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The New Suits of Capitalist Developmentalism: The New Green Period of Capitalism and its Ecological and Citizen Avant-garde

The New Suits of Capitalist Developmentalism: The New Green Period of Capitalism and its Ecological and Citizen Avant-garde

Kaosenlared

May 21, 2019

By Miquel Amorós

 

[*Translated from Spanish to English via DeepL translator – Original version in Spanish here.]

 

The new green period of capitalism and its ecological and citizen avant-garde.

10 Eco-Friendly Luxury Fashion Brands – Armani [Source]


The capitalist world is debating in an unprecedented ecological crisis that threatens its continuity as a system based on the pursuit of private profit. From the pollution of air, water and soil to the accumulation of waste and rubbish; from the depletion of natural resources to the extinction of species; from the urbanizing tide to climate change; it seems that a sword of Damocles hangs over the market society. Leaders from all spheres of activity are concerned about unstoppable environmental degradation, including a reorganization of production and consumption according to inevitable ecological imperatives. Many people are convinced that the capitalist system of exploitation cannot be maintained in any other way. The contradiction between growth (the accumulation of capital) and its destructive effects (the ecological disaster), will have to be overcome with a compromise between industry and nature, or better between their respective spectacular representation: on the one hand, the high executives and on the other, the patented ecologists. We are entering a new period of capitalism, the “green” stage, where new gadgets and technological systems – “renewable” energy plants, electric cars, GMOs, big data, 5G networks, etc. – will try to harmonize economic development with the territory and the resources it contains, thus facilitating “sustainable” growth and making the current, motorized and consumerist way of life compatible with the natural environment, or better yet, with what remains of it.

Xiuhtezcatl Martinez – Barneys The Window. Photographed by Roe Ethridge / Styled by Brian Molloy / BOGLIOLI K2 Wool Hopsack Two-Button Suit / COMME DES GARÇONS PLAY Men’s Chuck Taylor 1970’s High-Top Sneakers [Source: Barneys New York]

The “energy transition” is but one aspect of the “economic transition” towards ecocapitalism, which, starting from the wild (neoliberal) incorporation of nature into the market, now reaches a phase where mercantilization will be regulated by corporate and state mechanisms. It is an industrial, financial and political operation of great importance that is going to change everything so that nothing changes, so that everything remains the same.The new technologies introduced after 1945, in the postwar period, (manufacture of cements, fertilizers, additives and detergents, more powerful engines, additives, thermal power stations, “atoms for peace”, etc.) were the factors that triggered the plundering of resources, the emission of pollutants and metropolitanization, exponentially increasing the power of transnational corporations. The economic growth became a destructive element of first order, but also, in the major cause of social stabilization, of a much greater efficiency than the unions or the workers parties. Consequently, developmentalism came to shape the policies of all kinds of governments. Employment was the worker’s only means of gaining the status of consumer, motorist and inhabitant of the periphery, so that the creation of jobs then became the primary objective of the “political class”, both right-wing and left-wing. The immediate interests of the wage-earning masses integrated in the market were aligned with those of the businessmen and the parties, to the point of firmly opposing any ecological corrective that endangered growth and, consequently, jobs. Ultimately, “dying of cancer is preferable to dying of starvation,” as some said. Unfortunately, workers have been strong supporters of business continuity, urbanization and parliamentarism, not caring about the negative impact this could have on their environment, their freedom or their lives. That is why the ecological conscience has crystallized almost exclusively in sectors that are inactive or almost so, such as academics, neo-rurals, precarious, students or pensioners. The fight against noxiousness has before it a social barrier that is difficult to overcome as long as the defence of the workplace is a priority for the majority of the population; if the contradiction is not overcome, the defence of the institutions will take precedence over the defence of the territory and the autonomy of the struggles.It is up to the state to channel the protests, encourage the formation of a pragmatic ecological elite and pave the way for the new green capitalism, if necessary by promulgating a “climate alarm state”.

Faced with a politically and socially blocked situation, the international ruling class takes the initiative by trying to direct the long march of the techno-industrial economy towards profitable “sustainability” for its own benefit and without real opposition, either by eliminating old jobs, or by creating new ones. The destruction continues and even increases, but it is certainly about saving capitalism, not the planet. Extractive ecology produces profits even in the short term; however, markets are not strong enough to initiate a process of “green” reconversion, nor are technological innovations alone, in view of which the first steps depend largely on the State. It is up to the state to channel the protests, encourage the formation of a pragmatic ecological elite and pave the way for the new green capitalism, if necessary by promulgating a “climate alarm state”. As a result, the ecological crisis – which today is presented as a climate issue – becomes trivially political. Meanwhile, the environmental movement is infiltrated by agents of the multinationals and bought with funds of various origins, resulting in a political network of influences at the service of a new kind of capitalism. The same thing happened with the NGOs. At that moment, the purge of extremisms is necessary for the transformation of the green party of decomposition into an instrument of the dominant order. The message of moderation obedient to the little belligerent slogans would not reach the manipulable masses if the anti-system “fundamentalists” were not isolated as soon as possible, or as the informal hierarchies of ecologism-spectacle say, “bridged”.

