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Rockefeller, Ford Foundations Behind World Social Forum (WSF). The Corporate Funding of Social Activism

By Michel Chossudovsky | Global Research | August 10, 2016

This year the World Social Forum is being held in Montreal, regrouping committed social activists, anti-war collectives and  prominent intellectuals.

Most of the participants are unaware that the WSF is funded by corporate foundations including Ford, Rockefeller, Tides, et al.  Much of this funding is channelled to the WSF organizers under the helm of the WSF International Council.

This is an issue which has been raised on numerous occasions with progressive organizations and WSF activists: you cannot effectively confront neoliberalism and the New World Order elites  and expect them to finance your activities.

The World Social Forum operating under the banner of  “Another World is Possible” was founded in 2001 at its inaugural venue of Porto Alegre. Brazil.

From the outset in 2001, the WSF has been upheld as an international umbrella representing grassroots people’s organizations, committed to reversing the tide of globalization. Its stated intent is to challenge corporate capitalism and its dominant neoliberal economic agenda.

The World Social Forum at its inaugural meeting defined itself as a counter-offensive to the World Economic Forum (WEF) of business leaders and politicians which meets annually in Davos, Switzerland. The 2001 Porto Alegre WSF was held simultaneously with that of the WEF in Davos.

While  there have been many important accomplishments of the WSF, largely as a result of the commitment of grassroots activists, the core leadership of WSF  –rather than effectively confronting the New World Order elites– has  (often unwittingly) have served their corporate interests. In this process, co-optation has been achieved through the corporate funding of the WSF.

Among the two major accomplishments are the participation of the WSF in the February 2003 Worldwide protest against the US led war on Iraq. The WSF has also supported progressive movements and governments, particularly in Latin America.

In contrast, at the Tunis 2013 WSF, the final declaration paid lip service to to the US sponsored “Syrian opposition”.  Similarly the Al Qaeda affiliated Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) which allegedly led the “Arab Spring” against the government of Muammar Gaddafi was tacitly upheld as a revolutionary force. Several workshops on  Libya applauded Western military intervention. A session entitled “Libya’s transition to democracy” focused on “whether Libya was better off without Muammar Gaddafi.”

Funding dissent

From the outset in 2001, the World Social Forum was funded by governments and corporate foundations, including the Ford Foundation which has ties to US intelligence.

The anti-globalization movement is opposed to Wall Street and the Texas oil giants controlled by Rockefeller, et al. Yet the foundations and charities of Ford, Rockefeller et al will generously fund progressive anti-capitalist networks as well as environmentalists (opposed to Wall Street and Big Oil), etc. with a view to ultimately overseeing and shaping their various activities.

The mechanisms of “manufacturing dissent” require a manipulative environment, a process of arm-twisting and subtle co-optation of  a small number of key individuals within “progressive organizations”, including anti-war coalitions, environmentalists and the anti-globalization movement. Many leaders of these organizations have in a sense betrayed their grassroots.

The corporations are funding dissent with a view to controlling dissent.

The Ford Foundation (which has links to the CIA) provided funding under its “Strengthening Global Civil Society” program during the first three years of the WSF.

When the WSF was held in Mumbai in 2004, the Indian WSF host committee declined support from the Ford Foundation. This in itself did not modify the WSF’s relationship to the donors. While the Ford Foundation formally withdrew, other foundations positioned themselves.

The WSF (among several sources of funding is supported by a consortium of corporate foundations under the advisory umbrella of Engaged Donors for Global Equity (EDGE). 

This organization, which previously went under the name of The Funders Network on Trade and Globalization (FTNG), has played a central role in the funding of successive WSF venues. From the outset in 2001, it had an observer status on the WSF International Council.  

In 2013, the Rockefeller Brothers representative Tom Kruse co-chaired EDGE’s program committee. At the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Kruse was responsible for “Global Governance” under the “Democratic Practice” program. Rockefeller Brothers grants to NGOs are approved under the “Strengthening Democracy in Global Governance” program, which is broadly similar to that put forth by the US State Department.

