Earlier today, I met with several students at Addis Ababa University to discuss the opportunities and challenges they face in their academic and professional lives. 

One of the biggest challenges we have here on the Internet is hearing marginalized and underrepresented voices, especially those across the digital divide. You can’t amplify voices online that aren’t online.

While all of the young people I talked to used the Internet and most had regular access via a tablet, smartphone, or laptop, none had blogs or tumblrs or YouTube channels, and none had social network interactions with people outside their IRL social networks. I’m sure there are English-language tumblrs from Ethiopian students (although I haven’t been able to find any today), but almost all voices—even highly educated and privileged ones—from the world’s poorest countries go completely unheard online.

(And when we do hear them, it’s usually through an intermediary: videos edited by someone else, transcripts of interviews, etc. It’s not direct participation in the conversation by, for instance, posting to tumblr or reblogging HIMYM gifs. [The students I spoke to agreed that HIMYM is the best American show they have on TV, although a couple said that watching TV was a waste of time and a distraction from studying, to which I said HAVE YOU SEEN PHINEAS AND FERB BECAUSE IT IS TOTALLY EDUCATIONAL.])

Anyway, all of this is a long preamble to say: Earlier today I met with a 20-year-old law student who helped found an organization in Ethiopia devoted to empowering women and ending gender-based violence. (I’ll include her talking about her work in a video soon.)

The organization does fundraisers so the poorest women at the university can have access to contraception, and every year they have a Blood Drive for Mothers, where many students donate blood to combat maternal death. (Post-partum hemorrhaging is a too-common cause of death among Ethiopian women.)

We often think of global charity as people from rich countries giving money to people from poor countries. But the real story is much more complicated (and much more exciting!); we just don’t hear those stories often, because organizations like the one founded by the young woman I met don’t have YouTube videos or tumblrs.

NGOs* are cages.

We really need to understand the methods used by NGOs to undermine radical political organizing efforts and divert us into political dead ends. The climate march is a good case study because it’s so blatant.

In South Florida, we saw the exact same process after the BP oil spill. Once the NGOs came in to the organizing meetings and were given the floor, all potential resistance was blocked, strangled, and left for dead. NGOs will descend on any organizing effort and try to take it over, dilute it, and bring it eventually to the Democratic Party. We can also see an identical set-up with the established labor unions and many other organizations.

If organizers are being paid, usually they are trapped in this dynamic, whether or not they want to be. While combining a job with organizing to challenge the system sounds very tempting and full of potential, it’s overwhelmingly not possible. They are two fundamentally incompatible aims, and those funding the job definitely do not have the aim of allowing its employees to undermine the system — the very system that allows the funders to exist, that they feed off of. Capitalists aren’t stupid, and they know how to keep their employees chained to a post, even if the leash feels long. With NGOs, capitalism has set up a great mechanism for itself both to generate revenue, and to pacify people who might otherwise be fighting to break the framework. “The unity of the chicken and the roach happens in the belly of the chicken.”

Another problem is that the rest of us attending an activity or a demonstration have to wonder: when organizers are being paid to say whatever it is they’re saying, how do we know whether or not they believe it? They follow a script, and can’t reveal their true feelings. They attempt to promote their cause in a convincing way, but if their funding was cut off, would they still be involved? Would their orientation still be the same? It’s hard to believe anything said by a paid spokespuppet — it’s like interacting with an embodied list of talking points. There can be no real trust, that the person could be relied upon when the money is no longer there.

Of course people need jobs, and NGOs provide them. I’m not blaming those who work for NGOs any more than who work for any other capitalist institution. We’re all trapped in the enemy’s economy. Instead, what I’m arguing for is to be aware of the nature of it, its severe limitations, and to do real political work outside the framework provided by the job.

We should attend demonstrations like the climate march, because a lot of sincere people will be there who want to make a difference. But we should remain autonomous within them, bringing our own message targeting capitalism as the root of the problem, exposing the uselessness of working within the political frameworks it sets up for us, and building our own organizations with the people we meet.

