web analytics
The Standard
Advertising

Think tanks & global-local networks

Written By: - Date published: 10:52 am, February 20th, 2013 - 24 comments
Categories: activism, business, class war, climate change, democracy under attack, news, newspapers, overseas investment, thinktank - Tags:

The latest article by the excellent George Monbiot, exposes how some of the wealthy and influential international, right wing elites operate through a network of well funded ‘think tanks’.  Unlike well-orchestrated, well-planned conspiraciesnetworks are loosely connected and often continually changing. Through networks, a mixture organisational and interpersonal links, various lines on communication tend to be favoured over others.  The networks exposed by Monbiot, are substantially funded by a small number of wealthy individuals or groups, and generate a fair amount of climate denier propaganda through the MSM, which usually fails to expose their partisan origins.

Conspiracies against the public don’t get much uglier than this. As the Guardian revealed last week, two secretive organisations working for US billionaires have spent $118m to ensure that no action is taken to prevent manmade climate change. While inflicting untold suffering on the world’s people, their funders have used these opaque structures to ensure that their identities are never exposed. The two organisations – the Donors’ Trust and the Donors’ Capital Fund – were set up as political funding channels for people handing over $1m or more. They have financed 102 organisations which either dismiss climate science or downplay the need to take action.

However, there are a couple of main funders behind the apparent diversity of voices:

A small number of the funders have been exposed by researchers trawling through tax records. They include the billionaire Koch brothers (paying into the two groups through their Knowledge and Progress Fund) and the DeVos family(the billionaire owners of Amway). More significantly, we now know a little more about the recipients. Many describe themselves as free-market or conservative thinktanks. Among them are the American Enterprise Institute, American Legislative Exchange Council, Hudson Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Reason Foundation, Heritage Foundation, Americans for Prosperity, Mont Pelerin Society and Discovery Institute. … One name in particular jumped out at me: American Friends of the IEA. The Institute of Economic Affairs is a British group that, like all the others, calls itself a free-market thinktank. Scarcely a day goes by when its staff aren’t interviewed in the broadcast media, promoting the dreary old billionaires’ agenda: less tax for the rich, less help for the poor, less spending by the state, less regulation for business. In the first 13 days of February, its people were on the BBC 10 times.

It’s concerning that such right wing, ‘think tank’ fuelled PR initiatives get such a free pass by one of the major English language news outlets.  And it is through such propaganda that dominant corporate entities covertly, and indirectly influence public perceptions:

Most of the media is owned by billionaires, who are happy to promote the work of people funded by the same class. One of the few outlets they don’t own – the BBC – has been disgracefully incurious about the identity of those to whom it gives a platform.

Monbiot concludes by saying that the solution to this concerning situation is more transparency.  So I did a quick online search to see  if there are any connections between the organisations Monbiot mentions, and New Zealand.  This turned up connections between the New Zealand Initiative, connected with the NZ Business Round Table, and the American Enterprise Institute.  The NZ Initiative links to an article about the 2005 visit to NZ  by an AEI representative, as guest of the Business Round Table. A US website, Think Tank Watch, Covering The Think Tank Scene in Washington, DC & Beyond, has a 2012 article about the Libertarian NZ Initiative.  This is based on an April 2012 report in the NZ Herald, which says.

The country’s newest libertarian think tank, the New Zealand Initiative, has been launched in Wellington, merging the New Zealand Business Roundtable and the New Zealand Institute into a new body to lobby for pro-market economic and social policies. Leading the new organisation will be German-born economist Oliver Hartwich, a research fellow at the Australian Centre for Independent Studies, a Roundtable-equivalent organisation that at one stage had operations in New Zealand. … While Hartwich is a fresh face for New Zealand, he is a well-known television and print commentator in Australia, on a wide range of economic issues from the eurozone crisis to welfare reform, to the politics of climate change. Before his CIS involvement, he was chief economist at a British think tank, Policy Exchange.

Both Rodney Hide and Don Brash have delivered speeches to the UK Institute of Economic Affairs, a think tank mentioned in Monbiot’s article. Given this situation, I am very interested in Sue Bradford’s current PhD research, which is investigating the possibilities of countering the prevalence of right wing think tanks, with  left wing initiatives. In her 2011 article on it, Bradford concludes:

I continue to hold a small flame of hope that we just may be able to find ways in which Left social democrats, socialists, eco-socialists and anarchists can build organisation(s) that will allow us to develop the intellectual, research and advocacy depth we need to take on a brutal economic system – and maybe start winning one day. Such organisations can and will take many forms, but I reckon one of them is that of “think tank”.

