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Defending Latin America’s Resistance Axis

Tortilla con Sal

August 2, 2021

By Stephen Sefton

 

Early in July this year Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah spoke to a conference in which he outlined the main elements of the region’s Resistance Axis’ media and communications strategy. He stressed the rightness of the Resistance cause challenging Western imperialism, in particular Israel’s genocidal, colonialist settler occupation of Palestine. He pointed out the strength, unity and resilience of the Axis, led by Iran and Syria, but including Hezbollah itself and allied movements in Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine and Yemen. Nasrallah also emphasized the importance of the Resistance Axis leadership’s determination to report the facts of events in the region truthfully with rigorously honesty when offering analysis.

Together moral right and political strength, truthful reporting and analytic honesty have created and nurtured deep, broadly based, committed support across the region. Few observers doubt that the Resistance cause will ultimately triumph in Syria and Palestine, given the relentless relative decline of US and allied imperial power relative to Russia and China and the steadfastness of Iran and Syria. The formidable unity and solidarity of the movements successfully challenging the US and Israel in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen offer lessons essential for their resistance counterparts in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Sayyed Nasrallah’s remarks have particular relevance to the Resistance Axis composed of the ALBA countries led by Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela whose governments all strongly support Iran and Syria. In varying degrees, these countries have also long suffered relentless aggression from the United States, its allies and regional proxies, in Cuba’s case for over sixty years. Nasrallah’s criteria defnitely apply to the experience of this bloc of resistance to US and allied imperialism in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The moral right of these countries is founded on their historic struggle against imperial domination and on the fundamental principles of modern international law, namely, non-aggression and the right to self determination. To circumvent that profund moral right the US and its allies seek to apply their own illegal “rules based order” applying all kinds of aggression on the basis of false accusations of human rights violations processed through the corrupt institutions of the United Nations and the Organization of American States. As in the case of Palestine and wider West Asia, this genocidal Western aggression is driven by profound nostalgia for the era of unlimited colonial and neocolonial domination.

The moral right of the ALBA countries to their resistance is undeniable and so too is the formidable political strength, unity and resilience they have mobilized to defend their cause against relentless economic, diplomatic, media and psychological warfare, domestic terror and even military attack. Over centuries, all these countries’ peoples have resisted foreign domination. Cuba’s Revolution triumphed in 1959 and has resisted Yankee and allied onslaught and destabilization for over 60 years. Likewise, Venezuela since Comandante Chávez became president in 1998 and Bolivia since Evo Morales was elected president in 2006, have also endured relentless US and allied hostility and aggression. Nicaragua has been the target of US intervention ever since the Sandinista Front for National Liberation overthrew the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.

Despite everything the US and its allies have attempted in recent years, these countries have stood firm in defense of their right to self-determination. In their case too, the combination of moral right, political strength and unity, truthful reporting and honest analysis has consolidated not only solid domestic support to resist US and allied aggression, but also national consensus rejecting neoliberal policies promoting corporate greed, in favor of socialist development programs focused on the needs of the human person. The frustration and desperation of the US, its allies and their regional mercenaries and proxies will certainly intensify as their efforts continue failing to break down broad popular support for the ALBA countries’s governments. All four governments are now well aware of the methods deployed by the US and its allies to carry out their wildly misnamed “soft coups”.

To expose, disarm and defeat the increasingly desperate imperialist campaigns of aggression effectively, the Resistance Axis led by Iran and Syria has shown the importance of ever closer unity and coordination between governments, popular movements, media outlets and all expressions of popular consciousness and awareness. Nicaragua has not suffered the same economic and military aggression as Cuba and Venezuela, but its leadership, especially Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, have been subjected to perhaps an even more systematic and comprehensive campaign of demonization, as intense as that against Muammar al Gaddhafi prior to and during the destruction of Libya. In fact, most progressive and even anti-imperialist media outlets and intellectuals tended to accept at face value the false imperialist media account of the failed coup attempt in 2018.

However, by telling the truth honestly in the most determined way, Nicaragua’s government has largely overcome the concerted psychological warfare campaign deployed against it, preserving and reinforcing support and solidarity where it is most needed, both among Nicaragua’s people and internationally in bodies like the Foro Sao Paulo. The government’s dignified, forceful and persistent presentation of the country’s reality at a diplomatic level has successfully defeated efforts by the US and its allies to isolate the country. Similarly, good faith reporting by international organizations, like the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Panamerican Health Organization, UNESCO, or even the World Bank, on their work with Nicaragua consistently contradicts claims by the corrupt human rights organizations of the UN and the OAS that the country’s government is a repressive dictatorship denying basic rights to its people.

The failed coup attempt in Nicaragua in 2018, the coup in Bolivia in 2019, continuing constant aggression of all kinds against Venezuela and, most recently, the US organized and funded protests in Cuba and the accompanying intensification of the blockade, are all part of what Stella Calloni and other writers have identified as the new Plan Condor. This reality is very well understood by now, both across the region and increasingly among the anti-imperialist movements in North America and Europe. As Sayyed Nasrallah has explained in the context of occupied Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, by persistently reporting events in the region truthfully and analyzing them honestly our governments and popular movements can build and consolidate the moral and political strength and unity necessary to overcome the US and its allies and achieve the definitive Second Independence of Latin America and the Caribbean.

 

 

 

Nicaragua – Varieties of Neocolonial Solidarity

Tortilla con Sal,

TeleSUR

July 7, 2021

View of the facade of the Organization of American States (OAS), today, in Washington (United States). | Photo: EFE

Just as in 2018, Nicaragua is once again the subject of the kind of mass international bad faith news coverage and perception management more usually associated recently with US and allied government offensives against Bolivia, Cuba, Iran, Syria and Venezuela. In Nicaragua’s case the current offensive is aimed at influencing the country’s elections scheduled for next November 7th. Currently, all the opinion polls show that, should President Daniel Ortega stand again for election, he and his FSLN party will win easily with over 60% support against around 20% for the the country’s right wing opposition.

The campaign against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government is clearly intended to encourage punitive coercive economic measures from the US and European Union governments aimed at influencing voter opinion in those November elections against President Ortega and the FSLN. Right now, the main false accusation is that “Ortega” has unjustly imprisoned over twenty opposition leaders, among them several presidential candidates. All US attempts to overthrow governments resisting US and allied government dictates depend on this kind of big lie. The standard big lie is that target governments are unpopular, repressive dictatorships. Invariably, the truth is very different if not the complete opposite.

For example, in 2009, the big lie in preparation for the coup against then Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was that the proposed Fourth Ballot referendum aimed to secure him re-election so as to impose a dictatorship. In Nicaragua’s case, the current big lie is that “Ortega” is arresting opposition leaders to prevent them defeating him in next November’s elections. These big lies only flourish in an essentially fascist culture of corporate dominated government in which truthful information is systematically suppressed and substituted by false beliefs.

Typical Western false beliefs or presuppositions are, for example, that the US and its allies are a force for good in the world, that Western culture is morally superior to others and that capitalism promotes optimal economic and social outcomes. These ridiculous false beliefs are fundamental tenets of Western intellectual life and public discourse. They make possible the kind of psychological warfare repeatedly unleashed against governments that obstruct the wishes of Western corporate elites and the governments they own.

An important component of Western psychological warfare shaping the moral dimension of any given disinformation assault is the essentially class based solidarity with the target country’s imperialist proxies. This neocolonial solidarity operates in reactionary and progressive varieties, both claiming a Western monopoly on freedom, democracy and defence of human rights. Both essentially agree that governments resisting Western demands deserve to be attacked one way or another.

The reactionary variety, prevalent mostly among the business and financial classes and related professionals, insists on abandoning international law in favour of intervention based on Western dictated rules. The progressive variety, prevalent mostly among non profit organizations, academics and other socially oriented professionals, agrees but is more diffident about the means of intervention deployed, demanding alibis to satisfy susceptibilities over humanitarian and human rights concerns. The right wing variety generally favors aggressive, overt or covert military-based solidarity with armed opposition rebellion, while the progressive variety favors smart-power coercive measures prioritizing solidarity with some version of opposition civil society or popular movements.

Nicaragua experienced the first right wing version of neocolonial solidarity during the Contra war of the 1980s when president Reagan declared, with more truth than he realized, that the CIA-run narco-terror campaign was “the moral equivalent of the founding fathers”. Subsequently, ever since the Sandinista FSLN party returned to government in 2007, Nicaragua has experienced principally the progressive version of smart power neocolonial solidarity developed under president Obama. That policy, supporting Nicaragua’s anti-Sandinista opposition, intensified under president Trump and continues unchanged now under “Biden”.

Self-evidently, these varieties of neocolonial solidarity thrive on their respective class loyalties and ideological susceptibilities. In 2018, a massive disinformation campaign covered up the Nicaraguan opposition’s extreme violence and their deliberate campaign of destruction. As Harold Pinter remarked in relation to the 1980s Contra War, even as the opposition violence of 2018 was happening, the murders, the extortion, the arson, the torture, it was made to seem that nothing happened. Now, when the Nicaraguan authorities have acted to preempt a repeat of that failed 2018 coup attempt, a furious psychological warfare assault is taking place to conceal the coup mongering opposition’s treasonous collusion with the US and EU country governments.

As regards progressive and left wing opinion in general, militant foreign supporters of Nicaragua’s ex-sandinista opposition have long been important protagonists covering up the ex.sandinistas’ anti-democratic collaboration with Western imperialist intervention. Even before the 2006 elections, the US authorities had coopted ex sandinistas as collaborators. But when Daniel Ortega and FSLN won those elections, successfully managed the crisis of 2008-2009 and then triumphed in the 2011 elections, US government support for the opposition switched to promoting efforts at outright regime change. Inside Nicaragua, the ex sandinistas, devoid of popular support, abused their non profit networks to camouflage their political opposition to the government and the accumulation of resources necessary to mount the 2018 coup attempt.

That systematic abusive subterfuge has been eliminated and its protagonists held to account. So now foreign supporters of the ex sandinista opposition again cloak their militant, aggressive, politically driven advocacy under phony human rights concerns. In 2018, they did so to cover up the violent role of the ex sandinistas in the failed coup attempt. Now, they falsely allege human rights abuses to cover up ex sandinista US collaborators’ treasonous criminality. The false human rights propaganda motif makes it possible for proponents of the progressive variety of neocolonial solidarity in North America, Europe and elsewhere, to work in parallel with their right wing counterparts. Even many supposedly left wing figures have written articles or signed declarations in support of the ex-Sandinista US collaborators and those people’s right wing allies in Nicaragua. They do so for three main reasons.

Firstly, many supposedly left-wing figures attacking the Nicaraguan authorities for defending Nicaragua’s independence and sovereignty have some degree of friendship with the ex-sandinistas now under investigation, so they defend them for essentially personal reasons. Secondly, it is likely that many supposed left wingers supporting the ex Sandinista US collaborators have been duped by the massive psychological warfare assault on Nicaragua without bothering to question it. A third main reason for that kind of neocolonial solidairty from people who should know better, is that they fear alienating their support networks and are simply signaling how virtuous they are so as to avoid criticism.