Targeted demographics – Promotional illustrations/video for Green New Deal

The movement against climate change has given rise to a registered “brand”, Extinction/Rebellion, which covers the environmentalist flank of left-wing citizenry, giving it arguments in favour of state mediation of the crisis. Those who appeal to the state certainly cannot be branded as “radicals,” since while they are against “extinction,” they are not against capital. Nor against any concrete responsible; one of its principles reads as follows: “we avoid accusing and pointing at people, because we live in a toxic system”. No concrete individual (no leader) can be considered guilty of anything. For a climbing mentality, not all leaders, not all capitalists, are equal, and ecological reforms can even be beneficial to the majority. They are potential allies and benefactors. Thus, the declared objectives of eco-citizenship do not go that way. They limit themselves to pressuring governments to force them to “tell the truth to the citizens”, to take “decarbonizing” measures foreseen in the “energy transition” and to decree the creation of “supervising citizen assemblies”, true political springboards for the arrivists. Their weapon: the non-violent mobilization of 3.5% of the “citizens”. No revolutions, because they imply violence and do not respect “democracy”, that is, the system of parties and ranks. They do not want to put an end to the capitalist regime, they want to transform it, making it “circular” and “carbon neutral”. We will not overlook the fact that the majority of waste is irrecyclable and that the production of “clean” energies implies the consumption of enormous quantities of fossil fuels. The professionals of citizen ecology do not want to destroy the State either, the great tree under whose shadow their personal careers thrive and their placement strategies work. The ecological crisis is reduced by this captive ecologism to a political problem that can be solved by the heights thanks to a Roosevelt-style Green New Deal: a new pact for the global economy between the world’s ruling class, the political bureaucracy and its environmental advisors that imposes measures for the reduction of polluting emissions and the storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide that the multiple conferences on climate change have failed to impose. Something extremely suspicious, like everything that comes from the system. The “dual” citizen strategies are “symbiotic”, not ruptured. Ecosystems would be restored by harmonizing conflicting interests from within. Duality consists precisely in collaborating (acting in symbiosis) with the institutions on the one hand, and mobilizing the catastrophe-sensitive masses on the other. However, the mobilizations are nothing more than a spectacular display of purely symbolic support. They do not aspire to much, as they do not question the status quo, not saying a word about the symbiosis of governments to those who are pressured by markets, growth or globalisation.

It has been proven that since the Johannesburg summit in 2002, if not before, the capitalist world is aware that its uncontrolled functioning produces such a level of destruction that it is in danger of collapsing. It is more than evident that despite the resistance to regulation by countries whose stability and influence depend on hard extractivism or unhindered development, capitalism as a whole has entered a green developmental phase and is trying to establish controls (Agenda 21, creation of the Green Climate Fund, fifth IPCC report, Paris Agreement, the 24 different COPs). This explains the epidemic of realism and opportunism that has taken over the ecological media “in action” to the point of provoking an avalanche of demands for employment in the political-administrative field. The militants do not want to close their doors, especially when there is a good remuneration, so that all the ideals are kept in their pockets. In truth, it is not only the capitalists who would benefit from a state of alarm. The new subsidized ecologism follows in the wake of “green” developmentism based on “renewable” industrial energies, and sustains the alarmist leaders of capitalism against the negationists. All their efforts are devoted to adjusting the industrial and consumerist way of life with the preservation of the natural environment, despite the fact that the results have not been flattering until today: greenhouse gas emissions, far from being reduced as established by international agreements, have reached record figures. With the optimism of a newly enlightened novice, they want economic growth, necessary for the survival of capitalism, and the territory, necessary for the conservation of biodiversity, at least in appearance, to be marvelous, no matter how much the global temperature continues to rise and the climate is degrading. Incomparable advantages of the symbiotic method and the reformist narrative!


Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War, Neta C. Crawford, Boston University, June 12, 2019

Those responsible for global warming and pollution, and those responsible for precariousness and exclusion are the same, but those who fight them are often not. They are two battlefields, the one of imbalance and the one of inequality, which do not finish converging and not because a cohort of vocational bureaucrats appears under the stones, trying to carve out a future for themselves by acting as an intermediary. Aspiring leaders have their days numbered because ordinary people lose their meekness when their means of subsistence are affected and they no longer allow themselves to be domesticated with the ease of days of abundance in less aggressive climates. The weakness of world-capital lies not in the climate, not even in health, but in supplies. The day when the techno-industrial system – either from the markets, or from the State – stops satisfying the needs of a large part of the population, or in other words, when due to the climate or any other factor the supply fails, the era of insurrections will come. A failed system that hinders the mobility of its subjects and puts them in immediate danger of starvation is a corpse system. It is probable that in the heat of the protest, community structures will be recomposed, fundamental to ensure the autonomy of the revolts. If civil society succeeds in organizing itself on the margins of institutions and bureaucracies, then ecological struggles will converge with wage struggles, as reflected in the praxis of a unified social conscience. And that slogan heard in the French rebellion of the “yellow vests”: “end of the month, end of the world” will reveal all its meaning.

Miguel Amorós


Talks on 12 May 2019 at the book exchange fair in L’Orxa (Alicante) and on 18 May at the Biblioteca Social El Rebrot Bord, Albaida (Valencia).

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

KPPP-LP FM             

Recorded live August 28, 2017

 

Part 2 of a 6 Part Series

[The 6-part series can be found here: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 | Read the addendum here.]

