Its rich and necessary diversity, we insist, is part of an overall coherence and commonality as a clearly-definable living organism.
This represents a threat to the dogma of the ruling clique, who claim that we would all constantly be at each other’s throats were it not for the firm hand of their top-down control.
While they themselves recognise no borders to their dominion, their divide-and-rule strategy has always involved classifying and separating the rest of us according to “race”, “nationality”, or, indeed, individual self-interest, in a bid to ensure that we remain isolated, divided and collectively powerless.
I have been shocked, therefore, in recent years to see so many anarchists embrace “intersectionality”, sometimes referred to more broadly as identity politics.
This way of seeing the world is, in my view, entirely incompatible with the anarchist vision, to the extent of representing its inversion.
It is founded on the definition of certain individuals as victims, the objects of various kinds of social oppression or domination.
This disempowered human-as-victim apparently only finds points of common interest with other individual members of the species in terms of an “intersection” of oppressions.
This is the opposite of the “big picture” approach at the heart of anarchism, which grasps the enormity of the domination, theft, imposition, duplicity and hypocrisy of the ruling system and hopes to inspire a radical and fundamental revolt which will set humanity free to live otherwise.
The “intersectional” approach instead effectively presents social injustice as a series of separate and very narrow “problems” for which “solutions” could be provided within the framework of the existing system.
If only it could provide “inclusivity” and “equality” for its favoured categories of oppressed victims, then all would be well, pending the discovery of further particular forms of oppression.
Far from being revolutionary, it hides the need for radical and fundamental change behind its limited shopping list of reforms.
My concerns about the intersectional approach have been deepened by the way in which it is so enthusiastically adopted by impact capitalists, who have been funding ostensibly “radical” groups pushing this ideology.
Crenshaw is, additionally, honorary president of the Center for Intersectional Justice in Berlin.
Set up in 2017, it describes its mission as being “to make anti-discrimination and equality policy more inclusive and effective in Europe”.
I have to admit that the word “inclusive” immediately rang alarm bells for me, as it is frequently used by the world of impact investment.
And when I found the CIJ’s list of funders on their website my suspicions were confirmed.
Top of the list of three is Guerrilla Foundation, an organisation thoroughly exposed in this November 2020 article as being engaged, along with Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum, in promoting impact capitalism under cover of funding “systemic change”.
Second is George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. Co-chair of the the Open Society Initiative for Europe in Berlin is none other than Rose Longhurst of the UK’s Edge Fund, whose close connection to impact capitalism I investigated earlier this year.
The third of the three funders is Gemeinnutzige Hertie Stiftung, a German foundation with the rather bizarre twin stated aims of “brain research and strengthening democracy”. More on this dubious organisation later.
The “partners & clients” listed on the Center for Intersectional Justice’s website are also far removed from the anti-establishment politics with which they (like Guerrilla Foundation and Edge Fund) want us to imagine they are aligned.
The CIJ’s founder and executive director Emilia Zenzile Roig (pictured) is in fact an Ashoka Fellow, which means that she (like Rob Hopkins of Transition Towns fame) is paid by them.
A key article on the Ashoka site makes it clear that the task given to Roig and the CIJ is to impose intersectional thinking on a European culture whose humanist values are deeply resistant to its agenda of classification and separation.
We learn that she “wants to change the way discrimination is understood and tackled in European societies”.
In the old world, “the mobilization of intersectionality remains challenging in a context that overemphasizes colorblindness and postracialism.
“The widespread reluctance to face the significance of race and the reality of racism is especially pronounced in Germany which rejects, for historical reasons of the Holocaust, collecting any demographic data on race and ethnicity in connection to crimes”.
Overemphasizing colorblindness and questioning “the reality of race” (ie: being anti-racist) does not sound like a problem to me.
And surely contemporary Germans are quite right to be concerned about attempts to collect data in order to link potential criminality to ethnic identity?
Roig thinks otherwise and her mission is “shifting the anti-discrimination framework towards one where intersectionality is eventually institutionalized”.
And on November 25 2020 Roig was interviewed in Forbes magazine as part of the Ashoka Contributors Group, under the informative heading of “Entrepreneurs. Insights, how-tos, and stories from the world of social impact”.
