CROSSPOSTED WITH COUNTERCURRENTS, A FRATERNAL SITE
Reposted by reader suggestion.
(Originally posted 23 February, 2011, Climatesoscanada.org)
[T]his piece is one of Cory Morningstar and Gregory Vickrey’s hard-hitting critiques of corporate environmentalism, part of their book and multimedia project published in 2011.
“The Earth isn’t dying, it’s being killed, and those who are killing it have names and addresses.” – Utah Philips
[A]s we now stand firmly on the precipice – staring irreversible climate catastrophe and natural resource depletion squarely in the face – the world accelerates its pace in a mad race to the bottom. Running with the baton are the world’s largest environmental NGOs – non-profit organizations. Although the industrial non-profit complex claims to speak for civil society, in reality these groups are the sanctioning agents of a planet which is rapidly becoming completely dominated by corporate control. These groups have been integral to lending legitimacy and credibility to the very corporations hell bent on destroying and commodifying what little remains of our increasingly fragile planet. What we are now witnessing is a race for the last remaining shared commons. Commons which should be protected and held ‘in trust’ for future generations – if only our governments were not mere puppets of corporate power and control.
WTF WEF: “Defining Civil Society, Once and For All”
“We are blinded, enchanted and finally enslaved by spectacle.” –
Empire of Illusion, Chris Hedges
In the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting of 2005 one topic of significant importance was ‘Defining Civil Society, Once and For All’. The moderator Bassir Pour cited there was a 15 minute delay as many of the participants had been listening to the panel titled ‘The G8 and Africa: Rhetoric or Action? ‘ This panel had highlighted an example of ‘civil society in action’ in the form of a demonstration by Greenpeace, which Pour said put a smile on her lips because it was so peaceful. To be sure, there is nothing that makes a corporation or corporate-controlled government happier than a passive, unthreatening demonstration with no fighting spirit.
On December 26, 2009, Dora “Alicia” Recinos Sorto, age 32, was assassinated. Dora was the second anti-mining activist killed that week in the small community of Nueva Trinidad. Recinos Sorto was eight months pregnant and carrying her two-year old child when she was shot on her way back from doing laundry at a nearby river. Canadian Mining Company Pacific Rim has come under fire for these accelerating assassinations which continue today. In vulnerable countries such violence has become a daily part of life. Activists are targeted and become the invisible victims of the murderous economic system. Demonstrations have morphed from the fierce unwavering determination witnessed in the sixties to the ‘acceptable’ demonstrations now recognized today which are overwhelmingly ineffective. Such assembly line ‘protests’ undoubtedly inspire reactions from the global elite such as, “look at the cute proles who believe they can make a difference – adorable. Now let’s get back to business.” Touching on today’s ineffective movements, on 3 February 2011, Mr. Fish of truthdig.org asks the question: “What do we have now? An anti-war movement that is so gutless and so savagely unimaginative that, rather than gaining purpose and momentum in the face of our government’s ever-increasing disdain for peace in the Middle East, it has proved itself to be too lazy, even too cowardly, to face down the very disease of oligarchy that it had concocted itself to cure.” This statement can easily be applied to today’s environmental movement.
WEF: “Organizing Their Dream World“
One response to the question of ‘how to define civil society’ was that since big business foundations are incentivized by the tax code, corporations are not civil society, but foundations are. Therefore it should be no surprise the ‘big green’ groups who claim they receive no corporate funding can legitimately do so, merely because foundations serve as corporate front groups. The big greens are funded by the very foundations set up by the corporations who essentially serve as a money laundering service in what the elites proclaim as philanthro-capitalism. Others questions in the WEF discussion were: “Could an NGO formed by a corporation be part of civil society? Does acceptance of government contracts make an NGO an extension of government? Are the big NGOs still members of civil society?” In the summing up period, Pour said, Kofi Annan’s advice was the main point: to keep “organizing our dream world.”