A representative of the Open Society Initiative for Europe currently sits on EDGE’s Board of directors. The Wallace Global Fund is also on its Board of Directors. The Wallace Global Fund is specialized in providing support to “mainstream” NGOs and “alternative media”, including Amnesty International, Democracy Now (which supports Hillary Clinton’s candidacy for president of the US).

Several members of the EDGE BoD, however, are from non-corporative and family foundations with a social mandate. (see below).

In one of its key documents (2012), entitled Funders Network Alliance In Support of Grassroots Organizing and Movement-Building  (link no longer available) EDGE acknowledged its support of social movements which challenge “neoliberal market fundamentalism.” including the World Social Forum, established in 2001:

“From the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas (1994) to the Battle in Seattle (1999) to the creation of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre (2001), the TINA years of Reagan and Thatcher (There Is No Alternative) have been replaced with the growing conviction that “another world is possible.” Counter-summits, global campaigns and social forums have been crucial spaces to articulate local struggles, share experiences and analyses, develop expertise, and build concrete forms of international solidarity among progressive movements for social, economic and ecological justice.”

But at the same time, there is an obvious contradiction: another world is not possible when the campaign against neoliberalism is financed by an alliance of corporate donors firmly committed to neoliberalism and the US-NATO military agenda.

The following is the EDGE Montreal WSF Communique. The donors not only fund the activities, they also influence the structure of the WSF venue, which was determined in Puerto Alegre in 2001, namely the decentralized and dispersed mosaic of “do it yourself” workshops.

With regard to the Montreal WSF, the Consortium of Donors (EDGE) intent is:

“… to develop an intersectional space for funders and various movement partners – organizers thought leaders and practitioners – to build alignment by cultivating a shared understanding of the visions, values, principles and pathways of a “just transition.”  (See http://edgefunders.org/wsf-activities/)

“Just Transition” implies that social activism has to conform to a “shared vision” with the corporate foundations, i.e. nothing which in a meaningful way might upset the elite structures of global capitalism.

From the standpoint of the corporate donors “investing in the WSF” constitutes a profitable (tax deductible) undertaking. It ensures that activism remains within the confines of  ”constructive dialogue” and “critique” rather than confrontation. Any deviation immediately results in the curtailment of donor funding:

“Everything the [Ford] Foundation did could be regarded as “making the World safe for capitalism”, reducing social tensions by helping to comfort the afflicted, provide safety valves for the angry, and improve the functioning of government (McGeorge Bundy, National Security Advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson (1961-1966), President of the Ford Foundation, (1966-1979))

The limits of social dissent are thereby determined by the “governance structure” of  the WSF, which was tacitly agreed upon with the funding agencies at the outset in 2001.

“No Leaders”

The WSF has no leaders. All the events are “self-organized”. The structure of debate and activism is part of an an “open space” (See  Francine Mestrum, The World Social Forum and its governance: a multi-headed monster, CADTM, 27 April 2013, http://cadtm.org/The-World-Social-Forum-and-its ).

This compartmentalized structure is an obstacle to the development of a meaningful and articulate mass movement.

How best to control grassroots dissent against global capitalism?

Make sure that their leaders can be easily co-opted and that the rank and file will not develop “forms of international solidarity among progressive movements” (to use EDGE’s own words), which in any meaningful way might undermine the interests of corporate capital.

The mosaic of separate WSF workshops, the relative absence of plenary sessions, the creation of divisions within and between social movements, not to mention the absence of a cohesive and unified platform against the Wall Street corporate elites, against the fake US sponsored “global war on terrorism”, which has been used to justify and US-NATO’s  ‘humanitarian’ R2P interventions (Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, etc).

