Archives

Tagged ‘Pacifism‘

How Obsession with “Nonviolence” Harms the Palestinian Cause

“Oppressed people do not and should not have to explain their oppression to their oppressor, nor tailor their resistance to the comfort of the oppressors and their supporters.”

Opinion/Editorial

10 July 2012

Palestinians do not have to tailor their resistance to the liking of the oppressor class and their supporters.

(Mahfouz Abu Turk / APA images)

In recent years, western discourse surrounding the Palestinian cause has employed a few new — and superficial — adjectives to describe Palestinian resistance: Palestinian “nonviolent” resistance, Palestinian “peaceful” resistance, Palestinian “popular” resistance, Palestinian “unarmed” resistance. And the ever so popular Palestinian “Gandhi-style” resistance.

This discourse has been adopted by the Palestinian popular struggle committees, born after the success story of the occupied West Bank village of Budrus that embarked on popular protests and managed to regain 95 percent of its lands that were expropriated by Israel’s apartheid wall in 2003. However, the obsessive, fetish-like concentration on a specific type of resistance has in one way or another contributed to the delegitimization of other forms of resistance, while simultaneously closing off open discussion on what popular resistance actually is.

An historical overview of Palestinian resistance would testify to its use of different forms, although they were not viewed separately by Palestinians themselves. Palestinians were aware of their rights being stripped from them and confronted their occupiers.

There were the 1929 Wailing Wall/Buraq Wall demonstrations against the domination of the site by Jews who were backed by the British Mandate that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians and Jews; the 1935 armed uprising spearheaded by Izz al-Din Qassam against British soldiers; the six-month trade strike against the British Mandate and Jewish colonialists the following year; and the subsequent three-year uprising brutally crushed by the British.

During the outbreak of what became known as the first intifada, in 1987, the iconic image of a Palestinian rock thrower facing a fully-armed, sophisticated army “redeemed” the Palestinian resistance of hijacking planes in the 1970s.

No need to explain

Nowadays, Israelis and internationals and unfortunately even some “enlightened” Palestinians champion “nonviolent resistance” and consider throwing a rock to be a violent act. The argument goes that throwing rocks tarnishes the reputation of Palestinians in the western world and immediately negates the “nonviolent/peaceful” resistance movement. This argument falls into the trap of western- (read, colonizer) dictated methods of acceptable means to resist.

Oppressed people do not and should not have to explain their oppression to their oppressor, nor tailor their resistance to the comfort of the oppressors and their supporters.

The last time we truly had a genuine, grassroots popular resistance movement in Palestine (before the protests against Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank village of Budrus in the early 2000s) was during first three years of the first intifada.

In 2005, people in the village of Bilin began their weekly protests against the wall Israel built on their land. The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC) was formed in 2008, touted as the rebirth of popular resistance as more and more West Bank villages started their own weekly protests and were effectively swept under the wings of the PSCC.

Mohammed Khatib, one of the founders of the PSCC, told me in an interview that the committee “sought to undertake creative direct action as a result of the low numbers in the protests.”

Why the CIA Funds Nonviolence Training

Dissident Voice

by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, March 13th, 2012

O]ne important aspect of the debate over “diversity of tactics” (i.e. the decision whether to be exclusively nonviolent) in the Occupy movement relates to mounting evidence of the role CIA and Pentagon-funded foundations and think tanks play in funding and promoting nonviolent resistance training. The two major US foundations promoting nonviolence, both overseas and domestically, are the Albert Einstein Institution (AEI) and the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC). Both receive major corporate and/or government funding, mostly via CIA “pass through” foundations. While the ICNC is funded mainly by the private fortune of hedge fund billionaire (junk bond king Michael Milken’s second in command) Peter Ackerman, the AEI has received funding from the Rand Corporation and the Department of Defense, as well as various “pass-through” foundations, such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the US Institute of Peace and the Ford Foundation (see The Ford Foundation and the CIA),which all have a long history of collaborating with the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA in destabilizing governments unfriendly to US interests.

This is a strategy Frances Stonor Saunders outlines in her pivotal Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters. According to Sanders, right wing corporate-backed foundations and the CIA have been funding the non-communist left since the late sixties, in the hope of drowning out and marginalizing the voice of more militant leftists. It’s also noteworthy that the governing and advisory board of both AEI and ICNC have been consistently dominated by individuals with either a military/intelligence background or a history of prior involvement with CIA “pass-through” foundations, such as NED and USAID.

Gene Sharp, the Fervent Anticommunist

Much of this debate focuses around America’s godfather of nonviolent resistance, Gene Sharp, the founder and director of the Albert Einstein Institution. Sharp’s handbooks on nonviolent protest were widely disseminated in the Eastern Europe color revolutions, in the Arab spring revolutions and in the Occupy movement in the US (see Nonviolence in the Service of Imperialism). Unfortunately Sharp has become a decoy in this debate, deflecting attention from the larger question of whether the US government is actively financing and promoting the work of the AEI, the ICIC and other high profile organizations that promote nonviolent civil disobedience. The question is extremely important, in my view, because it possibly explains the rigid and dogmatic attitude in the US progressive movement regarding nonviolent civil disobedience. In other words, I think it explains the knee-jerk rejection of more militant tactics, such as smashing windows and other property damage that don’t involve physical violence towards human beings.

Is Military-Intelligence Funding Compatible with Progressive Politics?

The institutional nonviolence clique has cleverly refocused the debate on whether Sharp, who is 83, is a CIA agent and whether he actively participated in US-funded destabilization efforts in Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Iran and elsewhere that resulted in so-called “Arab Spring” revolutions. The obvious answer to both questions is no. For me the more important question is why the alternative media and “official” progressive movement embrace Sharp unconditionally as a fellow progressive without a careful look at his past or his ideological beliefs. Sharp has never made any secret of his fervent anticommunist (and antisocialist – he shares the US State Department’s animosity towards Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez) views.

Sharp makes no secret of the funding he has received from the Defense Department; the Rand Corporation; CIA-linked foundations, such as NED, the IRI and the US Institute of Peace; and George Soros’s Open Society Institute. All this information is readily available from the AEI website. Sharp himself states, “I have been arguing for years that governments and defense departments – as well as other groups – should finance and conduct research into alternatives to violence in politics and especially as a possible basis for a defense policy by prepared nonviolent resistance as a substitute for war.” (See The living library: some theoretical approaches to a strategy for activating human rights and peace, George Garbutt, 2008, Southern Cross University).

Less well known is the role military and intelligence figures have played in helping Sharp set up and run the AEI. I think most progressives would be extremely disturbed by the major role played by the military-intelligence establishment in funding and running the AEI. I think they would find it even more troubling that progressives who refer to any of this on so called “independent” or “alternative” media websites and blogs have their posts removed.

To be continued.

“STOP THE MACHINE” OR HOW TO DEMORALIZE A MOVEMENT

About the author: John Murphy was the independent candidate for House of Representatives in the 16th Congressional District of Pennsylvania in 2006 and 2008. He is one of the founding members of the Pennsylvanian Ballot Access Coalition , working to change ballot access laws in Pennsylvania.

“The protest planned by “Stop the Machine” will do more to harm the progressive movement than advance it. The organizers have misunderstood the messages of Gandhi and King. They are trying to make resistance harmless and turn it into a circus sideshow. Both violent and nonviolent tactics are necessary to end the corporate ownership of our government.”

“STOP THE MACHINE” OR HOW TO DEMORALIZE A MOVEMENT

John A. Murphy

04.10.2011

Members of the liberal intelligentsia, the liberal elite, are often heard to say things like “violence begets violence” or “if you use violence against exploiters, you become like the exploiter”. Where they got such notions no one seems to know. They probably picked them up on sale at the same place where they got the ideas that the nonviolent antiwar demonstrations of the 60s and 70s had something to do with ending the Vietnam War or that the nonviolent demonstrations of Martin Luther King resulted in the civil rights legislation of the 60s. The same superstore of revised history also sells an interesting yarn about how the nonviolent demonstrations of Mohandas Gandhi brought about Indian independence. In any event the members of the liberal intelligentsia are the people who have “organized” the “Stop the Machine” demonstration and sleepover scheduled for Washington DC in October.

It is difficult to imagine how it could be said that a woman who blows out the brains of a man who is attempting to rape her is begetting more violence. If someone kicks an IDF soldier in the groin and disarms him, preventing him from murdering a Palestinian family, it is hard to imagine how it could be said that this violence has begotten more violence. Violence, of course, can beget many things. Violence, for example can beget slavery and submission as when a master beats a slave. Some slaves will ultimately fight back, in which case nonviolence will indeed beget more violence; but some slaves will submit the rest of their lives. Some will even create a religion or spirituality that attempts to make a virtue of their submission. Some will write and others repeat that their freedom must not come at the expense of others. Some will speak of the need to love their oppressors. As the Wall Street capitalists have shown us, violence can beget material wealth. Violence can beget a cessation of violence when someone fights off or kills an assailant. But to suggest that violence begets violence as a general rule is clearly absurd. [6]

Equally absurd is the notion that “if you use violence against exploiters, you become like they are”. There is nothing in the real world that lends any credence at all to such a notion but that generally does not stop the people who have taken nonviolence and turned it into the religious cult of anti-violence. Their flawed assertion is based on the equally flawed notion that all violence is the same. Again, it would be obscene to suggest that a woman who kills a man attempting to rape her becomes like a rapist. It is obscene to suggest that the Jews who fought back against their exterminators at Auschwitz and Treblinka became like the Nazis. [6]

The leaders of events like “Stop the Machine” also tell us that violence never accomplishes anything. The tens of millions of Africans killed in the slave trade would be surprised to learn that slavery is not the result of widespread violence. The millions of prisoners stuck in gulags here in the United States and elsewhere would be astounded to discover that they can walk away any time they want, that they are not held in place by violence. Working people have not handed over their wealth because they enjoy being impoverished. Women do not submit to rape just for the hell of it but because of the use or threat of violence. One reason why violence is used so often by those in power is because it works. It works very, very well. Violence, however, can work for liberation as well as for subjugation.