The following year, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting of 2006 a topic of significant importance was ‘Building Trust in Public and Private Institutions’. Richard Edelman, President and CEO of Edelman, USA, reported that opinion leaders now trust NGOs more than business, media and government for information. “NGOs are the most trusted institution in nearly every market,” he stated. (Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2006 Seventh Global Opinion Leaders Study). He further reported that “Information conveyed by CEOs is at the bottom of the list, even lower than politicians, with organizations such as Amnesty International, WWF World Wide Fund for Nature, Greenpeace, and Médecins Sans Frontières at the top of the ranking.” Guy Ryder, General Secretary, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Brussels, corroborated the Edelman survey: “Trust matters. There is a feeling of bewilderment which dramatically impacts on people’s lives. They feel powerless; we do not have a means of expressing opinions. ‘Trust proximity’ is the thing that you are familiar with; it includes the things you understand.” Ryder further explained that for the ordinary person, “NGOs seem ‘more like me’ and convey the things that matter to me.” He noted that the fall of confidence in public institutions is the most alarming. “53% of people in the US want to be represented by trade unions, but corporate America stops this.” (Corporate America certainly does stop this. Corporate power has been utilizing corporate-owned media to its absolute advantage in a major attempt to turn the public sentiment against unions – the last remaining collective to threaten corporate power. The rhetoric spewed out by the corporate media is nothing less than incredible.)
Make no mistake, NGOs are recognized by corporate power as an absolutely essential element – indispensable for ensuring corporate power can quite easily advance their agenda.
First Place: Nature Conservancy
“Advocates of capitalism are very apt to appeal to the sacred principles of liberty, which are embodied in one maxim: The fortunate must not be restrained in the exercise of tyranny over the unfortunate” – Bertrand Russell
At the front line of the race to the bottom we must recognize The Nature Conservancy for accepting the challenge of “protecting nature” in an announced new partnership with Dow Chemical who have generously gifted Nature Conservancy with a cool $10 million. Unfortunately, this ‘bankrolled consent’ most likely means Dow will be too financially strapped to clean up Bhopal – whose citizens continue to suffer to this day. Never mind last week it was announced that Dow’s profit has tripled. The corporation reported a profit of $511 million for the quarter ending in December 2010. Nature Conservancy’s president and CEO is none other than former Goldman Sachs Group executive, Mark Tercek. Perhaps not coincidentally, former Nature Conservancy president Henry Paulson also made his rounds through the revolving doors of the Goldman Sachs Group. Yet another Nature Conservancy board member, Muneer Satter, also originated from Goldman Sachs. You may recall the name Goldman Sachs – most known for their role in the brilliantly executed 2008 financial crisis which threw millions into poverty as the rich became even richer. As well, Nature Conservancy just hired a new marketing director in 2010 — former executive vice president for marketing at World Wrestling Entertainment. Prior to that position, he served as senior vice president for marketing at Showtime Networks. Showtime indeed. Fiction? Satire? Unfortunately not. If such organizations were not so dangerous, one would have to laugh. However, considering we are on the brink of exterminating our own children, this is truly sickening and no laughing matter. (Fyi – The Nature Conservancy has more than $3.7 billion in assets, annual revenue of $860 million – remember that when they ask you for your last 20 bucks.)
Second Place: Greenpeace International
And what does the world’s most recognized NGO plan to do in the face of cataclysmic climate change, as the opportunity to avoid irreversible planetary collapse slowly dissipates? It launches an international campaign to ‘green’ Facebook by Earth Day, April 22, 2011.
Update! 11 February 2011: “Today we need you to join a very special photo petition – … no, call it a competition – The 10 most-liked photos on Wednesday, 16 February at 17:00 CET will feature in an upcoming Greenpeace activity… (say no more, nudge nudge, wink wink). We also have campaign t-shirts for the top ten, and a CD of “Amchitka, The 1970 Concert that Launched Greenpeace,” featuring Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs, and James Taylor, for the most popular photo of all. The funniest, weirdest, and most provocative photos will probably get the most ‘Likes’, so have some fun with it, submit your photo and get “liking” right away! Happy snapping, Team Facebook (at Greenpeace!)”
