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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

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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]

Reflections On Power Shift 2013: An Impromptu Interview

Groundwork for Praxis

October 27, 2013

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See Also: “Are Mainstream Environmental Groups Keeping Racism Alive?” By Kat Stevens.

*Notes Via Kat Stevens: “This piece originally appeared as part of a series called, “Millenials Take On Climate Change” on the website, Policy Mic. The title I had wanted to go with for this piece was, “How  Big Green NGOs Are Harming the Environmental Movement”. Only 800 words were allowed. Policy Mic asked me to become a regular contributor after this piece but I declined once they repeatedly told me that a piece featuring an interview with a frontline indigenous organizer fighting tar sands pipelines wasn’t relevant for their readers.”

 

Caravan of Doom

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Intercontinental Cry

October 25, 2013

By Jay Taber

 

As Cory Morningstar writes at Wrong Kind of Green, the evil empire Buffett, Gates and Rockefeller built in the private sector is mirrored in the evil networks of NGOs they — along with Clinton — have constructed to provide cover for widespread environmental devastation, ethnic cleansing and Indigenous genocide committed by their corporate investments. Using bagmen like Tides Foundation in cahoots with magicians like Bill McKibben at 350 dot org, and sleight-of-hand artists like Tzeporah Berman at Tar Sands Solutions Network, Buffett, Gates, Rockefeller and Clinton have become thick as thieves in producing political theatre to distract us from the parade of refugees in their caravan of doom.

 

[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 director of Public Good Project. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

How Tides Canada Controls the Secret North American Tar Sands Coalition

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[photo] Ms. Berman presenting a “Green” Award to former Liberal Party of B.C. premier, Gordon Campbell … the man who privatized British Columbia, sold it to General Electric and other international corporations, who built highways across farmland and called it “green;” who reversed dioxin effluent safeguards that we fought for and instituted in B.C. to protect our water; who sold off the public and natural heritage of British Columbia and opened the doors to General Electric to occupy hundreds of watersheds, devastate riparian ecosystems, and destroy forests for transmission lines to carry expensive power to mines in the north and to sprawling cities in the U.S. - Photo source: BC government.

Repeat This Aloud

Counterpunch

October 16, 2013

By Macdonald Stainsby

Before Tzeporah Berman began her current position as head of the North American Tar Sands Coalition, Tides Canada had already established these structures to create near-total control over budgets– and therefore, most decisions– for staggering numbers of organizations. Berman was around at the time, working for PowerUp pushing forward offsets garnered by river destruction. Some of the participant organizations already had working partnerships with multiple tar sands producers. The over-whelming majority were already greased by primarily high donors and foundations. Thus, joining the NATSC meant, essentially, double dipping.

The Tides Foundation began the NATSC as a project with earmarked funding coming from other large philanthropic foundations. This unelected and unseen structure was created to stand as a vehicle to help forge a similar backroom strategy for and likely negotiation of a “final agreement” to end campaigns against either certain segments or corporations involved in tar sands, likely borrowing from concepts involved in crafting similar deals with forestry corporations.

In 2009, as a part of producing Offsetting Resistance, a full strategy paper document was leaked to myself and Dru Oja Jay. It was an internal paper from a few months prior that outlined the secret nature of the coalition, the internal structures, the over-all short, middle and long term goals of a foundation funded, and foundation directed entity that was earmarked as a project of Tides Canada, and not as a separate NGO.

The pressure applied and leveraged would be out of the hard work of other people. The people who had worked at a community or first nations grassroots level were not only to not be consulted, if deal negotiations were to happen it was without anyone but a select few ever knowing anything about it. Until the press conference.

The documents make this point specifically: “This document is confidential” reads the front page of the strategy paper for the single most important climate campaign of their multi-million dollar philanthropy. But the real kicker is the breakdown of the structures. Under the heading “Enroll key decision makers while isolating opponents” : We will not make the decisions to slow and clean up the tar sands – those in positions of authority will.”

