Trivialising capitalism’s rape of nature

21 Apr

The Express today:

I’ll get back to that story but bear with me. It’ll take me the rest of this post to do so.


I don’t know Gail Bradbrook from Eve, and likely never will. Nor am I in XR, despite their having my sympathies, my gratitude even, for their courageous efforts to ensure that “our” trashing of planet earth is not rendered out of sight and out of mind.

I’m not held back from joining their ranks by the fact that some at least – I can’t say how many – fail to join the dots and link ecocide to a system for organising wealth creation which ensures that the pursuit of private profits will – it’s baked into the logic of capital accumulation – trump all other considerations.

See in this regard my post of three years ago, Ecocide: the Mullah Nasruddin speaks!

No socialist genuinely wanting to effect change – as opposed to being a sectarian seeking only to trumpet his superior sagacity – can sneer from the side-lines because a broadly progressive movement “isn’t pure enough”. It’s our job to enter those arenas and fight shoulder to shoulder on shared specific objectives: a minimum prerequisite for being listened to when we argue for making that very necessary link between ecocide, and wealth production for profit rather than human need …

… as opposed to doing as Germany’s Greens are doing, and leading the way in backing the war on Russia in Ukraine and thereby, among a plethora of other sins, supporting the goals of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter.

… as opposed to doing as George Monbiot does in writing well researched and closely argued environmental pieces which do make the links between ecocide and big money – but fail to go the extra mile and, for reasons set out in my 2017 post, Monbiot, Syria and Universalism, invite this indictment from his former Guardian colleague, Jonathan Cook:

Monbiot has repeatedly denied he wants a military attack on Syria. But if he weakly accepts whatever narratives are crafted by those who do – and refuses to subject them to meaningful scrutiny – he is decisively helping to promote such an attack. 1

No, I have no principled objection to joining XR or other direct activists, environmental included, whose causes I see as worthy. Yes, I do see direct action as incapable of securing change of the kind, scale and timeliness our circumstances demand. But how could that be cause for shunning its often heroic practitioners – and in so doing cutting myself off from those currents in which the wider arguments may be made?

My not joining XR or its more class conscious spin-off, Insulate Britainis driven by pragmatism. At 70 my energies are limited. I choose to focus them on this site, dedicated to promoting the truth that capitalism in its imperialist and hyperfinancialised form is a cancer whose Hydra-head secondaries – endless wars and looming Armageddon … 6th mass extinction event and untold misery this side of it … economic chaos, tyranny of various stripe and accelerated erosion of the rule of law – are not unrelated.

(When two or more phenomena co-exist there are only four categories of explanation. One is that A causes B, another that B causes A. A third is that A and B are caused by C, the fourth that any relationship is coincidental. Since no one in their right mind thinks ecocide, endless wars and the rest cause financial imperialism (though we can’t rule out frightening feedback loops) we are left with only two explanations – and I’m no coincidence theorist …)

What’s more, it’s become increasingly clear to me that whatever slender chance humanity has of changing course lies not with direct action, social democracy or revolutionary groupings. All have both merit and flaws but, again, none can secure change of the kind, scale and timeliness needed. For reasons set out repeatedly over the past two of this site’s eight years of existence, I see whatever hope we may realistically harbour, for our grandchildren and theirs, as lying with the global south in a multipolar world led by China rising.

It’s not a popular view. Not even in XR circles. Aren’t China and its most powerful ally, Russia, utterly compromised not only as capitalist but heavy carbon users to boot, and in one case a major exporter of hydrocarbons? Glad you asked but, if you’ll forgive my saying so, the question is drenched in a hopeless – I use the h-word literally – utopianism. My answer to it is fourfold:

  • The Western Left’s failure to ensure that industrial capitalism fulfilled its historic mission of delivering socialism, as opposed to imperialism and hyper financialisation, obliged China to adapt to and quietly gain strength from a neoliberal and dollarised world. I do not accept that in doing so it lost its moral and socialist compass, and note the failure of its ultraleft critics to offer a plausible account of what it should have done differently.
  • More specifically, China has retained control of its capitalists. They are subordinate to the state, while their Western counterparts own it. This holds out the possibility – I put it no more strongly given our dire straits – of its delivering on capitalism’s promise, seen most clearly by Marx but, as Michael Hudson has shown, also by Ricardo, Mill and other of the classical political economists, of socialising wealth creation. Moreover, its already very different model of using markets, not warfare and crippling debt, is being ‘exported’ by such as Belt & Road to a global south destituted by half a millennium of Western rule.
  • More specifically still, given the starting point of this post, China, having beaten the West at its own game, now leads the world on large scale green technologies. “Our” media have no interest in advertising this truth, but see my post on China’s carbon footprint and take heed of such antidotes – to brainwashed cynicism mistaken for scepticism – as this, from a 2019 account by the late Andre Vltchek:

Snow is falling on the wide sidewalks of the historic city of Xi’an, but people don’t seem to be troubled by the bitter cold.