In any case, the current situation, just like the 2018 coup attempt, categorically defines where everyone’s loyalties lie. People genuinely committed to the principles of sovereign independence and self-determination recognize the Nicaraguan authorities are applying the country’s laws and criminal code to defend the country against US intervention aimed at overthrowing the elected government. People who believe the bogus human rights accusations and claims that the current criminal investigations are driven by electoral considerations are engaging in the kind of neocolonial solidarity regularly deployed to justify yet another operation of imperialist regime change. For anyone foolish enough to credit the ex sandinista leaders denials of complicity with the US government, this series of photographs should help disabuse them of that false belief.

 

[Stephen Sefton is a member of the Tortilla con Sal collective based in Nicaragua]

Human Rights Fraud from Ukraine to Nicaragua

Tortilla con Sal

July 26, 2020

Stephen Sefton

Current Western human rights industry practice has nothing to do with establishing the truth. Increasingly in recent years, US and allied elites have sought to legitimize illegal aggression by exploiting human rights motifs in their attempts to recolonize the majority world.

 

In any given crisis, human rights NGOs funded by the US and allied corporate elites and governments deploy sensationalist false claims, for example of police murdering peaceful protestors, so as to create a cognitive limbo of doubt and suspicion aimed at disabling opposition to the West’s recolonization campaigns. Over the medium and long term, the steady drip of false accusations against countries resisting recolonization, like Syria and Iran, or Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua, creates false memories, corrupting and distorting the historical record and obscuring the West’s crimes against those and so many other countries in the majority world.

Western ruling elites have corrupted human rights organizations and institutions at practically every level using corporate grant making and government funding. The practical results of this corruption mirror corporate techniques of control fraud and strategic avoidance of regulation. Economics writers like Michael Hudson and  William Black, among others, have explained how corrupt US and allied corporations have exploited these fraudulent abuses for decades.  Control fraud is essentially no different from ancient practices like debasing coins, adulterating food products or selling defective goods as fit for use. They all fool people into accepting something that causes them loss, hurt and damage.

In the United States, powerful corporations control US political and institutional life sufficiently to be able to co-opt justice and escape criminal prosecution. This reality crowds out honest, socially responsible business and financial practice. Parallel to control fraud by major financial institutions, other multinational corporations, for example oil, mining or information technology corporations,  operate what various writers call a “veil of tiers” strategy misrepresenting their earnings so as to avoid tax or other regulation, and legal prosecution. More legitimately, in the field of insurance, the “veil of tiers” strategy spreads risks associated with potential litigation. The international human rights industry uses similar techniques to justify and cover up Western attacks against the peoples of the majority world.

The dependence of international human rights NGOs on corporate and government funding and on publicity via corporate media and public relations over time has generated the osmosis of corrupt corporate practice into the human rights industry. Writers like Cory Morningstar have analyzed exhaustively how this takeover by corporate culture of the “non-profit industrial complex serves hegemony as a sophisticated fine-tuned symbiotic mechanism in a continuous state of flux and refinement. The ruling elite channel an immeasurable amount of resources and tools through these organizations to further strengthen, protect and expand existing forms of power structures and global domination.”

In a human rights context, control fraud takes the form of politically motivated, false, sensationalist accusations based on egregiously one-sided, often fact-free research, sometimes using fake pseudo-scientific reconstructions. Accountability for these false accusations is rendered negligible by means of a “veil of tiers” strategy starting at a low level with small, local or national human rights NGOS, progressing via larger international human rights NGOs and auxiliary private contractors to regional human rights institutions, then reaching United Nations organizations and ultimately the highest levels of the international human rights legal system. By excluding independent corroboration, the interchange from one level to the next imparts spurious mutual legitimacy of varying degrees between the organizations and institutions involved.

The process is quasi-judicial with zero accountability, such that attempting to counteract false accusations is extremely difficult if not impossible, especially in the short term. If anything, the human rights industry is even less accountable than multinational corporations. Two recent examples, among innumerable others, confirm the creeping monopolization of the human rights industry by corrupt corporate practice. Against both the Ukraine government in February 2014 and against the Nicaraguan government in May 2018, Western human rights NGOs made very similar accusations that their police forces murdered peaceful protestors indiscriminately. In both cases, the accusations were false.

The context of the killings in both cases was a violent attempt at regime change by a US government funded political opposition. In Ukraine’s case, the opposition had been supported for over twenty years with US government funding amounting to over US$5 billion as confirmed in 2013 by Victoria Nuland, then US Assistant Secretary of State. That US government finance was in addition to funding from US corporate oligarchs like Pierre Omidyaar and George Soros. The most notorious event in the regime change campaign in Ukraine took place over February 18th-20th in 2014 when over 70 people were killed in Kiev’s Maidan square during violent confrontations between police and protestors. The massacre led to the overthrow of the legitimate government and its replacement by a fascist US client regime.

After the event, even CNN felt bound to report a leaked conversation between Estonia’s Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs in which Paet confirmed that a  pro-opposition doctor treating wounded protestors claimed opposition snipers, not government security forces, had shot the protestors. That report was followed by the broadcast from Italy’s Mediaset Matrix television channel of interviews, here and here, with mercenary snipers confessing they had fired on both protestors and police during the Maidan protests in February 2014. The mercenaries had come forward aggrieved at not getting paid by the opposition aligned figures who hired them. Even so, the Ukraine authorities announced their investigation into the shootings was complete, simply repeating the false accusations against the former Ukrainian government despite categorically clear evidence to the contrary.

A prominent part of the Ukraine prosecutors’ false case was a virtual reconstruction of events  by a private New York contractor called SITU Research whose human rights work is funded by US oligarch owned grant making bodies, like the MacArthur Foundation, the Oak Foundation and the Open Society Foundations. Ivan Katchanovski of the University of Ottawa has exposed as phony the SITU Research reconstruction of the Maidan shootings, demonstrating, for example, that in various cases SITU Research’s imaging moved wound locations indicated in the respective forensic autopsy reports in order to suit the video’s conclusions. Katchanovksi’s detailed analysis draws on other evidence omitted by SITU Research which also contradicts their claims, for example witness testimony from 25 wounded opposition supporters that they were shot from opposition controlled buildings.

Katchanovski points out that numerous video and TV footage shows opposition snipers and shooters in buildings controlled by the opposition. That footage is supported by over 150 witness testimonies confirming snipers were firing from those locations. Katchanovski also notes that Brad Samuels, founding partner of SITU Research “said in a video [start at 55:16] that ‘…eventually, there is a consensus that there was a third party acting. It is clear from forensic evidence that people were shot in the back. Somebody was shooting from rooftops.’ ” Katchanovski remarks that Samuels’ “striking observation was not included anywhere in the SITU 3D model report that he produced.” Katchanovski’s critical analysis of SITU Research’s material and of the broader official Ukraine investigation into the Maidan massacre has never been seriously challenged.

Similar false accusations ignoring readily available contradictory evidence and also using SITU Research modeling were made against Nicaragua’s government earlier this year. On May 30th the Organization of American States subsidiary body the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (GIEI), the Argentinian Forensic Anthropology Team and SITU Research jointly published a video allegedly proving that Nicaragua’s police shot and killed unarmed protesters at a demonstration on May 30th 2018. But detailed analysis of the video shows that in this case too SITU Research have misrepresented data, namely the distance between the police and the protestors which was in fact about 175 metres, in order to harmonize the reality of what happened with their virtual reconstruction which claims police snipers fired from a distance of around 250 metres.

The video footage of the protests in Nicaragua contains no scenes where Nicaraguan police use their firearms. Similarly, just as in their false reconstruction of events in Kiev’s Maidan square, SITU Research omitted a substantial body of information contradicting their account of the shootings in Managua on May 30th. The context in this case too was of extremely violent protests by organizations funded by the US government with over US$15 million just in 2017-2018. For example, local human rights organizations received over US$3 million from the US government that year as did local media NGOs. Although, two solidarity organizations wrote and published an open letter to the organizations who produced the video, respectfully questioning their findings, to date the letter has received only a formal acknowledgment without replying to the questions.

In both Ukraine and Nicaragua, the US government funded local opposition aligned NGOs to make false allegations of very serious human rights violations. A private company contractor was funded by US corporate interests to produce false pseudo-scientific material unfairly incriminating the governments for those violations. International human rights NGOs repeated the false accusations on the basis of that same false evidence. Regional human rights institutions accused the governments concerned on the basis of that same material.

The accusations are false but the Nicaraguan government and accused members of the former Ukrainian government are denied a fair defense. This same process has been repeated over and over again against governments resisting US and allied policies. Western human rights organizations share the same corrupt methodology as their corporate and government patrons. They make false claims, suppress inconvenient evidence, do all they can to avoid independent scrutiny and systematically evade accountability.

 

WATCH: UKRAINE ON FIRE

UKRAINE ON FIRE – The Real Story. Full Documentary by Oliver Stone (Original English version)

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“Ukraine. Across its eastern border is Russia and to its west—Europe. For centuries, it has been at the center of a tug-of-war between powers seeking to control its rich lands and access to the Black Sea. 2014’s Maidan Massacre triggered a bloody uprising that ousted president Viktor Yanukovych and painted Russia as the perpetrator by Western media. But was it?

Ukraine on Fire by Igor Lopatonok provides a historical perspective for the deep divisions in the region which lead to the 2004 Orange Revolution, 2014 uprisings, and the violent overthrow of democratically elected Yanukovych. Covered by Western media as a people’s revolution, it was in fact a coup d’état scripted and staged by nationalist groups and the U.S. State Department. Investigative journalist Robert Parry reveals how U.S.-funded political NGOs and media companies have emerged since the 80s replacing the CIA in promoting America’s geopolitical agenda abroad.

Executive producer Oliver Stone gains unprecedented access to the inside story through his on-camera interviews with former President Viktor Yanukovych and Minister of Internal Affairs, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, who explain how the U.S. Ambassador and factions in Washington actively plotted for regime change. And, in his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Stone solicits Putin’s take on the significance of Crimea, NATO and the U. S’s history of interference in elections and regime change in the region.” [Source: Ukraine on Fire website]

 

Whitewashing the White Helmets – Peter Ford, Former UK Ambassador to Syria Responds to UK Government Statement

The Wall Will Fall

July 23, 2018

Peter Ford, Former Ambassador to Syria

white helmets kafarya and foua
Former Ambassador to Syria 2003 – 2006, Peter Ford responds to the UK Government statement by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt on “exceptional” Israeli evacuation of the UK/US Coalition intelligence construct, the White Helmets:

Following a joint diplomatic effort by the UK and international partners, a group of White Helmets volunteers from southern Syria and their families have been able to leave Syria for safety.

They are now being assisted by the UNHCR in Jordan pending international resettlement.

The White Helmets have saved over 115,000 lives during the Syrian conflict, at great risk to their own. Many White Helmets volunteers have also been killed while doing their work – trying to rescue civilians trapped in bombarded buildings or providing first aid to injured civilians. White Helmets have been the target of attacks and, due to their high profile, we judged that, in these particular circumstances, the volunteers required immediate protection. We therefore took steps with the aim of affording that protection to as many of the volunteers and their families as possible.

We pay tribute to the brave and selfless work that White Helmets volunteers have done to save Syrians on all sides of the conflict.