Though there are many problematic proposed solutions contained within the program (carbon offsets, for example), this was written by Michael Marx, then head of Tides’ Tar Sands Coalition in 2008. Specific demands, strategy and more may well have moved on, especially in the face of new coalition partner, Bill McKibben, and the PR group that has brought the world 350.org. Pipeline struggles, in years past, were not as heavily focused upon as now. Keystone (both of them) gets only a whiff in the paper by name; Enbridge Gateway is described but not named. Indeed, how times have changed.

Instead of predictions about the terms of a sell-out, the focus here should be on the structures as they are described. We know automatically the terms will be detrimental to the needs of the climate or of community, simply because the Canadian Boreal Initiative, Environmental Defense, WWF, CPAWS and other organizations who do more than negotiate backroom deals– but publicly embrace and partner with corporations like Suncor, Nexen, Dow Chemical and more– are leading members. The coalition groups are now under the twin auspices of Tides and Pew funding, as well Tides and Pew membership as further “partners.”

This further blurring of foundations who are increasingly “activist” in their own right, speaking and campaigning as “just another green group” is accelerating. In the past few years, new brazen language has come from Tides Canada, previously unthinkable: “At Tides Canada we are working to bridge these two polarized camps (environmentalists and tar sands corporations– MS). As a convener of diverse interests, we’ve played this role before, most notably in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest.1”

The quote above was a letter penned by President and CEO of Tides Canada, Ross McMillan. When the Great Bear Rainforest backroom deal was announced, it was publicized as a triumph of “Rainforest Solutions Project,” then comprising ForestEthics, Sierra Club BC, Greenpeace Canada and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN has since withdrawn support for the agreement). Tides was then, to use their jargon, “invisible to the outside,” but now speaks publicly as both a “stakeholder” and financial lifeblood. Now they advertise prior secretive involvement.

When looking at the real structures of the “North American Tar Sands Coalition” remember that it “shall remain invisible to the outside and to the extent possible, staff will be “purchased” from engaged organizations.”

“Purchasing” staff means that a person who is acting in the capacity of the directives of the paymaster coalition is never to public refer to the actual job, or even the organization. As such, even though someone took a leave from, say, the Pembina Institute to become a coordinator within the Tar Sands Coalition steering committee, and cashed paycheques from Tides referencing this work, they would publicly identify with their former employing organization, the Pembina Institute.

In fact, the above perfectly described the Canadian tar sands coordinator for Tides previously, Dan Woynillowicz. Google his name and he appears only as Pembina. The fact that demands, media, talking points, statements and interviews and paydays all then came from Tides direction was to “remain invisible to the outside.” He stepped aside for Jennifer Lash, who appears publicly as Executive Director of Living Oceans BC. She is, in fact, coordinator of Tides Canadian section.

Michael Marx is the former “lead coordinator” from the tar sands steering committee, above the American and Canadian coordinators. These three, in collaboration with media coordinators, form the power nucleus. Other foundations centralize campaign contributions to the Tides Coalition, and will re-direct appeals for tar sands funding to the national coordinators from this one group. This has effectively narrowed the overwhelming portion of all tar sands funding from foundation sources, leaving astronomical power in the hands of an unseen entity.

How does the final say evolve? According to Marx while he was still coordinator: “While NGOs generally prefer a network structure that allows for maximum communication, and minimal centralized control, foundations investing most heavily in the campaign have a vested interest in exercising some control over the process”(emphasis mine).

Michael Marx has moved on as mentioned, for Tzeporah Berman to become head of the North American Tar Sands Coalition. Marx himself is officially a campaigner once again with the Sierra Club in the United States.

The “Tar Sands Solutions Network” appears to be the vehicle for a public face to negotiate a “win-win” deal. A couple of years ago, the Mediacoop.ca and later on the Globe and Mail reported a leak of an attempted “fireside chat” that was to happen with no fanfare, media or record of its existence. This chat was to involve some of the largest players in energy corporations operating in the tar sands, “with beer in hand” alongside some of the more compromised and right wing environmental organizations.

That particular meeting was aborted after the leak.

There are other secret meetings as well, ones where you have to sign before hand not to release any information about what is discussed. There– without the input of the multiple indigenous communities and other active community resistance movements that target tar sands on both sides of the colonial border– strategy for the short, middle and long terms are drawn up.