More insights into the “world of social impact” to which Roig belongs come from the ‘Clients and Collaborations’ section of her personal website.
There is a certain overlap with CIJ funders and partners. The Hertie empire and Open Society Foundations are listed, alongside Commerzbank and, of course, Ashoka.
The reference to the UN Sustainable Development Goals will come as no surprise to anyone who has dipped a wary investigative toe into the icy waters of impact capitalism and the Fourth Industrial Revolution to which it is allied.
Researcher Alison McDowell explains: “Powerful interests are using the Sustainable Development Goals to mask their plans to remake the world as a digital panopticon.
“Financiers are going to claim they’re doing positive things with their portfolios by configuring asset allocations to align with ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), and that’s where the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals come in.
“It is the sustainability goals that will open the door to smart city infrastructure with facial recognition, cashless economies, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence used to implement broad threat assessments; the threat of natural disasters as well as threats posed by individual dissidents and groups”.
It is significant that Roig is a graduate of Berlin’s Hertie School, until recently known as the Hertie School of Governance, which was founded by the same Hertie Foundation which funds the CIJ.
The Hertie School is a partner in the Global Public Policy Network (GPPN) along with Columbia University in New York, the Business Administration School of São Paulo at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, the University of Tokyo, the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, the Institute of Public Affairs at LSE and Sciences Po, Paris.
It says: “As part of the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda, having specialized knowledge and hands-on experience on how to meet the SDGs is in high demand from government agencies, international organizations and private companies.
“The UN 2030 Agenda and SDG partnerships truly represent a global effort from the public and private sectors, at the international and local level, to respond to the most challenging questions of our time”.
Unfortunately, GPPN partner Hertie has lately been failing to respond to one particular challenging question of our time, namely its relationship to its own past.
Hertie Foundation received its substantial funds from the profits of the Hertie chain of department stores.
Georg Karg (pictured here in 1938), in whose memory the foundation was established by his heirs in 1974, got his hands on what was originally Herrmann Tietz & Co during the 1930s, when it was “aryanized” by the Nazis and the original Jewish owners pushed out with minimal compensation.
Explains this article: “The pro-Nazi Dresdner Bank and others simply refused to give the company new credit, claiming back a loan of 14 million Reichsmark. Facing bankruptcy, the Tietz brothers were forced to accept the bank’s condition: handing over the operations to an Aryan management”.
Hertie School was set up by the foundation with the goal of preparing selected students for “leadership” positions in government, business, and civil society.
Writes graduate Tobias Bünder: “Sadly, so far the history of the Hertie name has been shared with far too few of these future leaders.
“Many other corporations have done much worse and risen to new heights afterwards (Hugo Boss, for example, got big making SS uniforms). Nonetheless, Karg is definitely not without blame for capitalizing on the misfortune of his former employers during the time of a hateful, anti-Semitic political movement”.
There is a certain irony in the fact that Hertie is having to fend off criticism of its record in the Hitler years, while at the same time funding impact-intersectionality, a 21st century public-private partnership bid to control and exploit human beings by means of cold scientific classification along racial and other divisive lines…
Life has become very strange indeed for billions of people since March 2020.
We are no longer allowed to do what we always did, see who we want to see, live freely in the way we fondly imagined we were entitled to do.
Everything has changed. Now we have to check the latest restrictions on our movements and activities. We can’t go to concerts, football matches, pubs or cafés. We are told to avoid other people and to wear masks to cover our faces when we do share the same spaces.
Nobody knows what the future holds for them or their family. Insecurity and anxiety are rife.
To start with, these were supposedly emergency measures, but the weeks turned into months without any end in sight.
Now we are being told that it could be years before we are allowed to resume our lives and even then we are going to need a “vaccine passport” to carry out even the most basic activities.
So what is this all about? What are they trying to do to us?
The official story, of course, is that is all because of a virus, a contagion so deadly that everything had to be put on indefinite hold.
But more and more people are latching on to the fact that something is not quite right in all this, that we have been “played” for some hidden purpose.