EXPOSING THE GANDHI-KING MYTH

The same people who preach the false gospel that “violence begets violence” tell us that the anti-Vietnam war protests of the 1960s and 1970s ended, or helped to end the war on the people of Southeast Asia. A simple trip into history reveals something quite a bit different. Four students were murdered in 1970 at Kent state University by the National Guard. After that incident the antiwar movement was gutted and slowed dramatically. In 1973 president Nixon ended the draft and with the same stroke of the pen ended what little remained of the antiwar movement but the war continued on for another two years. The Vietnam War came to an end because of superior violence used by the North Vietnamese regular Army against the United States Army. The United States was militarily defeated and that is why the Vietnam War ended.

Martin Luther King was a wonderful man who did much to call the nation’s attention to the Jim Crow laws and to have them abolished. His nonviolent demonstrations however had nothing to do with the policy changes, the civil rights legislation, of the 1960s. Those changes came about due to the violence in the streets by young African-Americans primarily the Panthers in the North and the Deacons in the South. But there was no way that the United States Congress would deal with people like Stokely Carmichael or H Rap Brown so they canonized Dr. King has the champion of civil rights. Even his campus supporters, originally called the “Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee” knew that nonviolence would not achieve their ends so they changed their name to the “Student National Coordinating Committee”. Ralph Abernathy was sure to appear in Congress to take advantage of the most recent street violence. In that way, Martin Luther King can be said to have contributed to the civil rights legislation but certainly not his nonviolent demonstrations. [5]

Similarly, in India, the nonviolent demonstrations of Gandhi came at the end of a 100 year period of violent revolution. Even while Gandhi himself was leading nonviolent demonstrations, other revolutionaries were destroying the infrastructure in India. Great Britain was burdened by the cost of two world wars and simply was no longer able to deal with the destruction caused by the violence of the revolutionaries. Just as the United States used Martin Luther King, so also did Great Britain make use of Gandhi. The British press turned Gandhi into a saint but nonviolent demonstrations only caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Hindus and Muslims since he was added to the committee which ultimately determined the nature of Indian independence.

Nonviolence has never brought about any kind of significant policy change in the United States or anywhere else. There are even members of the liberal elite who will claim that it was the nonviolent boycotting of South Africa which ended, apartheid forgetting all about the violence of the ANC and in particular of Nelson Mandela, who was called a terrorist by the British and is now called a hero and patriot.

Given that nonviolent protests, in and of themselves, have never produced major policy changes, why will all of the big names in the liberal elite, from the ridiculous to the sublime, from Medea Benjamin to Bill Moyer, be attending the “Stop the Machine” charade on October 6 in DC? The answer is disturbingly simple. On the one hand most of these people have actually bought into the revised history of nonviolent demonstrations and secondly, with no intended cynicism, these folks simply miss the real feel-good experience they have gotten from previous outings in Washington. The junket planned by “Stop the Machine” promises to be a particularly superlative feel-good experience featuring not only a carnival atmosphere, complete with an exhibition of real live unemployed people, but with all the warmth and sense of false community created by a sleepover motif.

A FORMULA FOR FAILURE:
CREATING THE CULT OF ANTI-VIOLENCE

There is a formula for this type of spectacle. First there will be the usual concert and then the congregation will be assembled in orderly fashion, listening to a cast of speakers calling for an end to this or that while condemning some lethal government action. They will be carrying signs “demanding” the same thing. The singers will be enunciating, lyrically, the worthiness of the demonstrators’ agenda as well as the plight of the various victims they are here to “defend” and – typically – the whole thing is quietly disbanded with exhortations to the assembly to “keep working” on the matter and to please sign a petition and/or write letters to Congress people requesting that they alter their offending actions. [6]

The “Stop the World” jamboree not only promises to follow this formula but has gone to extreme limits to turn this into a fundamentalist religious service in honor of the deity of anti-violence. Yes, they have taken the simple tactic of nonviolence and turned it into the cult of anti-violence! The “Stop the Machine” website is downright frightening; it might have passed for a bit of fiction from George Orwell. Not only are these people suggesting that this demonstration be nonviolent, the attendees are required to take an oath to that effect! [1]

But that is only the beginning! To ensure that no one breaks the anti-violent rules of the “organizers” there will be special marshals carrying “peace cameras” [2] and attendees are encouraged to bring their own cameras with them so that they can snitch on their fellow demonstrators who might break away from the orthodox fundamentalism of this perversion of resistance. Those who dare depart from this orthodoxy are of course branded “agent provocateurs” [2]. Yet that is not the end of the nightmare. There is a request that members of the congregation undergo “nonviolence training” while all have been assured that the entire carnival has been choreographed with the police. This is serious. This stuff is right out of the “How to Build a Cult and Recruit Members” handbook.

MAKING RESISTANCE HARMLESS

The whole atmosphere of “Stop the Machine” is shrouded in a kind of magical thinking which has given rise to propositions such as:
• Thou shalt turn thy “anger at injustice into a positive, non-violent force”.
• Thou shalt “embrace an attitude, as conveyed through [thy] words, symbols and actions, of openness, friendliness, and respect toward all people encountered, including police officers and military personnel”.
• Thou shalt “agree to be obedient to the organizers” of the action or be cast into exterior darkness. [3] Of course there will be:
• No destruction or vandalism of non-sentient objects; • No running or other “threatening” motions; • No insulting or swearing; • No verbal or physical assaults on those who oppose or disagree with us (i.e., police) “even if they assault us.” [3]

Getting arrested is all part of the act – the brass ring, so to speak. The police have told the demonstrators precisely which laws they can break and the folks taking place in this modern day revival meeting have been told that everyone will get a warning prior to being arrested so that everyone knows what to do, on cue. Just as the people who participated in the Keystone pipeline demonstration a few weeks ago were given the opportunity to have their pictures taken with their respective arresting police officers,[4] the same photo ops will be given, free of charge, to the folks in the “Stop the Machine” entourage.

When the nonviolent offenders are taken giddily off to the hoosegow, there will be attorneys there to represent them and make sure they are properly charged; there will be other people to provide food; other people to provide any bail necessary and people who have been designated to provide transportation for those happy campers who have nonviolently chained themselves to the White House and paid the unspeakable price of being arrested for disorderly conduct. This should prove to be a real feel-good experience for the attendees and the vicarious who will watch at home on Democracy Now.

“STOP THE MACHINE” COLLUDES WITH THE CORPORATE OWNED GOVERNMENT

What makes this demonstration so dangerous is not just its mystical believe in the power of nonviolence but that the organizers have even restricted their concrete, nonviolent activities to limits sanctioned by the state (the police). This identifies the protesters as endeavoring to displace resistance with opposition thereby turning the left into nothing more than a variant of “Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition”. This attempt at disarming the left, while attempting to pacify resistance, is the goal of the very system which “Stop the Machine” purports to be “resisting” and puts them in direct collusion with that system.

How did such an incredible state of affairs come to be? How is it that a demonstration will take place in Washington which has no measurable, hence achievable goals, no strategy, no direction, no vision, no mission and no discernible leadership? Did somebody deliberately start out by saying, in the fashion of the old Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland movies, “hey kids let’s put on a show”? Did they deliberately start out to put together an event which does literally everything wrong?

Even the very place itself is wrong! One of the statements the group makes is that it plans to “kick off a powerful and sustained nonviolent resistance to the corporate criminals that dominate our government”. If they are out to “resist” the “corporate criminals”, what are they doing in Washington? Why are they not on Wall Street? Washington, the government, is simply the collective hit man for the top 1,500 multinational corporations. If the corporate criminals are to be symbolically resisted by a protest in Washington, one might expect that the demonstration would at least take place on K Street.

A quick look at the qualifications of the organizers gives a clear indication as to how this pre-Halloween party has materialized in such a puerile fashion. Here is a list of qualifications, taken from the resumes of the “Stop the Machine” “organizers”:

• long-time community organizer and peace and justice activist • a full-time peace and justice activist who serves on national boards or committees • She dreams of a world where war is no more, • 30-plus years of activism • organized and participated in protests for health care, peace and economic justice • a longtime antiwar and social justice activist • anti-war advocate since being chased off the campus of Cal State Northridge, California in 1968 • proud member of Healthcare-NOW!
• Full time organizer and activist for 11 years.
• a proud loudmouthed feminist and rabble-rouser • a recovering attorney and full-time, rogue peace and justice activist • a licensed addictions and domestic violence counselor • more than 30 years’ experience of writing, speaking and advocacy across a broad range of issues around peace, justice and democracy[8]

Not one MBA in the group! In fact, if the organizers had been told that they should have an MBA or two on their planning committee, they probably would have objected to such a notion since, after all, MBAs work in the business world! Conflating the business world with the corporate dominance of government is a common mistake made by people employed in public service or who have spent their lives as mushroom covered “activists”! MBAs are trained in strategic planning and, just like everyone else in American society, they run the gamut from devotees of Ayn Rand to a variety of anti-capitalists and Marxists. In any event, with qualifications like the “organizers” boast, it is no wonder why “Stop the Machine” has no goals, no direction, no purpose, no leadership, no vision, no mission and no discernible leadership!

“Do your symbolic duty” the organizers tell the feel-good group of nonviolent revelers, “then you can devote yourself to the prefiguration of the revolutionary future society which you think will replace the present social order, having persuaded the multinational corporations to voluntarily abandon their control of our government through the sheer moral force of your arguments”. The participants in this demonstration, which is barely even the husk of opposition, are every bit as guilty of global violence as are the perpetrators themselves.

PACIFYING RESISTANCE

The purveyors of nonviolence always promise that the harsh realities of state power can be transcended by way of good feelings and purity of purpose rather than by the necessary violence required for self-defense. These anti-violent fundamentalists, with all the force of the medieval alchemists, tell us that the negativity of the modern corporate owned government will atrophy through defection and neglect once there is a sufficiently positive social vision to take its place.

