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Social Capitalists: Wall Street’s Progressive Partners

Intercontinental Cry

February 24, 2015

by Jay Taber

 

One Hoax after Another

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After successfully bewitching the greens into falling for college campus fossil fuel divestment in the US — which helped Wall Street consolidate its fossil fuel control — Wall Street is now cooking up an international carbon copy of this hoax to capitalize on the euphoria of climate campaigns.

The Divest-Invest Shell Game — like the REDD carbon market fiasco — requires suspension of disbelief, and determined engagement in wishful thinking.

BDS against Israel, and formerly against South Africa, used the three-part formula of Boycott Divestment Sanction. Divestment, as used by 350, omits boycott and sanction, and limits divestment to meaningless, symbolic acts.

All this divestment does is make once publicly-held shares available on Wall Street, which allows trading houses like Goldman Sachs to further consolidate their control of the industry.When it comes to the 350 agenda, they leave out the boycott of fossil fuels, and the sanction of fossil fuel corporations, and instead press for divestment by institutions like colleges and universities. All this divestment does is make once publicly-held shares available on Wall Street, which allows trading houses like Goldman Sachs to further consolidate their control of the industry.

BDS, when applied against apartheid states by other states and international institutions, includes cutting off access to finance, as well as penalties for crimes against humanity. What makes 350 so devious, is that they hijack public emotions using phony “divestment” as a disorganizing tool to redirect activism away from effective work.

The mystique of mass hypnosis, embodied in the Charms of Naomi, examines the social engineering of climate activism organized by 350, as well as the seductive energy tales that lead gullible progressives into supporting one hoax after another.

In McKibben’s Divestment Tour — Brought to You by Wall Street, acclaimed investigative reporter Cory Morningstar continues her series of reports on the non-profit industrial complex, with a focus on social capitalists like The Clinton Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund that created 1Sky–the forerunner of 350. With support from CERES, they help the fossil fuel industry avoid boycott and sanction by owning NGOs and directing their climate agenda.

CERES, Tides and 350*

Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) is a partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). CERES funders are associated with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.

WBCSD is part of a Wall Street strategy to dislodge the United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations, and prevent enforceable rules governing the operations of multinational corporations.

One third of the CERES network companies are in the Fortune 500. Since 2001, CERES has received millions from Wall Street corporations and foundations.

CERES president Mindy Lubber promotes “sustainable capitalism” at Forbes. Bill McKibben (founder of 350) was an esteemed guest of CERES conferences in 2007 and 2013.

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1Sky, which merged with 350 in 2011, was created by the Clinton Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Betsy Taylor of 1Sky/350 is on the CERES board of directors.

In 2012, Bill McKibben and Peter Buffett (oil train tycoon Warren Buffet’s son) headlined the Strategies for a New Economy conference. Between 2003 and 2011, NoVo (Buffet’s foundation) donated $26 million to Tides Foundation, which in turn funds CERES and 350.

Suzanne Nossel, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Hillary Clinton, is on the Tides Center board of directors.

 The New Economy

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Presaging the new economy of progressives like 350’s Naomi Klein, CERES’ Mindy Lubber and Avaaz’ Ricken Patel, was the 2004 Progressive Democrats of America campaign and the appointment of self-described Reaganite U.S. Senator Barack Obama, as keynote speaker at the 2006 Democratic National Convention.

As America’s nervous breakdown intensified, progressives produced such horrors as the 2006 bill, introduced by U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D) San Francisco, to make activism against corporations illegal. With the 2010 U.S. Department of Homeland Security arrests of anti-war and environmental activists, for the crime of showing documentary films criticizing the arms and energy industries, Feinstein was in seventh heaven.

In 2012, as federal prosecutors and law enforcement escalated harassment of #Occupy activists attempting to influence U.S. policy, the defense of civil and human rights moved from the courts to the streets. Neoliberals like Hillary Clinton, Diane Feinstein, and Barack Obama — committed to state-sponsored violence for the benefit of Wall Street — exercised fascism through aggression, surveillance, and repression of dissent.

Illogic of the Climateers

Catsmob.com - The coolest pics on the net!

Cults — religious or secular — involve dissemination of core beliefs by their agents. Whether priests or public relations provocateurs, these agents are the vectors by which recruiting and indoctrination are accomplished.Cults — religious or secular — involve dissemination of core beliefs by their agents. Whether priests or public relations provocateurs, these agents are the vectors by which recruiting and indoctrination are accomplished. In order to maintain the cult, ideological doctrine — when founded on nonsense — become mantras that prevent critical thought.

The illogic of the climateers cult — of which Naomi Klein is the primary prophet — finds fertile ground in the political illiteracy of privileged first world progressives–fallen prey to institutional propaganda and market advertising. The hoax is made possible by a combination of hopelessness, magical thinking, and media consolidation.