While they might still disagree over the exact origins or severity of Covid, they are coming together in the realisation that it has been used as an excuse to usher in a new type of society – the New Normal that the authorities have been going on about since the very start.
What kind of world is it that they want to force us into?
Some significant clues come from reading and analysing the words of Klaus Schwab, head of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland, whose annual Davos conferences have for decades been bringing together business leaders and politicians from all around the globe.
Schwab has long been promoting something called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is basically a digital society where absolutely everything, and everyone, is connected to the internet (“inclusivity”).
In his 2016 book The Fourth Industrial Revolution, he describes it as “unlike anything humankind has experienced before”, (1) “a revolution that is fundamentally changing the way we live, work, and relate to one another”. (2)
He enthuses about “billions of people connected by mobile devices”, and about robotics, 3D printing and nanotechnology which would all “build on and amplify each other in a fusion of technologies across the physical, digital and biological worlds”. (3)
Schwab also looks forward to more online education, involving “the use of virtual and augmented reality” to “dramatically improve educational outcomes”, (4) to sensors “installed in homes, clothes and accessories, cities, transport and energy networks” (5) and to smart cities, with their all-important “data platforms”. (6)
Some of what Schwab describes is frankly very disturbing, such as when he talks about technological devices becoming “implantable in our bodies and brains” and about us being able to “manipulate our own genes, and those of our children”. (7)
“Where do we draw the line between human and machine?” asks Schwab. “What does it mean to be human?” (8)
Most of us, of course, know perfectly well what it means to be human and have no desire whatsoever to be merged with a machine!
Schwab is well aware that his transhumanist vision is an unpopular and minority one and mutters darkly in his books about “societal resistance” (9) and how to advance “if technologies receive a great deal of resistance from the public”. (10)
So imagine his delight when, a few months after his WEF hosted an event acting out an imaginary global pandemic, (11) the Covid crisis provided the perfect excuse to sweep aside all that inconvenient public resistance!
Now was the ideal time to launch what Schwab himself calls “The Great Reset” and he immediately rushed out a book, Covid-19: The Great Reset, to celebrate his good fortune. (12)
Strangely enough, Schwab and co-author Thierry Malleret admit that Covid-19 is “one of the least deadly pandemics the world has experienced over the last 2000 years”, adding that “the consequences of COVID-19 in terms of health and mortality will be mild compared to previous pandemics”. (13)
They add: “It does not constitute an existential threat, or a shock that will leave its imprint on the world’s population for decades”. (14)
Yet, incredibly, this “mild” illness is simultaneously presented as the excuse for unprecedented social change under the banner of “The Great Reset”!
“It is our defining moment”, they crow. “Many things will change forever”. “A new world will emerge”. (15) “The societal upheaval unleashed by COVID-19 will last for years, and possibly generations”. (16) “Many of us are pondering when things will return to normal. The short response is: never”. (17)
For Schwab, Covid-19 means full steam ahead for everything he has been wanting to foist upon us for years under the label of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
He and Malleret report with satisfaction that “the pandemic will fast-forward the adoption of automation in the workplace and the introduction of more robots in our personal and professional lives”. (18)
They are delighted with the “accelerating growth of e-commerce”, (19) with the “ever-more powerful expansion of e-sports”, (20) with the boom in online banking transactions (21) and with the fact that, thanks to Covid, “the world of education, like for so many other industries, will become partly virtual”. (22)
They declare chirpily: “Our lingering and possibly lasting fear of being infected with a virus (COVID-19 or another) will thus speed the relentless march of automation, particularly in the fields most susceptible to automation”. (23)
But why is all this so important for Schwab? What is it that makes him and his WEF pals so eager to push through the Great Reset, the New Normal and the Fourth Industrial Revolution on the back of Covid?
It is all about money and power, which are essentially the same thing in the degraded modern society in which we live.
On the most basic level, a certain type of business stands to make a lot of money from lockdown culture.
As Schwab and Malleret are pleased to note: “The combined market value of the leading tech companies hit record after record during the lockdowns… this phenomenon is unlikely to abate any time soon, quite the opposite”. (24)
There is also the massive global shift of wealth from public purse to private hands that has been justified by Covid. Another bail-out for the 0.1%.
