August 19, 2014
by Jay Taber
In 1999, when the AFL-CIO herded protestors away from the WTO ministerial in Seattle, it was following through on its nefarious 1994 bargain with President Clinton over NAFTA. Having sold its soul to Wall Street for the few crumbs promised in the aftermath of the opening salvo of globalization, organized labor in the US fell all over itself to become Clinton’s lapdog. Looking back, one might ask, What side were we on?
By November 30, 1999, the fact of labor’s complicity in destroying the economies of the US and Mexico was somehow overlooked or forgotten by the thousands of marchers leaving the AFL-CIO rally. When hundreds of these innocents inadvertently left the labor parade to see what was going on at the WTO convention site, they experienced a rude awakening to reality. As they became enveloped in what came to be known as the Battle in Seattle, these newcomers to activism became witnesses to civil disobedience and police misconduct on a scale not seen since the Civil Rights Movement. As the tear gas-laden fog of war left many choking and disoriented, those on the front line (that labor leaders had hoped the marchers would never see) had opened America’s eyes to the brutality experienced daily in the Third and Fourth World.
In a parallel of history, AFL-CIO in November 2012 joined Wall Street fossil fuel exporters in promoting a carbon corridor of global proportions on the Salish Sea between Seattle and Vancouver. As part of a campaign to annihilate First Nations treaty rights in Washington and British Columbia, the organized labor alliance was engineered by the world’s largest public relations firm for the purpose of clearing the way for the Tar Sands bitumen, Powder River Basin coal and Bakken Shale crude armada to overwhelm Coast Salish communities, inundating the San Juan and Gulf Islands with fleets of colliers and supertankers carrying fossil fuels from North America to Asia.
By 2013, Wall Street had learned some important lessons from the multitude of post-1999 protests against globalization. This time around, it owned its own NGOs, which are extremely effective in herding the naive away from making clear and effective demands. Amplifying these lapdog NGO voices with Wall Street-funded Wurlitzers, celebrities like Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein (350.org) were created and marketed to lead the credulous astray. As pied pipers of climate change, McKibben and Klein have managed to deceive thousands of American youth into believing fossil fuel divestment on college campuses, or XL photo-ops in front of the White House, are revolutionary. Continuing the historical parallel, In September 2014, 350.org is organizing a Peoples Climate Change March in New York City.
As Wall Street hijacks the environmental movement using foundation-funded NGOs, Indigenous peoples struggle to be heard, hoping to survive the onslaught of organized labor, compromised greens and militarized police. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department and Pentagon have reorganized to counter Indigenous insurgencies around the globe.
Welcome to Netwar.
Maasai Protest Against New Land Concessions For Geothermal Extraction In Kenya. Read more:
[As an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal, Jay Taber has assisted indigenous peoples seeking justice in such bodies as the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations. Since 1994, he has served as the administrative director of Public Good Project.]