peoples’ money. The mention of the AAA bond rating is the rating of the legal entity named the European Union. Soros has maneuvered for years to try to get a centralized Brussels independent financial power that would take the last vestiges of national financial sovereignty away from Berlin, Paris, Rome and other EU states, part of a scheme to destroy the remains of the national borders and of the nation-state principles established at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 ending the Thirty Years’ War.

George Soros has more ideas how to spend European citizens’ tax euros. He calls on the EU to cough up an added annual commitment to “frontline countries” (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan) of at least €8-10 billion annually. Then, insidiously, Soros declares, “Safe channels must be established for asylum-seekers, starting with getting them from Greece and Italy to their destination countries. This is very urgent in order to calm the panic.”

‘Destination Countries’

His use of the term “destination countries” is very interesting. Today, by a huge margin that means the Federal Republic of Germany. Soros strategy is obviously to target Germany, especially, with a refugee flood.

It has gradually come out into the open that many of the refugees or asylum-seekers flooding into the EU since summer of 2015 have come in response to reading Twitter or Facebook social media portraying especially Germany as an arms-open, refugee-loving paradise where all their needs will be met.

How did word get out that Germany was the “in place” for those in flight from Syria and other conflict areas? Vladimir Shalak at the Russian Academy of Sciences developed the Internet Content-Analysis System for Twitter (Scai4Twi). He made a study of over 19,000 refugees-related original tweets (retweets discounted). His study showed that the vast majority of the tweets name Germany as the most refugee-welcoming country in Europe.

Shalak’s study discovered that 93% of all tweets about Germany contained positive references to German hospitality and its refugee policy. Some samples of the Tweets:

• Germany Yes! Leftists spray a graffiti on a train sayin “Welcome, refugees” in Arabic

• Lovely people – video of Germans welcoming Syrian refugees to their community

• Respect! Football fans saying “Welcome Refugees” across stadiums in Germany. _ • This Arabic Graffiti train is running in Dresden welcoming refugees: (ahlan wa sahlan – a warm welcome).

• ‘We love Germany!,’ cry relieved refugees at Munich railway station

• Thousands welcome refugees to Germany – Sky News Australia

• Wherever this German town is that welcomed a coach of Syrian refugees with welcome signs and flowers –thank you.

Now comes the real hammer. The vast majority of these “Germany welcomes refugee” Tweets come not from Germany, but from the United States and from the UK, the two countries up to their necks in the bloody deeds of ISIS and Al Qaeda and countless other terror gangs rampaging across Syria the past four years.

Shalak analyzed 5,704 original tweets containing a “#RefugeesWelcome” hashtag and a country name which welcomes them. It showed almost 80% of all Tweets claimed that Germany was the most-welcoming country in Europe. The second most welcoming country found was Austria with 12%. However, the study also found that those “Germany welcomes you” Tweets did not originate from inside Germany. Over 40% of all the Tweets originated from the USA, UK or Australia. Only 6.4% originated inside Germany.

George Soros is also the Daddy Warbucks financing a new EU think-tank with the name European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). On the website of the ECFR is an editorial titled, “If Europe wants people to stop drowning it needs to let them fly.” The Soros Think-Tank argues that the main reason migrants choose boats is EU Directive 51/2001/EC: “The EU directive was passed in 2001. Put simply, it states that carrier companies—whether airlines or ship lines—are responsible for ensuring that foreign nationals wishing to travel to the European Union have valid travel documents for their destination. If such travelers arrive in the EU and are turned away, the airlines are obligated to foot the bill for flying them home.” In other words, “open the gates of heaven wider, dear Lord.”

Soros’ Syria NGOs Beat War Drums

The cynicism of the Soros call for the EU taxpayers to step up to the plate and accept millions of new refugees, to fly them in without papers, and more, is clear when we look at the same Soros-financed network of NGOs active in Syria trying to create the propaganda background to get acceptance of yet another US “No Fly Zone” over Syria as was done against Iraq after 1991 and against Libya in 2012 to bomb those countries back to the stone age.

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Illustration by Mark Gould

One of the key online advocates for a US-UK “No Fly Zone” over Syria, something the Russian intervention since September 30 has de facto blocked, is an organization known as Avaaz. Avaaz was given initial financial support by Soros’ foundation in 2007 to promote key policies suitable to the US State Department. They cite Soros’ Open Society foundation as their foundation partner. Avaaz played a key role promoting the 2011 No Fly Zone in Libya that introduced a regime of terror and chaos in that once prosperous and stable African nation. Avaaz is now very actively promoting the same treatment for Syria.

Ken Roth & George Soros

Executive Director of Human Rights Watch Ken Roth (L) with George Soros

Another Soros-financed NGO active demonizing the Assad government as cause of all atrocities in Syria and helping build public support for a war in Syria from the US and EU is Amnesty International. Suzanne Nossel, until 2013 the Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, came to the job from the US State Department where she was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, not exactly an unbiased agency in regard to Syria. As well, the Soros-financed Human Rights Watch has played a major role in falsely portraying ISIS and Al Qaeda civilian bombings and other atrocities as the work of the Assad regime, building support for military action from the US and EU.

The Middle East and other wars today including Ukraine are the product of the foreign policy doctrine set out in 1992 by then Defense Assistant Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the infamous Wolfowitz Doctrine that justifies “pre-emptive” war, free from any oversight from the UN Security Council, against any nation or group of nations which threaten US “Sole Superpower” domination. George Soros, the hedge fund speculator turned self-proclaimed philanthropist, and his tax-exempt foundations, are an integral part of that pre-emptive war machine. Now Soros lectures the EU countries, above all Germany, on how they should receive the human fallout from the wars he and his cronies in the US State Department have created. That’s real Chutzpah, or perhaps it is really hubris.

 

 

[F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.]

 

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