Peter Ford responds:

“The government statement contains two bare-faced lies.

The White Helmets most definitely have not assisted all sides in the conflict. From the beginning they have only ever operated in rebel-held areas. Government controlled areas have the real Syrian Civil Defence and Syrian Red Crescent. This is quite a big whopper on the government’s part. It goes without saying that the media will not pick up on it.

Secondly the White Helmets are not volunteers. They are doing jobs for which they are paid, by Western governments. They have a press department 150 strong, bigger than that for the whole of the UK ambulance service. Their claims of saving over 115,000 lives have never been verified. The co-location of their offices with jihadi operation centres has been well documented.

Apparently the government are lying because they are nervous of being accused of importing into this country scores of dangerous migrants who have many times been reported to be associating with extremists (social media is rife with self-propagated videos of their misdeeds such as participation in beheadings and waving ISIS and Al Qaida flags), and wish to whitewash them.

The White Helmets’ dramatic exfiltration leaves many questions unanswered

1.  Why was it deemed necessary to evacuate this particular group in the south when other groups of White Helmets simply got on the buses to Northern Syria when military operations concluded in Aleppo, Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere, and when similar exodus by bus has been arranged for rebels in Deraa?

2. Why should White Helmets be considered to be more at risk than combatants, many of whom have either ‘reconciled’ or been bussed out? In the demonology of the government side the White Helmets are not seen as worse than other jihadis.

3. Might the British government have been afraid of this particular group being caught and interrogated, revealing perhaps the truth about alleged chemical weapon incidents?

4.  Will they now be foisted on to areas of the UK already struggling to absorb migrants, or will they go to places like Esher and Carshalton?

5.  Will local councils be informed about the backgrounds of these fugitives? Will local councils be given extra resources to absorb them and cope with resulting security needs, bearing in mind that Raed Saleh, leader of the White Helmets, was refused a visa to the US in 2016?”

Truth UNFILTERED: The Global South Assessment of Western Imperial Actions Against Syria

Truth UNFILTERED: The Global South Assessment of Western Imperial Actions Against Syria

Sacha Sergio Llorenti Soliz – Permanent Representative to the United Nations and Ambassador of Bolivia. United Nations Security Council, April 14. 2018.

Translations of quotes below have been kindly provided by Francisco Nunes [@fcn_84]. The full transcript in English (added April 16, 2018) is below the video within this post.]

Follow Sacha Llorenti on twitter: @SachaLlorenti  

FULL TRANSCRIPT:

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MR. PRESIDENT.

MY DELEGATION WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE SECRETARY GENERAL FOR HIS PRESENCE AND HIS PARTICIPATION IN THIS MEETING.

BOLIVIA WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THANK THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION FOR HAVING TAKEN THE INITIATIVE OF CONVENING THIS URGENT MEETING OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL

TODAY IS A DARK DAY IN THE HISTORY OF THIS COUNCIL.

THREE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL HAVE TAKEN THE DECISION TO BREACH THE CHARTER OF THE UNITED NATIONS AND TAKE MILITARY ACTION AGAINST THE SOVEREIGNTY AND TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY OF ANOTHER MEMBER STATE OF OUR ORGANIZATION.

BOLIVIA WISHES TO CLEARLY AND CATEGORICALLY EXPRESS ITS CONDEMNATION OF THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS OR CHEMICAL SUBSTANCES AS WEAPONS, AS THIS IS UNJUSTIFIABLE AND CRIMINAL WHEREVER IT HAPPENS AND BY WHOMEVER. THEIR USE IS A SERIOUS CRIME AGAINST INTERNATIONAL LAW AND INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY.  THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR COMMITTING SUCH TERRIBLE AND CRIMINAL ACTS MUST BE IDENTIFIED, INVESTIGATED, PROSECUTED AND PUNISHED IN THE MOST RIGOROUS WAY POSSIBLE.

BOLIVIA CONTINUES TO DEMAND A TRANSPARENT AND IMPARTIAL INVESTIGATION TO DETERMINE WHO ARE THE CULPRITS.

BUT, IN ADDITION TO THAT, THE TOPIC OF THIS MEETING IS THE FACT THAT THE THREE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL AS I SAID HAVE USED FORCE IN BREACH OF THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER. YOU CANNOT COMBAT THE ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL LAW BY VIOLATING INTERNATIONAL LAW. BOLIVIA IS SURPRISED BY THE FACT THAT THE PERMANENT MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL, GIVEN THAT THEY HAVE A GREATER RESPONSIBILITY FOR MAINTAINING INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY HAVE DECIDED TO BYPASS THE UNITED NATIONS WHEN IT SUITS THEM. THEY DEFEND MULTILATERALISM AS LONG AS IT SERVES THEM AND THEY SIMPLY DISCARD IT. WHEN IT IS NO LONGER IN THEIR INTERESTS, THEY ARE NO LONGER ATTACHED TO MULTILATERALISM .

THIS IS NOT THE ONLY CASE WHERE UNFORTUNATELY UNILATERAL ACTION HAS BEEN USED.  LET’S RECALL, AND WE WILL NEVER TIRE OF RECALLING THE EVENTS IN IRAQ IN 2003 AND IN LIBYA IN 2011. SUCH ACTIONS SHOULD BE AUTHORIZED BY THE SECURITY COUNCIL IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE  UNITED NATIONS CHARTER — ANY UNILATERAL ACTION  COUNTER TO INTERNATIONAL LAW AND COUNTER TO THE VALUES AND PRINCIPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER IS UNACCEPTABLE.  BOLIVIA REJECTS THE USE OF FORCE.  UNILATERAL ACTION NOT ONLY RESPONDS TO THE SPECIFIC INTERESTS OF THOSE WHO CARRY THEM OUT, BUT IN FACT, THERE ARE MEASURES THAT ALLOW ME THE EXPRESSION, ARE IMPERIALIST MEASURES — IT SO HAPPENS THAT EMPIRES AS WE STATED EARLIER CONSIDER THEMSELVES SUPERIOR TO THE REST OF THE WORLD. THEY THINK THEY ARE EXCEPTIONAL.  THEY THINK THEY ARE INDISPENSABLE AND HENCE THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW, ABOVE INTERNATIONAL LAW.

BUT IN FACT, THE INTEREST OF THOSE WHO UNILATERALLY USE FORCE AND VIOLATE THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER IS NOT REALLY TO ADVANCE DEMOCRACY OR ADVANCE FREEDOM OR TO COMBAT THE USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS.  THEIR GOAL IS TO EXPAND THEIR POWER AND EXPAND THEIR DOMINATION.

WHAT WE HAVE WITNESSED OVER THE PAST FEW HOURS IS AN ATTACK AGAINST THE FACT FINDING MISSION  OF THE OPCW WHICH HASN’T EVEN STARTED THE WORK THAT WAS SCHEDULED TO BEGIN TODAY.

THE UNILATERAL ATTACK IS AN ATTACK AGAINST MULTILATERAL ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS THE OPCW.  IT’S AN ATTACK AGAINST THIS COUNCIL AND ITS MAIN DUTY FOR MAINTAINING INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY. IT IS AN ATTACK AGAINST THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER AND IT IS AN ATTACK AGAINST THE ENTIRE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY.

I AM WONDERING WHETHER THE PERMANENT MEMBERS WHO USED FORCE JUST A FEW HOURS AGO, HOW MUCH MONEY THEY INVESTED IN ARMING AND TRAINING THE ARMED GROUPS IN SYRIA?

THEY ARE BEHIND (UNINTELLIGIBLE) NATIONAL RESOURCES AND WITH WHAT KIND OF AUTHORITY CAN THEY INVOKE THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER IN OTHER SITUATIONS? THE HISTORY, UNFORTUNATELY,  OF VIOLATIONS OF THE PRINCIPLES AND PURPOSES OF THE CHARTER IS LONG. WE MENTIONED LIBYA, WE MENTIONED IRAQ, BUT THERE ARE MORE RECENT CHAPTERS. IT HAPPENED WITH THE UNILATERAL DECISION REGARDING JERUSALEM. IT IS ANOTHER CLEAR SIGNAL OF A LACK OF RESPECT FOR INTERNATIONAL LAW. WHO ARE THOSE  WHO SELL WEAPONS TO THOSE WHO BOMB CIVILIANS IN YEMEN? WHO ARE THOSE WHO REJECTED THE PARIS AGREEMENT, OF THE CLIMATE AGREEMENT?  WHO ARE THOSE  WHO STEPPED AWAY FROM OTHER INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS?  WHO ARE THOSE WHO BUILD WALLS?

BUT, WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT IT IS IMPORTANT TO LOOK AT HISTORY IN THE LONG RUN, OVER THE LONGER PERIODS OF TIME.  WE ARE EXPERIENCING THE CONSEQUENCES IN THE MIDDLE EAST OF THE ACTIONS  THAT ARE PROVOKED BY CERTAIN COLONIALIST POWERS DATING BACK TO A CENTURY OR MORE.

AND THE SAME THING WE ARE EXPERIENCING IN SYRIA, A COMPLETE DISDAIN FOR INTERNATIONAL LAW, IS ALSO SOMETHING THAT WE ARE SEEING WHEN, FOR EXAMPLE, THE UNITED KINGDOM REFUSES TO RETURN THE MALDIVES ISLANDS SOVEREIGNTY TO ARGENTINA OR WHEN THE CHAGOS ARCHIPELAGO ISSUE IS NOT RESOLVED. AND WHEN THE ADVISORY OPINION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE ON THIS TOPIC  IS NOT HEEDED.  IN OTHER WORDS, WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A WHOLE RANGE OF POLICIES THAT UNDERMINE INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY.

THE DISTINGUISHED PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES SAYS THAT THE UNITED STATES, HER COUNTRY, IS READY, ‘LOCKED AND LOADED’ SHE SAYS. OF COURSE, WE CLEARLY HEARD HER WORDS WITH A GREAT DEAL OF CONCERN AND A GREAT DEAL OF SADNESS.  WE KNOW THAT THE UNITED STATES HAS AIRCRAFT CARRIERS, THAT THEY HAVE SATELLITES, THAT THEY HAVE “INTELLIGENT MISSILES”, SMART BOMBS AND THEY HAVE A HUGE ARSENAL OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS.  AND, WE ALSO KNOW THAT THEY HAVE NOTHING BUT SCORN FOR INTERNATIONAL LAW.