In a world where warmongers are given the Nobel Peace Prize, and revolutions are won by throngs in blue taking selfies while eating pizza provided by Wall Street, anything is possible. Anything, that is, except social change.

In a culture of imbeciles, secular cults flourish according to the amount of Wall Street derivatives flowing through foundations into the non-profit industrial complex. After that, it’s a simple matter of echoing mantras on YouTube and TV talk shows.

The art of social engineering, while dependent on high finance, also requires a politically illiterate audience. In a society like the United States, the charms of Naomi are amplified by progressive ignorance, and sustained by imperial civil society.

Simulating an Orwellian ministry of truth, the magic of Naomi — funded by Wall Street — becomes revolutionary in ways envisioned in the novel 1984. As a maverick in her own mind, Klein has become the progressives’ Sarah Palin.

Progressive self-delusion, from hope and change to this changes everything, is grounded in hysteria. The climateers Kool-Aid keeps reality at bay.

The Invisible Environment

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Image Courtesy of Mark Gould

In his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman — American media theorist, humanist and cultural critic — noted that “new technology can never substitute for human values.”

Even our most heartfelt emotions and concerns have been hijacked by the amusement industry, penetrating so deeply into our collective psyche, that we have become social robots.In American society today, our social amusements have come to occupy not only our pastimes, but everything about our lives, politics, values and beliefs. Even our most heartfelt emotions and concerns have been hijacked by the amusement industry, penetrating so deeply into our collective psyche, that we have become social robots.

Capitalizing on this corrosion of civil society, Wall Street marketing agencies like Purpose and Avaaz — sponsors of campaigns to support “humanitarian war” and the “new economy” — have designed and exploited an advertising niche to make money from this social pathology.

While American faith about the truth in advertising might suffer as a result of these amusements, the deaths that result take place mostly in the Third and Fourth World. As Americans are herded into waving signs and marching around Manhattan wearing the color blue, millions around the world are dying from starvation, disease and murder resulting from American consumerism.

As a professor of Culture and Communication, Postman taught a course called Communication: the Invisible Environment. While he was concerned primarily with the decline in the ability of mass communications to share serious ideas, Postman was aware that the turning of complex ideas into superficial images — that become a form of entertainment — leads to a society where information is a commodity, bought and sold for entertainment, or to enhance one’s status. In contemporary society, mediated by technology, individuals will literally believe anything.

Seductive Energy Tales

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“The seductive tales of wind turbines, solar cells, and biofuels foster the impression that with a few technical upgrades, we might just sustain our current energy trajectories without consequence…Like most fairy tales, this productivist parable contains a tiny bit of truth. And a whole lot of fantasy.”Demanding an end to fossil fuels has its allure, but when we examine the alternatives, things don’t look quite so cheery. As Ozzie Zehner reports from the Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society at University of California, Berkeley, “The seductive tales of wind turbines, solar cells, and biofuels foster the impression that with a few technical upgrades, we might just sustain our current energy trajectories without consequence…Like most fairy tales, this productivist parable contains a tiny bit of truth. And a whole lot of fantasy.”

As Zehner notes in Green Illusions, “Emerging research on the side effects and limitations of solar cells, wind turbines, biofuels, electric cars and other alternative energy strategies will likely transform conventional wisdom about what’s green, and what’s not.” Since renewable energy doesn’t scale to meet our current (let alone future) demands, that leaves fossil fuels and nuclear energy–or reduced demand.

Perhaps our only hope is that the coming plague from the collapse of global public health will reduce the human population sufficiently to give us a fresh start at screwing up. Of course, last time that happened, things didn’t work out so well. Still, 14th Century thought leaders had to contend with economic panic and religious hysteria, unlike our progressive 21st Century leaders.

New Age Ghost Dance

The inheritors of the Standard Oil fortune (Rockefeller Brothers) would not be funding 350 were they not thus disempowering their naive followers. As Agent Saboteur, 350 has already proven its value to Wall Street.

Enchanting as the chimera of clean energy might be, it doesn’t scale to meet energy demand, and its use by marketing agencies like Avaaz, Purpose and 350 is to perpetuate the misbelief that Wall Street — which caused all our social and environmental problems — is our only hope for salvation. Sort of a New Age Ghost Dance.

Divest-Invest Shell Game

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One of the recurring scenes in the iconic comic strip Charlie Brown is the one where his sister Lucy holds the ball for Charlie to kick, promising not to move the ball at the last second, thereby causing Charlie to tumble backward when she always does. Humiliated time after time by Lucy’s sadistic antics, Charlie — trusting soul that he is — never fails to fall for Lucy’s promise, that this time she won’t pull the same trick as before.

I thought of Charlie Brown and Lucy reading the announcement of “major commitments” on the eve of the UN Summit on Climate Change. Having moved the ball at Poznan, Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban — thus causing progressive greens to take a tumble — the UN, Wall Street, and big international NGOs (BINGOs) are now asking recently enraptured climateers to give them another chance to prove themselves trustworthy.