Violence is neither morally good nor bad; it is simply a tactic. It is a most useful tactic when employed for purposes of self-defense and following the same criteria as set down for the conduct of just wars.[7] The multinational corporations which are controlling our government not only want the liberty of the American people but their lives as well. They would see to it that Americans have the lowest paid jobs possible, that that have no healthcare other than that which they can purchase, that they would have no free public education. In short they would foreclose on lives as well as houses. Those who do not see the threat posed by these multinational corporations as mortal and deserving of the most efficient and effective means of opposition must be living in an alternate universe or have deeply imbibed of the anti-violent fundamentalists’ Kool-Aid served up by people like the “Stop the Machine” “organizers” .

The “Stop the Machine” demonstration will have a major demoralizing effect on those in the left who are serious about resisting corporate fascism. It is reasonable that they will see this demonstration as just another symbolic gesture in a long line of failed nonviolent demonstrations stretching back nearly a half-century. False hopes combined with naïve ideas are the parents not only of demoralization and frustration but of resignation. The best possible outcome for this misadventure would be that it receives little or no press and that it is forgotten as quickly as possible so that others might model future resistance efforts on those exhibited by American trade unions in the early 20th century.

THE INEFFECTIVENESS OF NONVIOLENT OPPOSITION

The thought of nonviolent opposition to our corporate owned government is as ludicrous as nonviolent opposition to National Socialism itself. One of the smartest things the Nazis did was make it so that every step of the way it was in the Jews’ rational best interest not to violently resist. Many Jews had the hope – and this hope was cultivated by the Nazis – that if they played along, followed the rules laid down by those in power, that their lives would get no worse, that they would not be murdered.[6] They were even told by their own leaders not to violently resist getting an ID card or they might get killed; don’t violently resist the Nuremberg Laws or they might get killed; don’t violently resist getting into a cattle car or say might get killed; don’t violently resist getting into the showers or they might get killed.

There is something important to remember however, the Jews who participated in the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, including those who went on what they thought were suicide missions, had a higher rate of survival than those went nonviolently into the showers. Never forget that. The obligation of those who resist the corporate ownership of our government is not to be personally pure. “The obligation is to affect measurable change.” [6]

There will never be a group of nonviolent demonstrators who will force American corporations to give up their control of government by the sheer force of their moral argument.

Imagine that Ted Bundy is still alive and it is 1976 again. It would be difficult to comprehend that someone would seriously believe that they could sit down with Ted Bundy and talk him out of committing his gruesome murders and unspeakable obscenities. Again, imagine that the suave, urbane, erudite fictional character, Hannibal Lecter, could be real for a little while. Once more it would be difficult to comprehend that someone would seriously believe that they could talk some sense into Dr. Lecter. A few minutes into the conversation the good doctor would have already ordered the fava beans and Chianti and the anti-violence fundamentalist would be on the menu.

WHAT MUST BE DONE

What should a real resistance movement do to end the corporate control of our government which spreads war and misery on a global scale, sacrifices the economic well-being of its own people to that of corporate greed while eroding its citizens’ civil liberties? Would it organize nonviolent demonstrations? Would its members put together strongly worded protest signs? Would they write letters to the editor? Would they sign thousands of petitions to the President and the Congress? Would they vote for the lesser of two war criminals?

The type of action required is what is usually called guerrilla warfare or urban guerrilla warfare. This would entail organizing groups consisting of no more than 12 to 15 people. Appropriate targets would be identified; participants would do what is required and disappear into the night. While this type of political violence is called “terrorism” by the government, it must be understood that one person’s terrorist is another person’s patriot. Nelson Mandela comes to mind immediately. What is definitely not required is an attempt to attack the police or the military or even the CEOs and major stockholders of the top 1,500 corporations. The attack would be on the corporate property and so-called private property of those people.

Corporations make their major policy decisions taking into consideration a cost-benefit analysis performed on those policies. As long as it is cost-effective for corporations to own our government, they will continue to do so. The only way that corporations would relinquish their ownership of government would be when the cost of ownership becomes too high. It is the job of a resistance movement to change the balance of that ratio; to increase the cost by massive destruction of property. Unfortunately, the “Stop the Machine” organizers are more interested in discovering what kind of politics in which they can engage that will both allow them to posture as progressives and allow them to avoid incurring harm to themselves.

How long would Caterpillar continue selling their equipment to Israel so it can be used to destroy Palestinian homes once a resistance movement starts blowing up their machinery or some of their manufacturing plants?

How long would take corporate America to get the message if there were massive violent attacks against the corporate property and so-called personal property of the senior managers and major stockholders of the top 1500 US corporations?

*****
John Murphy was the independent candidate for House of Representatives in the 16th Congressional District of Pennsylvania in 2006 and 2008. He is one of the founding members of the Pennsylvanian Ballot Access Coalition , working to change ballot access laws in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at: johnamurphy.

[1] Stop the Machine! Create a New World!
http://october2011.org/statement
[2] Facebook Statement about Provocateurs http://october2011.org/blogs/margaret-flowers/facebook-statement-about-provocateurs

[3] Non-violence Guidelines and Principles http://october2011.org/pages/non-violence-guidelines-and-principles

[4] Daryl Hannah Arrested At Keystone XL Pipeline Protest http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/30/daryl-hannah-arrested-keystone-protest_n_942072.html

[5] Nonviolence: Its Histories and Myths Professor Michael Neumann, http://tamilnation.co/ideology/neuman_on_non_violence.htm

[6] Pacifism as Pathology
Reflections on the Role of Armed Struggle in North America Ward Churchill Introduction by Derrick Jensen AK Press,
2007

[7] Can Terrorism be Justified?
Tomis Kapitan
April 28, 2007
http://www.niu.edu/phil/~kapitan/pdf/CanTerrorismbeJustified.pdf

[8] “Stop the Machine”: About Us
http://october2011.org/about

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement [PART II OF AN INVESTIGATIVE REPORT] [Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”]

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement [PART II OF AN INVESTIGATIVE REPORT] [Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”]

Published September 19, 2011 by Political Context: http://bit.ly/njUko9 and Canadians for Action on Climate Change: http://bit.ly/pLDqQi

Part two of an investigative report by Cory Morningstar

Tar Sands Action & the Paralysis of a Movement Investigative Report Series [Further Reading]: Part I Part II  [Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”] Part III [ Unravelling the Deception of a False Movement]

reality

Obedience – A New Requirement for the “Revolution”

We have now reached a new level of subservient conditioning in an action ironically titled Stop the Machine. If the freedom fighters from liberation armies and resistance fronts read “the rules” that the organizers have established in order to “stop the machine,” they would undoubtedly come to the conclusion that Americans are insane.

The rules put forward by the organizers of this action clearly demonstrate how the mainstream liberal movement as a whole is further embracing its false belief that they (the “leaders” of the movement) have the moral superiority and authority to impose their unnegotiable, absolute tactical doctrine on all others, framing anyone who falls out of line with the dogma as provocateurs or “haters” who wish to incite violence. Such free-thinkers will be verbally chastised, stigmatized, then isolated and marginalized to the best of the ability of those wish to cling to denying reality. To date, these simple steps have proved most effective in stifling dialogue and shutting down dissent.

Some of the actions that have been undertaken include: training “peacekeepers,” a request that participants undergo nonviolence training, employing “peace cameras” to video anyone who might initiate violence with a request that participants bring cameras too and work with police to make them aware of threats and to isolate counterprotesters if they should attend.

Other rules include turning your anger at injustice into a positive, non-violent force; no destruction or vandalism of non-sentient objects; no running or other “threatening” motions; no insulting or swearing; protecting those who “oppose or disagree with us” (i.e., police) from insult or attack; no verbal or physical assaults on those who “oppose or disagree with us” (i.e., police) “even if they assault us.”

Participants are to embrace an attitude, as conveyed through their words, symbols and actions, of openness, friendliness, and respect toward all people encountered, including police officers and military personnel. The participants agree to be obedient to the organizers of the action or, if they do not obey, they must withdraw from the action.

It is nothing less than appalling that citizens are essentially being trained to completely submit to the corporate state – even if they are beaten with weapons. The organizers have obviously embraced the Gandhian myth that all neo-pacifists wear something akin to a shield. They will need this shield in order to protect themselves from their own hypocrisy.

Who needs big brother when you have “the movement” itself protecting the corporate state that is hell-bent on eradicating us?

If it were presented as educational outreach to further ideas and crucial analysis/critiques, this campaign would be deserving of much credit (if we removed the “rules”), as it highlights critical issues such as capitalism, corporate-controlled state and other vital truths that bright green NGOs refuse to address. However, as currently presented – an action to “stop the machine” – to even imply that “the machine” could actually be stopped through the outline and extensive “rules of non-engagement” is nothing less than an irresponsible, misleading nightmare that shields the truth rather than exposing it.

Of course, this is often what happens when activists are replaced with global strategists, finance officers, marketing executives and branding agencies. For countries exploding with citizens holding business degrees and MBAs, we could not possibly be more unintelligent and out of touch with reality, even if we tried. How many species on this planet knowingly and deliberately destroy their own habitat, their own future?

The movement with the corporate greens at the forefront refuses to admit – and in many cases refuses to even acknowledge the cold hard fact – that our success in achieving truly substantive change has been essentially zero, completely impotent. And a million “likes” on Facebook won’t make this fact any less so. And as far as preventing our own mass-eradication of unparalleled proportions, the “leaders” of the movement are a trillion miles away in La-La Land and racking up the airmiles. Reality cannot and will not be altered by a belief that the white middleclass can stop the very forces oppressing us with a dazzling dress code and impeccable manners.

Further, a dogmatic refusal to see reality and failure, along with an obdurate insistence on condemnation of those who may choose to take up self-defence (thereby framing anything other than “their way” as unacceptable in the eyes of the public) does nothing but further displace ongoing violence and bone-grinding poverty onto the billions of citizens and species already marginalized and suffering. This is not to say that everyone is expected to participate in self-defence. Rather it is to say that one’s decision must be base upon real facts – not on the doctrinaire delusion that pacifism is a moral virtue.