The corporate agenda is to “manufacture dissent”.“The limits of dissent” are established by the foundations and governments which ultimately finance this multimillion dollar venue. The financing is twofold:

1. Core financing of the WSF Secretariat and the Costs of the WSF venue.

2. Many of the constituent NGOs which participate in the venue are recipients of donor and/or government support.

3. The WSF venue in Montreal also receives funding from the Government of Canada as well as from the Quebec provincial government.

What ultimately prevails is a ritual of dissent which does not threaten the New World Order. Those who attend the WSF from the grassroots are often misled by their leaders. Activists who do not share the WSF consensus will ultimately be excluded:

“By providing the funding and the policy framework to many concerned and dedicated people working within the non-profit sector, the ruling class is able to co-opt leadership from grassroots communities, … and is able to make the funding, accounting, and evaluation components of the work so time consuming and onerous that social justice work is virtually impossible under these conditions” (Paul Kivel, You Call this Democracy, Who Benefits, Who Pays and Who Really Decides, 2004, p. 122 )

“Another World is Possible” is nonetheless an important concept, which characterizes the struggle of the peoples movements against global capitalism as well as the commitment of thousands of committed activists who are currently participated in the Montreal 2016 WSF.

Activism is being manipulated:  ”Another World is Possible”  cannot, however, be achieved under the auspices of the WSF which from the outset was funded by global capitalism and organized in close liaison with its corporate and government donors.

The important question for activists in Montreal:

Is it possible to build “an Alternative” to global capitalism, which challenges the hegemony of the Rockefellers et al and then asks the Rockefellers et al to foot the bill?  

We call upon participants of the Montreal World Social Forum (WSF) to raise and debate these issues: the campaign against neoliberalism is financed by corporate foundations (and governments) which are firmly committed not only to the tenets of neoliberalism but also to the US-NATO led military agenda.

Why would they fund organizations which are actively campaigning against war and globalization? The answer is obvious. …

August 11, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Jeffrey Sachs’ Grab for the World Bank

By LAURA FLANDERS | CounterPunch | March 20, 2012

There may be worse candidates for the presidency of the World Bank than Jeffrey Sachs (Larry Summers, also a candidate, comes to mind,) but Sachs is well worth raising an alarm about. He combines a new fangled profile as a progressive with policies that amount to full steam ahead for global growth. And he’s running as the candidate of “change”  clearly hoping no one looks too closely at his record as an economic hit-man.

In the US (if not in much of the rest of the world and certainly not CounterPunch) Sachs’s closeness with the singer/crusader Bono bestows a liberal glow. He directs the Earth Institute at Columbia University, advises the UN and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and he’s winning endorsements from among others, Congressman John Conyers and economist Mark Weisbrot.  He’ll attract predictable opposition from the Right who bristle at any mention of foreign aid, but although his media pals like to forget it now, Sachs was once evangelist number one for exactly the heavy-handed “fly-in-fly-out” development tactics that have made the world financial institutions so passionately hated.

Last week, John Cavanaugh of the Institute for Policy Studies and American University development professor Robin Broad laid out a raft of concerns to which Sachs responded thus: “I would be the first-ever development practitioner and anti-poverty professional to be World Bank President, just what is needed given the bank’s mission of a “world free of poverty.”

In Europe’s post-Soviet “transition” years, Sachs’s professional poverty expertise was mostly in increasing it. Russia, following Sachs’s callous “shock therapy” prescription, sold off state companies, suspended public subsidies and drove employment and life expectancy into the ground, with brutal long-term consequences, exacting the most savage costs in terms of death and suffering since the Second World War and the results of the Sachs experiment in Poland, Estonia and Slovenia weren’t much better.  While a handful of global gamblers got rich off the disaster, former World Bank economist David Ellerman, said of Sachs “Only the mixture of American triumphalism and the academic arrogance of neoclassical economics could produce such a lethal dose of gall.”  If Sachs could double suicide rates in Russia as a cocky young Harvard advisor, it’s hard to imagine what he could do to the world as World Bank President.

