In Part 5 of our series, Cory Morningstar and Forrest Palmer delve into a collusion between celebrity worship culture and “big green” NGOs. How do beneficiaries of advocacy (such as tribal governments) accept money and favors from corporate energy power players while making celebrity sponsored investment projects and coal-free hedge fund managers, millions of dollars in profits and feel-good prestige? The savior-imperialist complex drives the passion for “sustainable energy investments” while NGOs evangelize non-violent direct action into a worldwide orthodoxy of allegiance. The action combined with a mission rooted in climate change and a “youth voice” is a perfect storm to study how mass movements of well-intentioned citizens can be successfully engineered to support the “new economy” with their consumer activism, monetary contributions and political advocacy.
CELEBRITY FETISH AS A TOOL OF EMPIRE
“Actor Leonardo DiCaprio (C) poses for a photo with May Boeve, executive director of 350.org (L) and Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. (R) following a Divest-Invest new conference on September 22, 2015 in New York City.” Getty Images
“Any account of celebrities must be predicated on the recognition that ‘the interests served are first of all those of capital.’” — Celebrity Culture, 2006 citing Graeme Turner
As Lebanese-Australian professor Ghassan Hage (Future Generation Professor of Anthropology and Social Theory at the University of Melbourne) demonstrates in his work, accumulation of capital underpins an ideology of race, in which multiculturalism works best when citizens yearn and strive to achieve Whiteness. NGOs (that comprise the NPIC) exploit this psychology to further protect existing power structures. Who better to target and utilize than Indigenous peoples, those deliberately impoverished and exploited by the state – to ultimately protect and expand capital. And to protect and expand the NPIC itself.
One example of this mechanism being utilized is via white celebrity manipulating Indigenous and non-Anglo worship and the acceptable forms of integration and assimilation of the Black bourgeoisie for exploitation. Gandhi replaces Sitting Bull, Leonardo DiCaprio replaces Evo Morales, 350.org replaces the Zapatistas, Akin to Black Skin White Masks – Black Lives Matter (the NGO) replaces the Black Panther Party (past) as well as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (present). Mark Ruffalo replaces Jose Mujica, Bill McKibben replaces Ken Saro-Wiwa, Van Jones replaces Omali Yeshitela, Angela Davis replaces Assata Shakur, Naomi Klein replaces Rosa Parks, Snoop Dog replaces Stokely Carmichael, a sanitized Martin Luther King replaces Malcolm X. Patrice Lumumba is replaced with Bernie Sanders. The Oka Warriors are replaced with Idle No More stripped bare of its teeth. And on and on it goes.
Omali Yeshitela: “The worldwide leader of the African Revolution who developed the theory of African Internationalism, built revolutionary organization all over the planet and whose analysis and summations have influenced a whole new generation of African resistance today.” [Source]
“I’ve been watching the benefit concert tonight, tribal representation from Standing Rock spoke up in support of the ‘men in blue’ and name dropped Barrack and Michelle as having the tribe’s back, of course drawing applause from the bourgeoisie liberals in the crowd every time. Disappointing to say the least.” — Jeff Cole in response to the Dave Mathews concert sponsored by Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s
To further demonstrate the intertwining of white celebrity and NGO formation, the aforementioned actor Mark Ruffalo is a long-time spokesperson for international NGOs (Purpose #WalktheWalk campaign, Global Green, etc.) and United Nations (Global Goals, etc.). He is founder of the NGO Water Defense as well as co-founder of The Solutions Project.
Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio promote their investment, The Solutions Project. Kelly Taub / BFA.com.
Mark Ruffalo and Leonardo DiCaprio at an event hosted by The Solutions Project. Kelly Taub / BFA.com.
WE ARE THE GODS NOW
“We are gods. Our tools make us gods.” — Promoter of The Solutions Project, “futurist” and filmmaker Jason Silva [Source: Forbes]
Mark Ruffalo, Leonardo DiCaprio, Elon Musk, Jeff Skoll, etc. etc. want to turn their millions into billions via The Solutions Project (solar industry). Everyone is on board. There has been no growth in the US for 5 years while whole global economy is close to stall speed. The Solutions Project campaign is largely based on continued social engineering to further ignore reality (framed as negative) and embrace fantasy (framed as positive) exploiting North American celebrity fetish. The website appears to be designed by Purpose – the for-profit sister org. of Avaaz.
