Monday, March 18, 2013

Mortal Enemies

Down here in Australia, we can feel isolated from the really big items on the world agenda. Most of the action seems to happen in the Northern Hemisphere, and those of us below the equator are just watching from the sidelines, catching the occasional stray ball that heads our way: an Olympic Games, a royal visit or a G20 meeting. It makes me wonder how much really interesting stuff goes on in the world that we never hear about.

For example, did you know that last week, the Oklahoma House passed a new bill which will prohibit local governments in that state from entering into any agreements with any organisations that have been officially accredited by the United Nations?

What’s that, you say? One of the flyover states on the other side of the world doesn’t want its local councils getting cosy with the UN? Is that kind of legislation even necessary? Does the great state of Oklahoma do a lot of business with organisations recognised by the UN?

Well, the Republicans in Oklahoma certainly don’t. According to Republican House member Sally Kern, it’s essential that proud state shuns all contact with the UN. it’s all about something called Agenda 21.

Hey, don’t feel bad. I didn’t know about Agenda 21 either, until the Galileo Movement tweeted about it last week.

Sometimes it’s better that we don’t know what’s going on in the Northern Hemisphere, although sadly, it’s looks as Agenda 21 is about to become one of those terms we hear in reference to Australia.

Rather than an infestation of alien life-forms or a new corporate management fad. Agenda 21 is, according to a paper by Graham Williamson and quoted by the Galileo Movement,

…a fundamentally undemocratic, sovereignty threatening, UN designed and monitored program which is being banned overseas because of the threat it poses to fundamental human rights. Agenda 21 is found to pose a serious risk to freedom and human rights and is unnecessarily foreign in its origin and control.

Run! Run away! Agenda 21 is coming to take away your rights as a human being! Don’t worry about who is the preferred Prime Minister in the Neilsen Poll – this Agenda 21 business is going to threaten our right to exist as a country! We won’t have a PM because we won’t be Australia any more! This is serious!

But before we start commandeering the boats (you know which boats) and steering them back from whence they came, I’m on a mission to find out what Agenda 21 is, and why we should be afraid. Call me cynical, but a tweet from the Galileo Movement holds about as much credibility as a Milli Vanilli hit. I think I’ll do my own research, thanks anyway.

And there it is, is black and white: a statement from the Australian Government Department of the Environment and Heritage, June 2002 and revised January 2004.

Agenda 21 is an international blueprint that outlines actions that governments, international organisations, industries and the community can take to achieve sustainability. These actions recognise the impacts of human behaviours on the environment and on the sustainability of systems of production. The objective of Agenda 21 is the alleviation of poverty, hunger, sickness and illiteracy worldwide while halting the deterioration of ecosystems which sustain life.

The document goes on to present some basic detail:
Agenda 21 is divided into four sections:

• Social and Economic Dimensions –

examining the underlying human factors and problems of development, along with the key issues of trade and integrated decision-making;

• Conservation and Management of Resources for Development–

the largest section of Agenda 21, presenting the range of resources, ecosystems and other issues, all of which must be examined in detail if sustainable development is to be achieved at global, national and local levels;

• Strengthening the Role of Major Groups–

looks at the social partnerships necessary if sustainable development is to be a reality. It recognises that Government and international agencies cannot alone achieve sustainable development and that the community, through representative and industry organisations, must be a key player in the development of policy and in achieving the necessary changes; and

• Means of Implementation–

examines the question 'how do we get there?'. The section looks at the resources which must be mobilised in support of sustainable futures. While finance and technology are key elements, this section also deals with aspects of education, institutional and legal structures, data and information and the building of national capacity in relevant disciplines.

Now according to the Galileo Movement, that wily group of Climate Science Deniers I discussed a few weeks ago, the Government version is not the truth. In fact, Mr Williamson states in his report.

“Agenda 21 is being implemented in the U.S. under various names to deceive the unsuspecting public as to the source and real purpose of the program. However identifying the programs is relatively easy. All you have to do is look for the keywords……..Everything associated with this program is deceptive. The language they use, the names they give the projects, the means by which they lure local governments into the trap and then slam the door - absolutely everything is deceptive from beginning to end.”

Ooooh – aaaah. Everything is deceptive, eh?
The only thing deceptive about Agenda 21 is how the Climate Science Deniers, that minority group of conservatives who reject the weight of scientific knowledge because it doesn’t suit their agendas, has hijacked the term and made it something menacing.

But don’t think for a moment that this is an Australian phenomenon. Like so many of our cultural influences, blame America. One driving force behind the demonization of Agenda 21 is the John Birch Society, an American radical right-wing political group whose members are somewhere out there beyond Tea Party Land. This group rose to infamy in the 60s when they stated that the Civil Rights Movement was a creation of communists. The JBS doesn't like communists.

In fact, if we had to catalogue the concepts that the John Birch Society fights against, the big two would be global governance and communism, followed by liberals of all kinds, social welfare, fluoride in drinking water, parent teacher associations (PTAs), the United Nations, free trade, taxes, Democrats, women’s liberation, the Reserve Bank, non-Christians, economic meddling and the entire 1970s. I could go on, but I had to stop reading there. I was losing the will to live. 

Thankfully, the JBS is not a mainstream political force in the USA, just as the Galileo Movement is not a player in the Australian scene, despite having Alan Jones as its public face. Both are enamoured of this Agenda 21 Conspiracy Theory and both are considered too extreme to worry about.

The greatest fear amongst these people isn’t that the world continues to exist with developed nations hoarding the wealth and developing nations still trying to stagger out of poverty and into a world unwilling to share. It's that someone, or anyone, or the rest of the world, might just decide to redistribute some wealth. If anyone – me, you, a Labor Government or the United Nations tries to balance the inequality, we’re socialists or worse. Just check out the John Birch Society homepage – a veritable treasure trove of dangerously extreme right-wing propaganda...or, if you're that way inclined, the biggest conspiracy theory ever hatched.

There will be more on this fascinating plot to steal the world. Stay tuned.

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