Militarism and Fossil Fuel Subsidies – A Vicious Cycle of Addiction

Considering that militarism is likely the largest single source of greenhouse gas emissions on the planet, does it not make more sense for a united global campaign to divert trillions in military funds, which destroy life, to peaceful endeavors that sustain life? Funding militarism ensures we are kept dependent upon oil while continuing to inflict massive suffering and civilian casualties as imperialist states expand their occupations in the Middle East and beyond. Occupying countries in order to steal their resources, which are necessary to fuel further occupations which, in turn, require more resources, commits to a vicious cycle that serves the interests of a handful of corporations tied into the Military-Industrial Complex.

If citizens occupied the industries that supply the occupations, if we stopped this madness as a unified front, on top of eradicating energy wastage (56% of all energy is wasted in the U.S. economy alone) through extensive conservation, we would create the swiftest, most massive dent in the climate crisis possible. Further, if we transferred all fossil fuel subsidies to zero-carbon energy, the dent would be astronomical; over half a billion dollars in direct subsidies are handed over each year to the most profitable fossil fuel corporations on the planet. This does not include indirect subsidies (via externalized costs), which equate to approximately three times that of the direct subsidies. Further, a recent study suggests that indirect and direct subsidies for coal alone in the U.S. amount to a half billion dollars per annum. This equates to more than a trillion dollars per year and tens of trillions of tax dollars (in direct and indirect subsidies) over the upcoming decades gifted to the very industry ensuring our demise. Although this is fairly common knowledge with most NGOs (even the World Bank reached this logical conclusion over a decade ago in 1990), none of them campaign on this imperative. It is a sad statement that the World Bank has more effective solutions than the environmental movement who claims to represent civil society.

These strategies would also slow down the destabilization and leaking of methane hydrates – FAR MORE dangerous than the Keystone XL or anything else for that matter. Methane hydrate release is now occurring in Siberia, and in the short-term (5 to 20 years), methane is 72 to 100 times more powerful than CO2. This is the true carbon bomb that no one speaks of. This discussion has been essentially censored from the public.

“My view is that the climate has already crossed at least one tipping point, about 1975-1976, and is now at a runaway state, implying that only emergency measures have a chance of making a difference.… The costs of all of the above would require diversion of the trillions of dollars from global military expenditures to environmental mitigation.” — Andrew Glikson, Earth / Paleoclimate Scientist

We ignore the solutions at our own peril. Of course, no matter what we do, until we begin to dismantle the root causes of climate change – that of the global industrialized capitalist economic system based on consumption and growth – the planet will continue to heat up. Further, until we reach zero emissions (actually negative emissions) there will be NO LOWERING of atmospheric CO2, which is now approaching 400 ppm (parts per million). Not even a return to 390 ppm is possible until we stop burning all fossil fuels. A return to pre-industrial levels will take hundreds if not thousands of years – which again, is only possible if zero emissions are actually achieved. And this is only possible if specific tipping points are not passed. Once enough tipping points have been passed it is essentially GAME OVER. There is no going back. No second chances. This is what mainstream NGOs, even ones claiming they are the leaders in the climate movement based on climate science (350.org/1Sky), do not share with the public. Why? Because it is terrifying. We must fight to achieve the impossible.

“The most unethical of all means is the non-use of any means. It is this species of man who so vehemently and militantly participated in that classically idealistic debate at the old League of Nations on the ethical differences between defensive and offensive weapons. Their fears of action drive them to refuge in an ethics so divorced from the politics of life that it can apply only to angels, not men.” — Saul Alinsky

Ideologies Have Never Won Any Revolutions

“The desire for a nonviolent and cooperative world is the healthiest of all psychological manifestations. This is the overarching principle of liberation and revolution. Undoubtedly, it seems the highest order of contradiction that, in order to achieve nonviolence, we must first break with it in overcoming its root causes. Therein lies our only hope.” — Ward Churchill, Pacifism as Pathology

Film director Josh Fox states that “There’s only been one tool that people have turned to in desperate times to change the world: Civil disobedience.” However, the tactics being pushed by McKibben and others bear no resemblance to those used in the past by the oppressed. Ask the people of Bougainville Island how non-violent civil disobedience worked for their communities who were being exploited and sickened by the mining corporation, Rio Tinto Zinc, before, in self-defence, they rose up in arms against the poisoning of their land and people and forcibly closed down the mine – despite a military occupation and blockade.

The Papua New Guinea Army were mobilized in an attempt to strangle the citizens into submission and destroy the rebellion. The Bougainville Revolutionary Army began the fight with bows and arrows, and sticks and stones. Against a heavily armed adversary they still managed to retain control of most of their island. This is not a story of “uncivilized” citizens; this is a story of courageous people who refused to submit to oppression and exploitation – the world’s first eco-revolution. This story and its documentary could be considered – along with stories told through documentary films such as END:CIV and other courageous screenings (think John Pilger) which speak the unpopular truths – the greatest stories ever told; real life stories of a rising up of the people against all odds – by any means necessary. Such are the stories that the plutocracy and the big greens, who are dependent upon them for their very existence, hope citizens never hear about.

Such instances of people reclaiming their power and land are not televised on corporate media, not even in self-proclaimed progressive media outlets (funded by corporations via their foundations, which serve to protect their interests). Ask the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation (Ipperwash); the Mohawk community of Kanesatake (Oka); or the Six Nations of the Grand River (Caledonia). Ask them how passive resistance assisted their ongoing struggle for rights, respect and compliance with treaties and claims, including land claims. It did not. After exhausting all recourse, these First Nations communities embraced self-defense tactics. In the case of Caledonia, the resistance forced Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to implement a policy of “passive containment,” which ostensibly stopped enforcement of the rule of law in that area. (Also see “UNDER SIEGE: How the People of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation Asserted Their Rights and Claims and Dealt with the Backlash.”)

“Since the crisis began, Dalton McGuinty’s government has been petrified of taking decisive action, lest the Toronto media compare his actions to those of Mike Harris’ government during the Ipperwash Crisis of 1995. At numerous points during the Caledonia standoff, the OPP has been ordered to sit on their hands despite numerous provocations by native protestors.” — National Post, 16 September 2007

Today, the Canadian federal government, army, police and security agencies are essentially panicked in what they expect will be a unified resistance of First Nations rising up across Canada to reclaim and protect their rightful territories and resources. The strategy to prevent such an uprising from succeeding is continued efforts to further destroy traditional communities: “The First Nations Chiefs and Leaders who become more known and prominent are largely the individuals who have been trained and supported by federal bureaucrats.” (Source: First Nations Under Surveillance: Harper Government Prepares for First Nations “Unrest”)

Video: Photomontage – Crise d’oka (Running time: 2:55)

[Watch the full length Canadian National Film Board documentary, Kanehsatake 270 Years of Resistance: http://www.nfb.ca/film/kanehsatake_270_years_of_resistance. “On a July day in 1990, a confrontation propelled Native issues in Kanehsatake and the village of Oka, Quebec, into the international spotlight. Director Alanis Obomsawin spent 78 nerve-wracking days and nights filming the armed stand-off between the Mohawks, the Quebec police and the Canadian army. This powerful documentary takes you right into the action of an age-old Aboriginal struggle. The result is a portrait of the people behind the barricades.” “The most gripping scene for me was when the Warriors were down and ready to go with the Vandoos; one of the Mothers turned a Warrior right on his heel. You could see his shoulders slump. The love of the women that love us and that we love is a powerful thing.” –Arthur James]

Pacifism is a deadly position for those exploited and facing death. In the case of escalating climate change and collapsing ecosystems, those facing death are us and all living species on the planet. Forever.

Therefore, to be clear, when we speak of force, by any means necessary, we are embracing this essential and vital position, in self-defence.

Hypocrisy

One cannot participate in this system while at the same time morally judging the use of violence – if necessary – as a means to end relentless oppression, and in this case a global genocide / mass eradication of all species on the planet.

The global industrialized capitalist economic system – which most citizens of wealthy nations all happily (to one degree or another) not only condone but also support – is a system built upon and dependent upon unadulterated violence of unparalleled magnitude. Every time one fills their gas tank, they support violence. Every time one flies in an airplane, consumes animal flesh (speciesism), cracks open a can of Coke, purchases garments manufactured in China and other poverty stricken countries by exploited workers, turns on their fossil-fuel-powered heat, purchases the latest war “game” for their nine-year-old or simply pays their taxes – one participates in violence. The list goes on and on. To take the hypocritical position that non-violence is the only acceptable “moral” choice for fighting the system is only possible if one refuses to acknowledge the reality – deep denial in a most dangerous form. And it is of no surprise that such positions are primarily held by the comfortable middle class who are not subjected to severe hardships, gross injustices and bloody warfare.

Pacifism and non-violence are, and will continue to be, critical tactics of resistance. But the rejection of other tactics is detrimental to our survival.

Impartiality is not acceptable either as the question really is one of which side we will ultimately choose to stand on.

Skilled saboteurs are desperately needed. Underground movements and radicals who have the bravery to fight for humanity and for the rest of Nature, by any means necessary, deserve and require our undivided respect, gratitude and public support. Self-defense is not a crime.

During the Civil Rights Movement, organized racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan terrorized and murdered thousands of African Americans. In the face of such violence, would anyone judge the brave people who fought back to protect their families from slaughter? In such repressive violence, fighting back to protect those you love from death was, and still is, the only sensible option.

deacons-for-defense

An image from the television series Deacons for Defense, about a small group of African American men in Jonesboro, Louisiana who became a popular symbol of the growing frustration with Martin Luther King Jr.’s non-violent strategy and a rallying point for a militant working-class movement in the South. Lance Hill, in The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement, said of non-violent civil rights organisations, “The hard truth is that these organizations produced few victories in their local projects in the Deep South – if success is measured by the ability to force changes in local government policy and create self-governing and sustainable local organizations that could survive when the national organizations departed … the Deacons and all other blacks who resort to self-defense represent a simple answer to a simple question: what man would not defend his family and home from attack?” – Property is Theft Website

Peaceful protests – as the only tolerated vice – will not end our escalating climate genocide and environmental collapse. We must follow up protests with action that uphold Malcolm X’s phrase ‘by any means necessary’.