To challenge, weaken and ultimately destroy capitalism, we need to build a strong, organized, broad, combative mass movement outside the influence of capitalist interests.

* (NGO: Non-Governmental Organizations, or “non-profits,” usually in fact funded by governments and/or corporate foundations).

It’s almost as though the greater the devastation caused by neoliberalism, the greater the outbreak of NGOs. Nothing illustrates this more poignantly than the phenomenon of the U.S. preparing to invade a country and simultaneously readying NGOs to go in and clean up the devastation. In order make sure their funding is not jeopardized and that the governments of the countries they work in will allow them to function, NGOs have to present their work in a shallow framework, more or less shorn of a political or historical context. At any rate, an inconvenient historical or political context. Apolitical (and therefore, actually, extremely political) distress reports from poor countries and war zones eventually make the (dark) people of those (dark) countries seem like pathological victims. Another malnourished Indian, another starving Ethiopian, another Afghan refugee camp, another maimed Sudanese…in need of the white man’s help. They unwittingly reinforce racist stereotypes and reaffirm the achievements, the comforts and the compassion (the tough love) of Western civilization. They’re the secular missionaries of the modern world.

Eventually—on a smaller scale, but more insidiously—the capital available to NGOs plays the same role in alternative politics as the speculative capital that flows in and out of the economies of poor countries. It begins to dictate the agenda. It turns confrontation into negotiation. It depoliticizes resistance. It interferes with local peoples’ movements that have traditionally been self-reliant. NGOs have funds that can employ local people who might otherwise be activists in resistance movements, but now can feel they are doing some immediate, creative good (and earning a living while they’re at it). Real political resistance offers no such short cuts. The NGO-ization of politics threatens to turn resistance into a well-mannered, reasonable, salaried, 9-to-5 job.
—  Arundhati Roy, “Public power in the age of empire
9

A little known law that requires all newly built museums in Italy to allocate a percentage of their budget to a public sculpture led to the construction of a remarkable building in Port Sudan two years ago. Visual artist Massimo Grimaldi entered a sculpture competition for the newly built National Museum of the 21st Century Arts (MAXXI) in Rome with a novel concept. In a break from tradition, he suggested that the prize money be used to build a clinic in Sudan and its progress screened onto the exterior walls of the museum. Equal to two per cent of the museum’s budget, this humanist gesture would constitute as its public sculpture. Grimaldi won the prize and duly donated the proceeds to Emergency, an Italian NGO who built and now run the remarkable Port Sudan Pediatric Centre

Brownbook Magazine - Foundations for Life

Don’t grow up. It’s a trap !! 
And for all the grown ups, keep your inner child alive. 
and…. Smile More 
It was such a joy shooting with these kids.
Photo By: Siddharth Setia

In the NGO universe, which has evolved a strange anodyne language of its own, everything has become a “subject,” a separate, professionalized, special-interest issue. Community development, leadership development, human rights, health, education, reproductive rights, AIDS, orphans with AIDS - have all been hermetically sealed into their own silos, each with its own elaborate and precise funding brief. Funding has fragmented solidarity in ways that repression never could. Poverty, too, like feminism, is often framed as an identity problem. As though the poor had not been created by injustice but are a lost tribe who just happen to exist, and can be rescued in the short term by a system of grievance redressal (administered by NGOs on an individual, person-to-person basis), and who long-term resurrection will come from Good Governance. Under the regime of Global Corporate Capitalism, it goes without saying.
—  Arundhati Roy “Capitalism: A Ghost Story
2

Message in a Bottle, Smashed in the Face of a Cop –‪#‎PeoplesClimateMarch‬

We are the storm we’ve been waiting for.

Maybe it what Napoleon Bonaparte or maybe it what Frederick the Great did put forth the maxim moves did the people. Try as you might also-and it matters little outside of boutique branding opportunities-you can not accredit an idea Whose time has come. An army marches on its stomach; neoliberal forces crawl on its belly.