Foundations spring for the event, foundations also “influence” talking points, strategy is laid out and so on. Recently, for example, there was such a meeting held off the coast of British Columbia. People who organize in other areas would likely know many of those who attended. Attendees are all sworn overtly not to speak out about its mere existence.

The coalition is the same invisible Trojan Horse that so many “collaborative model” agreements have come from in the past. Berman is simply the public face of capitalism’s last ditch attempt to save itself. The system needs reinvention as it collapses under strain, and the new class of would be green capitalists seek to emerge out of this crisis like Henry Ford did from the Depression. Exploitation of the working class, continued indigenous colonialism at home, war mongering imperialism, permanently expanding growth economics– all with climate effects being transferred onto the over-exploited majority world– this is all “just the way things are,” because “we don’t have time to try and transform the system,” and so on are invoked in defending a strategy of accommodation to capital.

The reality is it results in defeat; the tar sands are a cornerstone– as is all oil– to a growth economy. Fracking, tar sands, offshore, coal to liquids, mountain top removal and the prize of Utah and Colorado’s oil shale, every last bit of it and more must be opposed. Growth is the problem. Green capitalism is a false promise to unite a growth economy with a healthy atmosphere. It is a lie.

If the economic framework of assigning value to land to be converted to resources for dollars is not challenged, oil will continue. It is not a renegade or rogue industry. It is a perfectly normal, capitalist industry.

Big Energy’s power is a reflection of the centrality of energy, leading to influence. It is a logic completely at peace with accumulation of profit and the dominance of capital. More than “not a rogue industry,” it is the flagship, the pinnacle of industries under late industrial capitalism.

Oil exploitation has existed in every industrial society of the last few centuries; however, like the arms industry, the power nexus of its placement in the over-all economic structure of the West makes it absolutely impossible to decouple a dismantling of the power structure with any hope of weakening some falsely labelled “rogue” industry. We need at minimum to declare no right of any backroom negotiation around tar sands. Nothing can green them, nothing can legitimize discussions. Public or private.

Growth is the elephant in the living room we must confront. We must reject a “green shift” that panders to “have your cake and eat it too” eco-populism, the lefty-green rhetoric of a new green bourgeoisie trying to burst forth.

By making capital sacrosanct (“[F]oundations investing most heavily in the campaign have a vested interest in exercising some control over the process.”), the negotiation process cannot do anything about the situation of capital dominance.

Capital is most dominant in the North American political party system. The pro-Obama language of the “Tar Sands Solutions Network” likely indicates a nod to board member Bill McKibben, whose own Rockefeller funded, pro-Obama organizing in 350.org has become stuck on a hamster wheel chasing the Keystone XL. Simply put, the same PR professional thinking below the border that designed the Democrats’ Moveon.org are now more than likely having influence on crafting part of the over-all trajectory of tar sands big money organizing. Brand Obama sells, but the products are made of oil.

Let us ask: Can choreography win the day? In the excellent article “The Climate Movement’s Pipeline Preoccupation” from last week, four Rising Tide community organizers pointed out:

“[T]he mainstream Keystone XL and Northern Gateway campaigns operate on a flawed assumption that the climate movement can compel our elected leaders to respond to the climate crisis with nothing more than an effective communications strategy.”

The people who would negotiate away the work done in other diverse communities are unseen, unelected, unaccountable and have friendly relations with large corporations for a reason. They are not even a large minority of those organizing in opposition to tar sands and the energy industries, however. Those whose resistance have done the most to create this situation?

Some have warm relations with certain facets of Big Green, but all have organized independent of Big Green structures, built separate movements of their own, evolving community directed demands. Through a process of building, what it is that cannot be negotiated has evolved for every different movement in their own manner. There is not just one movement, and there are just as many different sets of principles.

Impacted indigenous communities are building opposition to Line 9 expansion with allies of theirs from outlying communities; People in Utah & Texas are engaged in creative responses of resistance to proposed tar sands mining or pipeline construction; indigenous territory has been reclaimed and rebuilt blocking all energy pipeline construction: Tar sands oil, fracked gas, none of it is being allowed across Unist’ot’en Territory near the Pacific Ocean coastline. There are other paths being walked.