One of the oldest cities in China, Xi’an is now vibrant, optimistic and stunningly beautiful. Sidewalks are paved with expensive stones and have more than enough space for pedestrians, electric bicycles, plants, trees and bus shelters.

Attempts by the Communist Party to turn China into an ‘Ecological Civilization’ are visible at every step: trees are revered and protected, 2 comfortable walking is encouraged, while heavy duty, efficient and super modern public transportation is extremely cheap and ecological: the metro, and electric buses. All scooters are also electric, and so are the tricycles that are intended to transport passengers between the metro stations.

Compared to most Asian cities, but even to those in the United States and Europe, Chinese metropolises, including Xi’an, look like sort of urban areas of the future. But they are not ‘impersonal’, nor atomized. They are built for the people, not against them …

  • Besides the many intrinsic reasons for refusing to go along with the propaganda blitz on Russia, which long predates the measures she was forced by the West to take in Ukraine, her fate is now linked inextricably with China’s.

All hail the power of narratives – spun by the most sophisticated, deeply and diversely funded, all-encompassing propaganda systems ever – to trump mere facts! Not only Express readers but eco-warriors, socialists, anarchists, media studies lecturers and Guardian Believers forget all they know, or ought to know, and behave as if the propagators could possibly be interested in telling us the truth about China or Russia.

Speaking of The Express …

Gail Bradbrook, it today tells us, drives a diesel car. As do I. (In a spirit more of parsimony than green concern, I do so in a way that delivers me 65 mpg.) If only we’d part with a few tens of thousands to buy an electric, 3 would we then be able to look the world in the eye? Is this what passes for thinking at The Express?

Scrub that. The Express, with its loathing of all who speak out for environmental sanity, is too easy a target. Isn’t it the case – see again those pearls of wisdom by the Mullah Nasruddin – that capitalism would love for us all to be racked by individuated guilt – “it’s all about me and my carbon footprint ” – even as it holds out the promise of redemption by buying more stuff but greener?

* * *

  1. I do not loathe George Monbiot, and am sometimes taken to task by readers for going too easy on him  But his way of having his cake and eating it, also at work in respect of Julian Assange, absolutely does need to be nailed. See in this regard my 2020 post on Julian, Guardian & Law of Volitionality.
  2. “… trees are revered and protected …” Ouch. In my local park 12 saplings were planted, at £100 a pop. All have been deliberately snapped in two, almost certainly by local kids. A friend and fellow dog walker rhetorically asks why. It’s not that I’ve no answers; just that they’re mostly labrinthyne and speculative. I’ve a short one though. Belief in the West’s superior values grows less tenable by the day.
  3. “If only we’d part with a few tens of thousands to buy an electric …”  I’m wide of the mark here. The days are long gone when “I’m a cash buyer”  brought bargaining clout. You’re lucky if that fake smile doesn’t disappear in an instant as you’re politely but firmly shown the salesroom door. Auto-traders today aren’t selling cars but finance.

16 Replies to “Trivialising capitalism’s rape of nature

  1. Seems to me that the older I get the more cynical I become.

    And in that context (and bear with me here), just as I find it difficult to identify any significant difference between any of the Western Political Party’s vying for nominally electoral based political power, I can’t see a great deal of difference in practical terms between the two portrayed antagonists in this piece from the Express.

    A number of quotes used on this site, along with the wider points those quotes make, spring to mind.

    Chris Hedges for one……

    Identity politics enable a boutique activism in lieu of addressing systemic injustices or the scourge of permanent war. The haves scold the have-nots for bad manners, racism and non-PC language but ignore the root causes of their economic distress and the suicidal despair gripping much of the West.

    …..and Chomsky

    The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum – even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.

    My point?

    A key part of the imperialist toolkit across much of the planet is NGO’s whose soft power is amplified by Western Corporate Media in pursuit of, among other things, imperial narrative control. Such organisations and the civil movements they manage don’t just operate their wares in far flung parts of the globe instigating ‘colour revolutions’ and the like. If the ‘spy cops’ issue taught us anything it was that the same modus operandi is practiced just as much among Western Civil Society in the imperial heartland’s ‘garden’ as it is across Borrell’s ‘Jungle’.