Schwab and Malleret gloat: “In April 2020, just as the pandemic began to engulf the world, governments across the globe had announced stimulus programmes amounting to several trillion dollars, as if eight or nine Marshall Plans had been put into place almost simultaneously”. (25)
But there is something even more insidious behind all this.
The Great Reset is, ultimately, about resetting the capitalist economy by allowing it to expand into new realms, to privatise and exploit new “products” that it could not previously reach.
Those “products” are us, our lives and our world – human and natural “capital”.
Schwab hints at this agenda in his books when he writes about “new ways of creating value” (26) and looks forward to “an explosion in tradable assets, as all kinds of value exchange can be hosted on the blockchain”. (27)
What he is referring to is “impact investment“, a scam through which hedge fund speculators aim to make phenomenal amounts of money by gambling on people’s lives.
In order to be able to package us all up into “products” that can be processed by the algorithms and data bases of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, everything we do has to be digital.
Our identities and lives have to be constructed online so they can be used as the basis for the new capitalism.
The worst thing about impact capitalism is that it hides behind the pretence of doing good. It clings to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and uses all the correct language to make itself acceptable for people who see themselves as progressive.
So we have the nauseating spectacle of Sir Ronald Cohen, notorious capitalist shark and Tony Blair’s banker, claiming piously that impact capitalism “will lead us to a new and better world” (28) by “helping those in need and preserving our planet”. (29)
This, alongside all the virtue-signalling moral self-righteousness surrounding Covid, makes it hard for people to see the vile reality behind what is being planned.
Those promoting the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Great Reset employ armies of “journalists” and “fact-checkers” to hide the truth and dismiss researchers and dissidents as “conspiracy theorists”.
We all know how difficult it is to persuade even friends and family to look beyond the mass media propaganda and find out what is really happening.
But this is what we have to do, in every way we can.
The stakes are too great here, to simply turn away and hope it will all turn out all right in the end.
Schwab, Cohen and the like are herding us into a digital prison camp and if we don’t soon snap out of our collective complacency and make a bolt for freedom, future generations don’t stand a chance in hell of living decent and dignified human lives.
Warning! Warning! Friends, citizens, fellow human beings! Rouse yourselves!
The Impactors are coming and they want to steal from us everything we have, everything we are and everything we could one day become.
This is no time to cower indoors, shocked and awed into spellbound submission by their satanic Spectacle.
While the emergency sirens wail and the tear gas of panic chokes and blinds the citizenry, the dark cohorts are fast advancing deep into our lives.
Come down into the streets! Help build our barricades and be prepared to offer up everything in defence of our freedom!
The Impactors are coming but they are not coming as they did once before, clad in boots of brutality and bearing banners of hate.
This time they are sneaking up in disguise, wrapped in the multi-coloured plastic packaging of pseudo-niceness.
They assure us that they are here to do good, to help the needy, to build back better, to save the planet.
But it is all just lies, lies, lies!
This “niceness” is their Trojan Horse, their secret weapon of mass manipulation, with which they hope to reach inside your heart in order to rip it out.
Make no mistake: they have been planning this for years. They have used their ill-gotten gold to buy the souls of thousands, to ensure that their loyal placemen occupy every post of significance in every relevant organisation and institution.
Watch how all these impactuary minions crawl muzzled on their knees and prostrate themselves before the false gods of sustainable servitude!
Listen how they all repeat the same unholy mantras of submission, obedience and silence!
And the Impactors’ army of eager little robot-impactivists, hired to quench the flames of authentic revolt, scurry around to reinforce their masters’ message and blast vitriol on those who refuse to bow to Power.
“Impactivate! Impactivate!” they scream mechanically. “Wrongthink is the enemy of progress! All enemies of progress will be impactivated!”
Let us be clear about this! The Impactors are not here to “save the world” or to “do good”.
Inversion of truth is an integral part of their demonic essence and their plan. Their real aims are the exact opposite of what their weaponised narrative pretends.
The Evil Impactorship wants to own and control us, our bodies and every moment of our lives. It wants to own and control every square inch of our world.
