WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO HELP THE PLANET TODAY?
By Robert J. Burrowes
In 2014 I wrote an article titled ‘The Global Elite is Insane’. (See addendum below). I want to elaborate what I explained in the earlier article so that people have a clearer sense of what we are up against in our struggle to create a world of peace, justice and ecological sustainability.
Of course, as I explained previously, it is not just the global elite that is insane. All those individuals – politicians, businesspeople, academics, corporate media editors and journalists, judges and lawyers, bureaucrats…. – who serve the elite, including by not exposing and resisting it, are also insane. And it is important to understand this if we are to develop and implement effective strategies to resist elite violence, exploitation and destruction but also avert the now-imminent human extinction driven by their insane desire for endless personal privilege, corporate profit and political control whatever the cost to Earth’s biosphere and lifeforms (human and non-human alike).
But first, who constitutes the global elite? Essentially, it is those extremely wealthy individuals – notably including the Rothschild family, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Amancio Ortega, Mark Zuckerberg, Carlos Slim, the Walton family and the Koch brothers – as well as the world’s other billionaires and millionaires. See ‘Bloomberg Billionaires Index’.
Testament to their secretly and long-accumulated wealth and power, a 2012 investigation concluded that rich individuals and their families have as much as $32 trillion of hidden financial assets – which excludes non-financial assets such as real estate, gold, yachts and racehorses – in offshore tax havens. See the Tax Justice Network.
If this sum was devoted to programs of social uplift then starvation, poverty, homelessness and other privations would vanish immediately and environmental restoration projects as well as research, development and implementation of visionary sustainability initiatives would flourish instantly. The idea of an ‘underdeveloped’ or ‘developing’ national economy would vanish from the literature on Africa, Asia and Central/South America.
In addition to these individuals, however, the global elite includes the major multinational corporations, particularly including the following – although, it should be noted, this list simplifies the picture considerably by ignoring the conglomerate nature of many of these corporations and not including many of the (more difficult to identify) private corporations that should be listed in any comprehensive presentation:
* the major weapons manufacturers (such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics)
* the major banks (including Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, HSBC Holdings, JPMorgan Chase, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Bank of America) and their ‘industry groups’ like the International Monetary Conference
* the major investment companies (including BlackRock, Capital Group Companies, FMR, AXA, and JP Morgan Chase)
* the major financial services companies (including Berkshire Hathaway, AXA, Allianz and BNP Paribas)
* the major energy corporations including coal companies (such as Coal India, Adani Enterprises, China Shenhua Energy, China Coal Energy, Mechel, Exxaro Resources, Public Power, Glencore and Peabody Energy) as well as the oil and gas corporations (such as Saudi Aramco, Gazprom, Rosneft, PetroChina, ExxonMobil, Lukoil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Petrobras, Chevron, Novatek, Total S.A. and Eni)
* the major media corporations (including Alphabet [Google owner], Comcast, Disney, AT&T, News Corporation, Time Warner, Fox, Facebook, Bertelsmann and Baidu)
* the major marketing and public relations corporations (including Edelman, W2O Group, APCO Worldwide, Deksia, BrandTuitive, Fearless Media, and Citizen Group)
* the major agrochemical (pesticides, seeds, fertilizers) giants (including Bayer, Syngenta, Dow, Monsanto and DuPont)
* the major pharmaceutical corporations (including Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Pfizer, Novartis, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline)
* the major biotechnology (genetic mutilation) corporations (again including Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Pfizer and Novartis)
* the major mining corporations (including Glencore Xtrata, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Vale, Anglo American, China Shenhua Energy, Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold, and Barrick Gold)
* the major nuclear power corporations (including Areva, Rosatom, General Electric/Hitachi, Kepco, Mitsubishi, Babcock & Wilcox, BNFL, Duke Energy, McDermott International, Southern, NextEra Energy, American Electric Power, and Westinghouse)
* the major food multinationals (including Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Company [ADM], Nestlé, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Mars, Associated British Foods and Mondelez)
* the major water corporations (including Veolia, Suez Environnement, ITT Corporation, United Utilities, Severn Trent, Thames Water, American Water Works).