A Mexican Crossing Lines discusses the Fake progressives that are linked to the Kathleen Bennett case, as well as the connections to Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits.

Also discussed:

:: Update on Savanna Lafontaine-Greywind
:: Addressing Racism, Privilege, Power in Fargo
:: Fake Progressive Agendas Part 2

Listen To an Audio Podcast of the Show Here:

A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 2

Download Audio Link

Link to Standing Rock article discussed in this podcast:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2016/12/06/standing-rock-profusion-collusion-big-money-profits-part-2/

FaceBook Live Video of this Show Before Broadcasting (Note, FB Live videos are pre-recorded and then edited properly for radio Broadcasts on the air):

 

[Cindy Gomez-Schempp is station manager of KPPP-LP FM radio, Board President of The Peoples Press Project and editor-in-chief at Mexi-Can]

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 1

LISTEN: A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 1

KPPP-LP FM

Recorded live August 22, 2017

 

Part 1 of a 6 Part Series

[The 6-part series can be found here: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6 | Read the addendum here.]

A Mexican Crossing Lines discusses the Fake progressives that are linked to the Kathleen Bennett case such as Christina Hollenback, Nexus, and Menape. Also discussed are the connections to Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits.

Listen To an Audio Podcast of the Show Here:

A Mexican Crossing Lines – Fake Progressive Agendas – Part 1

Download Audio Link

Link to Standing Rock article discussed in this podcast:

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2016/12/05/standing-rock-profusion-collusion-big-money-profits/

FaceBook Live Video of this Show Before Broadcasting (Note, FB Live videos are pre-recorded and then edited properly for radio Broadcasts on the air):

 

[Cindy Gomez-Schempp is station manager of KPPP-LP FM radio, Board President of The Peoples Press Project and editor-in-chief at Mexi-Can]

WATCH: El Perro Del Hortelano [Dog in the Manger]

Produced by Magic Flute Films and Selva Rica

dog-in-a-manger-poster

“The film you are about to see was written by Indigenous and international artists in Peru who volunteered their time and talents because they had a story to be told. With just $8,000 dollars, as well as generous donations of equipment, food, and lodging, they created the first ever cooperative film in the Amazon.

This film is based on real events that took place in 2009 near Manu National Park, Peru.

In Peru the phrase, ‘El perro del hortelano,’ commonly refers to Indigenous people & environmentalists as dogs who do not eat from the garden of natural resources and do not let others eat from it either.

Over the last decade, more than 70% of the Peruvian Amazon Rain forest has been sold to US and other foreign companies for oil, gas, and mining operations without the consultation of the hundreds of Indigenous communities residing there.”

Lisa Intee : “In this mockumentary genre of film, the main character, Brus, plays an indigenous artist (which he is in real life too) trying to deal with the invasion of oil companies, NGOs, and volunteers. Cue the head of the NGO literally going to bed with the main oil guy brought in to convince the community to accept oil exploitation, and a woman from the US doing some suspicious research, whilst volunteers do absurd presentations in English which the community cannot understand or play cards in the background unsure as to why they’re there and what they’re actually doing. Brus sums it up with: ‘Development, NGOs – another type of colonialism.'” [Release date: February 10, 2010]

dog-in-a-manger-awards-2

 

The Alternative View Conference: Vanessa Beeley on the NGO Complex

The Wall Will Fall

April 10, 2016

by Vanessa Beeley

 

AV7 Speakers Collage_2

On the 13/14/15th May 2016 I have the honour to be speaking alongside some very distinguished analysts and researchers at the Alternative View 7 Conference in Milton Keynes, UK

Alternative View UK

 

THE NGO SOFT POWER COMPLEX: 

HUMANITARIANS OR “EXECUTIONERS”?

 

We live in a world governed by propaganda where the majority of media mouthpieces are gagged by those who own them and only permitted to release information that serves the narrative of the ruling elite or Imperialist powers.

We know that our governments lie.  We know that our media channels lie.  We search for integrity and truth among the rubble of propaganda.  We want to pin our hopes on a power for “good”.

So what does the machine create?  It creates a power for good in its own image.  It creates the Non Government Organisations, the Not for Profit Industrial Complex [NPIC] to give us the illusion, not only of this power for good, but of our own empowerment, our own stakeholding in reducing the misery being inflicted upon Humanity.

The problem reveals itself when we consider who does actually fund & create these flagships of philanthropy.  The problem lies with the foundations and government think tanks who have their hands firmly on the helm and direct the ship where they want it to go.  Do we really believe that these funders, donors and backers will sail the ship into waters where they risk capsizing their own objectives?

In this role, and dependent upon their donor support, NGOs cease to be the neutral, unbiased ‘humanitarian’ organisations they publicly purport to be, and instead become actual covert tools for foreign intervention and regime change.  By default, they are assimilated into the Western modus vivendi of “waging war by way of deception” and their purpose is to alter public perception of a conflict via a multitude of media and “marketing” channels.

My focus will be on Syria to demonstrate the blueprint used by the Axis of Interventionism and “regime change” to create a two headed coin of destruction.  On the one side is their own Frankenstein monster with its unique market branding:  Al Nusra, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Khorasan and on the other side, supposedly pitted against all form of brutality and evil authoritarianism is the ubiquitous NGO, in situ despite all risk to themselves to “save all Humanity from the evil regime”.