Third Place: WWF Presents National Sweater Day
“It’s time to Get Sweatered!” WWF-Canada announces a brand new campaign for Sweater Day, February 17, 2011. And after this you can look forward to shutting your lights off for that one hour a year in WWF’s annual Earth Hour campaign. As always, big greens frame the conversation on what an individual can do while vehemently neglecting to discuss the root cause of climate change – the current economic system. In this campaign, our youth is led to believe that small individual actions will help solve our environmental crisis. They can’t. Further, the crisis is framed to be most unthreatening, simply because the solution proposed requires so little effort. Of course, this campaign isn’t complete without prizes to feed the insatiable need to consume – which this campaign endorses by way of participation. (WWF International’s operating revenue totalled 224.2 million in 2010. Carter Roberts, CEO and President, took home a meagre $486,394 in 2008.)
Honourable Mentions: Friends of the Earth International
Courtesy of Keith Farnish’s Unsuitablog
“Find out about the Good Shopping Guide application: http://bit.ly/hH44mK Plus win an iPod touch! ” – Friends of the Earth via twitter
Friends of the Earth, 1970-2011
The video featuring a 2 minute summary of the COP16 conference and highlighting the brand TckTckTck makes light of our planetary emergency and tells the viewer… absolutely nothing. Further, the video frames Bolivia as an obstructionist to the negotiations when in fact Bolivia stood alone rejecting an agreement which will lead to mass genocide. Alone, Bolivia fought for life using powerful, ethical arguments, defending the people’s agreements adopted in Cochabamba which would protect Mother Earth, all species and future generations. All big greens have declined to endorse the People’s Agreement which places people before corporate profit. It appears this video, being promoted widely, was created by TckTckTck partner UKYCC.
First Prize for Most Dangerous: Greenpeace at the World Economic Forum
“Capitalism justified itself and was adopted as an economic principle on the express ground that it provides selfish motives for doing good, and that human beings will do nothing except for selfish motives” – George Bernard Shaw
In the frontline of global economic forums such as the WEF, commonly referred to simply as Davos, you will recognize the exceptionally orchestrated Greenpeace demonstrations. This is the Greenpeace that rides today on the coat-tails of the legacy laid down by the original Greenpeace founders decades ago. A Greenpeace which in reality no longer exists. Before being co-opted by corporate power, Greenpeace consisted of grassroots activists who were not interested in discussing compromise. One such founder, Bob Hunter, wore a ‘fuck off’ sign around his neck in a public meetings. These real-life eco-warriors had no fear of ripping to shreds those who were destroying our planet.
A headline on an image posted on 10 January 2011 reads, “Sixty Greenpeace activists dressed in skeleton suits protest in front of the World Economic Forum conference against Dow Chemical”. The banners reads, “Clean up Bhopal Now!” The images are moving. Yet, in the background something much different is going on … behind the scenes … for those who dance in the elitist circle … the champagne flows almost as fast as the money.
7 February 2011, Kumi Naidoo, executive director of Greenpeace International and chairof the Havas creation TckTckTck ‘speaks to power’ in Johannesburg, South Africa. Naidoo explains that at the World Economic Forum in Davos he had meetings with no fewer than 15 chief executives of major corporations, men whose decisions help shape (destroy) our environment and affect workers’ rights (exploitation) and ultimately what kind of world we pass on to our children and grandchildren (irreversible climate hell with collapsed ecosystems). Naidoo states that the first meeting was a breakfast briefing with Unilever. Naidoo states he was invited by the chief executive to speak of the curious relationship his company enjoys with Greenpeace.
Curious. Yes. It is most interesting that TckTckTck creator Havas serves the world’s most powerful clients such as Unilver and EDF (nuclear).