People can now raise a clear voice in opposition to further moves to negotiate a final agreement that no one has any mandate to work on. We must reject the collaborative model succinctly for the tar sands, whether expressed by pipeline deals or in Alberta and Saskatchewan at the source of developments. The impacts globally from setting a North American tar sands collaborative process in motion could irreparably damage resistance to tar sands in places where it is now just getting off the ground around the world.

The current Big Green structures are undemocratic and cloak and dagger in appearance. The participants are organizations and certain individuals with a history of bad democratic practice and serious pro-corporate sympathies.

There comes a time, as has been said, when silence is betrayal. Let this be known as just such a time. Let us celebrate the existing diversity of the movements in opposition to tar sands and fossil fuels, and that have targeted the immediate, essential need to make clear the impossibility of parceling the land as a solution.

We must make certain solidarity is a true bottom line for those who are seen as allies in the battles over tar sands and climate. Solidarity cannot come from secret conversations with the enemy. Let us speak too, of this reality: Big energy is the enemy. Not bad practices within it, but the energy and growth economy itself.

The equivalent of the Canadian Tea Party crowd has filled newspaper columns with stories to frighten you and I about the power of American money. Much of the foundation-led anti-tar sands cash has been coming from the United States, and as such we are supposed to cringe at the origin. Yet it would not matter if the paper trail led one to the moon– resources in and of themselves are not the issue. Were spending resources to be the issue, big energy companies and the federal government within Canada itself have vastly outspent the foundations on both sides of the 49th parallel, promoting unfettered tar sands. The problem is the distortion of active resistance, and the hi-jacking of a public process.

These are battles that determine whether or not we can make a grim situation survivable. Capital has caused this near calamity, we surely need to stop trying to save it from itself any longer. Capital has also polluted our own thinking– and actions– from within. We must reinvigorate a democratic environmental movement through a refutation of back room deals– and organize active resistance to those who would try and negotiate one.

 

[Macdonald Stainsby is an anti-tar sands and social justice activist, freelance writer and professional hitchhiker looking for a ride to the better world, currently based in Vancouver, Canada. He can be reached at mstainsby@resist.ca]

 

The Problem With the Big Green’s Naomi Klein Gripe

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Counterpunch Weekend Edition

September 13-15, 2013

by Macdonald Stainsby

Stockholm Syndrome in a Three Piece Suit

A few days ago a minor shizzle storm erupted on the climate-acting internet. Well-known anti-corporate author and researcher Naomi Klein gave an interview where she made some comments that, apparently, made some of the more corporate and right wing members of the environmentalist establishment elite upset. The problem with the comments, in a nutshell, is that Klein responded to questions about how people are able to go about their day-to-day business without screaming in a panic constantly about anthropogenic climate change.

The comments she uttered that caused the most anguish? Well, I’ve been swimming through this rather heated ocean of replies targeting Naomi Klein. This seems to be the lowest common denominator from the angered voices defending “Big Green.”

Well, I think there is a very deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost.1

This has been called variations of victim blaming. Leaving aside whether the very-well paid executives of corporate-partnered environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) are victims of much, it’s tossed about in several different manners. We are told that the people who are making the decisions about policy for such groups believe staunchly in the science, and are not in denial at all. Really?

The Problem With Bill McKibben and John Kerry

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Decisive Indecision

Counterpunch

Sept 3, 2013

by Macdonald Stainsby

Ah, so the Obama administration announced yet another delay in the Keystone XL pipeline review. And what a brilliant decision is this non-decision. If you have been opposed to climate change, tar sands or the oil and gas industry and live in the United States, you now know– thanks to Obama and Bill McKibben– what you are supposed to do for the next minimum several months. Isn’t it wonderful to have strategy handed to you by the US administration, and your so-called leaders?

I hope that I don’t date myself too harshly by referencing Peanuts right off the bat. Hopefully you recall the famous comic strips featuring Snoopy, Linus and the gang. There was that famous routine where Lucy, who had lied and lied many times before on the same promise, would swear to Charlie Brown that if he attempted to kick a football that she was holding, she would not pull it away– despite the fact she had done exactly that countless times before.

Of course, the joke is that we all know Lucy will pull the ball away, and Charlie will miss, falling on his rear after sailing through the air having just whiffed on kicking the ball. His injury, for us apparently, is part of the humour. He gets up, dusts himself off and we all well know it will happen again soon enough.