I will demonstrate that when the “soft power” missionary complex is in the same hands as the “hard power industrial/military” complex…they are two sides of the same coin..overtly opposing and covertly combining to achieve Imperialist aims in any given target region or nation. The NGO complex is THE most insidious tool of empire and arguably the most damaging.

“Syria is one of the biggest propaganda schemes of our time. When the dust settles, if it does, it will be revealed” – Professor AbuKhalil

 

WATCH: Not Your Climate Movement

Submedia TV

December 21, 2015

“This we bring you a recap of the COP21 climate clusterfuck in Paris, with Jim Hansen’s reaction to the historic non-agreement and 350.org’s condemnation of comrades who defied the protest ban. Over in Greece we look at the yearly riots that commemorate the police murder of Alex Grigoropoulos. Our featured interview is with three brave comrades who managed to stop the flow of dirty tar sands oil to the entire eastern seaboard of Turtle Island, with three bike locks and some egg sandwiches.” [Source: Submedia TV]

Truth between the Lines: The “BREAKING: Keystone XL pipeline rejected!” announcement circulated by 350.org

Wrong Kind of Green

November 8, 2015

 

Wrong Kind of Green responses follow 350.org remarks in bold red text. Emphasis have been left as in the original 350.org text.

 

From: Bill McKibben and 350.org’s Keystone XL Team <350@350.org>
Date: Fri, Nov 6, 2015 at 11:17 AM
Subject: BREAKING: Keystone XL pipeline rejected!
Friends,

We just made history together. 4 years to the day after we surrounded the White House, President Obama has rejected the Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline! WKOG: Framing: This introduction implies symbolic state sanctioned protests are effective in the war against genocide.

This is huge. WKOG: This has had no impact on the production of crude oil which continues to break records.

A head of state has never rejected a major fossil fuel project because of its climate impacts before. WKOG: The fossil fuel project was not rejected for its climate impacts. This is simply political posturing as the pipeline is not needed. The sections of the Keystone XL pipeline that were needed were built and put into operation long ago (June 2010, February 2011). Alternate pipelines have been approved with little to no dissent from the non-profit industrial complex. The President’s decision sets the standard for what climate action looks like: standing up to the fossil fuel industry, and keeping fossil fuels in the ground. WKOG: The fossil fuel industry is alive and well (as there remains zero focus on consumption), the fossil fuels are not being kept in the ground. They continue to be produced and brought to the market by rail and alternate pipelines.

“Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years.  (Applause.)  That’s important to know.  Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states.  We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore.  We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high.  We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some..” — US President Barack Obama, March 22, 2012 [Source]

Make no mistake: this victory belongs to us, the movement. President Obama’s courage today is a reflection of the courage shown by thousands of people who have sat in, marched, organized, (and opened a lot of emails) across North America against this pipeline. WKOG: Framing Obama as courageous is disingenuous (or delusional) at best. Those who deserve credit, gratitude and respect (those on the front lines) continue to be impacted by pollution, toxins, prostitution, drugs and the many negative aspects of oil booms and industry. This fight started with First Nations in Canada where the tar sands are extracted, and spread to farmers, ranchers and tribal nations along the pipeline route. Since then people from all walks of life have joined hands against Keystone, and the 830,000 barrels per day of destructive tar sands oil it would have carried through the country to be burned. WKOG: The victory does not belong to 350 et al., an arm of the elites by whom they are financed. Rather, the non-profit industrial complex co-opts the legitimate fight of those on the front lines only in to project faux credibility and faux legitimacy. The timing is both strategic and critical as this faux credibility is needed by 350 et al. as they take our hand and lead us to the future of assigning value to nature (payments for ecosystem services or PES) under the guise of climate solutions and a “new economy” as we approach COP21, Paris. Further, the “830,000 barrels per day of destructive tar sands oil it would have carried through the country to be burned” are being transported via rail having resulted in the deaths of 47 people in Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada and two deaths in a separate crude via rail derailment (who join those on the front lines as the invisible). Crude via rail derailments, which have been staggering in number, has also caused untold destruction to our already deteriorating ecosystems.

Together, we have shown what it takes to win: a determined, principled, unrelenting grassroots movement that takes to the streets whenever necessary, and isn’t afraid to put our bodies on the line. WKOG: 350, a multi-million dollar international NGO is not a grassroots movement. This is yet another prime example of co-optation. Only those on the front lines have ever put their “bodies on the line”. The “win”, the “victory” belongs to industry whose rape and pillage continues uninterrupted with a public thinking they have “won”. To believe we have “won” without tackling consumption of fossil fuels and the western lifestyle (which is a detriment to the world), is a win for those who finance the non-profit industrial complex and depend on both expansion of capital and perpetual growth.

Politicians in Washington DC didn’t make this happen. Our movement did. We want to thank everyone who has been a part of this campaign — from calling Congress to getting arrested on the White House fence. WKOG: This move was strategic by both state and industry. It was not the state bending or bowing to the will of the people. This does not mean those on the front lines who fought do not deserve credit. They do. Yet reality and truth must be acknowledged if we are to truly win our struggles and ultimately end genocide. State sanctioned arrests are simply PR for organizations such as 350.org.