For an excellent briefing on why Greenpeace working with corporate power for a better world is bullshit slash greenwash, Richard Samans offers an astute analysis in “Running the World After the Crash,” in Jan 2011 Foreign Policy. “Two years ago the elites were scared to death by the global crash, their economic nostrums discredited. Thousands of citizens took to the streets. Governments fell. Others desperately promised a new era of financial re-regulation, world cooperation on the environment and food crises created by neoliberalism and exponential growth. Then they regained confidence. Banks were “too big to fail”. The taxpayer was told to pay the bill for the playboys of the Western world. Trillions of private debt were transferred to the taxpayer (socialism for the rich) – a bill that our children and their children will have to pay. A further consequence: there is “no money left”, we are told, to finance climate action, international aid, schools, healthcare, housing, job creation and infrastructure. The elites are laughing all the way to the bank. And the high priests of the system (at Davos Jan 2011) say the next whirl of the financial wheel will be based on carbon credits.”
First Prize for Most Predictable
“Reformers who are always compromising, have not yet grasped the idea that truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.” – Elizabeth Stanton
Rockefeller funded 350.org wins hands down for the predictable launch of their Businesses For 350 Campaign. How to get to 350? You won’t find the answer on this site … maybe just keep recycling or consuming. It appears Bill McKibben of 350.orgneglected to read our 10:10:10 critique from October 2010.
First Prize for Most Undetected Greenwash of 2010
TckTckTck – partner of 350.org, WWF, Greenpeace and hundreds of other NGOs – was created by Havas, one of the largest marketing and PR firms in the world. Havas clients include a torrent of the largest and most powerful corporations on the planet. Given that economic growth is the root cause of greenhouse gas emissions growth (they have been neck and neck for the last 50 years); and the raison d’etre of Havas is to ensure TckTckTck founding partner corporations including EDF (the largest nuclear corporation on the planet) increase profits through economic growth; TckTckTck was fatally compromised at its inception. In the 2010 ‘Public Eye’ campaign it states, “Organized since 2000, Public Eye reminds corporations with destructive business practices that actions have consequences, presenting ‘name and shame’ awards to the nastiest corporate players of the year and through these awards presents to the world the immoral nexus between corporate power and the political elite.” In 2010, following the Copenhagen disaster, Greenpeace Switzerland participated in naming the Public Eye Award to “the nastiest corporate player of the year”. The nominees included GDF Suez and Roche – TckTckTck founding partners. In summary, Greenpeace, partner of TckTckTck (Kumi Naidoo chairs both Greenpeace International and TckTckTck, also known as GCCA) is in partnership with these same corporations (GDF Suez and Roche). Such campaigns and organizations make a mockery of those suffering on the front lines of the climate emergency today. The layers of deceit are breathtaking.
As of today there remains a shortcut link on the Havas website to www.tcktcktck.orgto “join the fight for climate justice”. And business for Havas has never been better – new business remains strong. (€1.6 billion for the first nine months of the year, compared with €1.1 billion for the same period in 2009 (+42%)).
TckTckTck has removed their partner, the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, from visibility on the www.tcktcktck.org website after screenshots and information of this collaboration were released to their supporters and partners using their own listserv. The TckTckTck partners within the Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change group include Shell, Coca-Cola and RBC. RBC is the number one financier of the most destructive project on the planet – the tar sands. Over 1,000 corporate entities make up this TckTckTck partner group.
Eradicating Stupidity | Going Forward
“As for the bourgeois state, we are seeking to overcome it, to overthrow it.” Salvador Allende, 1970
Just as wearing sweaters will not make any meaningful dent in our climate crisis; just as turning Facebook green amounts to essentially nothing; just as ‘green’ shopping and more i-pods only serve to further destroy us; and just as the Nature Conservancy – Dow partnership will only serve to greenwash; consuming as a means of helping will not save whales or anything else. Every day, our current economic system continues brings us one day closer to cataclysmic, irreversible climate change and ecosystem collapse on a global scale.