In recent years, Sachs has taken a few turns. He embraces debt forgiveness (some) and has some nasty things to say about world military spending in his book “The End of Poverty.” But the business of “poverty reduction” is a complex one. The World Bank’s calculations have been incisively discussed here by Adam Parsons. Suffice to say, there’s extreme poverty and there’s just getting by. In the same way when it comes to development, there’s total exclusion from the world economy — and there’s becoming a cog in it. Sachs’s vision of a “world free of poverty” has more cogs in more wheels, but it’s the same deadly machine driving the planet to the same nasty brink.

To cite one example. in his 2007 Reith lecture series “Bursting at the Seams” Sachs pushes new agricultural technology and commercial fertilizers to increase yields in low-life expectancy countries. “Africa can and must have a Green Revolution as India initiated nearly forty years ago.” He celebrates increased yields and dismisses concerns about environmental damage and rising debt, claiming that “Older techniques for replenishing soil nutrients, such as the rotation of farm lands, allowing the replenishment of nutrients on land left to fallow for 10 or 20 years, are no longer feasible.”  To top things off, there’s a dose of “population control” in Sachs’s mix.  “The evidence is overwhelming that it’s possible and necessary to have a rapid demographic transition on a voluntary basis to greatly reduce fertility rates in poor countries,” said Sachs.

Old arguments linking high population with high poverty are back in vogue in the context of contemporary planet-panic, but really, they miss the point. While growing population in poor countries has its environmental impacts, high-level consumption lifestyles in rich countries are much more of an immediate threat. Listen to the small scale farmers of countries like Mali and Burkina Faso who gathered at the World Social Forum in Kenya a few years back and they report that traditional farming techniques like fortifying soil with manure and mixing the crops grown on the same piece of land are rehabilitating degraded farms and farmers, both. Lying fallow for a generation doesn’t come up.

It’s here that one sees the “old” Sachs in the new. To return to Ellerman– the analysts of “shock therapy” have long gotten it wrong, he writes in an essay, Lessons from Eastern Europe’s Voucher Privatization. In the post-Soviet states, the crucial distinction wasn’t so much between the fast-shockers and the incrementalists, rather, Ellerman points out, “Reform-mongers, in their strategies and even more so in their rhetoric, could be divided into those who take an ideological, fundamental, and root-and-branch approach versus those who take an incremental, piecemeal, home-grown, and adaptive approach.”  From what he says now about global agribusiness and it seems that not much has changed in Sachs’s approach to the adaptive, home-grown initiative — even as the sane world is increasingly convinced that those are the only strategies with any chance of heading

The fact that he’s campaigning for the World Bank job as the candidate of the new regime makes all this particularly hard to take. Since Paul Wolfowitz resigned under a cloud in 2007, new rules at the World Bank are finally permitting countries other than the US and Europe to determine who heads the world’s financial institutions (since world war two it’s been the World Bank for the US, and a European at the IMF). Europe nominated Christine Lagarde for IMF president last year. She won over other candidates. For the World Bank post, the U.S. has quietly floated names like Susan Rice, John Kerry and Larry Summers to replace Robert Zoellick when he steps down June 30. Predicting he won’t be the US’s official pick, Sachs has gotten seven countries to endorse him, including Haiti, Jordan, Kenya, Malaysia and east Timor.

By March 23, we’ll know how all this plays out. Meanwhile, according to the open-source website, WorldBankPresident.org which is tracking these developments, a slate of countries with new financial capacity to compete with the US are taking steps to form a World Bank alternative. Quite possibly, at a meeting in India later this month, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa may set up their own development bank with the goal, they say, ”to escape the dollar and the euro hegemonies and, if Chinese plans go well, making the yuan a global currency.” We’ll see what Sachs has to say about that adaptive initiative.

LAURA FLANDERS is the host of The Laura Flanders Show coming to public television stations later this year. She was the host and founder of GRITtv.org. Follow her on Twitter: @GRITlaura.

March 20, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Jeffrey Sachs’ Grab for the World Bank