You can join us in appreciating everyone who made this day possible by co-signing our thank you card to the movement — we’ll deliver personalized versions of the card with your messages to everyone who has led or attended an action against Keystone XL since 2011. Click here to sign the thank you card to the #NoKXL Movement.

Powered by our organizing, the tide is turning against the fossil fuel industry — every major new project they propose is being met by organized opposition on the ground, and politicians are lining up to stand behind our movement and say that we must keep the vast majority of fossil fuels underground. WKOG: Powered by the organizing of the NPIC at the bequest of their funders, society is assisting in the expansion of capital while being led to believe the opposite. This is true in the case of “renewable energies” which are not clean, are carbon based and carbon dependent (to be used by the wealthy 1% creating 50% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is to say, anyone who can afford to get on a plane). This is also true of the “new economy” now being implemented, whereby we assign monetary value to Earth’s remaining resources and assign corporations as the new “stewards” of our natural environment. To say “politicians are lining up to stand behind our movement and say that we must keep the vast majority of fossil fuels underground” as the United States leads in the destabilizing, illegal invasions and full out annihilation of sovereign states throughout the Middle East, Africa, and the globe, for oil, rare earth minerals and Earth’s natural resources, is nothing more than dangerous propaganda denying (and at the same time highlighting) racism and class.

Resistance is growing because the fossil fuel industry is more reckless than ever: from Texas where the Southern leg of Keystone XL pumps toxic tar sands, to Alberta where Big Oil foolishly plans to expand its mines, to California where they want to frack during a historic drought, to the enormous coal pits of Appalachia and Australia. WKOG: The intent behind marketing the idea that “resistance is growing because the fossil fuel industry is more reckless than ever” is to lead society to a third industrialized revolution, that of “renewable energy” in a world where growth has stagnated and capitalism, dependent on perpetual uninterrupted growth, is in trouble. Both a global transition to “renewable energies” and payments for ecosystem services create potential mass markets for capitalism to continue unabated. Note that 350 never mentioned the key sections of KXL that were built and in operation until it became common knowledge due to the perseverance of grass roots activists and those on the front lines. Also note that crude via rail was rarely if ever mentioned by the NGOS within the non-profit industrial complex (including 350.org) until after the Lac Megantic tragedy. One can safely assume this is due to the 26 million dollars (2003-2011) funneled into the Tides Foundation (which distributes funds to the tar sands campaigns) via the Buffett families NGO NoVo. Also note zero reference to the enormous lithium pits which are imperative to “renewable energy”.

We have more tools than ever to work with. A strong fossil fuel resistance is already taking shape across the globe. Since we began fighting Keystone XL, the movement for divestment from fossil fuels has grown into a global powerhouse able to move tens of billions of dollars and undercut the social license of the fossil fuel industry. Fracking bans have stopped drilling in towns, counties and now whole states across the country. Communities are seizing their energy futures by demanding 100% renewable power in record numbers. WKOG: Fracking bans were won by the hard work of grassroots groups who resisted the co-optation by the NGOS within the NPIC. NGOs serve their funders first and foremost. Recall that 1Sky (which merged with 350 in 2011) was a incubator NGO of Rockefeller Foundation which, with the United Nations Global Compact has launched a new framework to address climate change. The NPIC is assigned and financed to have society acclimatize and acquiesce to the solutions that protect power and capital. Solutions already designed and agreed upon that patiently await implementation by the elites.

And when world leaders meet in Paris later this year, they’ll do so knowing what our movement can do, and what climate action really looks like: keeping fossil fuels in the ground. WKOG: Bolivia, the G77 and other nations on the front lines of climate change demonstrated what “climate action really looks like” back in 2009 at COP15 when they demanded the radical emission targets necessary in order to keep their citizens alive. These positions were grossly undermined and made invisible by the non-profit industrial complex. In 2010 Bolivia’s Indigenous Peoples were again undermined by 350.org at The World People’s Conference on Climate Change hosted by the state of Bolivia. The declaration traduced by this conference was also buried by the non-profit industrial complex. Further, world “leaders” such as Obama, serve capital not people. They respond to force and threats to capital and growth, not passiveness and admiration. “Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.” — Assata Shakur

Today we can approach all of our work with new eyes. We know that we can fight, and we can win.

This isn’t just a victory for the climate movement — it’s a victory for everyone who believes in the power of organized people, from the streets of Missouri, to the border crossings of Arizona, to the hills of South Dakota and Nebraska. WKOG: Note that there is not a single reference in this announcement to the crude via rail 21st century empire built by Barrack Obama’s financial advisor and billionaire Warren Buffett (while all eyes were on the KXL). Note not a single reference to the consumption/lifestyles by those of privilege (350 target audience) as though the oil being produced simply has vanishes into mid air after it is produced and delivered to market. Nor does 350/McKibben address the capitalist economic system that perpetuates the consumption and enslaves us all. Via spectacle, 350 et al perpetuate society’s accelerating decline into a culture incapable of employing the critical thought process so desperately needed at this juncture.

Click. Like. But don’t think. It’s divisive.

Together, we’re on the path to real, substantive change.