I have hopes that the new left wing DailyBlog that will be launched on March 1st, will be one of the ways of contributing to the development of and communication about a new left wing politics.  With people like Bradford listed as one of the DailyBlog bloggers, I am hopeful that it will have a positive influence on NZ politics and its underlying economic system and culture.

24 comments on “Think tanks & global-local networks”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    Monbiot concludes by saying that the solution to this concerning situation is more transparency.

    This is an absolutely weak line to take. The answer to this is to put money into public service oriented news investigation and reporting, and so that they don’t have to rely on cheap and easy sources of prefiltered ‘information’.

    • muzza 1.1

      CV – The answers are far more complicated, and you know it.

      Karol, a timely piece to be sure, however its one which hardly touches the sides, and certainly does not answer the inevitable question

      What outcome are the funders, and members of such think tanks, driving towards?

      There has to be some purpose to it, or why bother!

      Another point, is that the names mentioned being associated with think tanks in this article, are simply the bit part players, you will never see (publically), names of the true backers, these get blown off as, conspiracy!

      Good to see this getting some air time though, its an important message.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        CV – The answers are far more complicated, and you know it.

        That is a reason why Monbiot’s suggestion of “transparency” is not adequate in of itself.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.2

        What outcome are the funders, and members of such think tanks, driving towards?

        There has to be some purpose to it, or why bother!

        You’re not suggesting that the funders handed over all that money without first ensuring that there were clear goals and objectives for the use of those funds? I very much doubt that would be the case.

        • muzza 1.1.2.1

          It was tongue in cheek, of course there will be clear goals and objectives involved..

          I’m sure it’s all easily explained away as, *conspiracy theory*

    • karol 1.2

      Yes, that’s a very good point, CV, about Monbiot’s weak conclusion. I think it can be part of the solution, to expose the activities of the right wing ‘think tanks’ and related activities.

      But the powerful grip of the Neocons on most of the national and international institutions need to be challenged. This can partly be done through a massive left wing input into the media and other communicative technologies, like blogs. The power of the collective, in the form of small and large groups, need to be continually mobilised to challenge all the right wing propaganda and the policies they attempt to mask.

  2. MrSmith 2

    Seeding the Doubt, or Poisoning the well, all you need are a few drops, it’s tasteless odorless and almost undetectable.

    Never forget these lot have access to some of the best PR and Marketing minds alive, they will alway win because they play on our self-doubt and insecurity, and if that fails they can alway play the ‘are you prepared to take a drop in your standard of living line’.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      ‘are you prepared to take a drop in your standard of living line’.

      Some of us know that it is inevitable. But the very few at the top will keep squeezing the rest of us harder and harder so that they can maintain their own privilege as long as is possible against ongoing energy decline.

    • muzza 2.2

      Don’t forget, psychology was born long before PR/marketing officially became a *religion*, and understanding the human mind, has been a key component in the control. PR etc simply plays on what is known about the human mind, and the masses, defenseless against the plethora of attacks against them, which they do not, cannot even see happening!

      Others who deny its happening, have also succumbed to the attacks!

      • Afewknowthetruth 2.2.1

        Apparently the term ‘manufacturing consent’ arose in the early twentieth century.

        Don’t forget ‘smoking is good for you’. ‘ thalidomide is perfectly safe’, ‘nuclear energy will be so cheap we won’t need to meter it’, ‘there is no link between vehicle exhaust and gobal warming’……

        The dumbed-down masses remain dumbed-down, glued to the crap on the goggle box and uninterested in their own futures.

        The Great Die-off has commenced, via apathy, obesity, diabetes, cancers, ‘rogue gunmen’, Fukushima, poor harvests etc. The elites will be pleased. Disaster Capitalism can now take it’s ‘rightful’ place.

  3. joe90 3

    The DeVos mob are also funding the campaigns against same sex marriage and public education.

    And then there’s Erik and his private army’s participation in the Syrian conflict

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      mercernaries good

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1

          Quoting article:

          But Standing sees the precariat as potentially easy prey to the extreme right, bringing risks of fascism and violent racism. His view is it should be possible to avoid this, but first we must acknowledge that precarious work is here to stay.

          Once we overcome denial of this state of permanence we can go on to identify what precarious workers need for a good quality of life.

          And this is where the Universal Income comes in, it would be an acceptance that things have changed. The problem is that people are still treating work and income the same way that they were being treated in the 19th century (and earlier, National shows a tendency to think that people need to be forced to work which, IMO, is where their beneficiary bashing comes from), that people have to work 40+ hours per week to survive despite the fact that productivity has grown so much that we could easily have what we have on 10 hours per week or less each. The only people benefiting from the excess work that we do are the few at the top, the people who own the businesses.

