Tag Archives: MoveOn

“This is a moment Avaaz was made for” (or cognitive infiltration for dummies)

Background:

“You won’t have a shutdown of news in modern America – it is not possible. But you can have, as Frank Rich and Sidney Blumenthal have pointed out, a steady stream of lies polluting the news well. What you already have is a White House directing a stream of false information that is so relentless that it is increasingly hard to sort out truth from untruth. In a fascist system, it’s not the lies that count but the muddying. When citizens can’t tell real news from fake, they give up their demands for accountability bit by bit.”

— Naomi Wolf 1

The extract above is drawn from an excellent and extremely prescient article written by Naomi Wolf and published by the Guardian in 2007. It is entitled “Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps”.

In 2011, I produced an updated version by taking Wolf’s analytical breakdown of the Bush years, applying her identified sequence of steps to Obama’s term in office. Here is what I wrote under Step #8. Control the press:

Five years on, and the mainstream media is no less bridled; the same small corporate cartel, that is bent on privileging the special interests of a few powerful owners and sponsors, maintains its dominance. And although, in the meantime, the challenge from independent voices has been steadily on the rise via the internet, it is in precisely these areas of the “new media” where controls are now being brought in.

But applying restrictions requires justification, and so these latest attacks against freedom of speech are couched as a necessary response to what the government deems, and thus what the public is encouraged to believe, to be a threat.

Following which I reminded readers of the Machiavellian role played by Cass Sunstein (married to warmongering former US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers), who, in September 2009, had been appointed as Obama’s Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. In 2008, Sunstein co-authored a paper with Adrian Vermeule, entitled “Conspiracy Theories,” in which they propose methods for dealing with the spread of faulty  information saying “the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups”:

“Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.”

The authors also advocate other methods for muddying the waters such as the recruitment of “independent experts”:

“government can supply these independent experts with information and perhaps prod them into action from behind the scenes… too close a connection will be self-defeating if it is exposed.”

Indeed, they provide no less than five alternative responses that the US government might take to hinder and restrain such unwanted freedom of speech:

We can readily imagine a series of possible responses. (1) Government might ban conspiracy theorizing. (2) Government might impose some kind of tax, financial or otherwise, on those who disseminate such theories. (3) Government might itself engage in counterspeech, marshaling arguments to discredit conspiracy theories. (4) Government might formally hire credible private parties to engage in counterspeech. (5) Government might engage in informal communication with such parties, encouraging them to help. 2

As I wrote in September 2011:

So which is the greater threat, a few people with alternative views and accounts, or the kinds of subversion of (or even outright clampdown on) free speech proposed, and now being put into effect by Cass Sunstein?

Simply being out of step with the official line is now enough to get you categorised as an “extremist”, and so a distinction that was once reserved for those who threatened the use of violent overthrow, is now directed against anyone who merely disagrees.

Click here to read my full post entitled “12 steps to tyranny – the state of America under Obama”.

Please note that everything above is reprinted in full from part 7 of an extended article entitled “spin, lies and propaganda from yesterday, today and tomorrow – 8 ways of looking at fake news” published in April 2017.

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“Avaaz’s Elves”

Yesterday I received the latest circular email from Avaaz (see screenshot in addendum), which calls upon its members to become actively engaged as “Citizen elves” in what Sunstein defines as ‘counterspeech’ (in fact usefully serving as “credible private parties” as outlined under item (4) of Sunstein’s list above):

Our movement is mobilising to defend democracy on all fronts:

    • hammering Facebook and others to clean up their sites by shutting down fake news and troll accounts;
    • pushing for governments to defend our democracies by passing laws to protect elections from interference;
    • disrupting disinformation online, setting up teams of citizen ‘Elves’ to take on Putin’s ‘trolls’;
    • battling the far right’s divisive narratives in country after country, as elections approach.

[colour highlight added]

The main justification given by Avaaz in calling for its members to engage in Sunstein-style cognitive infiltration are the same ones first rolled out to disguise the true reasons the Clinton campaign bombed. Those entirely unsubstantiated allegations that “Russia hacked the election” (later rebutted by such experts as William Binney) were afterwards repurposed both to keep Trump on his leash by derailing any attempts to restore US-Russian relations and also to clampdown on alternative media – as everyone who disavowed the sanctioned mainstream narrative was quickly branded a Russian troll. Keep in mind that ‘fake news’ is a meme that has been spread most virulently, not by Trump himself (although he is frequently credited with it), but by his opponents.