With joy, and immense gratitude,

The 350.org Keystone XL pipeline fighting team:

Bill, Cam, Clayton, David, Deirdre, Duncan, Jamie, Jason, Joshua, Linda, Matt, May, Phil, Rae and Sara

 

The NGO Trap

Stephanie McMillan

June 25, 2015

This first appeared in Briarpatch magazine.

NGO Dream Job

Resilience Is Futile: How Well-Meaning Nonprofits Perpetuate Poverty

Jezebel

July 14. 2015

by Melissa Chadburn

Resilience Is Futile: How Well-Meaning Nonprofits Perpetuate Poverty

Two years ago, I was hired as a campaign coordinator for a community initiative in South L.A. I got the job because I’d been an organizer for labor unions, and I was eager and thrilled. I’d be coordinating The Belong Campaign, part of a nonprofit funded by government entities as well as large foundations. My cubicle was in the heart of The Children’s Bureau. What they said I was doingwhat the foundations were paying us to do, what I thought I was doingwas working to prevent of child abuse and neglect. But the work was not what it seemed.

I came into my job knowing a couple of things. I knew how to organize people to stand up for what they believed in. I knew I wanted to do something to fix the system that treated victims of abuse and neglect like bar codes.

Then, on my first day, I was shown to my cubicle and handed a heap of papers that touted an ideology—a Theory of Change. On subsequent days, I sat at large round tables and looked on as a series of aggravating white liberals spouted the inherent value of this theory:

Relationship Based Organizing is a specific model that recognizes and harnesses the power, and inherent skills and talents of individuals to create and drive the changes they determine are necessary to improve the lives of their families, friends and neighbors.

The story the campaign told was a story of lost resilience. The narrative they preached was how to get it back. This is a common theme in community work. Over the years the term “resilience” has been applied more and more frequently to people in distressed communities to mean their capacity to bounce back from dysfunction or breakdown. Increasing community resilience becomes a solution to chronic barriers such as poverty, trauma, and class inequity. Dozens of programs that encourage resiliency have been introduced in schools and low-income neighborhoods all over the world in an effort to help children recover from trauma and also cope better with their day-to-day stresses.

It’s poverty amelioration through behavioral change—a behavioral change that asks for utter stability. What the resilience preachers look for is a person to be unchanged in the face of trauma. But I would argue that this is impossible, that people are always changed by trauma, and furthermore, that we ought to be. Rather than shift ourselves to change what is, the foundations that fund these initiatives would be better off addressing the gaps, filling the lacks, changing what isn’t.

To me, the story of the families we engaged in South L.A. was never the story of a lack of resilience. It was the story of your electricity getting turned off or your landlord being a slumlord, or your immigration status standing in the way of a good job, or your children graduating from high school with little to no money to pay for college, or your child joining a gang, or your child suffering from autism.

The story, another way, goes like this:

Once upon a time, there was a wealthy community. Just to the south was a poor community. Between the two ran a freeway. People from the poor community were always sneaking over, trying to partake of the wealth of the wealthy community. The people in the wealthy community resented this. Or some did. Some seemed fine with it, and even helped them once they got there. Some said it was a crisis. Others said: What crisis? It’s been going on for years, plus they work so cheap. The local nonprofits, city and county efforts seized on the situation and, as always, screwed it up: reduced it to pithy ideologies, politicized it, and injected it with faux urgency, until I was confused, and we all were confused and there was nothing much left to do but to throw some good wholesome foundation money at it.


About five months into my employment as campaign coordinator, I attended a research meeting where all the plans for the organization were laid out and where I felt very conflicted. I already knew that, in these types of meetings, I was made a tourist to a world and a life that I already knew well. Oftentimes I was asked to be a translator of sorts—a translator of where things went wrong for all these people, for the me I had once been.

At roundtables, this one woman who developed our particular Theory of Change sat at the head, and she carried with her a sort of dominance. Her rhetoric was accepted as the central rhetoric. Throughout time, the rest of us who worked with her stopped believing in our value as organizers. Some of us became passive and stopped believing in the validity of our own experience.

We all began speaking in her language: protective factors, asset based organizing, personal resilience. We started to absorb this woman’s idea that changing people’s behavior was the solution to their problems, which meant absorbing the idea that people’s behavior was the source of their problems. But I knew at the core of me this was false. The problem had never been that I didn’t know the right number to call. It’s a lack of resources that produces a lack of resilience, not the other way around.

But the work of the initiative said otherwise. This is what we did: we gathered residents in the community and pointed out what their individual and community assets were. Nothing else. We didn’t provide services, or even find a way to coordinate between the different service providers.

Our mission statement:

The 35,000 children and youth, especially the youngest ones, living in the neighborhoods within the 500 blocks of the Magnolia Catchment Area will break all records of success in their education, health, and the quality of nurturing care and economic stability they receive from their families and community—Getting To Scale An Elusive Goal.

Our target community was the Los Angeles neighborhoods known as West Adams, Pico Union, and the North Figueroa Corridor, where the streets are lined with sweet bread bakeries and fruit cart, hot dogs fried and wrapped in bacon, chicharrones the size of my head, round and puffed or flat with lime and chile, AA meeting spaces, Disney knock-offs. The making and selling of things was an endless mantra, repeated in my head with every step.