In the 29 August 2011 article “¡Will Miller Presente! May Day 1971 D.C. Mobilization: This is What Revolution Will Look Like,” the author states: “The May Day action plan was for affinity groups – tightly knit groups willing to take direct action together and risk arrest – to take over key locations across D.C. and shut them down. In Orin’s case, it was one of D.C.’s circle intersections. In the case of Will, it was the 14th Street Bridge. This collective direct action to shut down the city showed the country’s ‘leaders’ that the anti-war movement was escalating its tactics in response to the growing body counts in Vietnam of both U.S. Soldiers and Vietnamese people.” This represents such actions designed to obstruct the system – not comply with it. Not to be obedient and passive to those oppressing us.

It is imperative that escalating tactics be ensued following any action – especially with respect to the fact the Obama Administration announced their decision to proceed with Keystone XL immediately following the first day of the tar sands action. One would hope there are bulldozers secured and waiting.

“The concept of nonviolence is a false ideal. It presupposes the existence of compassion and a sense of justice on the part of one’s adversary. When this adversary has everything to lose and nothing to gain by exercising justice and compassion, his reaction can only be negative.”— George Jackson, Black Panther Party

From the Phil Dickens article “Why Pacifism is Morally Indefensible“:

My argument here is not that nonviolence is ineffective as a tactic. Indeed, it can yield considerable success given the right arena. It is that pacifism, as an absolute, is fundamentally immoral and unjustifiable within the context of the world we live in….

Whatever else one might say about him, Gandhi could not be accused of mincing his words or shying away from the logical conclusion of absolute pacifism. In Non-Violence in Peace and War, Gandhi offered the following advice to the British people: “I would like you to lay down the arms you have as being useless for saving you or humanity. You will invite Herr Hitler and Signor Mussolini to take what they want of the countries you call your possessions … If these gentlemen choose to occupy your homes, you will vacate them. If they do not give you free passage out, you will allow yourselves, man, woman, and child, to be slaughtered, but you will refuse to owe allegiance to them.

This is one of the comments which inspired George Orwell to declare that “pacifism is objectively pro-fascist“: “This is elementary common sense. If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other. Nor is there any real way of remaining outside such a war as the present one. In practice, ‘he that is not with me is against me.’ The idea that you can somehow remain aloof from and superior to the struggle, while living on food which British sailors have to risk their lives to bring you, is a bourgeois illusion bred of money and security…. I am not interested in pacifism as a “moral phenomenon.” If Mr. Savage and others imagine that one can somehow “overcome” the German army by lying on one’s back, let them go on imagining it, but let them also wonder occasionally whether this is not an illusion due to security, too much money and a simple ignorance of the way in which things actually happen. As an ex-Indian civil servant, it always makes me shout with laughter to hear, for instance, Gandhi named as an example of the success of non-violence. As long as twenty years ago it was cynically admitted in Anglo-Indian circles that Gandhi was very useful to the British government. So he will be to the Japanese if they get there. Despotic governments can stand “moral force” till the cows come home; what they fear is physical force.” …which brings us to the core point on why absolute pacifism is immoral. Unlike a pragmatic recourse to nonviolent resistance only in situations where it will be effective, it offers no recourse for the defense of innocents from injustice and brutality. And, ultimately, there is nothing heroic, even in principle, in offering yourself to the butcher’s knife.

With the Tar Sands Action campaign, spearheaded by Bill McKibben, we also witness a resurgence of religion. From the article “Religious Witness at Tar Sands Action”: “On Monday, August 29, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., Sojourners has organized more than 50 prominent religious leaders from Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Unitarian Universalist, and other faiths to risk arrest at the White House. A Jewish morning prayer service in Lafayette Park will begin at 9 a.m., followed by an interfaith prayer service that will conclude with a blessing for those risking arrest. At 11 a.m. religious leaders will cross to the White House sidewalk.” Bill McKibben said, “It was hard but not impossible – and we woke up Sunday morning singing that old spiritual ‘Certainly Lord.'” Throughout history religion has been used over and over again as a tool – as a means of conditioning, control and obedience to the state. In the meantime the Catholic Church has billions invested in BPI, Philex, San Miguel and other corporations who profit from decimating the planet. Like the Big Greens, the religious organizations are also dependant and feeding upon the very system destroying us.

The Tar Sands Action campaign has no political strategy at all; no plans, no platform. Rockefellers’ McKibben is successfully hindering and delaying the formation of a strong, uncompromising and unified movement. Yet, instead of constructive criticisms and demands coming from citizens and grassroots, even the most intelligent and informed activists are lining up to receive McKibben’s blessing. One would think we’ve witnessed ‘the second coming of Christ’. Hallefuckingluiah and amen. Pass the soma. Perhaps soon we will bear witness to McKibben making an offering or a sacrifice to appease the gods (which will be just as effective).

The Role of Censorship, Which Allows Us to Deny

The role of the elitist Left in furthering and protecting the false illusion and indoctrination of pacifism (as pathology) is clearly demonstrated in headlines such as the Bill McKibben article featured in the Guardian, titledMartin Luther King’s legacy and the power of nonviolent civil disobedience.” (Here it is critical to note that it was the Birmingham, Alabama civil rights marches, protests and direct actions that degenerated into riots; those riots represent the instrumental element behind what forced law changes at every level of government. As King later said: “The purpose of … direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.”) Of course, such fodder by McKibben and others is welcome by all who are secure and comfortable, as a movement based on symbolism will ensure that the violent continuation of full repression, which is felt by others all over the world as a direct result of imperialism, colonialism and our industrialized economic system, will not be felt by our society in the immediate future. (Aside from our growing apathy, denial and sense of superiority.) The mainstream movement has a pivotal role in censoring all but the tactics they embrace, providing justification for us to do essentially nothing – at a time when we must employ all tactics to force the hand of the corporate state. No doubt they are terrified that we may have to fight our oppressors head on – as witnessed by those fighting for their very lives in different countries all over the world. (Whew! Thanks, Bill! Thanks, corporate greens!) Self-proclaimed “progressive” and “alternative” media outlets (such as Grist – whose board McKibben sits on; funded by those dependent upon the industrial machine, including Rockefeller) perpetuate and propel this meme (– nonviolence at all costs), drilling this ideological view into the mindset and conditioning of civil society.

Conditioning

“Ours must be a leadership democracy, administered by the ‘intelligent minority’ who know how to regiment and guide the masses. The common interests very largely elude public opinion entirely, and can be managed only by a specialized class whose personal interests reach beyond the locality.… If we understand the mechanism and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it.” – nephew of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, considered the father of the field of public relations

We are being psychologically conditioned to believe that if only we continue to follow the rules and behave responsibly, we need not act in defence of our collapsing ecosystems and other crises unveiling themselves in unprecedented magnitude. This is only possible by clinging to false illusions, deep denial, and an irrational belief in an economic system that is destroying our planet – upon which we all depend – before our very eyes. We have been given a choice: resist or die. Thus far, we have demonstrated that we would rather cling to our illusions, thereby choosing death.

Is this campaign – funded by the world’s plutocracy – nothing but a means to give the false illusion of democracy while successfully conditioning people to further submit to the state – which would be an extremely valuable asset to the state as our planetary multiple crises deepen and escalate? Psychology and propaganda have always been recognized by leaders and the plutocracy as crucial and imperative means of controlling the masses.

Pacifism as Pathology | Tar Sands Action Déjà vu

“I just came home from Vietnam where I spent twelve months of my life trying to pacify the population. We couldn’t do it; their resistance was amazing. And it was wrong; the process made me sick. So I came home to join the resistance in my own country, and I find you guys have pacified yourselves. That too amazes me; that too makes me sick….” — Vietnam Veteran Against the War, 1970 (quoted in Pacifism as Pathology)

Below is an excerpt from Ward Churchill’s “Pacifism as Pathology,” first published in 1986 (endnotes removed). For anyone interested in mitigating the global collapse of all ecosystems and deterring planet-wide and species-wide genocide, this is essential reading.

For anyone wishing to take a critical look at the tar sands protests by groups funded (and in some cases created) by the Rockefellers and other corporate foundations – who will stop at absolutely nothing to keep the current power structures intact – the excerpt from this essay is sure to wake one from the paralysis that is trapping and constraining movements and societies in the status quo. The parallels between Churchill’s essay and the events in Washington, D.C. that were celebrated and endorsed – while the planet rests on the precipice – are nothing less than Orwellian.

The question central to the emergence and maintenance of nonviolence as the oppositional foundation of American activism has not been a truly pacifist formulation – “How can we forge a revolutionary politics within which we can avoid inflicting violence on others?” On the contrary, a more accurate guiding question has been, “What sort of politics might I engage in which will both allow me to posture as a progressive and allow me to avoid incurring harm to myself?” Hence, the trappings of pacifism have been subverted to establish a sort of “politics of the comfort zone,” not only akin to what Bettelheim termed “the philosophy of business as usual” and devoid of perceived risk to its advocates, but minus any conceivable revolutionary impetus as well. The intended revolutionary content of true pacifist activism – the sort practiced by the Gandhian movement, the Berrigans, and Norman Morrison – is thus isolated and subsumed in the United States, even among the ranks of self-professing participants.

Such a situation must abort whatever limited utility pacifist tactics might have, absent other and concurrent forms of struggle, as a socially transformative method. Yet, the history of the American Left over the past decade shows too clearly that the more diluted the substance embodied in “pacifist practice,” the louder the insistence of its subscribers that nonviolence is the only mode of action “appropriate and acceptable within the context of North America,” and the greater the effort to ostracize, or even stifle divergent types of actions. Such strategic hegemony exerted by proponents of this truncated range of tactical options has done much to foreclose on whatever revolutionary potential may be said to exist in modern America.