And while we may not expect truth from the bloated NGOs, we should not accept it. Importantly, while we recognize the demise of ethics within the vast monopoly of NGOs who protect the very system that grips us securely in a stranglehold, we must also recognize that within these corporate structures are well-intentioned citizens and even activists who are just as frustrated by the censorship and symbolic ‘feel good’ campaigns that appeal to our society’s worst traits. Such traits such as individualism, greed, apathy and narcissism are integral for a profoundly weak and divided society. Therefore, such traits are kept fed and nourished by the corporate powers who are, in turn, completely dependent upon society’s successful indoctrination and feelings of powerlessness. Fortunately, for the ethical, yet repressed, campaigners on the inside, in 2011 we now have Enviroleaks – enabling those within the system to leak imperative documents, without fear of repercussion.
What else is new in 2011? To date, there are no mainstream NGOs who are willing to campaign on militarism and its massive contribution to climate change. One would think that this would be a sure ‘win’ upon which the NGOs should love to attach themselves. Really, how many people do you know that would oppose a campaign to end occupations and war? Known to most citizens, militarism in the US represents such a massive chunk of the budget, there is little money for anything else. Healthcare and education remain mere irritants of the lowest priority. Although this reckless budget will no doubt contribute to bankrupting the US sooner rather than later – only to line bank vaults of the corporations and the controlling plutocracy – the big greens are silent on the issue. It appears that millions of lives lost count for little.
And like we must stop the soothing yet false illusion that governments will someday do what they are supposed to do – represent their constituents and act in their best interests – we must also stop the false illusion that NGOs will confront the system and inspire a desperately needed uprising of the people who reject all false solutions while also demanding nothing less a new system which functions to serve only the essential needs of the people while protecting all life and our planet.
To date, the big greens refuse to tell supporters what the most critical aspects of climate change are, in spite of the insistent urging from climate justice activists. These are the imperatives every citizen has the right to know … and are not being told.
1) In order to stabilize the planet, the world must achieve zero carbon emissions. Zero is the only number that matters and it must be achieved in a matter of years, not decades. We are in a planetary emergency at less than 1ºC rise.
2) The current economic system is the root cause of climate change.
3) A mass mobilization on a global scale is needed to convert to a clean, perpetual zero carbon economy which rejects all false solutions including green capitalism.
The destructive campaigns of the big greens highlighted within this article are just a drop in the bucket of symbolic brand-building nonsense. Therefore the easiest direct action of 2011 is this: hit unsubscribe. The industrial non-profit complex claims to represent and speak for you in economic forums and government institutions around the world. They don’t. And if they have no members of civil society, they immediately lose their power to speak for us. If they no longer speak for us, they can no longer use civil society as a tool allowing the expansion of the corporate agenda.
The pursuit of profit verses our responsibility to protect nature brings us to a tragic reality that is difficult to accept. Decades of doing nothing means it is now too late to stop climate change. Yet, perhaps it is not too late (we hope) to avert the magnitude of long-term impacts by cutting emissions to zero at break-neck speed. If we miss this closing window of opportunity, feedbacks take over, at which point cataclysmic climate change becomes irreversible. Nature takes over, and our planet becomes a living hell.
Message to the Youth: do-or-die
“But we won’t spend a buck a dime a single cent to preclude disaster for our children. As a mother and a grandmother this is the line that grips my heart. I see this as ageism gone viral. We don’t really care about our kids just our credit rating and OUR pensions. I guess Queen Victoria was totally effective when she said, “Children should be seen and not heard. Our so called economic system doesn’t hear the children at all. I guess soon we won’t have to see them either. Good for us adults, our campaign is a BIG success.” – FB comment
Why does society expect the next generation to clean up this mess of unparalleled magnitude – especially considering instead of being given essential tools for life skills, they were given remotes, posters of corporate prostitots, and truckloads of made-for-landfill plastic stuff bursting with toxins, chemicals and everything else that makes one ashamed to be human. This apocalyptic nightmare should never have been left to a generation of youth who have been raised and indoctrinated by corporate America – yet here we are – and the wrath of insatiable greed is about to grab our youth by the throat.