The Belong Campaign chose this area because it’s a place that houses vulnerable, high-need, low-resource neighborhoods with multiple threats: high poverty, low employment rates, high incidence of diabetes and asthma, and high rates of involvement with the child welfare system.

In other words, we served people who are already resilient. If there’s one thing that people in poverty, children in foster care, and recent immigrants already have in abundance, it’s the knowledge of how to be tough.


How did this gaggle of liberals measure this mental toughness of resilience? One common tool to measure resilience is called the Children and Youth Resilience Measure (CYRM-28). The CYRM-28 is a 28-item questionnaire that explores the individual, relational, communal, and cultural resources that may bolster the resilience of people aged nine to 23. The measure was designed as part of the International Resilience Project, based in Canada—a group on the forefront of resilience studies and partially funded by the Nova Scotia Department of Justice Correctional Services.

Part of the programming offered by The Belong Campaign was a training for the parents in the community. The theme, of course, was resilience. It would be encouraged through discussions about challenges that life presents you and what possible resources you can use to respond to those challenges.

I felt this training endorsed a morally appealing self-castigation, and when I was hired, I did away with it. We’d built what I thought was a lonely hearts club; parents attended their “resilience meeting” casually, waiting for the day to unfold. They’d do this with or without us, without this hovering idea of what they lacked. Rather, I thought it would be best to go out in the community and assess who lived there, ask where the children were, what their barriers were.

So the promotoras and I knocked on the doors within the geographic target area. We surveyed the questions within CYRM 28. I added an additional question: “What was it that you want or need most in the community?” Most everyone responded with jobs and safer spaces. This seemed reasonable and not something that stemmed from a lack of resilience.

The questions were like this:

When I am hungry there is enough to eat:

Not at all A little Somewhat Quite a bit A lot

Door to door, I thought about the Philippines, where my people drink coffee and smoke cigarettes, (backwards, the lit end in your mouth). It reduces the appetite. Babies drink coffee, children smoke cigarettes, little brown bellies go round and vacant, the coffee sloshing around.

I’d think about it, asking people:

I know how to behave in different social situations:

Not at all A little Somewhat Quite a bit A lot

And I’d remember my own capacity, or lack thereof, to behave in social situations, and then think back to a time when I too lacked resources. When I first entered the system as a foster kid I ran away a lot. I ran to a park in the Pacific Palisades, all trees and dips and picnic tables. I hung by the pay phones for a nighttime streetlamp. I pretended to be relevant and then later I retreated down a hill.


Halloween of 1993, all the rich kids came to the park and called it “Midnight Madness.” I emptied a tub of Cool Whip and replaced it with Nair so when one of the pretty girls was being flirty I could douse her long, blonde, shiny hair with it and she’d think it was innocuous, and then scowl as handfuls of her hair fell out.

Back then, I was a solid little bomb—young, angry, and energetic. I had nowhere to put all of these feelings so I pasted posters on the sides of buildings, leafleted college campuses, got people to sign petitions at supermarkets. I was angry because, after being placed into foster care, I hated all the rules of my life and being told what to do and when to do it. I hated that the people who were in charge of my well-being felt substantially less prepared and dumber than me. Less resilient, you could say.

The moment I entered the system I felt my identity ebb further and further away, no longer a name to my body, no longer an address, no longer a mother, no longer a brother, no longer a host of dreams attached to my body. My body was a number. My body was assigned to a social worker. The social worker was responsible for lots of bodies, not just my body. And yet deep, deep inside I was certain that, if these people could just meet me—if they could hear me and listen to me and talk to me—they would know that I was different. I was special and articulate and to be handled with some kind of care. I did not deserve to be poor. I did not deserve to be forgotten. I wasn’t yet aware that no one did.

Was I “resilient?” I don’t know. But I was a Marxist, a graffiti artist, a girl looking for love. I was needy and cool and confused and nonchalant, and I hitchhiked around town with my friends. I slept in parks and in rich kids’ homes and stayed up in coffee shops. I drank Carl’s Jr. coffee and smoked clove cigarettes. I did not pay for too many things, I stole food but was at an age where I could live off of a large french fries, cigarettes, and coffee.

Meanwhile, there were other kids in foster care who were much worse off than me. As of 1989 Los Angeles County had already paid $18 million in settlements to children who were abused while placed in custody.The majority of the lagging Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) investigations—which include allegations of serious abuse, inadequate food, homes in disrepair or other licensing violations—remained open for more than six months, according to data obtained under the California Public Records Act.

One case involved a nine-year-old boy. He weighed only 28 lbs. That’s half the size of my dog. The social workers assigned to his number hadn’t visited him for four months. In their defense, my social worker was only required to see me once every six months. During that time, the boy was beaten, sodomized, burned on his genitals, and nearly drowned by his foster parents. He had become a spastic paraplegic.

On the other side of the country, I had a brother who was being kicked out of our father’s home. He was being kicked out for being gay. “Bakla” is how he was called at home. It means “faggot” in tagalog. He was being called bakla and my rich girlfriends were taking ecstasy and making out with each other. And I was sleeping in their rooms in their clothes, fondling their CD collection, pretending it was all mine until the one day I got picked up and put back into the group home I’d run away from.