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“A moment Avaaz was made for”

The email from Avaaz was titled “This is a moment Avaaz was made for”, and in this regard I happen to believe we ought to take them seriously. After all, Avaaz is nothing like the grassroots campaign it takes such pains to promote itself as, but heavily astroturfed since its inception. It was founded for a purpose (and is allied to a consulting firm literally called Purpose Inc) as independent investigative journalist, Cory Morningstar, who has probed deeply into the organisation, explains:

Avaaz and GetUp co-founders Jeremy Heimans (CEO) and David Madden are also founders of the New York consulting firm, Purpose Inc.

Avaaz was created in part by MoveOn, a Democratic Party associated Political Action Committee (or PAC), formed in response to the impeachment of President Clinton. Avaaz and MoveOn are funded in part by convicted inside-trader and billionaire hedge fund mogul, George Soros.

Avaaz affiliate James Slezak is also identified as a co-founder and CEO of Purpose at its inception in 2009.

The secret behind the success of both Avaaz and Purpose is their reliance upon and expertise in behavioural change.

While the behavioural change tactics used by Avaaz are on public display, double-breasted, for-profit Purpose, with its non-profit arm, sells their expertise behind the scenes to further the interest of hegemony and capital. Whether it be a glossy campaign to help facilitate yet another illegal “humanitarian intervention” led by aggressive U.S. militarism (an oxymoron if there ever was one), or the creation of a new global “green” economy, Purpose is the consulting firm that the wolves of Wall Street and oligarchs alike depend upon to make it happen. 3

Click here to read the full article on Cory Morningstar’s website Wrong Kind of Green.

Morningstar also follows the money in another excellent article entitled “Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War”:

Avaaz states that they take “absolutely no money from governments or corporations…. While we received initial seed grants from partner organizations and charitable organizations, almost 90% of the Avaaz budget now comes [from] small online donations.” The 2009 Form 990 for George Soros’ Foundation to Promote Open Society reports (page 87) $300,000 in general support for Avaaz and an additional $300,000 to Avaaz for climate campaigning. […]

In addition to receiving funding from the Open Society Institute, Avaaz has publicly cited the Open Society Institute as their foundation partner. This admission by founder Ricken Patel is found on the www.soros.org website. [As discussed in part I, The Open Society Institute (renamed in 2011 to Open Society Foundations) is a private operating and grantmaking foundation founded by George Soros, who remains the chair. Soros is known best as a multibillionaire currency speculator, and of late, an avid supporter of Occupy Wall Street. Soros is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). The CFR is essentially the promotional arm of the ruling elite in the U.S. Most all U.S. policy is initiated and written by the exclusive membership within the CFR.]

Avaaz utilized/utilizes their Open Society Institute relationship to distribute member donations via “Avaaz partners at the Open Society Institute.” 4

Click here to read this thorough examination of Avaaz‘s finances by Cory Morningstar.

In short, Avaaz is tightly allied to the Soros NGO empire – the same George Soros who has candidly admitted to his pivotal role in fomenting the colour revolutions across the former Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union. The same Soros who proudly says he backed the coup of 2014 in Ukraine. As he told CNN host Fareed Zakaria in May 2014:

“Well, I set up a foundation in Ukraine before Ukraine became independent of Russia. And the foundation has been functioning ever since and played an important part in events now.”

So when Avaaz warns me that “Russia’s President has forged an alliance with the far-right, and deployed an army of hackers and trolls, legions of fake social media accounts, and suitcases full of dirty money to sabotage our public debate and elections”, I hear little more than the hypocrisy of Soros who supported the fascists of the Maidan in Kiev.

And whilst Avaaz are writing to inform me that “The British people are calling out the Brexit scam”, another Soros-funded campaign group, Best for Britain, co-founded by Gina Miller, who took the UK government to court in 2016 over its triggering of the Article 50, are already busy rallying public opinion and encouraging MPs to vote against a Brexit deal.

Avaaz says:

The threat we’re up against is everywhere, but so are we. That threat is political, but we can be too when we need to be. That threat claims to be people-powered, but we’re the REAL people power.