When they begin swooning over oil tycoon heirs as their new heroes, the greens demonstrate their boundless capacity for self-delusion. When they begin swooning over oil tycoon heirs as their new heroes, the greens demonstrate their boundless capacity for self-delusion. As we saw with the enchanting Charms of Naomi, the mystique of mass hypnosis is a simple matter of the prescribed art of social engineering. Having captivated a gullible audience, in a state of ecstasy after their euphoric march in blue, makes beguiling the credulous child’s play.

 

Till the End of Time

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Social engineering by Avaaz, Purpose and 350 over the years has been exclusively focused on increasing market share for themselves. This, in turn, keeps Wall Street foundation funds flowing into their coffers. Market share, acquired through advertising (i.e. branding), has been demonstrated by these cults and PR firms to be designed to deceive consumers into believing they are making a difference when they are not.Market share, acquired through advertising (i.e. branding), has been demonstrated by these cults and PR firms to be designed to deceive consumers into believing they are making a difference when they are not.

As with other Wall Street-backed political campaigns, Avaaz, Purpose and 350 engage in false advertising, more commonly known as fraud. Like earlier campaigns, promoting supposedly green products or projects that turned out to be bogus (i.e. Keystone XL, clean energy, and fossil fuel divestment), the new economy form of Free-Market environmentalism only benefits Wall Street and its stable of NGOs–not the environment.

This marketing sophistry is particularly appealing to over-consumers in countries like the US, who do not want to make any sacrifices, preferring to be sold fantasies about magical capitalist-friendly solutions, in which all lethal downsides and toxic side effects are strategically concealed from them. Indeed, part of the magical thinking — sold by Avaaz, Purpose and 350 — is that progressives have inside knowledge about this clever stratagem, while the ignorant masses are tricked into being green without knowing it.

The same idiots who bought into biofuel — whose plantations cause mass starvation and displacement of indigenous peoples — now reflexively participate in promoting Wall Street’s agenda as something new.The arrogance of progressives, along with unlimited funds from Wall Street, is what makes this advertising effective. The same people who were conned into buying electric cars that use environmentally-destructive methods to obtain rare earth minerals in their fabrication, are now oblivious to the new economy shell game. The same idiots who bought into biofuel — whose plantations cause mass starvation and displacement of indigenous peoples — now reflexively participate in promoting Wall Street’s agenda as something new.

The fact there is no substance to the empty promotions by new economy celebrities like Naomi Klein is perhaps what progressives find most enticing. Without any actual plan — other than advertising — there is nothing to debate. In that way, their imbecility is secure from attack, free to follow pipe dreams and pied pipers till the end of time.

*Excerpts from the McKibben’s Divestment Tour: Brought to You by Wall Street series by Cory Morningstar

 

[Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website: www.jaytaber.com]

Keystone XL: The Opportunism that Infests Environmentalist Activism, for the Benefit of Capital

February 26, 2015

 

 “Cory Morningstar and Harold One Feather expose the hideous reality behind the so-called “victory” against Keystone XL, and the opportunism that infests environmentalist activism, for the benefit of capital.”— Stephanie McMillan

The facts below shed much needed light to the February 24, 2015 article Proving That ‘Activism Works,’ Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Bill:

“May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org, which spearheaded the fight against the Keystone pipeline, heralded the move as “conclusive proof that activism works. After four years of rallies, marches, sit-ins, and civil disobedience, we’re thrilled to see President Obama take an important first step by vetoing this love letter to Big Oil.” A coalition of environmental groups is holding a celebration outside of the White House in Lafayette Park.”

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“Just wait until they mix tar sands oil and Bakken fracking oil at Baker, Montana to give birth to Frankenstein oil—so flammable that even neutrinos will ignite it. And the world catches fire, burning from the inside until the world is ashes.” — Harold One Feather

 

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Mapsearch: “With over 1,000,000 miles of pipeline and 750,000 miles of transmission line, MAPSearch offers you the largest database available for making competitive decisions in the energy industry. MAPSearch provides the most current mapping and research for: petroleum, natural gas, electric power and renewable energy.”

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FACT: Warren Buffett has built a 21st century rail dynasty. [Further reading: Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse | Part I]

FACT: “In 2013, railroads delivered 407,761 carloads of crude, or about 300 million barrels of oil, according to the Association of American Railroads. That’s up more than 4,000% from just 9,500 carloads in 2008.” [Source]

FACT: 47 people were killed at the Lac-Mégantic crude via rail disaster. If the accident would have happened during the day instead of 1:15 AM – thousands would have been killed in a disaster that obliterated an entire downtown. Crude via rail accidents continue to proliferate.