The Solutions Project is co-founded with Marco Krapels (banker, Senior Vice President of Strategy & Global Markets at SolarCity, co-founder of Empowered By Light?), Mark Z. Jacobson (Stanford) and film-maker Josh Fox. Investors behind The Solutions Project include The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, The Elon Musk Foundation, The 11th Hour Project, The Sara and Ev Williams Foundation, Skoll Global Threats Fund, The Park Foundation, The Compton Foundation, Wallace Global Fund, The Better Tomorrow Fund, The Cogut Family, Leah Missbach Day, The Schmidt Family Foundation.
The Solutions Project graphic
Recently the One Solutions Project launched the Fighter Fund which will garner loyalty from community groups such as Native Renewables. For a mere pittance, One Solutions Project and partners will use native efforts to build brand credibility and adoration while simultaneously securing new customers: “The 100% Leadership Fund involves bigger investments and longer-term commitments to organizations across the country. But we need to be able to move money faster and more strategically to keep pace with what is going on with the climate justice movement. The Fighter Fund allows us to do that—and to make riskier frontline bets.” [Source] This is best described as white savior solidarity serving white imperialism.
PHILANTHROPY AS A TOOL OF EMPIRE: CLINTON GLOBAL INITIATIVE, ROCKEFELLER & THE BUSH FOUNDATION
On April 5, 2016 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe voted to accept $125,000 from ConEdison for the Oyate community development. [ MOTION: “…TO APPROVE TO ACCEPT THE DONATION OF $125,000.00 FROM CONSOLIDATED EDISON DEVELOPMENT, INC. FOR OYATE/COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT.][ “Consolidated Edison, Inc., commonly known as Con Edison or Con Ed, is one of the largest investor-owned energy companies in the United States, with approximately $13 billion in annual revenues as of 2016, and over $47 billion in assets.” Source]
“The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe received a big donation for privatized housing development. This is the first assistance of its kind for the tribe.” …. ConEdison Development will own the wind project for 30-40 years. They are looking forward to doing more.” — KFYRTV, April 16, 2016
On April 5, 2016 Standing Rock Sioux Tribe also voted to accept 250,000.00 from ConEdison for the tribe’s co-operation for the Campbell County Wind project completed in 2015. [MOTION: “…TO APPROVE THE DONATIONS FROM BOTH COMPANYS, CONEDISON DEVELOPMENT IN THE AMOUNT OF $125,000.00 AND FEGAN INC., IN THE AMOUNT OF $125,000.00”]. The 55-turbine wind project in South Dakota is said to power 25K homes. This begs the question – what fossil fuel or nuclear plants became decommissioned after this energy came on line. This answer is, as it will always be: none.
“Twentieth-century economic growth theory also sees technological change as the main cause of increased production and consumption. In contrast, some ecologically-oriented economists and practically all governments, green political parties and NGOs believe that efficiency gains lower consumption and negative environmental impact. Others doubt this ‘efficiency strategy’ towards sustainability, holding that efficiency gains ‘rebound’ or even ‘backfire’ in pursuing this goal, causing higher production and consumption. Because many environmental problems demand rapid and clear policy recommendations, this issue deserves high priority in ecological economics. If Jevons is right, efficiency policies are counter-productive, and business-as-usual efficiency gains must be compensated for with physical caps like quotas or rationing.” — Jevons’ paradox, Ecological Economics, July 1, 2005
Here the present angst of the NGOs regarding the seemingly newfound “concern” over particular Indigenous issues (anti-pipeline campaigns/protests to obscure Warren Buffett’s 21st century empire aside) can actually be traced to 2011: a $2 to $3 billion dollar wind project. The “Joint Wind Power Development Project on Tribal Lands“ was officially launched in 2013 by the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). The six Sioux Tribes (Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Sioux Tribe and Yankton Sioux Tribe) formed the Oceti Sakowin Power Authority which was developed in partnership with CGI, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the Bush Foundation, Northwest Area Foundation, Herron Consulting LLC and Arent Fox LLP. Here it should be noted that the CGI has been a key financier of 350.org (a Rockefeller incubated NGO) from its inception. Following a three million dollar commitment into *Energy Action Coalition the CGI financed Step It Up. Step It Up transitioned into 1Sky, which then merged with 350.org in 2011. [Video:1Sky at CGI] [*Energy Action Coalition was founded by Billy Parish. Parish is a co-founder/CEO of Mosaic Solar. Parish serves on the Board of Directors for The Solutions Project, 1Sky, as well serving on the U.S. Advisory Council for 350.org.]