What we don’t know, since the ball never gets kicked, is if Charlie Brown can actually boot a football in any meaningful sense. Can he get it very far, will it be an effective kick? Since Charlie Brown has never kicked the ball it can’t be said he has failed. The anticipation of what may happen, should he get to kick the damn thing, keeps him coming back. Lucy has him right where she wants him.

New on WKOG: “It’s a White Man’s World” – Your Exclusive Daily Dose of Reality. Raw. Unedited. Uncomfortable.

Video | “God’s Taunt” – Bill McKibben’s Sermon on Job 38: 1-11 and Matthew 19: 16-22 from Sunday, April 28, 2013

by Forrest Palmer, WKOG Collective

July 22, 2013

reality

In this video, it is very fitting that McKibben goes to Riverside Church. The best way to get validation in Amerikkka, still sadly the most powerful nation in the world, is to align yourself with the two most hallowed of individuals: Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesus. So, he is in Riverside Church, which is a Christian establishment and it is one where Martin Luther King Jr. made one if his most famous (and at the time he gave it, most infamous) speeches concerning Amerikkka and its continuous use of violence across the globe. So, this speech is most appealing to not just the liberals and leftists in Amerikkka, but also the general Amerikkkan population which is comprised of the bulk of the middle of the road citizenry. This is a sound decision by McKibben since in the pantheon of admired people within the history of this country, King and Jesus are above reproach: one due to his ACTUAL deification and the other through his historical deification. I will let you decide which one is which.

The speech is very reminiscent of King and Jesus because it is very general in terms of the problem whereas the individual doesn’t have to look at his actions. Jesus said that you can basically do whatever you want as long as you accept him as your personal savior and, as the conduit for sacrificing for all your earthly sins, you will be okay. So, the individual behavior never needs to be analyzed because it can always find some type of absolution. In the same vein, King’s speech at Riverside Church speaks of the state violence that is ongoing across the Earth and absolves guilt from the general populace with nary a reference to the number of jobs that are either directly due to the military industrial complex or DEPENDENT upon its continuation. The individual aspect of how the daily lives of Amerikkkans are inextricably ATTACHED to wars of empire isn’t touched by King, which can leave the bulk of Amerikkkans who are for “justice” in alliance with him.

As an illustration of how this can be so delusional in regards to actually dealing with any true solutions without acknowledging or even KNOWING the truth, King once said that how can there not be enough water for everyone when the world is 70% water. It is something that everyone can agree with and feel good about because it is so generalized what kind of heartless individual would be against it since there is enough water for everyone. But you look deeper at the problem and you realize that only 3% of this water is freshwater. And then you dig deeper and you see that we only have access and live off approximately 1% to 1.5% of all the water on Earth. Then you see that this is the amount of water that billions of people need to survive on the planet. Only then, can you start to deal with the problem no matter how overwhelming it may be to the person who is basing his analsyis and possible solutions off the truth.But, this has never and will never play into the narrative of the Amerikkan lifestyle itself being analyzed to ANY degree. Therefore, in the happily every after fairy tale of King’s analysis, Amerikkka’s exorbitant amount of resource usage can continue unabated while ALSO including all the rest of the people on Earth.

Fast forward a little over 40 years and McKibben also cloaks himself in this analysis based off general terms in order to make his message palatable to the masses and also lets the ones who he must answer to (neoliberal capitalist institutions) know that ultimately he isn’t a threat. No mention of the everyday usage of polluting resources at the individual level and how he or she is the culprit as well as the fossil fuel companies.

What is most scandalous in this speech is his use of the non-anglos as a verbal prop to show some type of solidarity between the victims who supply all of the West with resources and the congregation of this church. Thereby he is intimating that the solution is the same for them as it is for the members of this church: curtailing the power of the fossil fuel industries. Notice I said CURTAILING because the resources supplied by the same victims he said are in allegiance with the members of this church will STILL have to be taken advantage of in accordance with the historical legacy of Western domination of the Global South. From the moment these people go up in the morning until they go to bed at night, their lives will be totally fueled off the dehumanization of those where the resource wealth resides, be it non-renewable or renewable resources, which in all honesty are in LESS abundance than non-renewable ones and FAR, FAR, FAR from truly being renewable.