FACT: Warren Buffett has funneled 26 million dollars (2003-2011) into Tides (who funnels the foundation money to the organizations campaigning against tar sands) via his son’s NoVo foundation – set up with Buffett’s money. [Further reading: Keystone XL: The Art of NGO Discourse – Part 1V | Buffett Acquires the Non-Profit Industrial Complex]

FACT: Obama (essentially a puppet) IS for oil (and fracking, war, coups, occupations, surveillance etc.). To imply to Americans he is anything other than that, is dishonest at best.

FACT: Dec. 16, 2013: (Bloomberg) — U.S. crude oil production will approach a record by 2016, climbing to the highest level in 46 years. [Source]

FACT: Feb 11, 2015: U.S. oil production reaches all-time high amid depressed crude prices: “U.S. producers pumped out an average of 9.2 million barrels of crude daily in the latest week, the most since the federal government started keeping records.” [Source]

FACT: Having North American citizens focus on a single pipeline (much of what has been built and in operation for years) – as the singular focus for a climate “movement” is ridiculous (and a dangerous distraction) as the map above proves.

FACT: “The Keystone Pipeline already brings oil from Alberta’s tar sands into Oklahoma. The XL refers to extending that pipeline. The southern part of the extension, connecting with Texas, already is in operation. The controversy is over the northern portion.” [Source]

FACT: January 8. 2015: (Bloomberg) — “Alberta’s oil production rose to a record in October and further gains are forecast this year as plunging prices fail to slow oil sands expansions…. Canada is the biggest oil exporter to the U.S. with 3.26 million barrels a day shipped in the week ended Jan. 2, the highest in data dating back to June 2010, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said yesterday.” [Source]

FACT: The first simple truth is that to “fight” fossil fuels without the most radical/deep reductions on consumption ever attempted by Annex I/developed states since industrial revolution began, all efforts are futile. Without this concerted and collective endeavour – all campaigns are mere spectacle. [Further reading: Progressive Self-Delusion: From Hope and Change to This Changes Everything] [Further reading: The the wealthiest 15% emit 75% of all emissions.]

FACT: The second simple (and final) truth is—it’s the system. That no one wants to acknowledge this – doesn’t change the fact that it’s true. We kill capitalism—or capitalism kills us. It’s really that simple. [Free eBook: Capitalism Must Die!]

 

 

Avaaz: the World’s Most Powerful NGO

A Culture of Imbeciles

Patel (to the left of Al Gore) delivers a petition to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon at the People’s Climate March in New York City, Sept. 21, 2014
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In his classic orientation to American politics, Indispensable Enemies, Walter Karp described conflict between the two national political parties as largely a game of charades–choreographed by Wall Street. While party loyalists are quick to point out differences over religion and civil rights, the point Karp makes is that they both serve Wall Street, which means America is now a bi-partisan fascist oligarchy.

Since the Reagan administration, both parties have worked overtime to privatize public wealth, and to manipulate social movements to their advantage. While it is well-known that the Wise Use Movement, Christian Coalition and the Tea Party used bigotry to advance Republican interests, little attention has been paid to social engineering by the Democrats.

As affiliated entities, MoveOn, 1Sky, Avaaz, Ceres, Purpose and 350 enable the Democratic Party to market itself as a friend of the environment and supporter of democracy, while simultaneously serving Wall Street’s agenda. What those familiar with serious fraud might call “the long con”.

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Jeremy Heimans (co-founder of Avaaz and Purpose) at The Economist’s Ideas Economy: Human Potential conference. | Photo: Taylor Davidson

Short cons include “humanitarian war” and carbon market schemes like fossil fuel divestment, that support American imperialism by consolidating Wall Street control of institutions, markets and NGOs. Using foundations as intermediaries, the fascist oligarchy on the Democrat side has a legal money laundry for promoting such fraud as the “new economy”.

As Cory Morningstar described The Art of Social Engineering by Avaaz, “Funded by the ruling class oligarchy, the role they serve for their funders is not unlike that of corporate media. Yet, it appears that global society is paralyzed in a collective hypnosis – rejecting universal social interests, thus rejecting reason, to instead fall in line with the position of the powerful minority that has seized control, a minority that systematically favours corporate interests.”

Meanwhile, sister organizations of Avaaz work with elites like Rockefeller, Gates and Soros in “shaping global society by utilizing and building upon strategic psychological marketing, soft power, technology and social media.” “More importantly,” notes Morningstar, “The non-profit industrial complex must be understood as a mainspring and the instrument of power, the very support and foundation of imperial domination.”

As Morningstar continues, ‘Global society has been, and continues to be, manipulated to believe that NGOs are representative of “civil society” which has allowed the “humanitarian industrial complex” to become missionaries of empire.’ In this brave new world, NGOs like Avaaz, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch lead civil society in supporting American hegemony through military intervention.

In Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Morningstar reports that Avaaz is the operational name of the Global Engagement and Organizing Fund, a non-profit organization incorporated in 2006. Founded by ResPublica and the Democratic Party front group MoveOn, the core purpose of Avaaz was to build US influence in the Middle East and Asia. ResPublica is led by Tom Perriello, Ricken Patel, and Tom Pravda.