BUT WE HAVE THIS. WE HAVE THE PRINCIPLES AND PURPOSES OF THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER.  AND, ULTIMATELY AS HISTORY HAS DEMONSTRATED MANY TIMES, ULTIMATELY THESE PRINCIPLES WILL PREVAIL. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

 

The New Humanitarianism: The Imperative to ‘Act’ and to ‘Act Now’

April 14, 2018

 

An Excerpt from the book Celebrity Humanitarianism – The Ideology of Global Charity by Ilan KapoorFirst [2013]

 

‘Ilan Kapoor’s stunning new book exposes the most appealing – and thus most dangerous – sacred cows of contemporary ideology: the humanitarian actor, the billionaire philanthropist, and the NGO. Kapoor shows that it is precisely where we feel most emotionally satisfied that we must be most suspicious. Celebrity Humanitarianism represents a landmark in the critique of ideology and a decisive blow in the struggle against apolitical ethics.’ — Todd McGowan, University of Vermont, USA

 

Since the end of the Cold War, there has been an explosion of international NGOs, particularly development and humanitarian ones, leading to the rise of what is termed ‘global civil society’. In large measure, this is due to the ascendancy of neoliberalism, which has seen NGOs fill the many gaps created by government cutbacks and privatization. But in part, it is also the result of the intensification of globalization and the information economy, which has opened up possibilities for greater  borderlessness’. Not content with doing only aid and development work, NGOs have carved out an increasingly more activist and interventionist role for themselves in the global arena. This trend is what has been called ‘the new humanitarianism’.

Central to the new humanitarianism is a security discourse, which divides the world, not so much along the lines of wealth vs. poverty as it used to, but more in terms of stability vs. threat. Mark Duffield argues that the security discourse is constructed on the basis of the metaphor of the ‘borderlands’ (i.e. the Third World), an imagined geographic space of instability, excess, and social breakdown, which poses a threat to the metropolitan areas (2001: 309).

The borderlands are depicted as violent and unpredictable, or at least always a  potential danger; they are the source of many of the problems seen to plague global security, including drug trafficking, terrorism, refugee flows, and corrupt/weak/rogue states.

Accordingly, the point of international intervention is to tame and manage instability. In this scenario, poverty, corruption, and refugee flows are to be feared much more than alleviated. Development and humanitarianism are seen not as problems of reducing inequality or protecting the most vulnerable, but as technologies of security, which function ‘to contain and manage underdevelopment’s destabilizing effects’ (Duffield 2007: ix, 24).

The practical outcome of this new humanitarianism is a significant shift away from respecting national sovereignty and towards external intervention in the Third World: it means neglecting international law, or obeying the ‘higher’ moral law of humanitarianism, under the guise of the ‘responsibility to protect’ (cf. Mamdani 2009: 274; Watson 2011: 5). In other words, new humanitarianism has increasingly become neoimperialism, allowing the West to ‘transform conflicts, decrease violence and set the stage for liberal development’ (Duffield et al. 2001: 269). Not just a Third World country’s foreign policy, but now also its domestic economic or human rights situation is seen as a credible threat (Duffield 2001: 311), recalling colonialism’s ‘civilizing mission’ to eradicate ‘barbaric’ Third World cultural practices such as widow-burning or infanticide. More often than not, the form of external intervention is military, that is, armed intervention parading as humanitarian rescue mission. The post- 9/11 War on Terror has only escalated this trend, enabling the possibility of ‘unending war’ to secure the borderlands (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan) (Duffield 2007: 131). Illustrative of unending war is the following list, compiled by Watson (2011: 4), enumerating the countries for which humanitarianism has been used to justify military intervention in recent years: Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Angola, Mozambique, Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Zaire, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

NGOs are firmly enmeshed in this security–humanitarian network. For the past two decades particularly, the private–public linkages between Western states, UN agencies, private firms, militaries, and NGOs has grown. In fact, as Duffield puts it, the securitization of development/humanitarianism ‘has been of central importance for legitimising the growing involvement of non-state actors’ (2001: 312; cf. Watson 2011: 3–4). And NGOs have become not just accomplices in this network, but key players. Mamdani goes so far as to argue that the new humanitarianism is the ‘twin of the War on Terror’ (2009: 274), with groups such as Save Darfur as pivotal facilitators. NGOs have pushed for and capitalized on the vast resources directed at emergency and security operations around the globe. Many such operations (e.g. in Afghanistan, Haiti, Bosnia) have been ambitious and well coordinated, with relief agencies working alongside military or peacekeeping campaigns.

 

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz) calling for a Darfur intervention and criminal indictment. August 3, 2004 screenshot: “Only one thing will stop the killing in Sudan: an immediate international intervention” … “Click here to sign a petition calling for humanitarian intervention Darfur” [WKOG screenshot]

 

The imperative to ‘act’ and to ‘act now’ is central to these NGO campaigns.

To be sure, beginning mainly in the post-World War II era, organizations such as Oxfam, ActionAid, and MSF were created to respond to global crises, ranging from armed conflicts and epidemics to ‘natural’ or man-made disasters. Whether we are talking about the 1949 Palestinian refugee situation, the 1967 Nigerian civil war, the 1984–85 Ethiopian famine, or the more recent 2005 Pakistan earthquake, emergencies have become an opportunity for humanitarian NGOs to function and even expand. Indeed, they have been able to justify and aggrandize themselves based on what Duffield refers to as a ‘permanent emergency regime’ (2007: 25, 47–49, 219). All of them rely on a ‘threaturgency narrative’ to ‘legitimize their functions’ (Watson 2011: 9); it is this narrative that allows them to identify and categorize the disaster (e.g. as an impending famine or a pressing refugee crisis), as well as publicly highlight the humanitarian duty to save lives or assist ‘populations in distress’, as MSF puts it (http://www.msf.org).

One of the most poignant recent examples of the construction of emergency discourse is that of the Save Darfur Coalition, especially during the 2004–7 period. The Coalition relied on highly charged rhetoric to issue its emergency call for international intervention. The first move, as Mamdani underlines (2009: 64–65), was to categorize the conflict in the Darfur region as racially motivated: the government-armed ‘Arab Janjaweed militia’ were reportedly perpetrating violence against ‘black-skinned non-Arabs’. Such stereotyping became pervasive in Western public discourse and was often repeated by the mainstream press, including The Washington Post (Mamdani 2009: 64; cf. Hassan 2010: 98). Mamdani notes (2009: 6) that this ethnicized/racialized framing has its origins in the colonial tradition of racializing the peoples of Sudan for political purposes (i.e. as a divide and rule strategy); it is a framing that, in the contemporary global conjuncture, only served to reinforce the discourse of the War on Terror, demonizing Islam and Arabs, and pressing for immediate counter-terrorist action.

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz) March 8, 2005 screenshot: “Sign a petition below … over 18,000 signatories in the last week!” [WKOG screenshot]

 

The Coalition’s second discursive move was to characterize the Darfur situation as ‘genocide’ (despite evidence to the contrary, as we shall see below). It is the deployment of this culturally and politically charged term that, almost single-handedly, brought together such a large and diverse range of US-based organizations that made up the Coalition (see above), while catching the attention of the media and politicians alike (cf. Save Darfur Coalition 2011). After Save Darfur’s ‘genocide alert’ in 2004, events quickly gathered pace: a student-led divestment campaign was organized, a large Save Darfur Rally To Stop Genocide was held in Washington, DC, and an impassioned plea (by George Clooney) was made to the UN Security Council for international intervention. In 2007, the rhetoric was ratcheted up. The Coalition criticized China for its strong support of the Sudanese government, with a campaign that included taking out full-page advertisements in The New York Times and Mia Farrow denouncing the upcoming Beijing Olympics as the ‘Genocide Olympics’.

The overall effect of this emergency discourse was to exercise tremendous pressure on political leaders in the US and around the world. Secretary of State Colin Powell testified in front of the Senate Relations Committee that genocide was being committed in Darfur. The US Congress agreed, pushing for political and economic sanctions for Sudan. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council referred the Darfur case to the International Criminal Court, sent UN peacekeeping troops to Sudan, and following China’s change of position on the Council in the face of public pressure, established a larger joint UN–African Union peacekeeping mission, with financial support from the US Congress (cf. Flint and de Waal 2008: 181, 280; Haeri 2008: 35–37).

One of the most troubling features of this NGO emergency discourse is its tendency towards militarization and war. The imperative to act ‘now’ tends to provide added impetus and rationale for militarized intervention. We are familiar with NGOs providing relief work in war zones, in which they must sometimes coordinate with warring factions to deliver aid programs. We are also familiar with the use of army troops in non-military crises such as the Asian Tsunami in 2004 or Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (to keep law and order, or help NGOs distribute food aid). Increasingly, as Watson argues, ‘states and the international community have institutionalized a militarized response through the establishment of specialized military entities such as the United States Foreign Disaster Assistance or the Canadian Disaster Assistance Response Team’ (2011: 9).

But what is relatively new and noteworthy is the call by humanitarian NGOs for military intervention – a phenomenon described by the paradoxical concept, ‘humanitarian war’. It is a concept that, as Vanessa Pupavec notes, NGOs themselves helped legitimate, especially through their demands for military intervention in the Balkans during the 1990s (2006: 263). Thus, MSF appealed for military action in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, while Save the Children lobbied Western governments for armed intervention in Kosovo in the late 1990s (Pupavec 2006: 255). Since that time, several other similar calls have been made. Of particular note are Oxfam’s demand, in relation to the Darfur situation, for a broader interpretation of the UN Charter on the principle of non-interference to include intervention, and Save Darfur’s outright plea for a no-fly zone and Western military action. In fact, ‘Out of Iraq and Into Darfur’ became a common Save Darfur slogan. Pupavec points out, in this regard, that NGOs were quick to criticize the failure to obtain UN Security Council authorization for military intervention in Iraq, but were only too willing to ignore such authorization when they demanded military  ntervention in Kosovo and Darfur (2006: 266).

Above: Res Publica (Avaaz): “SUCCESS!! – Humanitarian Intervention in Darfur” … “SUCCESS!! – International Criminal Court to Prosecute Architects of Genocide in Darfur” [February 10, 2006 screenshot]

 

If rhetorical demands for action raise the stakes, resulting in the militarization of the new humanitarianism, so do media demands for spectacle. The mediatization of NGO emergency work – that is, the drive not just to act now, but also to be seen to be acting now – adds greater urgency. NGOs may well be responding to save lives, but they are also playing to the global media and public. MSF’s témoignage (witnessing) after all, is about witnessing not just on behalf of disaster victims, but also for the media/public. This recalls our earlier arguments about the entertainmentization of humanitarianism – the pressures to create ‘megaspectacles’, to satisfy seemingly insatiable appetites for suffering, death, and disaster. The militarization of emergency work only supplies further fuel to this fire, aiding and abetting the spectacularization of violence and war. In this regard, Henry Giroux contends that we are witnessing a new phase in the society of the spectacle, that of the ‘spectacle of terrorism’ (2006: 26).

According to him, a ‘visual culture of shock and awe has emerged’, which celebrates violence in the form of night bombing raids, hostage takings, and beheadings, or the destruction of public buildings (2006: 21, 24).

The pressure to create spectacle, then, means that spectacular NGOs are not simply observers or objective relays in delivering humanitarian aid; they are full-fledged actors, identifying emergencies and constructing them for public consumption (cf. Keenan 2002: 5). Add militarization to this mix, and you move from the imperative to act now and be seen to be acting now, to an imperative to be seen to be acting now, militarily if needs be (or preferably?).