      • McFlock 3.1.2

        really? are they under UN mandate? Are UN member states refusing to commit troops to prevent a genocide in Abu Dhabi? Or are you full of shit?

        You’re beginning to be a bit of a parrot CV – as soon as you hear something that might be interpreted as at all relevant to an old debate you squawk the same out of context, false, and quite stupid lie.

        Another fucking derail, by the way.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.2.1

          I suppose you think that mercernaries won’t be doing contracts for other ‘employers’ inbetween their UN ones. Especially after you funnel large sums of taxpayers money into that ‘industry’ in order to grow it.

  4. Afewknowthetruth 4

    Corporations have it made -well in the short term; in the long term they are totally screwed, just like the rest of us- because at the moment corporations overcharge customers (ordinary folk) and funnel a portion of the profits they make into providing those customers with misinformation (or outright lies); another portion of profits goes toward buying politicians, who dutifully implement policies geared towards enriching corporations.

    I’ve just been watching a documentary about light bulbs. The problem companies had was that some were producing light bulbs that lasted far too long. A cartel was formed and the life of bulbs was reduced in order to stimulate consumption. Similar things go on throughout all aspects of western society. Hence, humanity has a very grim future,dominated by resource depletion and environmental collapse.

  5. Rogue Trooper 5

    Gr8t to see the “A” word karol (nothing primitive about it; Anarchist political thought and discourse has been characterized as amongst the greatest of human achievements; ref-personal communication).

  6. klem 6

    Yea its all very secret, that’s why everybody knows about it.

    I know, its some kind of right wing conspiracy that’s what it is. Just like the faked
    moon landings and 911. Lol!

    • felixviper 6.1

      Who said anything about it being secret?

      • klem 6.1.1

        The article did, here’s a quote “Conspiracies against the public don’t get much uglier than this. As the Guardian revealed last week, two secretive organisations working for US billionaires …” blah blah blah. Secretive is the word they used.

        cheers

        • Colonial Viper 6.1.1.1

          Everyone has heard of the CIA. But the CIA remains an extremely secretive organisation.

          See what I did there?