“In 2013, six Sioux Tribes in South Dakota committed to the formation of the Oceti Sakowin Power Authority, a Multi-Tribal Power Authority, with the purpose of designating Tribally-owned land for a wind farm and transmission facilities. The Sioux Tribes, through the Oceti Sakowin Power Authority, committed to the creation of the Power Authority and the pre-development phase of a longer-term project to finance, develop and operate a 1,000 MW+ utility-scale wind power and transmission system across the South Dakota Sioux Reservations. The creation of the Power Authority will uniquely allow the Sioux Tribes to own the wind and transmission assets and distribute the surplus revenue to its member Tribes.”
Video: June 21, 2013, Clinton Global Initiative:
“… but these great plains reservations once thought valueless, are the Saudi Arabia of reliable wind energy…”— Clinton Global Initiative (referenced video)
This 1,000 megawatt commercial scale distributed wind farm and transmission system was funded by private grants investments and more than two billion dollars in public power bonds. Here it must be noted that the “new economy” being marketed by the NPIC on behalf on global hegemony is just as much about looting the treasury as it is about the coming financialization of nature via payments for ecosystem services. Consider that in the 1960’s Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) saw an opportunity to meet growing consumption demands in the Northwest vis nuclear power. “It planned a system of five nuclear power plants that would be financed by a public issue of bonds and repaid with sales from the plants. The bonds were issued, but the robust sales that WPPSS had intended never materialized.” Eventually, WPPSS defaulted on $2.25 billion worth of municipal bonds. [Source]
To again emphasize what was stated above, this is best described as white savior solidarity serving white imperialism. Such “progress” is always done at the behest of the same white power structure that has dictated terms of engagement for centuries. This is even more so considering “renewable energy” is anything but clean while the goal of “100% renewable for 100% promises further imperialism, further ecocide and further Indigenous genocide throughout the globe.
Above: Green Dream Farm in partnership with Unilever’s Ben & Jerry’s and Native Energy a carbon offset and project development company. The project is financed in part by Green Dream Farm owner Chris Wagner and in part by Ben & Jerry’s through an offset purchase from NativeEnergy. [Source]
NGOs want to “win” for branding purposes and to secure more millions. In the meantime, it’s all about social metrics. Certainly not about centuries of violence and oppression upon Indigenous peoples. Certainly not about the Indigenous peoples being used as lab rats in the Bakken.
PACIFISM AS PATHOLOGY
In the video by Fusion, actor Mark Ruffalo gives a lesson on how Standing Rock “protectors” must behave. Conditioning a warrior culture to be passive in the face of genocide should be considered a crime against Indigenous Peoples and nations everywhere. A white man (in this instance an American with Italian heritage) reframing the moral right to self-defense with “you are that system ” while basking in enormous privilege from the same structural system, reveals a most blatant paternalism. Paternalism redefined as truth – made possible by celebrity fetish.
“The most important thing is that we remain peaceful. That we don’t take up the same system of violence that’s being used against us. Because once you take up that violence you are that system and every social movement where’s been peaceful resistance when they not taken up violence they win. Every time the police hit you with a rubber bullet or mace you or beat you or put you in dog cages and treat you like an animal they lose. Every time the National Guard comes and stands as an extension of the fossil fuel industry and does not fight for the people they lose. They lose when you remain peaceful. And it’s hard. It’s really, really hard. But that’s how you win.” — Actor Mark Ruffalo
The most important thing is that we defend our lands by any means necessary. That we don’t submit to the system of violence that’s being used against us.
