Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
HOW DID ABORTION RIGHTS COME TO THIS?  — Carol Hanisch charts how the right to an abortion began to erode shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision; Uber vs. the Cabbies: Ben Terrall reports on the threats posed by private car services; Remembering August 1914: Binoy Kampmark on the enduring legacy of World War I; Medical Marijuana: a Personal Odyssey: Doug Valentine goes in search of medicinal pot and a good vaporizer; Nostalgia for Socialism: Lee Ballinger surveys the longing in eastern Europe for the material guarantees of socialism. PLUS: Paul Krassner on his Six Dumbest Decisions; Kristin Kolb on the Cancer Ward; Jeffrey St. Clair on the Making of the First Un-War; Chris Floyd on the Children of Lies and Mike Whitney on why the war on ISIS is really a war on Syria.
Imperial Civil Society

False Fronts for Wall Street

by JAY TABER

The power of moral sanction is something Wall Street takes very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that over the last two decades, hostile takeovers of authentic civil society organizations, known for exercising moral sanction (i.e., Sierra Club and Pacifica Radio Network), have evolved into full-fledged displacement by corporate false fronts (i.e., Avaaz and 350).

While the membership-based Sierra Club and Pacifica Radio Network fought back and reclaimed their boards of directors, false fronts and compromised NGOs (i.e. Amnesty International USA) have become what is known as imperial civil society. Used to justify privatization, austerity, and military aggression by NATO and the US, they reflect a perversion of moral sanction.

As Maximilian Forte writes in Civil Society, NGOs, and Saving the Needy, the main purpose of the burgeoning civil society fad – that comprises the international bureaucracy of neoliberalism – is to legitimate anti-democratic politics. In order to take over basic functions and powers of the state, this bureaucracy – engaged in development, governance and aid – justifies itself by creating a “need,” thereby cornering the market on “humanity.”

With corporate and government funding, often laundered through banks and foundations, international NGOs inspire pathos by constantly producing images of despair—thus allowing them to dominate discourse from an emotional vantage point. As a market-oriented institutional apparatus, this vast bureaucracy works hand in hand with military and finance authorities, thus functioning as Trojan horses on a par with transnational organized crime.

As a fifth column of fascism, imperial civil society – funded by such entities as Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Ford Foundation, and Soros Open Society Institute – operates worldwide (in tandem with official false fronts like USAID, National Endowment for Democracy, and U.S. Institute for Peace) to subvert sovereignty and derail democracy in favor of US hegemony.

Overthrowing and destabilizing governments, using NGOs like Avaaz as provocateurs, puts authentic non-profits and journalists at risk. Indeed, the imperial network of financiers like Soros makes NGO entrepreneurs in the pro-war champagne circuit accomplices in crimes against humanity. As frontline opportunists in the psywar waged against public consciousness, these false fronts legitimate “humanitarian warfare” and “free-market environmentalism,” employed against indigenous peoples and independent states.

With help from Ford, Rockefeller, Gates and Soros, imperial civil society is admittedly a formidable foe, but not an invulnerable one. Built on a foundation of fraud, the power of moral sanction they have hijacked can effectively be turned against them. While false fronts are able to dominate social media, they do not own our minds; they are merely social engineers operating under false pretenses that we can reject at will.

Jay Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal, and a featured columnist at IC Magazine. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and activists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.