And through this ownership and control it aims to exploit, to suck dry, to feed itself fatter and fatter on the flesh of humankind and our Mother Earth until there is nothing left.
But wait! Perhaps I am going too fast? I forget that some of you don’t know what this is all about, haven’t been paying attention to the importantvoices warning of us of what is happening.
Have you heard about the plan to save the rule of the elite by finding new raw materials, new “products”, from which it can keep increasing its vast wealth and maintain its cancerous and disastrous growth?
Do you understand that, as capital seeks “sustainablity” by expanding into the virtual world, it wants to turn us all into investable commodities?
You will be aware that for decades now, all across the world, “austerity” has meant that public bodies have been starved of money with which, under the current system, they are supposed to provide services to the public, while giant corporations have found clever ways of not contributing to that social pot.
States have therefore been forced to borrow more and more money – from the very financial networks which have created austerity – and to go begging for cash from this same “private sector” in other ways.
But there is a cost to pay, of course! When the mendacious Money Men claim they are helping the state and therefore the people, in truth they are merely helping themselves, via the state, at the expense of the people!
Students of history will recall that this “partnership” between the public and the private, this merger of state and big business, was the economic basis of fascism.
A big friend of war criminal Tony Blair, Cohen has been busy building up a new structure through which Big Money can suck away the lifeblood of society. This is “impact capitalism”, the new venture capital for the 2020s.
The idea is that because states can no longer afford to look after people in the way they promise, private businesses can step in to provide money up front to “solve” certain specific problems.
This injection of cash is not a gift, of course, even if the narcissists involved like to label themselves “philanthropists”. It is an investment.
When the “solution” is achieved, they will recoup their money, plus their own slice of the money that they have “saved” the state through their intervention.
Maybe this, in itself, does not shock you. But there are a number of complications, three of which I will now explain.
Complication Number One is that the “success” for which the Impactors are rewarded has to be “measurable”.
Calculation lies at the core of their scheme: the reduction of all life to a series of statistics on a financial dashboard.
These vampires might calculate the profit potential of an unborn baby girl. How much will this child cost the state? What is her social status, racial origin, state of health, likely career path?
Once the number-crunching algorithms have come up with an answer, the Impactors can set out to reduce this cost to the state, which will allow them to claim a return from their investment.
But how can they track all this? How can anyone know how the child is advancing, what kind of social relationships she is enjoying, what she is eating and how her body is doing?
Total surveillance is required and total surveillance means the internet, powered by 5G or 6G. If the infant is constantly plugged into the matrix, interacting with artificial intelligence, diligently entering data about herself into the machine, then the Impactors have the evidence they need of how she is advancing. Or not.
If she is out playing with her friends in the park, or sitting dreamily in her bedroom surrounded by dolls and picture books, she is off-grid and providing no data. She is a waste of space and time. An unprofitable investment.
The Impactors want to push this further and further to get more and more profit. They want sensors in our bodies, in our minds even, to hoover up every conceivable piece of data about us.
They want to be able to create a digital twin of each and every one of us, a fake version of us reduced to the dead binary code which is the empty foundation of their life-hating cult of exploitation and accumulation.
And because they see us as their possessions, their slaves, they think they have the right to control us and cage us so that they can exploit us to the maximum.
They want to herd us into smart cities, strap us with wearable technology, monitor and control our every movement and interaction.
The Impactors’ twisted vision is of a world of geofencing and e-carceration, of facial recognition and predictive policing, of biometric data and sensor networks, of behavioural insights and eugenics, of nudging and shaping, of the internet of things and the internet of bodies.
These twisted elite psychopaths want us coded, counted and controlled, regarded as digital assets on a blockchain ledger, deprived of our natural health and dependent on constant updates from the Big Pharma machine.
They want us locked down permanently in a global police state, a digitalised new world order dressed up as some kind of progressive paradise.
We will be nothing but virtual livestock, forced by poverty and powerlessness to submit to their workforce pathways, their retraining and lifelong learning, racing to the bottom of the slavery-slope of a globally-outsourced remote-labour marketplace.
Complication Number Two is a useful spin-off from Complication Number One – useful, that is, from the perspective of the Evil Impire itself!