Open Society Institute – created by convicted hedge fund inside trader George Soros – is a major funder of Avaaz, MoveOn and Human Rights Watch. Avaaz destabilization campaigns in Libya, Syria and Bolivia demonstrate the value of NGOs in exercising “soft power” to overthrow foreign regimes hostile to American dominance. As a close friend of President Obama, Perriello was one of the most pro-war Democrats in Congress.

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In Welcome to the Brave New World, Morningstar examines Perriello’s career and relationship with war criminals like Obama and his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Both Avaaz and 350 board members supported the attack on Syria.) Avaaz, says Morningstar, is arguably “the world’s most powerful NGO.”

Why the Fossil Fuel Divestment Movement is a Farce

Focus on stocks ignores fact that much of dirty energy investment takes place on private markets

July 7, 2014
by Matthew Cunningham-Cook

College campuses across the country have been abuzz with protests calling for the divestment of university endowments and public pension funds from fossil fuels. As a result of the pressure, Stanford University has begun to divest its $18.7 billion endowment from coal stocks. Union Theological Seminary in New York has begun a divestment process as well. Cities have born the brunt of protests as well, and a growing number of them are making decisions to stop investing city funds in dirty energy.

It appears to be a noble, even necessary idea. The campaign, led largely by 350.org (which is headed by the environmental writer and activist Bill McKibben), seeks to stop the continued exploitation of fossil fuel reserves, which it rightly considers a one-way road to climate-change disaster.

But the fossil fuel divestment movement is, at best, a misguided endeavor and, at worst, a self-defeating roadblock. The changes being proposed will do little to stop investment in the fossil fuel economy. Severely hampering the campaign is its focus on publicly traded securities such as stocks and bonds — when much of the fossil fuel investment today is taking place on private markets.

Reading between the lines

Take Massachusetts, where the fossil fuel divestment campaign is attempting to win its first legislative victory. A bill is calling for state pension funds to divest from all publicly traded securities related to fossil fuel companies. Similar language holds for Stanford University, where 350.org has claimed its first major campus victory. According to a press release from the group, Stanford “will not make direct investments of endowment funds in publicly traded companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for use in energy generation.”

Notice the words “publicly traded.” In other words, fossil fuel divestment would target only major corporations that are listed on the stock market. But pension funds and endowments, the entities largely targeted by the 350.org campaign, invest hundreds of billions of dollars in privately traded securities, such as hedge funds and private equity — vehicles that are invested at all levels of the fossil fuel economy. (In particular, hedge funds and private equity have been found to be the key financial backers of the fracking boom.) Were the Massachusetts divestment bill to pass, state pension funds would invariably still be invested in the fossil fuel economy.

The divestment campaign argues that 200 publicly traded fossil fuel companies dominate the fossil fuel exploration market. But they ignore that such companies frequently depend on private equity and hedge funds for financing new investments when large banks are uninterested in taking on further risk. The public can rarely (if ever) verify that these types of arrangements take place, even if it is a teacher attempting to verify what her pension fund is doing with her money.

Pension funds and endowments have not always invested in the private market. In the 1980s and before, in fact, they were almost exclusively invested in publicly traded securities. Laws such as the Securities Act of 1933, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and the Investment Company Act of 1940 allowed the public to verify how the companies in which pension funds and endowments were investing used their funds and provided transparency to investors in order to prevent fraudulent activity.

The anti-apartheid divestment campaign against South Africa during the 1980s thus carried the possibility of ceasing Western investment in that country. For example, largely as a result of pressure from activists, IBM spun off its South African subsidiary in 1986. Investigators were able to look through all of IBM’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and successfully verify that IBM no longer had investments in South Africa.

By focusing only on publicly traded securities, the fossil fuel divestment campaign ignores the corporate misdeeds of a sector that holds billions of dollars of investments in a dirty energy economy.

The same is not possible with privately traded alternative investments, which have been on the rise since the early 1990s. (It is difficult to ascertain why exactly pension funds and endowments have funneled assets into private markets, as there is little evidence that they perform any better than stocks and bonds and a great deal of evidence that they are far riskier. Private market money managers are notorious as great salesmen, and a series of pay-to-play scandals have implicated some of the largest hedge funds and private equity firms.) Regardless, today pension funds and endowments are by far the largest investors in hedge funds and private equity. Thus only through a wholesale divestment from all alternative investments could the public verify that a given pension fund or endowment lacks fossil fuel investments.

Conflicts of interest

Further compromising the campaign is its questionable line of funding. It has received at least $350,000 from Jeremy Grantham, a hedge fund manager who oversees more than $500 million in assets for public pension funds in Massachusetts. According to a report from Inside Philanthropy, 350.org also receives funding from billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer. (The organization declined to state exactly how much money it has received from Steyer and Grantham.)

