Omidyar and the Oligarch Code: Enabling Extremism, Monetizing Dissent

by lizard

Last July, after Americans started learning that our government systemically violates the constitution and spies extensively on its citizens, Jimmy Carter said the US “has no functioning democracy“. Luckily the US media did a pretty good job of keeping a lid on the statement:

Carter’s remarks didn’t appear in the American mainstream press but were reported from Atlanta by the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, whose Washington correspondent Gregor Peter Schmitz said on Twitter he was present at the event. The story doesn’t appear in the English-language section of the Spiegel website and is only available in German.

The power of corporate media is, in part, the power of omission. When Edward Snowden did the Brian Williams interview, his comments about having all the intel necessary to stop 9/11 went unaired. Here is a portion of what Snowden said:

“You know, and this is a key question that the 9/11 Commission considered. And what they found, in the post-mortem, when they looked at all of the classified intelligence from all of the different intelligence agencies, they found that we had all of the information we needed as an intelligence community, as a classified sector, as the national defense of the United States to detect this plot,” Snowden said. “We actually had records of the phone calls from the United States and out. The CIA knew who these guys were. The problem was not that we weren’t collecting information, it wasn’t that we didn’t have enough dots, it wasn’t that we didn’t have a haystack, it was that we did not understand the haystack that we have.”

Snowden’s NSA disclosures now belong to the billionaire Pierre Omidyar, the man who employs Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Matt Taibbi and other well-known names. Information about the other projects Omidyar bankrolls continues to trickle out, and it should be very concerning (but probably won’t be, considering those who vocally support Greenwald from the left have effective filters insulating them from reality). Chris Floyd has an important article worth reading, further highlighting work from Pando’s Mark Ames, titled Omidyar and the Oligarch’s Code: Enabling Extremism, Monetizing Dissent. Read the whole thing. Here’s a taste:

India is now in the hands of Narendra Modi — a lifelong member of an unabashedly neofascist paramilitary group. His chief claim to fame is presiding over the wanton slaughter of more than 2,000 Muslims as a provincial chief minister — and getting away with it. A staunch neoliberal as well as a neofascist, he is preparing to unleash the by-now standard “shock doctrine” tactics of the pernicious neoliberal cult on the whole country: unrestricted corporate rapine aided by a heavy-handed, all-surveilling militarist state, waging war on the poor — and the very notion of a common good.

What is surprising is that Modi’s rise to power has been aided for years by substantial support, direct and indirect, from an American billionaire widely regarded by the left as one of the world’s great champions of dissent: Pierre Omidyar. But perhaps this is not so surprising when you consider that Omidyar now stands to reap millions if not billions of dollars from Modi’s vow to open up India’s burgeoning e-commerce market to foreign companies — like Omidyar’s eBay, as Mark Ames reports at PandoDaily.

Ames provides a detailed look at Omidyar’s extensive involvement with Modi and his sinister movement. The story could serve as a companion piece to Ames’ earlier investigation into Omidyar’s relentless efforts to “monetize” philanthropy — turning it into a money-making tool for a small elite while wreaking havoc among those it is ostensibly trying to help. A key element in this monetization of human misery on the part of Omidyar and his cronies is the privatization of state services aimed at providing some measure of support, opportunity and social justice for ordinary people. In country after country, our neoliberal extremists are pushing policies to turn every aspect of human community into profitable enterprises under corporate control.

To do this, of course, one must also “monetize” democracy itself. Thus, as Ames and others have pointed out, Omidyar has also been active in “pro-democracy” NGOs and other organizations in foreign countries, working closely with Washington to bring down regimes considered insufficiently open to the strip-mining of national wealth and resources by Western elites. The aim, as in Ukraine, where Omidyar’s partnership with government was particularly active, is to replace the regimes with technocrats willing to stick the shock doctrine cattle prod to their own people.

It’s very unfortunate great investigative journalists have allowed themselves to be commodified by a conniving billionaire who looks at the world to figure out how to extract even more wealth from an increasingly desperate global population of peasants and serfs. It’s disgusting.


  1. JC

    While I think that Mark Ames is a great journalistic source — his recent piece on Putin and politics in Russia is very informative — Pando isn’t without problems with its own oligarchs. And here’s Pando’s Paul Carr on the pissing match with First Look and Omidyar.

    The Rancid Honeytrap has a great story on USAID reportage between Ames, Greenwald and Amy Goodman that is a must read.

    I think that Greenwald would best stay away from geopolitics. Doesn’t seem to be his forte, like the surveillance state is. Then again, after his selling the rights to his book to Sony, I’m sure the resulting “blockbuster” will inflate his ego to the point he will think he’s the world’s greatest journalist.

  2. JC

    More from Ames yesterday on Omidyar’s getting access for eBay to India’s markets:

    “Well that was fast. Two weeks ago, we reported that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s top man in India had secretly helped elect controversial ultranationalist Narendra Modi, implicated by Human Rights Watch and others in the gruesome mass killings and cleansing of minority Muslims. As we also revealed, shortly after Omidyar’s man publicly joined the Modi campaign in February, Modi suddenly began warming up to the idea of letting global e-commerce companies into the world’s third largest economy. Omidyar’s eBay, which draws the majority of its revenues from overseas operations, has been champing at the bit to get into India.

    Now, just weeks after Modi’s election, it seems their prayers have been answered.

    Today, Reuters is reporting that Modi is planning to open India up to global e-commerce firms like eBay next month, and that Modi’s industry minister has been drawing up the new guidelines with input from top eBay officials, along with their e-commerce counterparts from Google, Amazon, Wal-Mart and others.”

  3. lizard19

    thanks for the info, JC.




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