Saturday, August 28, 2010

Against diversity of tactics, in support of direct action

by Denis G. Rancourt
This essay was first posted on the Activist Teacher blog.
(en francais ICI)

Here I argue that “diversity of tactics” in social justice activism is a misguided effort to unite incompatible sides and that the “diversity of tactics” stance harms the direct action anarchist side and helps the pacifists; where pacifists necessarily support the hierarchical oppressor. [1][2] “Diversity of tactics,” distinct from usual strategic and risk-benefit considerations, is a compromise position between activists that have not only different tactics (direct action versus non-violent) but also opposite views about society (anarchism versus socialism, in the broad sense). This compromise serves the hierarchical system which causes the social injustices being verbally denounced by both groups.


Note that within groups having identified a common enemy or target and a sufficiently common unbearable injustice, determinations of varieties and combinations of tactics and of which individuals will do what are the usual strategic and risk-benefit considerations, distinct from the “diversity of tactics” defined and discussed in the present essay.

“Diversity of tactics” is the position or principle whereby activist groups preferring different tactics of resistance against systemic injustice agree to not get in each other’s way, agree to not interfere or sabotage each other’s different chosen tactics.

It could arguably be stated bluntly as: “Don’t trash me for doing what is needed that you don’t dare do,” addressed to those who don’t agree that it’s needed. diplomatically puts it this way [3]: “Generally, those who criticize a diversity of tactics believe that such a philosophy fails to provide a critical analysis of protest strategies that may in fact harm the broader cause. Conversely, those who support a diversity of tactics generally believe that criticism of others' type of protest harms the unity of the movement by undermining solidarity to the benefit of those whose policies and actions the movement resists.” (In the present essay, I argue that those who support it should stop supporting it…)

“Diversity of tactics” as an operational concept was developed as an attempt to resolve the tension between activists or demonstrators who employ non-violent methods (marching, slogans, theatre, sit-ins, etc.) and activists who employ so-called direct action (targeted property damage, taking down barricades, de-arresting co-activists, physically resisting police attacks, etc.).

Following “diversity of tactics,” activists at anti-globalization events (and other demonstrations) accept even fundamentally different tactics arising from opposing views of society [1][2][4] and rationalize this acceptance by advancing that the degree of risk that an activist takes is a personal decision based on a personal evaluation. They do not try to coerce others to take higher risks. They try to not have behaviours which would put other activists at higher risk.

The latter point is not black and white in the discourse. For example, some would argue that showing up at a demonstration puts all the demonstrators at higher risk by increasing the size of the demonstration thereby “provoking a police response” while others would argue that showing up helps to give safety in numbers. In the end, it is most often the police and their bosses who decide if demonstrators will be safe, if demonstrators will be attacked or not and the degree of force. [5]

“Diversity of tactics” arose as a response to the tension between pacifists and direct action anarchists. The majority pacifists mostly see the anarchists as a negative force that draws unneeded violent police response and that hijacks media attention away from a positive public opinion of most demonstrators and their cause. “Diversity of tactics” is used as a rallying call for liberal activists to join in accepting more radical methods of protest and resistance as part of an overall strategy. [6]


It is a common misconception among activists advancing “diversity of tactics” to consider all tactics as contributing to fighting injustice and only differentiated by level of risk. In fact, direct action and pacifist tactics are fundamentally different both in the underlying assumptions about how societal change occurs and in the underlying beliefs about society’s structure and about how society should be structured. [1][2][4][7][8][9][10]

The anarchists believe that hierarchy itself is the problem and that hierarchy allows concentrated power to generate and maintain social injustices including war, occupation, colonization, economic predation, wholesale exploitation and social engineering. The goal of the anarchists is to flatten the non-democratic hierarchical pyramid as much as possible to provide space for individual agency (participatory democracy, self-organization, decentralized and distributed control of resources and the economy, etc.). [11][12]

The pacifists or socialists (in the broad sense) or “progressives” or liberals believe that justice can be achieved and maintained by the present system of social organization which only needs to be fixed and improved but not by flattening the hierarchical pyramid.

They believe that the system is amenable to being adjusted and improved via opinion input from citizens. They believe that present First World governments can be directed by “critical masses” of citizens’ opinions. They therefore design their actions around “education” (read progressive propaganda), opinion forming, and mass expression via the corporate media, petitions, street demonstrations and so on. They also often have vested interests with workers unions, NGOs, and so on, that are very much tied to the system. Most of the “improvements” they seek involve strengthening the system’s hierarchical control and increasing the system’s legitimacy (e.g., progressive legislation with more control).


In fact, our First World “free and democratic” system is practicing horrendous crimes with virtual complete complicity of First World populations. Canadian crimes include, a continuing genocide against aboriginal peoples [13], a geopolitical war in Afghanistan, support for the US Empire, support for the genocidal and apartheid state policies of Israel, overturning the democratic popular government in Haiti, corporate and finance predation throughout the world, an immoral prison system used to maintain social inequities [14], vast structural social inequities with mass public health consequences, mass civil rights violations perpetrated at will and without consequences for the decision makers (e.g., G20-Toronto), mass indoctrination and pacification of the youth, continual social engineering manipulation, universal pharmaceutical and medical establishment predation … [15]

Since the system is doing this, the system should be stopped, or at least impeded. Since we condone the system by our compliance at school, at work and on the streets every day, we are responsible at least for our own oppressions (wage slavery, financial debt extortion, professional indoctrination, mental environment control, criminalized lifestyle behaviour, etc.). Every time we collaborate with the non-democratic economy and the illegitimate control structures in our lives we strengthen the system and enable its criminality.

Those who do not resist and impede collaborate.

The struggle between direct action and pacifism is a struggle between enemies, between resistors and collaborators. This needs to be clear. [16]


“Diversity of tactics” is an accommodation that saves pacifists from being exposed and perturbed in their collaboration with and support for a violently oppressive system. Anarchists using “diversity of tactics” seek protection from the majority pacifists or seek to at least not be attacked by the “pacifists”. But anarchists are looking in the wrong place for support. The enemy (the collaborator) cannot provide support. The enemy can only provide coercion, co-optation, and elimination.

Collaborators will break ranks with the enemy only to the extent that the heat is turned up. You can’t influence with words alone – the needed words acquire meaning through confrontation. You cannot make revolutionary changes by collaborating and accommodating.

We individually need to act everywhere we can, especially where it counts, including on pacifist collaborators, and not only at globalist propaganda events. There is no solidarity without individuals who resist and there can be solidarity only to the extent that there are individuals who resist. [4][8][9][16]


[1] “Pacifism as Pathology” by Ward Churchill, 1986.

[2] “How non-violence protects the state” by Peter Gelderloos, 2007.

[3] “Panel Discussion: A Diversity of Tactics - A Diversity of Opinions”,, 2010.

[4] “The Activist Wars” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2009.

[5] “They’re not just pigs” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[6] "In defence of the diversity of tactics" by Alex Hundert, 2010.

[7] “Against Chomsky” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2008.

[8] “G20-Toronto property damage is a good thing” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[9] “On the racism and pathology of left progressive First-World activism” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[10] “G20-Toronto and lost sovereignty - A critical examination of the role of the CCLA” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[11] “The Basic Bakunin – Writtings 1869-1871” by Mikhail Bakunin.

[12] “Anarchy” by Errico Malatesta, 1891. English translation by Vernon Richards, 1974, last revised 2001. (Richards’ translation essential.)

[13] “A little matter of genocide – Holocaust and denial in the Americas 1492 to the present” by Ward Churchill, 1997.
(Available at Google Books,

[14] “About the obscenity of the legal mind and its grotesque displays of arrogance” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[15] “Some big lies of science” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[16] “Roundabout as conflict-avoidance versus Malcolm X’s psychology of liberation” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

Denis G. Rancourt was a tenured and full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He practiced several areas of science which were funded by a national agency and ran an internationally recognized laboratory. He published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals. He developed popular activism courses and was an outspoken critic of the university administration and a defender of student and Palestinian rights. He was fired for his dissidence in 2009 by a president who is a staunch supporter of Israeli policy. [See]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Roundabout as conflict-avoidance versus Malcolm X’s psychology of liberation

by Denis G. Rancourt
This essay was first posted on the Activist Teacher blog.

In the present essay I introduce the general notion of “roundabout” as a mechanism of conflict avoidance used by privileged social justice activists. I then contrast this pseudo-liberation activism with the needed true liberation activism of Malcolm X, which I argue to be consistent with the model of liberation of Freire.


The now familiar concept of “pacifism as pathology” was introduced by Ward Churchill as the central characteristic of First-World middleclass so-called social justice activism. Churchill argued from history that all liberations were leveraged through violence and proposed that pacifism as cowardice was pathology. [1]

Gandhi stated that it was better to practice armed resistance than to use pacifism as an excuse for cowardice [2]. Both men (Churchill and Ghandi) saw acceptance of and self-justification for one’s (legal or circumstantial) slavery as pathology.