    And, from ‘moderate’ trade unionists (anyone remember Woodrow Wyatt?) to ‘moderate’ jihadists the most obvious tell of a controlled civil or other similar movement in the context of Chomsky’s observation above is how much they feature in terms of Corporate Media promotion and exposure.

    Conversely, taking the advice to join the dots, any civil movement or similar which is ignored or seriously attacked (rather then just criticised) by the Corporate media is clearly not part of The Official Narrative (TON).

    In that operational context I view XR, along with other suspects like Novara Media (who, along with Owen Jones aged 30 something and three quarters and his employer, spend a great deal of time pushing the Official gender narrative), the AWL and similar, to be little more than controlled opposition.

    And this is where the observation from Hedges applies. As Alistair Crooke noted in a recent piece at Strategic Culture,* the politics practiced here is one of “a matter of personal moral hygiene: It isn’t something you ‘do’; it is what you ‘are’. You think ‘right thoughts’ and utter ‘right speak’. Persuasion and compromise reflect moral weakness in this vision. Yes, it is cultural revolution.”

    Along with other narratives promoted in the Corporate Media and their controlled opposition “alternative’s’ observed by Chomsky – such as the Gender Narrative – this enables the political right and the imperialists to appear as the sane ones holding the civilisational line against the mob in a typical divide and rule approach.

    The Express story in which Gail Bradbrook was publicly criticised on the basis of the criteria she herself employ’s in her ’boutique activism’ is but a typical example of this process in action. Providing Chomsky’s ‘lively debate’ in the officially desired limited and controlled context.

    But don’t mind me. I’m just a cynical old bugger.

    • I view XR [as] … little more than controlled opposition.

      Many of its rank and file have made sacrifices far greater than I ever have.

      • An undisputed truth which is applicable generally as well as specifically.

        Its always the rank and file who, in many different ways get shafted first by the Corporate State seeking to control not just The Narrative but also to manage the organisational direction and processes. As examples such as Helen Morris/David Steel (The ‘Mclibal’ Two) and the many groups and movements involved in the ‘spycops’ saga. Not to mention political party’s, trade unions, worker/socialist organisations etc.

        Arguably one of the underrated cultural comparisons made by Micheal Hudson is the way in which the dominant culture in the West is a zero-sum win/lose one. In that context the often observed point about the failure of the Western left to achieve meaningful systemic change and progress has its counterpoint in the success of the Western Capitalist/Imperialist Establishment/Deep State/MIC/whatever in ensuring that failure by the kind of methods, among others, we see in such examples.

        For sure, the left will have its share of incompetence in producing such observed outcomes. However, it seems reasonable to surmise that this observed failure is not, in the main, the result of any incompetence of the left but more of active rather than passive intervention by the Capitalist Corporate State.

        Just as ‘colour revolutions’ in places like the Ukraine are not the spontaneous events portrayed across the Western media in which civic society has meaningful agency – as in effective control of events and narratives – the same manipulative play book operates domestically as the evidence of these kind of examples attest.

        Observing such wider contexts certainly does not take away the sacrifices various rank and file activists have made.

        • I agree that the courage of its participants is no guarantor of the worthiness of a movement’s goals or tactics. (In WW1 Hitler twice won the Iron Cross, the second time on the recommendation of his Jewish commanding officer.)

          It should earn our respect, though – however grudging.

          More specifically, the differences between Washington’s colour revolutions and groups like Insulate Britain, Just Stop Oil and XR – regardless of how we view the latter’s chances of success – far outweigh any similarities.

          Take the second and successful Ukraine colour rev, in Maidan Square 2014. We have clear evidence of CIA and US State Department involvement – not as infiltrators and agents provocateur but as instigators whose aim was the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich in Kiev. The motive was transparent: remove an impediment to Ukraine turning westward, hence to NATO encirclement of Russia; the latter’s restored national pride intolerable to Washington after the compliance of the Yeltsin years.

          I’m no expert on those green activisms, so must leave room for you knowing something I don’t. But while I’ve no doubt they will be infiltrated by state agencies including Special Branch and MI5 – possibly with a brief not only to spy but incite excesses and so discredit the cause – I’m not aware of any evidence of a motive other than keeping tabs on and drawing into disrepute a movement the state fears.

          Do you know of any such evidence? You can see the problem here, Dave. A few years ago I was having pieces in support of Julian Assange published on OffGuardian. Mostly the response was good but I do recall a noisy section below the line insisting – “my conspiracy theory goes further than yours, nah nah!” – that Julian is “controlled opposition”. Once we start going down that road, without evidence, there’s no knowing where it will take us. It appeals to precisely the kind of mindset I described in my post:

          No socialist genuinely wanting to effect change – as opposed to being a sectarian seeking only to trumpet his superior sagacity – can sneer from the side-lines because a broadly progressive movement “isn’t pure enough” … It’s our job to enter those arenas and fight shoulder to shoulder on shared specific objectives: a minimum prerequisite for being listened to when we argue for making that very necessary link between ecocide, and wealth production for profit rather than human need.