Impactor “success” is only measured by data on a dashboard. It does not necessarily have anything to do with real life, but is merely a pseudo-success resulting from the narrow criteria which have been set up to measure “outcome”.
The “solutions” that fake green businesses have long been trying to sell us for climate change are no solutions at all. They are products disguised as solutions.
The business sharks peddling these “solutions” simply don’t care that they will only make things worse by unleashing a new spiral of industrialism, extraction, expansion and thus destruction.
They don’t care because they can see no further than their immediate pecuniary self-interest. They don’t care because they have none of the higher values that make us truly human, only a low and narrow craving for more and more wealth and power.
The same is true of the “solutions” proposed on the social level by the Impact-vultures. A green tick on a screen is not a problem solved. A few digital hurdles apparently overcome does not mean that the person-product’s life has been improved in any meaningful way.
The underlying problems not only remain, but deepen in severity. Elites getting richer off the impact scam will mean everyone else getting poorer. Wellbeing and mental health are not going to be improved by forcing people into a digital panopticon.
Impact “social philanthropy” is a business based on a new economic model. A deceptive business that does not really want to eliminate poverty and misery but to mine them endlessly.
It has a vested interest in the continuation of a wide range of problems for which it can sell its “solutions”, which in reality are just sleights of hands, deceptive devices designed to make money from a lucrative global market of managed poverty and surveillance.
Broken people and broken lives spell endless profits for the impact parasites.
Complication Number Three is that the money made from these deals by the Impactors is only the tip of the iceberg.
The vampires’ really big money will come from speculating on the financial products they have created from our lives.
As dispossessed people become increasingly dependent on the state, the Impactors will take advantage of this to pitch each of us as a debt product, creating securitised markets in privatised welfare.
These massive new equity markets for hedge funds will see your personal circumstances packaged and traded as liquid assets like bundles of mortgages, with some financial vultures gambling on you achieving your outcomes and others against.
These markets have to be real-time so that the global investors can bet on them and that means your life has to be led online. If you are offline you are not providing data for their gambling game and they cannot make money from you.
Stay at home! Stay online! Save capitalism!
In order to make money from this new speculative game, in which you and I, our children and our grandchildren, are the counters, the Impactors have first got to set it up.
The rules of the game have been set out by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, whose apparent worthiness is just another layer of deceit in the Impactors’ phoney world.
Certain goals are officially labelled “good”, meaning that public authorities are encouraged and even obliged to pour funds into achieving them and that the impact businesses profiting from this are treated as having a special holier-than-thou status that might, for instance, liberate them from the inconvenient need to pay tax.
And, again, it is here that the impactivist brigade step in to prop up the lies and confirm that “good” as defined by the Impactors really is “good” as seen from all perspectives, even from the left flank of the system.
Oh yes! They like to paint themselves as latter-day saints, as enlightened do-gooders, all those con-artists, crooks and charlatans conspiracing to mislead and enslave us!
And how will the Impactors create the infrastructure of the game from which they will profit? By forcing their prisoners to build their own prison! Education of the traditional kind is so out-of-date. Training is what the young need now, in the shiny New Normal. Training to code the impacterialist machine.
Play our game. It’s just a game. Lose yourself, your reality and your future in our game.
When we have successfully helped create the structure of their Fourth Industrial Revolution transhumanist hell, we will be replaced by robots and algorithms.
And this marvellous world will be poisoned and pillaged to the point of no return.
Unless, of course…
Unless, together, we see through the Impactors’ lies!
Unless, together, we refuse to comply and conform!
Unless, together, we tell them we will neither build nor play their game!
Unless, together, we are willing to fight to the death for the sake of life!
[This article was inspired by, and almost entirely sourced from, the groundbreaking research and analysis of Alison McDowell]
“There remains nothing, in culture or in nature, which has not been transformed, and polluted, according to the means and interests of modern industry”, wrote Guy Debord in his superb 1988 book Commentaires sur la société du spectacle.
He warned darkly of “provocation, infiltration, and various forms of elimination of authentic critique in favour of a false one which will have been created for this purpose”.