Of course, the global elite also includes elite fora where various combinations of elite individuals from the corporate, political, media and academic worlds gather to plan their continuing violence against, and exploitation of, the Earth and its inhabitants. This is intended to consolidate and extend their control over populations, markets and resources to maximize their privilege, profit and power at the expense of the rest of us and life generally. Among intergovernmental organizations, it includes the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
A quick perusal of the agenda of such elite gatherings – including the World Economic Forum, the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission – reveals a comprehensive lack of interest, despite rhetoric and the occasional token mention, of pressing issues ranging from the threat of nuclear war and the climate catastrophe to the many ongoing wars, deepening exploitation within the global economy, extensive range of environmental threats and the refugee crisis, each of which they generated and now continue to deliberately exacerbate. See, for example, the agenda of the recent WEF meeting in Davos.
Primary servants of the global elite include political leaders in major industrialized countries (who legislate to progressively expand elite power, profit and privilege, such as Donald Trump’s recent tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of social programs), the judges and lawyers (who defend elite power using the elite-designed and manipulated legal system: ever heard of a wealthy individual convicted in court and given any serious punishment or of any major corporation genuinely held to legal account for its exploitation of indigenous peoples or destruction of the natural environment?), as well as corporate media editors and journalists, entertainment industry personnel, academics, industry organizations (such as the European Round Table of Industrialists) that represent the interests of major corporations, so-called ‘think tanks’ (such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Brookings Institution) and ‘philanthropic trusts’ (such as the Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford foundations) all of which justify, ignore or divert attention from elite violence and exploitation.
Importantly too, primary servants of the global elite include those who work within elite-directed agencies, notably including those in the so-called ‘intelligence community’ (such as the US CIA, British MI6, Russian SVR RF, Chinese Ministry for State Security and Israeli Mossad), who perform elite functions in relation to spying, surveillance and secret assassinations (particularly of grassroots activists), ostensibly under the direction of national governments. But it also includes many lower-level servants such as those who work as political lobbyists or in the bureaucracy as well as the education, police and prison systems.
So why do I claim that the elite and those who serve them are insane?
Any dictionary will offer a simple definition of ‘sanity’ along the lines of ‘soundness of judgment or reason’ and ‘the ability to think and speak in a reasonable way and to behave normally’.
But if we use this definition of sanity then, obviously, ‘sanity’ must be interpreted to mean that it is ‘sound judgment, reasonable and normal’ to further perpetrate the violence and exploitation that are overwhelmingly characteristic of our world. After all, most people powerlessly accept this incredibly violent state of affairs and, if they discuss it, do so in terms of its merits, politically, economically, morally or otherwise. Few people argue, simply, that violence is just insane.
So I would like to propose a more rigorous definition of sanity: Sanity is the capacity to consider a set of circumstances, to carefully analyze the evidence pertaining to those circumstances, to identify the cause of any conflict or problem, and to respond appropriately, both emotionally and intellectually, to that conflict or problem with the intention of resolving it, preferably at a higher level of need satisfaction for all parties (including those of the Earth and all of its living creatures).
Clearly, my proposed definition of sanity is designed to imply that any conceptions we have of ‘sound judgment’, ‘reasonable’ and ‘normal’ mean that they are qualities we associate with individuals who possess the desirable capacity to improve the overall state of human affairs, whether an interpersonal relationship or geopolitically. This means, as an absolute minimum, the capacity to reduce violence or exploitation in one context or another.
You might, of course, accuse me of writing a definition of ‘sanity’ that serves my agenda to dramatically improve world order in the direction of peace, justice and sustainability. And you are right! But whose interest does it serve to have sanity defined as behavior that involves ‘sound judgment’ and is considered ‘reasonable and normal’ in the context of perpetuating extraordinary violence?