Links to post

Important links

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

1 2 3 7

  • Time for NZ to prohibit the killing of great apes
    That ban was widely hailed, and spurred efforts in other countries to get similar bans. However, apes are still being exploited, abused and killed, both in captivity and in the wild. Examples of cruelty, neglect and abuse abound. Apes are… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    12 hours ago
  • Auckland building consents: Tragic
    The only word to describe the latest building consent figures for Auckland is ‘tragic’, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Whatever the Government is doing to address the Auckland housing crisis, it is clearly not working. ...
    13 hours ago
  • A whiff of a new biosecurity scandal?
    A pest which could create havoc for New Zealand’s horticulture and agriculture sector must be as much a focus for the Government as hunting out fruit flies, Labour’s Biosecurity spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “While the Ministry for Primary Industries is… ...
    16 hours ago
  • Government shrugs off health sector crisis
    Despite new evidence showing that cuts to health spending are costing lives the Government continues to deny the sector is struggling, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Health services in New Zealand are in crisis. ...
    1 day ago
  • Parata lowered the bar for failing charter school
    When Hekia Parata became aware that the Whangaruru charter school was experiencing major problems her first action was to drop standards by reducing the number of qualified teachers they had to employ, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins has revealed. “Hekia… ...
    1 day ago
  • National not being straight about the economy
    John Key and Bill English need to be straight with New Zealanders about the damage their failure to diversify the economy is doing, after new figures show export growth plunged due to a collapse in dairy exports, says Grant Robertson.… ...
    2 days ago
  • Mind the Gap
    This week the International Monetary Fund released a report on the wider economic value in closing the gender pay gap. When even the bastions of free-market economics start to raise concerns about gender pay gaps, we have to realise how… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 days ago
  • Labour will hold National to parental leave promise
    Labour will hold National to its promise to increase the support given to new parents of premature, multiple birth and babies born with disabilities, Labour’s paid parental leave campaigner Sue Moroney says. "I am naturally disappointed that after battling for… ...
    2 days ago
  • It was all just pillar talk
    Steven Joyce’s confession that he can no longer guarantee a pillar-free design for the New Zealand International Convention Centre shows the Government has abandoned its dream of creating an ‘iconic’ ‘world-class’ structure, says Labour Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “Steven… ...
    2 days ago
  • Australians move on offshore speculators
    John Key might want to have a quiet word with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott about Canberra's just-announced crack down on offshore speculators when he visits New Zealand this week, Labour's Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says."Tony Abbott's centre right government… ...
    2 days ago
  • Government at odds on overseas driver crashes
    National backbencher Jacqui Dean has spoken out about overseas driver crashes, putting herself at odds with Prime Minister John Key who is on record as saying it’s not a big issue, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “I’m not surprised… ...
    2 days ago
  • Human Rights and the Palestine Crisis
    Last week I heard two Palestinians speak at Wellington events about the ongoing crisis in their country. Samar Sabawi spoke to a full house about the history of Palestine and gave us a lucid and disturbing account of the situation… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    3 days ago
  • Time to take real care of our kids
    An Amnesty International report has once again criticised New Zealand’s track record on looking after our kids, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. The annual report, which looks at global human rights abuses highlights not only the fact that high… ...
    3 days ago
  • John Key wrong about Labour’s war vote
    John Key’s desperate claims that the former Labour Government didn’t put combat troop deployment to a Parliamentary vote are simply wrong, Labour’s Defence spokesperson Phil Goff says. “It was disgraceful that the Prime Minister ran rough shod over democracy and… ...
    3 days ago
  • Māori language bill needs work
     It is clear that the first draft of the Māori Language Bill was about structures and funding rather than the survival of te reo Māori, Labour’s Māori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says.  “Labour is pleased that the Minister of Māori… ...
    3 days ago
  • Report proves troubled school shouldn’t have opened
    The long-awaited release of an Education Review Office report into Northland’s troubled Whangaruru charter school proves it should never have been approved in the first place, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “This report identifies problems with absenteeism and disengaged… ...
    3 days ago
  • Reply to PM’s statement on deploying troops to Iraq
    “The decision of any Government to send troops to a conflict zone is a very serious one, and it is right that this House takes time to consider it, to debate it, and, ideally, to vote on it, but we… ...
    3 days ago
  • Minister must take action on death trap slides
    Workplace Relations Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse must take urgent action to ensure inflatable amusement rides don’t become death traps for children, Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Relations Iain Lees-Galloway says. “No one wants to stop kids having fun, but horror stories… ...
    4 days ago
  • Manus Island and the New Zealand Government
    This week the Greens have participated in awareness activity about Manus Island, the refugee camp on an island in Papua New Guinea where Australia dumps asylum seekers. John Key says that he has every confidence in the Australian Government’s claim… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Election Inquiry – Getting accessible voting on the agenda
    James Shaw has been doing a series of blogs on the Election Inquiry into last year’s general election.  I thought this was a great opportunity to raise an issue very dear to me – accessible voting. Last year’s general election… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    1 week ago
  • RMA changes no solution to Christchurch housing
    Housing will continue to be a big issue in 2015. The latest Consumer Price Index, released last month, shows both good news and bad news on the housing front. After years of being the most expensive place to build a… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    1 week ago
  • Saving kokako in South Auckland’s Hunua Ranges
    It is amazing that you can hear the song of the endangered North Island kokako in South Auckland’s Hunua Ranges, less than 50 kms from the central city. A heavy schedule of policy workshops at the Green Party’s Policy… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Let’s not turn a blind eye to human rights
    The Cricket World Cup has just opened in New Zealand, and it’s an opportunity for us to shine on the world stage. International sport can be a chance for us to build relationships with other countries, and examine what it… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Its Just Not Cricket
    This week it was my privilege to work with Sri Lankan Tamil communities in this country and host Australian journalist and human rights advocate Trevor Grant. I knew a bit about Trevor from his biography but I didn’t know just… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Time for NZ to #BeCrueltyFree
    The Government is about to progress the final stages of the Animal Welfare Amendment bill. This will be our last opportunity to get changes made to improve the bill to ensure a better outcome for animals. I have put forwards… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    2 weeks ago
  • We want access!
    Access to buildings is a big issue for many New Zealanders. It looks like that, due to the hard work and persistence of people in the disability community, the Government may finally be starting to take access to buildings seriously.… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Greens call on Super Fund to divest from fossil fuels
    The Green Party today called on the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (the Fund) to divest from fossil fuels, starting immediately with coal. The call was accompanied with a new report, Making money from a climate catastrophe: The case for divesting… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Young Kiwis’ housing crisis
    Shelter is a fundamental human need along with food, water and clean air. All humans need adequate shelter; it’s a human right. Warm, safe, stable accommodation is critical for young people to be able learn and grow and just be.… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 weeks ago
  • On the River Patrol in Te Tai Tokerau
    Last Wednesday, I went on a tour of some of Northland’s rivers with  Millan Ruka from Environmental River Patrol as he monitored water quality throughout Te Tai Tokerau. The dry conditions meant we couldn’t use the boat but we visited… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    2 weeks ago
  • Opening of Parliament 2015
    Russel NormanOpening of Parliament Speech February 2015 Tēnā koutou Tēnā koutou Tēnā koutou katoa. A brief history of climate change What a summer! It's been hot, even here in Wellington, hotter than any summer I can remember. All… ...
    GreensBy Russel Norman MP
    2 weeks ago