Is such an assessment too harsh? One need only attend a mass demonstration (ostensibly directed against the policies of the state) in any U.S. city to discover the answer. One will find hundreds, sometimes thousands, assembled in orderly fashion, listening to selected speakers calling for an end to this or that aspect of lethal state activity, carrying signs “demanding” the same thing, welcoming singers who enunciate lyrically on the worthiness of the demonstrators’ agenda as well as the plight of the various victims they are there to “defend,” and – typically – the whole thing is quietly disbanded with exhortations to the assembled to “keep working” on the matter and to sign a petition and/or write letters to congress people requesting that they alter or abandon offending undertakings.

Throughout the whole charade it will be noticed that the state is represented by a uniformed police presence keeping a discreet distance and not interfering with the activities. And why should they? The organizers of the demonstration will have gone through “proper channels” to obtain permits from the state and instructions as to where they will be allowed to assemble, how long they will be allowed to stay, and – should a march be involved in the demonstration – along which routes they will be allowed to walk. Surrounding the larger mass of demonstrators can be seen others – the elite. Adorned with green (or white, or powder blue) armbands, their function is to ensure that demonstrators remain “responsible,” not deviating from the state-sanctioned, arm-banded plan of protest. Individuals or small groups who attempt to spin off from the main body, entering areas to which the state has denied access (or some other unapproved activity), are headed off by these arm-banded “marshals” who argue – pointing to the nearby police – that “troublemaking” will only “exacerbate an already tense situation” and “provoke violence,” thereby “alienating those we are attempting to reach.” In some ways, the voice of the “good Jews” can be heard to echo plainly over the years.

At this juncture, the confluence of interests between the state and the mass nonviolent movement could not be clearer. The role of the police, whose function is to support state policy by minimizing disruption of its procedures, should be in natural conflict with that of a movement purporting to challenge these same policies and, indeed, to transform the state itself. However, with apparent perverseness, the police find themselves serving as mere backups (or props) to self-policing (now euphemistically termed “peace-keeping” rather than the more accurate “marshaling”) efforts of the alleged opposition’s own membership. Both sides of the “contestation” concur that the smooth functioning of state processes must not be physically disturbed, at least not in any significant way. All of this is within the letter and spirit of co-optive forms of sophisticated self-preservation appearing as an integral aspect of the later phases of bourgeois democracy. It dovetails well with more shopworn methods such as the electoral process and has been used by the state as an innovative means of conducting public opinion polls, which better hide rather than eliminate controversial policies. Even the movement’s own sloganeering tends to bear this out from time to time, as when Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) coined the catch-phrase of its alternative to the polling place: “Vote with your feet, vote in the street.”

Of course, any movement seeking to project a credible self-image as something other than just one more variation of accommodation to state power must ultimately establish its “militant” oppositional credentials through the media in a manner more compelling than rhetorical speechifying and the holding of impolite placards (“Fuck the War” was always a good one) at rallies. Here, the time-honored pacifist notion of “civil disobedience” is given a new twist by the adherents of nonviolence in America. Rather than pursuing Gandhi’s (or, to a much lesser extent, King’s) method of using passive bodies to literally clog the functioning of the state apparatus – regardless of the cost to those doing the clogging – the American nonviolent movement has increasingly opted for “symbolic actions.”

The centerpiece of such activity usually involves an arrest, either of a token figurehead of the movement (or a small, selected group of them) or a mass arrest of some sort. In the latter event, “arrest training” is generally provided – and lately has become “required” by movement organizers – by the same marshals who will later ensure that crowd control police units will be left with little or nothing to do. This is to ensure that “no one gets hurt” in the process of being arrested, and that the police are not inconvenienced by disorganized arrest procedures.

The event which activates the arrests is typically preplanned, well publicized in advance, and, more often than not, literally coordinated with the police – often including estimates by organizers concerning how many arrestees will likely be involved. Generally speaking, such “extreme statements” will be scheduled to coincide with larger-scale peaceful demonstrations so that a considerable audience of “committed” bystanders (and, hopefully, NBC/CBS/ABC/CNN) will be on hand to applaud the bravery and sacrifice of those arrested; most of the bystanders will, of course, have considered reasons why they themselves are unprepared to “go so far” as to be arrested. The specific sort of action designed to precipitate the arrests themselves usually involves one of the following: (a) sitting down in a restricted area and refusing to leave when ordered; (b) stepping across an imaginary line drawn on the ground by a police representative; (c) refusing to disperse at the appointed time; or (d) chaining or padlocking the doors to a public building. When things really get heavy, those seeking to be arrested may pour blood (real or ersatz) on something of “symbolic value.”

As a rule, those arrested are cooperative in the extreme, meekly allowing police to lead them to waiting vans or buses for transportation to whatever station house or temporary facility has been designated as the processing point. In especially “militant” actions, arrestees go limp, undoubtedly severely taxing the state’s repressive resources by forcing the police to carry them bodily to the vans or buses (monitored all the while by volunteer attorneys who are there to ensure that such “police brutality” as pushing, shoving, or dropping an arrestee does not occur). In either event, the arrestees sit quietly in their assigned vehicles – or sing “We Shall Overcome” and other favorites – as they are driven away for booking. The typical charges levied will be trespassing, creating a public disturbance, or being a public nuisance.

fakebloodsymbolism

Documentary: PsyWar – Wake UP!

Chart below +++ Telling. TransCanada (and incidentally Enbridge as well) has managed solid gains in their stock prices despite the latest market volatility.July 14, 2011, Bloomberg News: “TransCanada Corp., Enbridge Inc. and the four other Standard & Poor’s/TSX Composite Index companies that store and transport oil and gas are offering average dividend yields of 4.05%. That’s 1.48% percentage points above the full index’s rate and 1.16 points more than the payout on Canadian 10-year government bonds. The industry’s valuation has jumped to 21 times earnings and reached 22 in May, the highest since 2006.”

pipelinestocks

Eyes Wide Shut | The Tar Sands Action Protest & The Paralysis of a Movement – Excerpt

Eyes Wide Shut | The Tar Sands Action Protest & The Paralysis of a Movement – Excerpt

Eyes Wide Shut | The Tar Sands Action Protest & The Paralysis of a Movement

August 30th, 2011

Cory Morningstar

Following is an excerpt from Ward Churchill’s Pacifism as Pathology, first published in 1986. For anyone interested in mitigating the global collapse of all ecosystems and deterring planet-wide and species-wide genocide, this is essential reading.

For anyone wishing to take a critical look at the Tar Sands protests by groups funded (in some cases created) by the Rockefellers and other corporate foundations – who will stop at absolutely nothing to keep the current power structures intact – the excerpt from this essay is sure to wake one from the paralysis trapping and constraining movements and societies to the status quo.  The parallels of Churchill’s essay and events in Washington DC being celebrated and endorsed, while the planet rests on the precipice, are nothing less than Orwellian.

The question central to the emergence and maintenance of nonviolence as the oppositional foundation of American activism has not been the truly pacifist formulation, “How can we forge a revolutionary politics within which we can avoid inflicting violence on others?” On the contrary, a more accurate guiding question has been, “What sort of politics might I engage in which will both allow me to posture as a progressive and allow me to avoid incurring harm to myself?” Hence, the trappings of pacifism have been subverted to establish a sort of “politics of the comfort zone,” not only akin to what Bettelheim termed “the philosophy of business as usual” and devoid of perceived risk to its advocates, but minus any conceivable revolutionary impetus as well.[55] The intended revolutionary content of true pacifist activism — the sort practiced by the Gandhian movement, the Berrigans, and Norman Morrison – is thus isolated and subsumed in the United States, even among the ranks of self-professing participants.

Such a situation must abort whatever limited utility pacifist tactics might have, absent other and concurrent forms of struggle, as a socially transformative method. Yet the history of the American Left over the past decade shows too clearly that the more diluted the substance embodied in “pacifist practice,” the louder the insistence of its subscribers that nonviolence is the only mode of action “appropriate and acceptable within the context of North America,” and the greater the effort to ostracize, or even stifle divergent types of actions.[56] Such strategic hegemony exerted by proponents of this truncated range of tactical options has done much to foreclose on what ever revolutionary potential may be said to exist in modern America.

Is such an assessment too harsh? One need only attend a mass demonstration (ostensibly directed against the policies of the state) in any U.S. city to discover the answer. One will find hundreds, sometimes thousands, assembled in orderly fashion, listening to selected speakers calling for an end to this or that aspect of lethal state activity, carrying signs “demanding” the same thing, welcoming singers who enunciate lyrically on the worthiness of the demonstrators’ agenda as well as the plight of the various victims they are there to “defend,” and – typically – the whole thing is quietly disbanded with exhortations to the assembled to “keep working” on the matter and to please sign a petition and/or write letters to congress people requesting that they alter or abandon offending undertakings.

Throughout the whole charade it will be noticed that the state is represented by a uniformed police presence keeping a discreet distance and not interfering with the activities. And why should they? The organizers of the demonstration will have gone through “proper channels” to obtain permits required by the state and instructions as to where they will be allowed to assemble, how long they will be allowed to stay and, should a march be involved in the demonstration, along which routes they will be allowed to walk. Surrounding the larger mass of demonstrators can be seen others — an elite. Adorned with green (or white, or powder blue) armbands, their function is to ensure that demonstrators remain “responsible,” not deviating from the state-arm banded sanctioned plan of protest. Individuals or small groups who attempt to spin off from the main body, entering areas to which the state has denied access (or some other unapproved activity) are headed off by these arm-banded “marshals” who argue — pointing to the nearby police – that “troublemaking” will only “exacerbate an already tense situation” and “provoke violence,” thereby “alienating those we are attempting to reach.”[57] In some ways, the voice of the “good Jews” can be heard to echo plainly over the years.