“Because once you take up that violence you are that system and every social movement where’s been peaceful resistance when they not taken up violence they win.” We have a right to defend ourselves. Doing so, by any means necessary is not an act of violence, it is an act of self defense.
“… every social movement where’s been peaceful resistance when they not taken up violence they win.” Where are these social movements that have won solely on peaceful resistance? They do not exist.
“Every time the police hit you with a rubber bullet or mace you or beat you or put you in dog cages and treat you like an animal they lose.” Let’s tell that to the millions incarcerated by the American prison industry. That they have in fact won. Let’s inform all those who have suffered under police brutality that they can relax knowing they have in fact won.
“Every time the National Guard comes and stands as an extension of the fossil fuel industry and does not fight for the people they lose.” Let’s tell that to the millions murdered by the US military that stands as an extension of the fossil fuel industry and does not fight for the people (unless they are white), that it is the military that has lost.
We lose if we allow ourselves to reject a diverse set of tactics out of a false moral superiority. We lose if we allow our oppressor and accomplices to dictate the rules of engagement. And it’s hard. It’s really, really hard. But that’s how you win.
“Celebrity-driven campaigns can also be seen to work to responsibilize consumers and audiences as agents of change, through their targeting of audiences, publics, and private individuals; this often elides or willfully ignores, the offending structures, corporations, and/or other actors involved …” — Commodity Activism: Cultural Resistance in Neoliberal Times, 2013
“Actor-activist Mark Ruffalo, left, poses with Dallas Goldtooth, of the Indigenous Environmental Network, outside the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D., Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. Ruffalo traveled to North Dakota to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in its opposition to the Dakota Access oil pipeline. Ruffalo is co-founder of The Solutions Project, which promotes clean and renewable energy.” [Source]
The pacification of civil society and Indigenous resistance is ongoing, intensifying and glaring. It is a taboo subject framed as such by those who protect the current power structures, thereby ensuring the rules of engagement are dictated by the captors. Captivity of mind and thought can be far more powerful than physical captivity. This cannot be understated. When one observes the identical rhetoric coming from the oppressors and the oppressed, it is past time for self reflection and deep critical analysis.
Above: UpToUs: Not to be left on the sidelines, celebrity Shailene Woodley has also started her own NGO called “Up to Us” where you can “give thanks” to Standing Rock by purchasing a t-shirt. [“One of the main principles of the Council of Seven Fires/ Oceti Sakowin is non-commercialism. That they actually hammered these principles out upon the historic gathering of tribes, I thought sent a signal that they would be more resolute and not so easily co-opted. They even alerted everyone that none of the many T-shirts that started popping up in September had been sanctioned, and should not be sold in their name.”]
And while we are inundated with NVDA that serves to protect that corporate state, we bear witness to the full militarization of energy on American soil. A military industrial complex that has come back home to its birthplace in the global race for what’s left. [“TigerSwan Security is in charge of the DAPL Intelligence and overall supervisor of the other security companies’… TigerSwan has offices in Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, India, and Latin America.” —Security Firm Running Dakota Access Pipeline Intelligence Has Ties to U.S. Military, Oct 31, 2016]
 Ghassan Hage, expanding on Pierre Bourdieu’s theory, theorized on the notion that multiculturalism is a “field of accumulating whiteness,” adding that multicultural cohesion exists primarily when Black and Black bodies gain cultural and symbolic capital – by accumulating Whiteness. [White Nation: Fantasies of White Supremacy in a Multicultural Society] Hage aligns a desire for cultural capital with a yearning to accumulate Whiteness, which he ardently differentiates from being White: “‘Whiteness’ is an everchanging, composite cultural historical construct. It has its roots in the history of European colonisation which universalised a cultural form of White identity as a position of cultural power at the same time as the colonised were in the process of being racialised…. As such, no one can be fully White, but people yearn to be so. It is in this sense that Whiteness is itself a fantasy position and a field of accumulating Whiteness.”
Next: Part 6 – the final segment of the series.