About half of this is the truth and half is baloney, as is usually the case with Avaaz. Based on the evidence outlined above, I’ll leave readers to separate fact from fiction.

For more on Avaaz I strongly encourage readers to follow the links here and here to Cory Morningstar’s excellent investigative work and also to read this earlier extended post.

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Addendum: Screenshot of Avaaz email

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1 “Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps” by Naomi Wolf, published in the Guardian on April 24, 2007.

From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2064157,00.html

2 Conspiracy Theories by Cass Sunstein, Adrian Vermeule, published January 15, 2008. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585

3 From an article entitled “Syria: Avaaz, Purpose & The Art of Selling Hate for Empire” written by Cory Morningstar, published on September 17, 2014.

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/2014/09/17/syria-avaaz-purpose-the-art-of-selling-hate-for-empire/

4 From an article entitled “Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War”, Part II, Section I, written by Cory Morningstar, published September 24, 2012. Another extract reads:

The 12 January 2012 RSVP event “Reframing U.S. Strategy in a Turbulent World: American Spring?” featured speakers from Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rosa Brooks of the New America Foundation, and none other than Tom Perriello, CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Perriello advanced his “ideology” during this lecture.

http://www.theartofannihilation.com/imperialist-pimps-of-militarism-protectors-of-the-oligarchy-trusted-facilitators-of-war-part-ii-section-i/

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Occupy Wall Street: where is it leading and what comes next?

As the Occupy Wall Street movement now enters its fourth week, there are many asking if the protests are being hijacked, and given what has happened in the case of some other recent uprisings, these are certainly valid concerns.

Undoubtedly the most egregious example of how the Arab Spring has been derailed is the developing situation in Egypt. The old Mubarak regime having been ousted, but only to be replaced by a “military committee” that now shows no more interest in stepping aside than Mubarak did:

Egypt’s ruling military generals have unveiled plans that could see them retain power for another 18 months, increasing fears that the country’s democratic transition process is under threat.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took control of Egypt after the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak in February, and initially promised to return to their barracks within six months. But since then the “roadmap” to an elected, civilian government has been beset by delays and controversies, fuelling speculation that the army could be buying time in an attempt to shoehorn one of their own senior commanders into the presidency.1

Of course, in Egypt, Mubarak himself sent in the cavalry, which is the final act of many a despot, and such overt repression is unlikely to be deployed to stem the tide of protests in either Europe or America. Instead, perhaps the most immediate threat facing the protest movements within our western democracies is that they will be steered off-course or else completely usurped by the very interest groups they are seeking to overthrow.

A wonderful example of how effective this tactic can be is the so-called Tea Party. And contrary to what many, and especially those of the left, have come to believe, the Tea Party certainly began as a genuine grassroots movement, and with genuinely ambitious demands to restore the constitution and “End the Fed”. Unfortunately, however, the Tea Party movement quickly fell under the influence of the billionaire Koch Brothers, with their ultra-“free market” agenda and with ties to such groups as the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute. The rest as they say is history –

So what about the people now gathering in New York and in many other cities across America – how can they avoid being duped in a similar fashion? Here is some analysis offered by independent researcher and writer Andrew Gavin Marshall:

For the Occupy Movement to build up and become a true force for change, it must avoid and reject the organizational and financial ‘contributions’ of institutions: be they political parties, non-profits, or philanthropic foundations. The efforts are subtle, but effective: they seek to organize, professionalize, and institutionalize a movement, push forward the issues they desire, which render the movement useless for true liberation, as these are among the very institutions the movement should be geared against.

This [movement] is not simply about “Wall Street,” this is about POWER. Those who have power, and those who don’t. When those who have power offer a hand in your struggle, their other hand holds a dagger. Remain grassroots, remain decentralized, remain outside and away from party politics, remain away from financial dependence. Freedom is not merely in the aim, it’s in the action.2

Marshall also made similar points on Russia Today:

The danger that any movement faces becoming professionalised and institutionalised is real enough, and has clearly happened in the case of countless NGOs. Basically, it’s always wise to assume that he who pays the piper calls the tune:

In order to survive as a movement, money will become a necessity. Do not turn to the non-profits and philanthropic foundations for support. The philanthropies, which fund and created the non-profits and NGOs, were themselves created to engage in ‘social engineering’: to ‘manufacture consent’ among the governed, and create consensus among the governors. The philanthropies (particularly those of Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller) fund social movements and protest organizations so as to steer them into directions which are safe for the elites. The philanthropies are themselves run by the elite, founded by bankers and industrialists striving to preserve their place at the top of the social structure in the midst of potentially revolutionary upheaval. As the president of the Ford Foundation once said, “Everything the foundation does is to make the world safe for capitalism.”

