Tar Sands for the week (February 12, 2014).


I’ll tell you what I’m not going to write about. Since Jim Flaherty decided to come within about an inch of telling you that environmentalist NGO’s are terror funded (he didn’t directly say it, he just instead implied it) or terrorist themselves, I’m not going to explain that this is wrong. That’s so stupid of an implication that people who even explain that NGO’s who talk about trees, climate and simultaneously defend capitalism are not “terrorists” are insulting themselves and the reader. I want to mention instead the implications of such comments, and the far more important dangerous deeds of the Harper government towards any activism to stop industrial ecocide.

Recently, as well written about by Murray Dobbin, spying by the federal (excuse me, “Harper”) government on the population– by CSIS, the RCMP and more– is also effectively seeing the state itself privatized. Since last year when the very nature of effectively working as contractors for corporations became a blasé event that one could advertise as “Classified briefing for Energy & Utilities Sector Stakeholders — hosted by Natural resources Canada, in collaboration with CSIS and RCMP” and include various corporations as participants and sponsors of the event, we now have a new level of merger between corporate forces and the state, where the state is paid by companies to share secret information that was (likely illegally) gathered by spy agencies.


There are also the new waves being made by the filed complaints of the BC Civil Liberties Association, alleging that spying has been carried out on all manner of people opposed to certain or all pipelines in BC. Such threatening groups as seniors making protest signs.


And, of course, when Flaherty made his rancid remarks he was dodging answering a more important question: Why is the Canada Revenue Agency carrying out thorough, unprecedented audits of various (tame, mild) environmental NGO’s? In a standard year one percent of the multiple thousand charitable status organizations in Canada get an audit and far less get them in the overhauling manner being carried out now. An entire budget item of tens of millions of dollars was created by the same Flaherty to do, well, exactly this– exclusively to environmental charities.


What frightens me is partly the same thing that repels and causes fear for so many others– while the “exact point” where the stripping of civil liberty becomes fascism is undefined and seemingly not here– we are sliding towards a Canadian totalitarianism where everything you say, do and think is known (and legally defended as legitmate to know) by the Federal (excuse me, “Harper”) government. But it is more than that; it is not the government alone– governments still, in theory at least, can be replaced through a ballot box loss to some other option. The accruing of this power, however, is also taking place for the state.


The “special body of armed men, prisons, etc” that is the state has become more powerful than the Stasi-infested one officially called the German “Democratic” Republic. The access to information and more that is held by the twin North American imperialist states has no equal– not even close– in human history. And what concerns myself most, as a climate activist, is how we have changed almost nothing in terms of how we respond to all of this.


The state now works for corporations. Directly, not in theory, ideology or in a corrupt system of patronage– but as intelligence consultants. This teams with the level of anti-democratic contempt being shown by the Harper regime. Why is this fundamentally different? Because so many large numbers of people are continuing to believe in a recourse to the law as written and regulated by the very same state that now no longer even hides that it doesn’t work for the population in any manner.


When organizations that are also completely wedded to capitalism and this economic order– such as (for an example) the Sierra Club of Canada– are attacked with their financial life blood being threatened, they do not have a class perspective that allows them to smell the fascism in the three piece suit. Let others play the game of defining where fascism begins: What is essential is the slippery slope understanding of state assumptions of power and control. We have less than ever before– and yet, given impending and already occurring climate catastrophe– we must be able to coerce power in a direction opposed to the interests of the ruling class.


The attack on their funding combined with the label of terrorism being applied to people who seem themselves as part of this system will have the opposite effect as must happen. They will bend. And when eNGO’s bend, those who followed them to that point will break.


We are entering an era where these various groups will now change their tactics, so as to continue to work in an open, quasi-public but unaccountable manner. When a powerful member of the ruling class goes after a junior member of that same elite– the junior power normally find a means to accommodate the new reality. Or do you expect to see groups like Environmental Defense go underground, resisting unreasonable governmental intrusion and finding an entirely new means of supplying funding for themselves, outside of the realm of charitable status, foundation grants and legacy inheritances?


The needs of public participation– and real resistance to all of the maneuvers carried out by the Harper Government in concert with the state– needs to become more pronounced, and more open. Lines must be drawn that put the lie to the idea that “we are all in this together.” No, we are clearly not, and corporations that have effectively blurred into the state are quite clear on the fact that hatred, contempt for democratic norms and civil liberty in the name of the pursuit of power is not only okay, it is the “new normal.”


These people are prepared to not only cook the planet to the tune of multiple billions dead, they are doing so with every single dirty trick in the book. And they are not stupid– nor self-defeating as so many of the environmental crowd have said. They are people loyal to their class and their class power. So, given all of this– do we really think that filing complaints about the state abusing power is going to do, well, much of anything? By all means, every tactic to slow down the advance of this state of affairs should be taken up. The problem is that this seems to be the lead of the matter, the “front line” of this struggle is being carried out by people who have no interest, stomach or ability to resist a system they feel an integral part of.


The final summation for Dobbin, and I expect many, many others, is to call on Canadians to send huge funding help to the various NGO’s that are being attacked and crippled financially and legally. This would be the single greatest mistake. Instead, those who the media and others have anointed the “leaders” of environmentalism must abandon the straight jacket of relying on the same state that now works for corporations to define what is and is not acceptable, and for the rest of us to completely abandon the very concept of well salaried, cushy office jobs masquerading as resistance.


Finding ways to keep playing nice, looking for the ruling class, various courts, economic structures and decimated civil rights to be where the changes will come from must end. The courts do not give us our rights, as Utah Philips stated, we are born with them. The state comes along to try and take them away. Our resistance to a system that has slid a long way down a fascistic slope cannot take place within that system. The NGO’s that are under siege will try to keep doing so.


That is the ultimate suicide: Putting our faith in the concept of some saviours to pick us up and do our work for us, and to do it in a legal, capitalist economic model dominated by the most ruthless cabal on this planet since 1944. I was raised on sentiments of Never Again! and I could not be more grateful. But none of us were raised with resistance to a climate nightmare that has advanced so far towards no return. This a new problem; it requires new solutions.


How do we carry out that resistance? I can’t say. But I know whatever works, it won’t involve a press conference, a lawsuit or asking the ones who made the mess to clean it up. It won’t come from the avenues designed to funnel us into a dead end. Maybe they weren’t once that way, even in the last few years. But they are now, and denial will not save any of the people we love.We don’t know what to do? Good… then we can start talking to one another about it. Not in boardrooms, but in the streets.