Kermit Snelson on Mon, 11 Feb 2002 23:11:01 +0100 (CET)

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[Nettime-bold] RE: <nettime> All right, I admit it -- I went to Davos

> I yield to no one in my admiration for Kermit Snelson, but at
> this point, I want to know who else from nettime was not down
> in Brazil with those zillion ineffectual leftists, but was
> hanging out with the globalist Great and the Good in Davos/NYC.

Relax, Bruce.  We Davos guys are paying your ineffectual leftist bills. :)


Feeding the hands that bite
By James Harding
Financial Times
Published: October 15 2001

Part two: Bankrolling the movement

John Sellers is wearing a woolly lime-green sweater. He has a big shaved
head, neat little ears and electric blue-painted toenails popping out of his
sandals. On a late summer's day in Berkeley, California, he bears more than
a passing resemblance to Shrek.

Like the cartoon ogre, the thick-set director of The Ruckus Society, the
civil disobedience group which trains activists for tree-sits, banner-hangs
and barricades, also has a giant laugh.

Particularly, when he mentions the origins of $100,000 worth of Ruckus
funding this year: "It is great that it is Unilever money. There is no
better way to launder corporate multinational largesse than giving it to the
movement that is confronting it."

The Ruckus Society trained activists who helped shut down the World Trade
Organisation meeting in Seattle in November 1999. It is also one of a
handful of radical activist groups which this year have enjoyed a big lift
thanks to Unilever, the consumer goods multinational.  [...]

The Unilever money has been a boon to several activist groups.

Ben and Jerry's foundation, through a special fund overseen by three senior
company staff including Jerry Greenfield, gave $1m over three years to
Global Exchange, the San Francisco-based group which campaigns to abolish
the World Bank and the WTO as well as name and shame irresponsible big
companies. Unilever has been a leading corporate advocate of trade

United for a Fair Economy, which campaigns among other things against what
it sees as excessive chief executive pay, also got a grant. Niall
FitzGerald, the Unilever co-chairman, had total compensation last year of
1.3m. [...]

The movement, critical though it was of burgeoning global companies, was
buoyed by the wealth which filtered through from an expanding international
economy. In fact, a large number of businesspeople have - wittingly or
unwittingly - become big donors to counter-capitalism.

FitzGerald from Unilever and Cohen and Greenfield from Ben & Jerry's are
just one case.

George Soros, the hedge fund operator, Anita Roddick, the founder of the
Bodyshop chain of stores, and Doug Tompkins, the founder of the Esprit and
North Face clothing lines, are among a new breed of philanthropist born of
the corporate world who are giving to protesters against corporate-led

Governments, too, have been significant financiers of protest groups. The
European Commission, for example, funded two groups who mobilised large
numbers of people to protest at EU summits at Gothenburg and Nice. Britain's
national lottery, which is overseen by the government, helped fund a group
at the heart of the British contingent at both protests. [...]

Anita Roddick's Body Shop is currently being pursued by potential buyers. If
the sale goes through, Roddick, who is on the board of the Ruckus Society,
is looking forward to increasing support for anti-sweatshop activists,
independent media organisations, dissent groups, local environmental
start-ups, socially responsible ventures and a range of others.

"I will not be funding large organisations, but poverty, human rights
abuses, civil rights, economic rights is where my heart lies," she says.

Depending on the terms of the sale, Roddick would have the kind of funds at
her disposal to be talked about as a radical funding figure in the same
league as one of the leading businessman-turned-philanthropists: Doug

Tompkins gave the money to set up the Foundation for Deep Ecology, which is
based in California. Today, it has a roughly $90m endowment, according to a
Deep Ecology director. The money comes thanks to Tompkins' business acumen.
He started and built Esprit, the retail chain, and North Face, the
mountainwear business. Since he sold it, he has been using the money to buy
land for environmental conservation and funding anti-globalisation projects.

To activists, Tompkins, who now lives out of telephone contact on a vast
environmental retreat in Chile bigger than Massachussetts, is the model of
the new philanthropy.

There are others. George Soros has diverted some of his fortune into the
Open Society Institute. In turn, it has been an important donor for the Ella
Baker Center, which campaigns against what it calls the "prison industrial
complex" and the creeping privatisation of public services which it sees as
a function of corporate-led globalisation.

Bob Young and Marc Ewing, co-founders of Red Hat, the designers of the Linux
software and Open Source systems, have established the Center for the Public
Domain, a group which has already made over $5m of contributions to civic
society initiatives. In the UK, some of the fortune left by Sir Jimmy
Goldsmith has gone into the JMG Foundation, which is overseen by Jon
Cracknell, one of the founder members of the Funders Network on Trade and
Globalisation. Mr Cracknell did not return phone calls. (Sir Jimmy's
brother, Teddy, is editor of The Ecologist and a leading light in the
movement.) [...]

Almost all the money which comes into the movement, whether from foundations
or inviduals, has some link to a corporate past.

The CS Mott Foundation, one of the bigger givers to groups campaigning
against the World Bank and the IMF, owes its wealth to General Motors. The
Ford Foundation, which has given widely to environmental groups, got its
money from the Ford Motor fortune. Richard Goldman, an insurance executive
and the descendant of Levi Strauss, has long had a fund established with his
wife, Rhoda, which, thanks to the jeans fortune, has been a big donor to
environmental and social groups. Likewise, the Rockefeller Brothers
Foundation and the Samuel Rubin Foundation have turned old business fortunes
into funding for a new breed of activists who are suspicious, if not
hostile, towards business. [...]

On the other side of the Atlantic, where smoke from stubby French cigars
wafts through the offices of Attac and Le Monde Diplomatique, the
intellectuals who run Europe's largest counter-capitalist group do not need
to worry about the vagaries of the stock market. The finances of Attac - the
Association pour la taxation des transactions financieres pour l'aide aux
citoyens - are provided mainly by its 30,000 members across the continent
and the organs of the European state.

Bernard Cassen, director of Attac and one of the top editors of Le Monde
Diplomatique, the French journal which has been an ardent critic of
corporate-led globalisation for nearly two decades, says donations of FFr50
to FFr200 ($7-$28) per year from its members make up the bulk of the E6m
($5.5m) annual budget [...]  But the biggest single donor to Attac, which
estimates it sent nearly 5,000 people to protest in Genoa, was the European
Commission. The EU gave FFr800,000 over two years.

"In the European Commission, we have very few friends," says Mr Cassen, who
has used his columns in Le Monde Diplomatique as a platform for persistent
criticism of what he sees as the EU's failure as a democratic insitution.
"It was very difficult to obtain [the money], but we obtained it." The
Commission's directorate general for development gave most of the money,
while more is expected to come from a new unit for engaging with civil
society, according to Attac. [...]

Britain's World Development Movement, which over the years has taken on the
UK government in court over the Pergau dam, campaigned against Rio Tinto and
the governments of Europe and the US over Third World debt, is described by
its director, Barry Coates, as the "shock troops" of the movement. It has
also been a beneficiary of EU funding. In the last two years, it has
received nearly 100,000 from the European Union, the WDM's biggest single

The British National Lottery, which has provided just over 55,000 over the
last two years, is the third largest financial contributor to the WDM, just
behind the United Reformed Church.

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