If you ask one of these service providers they might say I reached my all time resiliency low when I was sent to the first group home, scared of the bed that had been already been so slept on. Scared of the used sheets and scared of the roommate and scared of not knowing things. The only thing I could compare this separation to is a break-up, one where you imagine your beloved at home, heartbroken, crying, hugging a pillow in the dark. In this new place I imagined the same of my mother, and then I took maybe one or two moments to pause and take in my own surroundings. It was clear to me then that nothing good was ever gonna come of me. It has taken me two decades to shape all that helplessness and anger into a career. Does that make me, now, resilient?

I thought of my past a lot during the Belong Campaign. At one of our meetings, about three months into my tenure, I looked across the table at the people in nice suits, drinking coffee and eating bagels, talking about solving this poverty problem by increasing these community members’ sense of belonging. These people, my colleagues, traveled the world—Australia, Africa, and throughout the U.S.—speaking on panels and at conferences about their innovative new approaches to increasing resilience. Making money off poverty was their vocation. They were compensated for these studies, creating a career out of their ludicrous idea of “resilience,” that the circumstances of these people’s lives were somehow a result of their poor choices or ill behaviors.

At this meeting, they proposed a new concept. What if we did a cortisol study, someone said.

Cortisol is the hormone that is released when someone is distressed. The proposal was to enlist a group of parents in the target low-income community in a clinical trial—to take a mouth swab and check their cortisol level, and then ask them to do something stressful and take another mouth swab to check their cortisol level. Compare these cortisol counts to others in more stable environments. The hypothesis for this study was: people in low-income communities suffer greater levels of stress. The incentive for the initiative was that it might procure funding that could then be used to establish concrete measurable findings which would then in turn substantiate the need for more workshops on resilience, more outreach, and ultimately more funding.

That day was enough for me. On that day I walked out of that job, understanding fully that the story of these people was not one of a lack of resilience but of too many systems to navigate. How to see a doctor, how to enroll in classes, how to get a driver’s license, how to tell people that you are already resilient, and what you need is a job that pays better, a job that will take you out of the surveys and focus groups to a place where you’re no longer so poor.


Melissa has written for Guernica, Buzzfeed, Poets & Writers, Salon, McSweeney’s, Tin House, The Rumpus, American Public Media’s Marketplace, Al Jazeera America and dozens other places. Her essay, “The Throwaways,” received notable mention in Best American Essays and Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her first novel, A Tiny Upward Shove, is forthcoming with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

This feature has been supported by the journalism nonprofit Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

Illustration by Tara Jacoby

How Capitalists Control Mass Movements

by Stephanie McMillan

We really need to understand the methods used by NGOs* to undermine radical political organizing efforts and divert us into political dead ends. The People’s Climate March is a good case study because it’s so blatant.

In South Florida, we saw the exact same process after the BP oil spill. Once the NGOs came in to the organizing meetings and were given the floor, all potential resistance was blocked, strangled, and left for dead. NGOs will descend on any organizing effort and try to take it over, dilute it, and bring it eventually to the Democratic Party. We can also see an identical set-up with the established labor unions and many other organizations.

If organizers are being paid, usually they are trapped in this dynamic, whether or not they want to be. While combining a job with organizing to challenge the system sounds very tempting and full of potential, it’s overwhelmingly not possible. They are two fundamentally incompatible aims, and those funding the job definitely do not have the aim of allowing its employees to undermine the system — the very system that allows the funders to exist, that they feed off of. Capitalists aren’t stupid, and they know how to keep their employees chained to a post, even if the leash feels long. With NGOs, capitalism has set up a great mechanism for itself both to generate revenue, and to pacify people who might otherwise be fighting to break the framework. “The unity of the chicken and the roach happens in the belly of the chicken.”

payumcmill

Another problem is that the rest of us attending an activity or a demonstration have to wonder: when organizers are being paid to say whatever it is they’re saying, how do we know whether or not they believe it? They follow a script, and can’t reveal their true feelings. They attempt to promote their cause in a convincing way, but if their funding was cut off, would they still be involved? Would their orientation still be the same? It’s hard to believe anything said by a paid spokespuppet – it’s like interacting with an embodied list of talking points. There can be no real trust, that the person could be relied upon when the money is no longer there.

Of course people need jobs, and NGOs provide them. I’m not blaming those who work for NGOs any more than who work for any other capitalist institution. We’re all trapped in the enemy’s economy. Instead, what I’m arguing for is to be aware of the nature of it, its severe limitations, and to do real political work outside the framework provided by the job.

We should attend demonstrations like the climate march, because a lot of sincere people will be there who want to make a difference. But we should remain autonomous within them, bringing our own message targeting capitalism as the root of the problem, exposing the uselessness of working within the political frameworks it sets up for us, and building our own organizations with the people we meet.

To challenge, weaken and ultimately destroy capitalism, we need to build a strong, organized, broad, combative mass movement outside the influence of capitalist interests.

 

 

[Stephanie McMillan is a cartoonist and the author of seven books, most recently the “Resistance to Ecocide” (graphic novel) and “Capitalism Must Die!” (cartoons plus theoretical text). Please visit stephaniemcmillan.org]

 

* (NGO: Non-Governmental Organizations, or “non-profits,” usually in fact funded by governments and/or corporate foundations).