In the speech, McKibben compares the seminal thought of the civil rights movement which is that the arc of history always bends towards justice and the LIMITED amount of time that is necessary to end the practices that are causing climate change. This assumes the supposition that McKibben and the green leaders actually have a plan of any sort that is based on a reality of actually stopping this madness in ANY timeframe, be it short or long term. Most disturbingly, just like King, McKibben and the audience believe that the arc of history can continue to bend towards justice, with justice being defined as the continuation of white privilege and the inclusion of as many other people as possible. It is ludicrous, but as stated previously, the generalities of the problem and lack of discussion on his proposed solutions are done to replicate the physical phenomena of running in place: a lot of movement, but not going anywhere.

The arc of history doesn’t bend towards justice. This is a fallacy to allow those on top to believe they can kick the can down the road and it will one day be taken care of by the next generation who will have learned from our mistakes. Well, the next generation is HERE for climate change. There is no more tomorrow or room for stating of the problem from the leaders with no mention of the solution. The ultimate goal is ZERO CARBON EMISSIONS. Period. This can either be done by CHOICE or by FORCE. Yet, everyday that people like McKibben and the horde of false green prophets continue to lie to the masses, that choice is QUICKLY turning into what will ultimately be done by force. Simple as that.

FP

Video | “God’s Taunt” – Bill McKibben’s Sermon on Job 38: 1-11 and Matthew 19: 16-22 from Sunday, April 28, 2013


 

Under Empire, All Life is Imperiled


index6

One Year On

Counterpunch Weekend Edition May 24-26, 2013

by JAVIER SETHNESS CASTRO

“After the catastrophes that have happened, and in view of the catastrophes to come, it would be cynical to say that a plan for a better world is manifested in history and unites it.”

– Theodor W. Adorno, Negative Dialectics

Channeling Adorno, it would I think prove difficult today to characterize the prevailing world-situation as anything other than highly negative.  Such an interpretation is arguably seen most readily in reflection on environmental matters—specifically, the ever-worsening climate emergency, not to mention other worrying signs of the ecological devastation wrought by the capitalist system.

FLASHBACK | 350.org: Environmental Corporatism

The following excerpts from the article Harnessing People Power Continued – The 99% Spring and the “Professional Left” are written by Edmund Berger. The article,  in its entirety, can be read on Swans Commentary where it was published May 21, 2012.

 (Swans – May 21, 2012)   “Astroturfing” is a term that has entered the popular lexicon of the politically educated, referring to the ability of largely unseen actors to mold and direct grassroots social movement. Awareness of this phenomenon is a direct fallout from the ascendancy of the Tea Party, as it became rapidly apparent that its transition from a protest movement to a legislative powerhouse was guided with the help of the now-renowned Koch brothers. These conservative-minded billionaire philanthropists, working through their interlocking family foundations, had invested vast sums of money into intermediary organizations that helped plan, facilitate, and execute successful protests, rallies, and political campaigns. Yet those who flaunt the term “astroturfing” — namely, those on the left of the spectrum — have shown a certain reluctance to acknowledge the fact that this same method is being applied to progressive grassroots movements as well, re-concentrating disenfranchisement with the dominant institutions of power into a manageable opposition capable of acting as a voting base. This is not a recent development; it dates back to the “Progressive Era” of American political history, and it forms a central apparatus of US foreign policy abroad under the non-descript diplomacy of “democracy promotion.”

350.org: Environmental Corporatism

Hey 350.org: Um, We lost. You lost.

Keystone XL Pipeline Construction Begins

Excerpt:

“The Canadian pipeline company TransCanada has quietly begun construction of the southern leg of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, installing segments near Livingston, Texas, company officials confirmed Thursday.”

See full story: “Keystone XL pipeline construction begins amid protests” by Kim Murphy, August 16, 2012: LA Times

And then recall the following announcement as found on the 350.org site:

BREAKING NEWS: Keystone Rejected. We Won. You Won. Thank you.

 Posted by The 350.org Team – 11/10/11, 2:18pm

Amazing news — check out the email we just sent out below, and signup for the 350 email list here.