The systemic and symbolic violence of spectacular NGOs

Three friends are having a drink at the bar. The first one says, ‘A horrible thing  happened to me. At my travel agency, I wanted to say “A ticket to Pittsburgh!” and I said “A ticket to Pissburgh!”’ The second one replies, ‘That’s nothing. At breakfast, I wanted to say to my partner “Could you pass the sugar, honey?” and what I said was “You dirty fool, you ruined my life!”’ The third one concludes, ‘Wait till you hear what happened to me. After gathering the courage all night, I decided to say to my spouse at breakfast exactly what you said to yours, and I ended up saying “Could you pass me the sugar, honey?”’

(adapted from Žižek 2004b: 61)

Often, the most traumatic situations are not necessarily the outwardly perceptible ones (i.e. the gaffes of the first and second interlocutors in the joke), but the less obvious ones (i.e. the repressed content in the outward politeness of the third). As Paul Taylor suggests, telling are the moments ‘in which nothing of substance is said… in that non-utterance resides all manner of psychologically destructive forces’ (2010: 93).

And so it is with spectacular (humanitarian) NGOs: it is most often in these organizations’ non-utterances that ideological violence is to be found. The spectacle of NGO humanitarianism is revealing not simply for what it shows, but more importantly for the violence it often ignores, takes for granted, or disavows. Žižek distinguishes two types of violence: (i) ‘subjective violence’, which is directly visible and identifiable (e.g. emaciated babies, physical destruction in the wake of a hurricane); and (ii) ‘objective violence’, which is less immediately perceptible (2008a: 1–2). Objective violence is itself made up of ‘systemic violence’, which refers to our often slow yet steady social oppressions  (e.g. gender exclusion, wage discrimination, the daily grind of alienating work), and ‘symbolic violence’, the violence inherent in our systems of representation (e.g. the way in which an image of a starving child can hide as much as it reveals). The crucial point for Žižek is that objective violence is what is required for the ‘normal’ functioning of our social and economic systems. In other words, systemic and symbolic violence is the background against which subjective violence happens: objective violence ‘may be invisible, but it has to be taken into account if one is to make sense of what otherwise seem to be “irrational” explosions of subjective violence’ (Žižek 2008a: 2). Accordingly, I’d like to highlight the systemic and symbolic violence of humanitarian NGOs, violence which serves as backdrop to their spectacle.

The systemic violence of humanitarian NGOs stems, at least in part, from the very nature of their work – short-term emergency operations that attempt to rescue people from immediate danger, but make no attempt to address the broader or underlying causes of such danger. As MSF’s James Orbinsky readily admits, MSF action ‘takes place in the short term’ with limited objectives in the wake of a crisis, ‘but does not itself attempt to solve the crisis’ (2000: 10). The problem is that such an approach is premised on what was earlier denoted as a ‘permanent emergency regime’: rather than working themselves out of a job, NGOs depend (and count) on more and more crises.

They have every interest in global neoliberal capitalism’s continued production of emergencies, which enables and legitimizes their spectacular humanitarianism. In this sense, the NGO-ization of humanitarianism (and development) may have less to do with finding effective solutions to problems than a way of keeping the humanitarian business in business.

True, some humanitarian NGOs do carry out broader ‘development’ programming, alongside their short-term relief and advocacy work. For example, MSF organizes a campaign to make cheaper generic drugs more readily available to Third World countries (cf. http://www.msfaccess.org), and Oxfam runs a host of projects in gender equality, health, and education around the world (cf. Oxfam UK 2011). But as pointed out in Chapters 1 and 2, most of these initiatives are depoliticized; they steer clear of, say, anti-capitalist/anti-racist critique, or unionization of workers (or women), in favour of tamer and nonthreatening areas such as mainstream human/gender rights and education. As Issa Shivji contends, in Sub-Saharan Africa issues of equality and equity are banished to the ‘realm of rights, not development’; that is, rights are a question of NGO ‘advocacy’, ‘not a terrain of people’s struggle’ (2006: 35). Moreover, many NGO development projects (e.g. job training, micro-credit) are ultimately an attempt at integrating subaltern groups into global capital; as James Petras puts it (1999: 432), they help corner ‘a new segment of the poor’ (e.g. young people, marginalized women, landless farmers, the urban poor), binding them to market entrepreneurialism. The result once again is a reaffirmation of the status quo, whose systemic violence is the basis for humanitarianism. And so the cycle continues … (I am not, of course, suggesting that humanitarian advocacy/relief and development should not happen, or that people must not be assisted in disasters; the problem is the significant institutional interests in people’s ongoing suffering or dispossession, and the enormous investments made in addressing the symptoms rather than the cure.)

This myopic and status quo approach is integral to the symbolic politics of humanitarian NGOs, too. The spectacularization of their relief and advocacy work is notable for what it includes as much as what it excludes. There is, first, the tendency (underlined earlier) to ‘sell’ stories and images that are visually and sound-byte friendly. Spectacles involving celebrities, poverty-stricken people, crying   mothers/children, gun-toting soldiers, or war-ravaged landscapes tend to be given priority. Most often, the resulting sensationalized images/stories are serialized and repeated to achieve maximum public and media spread and exposure. As one NGO media person puts it, ‘the misery of the victims of famine, flood, war, and plague must be underlined, perhaps even exaggerated, if [the organization] is to attract sufficient public attention’ (quoted in DeChaine 2002: 361). In this regard, MSF has been criticized for its sensationalized stories, causing some to pejoratively characterize the organization’s press officers as ‘catastrophe babes’, ‘whose motives are said to be driven more by the market than by the crises’ (DeChaine 2002: 360). Such tendencies  illustrate well the symbolic violence noted above, fetishizing and commodifying the outwardly visible (i.e. ‘subjective violence’) in the service of the society of the spectacle.

More often than not, the stories and commodity-images produced by NGOs resort to classic hero narratives, in which the NGO-as-hero/celebrity overcomes adversity (obstacles, enemies, crises) to save hapless victims. All the characters are clearly identifiable: the saviour-heroes are the aid workers, human rights advocates, and volunteer doctors/nurses; the enemies/adversaries are ‘natural’ disasters, or corrupt and authoritarian governments/leaders (e.g. the Janjaweed militia and President Al-Bashir, in the case of the Save Darfur narrative); and the victims are women, children, and dispossessed communities. Robert DeChaine states, for instance, that MSF’s credibility as a humanitarian agency hinges at least in part on ‘its ability to establish a perception of its volunteers as courageous, ideologically pure, morally committed agents of change. They are saviors, champions of the voiceless, who knowingly and willfully face the morally unrighteous enemies of humanity’ (2002: 362).

The creation of victims is key, and the humanitarian spectacle manages to never run out of them. Debrix argues that what transnational humanitarian NGOs such as MSF create when they intervene across state boundaries are ‘spaces of victimhood’, both spatial and symbolic: ‘Under the guise of reaching “victims” the world over, MSF constructs new spaces – humanitarian zones – inside which individuals in distress are identified as “victims”, are sorted out, and become recognisable as generalised examples of human drama’ (1998: 827).  The establishment of refugee camps, famine sanctuaries, and the like, are meant to clearly demarcate these spaces, so that the victims can be triaged, categorized, treated, managed.

The people shepherded into these zones tend to be constructed as passive beneficiaries. Rarely do they have a voice; most often, it is the NGOs that speak and ‘witness’ for them. In the Darfur debacle, for example, there was a notable absence of any articulate Sudanese or indeed Darfurian voices; as Salah Hassan points out, the discourse was dominated by ‘Western celebrity activists, aid workers, and other self-appointed experts and spokespersons, thus reconfiguring the “white man’s burden” in a significant way’ (2010: 97). Faced with such persistent victimization, it should hardly be surprising that NGO saviourheroes have sometimes been received by disaster ‘victims’ with hostility rather than thanks, as in the case, for example, of Somalia in 1992 or Iraq after the 2003 invasion (Watson 2011: 14).

Kate Manzo (2008) underlines how often humanitarian NGOs resort to the use of child iconography (usually close-ups of single children’s faces). Think of the 1960s ‘Biafra child’, the 1980s ‘Ethiopia child’, or the current-day Plan/World Vision/Save the Children poster child. Child imagery has become the face and brand of NGO humanitarianism (cf. Chapter 1). Here too, the child tends to be depicted as victim, with children’s commodity-images deployed to evoke innocence, dependence, suffering (Manzo 2008: 636). Frequently, the child is meant to stand for the Third World, crying out to be helped and saved.  Such paternalism only reproduces colonial tropes of infantalization of the colonies to rationalize Europe’s ‘civilizing mission’.

The production of these black-and-white stories and images, with plainly identifiable heroes, adversaries, and victims, makes for the ideal humanitarian morality tale. Drama and sensationalism permit clear and simplified messaging, enabling the audience to take sides, claim moral indignation at the situation, and feel good about its support for NGO humanitarianism. Mamdani likens this to a kind of pornography, which in the case of Save Darfur yielded a highly moral movement that appealed to people’s self-righteousness rather than political analysis (2009: 56–57; cf. Flint and de Waal 2008; DeChaine 2002: 358–59). Moral campaigns tend towards depoliticization, opting (as we have seen) for short-term, managerial, and emergency/militarized solutions. Pupavec contends that moral advocacy avoids ‘the stresses and  responsibilities of implementing assistance programmes on the ground … In other words, advocacy can in some cases represent a disingenuous flight from responsibility for social problems, rather than deeper engagement with them’ (2006: 266).

The problem with the moral spectacle is precisely that it is less concerned with analysis and understanding than with taking sides and issuing calls to action. Manichean tales simplify, mystify, and ignore the often highly complex politics of emergencies. The focus on the outwardly visible and the spectacular, on special effects and sound-bytes, avoids layered, substantive, and mediaunfriendly investigation. Sensationalized media reports tend to decontextualize and homogenize, telling the story for its universal message, not its specific content: thus, for instance, earthquake ‘victims’ stand as ‘global victims’, so that the disaster ‘is made into the general condition of humankind’ (Debrix 1998: 841, 843). Media/NGO stories tend to linger on the photogenic, privileging physical destruction. In the case of the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Watson finds that the disaster was presented in the media as ‘natural’, ‘unpreventable’, ‘indiscriminate’, or ‘random’, when in fact the physical destruction and human suffering had as much to do with human activity and social systems (e.g. use of poor building materials, especially in poorer neighbourhoods): ‘the physical evidence is used to tell a particular story – one that, in essence, speaks for itself in a way that is de-historical and de-political’ (2011: 14–15).

