India’s assault on Greenpeace and democracy

It has to be said that it’s difficult to see the assault on democracy here:

The Indian government has frozen bank accounts of Greenpeace after accusing the international environment campaign group of encouraging “anti-development” protests in the emerging economic power.

The Union Home Ministry on Thursday suspended the official registration for foreign funding of Greenpeace India for six months and froze seven bank accounts connected with the organisation, The Hindu, a local newspaper, reported.

Samit Aich, the executive director of Greenpeace, said the move was “an attack on democracy”.

“They don’t like the questions we are raising. We are environmental activists asking questions about the environment. There has been intimidation, illegal attacks for some time now,” he said.

Campaigners believe that authorities have been upset by campaigns to highlight the environmental consequences of India’s increasing use of coal to generate massive amounts of power needed by the growing economy.

We do tend to think that “democracy” should be shileded from foreign money. No foreigner may donate, rather no non-resident and not on hte voting roll, may donate to a British political party for example.

So whining about “democracy” being damaged by controls on foreign money seems a bit off.

We might think of this as an assault on civil liberty, perhaps on free speech, possibly upon freedom of association. We might even think that it’s a bad thing. But it’s not obviously an attack upon democracy when a duly elected government tells the foreign hippies to fuck off now, is it?

29 thoughts on “India’s assault on Greenpeace and democracy”

  1. The Progressive definition of “democracy” is more akin to Mussolini’s corporatism, in which interest groups are represented by officially recognised organisations, like, um, Greenpeace. It has nothing to do with people voting (unreliable, you might get the wrong answer, as Blair pointed out this week).

  2. Reminds me of a debate several years ago between George Monbiot and a ocuple of members of friends of the earth.

    The debate was whether or not the UK should use nuclear power. George was all for it. Friends of the Earth were not for it (though they have softened their position on nuclear power since then).

    I still remember that, when asked about democracy, one of the Friends of the Earth people said (not an exact quote – I am doing this from memory!) that the purpose of democracy was to elect governments that would force the people to do things that they do not want to do but know that they should be doing.

  3. It’s about time elected governments stood up to the bullying tactics of the Green Blob. I wish our own spineless wonders showed the same fortitude in the face of shrill, ideological and damaging attacks upon the economy.

  4. Greenpeace, like a lot of activist organisations, pollute the political discourse by loudly proclaiming speculation as though it were truth.

    They use their foreign money to shout louder than their support would indicate, and never present the alternative view – that millions of Indians will be harmed by attempts to reduce CO2 emissions there.

    As a supporter of free speech I do not want them silenced, but I do want them challenged. Their promoting of policies which would harm the people of India might well be considered sedition though.

  5. Lobby groups are an anathema to democracy, they seek to have a disproportionate influence over government policy irrespective of the wishes of the electorate. At times they seek to overturn policy clearly mandated to the government by the electorate.

  6. I won’t name which one (not Greenpeace) but in one of my previous jobs we were doing a financing deal for the investment side of one of these global greeny organisations.

    They were basically “sustainably” logging in the Amazon basin, in Brazil, and needed cash to buy more land. A little hypocritical, but that was not really what shocked me. The real game they were playing was to use their political clout to oppose any other logging, lowering the value of surrounding land and raising the value of theirs (where logging was legal). They then bought up the now devalued land, dropped opposition to logging on it (under the idea that “some” of the land would be preserved or given back to rainforest) and got on with the serious business of making money again.

    Nice, right? One could almost say it came straight out of the evil capitalist playbook.

  7. Unfortunately “democracy” (like “liberal” or, although opposite, “fascist”) is one of those words that has been corrupted by the left.

    Democracy is a good thing, for a lefty anything they like must automatically be good, so anything the lefty likes is democratic and opposing it is anti-democratic.

  8. Here’s what activists think of democracy:

    If the first duty of the state is to protect its citizens, shouldn’t our political leaders be legislating for what’s needed – such as requiring low-carbon electricity by 2030 – without waiting to see whether that’s a popular move? We fossil fuel consumers need government to provide leadership not followship.
    Frances Butler

    Letter in the Groan today

    They are not concerned with what the demos wants, only with what they want.

  9. This is classic Murphyspeak – anyone disagreeing with him is ‘an enemy of democracy’ – oddly his constant whipping up of ignorant in support of his prejudice is bringing the case for franchise reform back to the surface for the first time in more than 70 years.

  10. Aaah those Murphy themes:

    Democracy: means German taxpayers should be forced to pay the debts of Greek taxpayers. No need to put it to a vote in Germany, because German politicians are not providing German taxpayers with a proper choice – i.e. to bail out Greek taxpayers.

    Double standards: don’t do to me what I am trying to do to you. You want to ban foreign ownership of organs of free speeach, like newspapers? Very well, we want to ban foreigners from donating to your domestic environmental campaigns.