Farallon Capital Management, which Steyer founded, has major investments at all levels of the fossil fuel economy. While he is no longer at the helm, during his leadership it pursued major deals in fossil fuels, as a recent report from Reuters showed. In fact, the firm had been a target of student activists before he began funding them. Activists criticized Farallon for attempting to privatize a massive aquifer in Colorado in 1994. More recently, Farallon has made major investments in coal mines in Indonesia and Australia.

Grantham, for his part, argued in an interview with The Guardian that he felt that student activists should “stamp their feet” to get their university endowments to divest from fossil fuels “because they can do that.” With his firm’s significant investments in the fossil fuel economy — according to first quarter 2014 filings, $1.2 billion in Chevron, $570 million in ExxonMobil and $240 million in Monsanto — he, apparently, cannot.

The campaign endangers its legitimacy — and shows how toothless it is — by accepting funding from Steyer and Grantham. Both have a clear financial interest in routing pension fund and endowment investments further from publicly traded securities and into the private markets dominated by their firms. In other words, they stand to benefit from a successful divestment campaign that focuses only on publicly traded securities.

The way forward

By focusing only on publicly traded securities, the fossil fuel divestment campaign ignores the corporate misdeeds of a sector that holds billions of dollars of investments in a dirty energy economy. The divestment campaign would be far more effective if it argued that institutional investors must fully divest — not only from publicly traded fossil fuel stocks but also from the private securities market, a black hole of deregulation that features some of the highest-compensated people in human history.

For the climate justice movement to gain any ground, it will require what Martin Luther King Jr. called “a revolution of values.” Hedge funds and private equity must be held to the same standards as the retirement funds of millions of working-class Americans. The climate justice movement should demand more than an Astroturf campaign that ultimately enriches the wealthy at the expense of retirees and kids on financial aid.

 

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly identified the amount that Tom Steyer, through his foundation, contributes to 350.org. It is less than $1 million, though the organization does not disclose the exact amounts it receives from foundations.

 

[Matthew Cunningham-Cook is a freelance journalist focusing on labor and the retirement crisis. He has written for The Nation, Labor Notes and The Public Employee Press.]

Greenwashing Wall Street: CERES, Tides and 350

A Culture of Imbeciles

February 7, 2015

Wall_Street

 

Excerpts from the McKibben’s Divestment Tour: Brought to You by Wall Street series by Cory Morningstar:

 

+++ Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) is a partner of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD). CERES funders are associated with Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America.

+++ WBCSD is part of a Wall Street strategy to dislodge the United Nations Center on Transnational Corporations, and prevent enforceable rules governing the operations of multinational corporations.

+++ One third of the CERES network companies are in the Fortune 500. Since 2001, CERES has received millions from Wall Street corporations and foundations.

+++ CERES president Mindy Lubber promotes “sustainable capitalism” at Forbes. Bill McKibben (founder of 350) was an esteemed guest of CERES conferences in 2007 and 2013.

+++ 1Sky, which merged with 350 in 2011, was created by the Clinton Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Betsy Taylor of 1Sky/350 is on the CERES board of directors.

+++ In 2012, Bill McKibben and Peter Buffett (oil train tycoon Warren Buffet’s son) headlined the Strategies for a New Economy conference. Between 2003 and 2011, NoVo (Buffet’s foundation) donated $26 million to Tides Foundation, which in turn funds CERES and 350.

+++ Suzanne Nossel, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State under Hillary Clinton, is on the Tides board of directors.

 

 

Social Capitalists: One Hoax After Another

 

After successfully bewitching the greens into falling for college campus fossil fuel divestment in the US — which helped Wall Street consolidate its fossil fuel control — Wall Street is now cooking up an international carbon copy of this hoax to capitalize on the euphoria of climate campaigns.

The Divest-Invest Shell Game — like the REDD carbon market fiasco — requires suspension of disbelief, and determined engagement in wishful thinking.

BDS against Israel, and formerly against South Africa, used the three-part formula of Boycott Divestment Sanction. Divestment, as used by 350, omits boycott and sanction, and limits divestment to meaningless, symbolic acts.

When it comes to the 350 agenda, they leave out the boycott of fossil fuels, and the sanction of fossil fuel corporations, and instead press for divestment by institutions like colleges and universities. All this divestment does is make once publicly-held shares available on Wall Street, which allows trading houses like Goldman Sachs to further consolidate their control of the industry.

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May, 2013: “CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes, Generation Investment Management Co-Founder David Blood and 350.org’s Bill McKibben have a lively conversation about how investors can influence the transition to a low-carbon economy.” Source: McKibben: Red, White, Blue and Gold(man Sachs)

BDS, when applied against apartheid states by other states and international institutions, includes cutting off access to finance, as well as penalties for crimes against humanity. What makes 350 so devious, is that they hijack public emotions (and ignorance) using phony “divestment” as a disorganizing tool to redirect activism away from effective work.