 

Above image from the Avaaz website: “Libya No-Fly Zone: As Libyan government jets drop bombs on the civilian population, the UN Security Council will decide in 48 hours whether to impose a no-fly zone to keep Qaddafi’s warplanes on the ground.” [Emphasis in original]

 

What is left out of the NGO/media stories are the un-photogenic details, the ‘boring’ particulars of the daily grind of people’s lives, the recurring patterns of alienation or marginalization. Historical knowledge is a no-no: ‘spectacular time’ militates against ‘historical time’, because the former must organize information ‘through the media as dramatic events that are quickly displaced and forgotten’ (Stevenson 2010: 162). When there is interest in details, the media usually home in on the personal (i.e. issues of identity, individual tragedy, etc.) or the gory (i.e. violence), rather than broader politics. In the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Watson finds that the media tended to fetishize human-interest stories (e.g. personal and family tragedies), devoid of any social or political context, and to sometimes suggest that ‘victims’ were responsible for their own plight (2011: 14). Moreover, all tsunami ‘victims’ were treated the same, ignoring the fact that local residents and Western tourists were differently impacted, and that local women and children, in particular, were the worst affected: the ‘human-tragedy component served to tie all the human victims together: Westerners and locally affected populations … [thus obliterating] the different sources of vulnerability for the two groups’ (Watson 2011: 14–15). Similarly, in the Hurricane Katrina crisis, Tierney et al. (2006) find that the media focused almost exclusively on issues of looting, poverty, and racial tensions, and had almost nothing to say about recurring state cuts for infrastructure and social services in the worst affected, low-lying, and mainly poor black neighbourhoods. Concentrating on ‘secondary malfunctions’ and ‘subjective violence’ – poverty, crime, corruption, individual trauma – as opposed to the ‘objective violence’ of, say, inequality and broader political economy, is a recurring ideological strategy that we have observed before. ‘Under the guise of exposing global trauma and injustice in spectacular detail, genuine consideration of the key political and economic causes is displaced’ (Taylor 2010: 131).

 

Such tendencies to ignore key details or broader contexts are integral to the types of photos or films produced by NGOs. Invariably, these are either largescale images (i.e. aerial or wide-angle shots) of landscapes and neighbourhoods, or close-ups of individuals and faces. This toggling between the bird’s eye view and the shrunk/miniaturized view, as Jim Igoe argues,

allows for the simultaneous presentation of problems that are so large they demand the attention of the whole of humanity, while identifying specific groups of people who are their perpetrators … Missing from these presentations are the complex and messy connections and relationships that are invisible in both the open-ended vastness of spectacular [landscapes] and the compelling specificity of prosperous villagers. (2010: 382)

It is not just the broader contexts of emergencies that spectacular humanitarianism ignores; it is also that some emergencies tend to be neglected altogether. During the Asian Tsunami, for example, the Western press focused almost exclusively on known tourist locations across the region, overlooking the devastation in ‘lesser-known countries and localities’ (Cottle and Nolan 2007: 879). The other, more telling recent example here is the Congo, where over four million people have died over the last decade, but which has received little attention from the press. Žižek writes in this regard that:

The Congo today has effectively re-emerged as a Conradian ‘heart of darkness’. No one dares to confront it head on. The death of a West Bank Palestinian child, not to mention an Israeli or American, is mediatically worth thousands of times more than the death of a nameless Congolese. (2008a: 3; cf. Mamdani 2009: 63)

The various manifestations of symbolic and systemic violence outlined above are revealing of the ideology of spectacular NGOs. For what is ideology, in the Žižekian sense that we mean it, other than the production of spectacular images and smooth spaces (i.e. humanitarian zones) to cover up the Real (broader political economy, long-term political alternatives, Western complicity)? The glossy photos and sensational headlines help create pure, untarnished, and moral humanitarian fantasies to be commodified and sold. The smooth spaces (refugee camps, etc.) help manufacture artificial humanitarian sanctuaries where ‘victims’ are categorized, controlled, and ultimately served up as advertisements for the likes of MSF, Save Darfur, or Save the Children (cf. Debrix 1998). The NGO/media spectacle helps to unify and stabilize reality, disavowing anything that disturbs the humanitarian dream-fantasy, is discomforting to the public, or threatens the neoliberal global order. Outwardly visible, subjective violence may well be shown, or even fetishized, but that it is symptomatic of a dirty underside, a broader underlying objective violence, is glossed over.

Of course, spectacular NGOs hide behind their faux objectivity and nonpartisan humanitarianism to repudiate any accusations of political ideology. Yet, as we have seen, their very presentation of reality through their stories and images is already an ideological construction of it (cf. Taylor 2010: 83). They create (the public view of ) emergencies and disasters in advance, so that ‘reality’ and the audience’s perception of it are one and the same (cf. Žižek 1994b: 15). Thus, Debord writes, ‘For what is communicated are orders: and with perfect harmony, those who give them are also those who tell us what they think of them’ (1990: 6).

 

[Ilan Kapoor is a Professor of Critical Development Studies at the Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University. He teaches in the area of global development and environmental politics, and his research focuses on postcolonial theory and politics, participatory development and democracy, and more recently, ideology critique. He is the author of The Postcolonial Politics of Development (Routledge 2008), and more recently, Celebrity Humanitarianism: The Ideology of Global Charity (Routledge 2013). He is currently writing a book on psychoanalysis and development.”]

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Angels & Demons: Otherwise Known as the Conquerors & the Conquered

Revisionist Linguistics

March 31, 2018

By Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer

 

Michael archangel vanquishing the devil. 1603-06. Au Hans Reichle

The Abraham Lincoln statue, 1879, by Thomas Ball. Park Square, Boston

This opinion piece has been written to accompany the excerpt from the lecture given by Avaaz/Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans on July 5 for the OuiShare Fest Paris 2017.

OuiShare: “Unlocking the potential of creative humans to reinvent how we work and nurture systemic change OuiShare is a global community, a collective of freelancers and, at heart, an incubator of people driven by a set of core values. Founded in January 2012 in Paris, OuiShare rapidly evolved from a dozen enthusiasts to a global community spread across Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, and is an international leader in the field of collaborative economy, future of cities, future of work.”

From the OuiShare website: Jeremy Heimans: “PURPOSE, CO-FOUNDER & CEO, USA, Jeremy Heimans is a prolific political and social activist. He is CEO & co-founder of Purpose, a social business building global movements trying to change the world, and is also a co-founder of Avaaz.org, one of the largest and most powerful online activist networks in the world. He believes in the power of collective action to tackle the world’s biggest problems.” [Source]

Background

The concept of “new power” has been named by CNN as one of ten ideas that can change the world. “Originally laid out as the Big Idea in Harvard Business Review and subsequent TED talk, new power offers a frame to understand the distributed and participatory models that are rising in business, life and society.” [OuiShareTV]

According to Heimans, “power traditionally functions as a currency, something valuable to which society wants to cling. The new power, on the other hand, works like a current: it is fluid. While the old forms of power are based on pyramidal forms and a power that goes from “top down”, the new power works in reverse, “as an “upload”. The new models of power are founded and inhabited by the coordination and agency of the masses, without participation these forms of power remain empty. These new models are collaborative platforms that need the active collaboration of their participants to survive.” [Source]

Strengthening Current Power Structures With the Language of New Power

 

What the “new power” model actually represents is capitalism in its most efficient form. Citizens, en masse, are utilized, organized and mobilized to provide social media online content – which is then captured and exploited for increased corporate revenues – with no monetary compensation for their labour. Although such movements may appear to be “founded and inhabited by the coordination and agency of the masses” (Heimans) – they have been largely created, or co-opted, at or since inception. The “new power” “uploads” to an existing structure. The structure responds by “downloading” an illusion of capitulation in order to satisfy/empower the masses. Yet, by design, its true triumph is the achievement of the following: 1) creating/accelerating economic growth (i.e. market mechanisms),  2) consolidating added power into the hands of the West, 3)  the further insulating of the elite classes from all/any risk, 4) protecting and expanding the capitalist economic system, and 5) resolving issues only within the confines of the globe’s current power structures.

Never in history have such powerful conglomerates managed to foment and then seize the required labour to create billion dollar platforms and profits – for free, as they do today. Such fervor for the citizenry to bestow their labour to the elites classes is textbook “Brave New World.” Karl Marx’s theory of surplus labour is classically interpreted as the “extra labour produced by a worker for his employer, to be put towards capital accumulation.” It could be said (even in jest) that one good example of surplus labor in modern times is “the extra labour (physical) produced by the “prosumer”, the willing participants for the elite classes (via social media), to be put towards cultural appropriation and modification (in the form of social capital) with no ownership over the means of production (digital platforms).

Consider that while Western society criticizes the Bolivian government for legalizing child labour laws in order to protect working Bolivian children, it remains completely ignorant of the fact that the elite global corporatocracy is exploiting labour from their own Western children for free – via social media – in what we can call postmodern Western domination. A Brave New World model of “soft exploitation” – with no protection from adults whatsoever. [2] Hence while child labour is a respected part of Bolivia’s social conscience – the gross exploitation and manipulation of their own children and youth (that enriches corporations as opposed to enriching families) does not even register in our collective consciousness at all.

This direct line to youth via the cell phone surpasses all levels of social engineering on a scale never before imagined much less thought to be achievable. The art of storytelling, exploitation and manipulation, at once consolidated to create a youth populace in the image of superficiality and consumption. The Children of the West have been thrown to the wolves. A gift to our corporate gods.

 

 

As one of ten ideas that can change the world, embraced and highlighted by some of the world’s most powerful and elite  institutions, the false perception of grass roots mobilization seizing power (designed and financed by the oligarchs) is a strategic marketing maneuver designed to create a short-term euphoria that feels like victory. The perceived victory –achieved via “the deployment of mass participation and peer coordination” (Heimans) – is always made malleable to further protect – the identical powers. Hence, it is not “new power”, it is “old power” simply rebranded with more vapid methods of exploitation targeting and manipulating the target demographic, which is “millennials”.

According to Heimans what societies are experiencing and undergoing today is “a big war over values”. What is unspoken is whose values Heiman’s New York PR firm pledges allegiance to and is paid to expand: Western values.”

Angels & Demons

“If names be not correct, language is not in accordance with the truth of things. If language is not in accordance with the truth of things, affairs cannot be carried on to success.” —  “Tribe” and “Tribalism”, 1981, David Wiley, African Studies Center, Michigan

In the realm of behavioural change and the new era of “storytelling”, language is always key and framing is paramount. Heimans repeatedly frames citizens as “consumers” while viewing himself and the corporate oligarchs he serves as those “on the side of the angels. In this particular segment of the lecture, focused exclusively on Syria, Heimans introduces far-right “Trump” values  as “nativist” and “tribalist” that  will “essentially return” society ” to a kind of nativist tribalist world”:

“… so I want to show you this from our own work in Syria so I use this as an example of a pick a positive counterpoint right so if we think of ourselves at the moment as you know kind of big war over values in the world right on the one hand you’ve got the trumps and the brexits who want to essentially return to a kind of nativist tribalist world…”

[The original lecture, in its entirety can be found here: https://youtu.be/UWgPFGJBx7I]

The old adage goes “The more things change; the more they stay the same”. One of the things that has stayed the same is the utilization of language to manipulate the masses throughout history. Today’s  infusion of propaganda into the Western psyche through mass media is astounding. What is perhaps more stunning, is how words that have been appropriated in the most vulgar manner, that  should have been deemed as abhorrent in the past (and thus rejected) are now being utilized and hence popularized by factions of the elite to give further advantage to those in power.

“It is no accident that the contemporary uses of the term tribe were developed during the 19th-century rise of evolutionary and racist theories to designate alien non-white peoples as inferior or less civilized and as having not yet evolved from a simpler, primal state.” —  “Tribe” and “Tribalism”, 1981, David Wiley, African Studies Center, Michigan

Revisionist Linguistics & Colonial Narratives

Two  terms that have currently been transformed from ones of indigenous degradation are “nativism” and “tribalism”. These words were at one time used in a slanderous aspect directed at those designated as genetic inferiors due to a non-anglo ethnic background. Today they are being used in a similar fashion, but to denigrate a different adversary along ideological lines and not ethnic ones. This transference of motive has dictated the meaning of these words.