Click here to read Andrew Marshall’s original article.

Such under-the-counter assaults are more or less inevitable, and almost certainly happening. The Soros funded MoveOn.org (see my earlier post), for instance, have officially joined in the OWS protest on Wednesday [Oct 5th], although it seems that they are also trying to steal a piece of the action with their own “Rebuild the Dream” campaign. Given their staunch support for Obama’s first presidential campaign, we must suspect that such involvement is intended to simply reignite support for his re-election. And if that happens, of course, then the moment will have passed; a moment that may never come again.

There is also the risk of infiltration of another kind. From anarchists, other radicals or agent provocateurs. Any use of violence by the protesters will inevitably discredit the cause of a movement, making it appear to outsiders as no more than the gathering of a bunch of troublemakers. Peaceful dissent and disobedience is the only certain way ahead, as the powers-that-be know only too well.

Importantly, Wednesday also saw the OWS movement boosted by the arrival of a number of key trade unions including the Transport Workers Union (TWU Local 100), the United Federation of Teachers and United Auto Workers. This is hugely significant, bringing structure and sheer numbers to an already rapidly expanding mass movement. But the arrival of such comparatively powerful institutions brings dangers too, with the leadership of those unions potentially able to co-opt the movement in another way. As union activist and journalist Mike Elk said on Russia Today, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens:

One of the many banners at the Wall Street occupation read “The People are TOO BIG TO FAIL”, but unfortunately history refutes that opinion. And without agreed strategies and a programme for reforms, it’s not easy to see how the people are yet in any position to win at all. There is, therefore, an urgent need for concrete demands from OWS – preferably ones that fall under the popular umbrella: that Wall Street must pay for the crisis it created, with the bailouts stopped and an end to austerity; that the Federal Reserve should be audited and the credit rating agencies subjected to criminal investigation; that the wars must end; and that the anti-constitutional Patriot and Homeland Security Acts be repealed. It’s not difficult to decide on these broader issues, but there also needs to be some flesh on the bones. What are the finer details of the programme? Then, and so long as the movement can remain true and vigilant to its popular cause, it will undoubtedly continue to grow, until, sooner or later, it must indeed prevail.

But who the hell am I to tell the Americans what they need to do. So far I’m just delighted that so many are suddenly standing up for themselves, whilst also wondering when the folks back home in Blighty will join in the fight to save our own sorry skins.

1 From an article entitled, “Egypt’s ruling generals accused of buying time to stay in power” written by Jack Shenker, published in the Guardian on October 6, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/06/egypt-military-accused-buying-time

2 Taken from “Against the Institution: A warning for Occupy Wall Street” written by Andrew Gavin Marshall, posted on October 3, 2011. http://andrewgavinmarshall.com/2011/10/03/against-the-institution-a-warning-for-occupy-wall-street/

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the unbearable lightness of online petitions

We have reached an altogether desperate state of affairs. Whilst the Lib-Con coalition are greedily snatching every last penny from the poor so as to bail out their rich friends who run the hedge funds, Miliband jr is absent without leave, and the parliamentary Labour party are barely able to muster any opposition to the most savage government programme of cuts in living memory (arguing feebly that the cuts ought to fall less swiftly on our unfortunate heads). Differences between the parties have become quantitative rather than qualitative. Indeed, the public could be forgiven for thinking that we have been led into some kind of “three-in-one party state”, although in this, we are simply following the American example, political convergence in the US having occurred decades earlier, with the Democrats barely distinguishable from the Republicans during most of my lifetime.

It happens then, that as public concern becomes increasingly at odds with actual political will, and we slowly awaken to the realisation of our own political impotence with feelings of anger and frustration, we have begun to look for new and different ways to raise our voices. And, as it happens, there is a way. Quite literally at our fingertips, a new and outstanding mechanism for getting ourselves heard. The fastest, widest-reaching, and least restricted system of communications ever devised. The internet offers potential that few ever dreamed of, and it appears to be the perfect place to restart our democracy again. Can it deliver this promise, becoming the major catalyst for real and lasting changes to what remains a deplorably unfair world? I wait in hope. I write in hope. And in hope, I occasionally double-click my support to a variety of links for petitions from the ever-growing number of online pressure groups.