  11. Salamander,

    > the purpose of democracy was to elect governments that would force the people to do things that they do not want to do but know that they should be doing.

    Er, that is actually true. We don’t have a vote on every decision. We elect leaders who we trust to make the right decisions (or at least not as bad as their opponents) and then we leave them to it for five years. We don’t choose policies; we choose leaders.

    No-one voted for Bush (or Gore) on the basis of what they would do after 9/11, and the US didn’t immediately hold a re-election after 9/11. The existing leadership was left to get on with leading. That’s an extreme example, but the same principle holds for the little things too.

  12. Squander Two

    Indeed that is what governments are supposed to do. However, we don’t need democracy for that; dictators can take decisions for us just as easily. So the charge against Friends of the Earth regarding democracy seems to stick.

  13. So when Milliband closes down the Adam Smith Institute, we’re all happy with that because he’s a democratically elected politician closing down a foreign funded lobby group.

  14. Another way of putting what I wroted in my first comment is that to Progressives, the key definition of “democracy” is not the “system of government by the whole population” part but is instead a synonym for “representation”. So long as you are “represented” by somebody, that’s democracy.

    Hence if Greenpeace, Mothers Against Stuff or Richard Murphy declare themselves to be “representing” you, that’s democratic, and if somebody interferes with them, that is “stifling democracy”.

    It’s a classic of Progressivist redefinition of terms to suit their own ends.

  15. Luke

    Actually a very good point!

    But I’m happy to stickwith my point about double standards. If I don’t like the idea of the ASI being silenced or newspapers being shut down because people like you don’t like them, then I am obliged to defend Greenpeace’s entitlement to make its case in India. (I feel the need for a cold shower with a really hard scrub).

  16. Mr Interested-Ecks-SMFS

    Have you actually been able to read the article or did those long words put you off?

  17. Sure I read it (I can’t speak for Ecks and SMFS). Long words don’t really phase me – unlike you, I can also spell, and punctuate, and everything!

    It says Greenpeace’s accounts have been frozen. It doesn’t say it can’t make its case in India.

  18. Mr Interested-Ecks-SMFS

    Really. Then those long words have stumped you. When Tim Worstall writes about a possible attack on civil liberties, free speech, maybe even freedom of association, what do you think he means? Go on, close your eyes and think really really hard. And try not to get angry, it affects your reasoning.

  19. Yeeeees but… See, I’m not Tim Worstall’s disciple and I don’t regard every word he utters as the revealed truth. I prefer to think for myself?

  20. The question mark was intended to help numbnut SJW Saffa Scousers to understand a point which was anyway fairly simple.

    It seems to have had the opposite effect, and to have confused you.

    Soz brah-la.


  21. > It says Greenpeace’s accounts have been frozen. It doesn’t say it can’t make its case in India.

    If the Tories froze Labour’s accounts but didn’t actually censor them, that wouldn’t be an attack on democracy?

    I disagree with Tim on this one, for the simple reason that the organisation in question appears to be Greenpeace India. It’s an attack on democracy. It’s also stupid: have the Indians not learnt yet that nothing helps a political movement like enabling it to claim that it’s being quashed by the powers that be? They’ll be trying to stop people buying records by banning them from the radio next.

  22. A far better response from the Indian Govt would have been to show Greenpeace for what they really are – a movement dedicated to keeping the majority of the Indian population mired in abysmal poverty in perpetuity.

    Also they are mostly wealthy whiteys from foreign to boot. It can’t be that difficult to get every town and village in the land throwing rocks at them the moment they step out of the door.

  23. Squander: If the Tories froze Labour’s accounts but didn’t actually censor them…
    Well, GP India is hardly a political party, now is it?
    This issue strikes close to home, since we have foreign (primarily American) foundations making large donations to (supposedly) grass-roots campaigners / lobbyists who are then participating in our (Canadian) public discourse. While I don’t like to see governments muzzle anyone – even activists who accept off-shore funding – I think it is reasonable to question the legitimacy of such groups.

  24. Greenpeace is not simply an organisation that seeks to persuade through force of argument, it uses bullying, intimidation, threats and direct action to thwart democratically elected governments. As such, it is a terrorist organisation that itself assaults democracy (as recognised by the UN following the desecration of Peru’s Nazca Lines).

    As far as I’m concerned, these ignorant, sanctimonious misanthropes are a threat to humanity, especially that portion of it who live in extreme poverty, and governments should be protecting their citizens by combating them, including lengthy jail terms for terrorist acts. I applaud India and wish other governments would act similarly instead of affording them a completely undeserved respect. They do not “mean well” (unlike the dupes who fund them) and those who want to see the world’s poorest lifted out of poverty and given access to energy, clean water and disease prevention programmes need to realise that this will only be achieved by vigorously opposing organisations like Greenpeace and not allowing them to influence policy.

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