While we listen to Maude Barlow and other wise owls who tell us the next generation is the one that will change everything, we must recognize that today’s youth have become a reflection of our morally bankrupt society – beautiful children who have succumbed to become, most comfortably numb. Millions have come close to over-dosing on social media such as Facebook and texting. Ironically, social media is a wet dream for the globe’s largest marketing public relations firms who represent the world’s most powerful corporations. Marketing executives and corporate super-powers are salivating over what they envision as the greatest opportunity to exploit the planet’s youth. The corporate powers are masters in the art of acclimatizing civil society into believing that we have no control. They methodically hypnotize us to believe resistance is hopeless and therefore should be given up. This very system that enslaves us can continue its existence only if we accept that resistance is futile. Not unlike pedophiles who prey upon children, the plutocracy preys upon and is dependent upon a society easily lured with candy.
Things can change. 2011 marks a paradigm shift. The Egyptians have taught the world how to use the very social media tools corporate gods had hoped would serve to manipulate, control and distract us – and use these tools, instead, as weapons of mass-resistance. We now have WikiLeaks and Anonymous, bound to inspire creativity, coupled with revolt, in ways not yet imagined. The Egyptians have also taught the world what a revolution requires – nothing less than the courage and conviction of hundreds of thousands and even millions of bodies in the streets that refuse to leave until victory is achieved.
Today’s youth have, not only a right, but a moral obligation, to rebel and destroy the current power structures that exist. This is necessary in order to salvage what is left of a raped and pillaged planet on the brink of ecological collapse. Martin Luther King once said that “you cannot commit an act of violence against a non-sentient object.” Today, police states and corporate controlled governments protect property, corporate interests, and industrialized economic growth over life itself. Drastic times require drastic measures; thus, our youth have the right to destroy the suicidal structures now threatening humanity. Echoing the words of Malcolm X, they must defend that right “by any means necessary”. And we must support them as they seize this right, for we have failed them.
“Liberties are not given, they are taken.” – Aldous Huxley
Go forward in self defence. No longer can we passively witness the rape, abuse and desecration of our Earth Mother. No longer can we passively witness the exploitation, violence and oppression subjected on our brothers and sisters. In our fight for survival and for all life, love is the guiding principle, illuminating the centre of our struggle. We will not negotiate life. We reject all compromise. We will practise non-violence in the spirit of the Buddhist concept of aggressive non-violence understanding that one cannot commit an act of violence against a non-sentient object. Although we will exercise compassionate wrath, we recognize we have the right to defend ourselves and our Earth Mother. We intend to do so. Self-defence is not a crime. We will attack the economic system – as this is the only language it understands. We will collectively fight to reclaim our dignity and power. The burning flame at the heart of our fight for life will not be smothered, rehabilitated, co-opted, or psychologically marginalized. There will be no dilution of our fervour, no lowering of the flames, or any muting of our essential collective voice. And if our fire destroys, it is for the sake or protection and healing and bringing us together as one. Our love will burn brilliantly. The time is now.
“Individually we may see ourselves as free, yet as a collective, we are slaves. The point where we free ourselves from our own animal is that moment when we become enlightened, where we see ourselves not as a person at a single point in time, but as a continuity in blood and in thought, spanning generations and time.” Harold One Feather
It is past time to start enacting civil disobedience on a massive scale. Knowledge is the weapon and it is time to arm the masses. Fuel distribution centres, pipelines, the industrial-military-complex, banks, the stock exchange: all must be targeted. Go forward. Don’t look back. Be courageous. Be strong. The truth is on our side. Our parents could not find the courage, which means we must. The Earth, and all life on this planet, pumps through our veins. To feel it, go outside and lie under a tree. Look up at the sky. We are nature. Nature is us. Our time is running out.
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cory Morningstar is a climate justice activist whose recent writings can be found on Canadians for Action on Climate Change and The Art of Annihilation sitewhere you can read her bio. You can follow her on Twitter: @elleprovocateur