The mystique of mass hypnosis, embodied in the Charms of Naomi, examines the social engineering of climate activism organized by 350, as well as the seductive energy tales that lead gullible progressives into supporting one hoax after another.

In McKibben’s Divestment Tour — Brought to You by Wall Street, acclaimed investigative reporter Cory Morningstar continues her series of reports on the non-profit industrial complex, with a focus on social capitalists like The Clinton Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund that created 1Sky–the forerunner of 350. With help from CERES, they help the fossil fuel industry avoid boycott and sanction by owning NGOs and directing their climate agenda.

Book Review: This Changes Everything

By Kim Hill, Deep Green Resistance Australia

Naomi Klein’s latest book, This Changes Everything, is based on the premise that capitalism is the cause of the climate crisis, and to avert catastrophe, capitalism must go. The proposed solution is a mass movement that will win with arguments that undermine the capitalist system by making it morally unacceptable.

This premise has many flaws. It fails to acknowledge the roots of capitalism and climate change, seeing them as independent issues that can be transformed without taking action to address the underlying causes. Climate change cannot be avoided by building more infrastructure and reforming the economy, as is suggested in the book. The climate crisis is merely a symptom of a deeper crisis, and superficial solutions that act on the symptoms will only make the situation worse. Human-induced climate change started thousands of years ago with the advent of land clearing and agriculture, long before capitalism came into being. The root cause—a culture that values domination of people and land, and the social and physical structures created by this culture—needs to be addressed for any action on capitalism or climate to be effective.

I’ve long been baffled by the climate movement. When 200 species a day are being made extinct, oceans and rivers being drained of fish and all life, unpolluted drinking water being largely a thing of the past, and nutritious food being almost inaccessible, is climate really where we should focus our attention? It seems a distraction, a ‘look, what’s that in the sky?’ from those that seek to profit from taking away everything that sustains life on the only planet we have. By directing our thoughts, discussions and actions towards gases in the upper atmosphere and hotly debated theories, rather than immediate needs for basic survival of all living beings, those in power are leading us astray from forming a resistance movement that could ensure the continuation of life on Earth.

This book is a tangle of contradictions. An attempt to unravel the contradictions and understand the thinking behind these arguments is what drew me in to reading it, but in the end I was left confused, with a jumble of mismatched ideas, vague goals, and proposals to continue with the same disjointed tactics that have never worked in the past.

This Changes Everything advocates for socialism, then explores why socialism won’t stop fossil fuel extraction. It is against capitalism, yet insists ‘there is plenty of room to make a profit in a zero-carbon economy’. Renewable energy is promoted as an alternative, yet the objections of people whose land and livelihoods are destroyed by these developments is acknowledged and respected. The book promotes the rights of indigenous people to live on their land in traditional ways, and at the same time claims they need jobs and development. It sees the extraction and burning of fossil fuels as the main cause of the climate crisis, yet recommends solutions that require more of the same. It supports economic development while opposing economic growth. It says that ‘compromised, palatable-to-conservative solutions don’t work’ yet is selling exactly that.

One chapter is devoted to promoting divestment from fossil fuel companies, even though this is openly acknowledged to have no economic effect. Apparently it will ‘bankrupt their reputation’ rather than actually bankrupt them. This strategy is unlikely to work, as corporations spend millions on PR campaigns, and control the media, so anyone outside this system will struggle to have any real effect on their reputations. And corporations are powered by money, not morals, so moral campaigns on their own can’t shut down a company. And if they did, this targeting of specific companies, rather than the entire economic system, will only create space for others to take their place.

Another chapter explains why ‘green billionaires’ won’t save us, which seems unnecessary in a book arguing for dismantling capitalism—of course more capitalism won’t help. Strangely, Klein is disappointed that Virgin CEO Richard Branson, despite investing many millions of dollars to invent or discover a ‘miracle fuel’ to power his ever-expanding airline, did not achieve this impossible goal. What difference would it make if he had been successful? Whatever this fuel might be, it would still need to be extracted from somewhere, and burned. Unless money really can buy a genuine religious miracle, and even then, the airline industry requires massive amounts of land, mining and manufacturing, and a globalised economy. If fuel costs were not a limitation, these industrial processes would expand more quickly, destroying everyone and everything in their path. A miracle fuel still leaves us with a culture of travelling the world at jet speed, rather than a localised culture of dialogue and relationship with nature. This is the disconnected thinking that comes from engaging with climate as an isolated issue.

The book concludes with a call for a nonviolent mass movement, and ‘trillions [of dollars] to pay for zero-carbon, disaster-ready societal transformations.’ The requested transformations are a transition to renewable energy, and building more infrastructure. These won’t stop capitalism or climate change, and would make the situation worse. A mass movement would require a mass of people who both share these goals and believe that a mass movement is the way to reach them. Given the compromised and conflicted goals, and the corporate influence on the climate movement recently, this is unlikely to happen.