At this juncture, the confluence of interests between the state and the mass nonviolent movement could not be clearer. The role of the police, whose function is to support state policy by minimizing disruption of its procedures, should be in natural conflict with that of a movement purporting to challenge these same policies and, indeed, to transform the state itself.[58] However, with apparent perverseness, the police find themselves serving as mere backups (or props) to self-policing (now euphemistically termed “peace-keeping” rather than the more accurate “marshaling”) efforts of the alleged opposition’s own membership. Both sides of the “contestation” concur that the smooth functioning of state processes must not be physically disturbed, at least not in any significant way.[59] All of this is within the letter and spirit of cooptive forms of sophisticated self-preservation appearing as an integral aspect of the later phases of bourgeois democracy.[60] It dovetails well with more shopworn methods such as the electoral process and has been used by the state as an innovative means of conducting public opinion polls, which better hide rather than eliminate controversial policies.[61] Even the movement’s own sloganeering tends to bear this out from time to time, as when Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) coined the catch-phrase of its alternative to the polling place: “Vote with your feet, vote in the street.”[62]

Of course, any movement seeking to project a credible self-image as something other than just one more variation of accommodation to state power must ultimately establish its “militant” oppositional credentials through the media in a manner more compelling than rhetorical speechifying and the holding of impolite placards (“Fuck the War” was always a good one) at rallies.[63] Here, the time-honored pacifist notion of “civil disobedience” is given a new twist by the adherents of nonviolence in America. Rather than pursuing Gandhi’s (or, to a much lesser extent, King’s) method of using passive bodies to literally clog the functioning of the state apparatus — regardless of the cost to those doing the clogging — the American nonviolent movement has increasingly opted for “symbolic actions.”[64]

The centerpiece of such activity usually involves an arrest, either of a token figurehead of the movement (or a small, selected group of them) or a mass arrest of some sort. In the latter event, “arrest training” is generally provided – and lately has become “required” by movement organizers – by the same marshals who will later ensure that crowd control police units will be left with little or nothing to do. This is to ensure that “no one gets hurt” in the process of being arrested, and that the police are not inconvenienced by disorganized arrest procedures. [65]

The event which activates the arrests is typically preplanned, well publicized in advance, and, more often than not, literally coordinated with the police — often including estimates by organizers concerning how many arrestees will likely be involved. Generally speaking, such “extreme statements” will be scheduled to coincide with larger-scale peaceful demonstrations so that a considerable audience of “committed” bystanders (and, hopefully, NBC/CBS/ABC/CNN) will be on hand to applaud the bravery and sacrifice of those arrested; most of the bystanders will, of course, have considered reasons why they themselves are unprepared to “go so far” as to be arrested.[66] The specific sort of action designed to precipitate the arrests themselves usually involves one of the following: (a) sitting down in a restricted area and refusing to leave when ordered; (b) stepping across an imaginary line drawn on the ground by a police representative; (c) refusing to disperse at the appointed time; or (d) chaining or padlocking the doors to a public building. When things really get heavy, those seeking to be arrested may pour blood (real or ersatz) on something of “symbolic value.”[67]

As a rule, those arrested are cooperative in the extreme, meekly allowing police to lead them to waiting vans or buses for transportation to whatever station house or temporary facility has been designated as the processing point. In especially “militant” actions, arrestees go limp, undoubtedly severely taxing the states repressive resources by forcing the police to carry them bodily to the vans or buses (monitored all the while by volunteer attorneys who are there to ensure that such “police brutality” as pushing, shoving, or dropping an arrestee does not occur). In either event, the arrestees sit quietly in their assigned vehicles – or sing “We Shall Overcome” and other favorites — as they are driven away for booking. The typical charges levied will be trespassing, creating a public disturbance, or being a public nuisance.

Purchase the book: http://www.akpress.org/2007/items/pacifismaspathologyakpress

Read the full essay online (original): http://zinelibrary.info/files/pap_imposed.pdf

Read the updated version online (2007): http://bit.ly/qujy8b

How NGO Bureaucrats and Greenwashed Corporations are Turning Nature Into Investment Capital

The Dead End of Climate Justice

www.counterpunch.org

Weekend Edition

January 8 – 10, 2010

By TIM SIMONS and ALI TONAK

On the occasion of its ten-year anniversary, the antiglobalization movement has been brought out of its slumber. This is to be expected, as anniversaries and nostalgia often trump the here and now in political action. What is troublesome, though, is not the celebration of a historical moment but the attempted resurrection of this movement, known by some as the Global Justice Movement, under the banner of Climate Justice.

If only regenerating the zeitgeist of a radical moment was as simple as substituting ‘Climate’ for ‘Global’; if only movements appeared with such eas! In fact, this strategy, pursued to its fullest extent in Copenhagen during the UN COP15 Climate Change Summit, is proving more damaging than useful to those of us who are, and have been for the past decade, actively antagonistic to capitalism and its overarching global structures. Here, we will attempt to illustrate some of the problematic aspects of the troubled rebranding of a praxis particular to a decade past. Namely, we will address the following: the financialization of nature and the indirect reliance on markets and monetary solutions as catalysts for structural change, the obfuscation of internal class antagonisms within states of the Global South in favor of simplistic North-South dichotomies, and the pacification of militant action resulting from an alliance forged with transnational NGOs and reformist environmental groups who have been given minimal access to the halls of power in exchange for their successful policing of the movement.

Many of these problematic aspects of the movement’s rebranding became apparent in Copenhagen during the main, high-profile intellectual event that was organized by Climate Justice Action (CJA) on December 14 . CJA is a new alliance formed among (but of course not limited to) some of the Climate Camp activists from the UK, parts of the Interventionist Left from Germany, non-violent civil disobedience activists from the US and the Negrist Disobbedienti from Italy.

The event, which took place in the "freetown" of Christiania, consisted of the usual suspects: Naomi Klein, Michael Hardt, and CJA spokesperson Tadzio Mueller, and it was MCed by non-violent activist guru Lisa Fithian. In their shared political analysis, all of the speakers emphasized the rebirth of the anti-globalization movement. But an uncomfortable contradiction was overarching: while the speakers sought to underscore the continuity with the decade past, they also presented this summit as different, in that those who came to protest were to be one with a summit of world nations and accredited NGOs, instead of presenting a radical critique and alternative force.

Ecology as Economy and Nature as Investment Capital

"What’s important about the discourse that is so powerful, coming from the Global South right now, about climate debt, is that we know that economic debt is a tool of domination and enforcement. It is how our governments impose their neoliberal capitalist policies around the world, so for the Global South to come to the table and say, ‘Wait a minute, we are the creditors and you are the debtors, you owe us a huge debt’ creates an equalizing dynamic in the negotiations."

Let’s look at this contemporary notion of debt, highlighted by Naomi Klein as the principal avenue of struggle for the emerging climate justice movement. A decade ago, the issue of debt incurred through loans taken out from the IMF and World Bank was an integral part of the antiglobalization movement’s analysis and demand to "Drop the Debt." Now, some of that era’s more prominent organizers and thinkers are presenting something deemed analogous and termed ‘climate debt’. The claim is simple: most of the greenhouse gases have historically been produced by wealthier industrial nations and since those in the Global South will feel most of its devastating environmental effects, those countries that created the problem owe the latter some amount of monetary reparations.

The idea of climate debt, however, poses two large problems.

First, while "Drop the Debt!" was one of the slogans of the antiglobalization movement, the analysis behind it was much more developed. Within the movement everyone recognized debt as a tool of capital for implementing neoliberal structural adjustment programs. Under pressure from piling debt, governments were forced to accept privatization programs and severe austerity regimes that further exposed local economies to the ravages of transnational capital. The idea was that by eliminating this debt, one would not only stop privatization (or at least its primary enabling mechanism) but also open up political space for local social movements to take advantage of. Yet something serious is overlooked in this rhetorical transfer of the concept of debt from the era of globalization to that of climate change. Contemporary demands for reparations justified by the notion of climate debt open a dangerous door to increased green capitalist investment in the Global South. This stands in contrast to the antiglobalization movement’s attempts to limit transnational capital’s advances in these same areas of the world through the elimination of neoliberal debt.

The recent emergence of a highly lucrative market formed around climate, and around carbon in particular cannot be overlooked when we attempt to understand the implications of climate reparations demands. While carbon exchanges are the most blatant form of this emerging green capitalist paradigm, value is being reassigned within many existing commodity markets based on their supposed impact on the climate. Everything from energy to agriculture, from cleaning products to electronics, and especially everything within the biosphere, is being incorporated into this regime of climate markets. One can only imagine the immense possibilities for speculation and financialization in these markets as the green bubble continues to grow.

The foreign aid and investment (i.e. development) that will flow into countries of the Global South as a result of climate debt reparations will have the effect of directly subsidizing those who seek to profit off of and monopolize these emerging climate markets. At the Klimaforum, the alternative forum designed to counter the UN summit, numerous panels presented the material effects that would result from a COP15 agreement. In one session on climate change and agricultural policies in Africa, members of the Africa Biodiversity Network outlined how governments on the continent were enclosing communally owned land, labeling it marginal and selling it to companies under Clean Development Mechanisms (CDMs) for biofuel cultivation. CDMs were one of the Kyoto Protocol’s arrangements for attracting foreign investment into the Global South under the guise of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. These sorts of green capitalist projects will continue to proliferate across the globe in conjunction with aid given under the logic of climate debt and will help to initiate a new round of capitalist development and accumulation, displacing more people in the Global South and leading to detrimental impacts on ecosystems worldwide.

Second and perhaps more importantly, “Climate Debt” perpetuates a system that assigns economic and financial value to the biosphere, ecosystems and in this case a molecule of CO2 (which, in reductionist science, readily translates into degrees Celsius). “Climate Debt” is indeed an "equalizing dynamic", as it infects relations between the Global North and South with the same logic of commodification that is central to those markets on which carbon is traded upon. In Copenhagen, that speculation on the value of CO2 preoccupied governments, NGOs, corporations and many of the activists organizing the protests. Advertisements for the windmill company Vestas dominated the metro line in Copenhagen leading to the Bella Center. After asserting that the time for action is now, they read "We must find a price for CO2". Everyone from Vestas to the Sudanese government to large NGOs agree on this fundamental principle: that the destruction of nature and its consequences for humans can be remedied through financial markets and trade deals and that monetary value can be assigned to ecosystems. This continued path towards further commodification of nature and climate debt-driven capitalist development runs entirely antithetical to the antiglobalization movement that placed at its heart the conviction that "the world is not for sale!"