Yes, online pressure groups. It all started back in 1998 with the launch of MoveOn.org, which was set up to challenge the impeachment of Bill Clinton. A campaign that had originally been called “Censure and move on”, and called upon supporters to add their names to an online petition demanding: “Congress must Immediately Censure President Clinton and Move On to pressing issues facing the country.” Then, a few years later, after the attacks of 9/11, MoveOn.org found a different role, as representative voice of the peace movement. I must have added my own name to dozens of their petitions around this time.

Now I’m guessing that you very likely have an online petition for something or other waiting in your inbox at this very moment. Someone forwarded it to you, a friend perhaps (possibly me), and now you’re wondering whether to bother following the link and clicking your own assent. Does it actually make one jot of difference whether you open it or simply delete? After all, what discernible effect can a few personal details and the cursory click of your mouse have on those with the executive power to make actual policy decisions? Well petitions do occasionally work, no doubt, and at a local level, for instance, petitions have undoubtedly slowed the ever-expanding supermarket takeover of our high streets, stalling corporate progress just a little bit. An online petition is just a bit easier – though not that much easier – than the old-fashioned pen and ink variety. So online petitions undoubtedly have a limited impact. Have petitions ever seriously altered the wider course of government policy? Well, there was the small victory with the forests I suppose. And on an international level? You probably can’t think of any instances, but might as well click anyway, adding your own micron of persuasion or dissent.

But hold it. Perhaps it really was too easy. Do you feel, however slight, any nagging doubts? After all, I’d be surprised if you took much trouble in checking into who is actually running the campaign in question, let alone ascertaining the faces behind the faces: the foundations and individuals who provided funds to keep the campaign offices running. Or if you did, then I’m guessing you probably didn’t recognise many, if indeed any, of those faces. Perhaps the major donors didn’t want their faces shown. In the case of MoveOn.org, international financier George Soros certainly kept a low profile when, in 2004, he gave the organisation a sum in the region of £1.5 million (chicken feed to Soros but a small fortune to any growing pressure group).12

So now you’re on the mailing list. One petition after another, awaiting approval in your inbox. A whole host of internet pressure groups that you’d previously never heard of, run by groups of people you’ve never met and doubtless never will, all constantly tugging at your overly twisted arm for ongoing and renewed support. Fresh campaigns for new causes. And many of the causes you agree with, whilst others you may feel cautious about. You can be selective of course, but then by supporting the causes you approve of, aren’t you inadvertently lending support to the pressure group in a more general sense? So when MoveOn.org later put its burgeoning weight behind the Obama campaign, did my earlier support against the Bush wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, also help to carry the vote for Obama’s election into office?

Which brings me to Avaaz. “Avaaz is a global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere”, says the website blurb, which sounds great, albeit in a kind of wishy-washy corporate-speak sort of fashion. Launched in 2007, it began as a direct off-shoot of MoveOn.org, though quickly outgrowing its parent organisation, as it became the fastest expanding of all internet pressure groups. According to its own website again, the aim of Avaaz (which simply means “voice”) is to “empower[s] millions of people from all walks of life to take action on pressing global, regional and national issues”, which it achieves by setting overall priorities in accordance with results of its annual all-member polls. (And you can Click here to see the results of last year’s poll.) There is no agenda as such, no ideology, no corporate sponsors, but only a fresh approach to democracy. So is democracy effectively broadened on the basis of such internet polls? And can the world really be so radically reshaped, as Avaaz very boldly asserts, by means of regular email petitions? Co-founder and director, Ricken Patel, explained the mission of Avaaz to BBC HARDtalk in this interview broadcast in 2008.

Avaaz.org’s executive director, Ricken Patel, is interviewed by BBC’s Stephen Sackur on HARDtalk.