          I know you personally. You are not one of those armchair sneerers. Your own active past in the Labour movement proves that. And, again, I do leave room for the possibility of there being hard evidence of leaders in XR (a group oft criticised, mind, for lack of leadership) we can validly liken to the Banderite Nazis who, in cahoots with Nuland, McCain et al, ousted the incontestably corrupt Yanukovich to install the more corrupt but DC friendly Poroshenko.

          I want evidence though. I’m funny that way.

          • Fair comment.

            Some general ‘housekeeping; first:

            A useful starting place is to define some of the terms being used here and also explicitly identify where the focus of what’s been written lies.

            As you’d expect from an engineer the focus here is all about the process. How does something operate systemically? Not just the constituent parts in isolation but holistically.

            All organised activity occurs in a wider context. Take organisational structure as an example of the type of civic activism being discussed here.

            A question, say, along the lines of “are ‘leaders’ of civic organisation ‘A’ actively and knowingly complicit in activity akin to colour revolutions” etc assumes, for example, certain organisational structures and processes which may or may not be the case.

            Just to follow that immediate thread: Is XR, for example, an organisation, like an NGO, in the traditional sense or a movement? Similarly, are the various different activities – from industrial action to civil disobedience around various issues – which the spy cops case highlighted ALL organised in a traditional organisational hierarchy? With ‘leaders; and a formal management (paid or unpaid) cadre?

            Focusing specifically [and following the well known process based approach of the late Tony Benn; ‘who voted you into that position and how do we replace you’ etc] does XR actually have a leader or leaders in these implied terms?

            Or, to put it another way, and going with the present Zeitgeist of a similar process, who specifically would the average individual assigned at birth as a human being on the Clapham Omnibus think of as being the face of XR?

            And how (ie via what process) did they get to be that face in the popular culture across the West if not via the controlled Corporate Media? Because in these terms a key feature of the process is narrative and narrative control.

            And, in the wider context of the Gell-Mann effect, just as with Zelensky’s face appearing on the front of Time magazine – or his wife in Vogue – the question arises as to who is actually in control of the process when Greta’s face appears on the front of the same Corporate Media covers?

            The cartoon about China being “bad” makes the same contextual process point. And on the comparative matter of the ‘colour revolution’ in Ukraine the question arises as to just how many in the general population you would need to go through before you encountered someone who not only was aware that this was a CIA operation but is prepared to accept that was the case and that Russia is not the “bad guy”.

            Point being that the same narrative control process operates generically. You’d be hard pressed to find more than a smattering of people, for example, who do not blame their local Council rather than the Government for Council spending cuts and Council Tax rises. No matter how many times you explain it in Janet and John terms. Like Greta and XR, the local Labour run Councils are effectively in narrative control process terms a human shield whether they like it or know it or otherwise. In the case of the local Councils, for Government economic policy and the ideology it is based on – whatever colour rosette they are wearing.

            Ditto for the process link between boatloads of people coming from the Near East, North Africa and the Global South and the Forever Wars.

            Returning the process focus back to the general level for a moment, the evidence stacks up in favour of NGO’s (as well as, say, Trades Union’s* and the Labour Party) being organised more along traditional hierarchical lines compared to examples such as animal rights, The Greenham Common Women, The Mclibal two, and the Lawrence family which are/were more movement based in organisational structure terms.

            This being the case different methods, in terms of process, of influence and control at different levels are evident. In many of the cases involving ‘spycops’ the bottom up movements (as opposed to traditionally based hierarchical organisations like NGO’s) were infiltrated with the express purpose of influencing those movements to act in a way that could be presented, at a higher societal level, as a narrative portraying those movements as ‘extreme.’

            One example among many from the Mclibel case being the undercover policeman who wrote one of the early drafts of the leaflet which might be described as more militant or inflammatory. The spycops case provided its own cache of similar examples.

            Conversely, more traditional organisational structures such as those found in NGO’s can be more easily subsumed or replaced. A process which I and many others at local levels across the Country experienced first hand when attempting to access EU Regeneration funding in the late 90’s/early 2000’s.**

            The Scottish independence blogger Robin Mcalpine’s recent piece provides a relevant comment on this aspect and some of the ways in which the control process is applied to suit whatever particular organisational structure exists in any one case:


            “So what about the ‘big players’? What about the big third sector organisations which have at different times in Scotland’s history played a major role in changing society? Common Weal will soon be publishing a paper by our Care Reform Group’s Colin Turbett which details how the big care NGOs went from being campaigners to being service delivery consultants.