In order to correctly digest the change in climate regarding the minute differences in language, we must first look at the particular terminologies in question, how they are defined and to what degree they are used today in comparison to yesterday.  According to Wikipedia the word “nativism” is defined as the following:

“Nativism is the political policy of promoting the interests of native inhabitants against those of immigrants. However, this is currently more commonly described as an anti-immigrant position.”

In terms of this definition in a general context, the determining factor of what is considered native is the point of contention.  As this terminology has now been procured by many on the alleged leftist side of the aisle, the fact of the matter is that the one thing that has been constant in its usage is the European being the determined native in the argument.

Therefore, that which has been dictated as nativists has remained the same as the focal point (the European), whether it was in comparison to the original inhabitants of the land (the indigenous First Tribe nations) or those that are currently the enemy, the almost exclusive black and brown migrants from the Global South. Therefore, the collective personage of victimization is the European with all other people being seen as invaders in the eyes of the Westerner.  This rationalization is due solely to ethnicity and locality of the European in regards to where he or she wants to stay and what environment is most needed for capitalism. Consider that the modifications and usage of the word native, to “nativist” or “nativism”, thoughtfully and crudely reframed to represent “xenophobic nationalism” is “an almost exclusively American concept that is rarely discussed in Western Europe.”

The Historical Context

 “Nativism is currently gaining traction across the Western world” — What Is a Nativist?, The Atlantic, April 11, 2017

In order to understand the intricacy with which the term native has been appropriated as well as the current movement of nativism, we must look at the history of appropriation regarding native rights. Rights which have been transferred from the first people to those who conquered them. Historically if you look at indigenous tribes, the migratory patterns came about from the necessity to  travel to places which would allow them to survive, have freedom and not be in conflict with those who were in close proximity. The end result of this curiosity and the travel is  the definitive indication of man’s residence as no more or less than any instinctual animal that prizes self-preservation as a form of a survival above all else. Yet in terms of that migratory pattern there were only so many places that were amenable to the survival of man. Man eventually had to accept that like any animal, it couldn’t venture far past certain places on the planet or it would perish. This relationship of life to Earth was no different than any animal found in certain regions of the world and not others. The locale will determine whether or not a particular form of life will flourish or perish. As man is like any other creature, its body acclimates to the environment in which it resides – only to the degree it is physiologically possible.

What was different in regard to the travels of the European from a cultural aspect is that it was done entirely for economic reasons. That is the burgeoning stages of the formation of the capitalist system. The beginning invasion of the European into these vast  foreign lands was done at the behest of trade if necessary and conquering if possible. But as any foreign invader who possessed ulterior motives yet lacked the strength to impose their will, the relationship began as one of charity of  the original people towards the European. Yet, as the Europeans strengthened themselves and moved from a relationship of dependence to equals to eventual dominators of the indigenous, the response from the indigenous went from one of acceptance to anger, to fear, and finally a plea for some form human decency.  Surely a reasonable request considering  they were the original caretakers of the land and even helped the European in their many hours of need.

If we fast forward to the present day, there is a most insidious element regarding the extermination of the indigenous, the original native, by way of genocide or ethnic cleansing: witness the unspoken method of supplanting the native by the Europeans (conquerors) appropriating the terminology that should be descriptive of the dispossessed. The best means of masking heinous atrocities is to scrub the victim from history and disallow him/her/them to speak for themselves. [2] From a philosophical context, this is why it was necessary for the European to exterminate the original native in order to take her/his rightful inhabitance as keeper and defender of the land.

Once this was established, it was then easy to lay the foundation of transitioning roles, from that of a meek interloper to the role of shifting and shaping the narrative as conqueror. A revision of history that erased the extermination preceding the present day circumstances of European domination. This was and continues to be most easily accomplished by dehumanizing the people who at one time resided here. To strip away the humanity of the aggrieved is in essence to place man (i.e. the white anglo-saxon) as rightfully seizing the land away from the native or animal, which has been designated not only as undeserving  inhabitants of the area – but even as detrimental to the land itself. The destruction of the native was no different than the destruction of the buffalo in the mind of the white power structure. The singular caveat being the verbalization of the destruction via the indigenous peoples caused internal consternation for some Europeans at varying degrees. Here we have an offshoot of the economic system colliding with the religious beliefs and social structure of racism. All converge to appoint the Anglo at the top of the hierarchy as the only peoples worthy of protection. To absolve centuries of deplorable crimes committed by the Anglo, their descendants obfuscate the truth by sanitizing and rewriting history.

As time moved on, the eradication of the original peoples made way for the European to write history in their image. The original native was erased and replaced by what has been deemed as the ONLY human:  the white man. Over the years, this transition nefariously evolved into one where the unacknowledged basic human rights of the “savage” (i.e. Indigenous) was eclipsed for the overwhelming protection of “the humans” (ie. White man) who procured the land and continue to control it to this day.  As a result of this, the overwhelming desire that permeates the consciousness of the Western world is for ” the humans” to protect its potential reclaiming by the “savage.” In a historical comparison, the greatest fear of the slaveholder during chattel slavery was always the rise of the slave. This foreboding mindset has permeated into every aspect of the present day Anglo society, inclusive of regions that are predominantly non-anglo (land reformation in South Africa, Zimbabwe, etc.).

In reality, the Western mentality of nativism is merely a euphemism for the continued and escalating demand for the  protection of white people’s rights. It is nativism, which has fed the fervor for a wall “protecting” the U.S. from Mexico (described as any non-anglo who comes from south of the U.S. border). It is nativism that nurtures the belief (and fear) that any infusion of non-anglo people to Euro-dominated states is a sure sign of being overtaken by “the savage” – even when the surrounding environment demonstrates no signs of threat. The appropriation of being the native by way of extermination has led the Anglo to incur an abject (if not unconscious) fear: the fear of retribution (although there is no evidence to support this whatsoever).

The truth of the matter is this – “nativism” effectively erases racism. Discrimination and racist hatred of 21st century migrants and refugees is rebranded as conflict due to religious and cultural differences – not colour nor race. Political correctness replaces vulgar reality. Racists have been rebranded into politically correct “nativists” that are simply supporting the wrong political party due to a shortsightedness. No one in power wants to alienate nor offend racists when one day the same racists may tip the needle in your favour on a separate issue. But even more so, no one wants to be seen as an institution or thought-leader seeking support from or appealing to racists. Thus, the term “nativist” will be popularized in a country where racism is on fire.

Revisionist  linguistics is made to re-write history while simultaneously re-wiring our brains and preying upon our fears instilled by imperial, colonial and capitalist forces.

Nativism is racism – made politically correct.

Tribalism

Rebranding ethnicity as tribalism is a deliberate and systematic furthering of cultural denigration – one that by no accident furthers US imperialism and foreign policy. These rebranded pejorative terms have proven to be highly coveted by both media and academia resulting in the terms being more and more an embedded part of the social fabric – propagating the motive and desired effect: the representation (and selling) of Eurocentric and Western ideologies regarding what is and isn’t acceptable. The revamped derogatory terms are utilized by both the faux left and the far right.

“In New York, we term it ethnicity, but in Africa it becomes tribalism.” —  “Tribe” and “Tribalism”, 1981, David Wiley, African Studies Center, Michigan

The results are threefold. The language

1) further decays Indigenous identity.

2) reintroduces elements of savagery and negative, subconscious colonial connotations reinforced via societal conditioning.

Such an example is the perceptions cultivated in Western children using social cues and constructs via mainstream media, with Disney’s infamous movie Pocahontas being one of many cases. By the age of five, most children in the Western world equate the words “native” and “tribe” with Indigenous peoples.” Indeed this is a Western construct digested by children who are fed by and privy to its tentacles. 3) provides a tool for the expansion of neoliberalism. “Tribalism” according to Heimans et al implies a “disorganized, primitive, and less civilized peoples.” whereas “modern governments” (Anglo governments) are meant to “promote the fulfillment of individuals”. Thus, African and Middle Eastern countries, targets for the expansion of neoliberalism, are by extension, prime targets for the labeling of “tribalism” (i.e evoking fear in the Euro mind) by those with a vested interest in US foreign policy (while foundation money is the oil that turns the cogs in the machine). This is the beauty of social engineering. The ability to reinforce the behavioural economics of hatred (via fear and racism) – in broad daylight, hiding behind a wall of words.

The Descent into Tribalism, The Guardian, August 23, 2006:

“Modern governments, when they try to justify their existence in historical terms, are apt to propose a rough-and-ready anthropology for human development. First came the tribe – savage in instinct, ritualistic in religion and run on the basis of a grunting solidarity; humanity’s first exercise in collectivism. The nation, which takes its place, is for more refined, literate peoples and can call upon scholars and scribes, chroniclers and preachers, who propose common goals for the nation. Organised states, with their bureaucracies, sanitation services and taxation policies, like to think that they exist on a higher plane than either the tribe or the nation. Ethics loom large and morality’s plans acquire a finer focus. Modern governments are meant to promote the fulfillment of individuals, their happiness and ease of life. Savages have become citizens and can look beyond the narrow ambitions of the tribe.”

Instilling Ethnic Fear via the Utilization of Cultural Language

Image result for tribalism kenya

Image: Tribalism is utilized to conjure up images of the “black savage” in foreign (frightening) lands. 

Tribalism in effect has various usages, but all to the same effect. Within the mainstream, it is continuously used in a pejorative context – but viewed as positive or negative depending on the personal beliefs directed at those utilizing the language. Regardless of the person who is using it or whatever the particular ideological thinking, the seemingly benign use of “tribe” (used in reference to small groups, etc.) by extension implies the term “tribal” (used in reference to civil wars, backwardness, barbarism, etc.) and as a result gives the user a free pass for acceptable racist expression.  By continuously intermixing the explicit term “tribalism” and the centuries long socially cultivated subliminal idea of “African” (ie. phenotypical non-anglo) savagery – the ultimate result is fear, which is a more intense emotion and ultimately dominates the meaning, even if it is only on a subconscious level. Although not acknowledged, this subconscious racism hums softly beneath the white supremacist power structures.

Although no people or culture is perfect, there are examples of many that are a complete reversal of the global imposition of Western culture and its foundational principles in a market economy with no emotional investment outside of the worst traits of man, such as greed and avarice. For example, African philosophy in a general context before victimization through colonization and imperialism has historically been strongly associated with tribalism and an intimate feeling of attachment with nature: we’re not here to “have dominion”… We are a part of the Earth, we are dependent  on it… we have ecological responsibilities …. “Nature” is not just a resource…. We are nature.”

To delve further, this ideology is visible in various Indigenous philosophies – philosophies that represent the antithesis of Western consumer culture and therefore a direct hindrance and threat to globalization, to industrialization and, most importantly, to capitalism. This can be equated with the race to kill off paganism to be replaced by both Christianity and Catholicism. Utilizing language, the word tribalism is revamped and utilized to instill fear and further racism (strengthening white supremacy). The word becomes another instrument to decimate surviving/existing cultures – with the goal of replacing such culture with superficial nothingness – a consumer society. These rebranded terms have been the catalyst for the modern day subconscious belief system, where indigenous self-reliance will always be seen as a  threat to neoliberal order. What a “Tribe” represents in Africa could be loosely associated by sought after local ways of living in the western world – such as transition towns, slow town movements and overall movements for relocalization. All these movements are in direct contrast and opposition to globalization and the goals of corporatocracy.