Alternatively, you might argue that my definition of insanity is too broad. Surely, you might say, we can account for many of the behaviors outlined above in terms of different belief systems, ideologies and religions. Doesn’t a person who believes in killing people to win wars (or for other reasons) just have a worldview different from those who believe that people should resolve conflict nonviolently? Doesn’t a capitalist just have a worldview different from those who believe that people should share resources equally? Doesn’t a person who believes in the unlimited accumulation of wealth just have a worldview different from those who believe in ecological sustainability?
But there is a more fundamental issue here. As I explained in my original article, cited at the beginning of this one: Do you really believe that someone who is capable of perpetrating extraordinary violence, inequity and biosphere-threatening behavior – and thus clearly incapable of experiencing and expressing the love, compassion, empathy and sympathy that would drive a nonviolent approach to the world – is sane? Given that emotional qualities such as love, compassion, empathy and sympathy are an evolutionary gift to those not seriously damaged during childhood, what happened to those individuals who do not possess them? See ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.
Or, to explain it based on my longer definition of sanity highlighted above: Casual observation of the state of our world, including the primary threat of near-term human extinction through climate catastrophe or nuclear war – see ‘On Track for Extinction: Can Humanity Survive?’ – clearly reveals that none of the elite is paying considered attention to the perilous state of our world, analyzing the evidence in relation to it, identifying the cause(s) driving it or responding powerfully to end it. Why is this?
In essence, it is because one manifestation of their insanity drives them to deny reality to make huge profits from weapons production used to kill people, the burning of climate-destroying fossil fuels, environmental destruction (through, for example, mining and rainforest logging), commercial farming based on the poisoning and genetic mutilation of foods, the mass production and sale of poisoned, processed and nutritionally-depleted foods, the consumption of health-destroying and dependency-creating drugs, and control over the sale of water, once considered a human right. Moreover, insanity makes the elite do everything in its power to maintain this highly profitable state of affairs. See ‘Profit Maximization is Easy: Invest in Violence’.
Moreover, of course, there is no evidence of committed elite engagement in efforts to end the many local wars (from which they make huge profits), end corporate exploitation of human beings (which kills, through starvation alone, 100,000 people every day but from which they make huge profits) and nonhuman beings (which drives 200 species of life to extinction daily but from which they make huge profits) or end local environmental destruction in a myriad ways (from which they make huge profits).
So, in summary, given our ongoing rush to extinction, it is clear that those who exacerbate this threat through failure to consider and act with awareness (as well as encourage aware action by others) fail to satisfy the definition of sanity that I offered above. In short: Gambling on the future of humanity is not sane.
As an aside, it should be noted: Often enough too, the elite can rely on a largely insane population to mindlessly consume the latest consumer product, no matter how unnecessary, or they can rely on their marketing and advertising agents to persuade those of us who show the slightest reluctance to buy the latest inanity.
So with an insane global elite and its many insane servants as well as a largely insane consumer population, what can those of us who have the sanity to respond powerfully to the many threats to our survival do?
Well, if you want a child who is emotionally and intellectually engaged with the world and therefore capable of responding powerfully to their circumstances (which includes being able to resist the lure of serving the elite and being suckered by its marketing), then terrorizing the child into obedience is not the way to go about it. So, you might like to consider making ‘My Promise to Children’.
If you are sane enough to investigate the evidence and to act intelligently and powerfully in response to it, I encourage you to do so. One option you have if you find the evidence in relation to one or more of the threats mentioned above compelling, is to join those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’.
If you are self-aware enough to know that you are inclined to avoid ‘difficult issues’ and to take the action that these require, then perhaps you could tackle this problem at its source by ‘Putting Feelings First’. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, few of us had a childhood that nurtured our sanity.
If you want to mobilize people to campaign effectively on the climate, war, rainforest destruction or any other elite-driven violence that threatens our future, consider developing a comprehensive nonviolent strategy to do so. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy.
And if you want to participate in the worldwide effort to end the insanity we call violence in all of its manifestations, you are welcome to consider signing the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.