Dear Friends,

Um, we won. You won.

Not completely. The President didn’t outright reject the Keystone XL pipeline permit. My particular fantasy — that he would invite the 1253 people arrested on his doorstep in August inside the gates for a victory picnic by the vegetable garden — didn’t materialize.

But a few minutes ago the President sent the pipeline back to the State Department for a thorough re-review, which most analysts are saying will effectively kill the project. The president explicitly noted climate change, along with the pipeline route, as one of the factors that a new review would need to assess. There’s no way, with an honest review, that a pipeline that helps speed the tapping of the world’s second-largest pool of carbon can pass environmental muster.

And he has made clear that the environmental assessment won’t be carried out by cronies of the pipeline company — that it will be an expert and independent assessment. We will watch that process like hawks, making sure that it doesn’t succumb to more cronyism. Perhaps this effort will go some tiny way towards cleaning up the Washington culture of corporate dominance that came so dramatically to light here in emails and lobbyist disclosure forms.

It’s important to understand how unlikely this victory is. Six months ago, almost no one outside the pipeline route even knew about Keystone XL. One month ago, a secret poll of “energy insiders” by the National Journal found that “virtually all” expected easy approval of the pipeline by year’s end. As late as last week the CBC reported that Transcanada was moving huge quantities of pipe across the border and seizing land by eminent domain, certain that its permit would be granted. A done deal has come spectacularly undone.

Our movement spoke loudly about climate change and the President responded. There have been few even partial victories about global warming in recent years so that makes this an important day. We need to let the president and oil companies know that we’re ready to take action should they try to push this pipeline through in a couple of years. There’s a pledge to take bold action against the pipeline up on our site, and I’ll be keeping your names an emails safely stored away so that you’ll be the first to know about anything we need to do down the road.

Please sign the pledge here.

The President deserves thanks for making this call — it’s not easy in the face of the fossil fuel industry and its endless reserves of cash. The deepest thanks, however, go to you: to indigenous peoples who began the fight, to the folks in Nebraska who rallied so fiercely, to the scientists who explained the stakes, to the environmental groups who joined with passionate common purpose, to the campuses that lit up with activity, to the faith leaders that raised a moral cry, to the labor leaders who recognized where our economic future lies, to the Occupy movement that helped galvanize revulsion at insider dealing, and most of all to the people in every state and province who built the movement that made this decision inevitable.

Our fight, of course, is barely begun. Some in our movement will say that this decision is just politics as usual: that the President wants us off the streets — and off his front lawn — until after the election, at which point the administration can approve the pipeline, alienating its supporters without electoral consequence. The president should know that If this pipeline proposal somehow reemerges from the review process we will use every tool at our disposal to keep it from ever being built; if there’s a lesson of the last few months, both in our work and in the Occupy encampments around the world, it’s that sometimes we have to put our bodies on the line.

In the meantime, since federal action will be in abeyance for a long stretch, we need to figure out how best to support our Canadian brothers and sisters, who are effectively battling against proposed pipelines west from the tar sands to the Pacific. And we need to broaden our work to take on all the forms of ‘extreme energy’ now coming to the fore: mountaintop removal coal mining, deepsea oil drilling, fracking for gas and oil. We’ll keep sending you updates; you keep letting us know what we need to do next.

Last week, scientists announced that the planet had poured a record amount of CO2 into the atmosphere last year; that’s a sign of how desperate our battle is. But we take courage from today’s White House announcement; it gives us some clues about how to fight going forward.

And I simply can’t say thank you enough. I know, because of my own weariness, how hard so many of you have worked. It was good work, done in the right spirit, and it has secured an unlikely victory. You are the cause of that victory; you upended enormous odds.

I’m going to bed tired tonight. But I’ll get up in the morning ready for the next battle, more confident because I know you’re part of this fight too.

Onwards,

Bill McKibben for the 350.org Team

P.S. Victories need to be shared. Let’s make this one fly all over the web: share it on Twitter here and share it on Facebook here.


MORE INFORMATION AND LINKS

U.S. to Delay Decision on Pipeline Until After Election – The New York Times

The Hives – “Hate to Say I Told You So” …