Mass movements using only moral arguments have never changed systems of power in the past. The global Occupy movement is a recent example. While a great deal was achieved, the capitalist system is still with us, and it will take more than peaceful demonstrations to take it down. The infrastructure of capitalism needs to be physically dismantled, using a diversity of tactics, and the culture of domination that legitimises extraction and exploitation must be confronted, and replaced with land-based cultures that value relationship with all living beings.

Image modified from original art by Mark Gould: http://theartofannihilation.com/this-changes-nothing-why-the-peoples-climate-march-guarantees-climate-catastrophe-2/

350 Sacrilege

A Culture of Imbeciles

February 5, 2015

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350’s shameless usurping of Civil Rights icons in their propaganda is ripe for ridicule. Comparing the Rockefeller-sponsored Blue Team to the Freedom Riders, or the police-escorted People’s Climate March to the marches from Selma to Montgomery, or college campus divestment to BDS in South Africa is a sacrilege.

Absolution for the sin of consumerism is implied in 350’s scapegoating of industry that fulfills consumer demand. 350’s revolutionary rhetoric, that panders to progressive identity, exploits progressive frustration while institutionalizing progressive powerlessness.

Real revolution requires commitment, sacrifice and hardship. 350’s  Love Boat champagne circuit somehow fails to measure up to that standard.

Communication: the Invisible Environment

A Culture of Imbeciles

January 22, 2015

 

In his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman — American media theorist, humanist and cultural critic — noted that “new technology can never substitute for human values.”

hqdefaultIllustration by Stuart McMillen

In American society today, our social amusements have come to occupy not only our pastimes, but everything about our lives, politics, values and beliefs. Even our most heartfelt emotions and concerns have been hijacked by the amusement industry, penetrating so deeply into our collective psyche, that we have become social robots.

huxleyorwellIllustration by Stuart McMillen

amusing ourselves to death7Illustration by Stuart McMillen

Capitalizing on this corrosion of civil society, Wall Street marketing agencies like Purpose and Avaaz — sponsors of campaigns to support “humanitarian war” and the “new economy” — have designed and exploited an advertising niche to make money from this social pathology.

conformity-is-unity-3Illustration by Mark Gould

While American faith about the truth in advertising might suffer as a result of these amusements, the deaths that result take place mostly in the Third and Fourth World. As Americans are herded into waving signs and marching around Manhattan wearing the color blue, millions around the world are dying from starvation, disease and murder resulting from American consumerism.

 

 

As a professor of Culture and Communication, Postman taught a course called Communication: the Invisible Environment. While he was concerned primarily with the decline in the ability of mass communications to share serious ideas, Postman was aware that the turning of complex ideas into superficial images — that become a form of entertainment — leads to a society where information is a commodity, bought and sold for entertainment, or to enhance one’s status. In contemporary society, mediated by technology, individuals will literally believe anything.

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The Illogic of the Climateers

A Culture of Imbeciles

January 16, 2015

THE WRITERS' TRUST OF CANADA - Hon. Hilary M. Weston and the Wri

Above: “Honourable'” Hilary M. Weston presents the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction to Naomi Klein, board member of 350.org.  Photo: The Writers’ Trust of Canada, October 15, 2014 [Source]

 

Cults — religious or secular — involve dissemination of core beliefs by their agents. Whether priests or public relations provocateurs, these agents are the vectors by which recruiting and indoctrination are accomplished. In order to maintain the cult, ideological doctrine — when founded on nonsense — become mantras that prevent critical thought.

The illogic of the climateers cult — of which Naomi Klein is the primary prophet — finds fertile ground in the political illiteracy of privileged first world progressives–fallen prey to institutional propaganda and market advertising. The hoax is made possible by a combination of hopelessness, magical thinking, and media consolidation.

In a world where warmongers are given the Nobel Peace Prize, and revolutions are won by throngs in blue taking selfies while eating pizza provided by Wall Street, anything is possible. Anything, that is, except social change.

In a culture of imbeciles, secular cults flourish according to the amount of Wall Street derivatives flowing through foundations into the non-profit industrial complex. After that, it’s a simple matter of echoing mantras on YouTube and TV talk shows.

The art of social engineering, while dependent on high finance, also requires a politically illiterate audience. In a society like the United States, the charms of Naomi are amplified by progressive ignorance, and sustained by imperial civil society.

Simulating an Orwellian ministry of truth, the magic of Naomi — funded by Wall Street — becomes revolutionary in ways envisioned in the novel 1984. As a maverick in her own mind, Klein has become the progressives’ Sarah Palin.

Progressive self-delusion, from hope and change to this changes everything, is grounded in hysteria. The climateers Kool-Aid keeps reality at bay.