Elite insanity, if not stopped, will drive us out of existence. If you believe that the elite and their servants will ‘see the light’ before it is too late, I invite you to seek out the evidence to justify your belief. I have found none.
I also see no evidence that individual members of the elite will do the emotional healing necessary to be able to act sanely in response to the extinction-threatening crisis it has generated.
So it is up to those of us who can think and act sanely to stop the rush to extinction before it is too late.
Are you one of those people?
The Global Elite is Insane
By Robert J. Burrowes
In a recent report titled ‘Working for the Few: Political capture and economic inequality‘ Oxfam informs us that ‘Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population’. Their report goes on to recommend that the World Economic Forum http://www.weforum.org/, an elite gathering held annually in Davos, Switzerland, take economic and political measures to ensure a more equitable distribution of wealth.
And in his explanation of why he attended the recent Forum in Davos, Kumi Naidoo, the Executive Director of Greenpeace International tells us ‘If we manage to shift the consciousness of one CEO or senior political leader, who may do the same with a couple of his peers, then I think it is worth it. It is also worth being there, listening and observing, understanding some of the forces that shape our world and importantly feeding that information back to the rest of Greenpeace and other civil society allies.’
As anyone who pays even the slightest realistic attention to the global elite already knows, the elite’s efforts to maximise its political and economic clout, and hence its wealth, at the expense of everyone else and the Earth itself, are carefully crafted. And this is not going to change on our recommendation or because we talk to them, or even because we listen to them. Moreover, the reason is simple.
The global elite is insane. And it is incredibly violent.
I would like to illustrate this insanity and violence briefly, explain what I mean by ‘insane’ and then outline a strategy to resist it.
In a video statement in 2012, the world’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, called for Australian workers to be paid $A2 per day – see here and here – in a national economy where the current legal minimum wage is $A124 per day for a full-time adult worker. But Rinehart is not alone in advocating or, indeed, implementing such policies. Slave ‘wages’ are a common occurrence all over the world as most factory workers, particularly those employed by the world’s largest corporations in Africa, Asia and Central/South America, can readily testify.
We also know that 50,000 people (85% of them children) die in Africa, Asia and Central/South America each and every day essentially because they do not have enough to eat: http://starvation.net/ This is a death rate that results in a cumulative death total that dwarfs both the death rate and the total number of deaths in all war throughout human history. Incredibly, even the number of deaths on 6 and 9 August 1945, when nuclear weapons were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, resulted in less than 50,000 individual deaths for each of these two days (and each of those subsequent). Apart from this, we know that about one billion people around the world go to bed in a semi-starved condition each night. Moreover, we know that the global elite takes deliberate measures to maintain and exacerbate this cruel state of affairs by planning and working to implement such atrociously unjust economic arrangements as those outlined in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) on top of the already highly damaging economic structures and relationships of capitalism.
How do you feel when you read these facts? If you are like me, you are horrified at the thought that you might starve yourself, you empathise deeply with those who suffer this fate and you make some effort to ameliorate it or change it (ranging from giving a donation, preferably to an organisation with more political savvy than Oxfam and Greenpeace, to campaigning to resist implementation of the TPP and TAFTA). You do this because you feel empathy, sympathy and compassion. You do this because you perceive the injustice and you want to take some action, at least, to change it. You identify with your fellow human beings who are suffering.
Insanity is widely understood to refer to a state of mind that prevents normal perception, behaviour or social interaction; it describes someone who is considered to be seriously mentally ill.
Do you believe that individual members of the global elite share your perception (which is shaped by your empathy, sympathy and compassion)? Who is normal: you or them? Are individual members of the global elite behaving and interacting as you would? Do they share your conception of what a desirable human community – with its basis in such values as love, solidarity, equity, justice and sustainability – might look like?