            And that is why the NGO sector isn’t a hopeful source of change – it benefits far, far too much from the status quo. Its incomes has soared in the last decade and that has come from being complicit in the governing agenda. In a very real sense they will not bite the hand that feeds them.”

            To put it succinctly, ‘it’s horses for courses’ in terms of what methodology is applied to the process of achieving and maintaining status quo control of civil and civic activity which undermines or threatens that control and its organisational structures, processes, and its narrative.

            In terms of an organisational structure which is grassroots movement based there is normally no necessity to co-opt or subsume the largely non existent leadership and management cadre in the same way as, say an NGO with a more traditional hierarchical structure. Though I have seen it happen at various levels. One example, among others at this local level, being the way a successful Third Sector local volunteer playgroup was subsumed into a formal more easily controlled structure by incorporating it as a non-profit charity with written processes and procedures to access funding and paid staff rather than volunteers. Those volunteers wanting to maintain the previous independent non-financial structure and processes were forced out. Just as we were with the regeneration funding via the same methodology.

            However, as Johnny, following the advice of Forster, observes below there is no necessity – as the previous quote used in this conversation from Chomsky implicitly recognises – for movements like XR or, for that matter the Gender lobby, to be in any kind of even indirect relationship with ‘The Man” to be part of the controlled debate which Chomsky’s well known quote identifies.

            The climate change issue is explicitly linked with energy policy and usage. And, just as the late Harold Pinter noted the way the USA has controlled the narrative to portray US and Western imperialism as the ‘good guy’, the Western Corporate model (in the terms Micheal Hudson uses) has opted to monetise the issue as another cash cow.

            In the seventies and eighties the alternative energy movement couldn’t get any traction at all in the face of the nuclear power lobby. Arguably mainly for geopolitical reasons given the link between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. Today most of the driving force for alternative energy sources in Zone A are the Corporate energy companies. Just as is the case with Big Pharma and the Gender clinics. The same corporate entities whose lobbyists have (unlike Hudson’s China example) Government’s in their back pocket.

            One of many problematic issues here for the average punter is one of practicality. As with every other aspect of Western policy from armed conflict to electoral politics and everything in-between nothing works properly because the only thing the crazy’s running the show are competent at is PR – narrative control.

            Take electric cars: Problematic because, (a) the mileage range between recharges is not what it says on the tin because that range is reduced when you turn on the lights/stereo/air-con etc. (b) beyond the financial reach of the vast majority of increasingly squeezed punters driving carbon fuelled vehicles given we now have less than seven years to save up for one before we have to switch from petrol/diesel and (c) less efficient in energy terms because the electricity has to be generated to charge them (using what fuel source/type exactly?) and the transmission losses from generating plant source to end user charging point are not insignificant. Meaning anything up to a third or so of the original energy conversion fuel is lost.

            Or the clean air zones: the costs to small local businesses like taxis, tradesmen, etc receiving no financial support for switching is either going to be passed on or more likely put many of them out of business.

            What’s that got to do with ‘the price of fish’ in this conversation?


            Simply because – just as the examples given of local councils being seen by most people as the culprit for what is actually Government economic policy; or Russia/China as the aggressor in Ukraine/Taiwan; or refugees for fleeing the devastation imposed upon them as the problem – you will be hard pressed to find that many people whose instinctive reaction is to identify the Corporate interests across the West pushing these particular monetised for themselves cash cow type of ‘solutions’ to the climate change problem as the responsible social agents.

            Or for that matter the Corporate Pharma interests in the ‘Gender Wars.”

            In this regard XR – regardless of any intent or otherwise on the part of activists – provides useful shield cover for The Official Narrative. When such issues, among others, as the switch to expensive and unaffordable for most people electric vehicles, or the cost burden on small local businesses of the (in my view) necessary (you try standing in a footway box whose base is three foot below pavement level jointing cables whilst breathing in the exhaust from 300+ vehicles and hour for seven hours a day) clean air zones are considered or come up the first thought of most people – aided and abetted by the same corporate media narratives vis a vis Chomsky’s point – is the climate activists rather than the Corporations/Corporate State.

            And that’s why Greta gets on the front cover of Time Magazine or whatever. In that regard XR are useful and controlled opposition. Shield cover within the process described by Chomsky of a controlled process of debate and perception management which is not confined to only the examples cited by Caitlin.

            * You can thank the first Wilson Government for that outcome. Following the recommendations of the Donovan Commission.