Paulo Freire’s work showed that all hierarchies, no matter how cushioned in comfort, are violent and oppressive and argued that we could only fight our own oppression – that “solidarity” meant standing side by side with those fighting our same oppression. Freire advanced that all liberations had to be rooted in and driven by the struggles of the oppressed themselves no matter how underprivileged and that inter-social-class “solidarity” was insignificant and limited to rare individuals who joined in battle on the front lines. [3]

Churchill concentrated on the use of pacifism as an excuse to avoid the needed direct confrontation with the oppressive system. He and others have deconstructed and exposed First World pacifism as avoidance; including mainstream life-style environmentalism, ecological or economic isolationism, love ideologies, and so on, when taken to be activisms in themselves. These authors did not explore the main creative active strategies whereby pacifism can be enacted.

I explore the latter strategies of evasive action (roundabout) used by the most activist-minded sector of concerned citizens.

My goal is to provide a radical self-criticism for dedicated anti-hierarchy (social justice) activists to help ensure that we are as effective as possible and are not simply fooling ourselves. I hope that my analysis will help us to more easily recognize when we are fooling ourselves and wasting our energies and will help us to identify optimally effective outlooks and strategies.


Education and progressive legislation

Here is an example. A visible minority suffers racism. As a way of avoiding effective direct challenges to this racism, members of this visible minority ally themselves (in “solidarity”) with privileged social justice activist whites in order to train the majority societal group away from overt racist behaviour using social engineering managed by the establishment - using sponsored “education” and progressive legislation.

As a result, a privileged class of educated and integrated whites become self-conscious about racist behaviour and self-sensor their racist expression, the establishment strengthens its illusion of fairness, and the minority looses its ability and perceived legitimacy for effective direct daily confrontations against now-more-covert racism.

A victim in this particular roundabout is the collaborating visible minority because it puts its efforts in collaborating and its hopes in the social engineering rather than practice its liberation. It denies itself praxis (in the sense of Freire) and instead integrates itself more fully with the oppressive dominant hierarchy, thereby becoming more oppressed and more of an oppressor. Other victims are the lower social class individuals of the visible minority who loose actual solidarity with the now more integrated higher social class individuals of the visible minority and who are saddled with a stronger establishment more able to deflect their legitimate and persistent interests.

The above described roundabout is common as a general model for any oppressed group in a “free and democratic” First World setting: women, queers, blacks, language or cultural minorities, working class, working poor, homeless, disabled, non-status, elderly, disease-infected, professional workers, students, migrant workers, colonized aboriginals, prisoners, consumers, wage earners, tenants, home owners, single fathers, single mothers, and so on.

The above example involves a social class divide of the oppressed group but the class divide is not an essential feature because the roundabout is equally effective when there is no underclass of the oppressed group.

The essential feature of this roundabout is that the collaboration with the establishment, with the hierarchical system of control, is a conscious or unconscious diversion (in terms of personal psychology and personal resource allocation) away from effective direct confrontations, away from the praxis of liberation and away from Freire’s needed revolt and authentic rebellion.

The dominant group partner in this roundabout also avoids its own immediate oppressions, instead of its members practicing their liberation. As a result of this dedicated exercise of avoidance, members of the dominant group partner in the roundabout are perpetually depressed, in search of “hope”, and routinely experience “burn out” despite self-identifying as privileged. This is because the authentically concerned dominant group partners (as opposed to the cynical higher-hierarchical-level dominant group partners such as law and policy makers) are attempting to removed themselves from their own pain and have denied themselves any possibility of directly and effectively addressing their own immediate oppression.

Organizing and politics

Another example of roundabout is when a concerned and sensitized individual, often burdened with survival guilt associated with his/her relative privilege and damaged by an institutionalization (school, work, etc.) against which he/she has no personal experience of effective resistance, identifies an injustice needing to be redressed and launches into “organizing” as a substitute for immediate and direct action, as a substitute for initiating a praxis of liberation focussed on one’s own oppression.

This type of organizing is based of recruiting membership, education regarding the issues, building a growing pool of progressive opinion, and so on, but it guards itself against “radical” actions that would scare off potential allies and clings instead to the mythology of a critical mass of opinion as a motor for societal change. [4][5]

In contrast, organizing that supports liberation is driven by the need for efficient learning, protection and power amplification in a group of individuals already joined in solidarity via their practices of liberation. It is an organizing that is an organic part of the praxis, not a holding pattern of risk and confrontation avoidance.

Deferring societal agency

In another roundabout the concerned and sensitized individual makes a conscious decision to temporarily sacrifice himself/herself to fully integrate the system and to seek advancement within the hierarchy with the rationalization that he/she will be more able to make positive change once a sufficient degree of power and influence is achieved.

The nature of a hierarchy is of course such that this is impossible. The rare individuals who break free from the top layers are expelled from the establishment. The other climbers serve the system astonishingly well or blame themselves for failure and drop out if they cannot.

The sacrifice of willing integration is a large price to pay if the individual does not discover rebellion and creative anti-hierarchical sabotage as methods to change the system from within. Workers and students play the system to survive and their suffering is evident in absenteeism (both physical and mental), indifference, detachment, cynicism, escapism, self-destruction, and so on.

This process and these difficulties are described by Schmidt for the case of professional workers [6]. Adapted to our schooling, this is the story of our institutionalization into the hierarchy, into an economy controlled by concentrated power. In this sense, student liberation during the developmental years would be a most fertile ground for societal transformation [7]. This is why schools are guarded from outside influence and from ideological divergence as rigorously or more than prisons. [8]

Anytime the individual substitutes direct self-defence using his/her body, language, personal influence in community and personal power at school or at work with some indirect or circuitous make-work near-zero-risk scheme that involves going along or convincing others to also not act, then the individual is practicing roundabout rather than liberation activism.


The Black Panther Party (originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defence) was founded in 1966, one year after the murder of Malcolm X. The spectre of such an organized and focussed resistance was the main concrete driving force which led to significant civil rights gains for blacks. The Black Panther Party was eliminated by the white state’s (FBI) political assassination unit known as COINTELPRO which was also involved in the Malcolm X assassination. Today US blacks disproportionately populate the lowest economic class and US prisons.

In the words of Rev. Albert Cleage [9]:
“Malcolm X was tremendously important, beyond our comprehension today … Malcolm laid down certain basic principles that we can never forget. He changed the whole course. The first basic principle that Malcolm laid down that we can’t forget is this: The white man is your enemy. That is a basic principle, we can’t forget it. I don’t care what else they drag in from wherever they drag it – remember one thing, Malcolm taught one truth: The white man is our enemy. We can’t get away from it, and if we accept and understand that one basic truth, his life was not lived in vain. Because upon that one basic truth we can build a total philosophy, a total course of action for struggle. Because that was the basic confusion which distorted the lives of black people, with corrupted the movements of black people.”

“He didn’t just say it … he went out and he lived it. He asked for moments of confrontation. He said we have got to break our identification, we can’t go through life identifying with the white man or his government. … We must break our identification with the enemy, we must confront him, and we must realize that conflict and violence are necessary parts of a struggle against an enemy – that is what he taught. Conflict, struggle, and violence are not to be avoided. Don’t be afraid of them…”
This foundational principle that in the hierarchical oppression of blacks your enemy is your enemy can be generalized to any particular hierarchical oppression and to all oppressions by hierarchies.

The oppressor by nature is your enemy. You cannot collaborate with your enemy devoted to your oppression and come out ahead. At best, you will be used and transformed into your enemy.

Malcolm X’s psychology of liberation is one where you recognize that the oppressor is an enemy that you cannot integrate, where you know that this enemy can only be deterred by your strength and your willingness to defend yourself.

In this psychology, like in Freire’s, you do not fight the enemy in order to replace him in a hierarchy. You fight for liberation, not for an opportunity to create your own system of oppression. But you fight. You understand that this is an enemy and that all hierarchies can only violently oppress.

If it’s not clear that you are oppressed or that your oppressor is your enemy, then not only are you trapped and confused but you also protect and serve the oppressor. And you act against all those who are oppressed by the oppressor. You collaborate.

One does not like to live during a time of war and one does not like to have enemies. But this is a time of war and you are harmed by the system, denied your full humanity, as surely as the million directly killed in Iraq and as surely as those held in the open air prison known as Gaza and illegally maintained by Israel.

By not fighting your own oppression directly as an individual person you protect the same system that practices these war crimes. By not understanding in your pores that this system and those who sustain, protect and project it are your enemy until they stop, by not understanding this, you are co-opted into collaborating and into denying yourself your own liberation.

You can’t even start a praxis of liberation until you start to recognize the enemy. And you can’t sustain the struggle without knowing who the enemy is and that he is the enemy.

There is an us and them. You are oppressed and you have an oppressor. Indeed, you are oppressed by an entire hierarchical system of oppression. You target where you can best defend yourself, where you will inflict the most punishment. Call it punitive justice.

As soon as you loose sight that you are dealing with an enemy, then you are part of the oppressor. All the internal and external forces will make every attempt to confuse you on this point and to buy or to force your cooperation. In particular, those who invest in roundabout will vehemently pressure and coerce you to follow them because you represent a threat to their psychological investment [4][5].


If I keep my individual personal agency, my direct ability to have influence, my direct bodily ability to defend myself against my oppressor understood to be my enemy, at the point of my strongest connection to my oppressor, then I will not partake in roundabout. I will have all my available resources for my praxis of liberation which will naturally include organizing and community.


[1] “Pacifism as Pathology” by Ward Churchill, 1986.

[2] "Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict: What we can learn from Gandhi" by Norman G. Finkelstein, 2009.

[3] “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire, 1970.

[4] “On the racism and pathology of left progressive First-World activism” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[5] “The Activist Wars” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2009.

[6] “Disciplined Minds” by Jeff Schmidt, 2000.

[7] “Need for and Practice of Student Liberation” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[8] “The Student as Nigger” by Jerry Farber, 1969.

[9] "Myths about Malcolm X" by Rev. Albert Cleage, speech delivered in Detroit, February 24, 1967.

Denis G. Rancourt was a tenured and full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He practiced several areas of science which were funded by a national agency and ran an internationally recognized laboratory. He published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals. He developed popular activism courses and was an outspoken critic of the university administration and a defender of student and Palestinian rights. He was fired for his dissidence in 2009 by a president who is a staunch supporter of Israeli policy. [See]

Sunday, August 22, 2010

CO2 emission from fossil fuel burning is not more than from breathing

by Denis G. Rancourt
This essay was first posted on the Activist Teacher blog.

The present (2010) rate of CO2 emission from fossil fuel burning, expressed as kilograms of carbon per year, is 0.8 x 10^13 kg-C/y (where, in scientific notation, 10^13 = 10,000,000,000,000 with thirteen zeros). This includes all fossil fuel CO2 emissions; from petroleum, coal, natural gas, and cement production.

My calculation (below) shows that this rate of CO2 emission is roughly equal to the CO2 emissions from the simple breathing of air of humans and domestic animals (humans, cattle, swine, sheep, goats, chickens, pets, etc.), so-called anthropogenic (from humankind) animal breathing.

Energy for life comes from the burning of food fuel. Organic matter is burned using the oxygen that we breathe and this controlled combustion produces CO2 gas and H2O water. Organic matter can be represented by the generic formula C-H2-O and the breathing (or burning) reaction is simply the reverse of the photosynthesis reaction as:

C-H2-O + O2 = H2O + CO2 + energy.

In this reaction, each C in organic matter produces one CO2 molecule on burning.

The metabolic rate of an animal (or living being) is the rate of energy expenditure needed to sustain life functions (such as the pumping of blood, etc.) and to power any work done by the animal (such as walking, running, lifting, etc.)

The metabolic rate for humans primarily depends on age, sex, and body weight. Representative values (somewhat similar for all large warm blooded animals) are: 1 Watt per kilogram of body weight (W/kg) for sleep, 4 W/kg for walking, and 18 W/kg for running. Below we use a representative average value for all humans and domestic animals to be 5 W/kg.

Our task therefore is to evaluate the metabolic rate of energy use requirements of all humans (6.7 billion individuals) and their domestic animals (1.3 billion cows, etc.), in order to use the above chemical reaction to obtain the needed global rate of O2 consumption which, in turn is equal (on a per molecule basis) to the rate of global CO2 production from anthropogenic animal breathing.

In evaluating the energy required for burning organic matter (food), a most convenient approximation is to note that the energy produced is proportional to the amount of oxygen consumed. The proportionality is fairly constant for all food types and is approximately twenty kilojoules of energy per litre of oxygen gas at standard atmospheric conditions: 20 kJ/L. (One litre of gas at normal pressure and temperature conditions contains 0.04 moles of the gas molecules. One mole is 6.02 x 10^23 molecules.)

Now rather than use living body weight in the metabolic rate formula, we use the same convention as for biomass and express all human and domestic animal body weights in kilograms of carbon, kg-C. Dry weight (water removed) is approximately 30% of living body weight and approximately half of the weight of dry natural organic matter is carbon.

This leads to the convenient final formula:

R-CO2 = Rmet x Mbio x [5.5 kg/Wy]

where R-CO2 is the calculated rate of CO2 emission (expressed in kilograms of carbon per year, kg-C/y) corresponding to an amount Mbio (expressed in kg-C) of breathing biomass (whatever humans or domestic animals one wishes to count) and where the factor of 5.5 kg/Wy is in units of kilograms per Watt-year.

Using Rmet = 5 W/kg and Mbio for all humans and domestic animals on the planet equal to 4 x 10^11 kg-C, we obtain R-CO2 = 1 x 10^13 kg-C/y which is comparable in value to the present rate of CO2 emission from fossil fuel burning of 0.8 x 10^13 kg-C/y.

The global CO2 emission rate from fossil fuel burning is comparable to the rate of CO2 emission from global anthropogenic animal breathing. Our fossil fuel burning contributes the same amount to atmospheric CO2 as our breathing and the breathing of our domestic animals.

Furthermore, if we consider that all living things breathe (admittedly some microbes don’t breathe oxygen) and that Earth’s (living) biomass is approximately 10^15 kg-C, then total global breathing may well exceed the CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning by a factor of between ten and one thousand times greater.

I hope that the present comparison to the natural act of breathing will serve to encourage a re-examination of the misguided notion that the trace gas and essential nutrient known as CO2 could be of any danger to humans or to Earth’s ecological systems.

The day CO2 became a pollutant was a sad day for both establishment science and First-World middleclass canned policy consumers.

Denis G. Rancourt was a tenured and full professor of physics and environmental science researcher at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He practiced several areas of science which were funded by a national agency and ran an internationally recognized laboratory. He published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals. He developed popular activism courses and was an outspoken critic of the university administration and a defender of student and Palestinian rights. He was fired for his dissidence in 2009 by a president who is a staunch supporter of Israeli policy. [See]

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Is the burning of fossil fuel a significant planetary activity?

by Denis G. Rancourt
This essay was first posted on the Activist Teacher blog.

After all, the Earth is a planet. Is even the presence of humans significant on the rough and diverse thin surface of this planet?

We certainly make every effort to see ourselves as significant on this spinning ball in space. We like to point out that the lights from our cities can be seen from our extra-atmospheric “spaceships” at night and that we have deforested continents and reduced the populations of large wild mammals and of fishes but is all this really significant in the planetary web known as the biosphere?


The present (2010) historic maximum of anthropogenic (caused by humans) fossil fuel burning is only 8% or so of global primary production (GPP) (both expressed as kilograms of carbon per year, kg-C/y). GPP is the rate at which new biomass (living matter) is produced on the whole planet. And of course all biomass can in principle be considered fuel that could be burned with oxygen (O2) to produce CO2 gas, H2O water, energy, and an ash residue.

This shows the extent to which anthropogenic energy production from fossil fuel burning is small in comparison to the sun’s energy delivery to Earth, since biomass primary production results from the sun’s energy via photosynthesis.

The sun’s rate of raw energy delivery to the planet is, in turn, much greater (more than one thousand times greater) than the energy captured by GPP because most of the sun’s light energy is not used for photosynthesis but instead is either sent directly back out into space or produces fluid convection, wind, rain, water currents, erosion, etc., and because photosynthesis itself, even for the light directly striking a plant’s photoactive surface, is highly inefficient (less than 2% of incident light energy is converted to biomass chemical bond energy).

So, on the global scale of things fossil fuel burning energy release is miniscule (8% of 0.07% = 0.006%).

Given all the fuss that is made about the present rate of fossil fuel burning (2010; 0.8 x 10^13 kg-C/y where 10^13 = 10,000,000,000,000 with thirteen zeros), it is important to keep in mind that this represents an amount of CO2 release comparable to or somewhat less than the CO2 released by simple breathing from humankind and its domestic animals [LINK]. The combined biomass of humankind and its domestic animals (cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, pets, etc.) is in turn estimated to be only 0.04% of Earth’s living biomass (all expressed as kilograms of carbon, kg-C), which is a lot more CO2-producing breathing. (Ants, for example, are estimated to represent ten to one hundred times the biomass of humankind and ants can be argued to have “transformed” the planet and its ecology far more than humans.)

The corporate-finance-military-empire interest in fossil fuel is that it is concentrated, extractable and compositionally homogeneous enough to be amenable to industrial processing, that its demand can be created and its supply controlled, and that new and existing alternative transportation technologies or strategies can be sabotaged and are not presently competitive on the geopolitical military battlefront (although hydrogen-based fuels are presently used for rocket propulsion).


The total pool of fossil fuel carbon itself, which has been burned to date (2010), is not large compared to organic and non-mineral carbon on the planet. It is 3.7 x 10^14 kg-C.

By comparison, the present total mass of CO2 as carbon in the atmosphere is 8.6 x 10^14 kg-C where CO2 is a trace gas with present concentration 390 ppmv (parts per million by volume) and where the atmosphere is the smallest global reservoir of carbon on the planet.

Even as Earth’s atmosphere goes the present concentration of CO2 is historically low compared to biomass highly productive periods during which CO2 concentrations where as high as 20 times the present level. Past bio-productive periods are part of the reason we have fossil fuels today.

The present low concentration of CO2 is growth limiting for plants under conditions where other essential nutrients do not first limit growth. Indeed, experiments have shown that today’s plants grow up to 50% faster than under present conditions when the CO2 concentration of the ambient atmosphere is 1000 ppmv, all other factors remaining the same and non-growth limiting.

Beyond the atmospheric carbon reservoir, the present planetary biomass alone (1 x 10^15 kg-C) is approximately three times the amount of total post-industrialization fossil fuel burned to date where even this biomass carbon is only carbon in living organisms.

In addition there is at least 10 times more carbon contained in non-living organic matter than in biomass – in organic detritus, soils, bogs, natural waters, lake sediments, marine sediments, and so on. For example, from my own research, the boreal forest (the largest ecosystem on Earth) contains millions of lakes that have not even been counted. These virtually unstudied lakes have accumulated organic-rich bottom sediments (preserved by anoxia) that have not yet been included in global carbon accounting studies.

Furthermore, there is approximately fifty times more dissolved carbon in ocean water than contained as CO2 in the atmosphere.

These bio-available carbon pools (biomass, organic matter, atmosphere, ocean water) do not include geological stores and sources from volcanoes and active geothermal sites. Volcanic activity, in particular, is unpredictable and has been highly variable in intensity since life burst onto the planet (billions of year ago), with often dramatic impacts on global ecology.

In summary, the total amount of post-industrial fossil fuel burned to date (and expressed as kilograms of carbon) represents less than 1% of the global bio-available carbon pools.

More importantly, bio-available carbon is a minor constituent of the Earth’s surface environment and one that is readily buffered and exchanged between compartments without significant consequences to the diversity and quantity of life on the planet. The known history of life on Earth (over the last billions of years) is unambiguous on this point.

Left progressive First-World elitist and disconnected policy consumers and service intellectuals need to recalibrate their sense of self-importance and correct the blindness that this sense produces.


(Falsely) assuming direct input and no other inputs or outputs, the total post-industrial fossil fuel burning to date (2010) should have produced a post-industrial increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration from 275 ppmv (parts per million by volume) to 500 ppmv or so. Instead, the measured increase to 390 ppmv is half the “expected” amount.

Likewise, on the dynamic time scale of one year, the present (2010) rate of fossil fuel burning CO2 release to the atmosphere (4.0 ppmv/y) is twice the present measured rate of increase of actual atmospheric CO2 concentration (2.1 ppmv/y).

A factor of two (in both the amount and the annual rate) is not nothing. This factor of two is in fact an underestimate because the post-industrial deforestation would also have contributed CO2 to the atmosphere. Where is the anthropogenic CO2 going?

It is too great an amount to have gone into biomass but it could have spurred plant and phytoplankton growth and gone into organic matter?

It is generally believed to have been quickly dissolved into the ocean water. This has in turn led to tenuous proposals (and an associated research industry) that the mean ocean water has been acidified by 0.1 pH units and that this postulated acidification alone may cause ecological change putting certain shell-forming organisms at risk. To date there has been no direct experimental validation of a change in ocean pH, nor has there been a conclusive demonstration that ecological damage arises from increased ocean acidity.

This ocean acidification side show on the global warming science bandwagon, involving major nation research centers and international collaborations, is interesting to compare with the 1970s-1980s hoax of boreal forest lake acidification. [1][2]

More importantly, scientists know virtually nothing about the dynamic carbon exchange fluxes that occur on all the relevant time and lengths scales to say anything definitive about how atmospheric CO2 arises and is exchanged in interaction with the planet’s ecological systems. We are barely at the point of being able to ask intelligent questions.

As with most areas of science and medicine, however, despite our gargantuan ignorance we are unfortunately able to sound knowledgeable and able to write impressive grant proposals and governmental reports. It’s a dangerous place to be for society when you have a demonstrated bad habit of serving powerful economic interests. Common sense and independent thinking are going to have to prevail if we do not want to continue with this circus.


The present foray about carbon is of course motivated by the ongoing debate between “warmists” and “deniers”.

What use to be called “global warming” is now dubbed “climate change”. The climate modeller crew went from proposing out of thin air (otherwise known as the amplification hypothesis) that an anthropogenic increase in trace gas and essential nutrient CO2 would cause global warming to proposing that it would cause an increase in extreme weather events and in abnormally large regional climate changes.

The change in name appeared at about the time when many statisticians were pointing out in published papers that the global mean temperature was an ill-defined quantity. That’s technical language for “has not and cannot be reliably determined”. That pretty much put an end to all the nice temperature graphs.

There are many problems with the revised climate modeller crew story. To name a few (see also [2]):
(1) There is no justification beyond conjecture for the “amplification hypothesis”.

(2) The models are vast oversimplifications of reality and the model predictions are sensitive both to the values of ill-constrained (not known) needed parameters and to changes that would make the models more realistic.

(3) All the most dramatic regional climate and ice-cover changes can be explained simply using plausible known processes without the use of computer models. [2]

(4) Historic climatologists and climate statisticians who have published on the topic have concluded that recent weather and regional climate changes are not out of statistical norms.
The astounding recent exposure (known as climategate [3]) of wholesale corruption in the climate modelling and climate data massage scientific establishment only muzzled the warmist corporate media frenzy (as part of the cover up) but did not stop the mega-financier-driven push towards creating the largest ever paper economy anchored in “cap and trade” and “carbon credits” [4], nor did it dampen the enthusiasm and conviction of the associated gravy train NOGs and special-sector public-opinion-dependent green associations, groups, and political parties.

This would be the largest financial scam in history (barring only the fractional reserve private banking money monopoly), taxing life itself and non-First-World industrial development under a militarily backed extortion regime of global extent. The powerful have eyed the prize and are not about to let go without a sustained run for the money and for global control of aspiring economic competitors.

First World left progressives, with their pathological avoidance of conflict [5], would help usher in this scheme as a way to convince themselves that they are buffering corporate exploitation and destructive resource extraction, while continuing to not directly or effectively confront corporations and the governments that work for corporations.


Whereas humankind has relatively little impact on the quantity and diversity of life in the biosphere, humankind is the main determinant factor in the welfare and health of humans and human communities. The health and welfare of human communities in turn are the main factors that determine the extent to which humans destroy the environment.

There is no lack of examples. Brutal colonial rule and occupation transformed Africa into a continent of unsustainable practices and a war zone of resource extraction for powerful global players and collaborating local elites, at the expense of war-torn populations. American militarily backed corporate occupations in Latin America have devastated the landscapes and the peoples. The mass insane agri-food corporate enterprise in North America is based on a most efficient genocide of the aboriginal peoples, the survivors of which are in prisons and on controlled reserves. And so on.

For left progressives to collaborate with First World governments that practice global extortion and geopolitical wars in order to pass carbon schemes to undemocratically manage and control the developments of non-First-World communities and sovereign states is obscene, racist, and cruelly cynical.

I would hope that concerned citizens would instead join in thoroughly ridiculing the carbon fixation of our service intellectuals and myopic-at-best politicians in order that this latest scam and similar ones go the way of the dodo. [6] Let us focus on “stop killing and exploiting”. [7]


[1] “Some big lies of science” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[2] “Global warming: Truth or dare?” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2007.

[3] Climategate warming bubble burst – YouTube videos

[4] “The corporate climate coup” by David F. Noble, 2007, 2010.

[5] “On the racism and pathology of left progressive First-World activism” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[6] For an essay about the power of public opinion and image maintenance vulnerability see “Psycho-biological basis for image leverage and the case of Israel” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[7] “Voter psychology and the bloodless revolution to end bloodshed” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

Other essays by the same author:

Same author's blog specifically about climate:

Denis G. Rancourt was a tenured and full professor of physics and environmental science researcher at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He practiced several areas of science which were funded by a national agency and ran an internationally recognized laboratory. He published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals. He developed popular activism courses and was an outspoken critic of the university administration and a defender of student and Palestinian rights. He was fired for his dissidence in 2009 by a president who is a staunch supporter of Israeli policy. [See]

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Voter psychology and the bloodless revolution to end bloodshed

Right, left and center voters must unite against politicians

by Denis G. Rancourt
This essay was first posted on the Activist Teacher blog.


Fear is the primary motivation for many voters.

Left voters mobilize when they feel a danger from a perceived rabid right that would ghettoize racial minorities, tear down Medicare and state pensions, weaken labour unions, and criminalize behaviours on the basis of arbitrary moral or religious judgements.

Right voters mobilize when they feel a danger from a perceived paternalistic left that would tax more, interfere more, manage more, and lead the country into fiscal disaster and deficient national safety. [1]

I think both right and left voters need to realize that both right and left governments work for corporations and financiers and that the goal needs to be to put these governments and their backers in their place.

Why the hell should corporations and banks run our lives? And why the hell do they own the politicians? And why don’t we force governments to work for people?

We need a “voters’ alliance”, an understanding that voters – both right and left – will stand for government that actually represents people rather than serve undemocratic power structures.

All voters need to have as their first priority to take back government. We need to get rid of politicians and replace them with accountable representatives.

No more “the global economy controls my life” bullshit. No more letting the banks set financial policy and industry set corporate policy. No more bank and corporate lobbyists. No more corporate or government media – free the waves. No more “industry is the government regulator’s client” bullshit.

Individuals should not pay taxes, except specific taxes for targeted use agreed to by referendum. Profits and interests on loans are benefits to non-democratic corporations and banks, gratuitously extracted from the working public. Therefore corporate profits and interests on private-bank loans can be taxed at whatever rate is needed to pay for whatever the public wants.

The practice of taxing folks to fatten corporations must end to be replaced with the common sense taxing of extracted profits and extorted interests on private-capital loans. Regular folks don’t make profits, they earn pay from their personal contributions and such pay should not be taxed. Each earner has a right to decide how to spend his/her pay and that includes helping others or contributing to shared services.

Corporations and banks, like the economy, are not going to fold because profits and interests are taxed. They didn’t before and they won’t now. If anything, organized thievery is too resilient. Tax the shysters and leave people alone – a democratic counter to corporate and finance predation. This would help ensure that the public, through a representative government, stays in charge.

For this to work, it would require that there be no more corporate and finance secrets. Everything has to be open book. The public has a right to know exactly who owns and controls what and how much and by what means these scavenger systems extract their ransoms and rents. There should be no secrets in scam jobs.

Government needs to both get out of peoples lives and put a heavy democratically-controlled hand on the power structures that fuck people over.

Politicians can no longer lie, can be recalled, can be disciplined for misleading the public, and must go to referendum on all significant international agreements and on all significant economic structural charges. Period.

I trust people. Therefore, don’t tell me (or anyone) what religion I can or cannot have and don’t tell me what I can or cannot do with my body (it’s my body) and don’t tell me what to drink or smoke or inject or at what age (my family does that) and don’t tell me who I can or cannot fuck with consent or raise children with and don’t tell me what must be taught in my school and don’t tell me what weapons I can or cannot own and don’t tell me you are going to limit or regulate the internet or any media and don’t tell me about your corporate distribution copyrights or your crazy corporate patent “rights” and don’t spy or surveillance me or collect my information… [1][2]

But do force the corporate and finance books to be wide open and do tax interests and profits across the board, taking into account that small businesses are both more legitimate and more precarious than large corporations. And do prohibit mergers and power concentration. And do force break ups and distribution. And reduce foreign ownership, in both directions. And tie the economy to local democratic structures. And break up unhealthy mega operations in food and health.

The government’s job is to protect individual freedoms and that means controlling all undemocratic structures that feed on and constrain people.

Private enterprise is great, as long as it’s private and operates in a level-field competitive environment without giants that own banks, media and politicians. Small is better and the small can organize to share knowledge and costs on large projects but monopolies occupying entire regions are a no go.

Voters need to get control and to protect each other’s individual rights. With control come more ownership and less dependence on outside forces directed by others (those artificially at the top of the food chain).


But much remains unsaid. The US Empire is a military economy. A dominant military economy can thrive while being inefficient and insolvent because force runs the world. The US prints money at will and the US dollar will be the world currency as long as the US superpower is prepared to enforce its rule.

The paper economy can crash and burn as it suits the big boys but as long as the US military-industrial-finance complex – with its over one thousand military bases or installations or affiliations in over one hundred countries worldwide and with its strategic control of energy resources and of energy transport routes – has a tight grip on the world’s real economy US intervention, domination, and exploitation of continental-scale regions is the name of the game. [3]

This domination does not serve the US (and Canadian satellite) voter but only serves to make enemies and feed the military-industrial-finance machine. There is no need for the US to keep China and Russia down. Why not let all develop according to local desires, talents and resources and keep to making America work without projecting its force?

The only answer is racist fear and thirst for power. Voters need to cut the complex off from its addiction to violence and start making friends in the world.

The US is the only world power driving non-civil geopolitical wars in the Middle East and Asia, the only world power interfering in Latin American affairs, the only threat to China in securing its energy needs, the only reason that Israel can freely practice racial aggression [4], and so on.

The US cannot keep the world population under control with nuclear and conventional weapons so it spreads “democracy” – that is, US-style corruption where historic local decision making is abruptly replaced by show elections to pick US-baked political candidates who promote mega-corporate and world-Bank/IMF control of national economies. We all know who wins in the monopoly game of corporate and finance concentration.

The exported US “democracy” is accompanied by a western culture lifestyle of isolating individuals with technology, fast food and relative privilege and by making the working classes compete for the only kinds of jobs allowed after everything else is gutted by “reforms” or destroyed by all out war.

“Our” politicians sure know how to make friends in facilitating this all out militarily-backed finance-corporate exploitation and pillaging.

It’s true folks. The First World robs the Third and Developing Worlds using force. Come on – you knew that. All those lies about aid: Taxpayer financed infrastructure for better corporate exploitation… They only want to come to America because America has destroyed where they would prefer to live…

So we voters need to make a choice. It’s a real choice if we are going to “take back government”. Do we want to instruct government to call off the dogs or do we only want a bigger slice of the spoils? Do we want to be greedy murderers or do we trust that “live and let live and look after your own affairs” will do us justice?

Maybe our collective inability to make this choice, at the individual psychology level, is what is keeping us from taking back government and pushing back corporations and the financiers? Are we better off as house slaves or as freed slaves? [5]

Liberation is an all or nothing proposition. Murder and extortion don’t fit. [6]


[1] “On the racism and pathology of left progressive First-World activism” by Denis G. Rancourt

[2] “About the obscenity of the legal mind” by Denis G. Rancourt

[3] "Review Article: The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases" by Jules Dufour

[4] “On the question of Israel’s ‘right to exist’ and on Israel’s racism” by Denis G. Rancourt

[5] “That is my total objective” by Albert Cleage

[6] “Pedagogy of the oppressed” by Paulo Freire

Other essays by the same author:

Denis G. Rancourt was a tenured and full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He practiced several areas of science which were funded by a national agency and ran an internationally recognized laboratory. He published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals. He developed popular activism courses and was an outspoken critic of the university administration and a defender of student and Palestinian rights. He was fired for his dissidence in 2009 by a president who is a staunch supporter of Israeli policy. [See]

Saturday, August 14, 2010

About the obscenity of the legal mind and its grotesque displays of arrogance

Reflections on our Ottawa RBC fire and on our genocidal prison system

by Denis G. Rancourt
This essay was first posted at the Activist Teacher blog.


I was reminded again recently in court about the charade that passes for logical and objective propositions made by the brilliant legal minds that are the gatekeepers of society’s “justice” system.

The issue at hand was the attribution of bail for a political crime in which the entrance lobby area of a neighbourhood branch of a multi-national bank was set on fire in the middle of the night. No person was harmed and the fire did no damage to any personal property. [1][2]

The value of the so-called (see below) property damage was reported in the media first as three hundred thousand dollars, then as five hundred thousand dollars, then as one million dollars, and in court today as 1.2 million dollars. The value of the damage increases as more and more estimates are made. And these ballooning estimates of course are not questioned, in the media or elsewhere. It seems obvious to this observer that an entire new building could be erected with all its furnishings for far less than one million dollars, never mind an entrance lobby area and two cash dispensing machines?

In any case, the point is that the accused has no past criminal charges or convictions of any kind and that, as correctly stated by the defence, the relevant legal precedents show that alleged multiple murderers are regularly released on bail under the principle that one should be assumed innocent until proven guilty, except if there is compelling evidence of significant risk of danger to society (to people).

Next the defence lawyer is found arguing that, in terms of the severity of the charge, one should compare multiple murders to relatively less serious million-dollar property damage.

Hello? Does anyone in the courtroom recognize an error in argumentation? Nope – not a peep. Both sides and the judge appear to concur.

The problem is that “property damage” is a loaded term. No person wants his/her personal property to be damaged. And one million dollars worth of damage to one’s personal property would to most persons be an excessive amount of damage that would cause significant personal grief and suffering. But this is not personal property damage. It is insignificant financial liability to a multi-national bank with yearly profits which fluctuate by the billions depending on undemocratic decisions about interest rates and user fees.

To use the psychologically loaded term “property damage” in the proceedings should be disallowed in favour of a more accurate and objective term such as “corporate financial liability perturbation”. The corresponding damage to the bank clients is not detectable when superposed on the vagaries of bank policy regarding “user services”. So where is the damage to a person compared to murder? After all, this is about people being harmed, is it not?

And should we not compare the harm to bank clients from a fire to the harm to working persons when banks are allowed to merge and to monopolize national economies or to participate in mass financial fraud for which no one goes to jail? [2] (Not to mention the physical harm of keeping the “assumed innocent” accused in jail for months on end while the Crown and police “continue to investigate.” [3])

The fact that a just system would consider and evaluate the likely benefits to society (to persons) of the political action in question of course does not even arise. It cannot. This makes it quite plain that our brilliant legal minds are working for the corporations and the corporations’ undemocratically controlled interests. [4]

And of course the Crown characteristically argues that the term “property damage” unduly minimizes the severity of the crime. This despite the fact that it is a legal term and it is the legal charge in question… He argues that the “property damage” in question is a reckless and politically motivated crime rooted in anti-establishment and anti-oppression ideology steeped in disrespect for the law… a very serious offence… (to which no harm to a person can be attributed).



And I want to end with a general example of a pervasive legal “argument” that is an obscene muddle intended on the face of it to project paternalism and authoritarian control over people’s lives: The accepted notion that one’s individual rights are limited by infringement of the rights of others.

It would be interesting to review the history of this concept, no doubt first put forth by some illustrious academic service intellectual (renowned philosopher).

How could such hogwash have passed for authentic ethical reasoning? How could it have been sucked up so organically by the entire legal establishment? The answer is that it so conveniently negates the concept of individual rights.

You have a right to life. When would your right to life interfere with the rights of others? In which circumstances would you need to be killed in order to preserve the rights of others? Given a high probability that you will kill others and as evaluated by whom? No. Your right to life is absolute. It does not interfere with the rights to life of others but your actual attempt to kill another does and is a crime which can be stopped and punished. But the punishment cannot violate your individual rights. A right is a right is a right or it is nothing.

You have a right to free expression. This right never negates the rights of free expression of others. If you are screaming loudly to prevent another from being heard you are both expressing yourself and preventing another from doing so. The first is absolutely protected whereas the latter is inadmissible and can be stopped and punished. But the punishment cannot violate your individual rights.

If you are an army general and you give an order to commit a war crime then you are both expressing yourself and committing a war crime. The first is absolutely protected but the latter can legitimately be stopped and punished.

Just punishment is justice, not a violation of the criminal’s rights. A punishment cannot be a violation of a criminal’s rights. The general can be demoted and discharged, and forced to provide reparation, but his/her right to life and his/her freedoms of expression, association, and movement must not be violated beyond the negotiated requirements of reparation.

Social status and class and hierarchical status are not rights and can be removed as punishments. Mass or disproportionate accumulation of wealth and power is not a right. Likewise, you have no right to hide your proven crimes from public knowledge.

However, freedom of movement and association are fundamental rights. Prisons are illegitimate violations of individual rights and negate the possibility of reparation and rehabilitation.

Personal property ownership is a right. Reparation for theft is immediate and need not involve negating rights. The thief keeps his/her right to personal property but must repair the damage caused and does not keep the illegally acquired property. Harm to persons is the reference.

Weapons are allowed for defence but cannot be used offensively. Rebellion is defence against an illegitimate master.

And so on. There is no need ever for a system to violate individual rights. The notion that criminals surrender their rights is barbaric. It only arises in hierarchical societies, which are violently oppressive by design.

The prison system is a system of mass torture and mass violations of human rights. It is a systemic symbol of hatred of humankind and a testament to a very sick society. The existence of a few pathological serial killers on the planet cannot begin to justify the crime against humanity that is the modern prison system.

And the entire genocidal prison system is enabled by exactly the kind of “brilliant legal mind” madness that is the concept that individual rights are constrained by the individual rights of others. This logic relativizes rights thereby negating them and simultaneously wrongly justifies removing the rights of criminals.

Rights are rights. Wrong is wrong. Lawyers and judges are sick; as sick as a society with prisons and that practices genocide. There is no need for the obvious class and racial analysis of the prison population to assert the latter conclusion. Sick, sick, sick.


[1] “Sacco and Vanzetti in Ottawa: How Media and Police are Politicizing the RBC Arson Case” by Jesse Freeston

[2] “Ottawa RBC firebombing – Terrorism seeded by the University of Ottawa?” by Denis G. Rancourt

[3] At the first failed bail appearance the Crown actually argued that the accused could not be granted bail because “the police investigation was ongoing”. The defence and the judge did not bat an eye at this preposterous position. The arrest had followed two months of intense police surveillance after the RBC fire and over a year of police agent infiltration and occurred days before G20 in Toronto.

[4] “G20-Toronto property damage is a good thing” by Denis G. Rancourt

ADDENDUM (August 16,2010): If your rights depend on the circumstances, on charges, accusations or convictions, then they're not rights. If you only have your rights as long as you obey or aren't noticed, then they're not rights. If you only believe in your own rights because you obey (because you are deserving) then you do not believe in human or individual rights. It's like freedom of expression: If you don't want those you disagree with to have it, then you don't believe in freedom of expression.

Denis G. Rancourt was a tenured and full professor of physics at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He practiced several areas of science which were funded by a national agency and ran an internationally recognized laboratory. He published over 100 articles in leading scientific journals. He developed popular activism courses and was an outspoken critic of the university administration and a defender of student and Palestinian rights. He was fired for his dissidence in 2009 by a president who is a staunch supporter of Israeli policy. [See]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

That is my total objective

"I am not a Marxist - I don't pretend to be, I don't even pretend to know anything about it. I am a black man in a world dominated by white oppression, and that is my total philosophy. I would like to get rid of that oppression, and that is my total objective."
--Rev. Albert Cleage
--"Myths about Malcolm X", speech delivered in Detroit, February 24, 1967

Grassroots Conference - New York, 1963

Black and white is only easier to see but this can be translated by the student as:
"I am not a master of your teachings - I don't pretend to be, I don't even pretend to know anything about it. I am a student in an institution dominated by elitists hierarchical oppression, and that is my total philosophy. I would like to get rid of that oppression, and that is my total objective." (Student liberation)
And by all persons cursed with independent thought as:
"I am not a theorist - I don't pretend to be, I don't even pretend to know anything about it. I am an independent thinker in a world dominated by elitist hierarchical oppression, and that is my total philosophy. I would like to get rid of that oppression, and that is my total objective." (Independent agent liberation)

The student as nigger
Need for student liberation
Fighting own hierarchical oppression as only road to liberation


>>>>>>> please forward widely! <<<<<<<<


Date: August 17th
Time: 6pm - 8:00pm
Location: Room 116, Wallberg building, 200 College Street, Toronto, ON

Speakers include Lesley Wood, Syed Hussan and AJ Whithers. Full list of speakers and video statements to be announced!

For ten days at the end of June, the Police led a coordinated armed assault against Toronto’s civilian population. Community organizers were in particular targeted. Mobilizations for justice, for dignity and for self-determination were infiltrated, harassed and intimidated. A Canada wide response is at hand... as people fight to have the criminal charges dropped and to continue the struggle against the G20's anti-people and anti-environment policies. (Support the Legal Defence Fund!

To understand why people mobilized against the G20 and how organizers were targeted; to hear accounts of police brutality and repression; and to understand the political nature of the bail conditions, the criminalization of dissent and ways to support the people facing charges, join us for an informative panel and discussion.

This event is focused towards activists, grassroots organizers and people who are interested in knowing more and acting in solidarity with local struggles and defendants.

Endorsers: Ontario Coalition Against Poverty | No One Is Illegal - Toronto | Rainforest Action Network - Toronto | Common Cause - Toronto Branch

To endorse this event, please email abeeramajeed [at] yahoo [dot] ca

Sponsored by: Hussan Freedom Committee, Ontario Public Interest Research Group - Toronto


LESLEY WOOD is a Professor of Sociology at York University and a member of the Toronto Community Mobilization Network and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty. Lesley will be speaking about G20 policies, police violence during the summit and the role of global justice movements and community struggles. Read her latest movement article at:

SYED HUSSAN is a member of the Toronto Community Mobilization Network and No One Is Illegal-Toronto. He was arrested on the morning of June 26, 2010 and held for 12 days. Hussan will speak about his arrest, bail conditions, and the need for solidarity and ongoing organizing. Read statements from No One Is Illegal at and

AJ WHITHERS is a member of DAMN 2025 and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP). OCAP is a grassroots anti-poverty organization that faced increasing police repression following mass demonstrations in 2001. AJ will be speak about the targeting of various community groups in 2001 and during the G20 and the need to struggle against the G8/G20 policies in the coming years. Read more at and

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Something is shit wrong with

Here we go...

Maysie (moderator) Member: 9938. Joined: Apr 21 2005.
July 9, 2010 - 11:32am


The word "pig(s)" used to describe the police is no longer allowed in thread titles.

The reason is that the use of the word conflicts with rabble's editorial policy and anti-oppression mandate.

The word "pig(s)" to describe the police will be allowed in the body of threads themselves.

I've change the titles in the following threads:

" is more than an online, progressive news site. People come for the news and stay for the community. Check it out, and enjoy."

"Political correctness is an offshoot of pathological conflict avoidance, a desire to isolate oneself from any risk of (verbal) conflict via mental environment oversight rather than a commitment to participatory cultural transformation."
--Denis G. Rancourt
--in On the racism and pathology of left progressive First-World activism

Allow me to develop a little more: Disallowing the word "pig(s)" in describing cops as agents of repressive state power, a perfectly good word with a rich cultural history, protects the cops and harms the oppressed. This is done in the name of an "anti-oppression mandate" in a classic pathology that Ward Churchill called "pacifism as pathology" when he argued that this pathology of left progressive activists was deeply racist. See LINK. Wake up left progressive activists of good will. Censorship is censorship. Pathology is blindness.

ADDENDUM (August 9, 2010):

"It is no exaggeration to say that the hopes for a decent world rest substantially on the success of the kind of work that rabble has been carrying out with such distinction."
--Noam Chomsky (The Dominion, Summer 2010, no.68, p.31)

Critique of Chomsky's position: HERE.

RELATED POST: They're not just pigs

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On the racism and pathology of left progressive First-World activism

As opposed to what would be needed

by Denis G. Rancourt
This essay was first posted on the Activist Teacher blog [1].
It was also posted on Dissident Voice where a vibrant comment discussion followed [LINK].


Arguably the three most influential end-point models of political organization are best represented by Adam Smith (capitalism), Karl Marx (socialism/communism), and Mikhail Bakunin (anarchism).[2][3][4] These three men and many other persons who contributed to critiquing, perfecting and adapting or combining these end-point models were unquestionably brilliant, acute and incisive.

Problem is none of these models has ever been put into practice in a sustainable way. This is because none of these models or their adaptations and combinations can successfully be put into practice by engineering a system for people to inhabit.

For these ideal models to work they must arise from a self-organization in which every individual has both the capacity to recognize when a foundational element of the model is being corrupted by a particular practice and the capacity to intervene to prevent or correct the corruption. With capacity to intervene comes capacity to recognize.

The American libertarians understood this and inspired a revolutionary constitution that guaranteed the individual the right to intervene (bear arms, free speech, etc.). This libertarianism also nurtured a deep and healthy cultural distrust of governments, institutions, banks and corporations.

To be sustainable, the above-mentioned socio-politico-economic models and their combinations cannot be imposed and managed from the top but instead must be driven from the base; must be discovered and developed by the individual connected to his/her community and must be controlled by the individual via personal agency. As soon as the individual has little or no influence to correct the system then there is runaway hierarchical command and control and all the nasty oppressions that this necessarily implies.

For example, all three men mentioned above knew (expressly believed) that capitalism would lead to capital monopoly and the associated predation of the top corporatists and financiers. Smith wanted to prevent this by government and international regulations – although he underestimated the now obvious reality that capital would always evolve to own government. Marx saw world economic monopoly (globalization) as an inevitable consequence of capitalism and he elevated globalization to the status of a natural law. Bakunin saw that Marx’s model could not be applied without leading to the same kind of irreversible hierarchical predation as with capitalism.

Instead of being based on the power of individuals to monitor and correct, applied “capitalism” and “socialism” have been organized from the top, put in place via elite-run social engineering, and have used theoretical concepts of capitalism and socialism to rationalize and justify unrestrained hierarchical control by a dominant elite which has graciously provided illusions of democratic participation via workers councils, unions owned by the bosses, and fixed elections of elite-selected candidates. [5]


This brings us to the question of First-World activism. How can individuals best obtain enough power to correct the most destructive aberrations of the present runaway command and control hierarchy of exploitation and oppression?

Here, in my view, two of the most important critics and theorists of First-World activism are Herbert Marcuse (One Dimensional Man) and Ward Churchill (Pacifism as Pathology).[6][7] Their work on the psycho-sociology of First-Wold activism is as acute and incisive as the works of Smith-Marx-Bakunin on socio-politico-economic models. I must add the canonical work of Paulo Freire (Pedagogy of the Oppressed) geared towards liberation of the most wrenched but, in my opinion, universal and applicable to First-World activism.[8][9]

Marcuse explains in detail the fundamental challenge of activism seated in the relative comfort and relative personal freedom of the modern middleclass. Churchill focuses on the main psychological defence reaction of First-World activists challenged by their consciousness of the broad murderous underbelly of the system. Freire simply lays out the universal essence of liberation from a necessarily-oppressive hierarchy, like few others have.

The goal of activism within capitalist and socialist hierarchies is for the individuals (ordinary citizens and mid-level managers) to find ways to effectively challenge and correct the system, thereby flattening the hierarchical pyramid rather than allowing or enabling its otherwise incessant sharpening. The goal of the activist is to increase democratic participation (i.e., direct influence) in all areas of activity and to reverse or impede the otherwise increasing concentration of power.

Optimally, the activist practices direct influence at the point of his/her strongest connection to the economy; at work for the worker, at school for the student, on the street for the homeless person, etc. This is the point at which the system has the strongest grip on the individual but it is also the point where the individual has the most power against the system’s authoritarian oppression. Expressed as the Freirian mantra – in activism, in the struggle for liberation, “one can only fight one’s own oppression.” Our oppression primarily results from the undemocratic hierarchy that controls our lives.[10]

As middleclass citizens of an empire, if we create an increase in democracy and a reduction of authoritarianism, then those exploited by the empire in the underclasses and abroad immediately benefit from a loosening of the system’s grip.

Of course one also supports the struggles across social classes and across national borders and one derives knowledge and inspiration from the struggles of others but the murderous killing machine will only become more powerful and more ferocious if we do not practice anti-hierarchy activism at the point of our strongest contact with the hierarchy.[3][4][7][8][11]

Of course this true activism against our own oppression and against hierarchical domination, like any true activism, is an activism that carries the highest potential risk for the individual. One cannot fight an oppressor without exposing oneself to backlash.[12] And the best safety net against this consequence of the battle is organization and community.


And this is where the pathology starts. Why lose a good thing? Why risk job loss? Why create tension at work? Why not just get the degree and climb the hierarchy from which one can act? Cannot more be achieved by cooperation? Isn’t confrontation what oppressors do? Won’t we just become oppressors? Etc.

There are a million elaborate and slogan-supported rationalizations to not be an activist and most involve re-definitions of activism in terms of actions that present no significant risk to one’s socio-economic status.

For example, several players pick up the above need in activism to “organize” and substitute the organizing itself for the activism. The latter organizing is not one rooted in necessity for safety and in self-defence but instead takes on the characteristics of a membership drive and an educational program to build shared opinions.

This avoidance often involves the mystical notion of the “critical mass” whereby if enough citizens acquire the same opinion then this opinion is magically implemented by the system, by some unspecified mechanism never before observed in history. Critical mass is a concept of physics and involves a nuclear chain reaction but it is only relevant if one has a critical mass of radioactive nuclei – determined individuals prepared to react and create an explosion. It doesn’t work for opinions acquired mainly by reading flyers and watching documentary films.

Following this mythology of critical mass of opinion, organizers note that the 1960s brought out 10s and 100s of thousands of protesters into the streets and falsely conclude that we therefore need only bring out large numbers of protesters to accomplish societal change. They fail to realize that the protesters of the 1960s were protesting as an external demonstration and extension of their real activism at work and in community and that their mass movements included riots that were a serious concern for power that was already overstretched in Vietnam.[7][13]

In the present context of relatively advanced corporate fascism and socially engineered compliance [14][15], power knows that even large numbers of peaceful demonstrators will obediently go back to work on Monday morning and will not spontaneously and physically unseat their elected “representatives” or bosses.

Pacifism is the main pathology identified by Churchill. Not the true combatant-pacifism of Gandhi who said that it was better to take up arms than to practice a false pacifism of cowardice [16], but the pacifism of dogmatic non-violence as a substitute for direct anti-hierarchical activism. This pacifism is often accompanied by pathological conflict avoidance and by escapism into religion or ecological sectarianism and by the privileged practice of isolated alternative community building as an escape from the hierarchy of the dominant system. All these reactions were explained by Marcuse.

Other diversions include the amplification of valid but secondary and privileged preoccupations to be oppressed fairly within one’s class. Here I tentatively include: gay marriage, pay equity for women, affirmative action, political correctness activism, co-optation unionism, health care protection activism, ethical investment activism, and so on.

I mean that these struggles are generally rigorously confined by their practitioners in such a way as to protect and reinforce the overarching (workplace) economic hierarchical domination which in turn continues to increase its violent oppression of the included groups and to increase its exploitation of the excluded groups.

Gay marriage activism is a move towards equal treatment for all but is practiced in such a way to increase the state’s hierarchical control of relationships by strengthening rather than reforming the intrusive institution of state marriage; and the married gay couples continue to be oppressed by work and their children by school.

Pay equity activism is equal treatment by the oppressor in the wage slavery enterprise but is generally practiced in such a way as to bring women into the fold without necessarily making the workplace more democratic.

Affirmative action corrects a wrong but maintains the oppressive workplace unless individual employees directly fight against both racism and undemocratic authoritarianism.

Political correctness is an offshoot of pathological conflict avoidance, a desire to isolate oneself from any risk of (verbal) conflict via mental environment oversight rather than a commitment to participatory cultural transformation.

Co-optation unionism, the dominant form of unionism in North America, is a cancerous affliction in which workplace democracy and individual responsibility (e.g., professional or tradesperson independence) are horse traded away for salaries and benefits, under the threat of global economic “restructuring.” It works hand in hand with power to drive the system towards increased central command and control, towards corporate fascism. It dehumanizes the worker. Instead, unionism could be practiced as an arm in the struggle to democratize the workplace but it almost never is.

Universal health care coverage activism is practiced in a way which further locks us into the insane Big Pharma and technological medicine trap that the medical establishment has driven us into and further moves us away from public health and towards an ignorant dependence on a corrupt profession; whereas it could be an occasion for citizen involvement and for a broad participatory and empowered debate. Instead, it does nothing to put individuals responsibly in charge of health priorities.[17]

Let me not even address the absurdity of “ethical investment activism”, an oxymoron if ever there was one. It’s up there with the insanity of the corporate plan to make ethanol from food as a substitute for oil which some green anti-CO2 sectarians have supported. (If you don’t want to produce CO2, kill yourself.[18])

And so on. Equal treatment activism should be an occasion for anti-hierarchical activism not a substitute for it. That is not what one observes.

Let us not forget lifestyle and consumer choice false activisms, the less extreme versions of isolated alternative community life. I vote with my consumer choices? If we all just consumed responsibly and reduced our carbon footprints the world could be saved? In fact all societal efficiency gains are always made up for by increased global consumption. If cars can be made to consume less energy then there will be more cars… This false activism is a classic guilt alleviation strategy that does nothing to confront the oppressive hierarchy. Instead, it protects the system by diverting individual attention towards inconsequential pursuits.

There are as many creative psychological devices to rationalize and internalize one’s subservience to the oppressor as there are individuals that support the killing machine. Since the killing machine most brutally targets brown people, Churchill proposes that this pathology of pacifism (which enables the killing machine) is a supreme racism, no matter how politically correct one’s language and consumer choices are.


The first problem is one of perception.

The single largest barrier to human perception in a hierarchy is the individual’s desire to maintain his/her status within the hierarchy, as measured by economic and class status.

This barrier to perception is so strong that it may as well be physiological. In most circumstances it is just as difficult for a slave to perceive that he/she is a slave as it would be for the slave to see in the ultraviolet segment of the light spectrum. “I need the master because he protects us and organizes the work…” Indeed, the largest practical challenge in Freire’s pedagogy of the oppressed is to create circumstances and occasions in the hope that self-awareness of the subject’s oppression will be catalyzed and nurtured.

Similarly, it is virtually impossible for members of the First-World middleclass to perceive the depth of their own oppression and exploitation. They reason that they are relatively privileged and therefore cannot be oppressed and they adopt the oppressions of others; or they blame themselves for all “failures” and difficulties and practice self-destruction; or they displace their need for meaningful work and societal agency with any number of transfers and escapes; etc.

The second problem is one of perception.

Most of all, it is impossible for institutionalized individuals in the First-World middleclass to perceive solutions that involve risk, the possibility of losing economic and social status. We have no experience of defending ourselves against our oppression. We only have the experience of an institutionalized existence of compliance where our lives are laid out in stages: school, graduations, diplomas, career development, student debt management, mortgage payments, retirement savings…

In addition to this, individuals subjected to a hierarchy of domination are trained to seek approval and to fit in. They lose the natural tendency to seek truth and instead accept and feed upon the “tapestry of lies” (both right and left) provided and maintained by power and its army of service intellectuals (see [5][19]). Information that is contrary to the approved mental environment is considered threatening and is either vehemently rejected or ridiculed. A good example of this response is the vicious cynicism of so-called-progressive left citizens and “activists” that is reserved for “conspiracy nuts” such as the proponents (truthers) of the 911-truth movement.

Information that would cause the First World middleclass activist to question his/her no-risk-to-status response to perceived (and transferred/displaced) injustices or to question the value of his/her longstanding investment in the particular adopted no-risk-to-status response to the perceived injustices is denied entry and attacked [20]. It cannot be perceived as something that is potentially true. The truthers themselves, for example, can delve into off-the-charts considerations only because this information is not threatening to them: They have adopted the belief that simply uncovering the truth and exposing it and explaining it can produce the needed change, if only a critical mass of informed citizens can be achieved via cyber space and public event or media activism.

All in all, truth is not compatible with approval and individuals subjected to a hierarchy of domination have little regard for truth. The substitute of choice is “like-mindedness”. This is why so-called-progressives hold “education” in such high regard. They intuitively understand that flyering and documentary films (etc.) are effective ways to sway institutionalized citizens into a given variety of like-mindedness.

There is almost no realization among First World activists of Freire’s praxis of liberation via fighting one’s own oppression as the only way to uncover the truth about one’s life.


We should despise both the authoritarian right which leads to corporate fascism and the paternalistic left of socialism and communism which leads to communal castration and death of the individual. Both right authoritarianism and left paternalism depend on and produce control hierarchies. All hierarchies are violently oppressive by nature. [8]

First World citizens cannot significantly contribute to the needed anti-hierarchy activism and will only accommodate power and protect the killing machine as long as they are unable to authentically perceive their own oppression by the same hierarchy that is violently oppressing us all – because the obedience training of school, the indoctrination of graduate and professional schools, and the complete control of the worker by the finance-corporate economy are unmistakably violent processes that deprive us of our humanity.

In this regard, the right is more effective than the left. Left progressives mistakenly see their privilege as proof that they are not oppressed. In fact, their “privilege” is only the reward for accepting to be violated in making them into gatekeepers and supporters of the hierarchy. Intuitively they know that effective activism could compromise their “privilege”.

The right activists, on the other hand, root their politics in individual rights and see themselves as threatened by structures and changes that would remove their individual rights. In this way, they are closer to the true impulse of the anti-hierarchy activist and therefore represent a formidable instrument of power when they are manipulated.

Leaving aside the religious fanatics on the right that would impose their beliefs on us all and the political correctness fanatics on the left that would impose their beliefs on us all, American libertarianism has deep roots and is a powerful potential ally of anarchy-inspired anti-hierarchy (pro-democracy!) activism.

To my reading, American libertarianism is not an insignificant fringe movement and probably has not been co-opted to the same degree as fringe left anarchism. Dedicated anti-hierarchy activists, the only hope for significant First World contributions to liberation, would do well to ally themselves with libertarians and to participate in the societal discourse about the place of libertarianism in society.

Damn yes, own guns, no required schooling, no bank bail outs, no head office corporate decisions, voluntary taxation, accountable politicians, no insurance company controls, accessible cost-recovery-interest community-bank loans to individuals, coops and small businesses, no party-selected candidates, no wars abroad, no surveillance or personal information gathering, complete transparency in public and corporate affairs, no prohibition of any substances, no personal lifestyle and work choice criminalization, voluntary personal safety decisions, no restrictions on growing your own food, decriminalized assisted (or not) suicides, no legal or government bankruptcy protections for creditors (people first), health freedom, no barriers to work, no corporate or government controlled media, only community-controlled corporations…

A consistent application of libertarian principles anchored in individual freedom could go a long way to dismantling oppressive structures.


[1] essay URL on Activist Teacher blog
And see "RELATED WEB POSTS" below.

[2] “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations” by Adam Smith, 1776.

[3] “The Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1848.

[4] “The Basic Bakunin – Writtings 1869-1871” by Mikhail Bakunin.

[5] For a discussion of the illusions provided and maintained by power see the essay “Some big lies of science” by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[6] “One Dimensional Man” by Herbert Marcuse, 1964.

[7] “Pacifism as Pathology” by Ward Churchill, 1986.

[8] “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire, 1970.

[9] “Need for and Practice of Student Liberation” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[10] For an explanation applicable to the professional work environment see “Disciplined Minds” by Jeff Schmidt, 2000.

[11] “A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn, 1980.

[12] “Activism and Risk - Life beyond altruism” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2007.

[13] For example, see “Understanding Power – The indispensable Chomsky” by Noam Chomsky, 2002.

[14] “Canadian Education as an Impetus towards Fascism” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2009.

[15] “G20-Toronto and lost sovereignty - A critical examination of the role of the CCLA” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2010.

[16] "Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict: What we can learn from Gandhi" by Norman G. Finkelstein, 2009.

[17] See note-[5], “Some Big Lies of Science”, for a discussion of the “medicine is health” lie.

[18] “Taking CO2 Seriously” (essay) by David F. Noble and Denis G. Rancourt, 2007.

[19] “Against Chomsky” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2008.

[20] “The Activist Wars” (essay) by Denis G. Rancourt, 2009.