It is clear to me that, as a result of the violence they each suffered as a child, we can readily conclude that each individual within the global elite falls within the definition of ‘insane’: someone who is incapable of ‘normal perception, behaviour and social interaction’, someone who is incapable of love, compassion, empathy and sympathy. And this is why they do not join efforts to restructure the global economy to ensure distributive justice for all and disburse their personal wealth to those most in need as a measure of their commitment to the creation of a humane world based on equity, justice and sustainability.
So how did this insanity occur? In essence, these individuals suffered an extraordinary level of terror and violence during childhood leaving them particularly badly emotionally damaged. See ‘Why Violence?’ http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence Specifically, for example, two central psychological characteristics of these individuals are that they are terrified and self-hating but, because they unconsciously suppress their awareness of this terror and self-hatred (because it is too painful to feel), they project it as fear of and hatred for ‘legitimised’ victim groups, including working people and ‘poor’ people in Africa, Asia and Central/South America. Because of the violence they suffered as children, these individuals never developed a conscience, they never developed the capacity to love, and they never developed the emotional responses of compassion, empathy and sympathy. And this is why they do not care.
It takes persistent violence inflicted throughout childhood to destroy an individual’s innate capacity to develop love, compassion, empathy and sympathy. Tragically, any member of the global elite, as well as any of their paid agents in the professional class (the political lackeys who generate the delinquent legislative frameworks that facilitate the exploitation of ordinary people, the business executives who undertake the daily management of this exploitation, the academics who justify it, the judges and lawyers who defend it and repress its opponents, and the media personnel who obscure the truth about it), has suffered this degree of violence, or very close to it, throughout their childhood.
And this is why these individuals are incapable of understanding that hoarded money and resources cannot provide them with security, particularly in the world that is coming. They are incapable of understanding that true security is the result of cooperative human relationships and a cooperative relationship between humans and the natural world.
Resisting Elite Violence Strategically
So how do we strategically resist the insanity and violence of the global elite? How do we replace elite-controlled structures with ones that meet the needs of all human beings as well as the planet and other species? And how do we do all of this within a timeframe in which the Earth’s ecological limits are not fundamentally breached?
To do all of these things, we need an integrated strategy that tackles the fundamental cause of violence while tackling all of its symptoms simultaneously. This strategy has four primary elements.
First, and most importantly, we must review our child-raising practices to exclude all types of violence (including those I have labelled ‘invisible’ and ‘utterly invisible’) so that we no longer create insane individuals and perpetrators of violence. See ‘Why Violence?’ http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘ Let us create people of conscience, people of courage, people who care.
Second, we must noncooperate, in a strategic manner, with elite-controlled structures and processes while simultaneously creating alternative, local structures that allow us to self-reliantly meet our own needs in an ecologically sustainable manner. Anita McKone and I have mapped out a fifteen-year strategy for doing this in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ http://tinyurl.com/flametree
Third, we must keep planning and implementing sophisticated campaigns of nonviolent resistance to prevent/halt wars, end economic exploitation and save threatened ecosystems, as well as strategies of nonviolent defense to liberate Palestinians, Tibetans and other oppressed populations in those circumstances in which elite violence must be directly confronted (see Robert J. Burrowes The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996 and Gene Sharp The Politics of Nonviolent Action, Boston: Porter Sargent, 1973).
And fourth, we must courageously pay the price of violent elite repression when we resist nonviolently, knowing that many of us are going to be imprisoned (sometimes as ‘psychiatric’ patients), some of us will be tortured and a great many of us will be killed.
In summary, if we are to effectively resist the elite’s violence in our lives and take concrete steps to create our nonviolent world community, then we must recognise that individual members of the global elite are insane and cannot take responsibility for ending their violence. Instead, we must take responsibility for ending their violence while creating a world in which damaged individuals are unlikely to be created and, if they are created, they cannot wreak havoc on the rest of us.
If you would like to consider publicly committing yourself to helping to make this nonviolent world a reality, you can read (and, if you wish, sign online) ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘
—Robert J. Burrowes
See more at http://www.pravdareport.com/opinion/columnists/06-02-2014/126767-global_elite-0/