The Inside in the Outside

One of the banners and chants that took place during the CJA-organized Reclaim Power demonstration on December 16 was "Whose summit? Our Summit!". This confused paradigm was omnipresent in the first transnational rendezvous of the Climate Justice Movement. Klein depicted her vision of the street movements’ relationship to those in power during her speech in Christiania as follows:

"It’s nothing like Seattle, there are government delegations that are thinking about joining you. If this turns into a riot, it’s gonna be a riot. We know this story. I’m not saying it’s not an interesting story, but it is what it is. It’s only one story. It will turn into that. So I understand the question about how do we take care of each other but I disagree that that means fighting the cops. Never in my life have I ever said that before. [Laughs]. I have never condemned peoples’ tactics. I understand the rage. I don’t do this, I’m doing it now. Because I believe something very, very important is going on, a lot of courage is being shown inside that center. And people need the support."

The concept that those in the streets outside of the summit are supposed to be part of the same political force as the NGOs and governments who have been given a seat at the table of summit negotiations was the main determining factor for the tenor of the actions in Copenhagen. The bureaucratization of the antiglobalization movement (or its remnants), with the increased involvement from NGOs and governments, has been a process that manifested itself in World Social Forums and Make Poverty History rallies. Yet in Copenhagen, NGOs were much more than a distracting sideshow. They formed a constricting force that blunted militant action and softened radical analysis through paternalism and assumed representation of whole continents.

In Copenhagen, the movement was asked by these newly empowered managers of popular resistance to focus solely on supporting actors within the UN framework, primarily leaders of the Global South and NGOs, against others participating in the summit, mainly countries of the Global North. Nothing summarizes this orientation better than the embarrassingly disempowering Greenpeace slogans "Blah Blah Blah, Act Now!" and "Leaders Act!" Addressing politicians rather than ordinary people, the attitude embodied in these slogans is one of relegating the respectable force of almost 100,000 protesters to the role of merely nudging politicians to act in the desired direction, rather than encouraging people to act themselves. This is the logic of lobbying. No display of autonomous, revolutionary potential. Instead, the emphasis is on a mass display of obedient petitioning. One could have just filled out Greenpeace membership forms at home to the same effect.

A big impetus in forging an alliance with NGOs lay in the activists’ undoubtedly genuine desire to be in solidarity with the Global South. But the unfortunate outcome is that a whole hemisphere has been equated with a handful of NGO bureaucrats and allied government leaders who do not necessarily have the same interests as the members of the underclasses in the countries that they claim to represent. In meeting after meeting in Copenhagen where actions were to be planned around the COP15 summit, the presence of NGOs who work in the Global South was equated with the presence of the whole of the Global South itself. Even more disturbing was the fact that most of this rhetoric was advanced by white activists speaking for NGOs, which they posed as speaking on behalf of the Global South.

Klein is correct in this respect: Copenhagen really was nothing like Seattle. The most promising elements of the praxis presented by the antiglobalization movement emphasized the internal class antagonisms within all nation-states and the necessity of building militant resistance to local capitalist elites worldwide. Institutions such as the WTO and trade agreements such as NAFTA were understood as parts of a transnational scheme aimed at freeing local elites and financial capital from the confines of specific nation-states so as to enable a more thorough pillaging of workers and ecosystems across the globe. Ten years ago, resistance to transnational capital went hand in hand with resistance to corrupt governments North and South that were enabling the process of neoliberal globalization. Its important to note that critical voices such as Evo Morales have been added to the chorus of world leaders since then. However, the movement’s current focus on climate negotiations facilitated by the UN is missing a nuanced global class analysis. It instead falls back on a simplistic North-South dichotomy that mistakes working with state and NGO bureaucrats from the Global South for real solidarity with grassroots social movements struggling in the most exploited and oppressed areas of the world.

Enforced Homogeneity of Tactics

Aligning the movement with those working inside the COP15 summit not only had an effect on the politics in the streets but also a serious effect on the tactics of the actions. The relationship of the movement to the summit was one of the main points of discussion about a year ago while Climate Justice Action was being formed. NGOs who were part of the COP15 process argued against taking an oppositional stance towards the summit in its entirety, therefore disqualifying a strategy such as a full shutdown of the summit. The so-called inside/outside strategy arose from this process, and the main action, where people from the inside and the outside would meet in a parking lot outside of the summit for an alternative People’s Assembly, was planned to highlight the supposed political unity of those participating in the COP15 process and those who manifested a radical presence in the streets.

Having made promises to delegates inside the Bella Center on behalf of the movement, Naomi Klein asserted that "Anybody who escalates is not with us," clearly indicating her allegiances. Rather than reentering the debate about the validity of ‘escalating’ tactics in general, arguing whether or not they are appropriate for this situation in particular, or attempting to figure out a way in which different tactics can operate in concert, the movement in Copenhagen was presented with oppressive paternalism disguised as a tactical preference for non-violence.

The antiglobalization movement attempted to surpass the eternal and dichotomizing debate about violence vs. non-violence by recognizing the validity of a diversity of tactics. But in Copenhagen, a move was made on the part of representatives from Climate Justice Action to shut down any discussion of militant tactics, using the excuse of the presence of people (conflated with NGOs) from the Global South. Demonstrators were told that any escalation would put these people in danger and possibly have them banned from traveling back to Europe in the future. With any discussion of confrontational and militant resistance successfully marginalized, the thousands of protesters who arrived in Copenhagen were left with demonstrations dictated by the needs and desires of those participating in and corroborating the summit.

Alongside the accreditation lines that stretched around the summit, UN banners proclaimed "Raise Your Voice," signifying an invitation to participate for those willing to submit to the logic of NGO representation. As we continue to question the significance of NGO involvement and their belief that they are able to influence global decision-making processes, such as the COP15 summit, we must emphasize that these so-called participatory processes are in fact ones of recuperative pacification. In Copenhagen, like never before, this pacification was not only confined to the summit but was successfully extended outward into the demonstrations via movement leaders aligned with NGOs and governments given a seat at the table of negotiations. Those who came to pose a radical alternative to the COP15 in the streets found their energy hijacked by a logic that prioritized attempts to influence the failing summit, leaving street actions uninspired, muffled and constantly waiting for the promised breakthroughs inside the Bella Center that never materialized.

NGO anger mounted when a secondary pass was implemented to enter the summit during the finalfour days, when presidents and prime ministers were due to arrive. Lost in confusion, those demonstrating on the outside were first told that their role was to assist the NGOs on the inside and then were told that they were there to combat the exclusion of the NGOs from the summit. This demand not to be excluded from the summit became the focal politic of the CJA action on December 16. Although termed Reclaim Power, this action actually reinforced the summit, demanding "voices of the excluded to be heard." This demand contradicted the fact that a great section of the Bella Center actually resembled an NGO Green Fair for the majority of the summit. It is clear that exclusionary participation is a structural part of the UN process and while a handful of NGOs were "kicked out" of the summit after signing on to Reclaim Power, NGO participation was primarily limited due to the simple fact that three times as many delegates were registered than the Bella Center could accommodate.

In the end, the display of inside/outside unity that the main action on the 16th attempted to manifest was a complete failure and never materialized. The insistence on strict non-violence prevented any successful attempt on the perimeter fence from the outside while on the inside the majority of the NGO representatives who had planned on joining the People’s Assembly were quickly dissuaded by the threat of arrest. The oppressive insistence by CJA leaders that all energy must be devoted to supporting those on the inside who could successfully influence the outcome of the summit resulted in little to no gains as the talks sputtered into irreconcilable antagonisms and no legally binding agreement at the summit’s close. An important opportunity to launch a militant movement with the potential to challenge the very foundations of global ecological collapse was successfully undermined leaving many demoralized and confused.

Looking Forward: The Real Enemy

As we grapple with these many disturbing trends that have arisen as primary tendencies defining the climate justice movement, we have no intention of further fetishizing the antiglobalization movement and glossing over its many shortcomings. Many of the tendencies we critique here were also apparent at that time. What is important to take away from comparisons between these two historical moments is that those in leadership positions within the contemporary movement that manifested in Copenhagen have learned all the wrong lessons from the past. They have discarded the most promising elements of the antiglobalization struggles: the total rejection of all market and commodity-based solutions, the focus on building grassroots resistance to the capitalist elites of all nation-states, and an understanding that diversity of tactics is a strength of our movements that needs to be encouraged.

The problematic tendencies outlined above led to a disempowering and ineffective mobilization in Copenhagen.Looking back, it is clear that those of us who traveled to the Copenhagen protests made great analytical and tactical mistakes. If climate change and global ecological collapse are indeed the largest threats facing our world today, then the most important front in this struggle must be against green capitalism. Attempting to influence the impotent and stumbling UN COP15 negotiations is a dead end and waste of energy when capital is quickly reorganizing to take advantage of the ‘green revolution’ and use it as a means of sustaining profits and solidifying its hegemony into the future.

Instead of focusing on the clearly bankrupt and stumbling summit happening at the Bella Center, we should have confronted the hyper-green capitalism of Hopenhagen, the massive effort of companies such as Siemens, Coca-Cola, Toyota and Vattenfall to greenwash their image and the other representations of this market ideology within the city center. In the future, our focus must be on destroying this reorganized and rebranded form of capitalism that is successfully manipulating concerns over climate change to continue its uninterrupted exploitation of people and the planet for the sake of accumulation. At our next rendezvous we also need to seriously consider if the NGO/non-profit industrial complex has become a hindrance rather than a contribution to our efforts and thus a parasite that must be neutralized before it can undermine future resistance.

Tim Simons and Ali Tonak can be reached at: anticlimaticgroup

http://www.counterpunch.org/simons01082010.html

%d bloggers like this: