There is no shortage of social justice causes trumpeted by the West† with a revolving medley of “child actorvists” at the forefront. The logical observer may question whether these endless multi-billion dollar campaigns have had any tangible effect at all, except in serving as a stalking horse for mass-mediated interferences in the affairs of other nations.
Whether it is about immigration, education or the whitewashing of terrorists, they are there, ready with their scripted messages. The latest sensation happens to be Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg who is trying save humanity from an environmental apocalypse by playing truant from school. Manufactured doyens however conveniently, overlook real progress in the activist areas they were groomed for, revealing a strong pattern of bias in the process.
On Friday Aug 9 2019, more than a million Indians planted 220 million trees in a single day, with each tree representing a resident of the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). According to state government official Awanish K. Awasthi: “The pits are geo-tagged and the saplings carry a QR code. So we can record how many saplings are planted and where.” The BBC had earlier cast doubts on whether Ethiopia had actually planted 350 million trees in July due to the lack of a verification mechanism.
This was not India’s first afforestation feat. In 2016, nearly 800,000 volunteers in UP planted 50 million trees in a single day while a year later, 66 million saplings were embedded in just 12 hours by volunteers in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.
India has targeted a total forest cover comprising 33 percent of its landmass by 2030. While this initiative was launched under the general rubric of climate change, there were more immediate issues at stake. The spectres of desertification and groundwater depletion were enough to mobilize ordinary Indians into action.
The sheer design, organization and coordination involved in the Indian undertaking may be studied for years to come. Once verified, the afforestation model can be adapted in fields ranging from big data, artificial intelligence, sharing economy to contingency planning. A somewhat similar mobilization model was employed when Cyclone Fani hit eastern India during the first days of May. As The Conversation reported on May 13:
A record 1.2 million people (equal to the population of Mauritius) were evacuated in less than 48 hours, and almost 7,000 kitchens, catering to 9,000 shelters, were made functional overnight. This mammoth exercise involved more than 45,000 volunteers.
After studying the grim statistics for Hurricane Maria (Puerto Rico, US; 2017), Hurricane Harvey (Texas, US; 2017) and Cyclone Idai (Mozambique, Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe; 2019), the authors concluded that the “world can learn from” from the Indian experience.
Yet, the momentary fascination with India’s mass mobilization skills dissipated just as quickly as the storm itself. The global risk researcher, stupefied by hours of BBC programming, was left to wonder: Where are those follow-up in-depth analyses? How come the world only came to know of India’s recent tree-planting milestone through a brief Associated Press report? Isn’t climate change the dernier cri?
One could excuse the BBC for disregarding Uttar Pradesh’s greening exploits as it was too busy fabricating videos on “large-scale protests” in Kashmir alongside usual suspects like Al Jazeera and Reuters. Even Malala Yousafzai stepped forward to test the waters, only to be summarily rebuffed.
There may be other reasons behind the neoliberal media’s indifference here. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had earlier committed the cardinal sin of renaming the city of Allahabad as Prayagraj. This is a complete no-no in a West that inevitably sides with militant Islam. Take a look at Serbia, Syria, Libya and Myanmar, amongst numerous other examples. Additionally, India’s afforestation campaign (2016 to 2030) was being undertaken outside the ambit of parasitic Western NGOs at a paltry outlay of $6 billion. India was showing the way in cost savings and volunteer-based sustainability, without the need for star-studded events that child actorvism thrives on.
New Delhi’s indigenous efforts since 2015 were therefore deemed unsatisfactory by Extinction Rebellion superstar Thunberg. She pilloried India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a February 2019 video post:
“Dear Mr Modi, you need to take action now against the climate crisis, not just talking about it because if you keep going on like this, doing business as usual, and just talking about and bragging about the little victories, you are going to fail. And if you fail, you are going to be seen as one of the worst villains in human history in the future. And you don’t want that” (Emphasis added).
Do not seek a scintilla of sanity in the outburst above. Instead, note the timing: It was posted during the run-up to the April-May 2019 Indian general elections where Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) won by a landslide victory, surpassing expectations thanks to neoliberal hissy-fits typified by the likes of Thunberg.
Does Thunberg consider the planting of 50, 66 and 220 million trees overnight—involving schoolchildren no less—as one of those insignificant “little victories”? Who is doing the talking and bragging and who is doing the actual planting here? One of India’s other “little victories” was in lifting 271 million people—numbering more than half the EU population—out of poverty in a mere 10 years.
If Thunberg’s views aren’t reflective of Western neoliberal racism, tell me what is? Here is where racial supremacist undercurrents are cleverly masked by the clarion call of “social justice.” Nothing non-Westerners do is good enough unless it involves and profits vested Western interests. Neoliberals and their neoconservative cousins feel they are entitled to run the affairs of other nations. If the line is not toed, an army of “child actorvists” are ready to selectively name and shame national leaders. How is this different from the use of child soldiers and human shields by an assortment of violent thugs and jihadis? And much like jihadis, a false flag calamity inflicted on a child actorvist would reap international sympathy for the “cause”, would it not? We shall see what the future holds…
Quite tellingly, when it comes to the question of extinction, French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf sums up the prevalent Western hypocrisy perfectly: “Threats to pandas cause more emotion than threats to the extinction of Christians in the Middle East”. Another child actorvist, Bana Alabed, has been roped in to hasten that particular genocide.
The incurably colonized
Instead of India’s Modi, Thunberg could have trained her guns on Southeast Asian politicians for allowing the West to dump millions of tons of highly-toxic trash throughout the region. (India had another “little victory” by banning them). It cannot get more pathetic than Pakistani garbage appearing in an illegal Malaysian dumpsite! Is Thunberg really as environmentally literate as she claims to be? The organized crime networks involved in the regional garbage racket are also into money laundering, smuggling, organ harvesting and human trafficking.
Neoliberals and neoconservatives however have a soft spot for Southeast Asia (sans Mynamar) for a good reason: Its leaders and societies have an incurable inferiority complex towards all things Western, rendering them supine and receptive to machinations from the other side of the world. The region hosts innumerable Western-backed NGOs and affiliates whose sole role is to disrupt and shape the local political process. That is, when they are not discriminating against native talent, native ideas and native solutions. For a region that has had several developmental head-starts over India, Southeast Asia has yet to produce world-class scientists, innovators and products of any import, making it easy for West to offer their “expertise” and goods at huge costs. The media in “Asian values” bastions like Malaysia and Singapore are more likely to celebrate Thunberg’s theatrics than investigate real Asian success stories.
Just like neoconservatism, neoliberalism neatly divides the world along classic colonial lines. Can George Soros and his neoliberal backers claim a single success story from the countless “social justice” agitprops unleashed worldwide? Instead, such interventions have left behind a string of broken, emasculated and dysfunctional societies. Women and children are the biggest victims here. One could also include Thunberg’s Sweden in the list of nations facing a surge in sexual violence against women and children. Swedish schools are no longer safe and somehow no child activist has emerged to publicize this highly-proximate issue. †† What is the celebrated “female education activist” Malala Yousafzai actually doing?
The idea that the East and West can cooperate, compliment and compete on an equal footing is an anathema to neoliberal and neoconservative minds. It is in “redundant societies” however where neoliberals find the most fertile ground for its destructive agendas. Redundant societies are ones the world would scarcely miss in case its populations were magically rendered extinct overnight—short-term raw material and supply chain disruptions notwithstanding. Is that the core idea behind Extinction Rebellion? Fewer humans are great for the environment, no?
A nation less contaminated by the neoliberal agenda is a nation poised for growth and technical breakthroughs. Look at the world around us: the relatively nationalistic South Korea, Japan, China and India (the “effective Asia”), Israel, Russia, and Eastern Europe are already challenging the West’s dominance in many critical areas. Even Iran is not doing too badly considering the circumstances.
In the meantime, one hopes that Thunberg will encounter flotsams of plastic as she yachts towards the upcoming UN powwow in New York. If so, these may turn out to be trash that were supposedly repatriated by Southeast Asian nations but which were dumped en route by ships. To avoid “baseless allegations” like these, Thunberg could try some real environmental work by researching, tabulating and verifying claims that all repatriated trash had indeed reached their destinations in toto, as claimed. Maybe, this is a task too arduous for Thunberg. Let’s leave such little details to an Indian schoolgirl’s future dissertation, shall we? After all, she would have literally had her hands soiled in planting the future while others talked the big talk at big money events.
† The author defines the West as nations west of the Metternich line in Europe as well as the Anglo-American world, including geographically-dispersed nations such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It does not refer to European Civilization.
†† Anyone researching this topic should scrupulously avoid Google.
Dr Mathew Maavak is a regular commentator on risk-related geostrategic issues.