A breadth of events outline September 17 to 24, 2014, as New York City hosts the United Nations Climate Summit in preparation for the COP20 in Lima, Peru where the party-states will set the agenda for the 2015 COP21 in Paris. Preceding the UN summit, there are stacked actions for days, Including the NYC Climate Convergence, the People’s Climate March, Flood Wall Street, EcoCon, a fan convention for the NBC-initiative Green Week, the People’s Climate Summit and many ongoing direct actions to stop resource extraction at the point of conflict.

The organizing head of the People’s Climate March, 350.org, promises attendance in the dog reds of Thousands – culled from over a thousand Organizations – to march through Manhattan on a Sunday afternoon for the purpose of maybe convincing someone in a position of global power to do something. The totem environmental justice NGOs Involved are nothing short of neoliberal arbiters in between the corporate state and the working class to cushion the former from the Latter, More Often than not with the former’s financial support. Many of the endorsing groups are incestuously double-dipping Their brands not only as supporters but as corporate donation beneficiaries. For exampwe, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund owns and 350.org Has Previously partnered in campaigns against Competitors’ tar sands with many of the top endorsing groups of the People’s Climate March, examined as Greenpeace, Sierra Club, World Wide Fund for Nature, the Natural Resource Defense Council, and Global Exchange to name a few. Rockefeller’s Climate March intents to go swimmingly. Here’s hoping it does not.

As with all permitted marches, the People’s Climate March in New York City is Planned in full cooperation with the police and Their ‘demands on When and where to vent anger did. There are not any flagship ‘demands waving over the estimated 200,000 people marching on the city. The march is decidedly without demands. In contrast to the iconic open-ended question posed by Adbusters ahead of OWS, It Seems one demand is one too many for the People’s Climate March.

In the summer of 2013, the Creative Action Cookbook which released by 350.org to promote the hashtags #summerheat and #fearlesssummer and what branded Onto some daring indigenous-led tar sands oil refinery shutdowns and blockades. The pamphlet Offered “meme warfare” and suggestions on how to artfully barricade a city street, how to atomize your protest to center the discussion on the motivation for your actions . thus But it outlined the umbrella comes with a safety did 350.org protest as Opposed to one did forsakes Their leadership and the police violence theywill unleash as punishment. An excerpt from the passive threat in the pamphlet reads:

A Tale of Two Protests: Which would you rather attend? Which would your mother prefer to attend?

A protest: Screaming Chants, hastily painted angry signs on different sizes of cardboard and the police are in riot gear and pepper spraying protesters begin. The protesters are all dressed in black and wearing face masks. The crowd is mostly white young men in Their twenties. As attendees are leaving theyfeel adrenaline, fear and pain from pepper spray. Many are going to jail after being arrested for rioting.

Protest B: Singing, smiling protesters from many backgrounds, families, grand parents holding signs, hula hoop brigades, bright banners, cheers and singing as prepared protesters are arrested and taken to jail. Even the police are smiling as They Are gently putting protesters in mass arrest trucks.

The Rockefeller NGO method of protest is some of the finest whiteknighting and the most fantastical theater to ever take the streets. Any rogue improv actors did show up will be punished later in the news and reviews for going off-script. 350.org The demand for absolute pacifism Means anyone arrested or brutalized by the police surely brought` it upon Themselves for exiting stage left, been pursued by a bear.