            ** The process was straightforward. A nominally ‘independent’ community group was set up via the local political party cadres – Labour and Lib-Dem. When those involved tried to do what it says on the tin parallel and controlled groups were set up by the local political Party structures. The original genuinely independent grassroots community organisations were vilified, bullied and denied funding and other official support for their projects and project proposals in favour of the faux community organisation and eventually folded.

            • Too much for me to respond point by point. Take the electric car issue: addressed on this site both specifically – here (as an engineer you may appreciate my intro on legacy as impediment to new technologies; others may skip it) – and generally in my Nasruddin post.

              My key point is that without evidence of XR being riddled top to bottom with untrustworthy elements – as opposed to (a) failing to join the dots as per my post and (b) being infiltrated to some degree by reaction – it should be supported where its actions earn it, and criticised – not from the sidelines but in a spirit of comradely dissent to give criticism a chance of being heard – where they do not. Those serious about capitalism’s trashing of nature are not sectarians. I don’t say everyone should be in XR, to steer it in a better direction. Since I’m not doing that myself, I can’t, though my non involvement is on practical not principled grounds. But it seems to me that too many who damn XR from the Left are doing fuck all themselves. So even if they have valid criticisms, as I do, why would XR activists take heed?

              Cynicism – a descriptor I do not apply to you, regardless of the opening remark in your first comment – is a perfect stance for arrogant cowards. One, they need take no risks nor lift a finger. Two, they get to feel superior to all who do.

              Take Koba (below). He throws out baseless accusations, then goes coy when asked to evidence them. (I checked him out. Mine isn’t the only site targeted for his hit and run sniping.) Do you suppose he’s actually doing anything to effect – or is even remotely interested in – change for the better? I should leave room for the possibility but instinct and experience tell me he’s a sneering do-nothing. Maybe even controlled opposition!

              See? There’s no end, once we allow evidence-free accusations, to the byzantine maze of suspicion, paranoia and common or garden clever-dickery thus opened up.

  2. ” I’m not aware of any evidence of a motive other than keeping tabs on and drawing into disrepute a movement the state fears.”
    One possible motive for creating XR could be to draw support away from those groups the state fears and another might be to direct support towards a capitalism friendly ‘solution’ which involves financialization nature in the manner carbon offset trading etc.
    Two key demands of XR are: “halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 but net zero here means carbon off-set trading
    Here’s a quote from the Stern Review of climate economics, as quoted in Tim Hayward’s
    “‘Capital markets, banks and other financial institutions will have a vital role in raising and allocating the trillions of dollars needed to finance investment in low-carbon technology and the companies producing the new technologies.’ (Stern 2006: 270)

    ‘The development of carbon trading markets also presents an important opportunity to the financial sector. Trading on global carbon markets is now worth over $10bn annually’. (Stern 2006: 270)

    By attaching a price to carbon, a whole new commodity is created over which the distribution of rights represents a new income stream. So it’s good for shareholder profits, but what about nature? How confident can we be when its protection relies on a new multi-billion dollar market involving the same people responsible for the global financial crisis?”

    The differences between Washington’s colour revolutions and groups like Insulate Britain, Stop Oil and XR far outweigh any similarities but the similarites are still there and in the absence of proof or disproof, which is most of the time, we have to consider what’s most likely. Bearing in mind that different circumstances in different countries would require existing methods to be adapted.
    XR seem to get an easy ride from courts, police and media so its reasonable to be suspicious. My suspicion is that they exist to promote the ‘financialization of nature’. Here’s an economist at a conference talking about how to do that ( so its definitely a thing )

    And here’s a longer piece making these arguments.

    • XR seem to get an easy ride from courts, police and media …

      Courts and cops? A search on “XR protestors jailed” suggests otherwise. Ditto if we extend the term to include Just Stop Oil and similar.

      Media? Some. Certainly not all, hence the Express story, widely circulated by other outlets and in similarly sardonic tones.

      … so it’s reasonable to be suspicious

      Perhaps, but suspicion is one thing, evidence another.

      I have great respect for Tim Hayward, who has proved his courage and whose work I have reviewed. But his arguments in the piece you cite are logical rather than empirical, so do not house the evidence I ask for before damning protestors whose understandings I may not share but whose courage I respect. The more so since, this site aside, I myself do nothing in the face of capitalism’s rape of nature.

      In any case my main point is that those of us who think we have a better grasp than XR, JSO etc should be making our case on their turf. (Unless, of course, we think every XR and JSO activist a paid up agent for state and capital – an argument I’ve not heard anyone make.) I’m not walking the talk here because I’m full on with this site but, again, that’s a practical argument not a principled one.