Autonomous communal living based on subsistence agriculture and sharing are the enemy of foreign policy, the IMF, the world bank and essentially everything today’s global elites and corporate superpowers hold dear. In essence, we are being wholly conditioned to automatically perceive/equate non-Western culture as an automatic threat. Further, US and foreign occupations, destabilizations, wars and the rape, pillage and theft of resources (oil, minerals, labour) across the Global South are conveniently blamed on “tribalism’.  Hence – tribalism also provides a free pass to imperialism – while cementing the image of the “un-noble” savage. Tribalism & nativism are recolonization via linguistics.

Note: These characteristics are presented in a general context. We must be cautious not to simplify all cultures as monolithic or even perfect, rather a regional designator that runs current throughout the tradition of these philosophies as a whole.

In countries that fall under the imperial gaze of European and Western states, “tribalist” discourse has effectively crushed critical discussion of ethnicity in all states that are under the auspices and domination of European control, be it internal colonization (the native reservation system) or external imperialism (state control in other continents by way of multinational corporations). In Euro-dominated institutions and landscapes, (see the “Academic Imperialism” lecture by Claude Alvares) those that raise questions concerning ethnicity risk being accused of provocateurs inciting “tribalism” (ie: enticing division within a nation that is supposedly united). The ‘criminalisation of ethnicity’ and the erasure of racism in America via linguistics – must be acknowledged as another dangerous yet effective instrument of soft power.

The Purpose of Purpose

In no uncertain terms, academia and media have strategically and deliberately rebranded/reframed the words native (“nativist”) and tribal (tribalist”) with the most negative of connotations. Academia and NGOs, as highly financed apparatus of the oligarchy reverberates the language through the eco chambers of foundations, think tanks, universities and entities within the non-profit industrial complex, all financed and ultimately controlled by the oligarchs.

Going one step further, the word native is currently in process of being replaced/rebranded into “nativist”, which simultaneously and effectively erases all Indigenous such as the American Indians who continue to  resist an ongoing genocide by Europeans that persists to this day. “Nativists” could be referred to as revisionist linguistics since in its new form, “native” refers to native-born Protestant Americans – the “nativists” of the land – stolen from native tribes.

Sycophants of the establishment are tasked with the popularizing of such terms when it serves their interests. To further those interests, U.S. media has been abuzz in directing this type of subtle terminology, exemplified by current U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration since it came to power. The slander of “tribalism” directed at an enemy has become synonymous with someone being “woke” in leftist circles that are centered in the U.S. but has now reached global levels.

An example of this in the left wing faction of the establishment is an article in The Atlantic entitled “The Tragedy of President Trump’s Tribalism” (November 2, 2017) This article illustrates the shifting of the U.S. linguistic landscape, where what was once acceptable overt racism has now morphed into covertly coded language of acceptability, including that used by academia. With a fair degree of certainty, you can bet that when the world’s most prestigious marketing agencies polled for key words that stir up negative emotions in American constituents – the words native and tribes were both at the top of the list. If not outwardly said, definitely in the mindset of those in power, be it conspicuously or subconsciously.

Revisionist linguistics is made to re-write history while simultaneously re-wiring our brains and preying upon our fears instilled by imperial, colonial and capitalist forces. This is carried out by those on the right side of spectrum as well as those on the faux left.

“… you’ve got the trumps and the brexits who want to essentially return to a kind of nativist tribalist world and on the other hand you’ve got people who support openness pluralism compassion science etc the challenge for those of us on the side of the angels…” — Jeremy Heimans, Avaaz/Purpose co-founder

As illustrated by the supposed left spectrum, the dogma to be digested from the tenacles of empire is clear. We can “essentially return to a kind of nativist tribalist world” – or we can join Avaaz, Purpose, Heiman’s et al and the oligarchs they serve are those on the “side of angels” (ie. “ethical” NGOs).

In similar lectures, one such corporation on the side of the “angels” in Heimans warped view is Unilever: “… you know we’re in the business of purpose of trying to figure out how to do mass mobilization of people and we can’t mobilize enough people if we don’t get the help of some of the brands who already on the side of the angels on climate change to reach into their consumer bases technology companies [and] media companies… companies like Unilever…”

Neotribes

Above: NEOTRIBES video promoting through advertising for Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s.  [Source]

Yet, Purpose takes revisionist linguistics to an even more unimaginable level. Consider the marketing of “neo-tribes” by (former) Purpose/Avaaz staff and like-minded digital marketing executives for the purpose of branding, influencing and the marketing of consumer products as well as (Western) ideologies. Here the word of negativity is spun into positivity when applied to themselves (ie. the angels): “As neotribers, let us dream big but also stay rooted in pragmatism.” Rest-assured, “an angel” of a “neo-tribe” can and will employ the words tribes and/or tribalist, as well as native, for those that they forever denigrate and seek to further colonize. It is at the sole discretion the Anglo male, the self-determined and acknowledged bringer of “civilization” to the global non-anglo savage through colonisation and imperialism, whether the words are spun as positive or derogatory, based on their own desires as well as the desired framing for further conditioning of the citizenry.

“Organizations can adapt two network strategies. They can either build their own brand tribe, or reach out to existing consumer tribes. While some people will advocate one way over the other, both should be considered whenever possible. Regardless it’s important for companies to understand how people exercise influence within their tribes when reaching out to them. This will make their initiatives more native and successful… To be truly native and successful you should strive to understand and share as much of tribal culture as possible…Don’t forget. Influencers are tribal influencers. — The 7 Cs of Tribal Influence, Tribaling, Tribal Growth Hacking website, August 27, 2013 (Emphasis added)

In 2016 Alexa Clay presented a lecture titled Neo-Tribes: The Future is Tribal. Clay’s position scaling social innovation at Ashoka Ashoka (Soros) is but one past held position in her very extensive bio. With John Elkington [further reading: Beautiful Delusions] and Maggie de Pree she co-authored the report The Social Intrapreneur: A Field Guide for Corporate Changemakers, sponsored by the Skoll Foundation. Clay belongs to the class of upper echelon in elite activism. In addition to advising the Clinton Foundation, Clay’s voice has been highlighted by the International Monetary Fund. Clay serves on the (all-white) advisory board of Purpose Economy (the Purpose Network, Purpose Companies, Purpose Foundation). Incidentally, the lecture this opinion piece is based on was created for OuiShare and NeoTribes are partnered with Coliga – a part of Tipping Canoe, “an accelerator for consumer driven communities.”

The task of Purpose, Avaaz, 350 and a multitude of NGOs expanding into countries across the middle east and Africa is simple: convert  Middle Eastern values (evoking revionist linguistics such as “nativist” and “tribalist”) into Western values (“openness, pluralism, compassion, science, etc.”). In short, good vs. evil. Indeed, Avaaz has used this very strategy in the past, over and over, to satisfy and fulfill the wishes of empire – and fulfill they do.

 

End Notes:

[1] May 26, 2016: “Teens are spending nearly nine hours a day consuming media. And children ages eight to 12 are spending nearly six hours a day doing the same thing. Let’s say the average teen wakes up at 7 a.m. and goes to bed at 10 p.m. — that means that nine of their 15 waking hours are spent on their phones, computers, or tablets.” [Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/teens-average-phone-screen-usage-2016-5] | January 4, 2017: ” Teens now spend up to nine hours a day on social platforms, while 30% of all time spent online is now allocated to social media interaction. And the majority of that time is on mobile – 60% of social media time spent is facilitated by a mobile device.” [https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic]

[2] “The best means of masking heinous atrocities is to scrub the victim from history and disallow him/her/them to speak for themselves.” This paternalistic blueprint has been in place for centuries if not millennia. A recent example of this is deconstructed in the article “All Eyes On Dakota Access – All Eyes Off Bakken Genocide” which preceded the  Standing Rock: Profusion, Collusion & Big Money Profits investigative series in 2017. A more recent example is identified under the umbrella of the “Reject Kinder Morgan” national campaign in Canada. The latest anti-pipeline campaign in a series that commenced with Stop the Keystone XL (in 2010, see investigative series and timeline) – which permitted (and made obscure) a 21st century crude via rail boom with billionaires such as Warren Buffett (whose family foundation NoVo is a primary funder of TIDES foundations which distributes the anti-pipeline funding) profiting to the tune of billions. Akin to the Standing Rock website, the Indigenous resistance website for the Kinder Morgan campaign promoted by international NGOs such as 350.org and Greenpeace, is actually owned/registered to a 350.org employee. Further, Stand Earth, the rebranded Forest Ethics NGO founded by corporate ally Tzeporah Berman, is hosting the “Protect the Inlet” data.

[These protests have had zero impact on the volume of crude being produced and consumed. Rather, the result has been the phenomenal and exponential growth of the crude via rail industry resulting in the deaths of 47 people in Lac Megantic Quebec in 2013. The pipeline campaigns essentially hid the new burgeoning industry of crude via rail from public view (and more importantly, scrutiny and dissent) while all eyes focused on a single pipeline. At the end of the day, devising a plan based on the fact “crude has no economic value unless run through a refinery” would be the most effective strategy for stopping oil as an energy source, is kept well-hidden.]

 

 

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

[Forrest Palmer is an electrical engineer residing in Texas.  He is a part-time blogger and writer and can be found on Facebook. You may reach him at forrest_palmer@yahoo.com.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imperialism On Trial: Eva Bartlett speaks on North Korea & Syria (FULL)

RT
January 31, 2018

“Journalist Eva Bartlett speaks candidly on her experiences in North Korea and Syria at the Waterside Theatre in Derry, Northern Ireland on January 30, 2018.

In addition to visiting the DPRK in 2017, Bartlett has also been to Syria seven times since the conflict started there in 2011. She described her experiences in the country and explained how the situation on the ground was often very different from the dominant imperialist narrative which holds the Syrian government and President Assad responsible for every evil. She gave as an example the liberation of eastern Aleppo from terrorists in December 2016, which was portrayed as a terrible thing by much of the Western media and the political establishment.”

“Corporate media described Aleppo as falling, while Syrians were celebrating the full liberation of the city and Christians were able to celebrate Christmas for the first time in years,” she said. [Source: Conscious]

Eva K. Bartlett is creating Interviews, Articles, Photography and More Support: www.patreon.com/EvaKBartlett

 

 

 

 

 

 

WATCH: Vanessa Beeley Exposes the White Helmets

Corbett Report

February 7, 2018

 

“For the past two years, Vanessa Beeley has been doing on-the-ground reporting in Syria exposing the lies of the NATO powers and their terrorist proxies. Her work on the White Helmets in particular has drawn the ire of the warmongers and their media mouthpieces. Today we talk to Beeley about the true nature of the White Helmets and the well-funded PR campaign that seeks to defend them.” [Corbett Report]