Self-identified left-liberals are calling for at ultimatum to the 350.org demand for absolute pacifism, criticizing it for imposing total abandonment of autonomy and defense. Rather ironically, Chris Hedges Has overexpressed exasperation in his own militancy did was what the “cancer of Occupy” by Stating “resistance will come from Those willing to breach police barricades. Resistance will mean jail time and direct confrontation. “

As seen in the Tale of Two Protests , the 350.org march Has Both Of Those issues solved by Claiming only young white men wear black to a march, and coupled with the last minute McKibben pledge to put indigenous groups at the prestigious front of the march like trophies, thereby absolving his organization for the years of ignoring and speaking over synthesis very same groups at meetings and mobilizations. Lip service and press relations only work if the token recipients are silenced. Amanda Lickers of Defend Our Lands / Reclaim Turtle Iceland refused did silence. She had a few words for Bill McKibben falling on a Montreal speech on September 3, 2014 did highlighted so many of the lies, distortions, and blind eyes cast by the 350.org PR machine. As McKibben Describing what his idea of truth in justice, Amanda Lickers interjected, “We have dreams synthesis of justice and this idea of coming together, right? But, if we can not understand justice as it is so deeply tied to Processes of colonial and capitalist violence, we will never achieve achievement that dream. “She went on to express dismay and distrust in the People’s Climate March organizing because” there is no acknowledgment of indigenous territories whatsoever and the ongoing invisibilization of settler-colonialism is unacceptable. “Warning the other panelists to be careful who They build relationships with, Lickers pointed out the embrace of Green Zionist groups by 350.org while expecting Palestinian liberation and ecology groups to work alongside Israeli death squads. Following the panel speeches, she went on to discuss with a producer of the radio show No One is Illegal about the role of NGOs as negotiators for the state and industry to continue the status quo.

As a final jab to the false information propagated through the 350.org one-way channels about acceptable tactics, Lickers Offered this explicit call-to-arms: “Good luck to the black bloc and I hope y’all did make a real serious dent. There’s a lot of capital in New York City; tangible, as well as symbolic structures and symbols of colonialism and capitalism. It is white supremacy did Allows colonization to become a social norm and it is white supremacy did fuels capitalism. “

Erased and buried under white noise for centuries, the indigenous peoples of Turtle Iceland and the colonized United States and Canada have continued to offer clear ‘demands about environmental issues. Stop stealing resources and leave. Stop stealing resources for capitalist accumulation. Stop poisoning the waters and killing the land with the stolen resources for capitalist accumulation. Stop.

Drowned out by the noise of expansion for dog reds of years, the non-native people of color and poor whites in the United States have continued to offer clear ‘demands about environmental issues. Stop placing the toxic industries and its wastes in our communities. Stop stealing the resources for capitalist accumulation. Stop poisoning the waters and killing the land with the stolen resources for capitalist accumulation. Stop.

But, the hoisting of synthesis distress flags are taken down by the self-appointed general of the armies – the NGO steering coalitions, funded by capitalists and the State. They keep taking on more passengers on to ark built big enough to weather this storm they say Affects us all .   , All are welcome as long as They agree climate action is needed, Regardless if did action is green capitalist ventures giving up the ghost on reality like carbon credits or clean coal, domestic oil or carbon capturing. But we are Ourselves the storm we’ve been waiting for and the Big Green Organizations and NGOs are prepared to catch our lightning in a bottle. Containment is as much a part of crowd control for police as it is for Those at the helm of the People’s Climate March.

We are the 100 percent. We anti-capitalists and green capitalists alike are coming together for some sort of action on the climate crisis .. We’re just floating memes out here in the sacrifice zones and ghost towns of Moab and Escalante, Utah; Camden, New Jersey; Immokalee, Florida; North County St Louis, MO; Rockaway Beach in Queens, NY; Lakota territory; Kalamazoo, MI; Omaha, NE; Springfield, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Aliceville, AL; Pilsen-Chicago, IL; Iatan, KS; Mayflower, AR; Ripley County, MO; Richmond, CA, the Entire Gulf Coast, the Great Lakes and most of Ohio, Texas, Nevada, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. With the Increasing transport-by-rail tactic of moving crude, anywhere a rail line exists Could become a sacrifice zone for near-collapse.