Back in March 2003, I put my name to a MoveOn.org emergency appeal to the UN Security Council which read: “The stakes couldn’t really be much higher. A war with Iraq could kill tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and inflame the Middle East. According to current plans, it would require an American occupation of the country for years to come. And it could escalate in ways that are horrifying to imagine.” Unfortunately that petition had no effect. It fell on deaf ears and the ensuing war cost not tens, but hundreds of thousands of lives, so many in fact, that our governments very quickly decided to stop counting. And now, almost exactly eight years on, I have received the following appeal from its offspring organisation, Avaaz: “Together, we’ve sent 450,000 emails to the UN Security Council, “overwhelming” the Council President and helping to win targeted sanctions and a justice process for the Libyan people. Now, to stop the bloodshed, we need a massive outcry for a no-fly zone.” [Bold as in the original.]

Of course, “a no-fly zone” is actually a euphemism for a military operation that necessarily involves an intensive bombing campaign to ensure the total destruction of a country’s air defences. Avaaz are saying this is a necessary measure to protect Libyans from the brutal oppression of the Gaddafi regime, which may be correct, though any talk of humanitarian intervention in Libya, or anywhere for that matter, rings a little hollow given our recent record of “humanitarian intervention” in other parts of the Middle East. So is there really nothing ideological in Avaaz’s sudden call to arms?

The email continues: “The head of NATO, meanwhile, has said that any effort to create a no-fly zone would first require a resolution from the UN. In many crises like this one, one UN country or another has vetoed strong positions — but with Libya, something different has already begun. The Security Council’s sanctions are real. UN Ambassadors say that representatives are “substantially united” that Qaddafi has to go. What’s needed now is another push from the world’s people. A resolution wouldn’t be a silver bullet — the enforcement of a no-fly zone would be dangerous and complex. But even the serious threat of one could show Qaddafi that his time is up.” Could it be that military intervention in Libya will require an occupation of the country for years to come? Or that it could escalate in ways that are horrifying to imagine? Is this what they mean by “dangerous and complex”? To get a better picture of what Avaaz might be meaning, I recommend watching their own award-winning short film “Stop the Clash of Civilisations”. This eye-catching animation paints the whole world as “dangerous and complex”, and as an infuriating confusion of shades of grey. The implication presumably being that right and wrong are matters only of opinion. With regards to where Avaaz actually stands politically, I felt none the wiser…

Avaaz currently claims to have a community of more than 7 million members, whilst admitting if pressed, that membership actually involves nothing more arduous than accepting the regular email drops (and having responded to past campaigns, presumably I too speak in the capacity of being an Avaaz member). They also claim to have “an ethic of servant leadership”; a statement of principle which can be read in two entirely different ways. They want us, of course, to understand that Avaaz are our servants, amplifying our voices and helping us to be heard, although it would be equally fair to say that “work[ing] with partners and experts to develop effective, member-driven campaign strategies”, means they may unwittingly be helping to lead the serfs by setting the agenda of their “partners and experts”.

The hard truth is that it actually makes no difference to the UN or the American or British governments what Avaaz demands, so be assured that the decision whether or not to enforce a no-fly zone in Libya was determined, as it always is, primarily on the basis of geostrategic interests. If two million people marching in London cannot change a government’s foreign policy, then what  sway do a few virtual signatures carry? When it comes to matters of such international importance, what pressure groups like Avaaz and MoveOn.org can and do achieve, however, is to help shape and inform sections of public opinion. Because Avaaz is really just another kind of brand. If we see the Avaaz logo on petition it helps to change how we feel about it. Understood this way, Avaaz is yet another small resonant component of the endlessly reverberating political echo chamber we now live in. But then, of course, you can always unsubscribe.

1 “Founded on millions of small donations, MoveOn.org hit the jackpot when it was embraced in 2004 by George Soros and his circle of rich friends, who later organized themselves into a loosely structured coalition known as the Democracy Alliance.” Click here to read full article from The Center for Public Integrity.

2 “The Democratic 527 organizations have drawn support from some wealthy liberals determined to defeat Bush. They include financier George Soros and his wife, Susan Weber Soros, who gave $5 million to ACT and $1.46 million to MoveOn.org; Peter B. Lewis, chief executive of the Progressive Corp., who gave $3 million to ACT and $500,000 to MoveOn; and Linda Pritzker, of the Hyatt hotel family, and her Sustainable World Corp., who gave $4 million to the joint fundraising committee.” Click here to read full article from the Washington Post.

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