    • Johnny I emailed you and Dave this morning for permission to replicate these exchanges in a new post above the line. In your case my email bounced back with this:

      550 5.1.1 The email account that you tried to reach does not exist.

      Could you send a response to my proposition at


      • Nothing in the email box at this end this morning. However, I’ve no problem with whatever proposition is being put forward.

    • On the subject of the way in which the Western Feudal/Capitalist Corporate system has captured the Alternative Energy sector from civic activism – in much the same way as it incorporated ‘liberal’ media such as The Guardian among other former opponents – in order to seize control for the financialisation of yet another sector:

      A regime where the rapid financialization of nature is promoting a Great Expropriation of the global commons and the dispossession of humanity on a scale that exceeds all previous human history. And which is accelerating the destruction of planetary ecosystems and of the earth as a safe home for humanity. All in the name of saving nature by turning it into a market.

      and here:

      On October 28, 2021, political leaders in the Malaysian state of Sabah on the island of Borneo signed an agreement with the Singapore shell company Hoch Standard, without the knowledge of Indigenous communities, giving the company title to the management and marketing of “natural capital/ecosystem services” on two million hectares of a forest ecosystem for one hundred to two hundred years. Although the full nature of the agreement has not been disclosed, journalistic investigations and a lawsuit filed by Adrian Lasimbang, an Indigenous leader in Malaysian Borneo, have revealed that the Nature Conservation Agreement allowed Hoch Standard—a holding company with two officers and a paid-up capital provided by shareholders of a mere $1,000 U.S. dollars, but backed by undisclosed multibillion dollar private-equity investors—to acquire commercial rights to the natural capital in Sabah’s forest ecosystem. The revenue from the rights to ecosystem services, such as water provisioning, carbon sequestration, sustainable forestry, and biodiversity conservation, over the next century was estimated at some $80 billion, with 30 percent, or $24 billion, to go to Hoch Standard. It was stipulated that the Sabah government could not withdraw from the agreement, while Hoch Standard could sell its rights to the natural capital in the Sabah Forest to other investors without government consent…..

      … is impossible to exaggerate the extent of this natural-capital rush, now being promoted by global speculative finance, which since the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–10 has sought to acquire real assets in the physical environment to underpin continuing debt expansion.8 The transmutation of so-called natural capital into tradable exchange value over the last decade is seen as opening up almost unlimited opportunities for corporations and money managers. In 2012, the Corporate EcoForum, a group of twenty-four multinational corporations including Alcoa, Coca-Cola, Dell, Disney, Dow, Duke Energy, Nike, Unilever, and Weyerhaeuser, published The New Business Imperative: Valuing Natural Capital in conjunction with the Nature Conservancy, insisting that the then “estimated $72 trillion of ‘free’ goods and services” associated with global natural capital and ecosystem services be monetized for the purpose of more sustainable growth.” The report emphasized the enormous debt “leverage” opportunities represented by “emerging natural capital markets such as water-quality trading, wetland banking and threatened species banking, and natural carbon sequestration.” As a result, it was imperative to “put a price on nature’s value,” or, stated differently, “a monetary value on what nature does for…businesses.” The future of the capitalist economy lay in ensuring that the market pay “for once-free ecosystem services,” which could thereby generate new economic value for those corporations able to convert titles to natural capital into financial assets.

      From the perspective of the original aims and objectives of civic activists in this area – both domestic (Western) and across the Global South – whilst it is certainly the case that, in comparison to, say, the Chinese, the Western Corporate incompetent elites are doing it wrong in systems terms (again) there is, equally, no doubt whose agenda is firmly in control here.

      And, regardless of how wrong I feel that is, it certainly ain’t the climate and alternative energy civic activists and the various movement and organisational bodies within which they operate.

      Little wonder that the Russians have totally abandoned the neo-liberal West – and is increasingly being joined by others – as utterly incapable of any kind of salvation across every dimension and metric- from politics to economics, civic society to culture – in terms of salvaging anything. Opting instead to let it self-destruct under its own incompetence and contradictions whilst the rest of humanity get on with doing the business properly.

      • Dave, as is clear from my Nasruddin post, linked twice above the line, the points you make are not the issue. As I said just now to Johnny Conspiranoid:

        That the “financialisation of nature … is a thing” is not in dispute. Nor that there may well be environmental activists who see the monetising of environmental concerns as good.

        At issue is whether XR “exists to promote” that “thing”. I ask for your evidence. And say that to stand with XR on actions which are progressive even if flawed, and gaining their respect so as to make the broader arguments, would be principled and courageous.

        • Okay, I reckon we’re getting there.