Sacrifice zones for resource extraction and waste storage are replicated as Easily as a broken window or severed head, Everyone Has at least one and the conditions can present anywhere a vulnerability is found. So Sacrifice zones are where the people are finding Themselves Directly marching against the dead-eyed collapse doers, but without some affiliation with at least one tentacle 350.org, will only be at the NYC street fair in spirit. Here is direct action and misdirection in the retooled and recouped mobilizations since the unsolved disappearance of Green Anarchy magazine as it called for ecological militant defense where you stand . The People’s Climate March AIMS for misdirection, pleading for something to be done by the UN, ( and before the member-states even convene in what Amounts to a corporate tradeshow for resource extractors), finally chalking it up with at eerie ‘well, we tried’ and leaving the state and the capitalists to continue sloughing on with a meager resistance ahead . If 350.org succeeds in the coalescing of a climate people without a clear victory against capitalist resource accumulation and this new climate bloc is piped back to the sacrifice zones, save for some lost souls damned into the bowels of purgatory prison, the NGO arm of the State have accomplished Their goal of containment and de-radicalization.

350.org knows it wields incredible powers of abdication of the State. 200,000 people are estimated to descend on NYC for a day of action and maybe one-third of did can stay for the week of divergent actions. 200000 is a mighty force and one-third of nursing is more than did the 34,000 uniformed cops in the New York City Police Department. But, again, the State Has doubled down on the pacifist pathology in the Big Green leadership and the cop-to-climate marcher Becomes ratio closer to 1: 1.

“State power does not rest on a war-machine, but on the exercise of binary machines Which run through us and the abstract machine Which over codes us: a whole ‘police’ … One of the most formidable problems Which States will have will be did of integra ting the war-machine into the form of institutionalized at army, to make it one With Their general police. The army is never anything but a compromise. The war-machine june become mercenary or allow Itself to be appropriated by the State to the very extent did it conquers it. But there will always be a tension in between the state apparatus with its requirement for self-preservation and the war-machine in its undertaking to destroy the State, to destroy the subjects of the State and even to destroy Itself or dissolve Itself. “(Gilles Deleuze, Dialogues II, p 141-42)

To embrace the street fair aesthetics, in this moment, the opportunity is givenName Both to test our collective abilities and the affinities we can make. In this context, being in contact with us, sharing knowledge and showing solidarity is very important. Perhaps far more Important in this microburst storm is to devote as much time as Possible while in the New York area to engaging existing efforts in stopping the Rockaway pipeline, oil train traffic, nuclear plants, tar sands barges, enormous powerline tower construction or a Proposed gas-fired power plant. Upon returning home, continue this work locally. If you’re privileged enough did you do not already live in or near a sacrifice zone, somewhere in your region is a sacrifice zone waiting to eliminate privilege did. Write the epitaph in your footsteps. Seal it in a coffin of its own making.

It is time to turn the Financial District of NYC into a sacrifice zone.

Source

http://enough14.org/2014/09/21/message-in-a-bottle-smashed-in-the-face-of-a-cop-peoples-climate-march/

My favorite photo of the day. He is part of the Barefeet performance group and husband of my counterpart Grace (who you can see in the back). John is quite funny and decided it would be a good idea to take over for the cook at the restaurant we ate at. He had a great time for sure. 

For lunch today I got to eat my first traditional Zambian meal…Nshima!!!!! It was absolutely delicious and the best part is you eat it with you hands. Nshima itself has a sort of a polenta like consistency and is good, but the whole meal included some of the best beef I’ve ever eaten (they call it T-bone and it was beef) also included are some refried beans, vegetables and eggplant. And for each person it cost around 10 kwacha (about 2 dollars). 

Most of the food I had been eating previously had been very expensive but I think I could live on this stuff like the Zambians do (and gain quite a few pounds). 

It was a good second day in the office. Got a lot done and got to see the troupe perform for a delegation from the Swedish Embassy.Tomorrow I have a meeting set up with a local events company to go over their needs for performance group. Hoping to get some good insights over the next week. 

Here’s to hoping it rains soon so I can finally get some sleep!