  • Politicians’ pay increases
    “An increase of 3.5% in the minimum wage compared with 5.5% increase for politicians is appalling. It is another example of the wealthy looking after themselves and showing no regard for the poor” says Peter Malcolm, National Secretary of Income… ...
    9 hours ago
  • Invade Mexico for Guacamole Reserves Instead
    #WagePeaceNZ, founded yesterday, along with all 7 of its Twitter followers, demands that New Zealand invade Mexico for its Guacamole reserves in lieu of sending 143 troops to Iraq. ...
    9 hours ago
  • Australian Prime Minister to thank New Zealand fire crews
    The contribution of more than 400 New Zealand firefighters in helping battle bushfires across the Tasman over the past 14 years will be acknowledged tomorrow during a visit by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to an Auckland fire station. ...
    10 hours ago
  • A simple question for Winston Peters: Where do you live?
    "Winston Peters has set a new record, being economical with the truth only hours into his campaign," claims Northland ACT candidate Robin Grieve. ...
    10 hours ago
  • Northland doesn’t need yesterday’s man
    "It's great that Winston Peters is finally taking an interest in Northland. But frankly we don’t need yesterday’s ideas from yesterday’s men in our region," ACT Northland candidate Robin Grieve said today. ...
    10 hours ago
  • Children’s Day – 365 days a year
    Barnardos wants New Zealanders to celebrate Children’s Day on 1 March, and to recognise the effort it takes to raise great kids over all 365 days of the year. ...
    11 hours ago
  • Will MPs Put Taxpayers’ Money Where Their Mouth is?
    The Taxpayers’ Union is calling the bluff of MPs and has written to each one asking whether they will be accepting the backdated pay increases announced yesterday. Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says: ...
    13 hours ago
  • Fonterra Sneaks Round The Corner
    Fonterra’s subsidiary Glencoal has put its plans for an open cast mine on SH2 at Mangatangi on hold indefinitely. The local community is celebrating. They worked very hard with submissions on all the impacts of coal mining that you are… ...
    14 hours ago
  • How Free Is Free Speech?
    How Free Is Free Speech: Do we recommend unconstrained freedom of expression? The Chief Human Rights Commissioner, David Rutherford, will be In Conversation with Noel Cheer at St Andrew’s on The Terrace, Wellington on Tuesday 3 March 2015 from 12:15pm… ...
    14 hours ago
  • No military deployment in Iraq: Nationwide peace vigils
    Peace vigils calling for increased humanitarian assistance and diplomatic support for Middle East peace processes, and opposing the military deployment to Iraq, will be held around the country at 5pm on Thursday, 5 March, coordinated by Peace Movement ...
    15 hours ago
  • Message of Nationwide Day of Action :‘TPPA? No Deal!’
    “An amazing 22 towns and cities across New Zealand have rallied to the call for a nationwide day of action against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) on 7 March”, according to Chantelle Campbell who is coordinating the national events ...
    15 hours ago
  • New Group Against Amalgamation
    A group of Wellingtonians have launched a campaign to resist the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s scheme to amalgamate Wellington’s existing councils. The group, Best Little Capital, has been formed by Wellingtonians Michael Moughan and Digby ...
    17 hours ago
  • Stark contrast between benefit increase & MPs’ pay rise
    Stark contrast between benefit increase & MPs’ pay rise Media release Friday 27 February 2015 Earlier this week Social Development Minister Anne Tolley announced that benefits will increase by 0.51% on 1 April. Yesterday MPs were granted a 5.5% ...
    17 hours ago
  • Sensible Sentencing challenges MPs to refuse pay rise
    “I realise this will take courage and we extend an open challenge to all MPs – or any MP from any party – to have the courage to be the first to stand up and publicly denounce this nonsense and… ...
    17 hours ago
  • Labour Party President Elected
    Labour Party President Elected Nigel Haworth has been elected as Labour Party President following a vote conducted among the constituent organisations and elected representatives of the Party. This follows the resignation of Moira Coatsworth in December 2014. ...
    17 hours ago

Removed at the request of The Daily Blog.
Public service advertisements by The Standard

Current CO2 level in the atmosphere