          Because the issue for me is not whether “XR exists to promote” A, B or Z. Or for that matter whether any initiative exists to do the same.

          The issue I’m interested in coalesces around questions along the lines of ‘are they doing the business’/doing what it says on the tin/achieving the objectives etc.

          Which raises questions not just about what the objectives are at any one time and the means used to achieve them but also why those objectives are not being met. ‘What’s the process/are the processes by which civic activity in any area is subverted to the opposite of the original goals and objectives?’

          Whether the social agents are XR, the Labour Party, the left in general or whatever; sufficient evidence exists to at least legitimately surmise, if not conclude, that such processes do not operate on the basis of spontaneous combustion/bad luck or coincidence but instead are the result of considered and deliberative activity on the part of other interested parties/social agents.

          Considered and deliberative activity which includes a varied toolkit of different methodologies utilised, with varying degrees of success and/or failure, by which civic opposition and alternatives to status quo objectives and its narratives is used by those actors to maintain and advance status quo interests and values rather than the original objectives.

          In that regard any non-status quo directed civic action of any kind, whether it’s situated domestically or abroad, which is overtly or covertly subsumed, subverted, deflected or used with whatever degree of success or failure to advance or maintain status quo objectives becomes, in a practical effect, controlled opposition.

          Regardless of whether or not those immediately involved or outside observers recognise or agree such processes form part of the objective contextual operating environment.

          From a practical perspective explicitly (as well as tacitly) recognising, detailing and accepting such non-passive. responses, activity, and its processes by social agencies committed to maintaining and advancing an unworkable and unstable status quo is a necessary precondition for being able to deal with and counter those processes.

          It would also seem, lets go with ‘surprising’ for now, in the light of extensive experiences such as those publicly revealed and detailed in the ‘spycops’ saga (not to mention the very public subsequent legalisation of such activity) that at least the more experienced longer serving social actors in such movements would be unaware of the existence of such processes at work and not be wise to ways in which to deal with them.

          However, using the same rationality it seems reasonable to recognise that such an observation is certainly based on the assumption that there exists a sufficient number of experienced, competent and longer serving civic activists remaining active in such movements and organisations.

          Point being that the experiences of examples such as…..

          – Helen Steel. One of the Mclibel Two. Who is largely Persona non Gratia in activist circles these days for her Gender Critical stance*

          – Esther Giles. No platformed by the Wokerati and Twitler Youth for similar reasons.

          ….suggests an ‘interesting’ wider process in which a significantly large tranche of the more experienced and long standing civic activists are excluded as ‘Boomers’ and/or “Karen’s’ from a whole range of activist activity.

          Consequently, that assumption of the existence of a sufficient number of canny and experienced activists who are allowed, in a practical sense, to be active may or may not be very sound?

          Should that be indeed be the case than the rational conclusion would point to the existence of at least a certain amount of naivety and inexperience in activist circles which could well be increasing as a result of a process in which the evidence points to the increasing active exclusion of the more experienced ‘adults in the room’ so to speak. Which raises the earlier point quoted from Alistair Crooke.

          In such a contextual circumstance it would seem reasonable to surmise that the effectiveness of civic action, at least in those parts in which more experienced activists may increasingly be excluded, will be less effective in terms of achieving aims and objectives inimical to those of the status quo.

          Whether or not such a situation is as a result of coincidence, spontaneous combustion, bad luck, incompetence or manipulative process its not, if ever, going to be possible to know one way of the other. From a practical perspective it makes sense not to discount any of the above regardless of any present absence of a ‘smoking gun’.

          * This recent piece from Stuart Campbell at Wings over Scotland….

          …..provides several examples in a single piece of the nonsense which is taking place.

          It remains a comfort/insult [delete whichever is inapplicable] that neither of us are on this list of more than 42,000 people so far. I’ve checked.** Though I have found two people of my acquaintance.

          For sure, not all of those on this list are going to be more experienced civic activists. However, it seems reasonable to conclude a significant proportion will be. Along with the probability of those in, around, and associated with those photographs being active in more than just around Gender Ideology activism.

          ** Here:

    • Johnny Conspiranoid writes:

      My suspicion is that they exist to promote the ‘financialization of nature’. Here’s an economist at a conference talking about how to do that ( so its definitely a thing )

      A strawman argument. Did you read the link, twice flagged in my post, to the Nasruddin tale? That the “financialisation of nature … is a thing” is not in dispute. Nor that there may well be environmental activists who see the monetising of environmental concerns as good.

      At issue is whether XR “exists to promote” that “thing”. I ask for your evidence. And say that to stand with XR on actions which are progressive even if flawed, and gaining their respect so as to make the broader arguments, would be principled and courageous.

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