Today this manufactured astroturf “dissent” covers practically the whole political and cultural terrain, with only tiny green shoots of authenticity able to occasionally break through the plastic carpet of suffocating artifice.
It will not, perhaps, have come as much of a surprise to clued-up anti-capitalists and anarchists to learn that the Global Shapers movement set up by the World Economic Forum does not really represent the views of the the world’s youth but of big business networks pushing the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Left-wingers will not have felt unduly perturbed to hear that Rob Hopkins of the Transition Towns movement, never noted for cutting-edge radicalism, has been receiving an annual stipend from shady social impact organisation Ashoka and blatantly promotes the Great Reset agenda.
Exinction Rebellion was always a bit on the fluffy side, cosying up to the police and pushing a “we’re all in it together” message, so it was not too much of a leap to accept that it is a creature manufactured by climate capitalists hoping to get rich from a fake-green “transition”.
A few feathers were no doubt ruffled by the revelation that Guerrilla Foundation, funders of Extinction Rebellion but also dozens of other “activist” groups, also belong to the world of impact capitalism.
But any anti-capitalists worth their salt know that there is a strict limit to this ideological contamination.
Once you move into the sphere of real full-on social justice activists and self-defined anarchists, the sort of people prepared to take direct action for revolutionary change, there is no way that they could be secretly funded by big business interests.
The idea that they could be connected in any way to impact capitalism, to Bill Gates, Ronald Cohen or the WEF’s Global Shapers could only be the invention of the most deluded of conspiracy theorists, couldn’t it?
2. “The power attached to the money”
Searching back through old emails, I came across a message dating from October 3, 2013, which had been forwarded on a list for UK anarchists.
It read: “We’ve always said we wanted to reach groups that don’t normally hear about funding opportunities so whilst we use the normal fundraising websites etc we also rely on people who can help us spread the word on the ground. At some point someone mentioned to you that Edge Fund was open for applications – can you be that person for someone else please?
“If you know any groups that need funding for their work to bring about justice and equality, especially those who perhaps do not use the internet very much and may not hear about us otherwise, please let them know we might be able to support their work”.
It was signed Sophie Pritchard for Edge Fund.
So what is Edge Fund? Its website states: “Edge Fund is a grant-making body with a difference. We support efforts to achieve social, economic and environmental justice and to end imbalances in wealth and power – and give those we aim to help a say in where the money goes.
“Learn more about our unique model of funding which is not just about giving money away, but also the power attached to the money”.
A post from May 18 2015, now only available on web archives, says that Edge Fund supports groups “taking action for a just, equitable and sustainable world”.
“Equitable” and “sustainable” are both words that ring alarm bells for anyone who has delved into the world of impact capitalism and they made me want to look deeper into Edge Fund.
This task was not totally straightforward, as they have evidently been doing a bit of online housekeeping of late and a lot of pages no longer exist on their actual website.
This key page of links, for instance, entitled ‘What We Fund’, was last seen on November 25 2020, a few days after Winter Oak published an investigation into fellow activist-funders Guerrilla Foundation.
Here they say they “create opportunities for people and groups to build alliances with each other, and particularly those they might not normally cross paths with, and to share their learning and experiences”.
This immediately reminded me of Guerrilla Foundation’s role of facilitating “unlikely collaborations” between activists and the world of high finance, even paying the former to attend a capitalist Impact Hub “Unlikely Allies” event.
Edge Fund says it is committed to “removing as many barriers to funding as possible”, such as “activists being regarded as ‘too radical’” because they are “looking for real and lasting radical change”.
It explains: “We are an alternative fund for groups who find that traditional sources of funding are closed to them due to their radical approach… Edge Fund is a pioneering, innovative project. We are willing to take risks in our structures and processes as well as in our funding decisions. We aim to be fluid and dynamic”.
3. Who’s getting paid?
Recent versions of Edge Fund’s ‘Previous Grants’ seem to be have been redacted, so I have supplemented current information with an archived version from May 2020 to get a fuller picture of where their money is going.
There are a couple of big names in there, including Black Lives Matter UK, which was awarded £3,000 by Edge Fund in July 2017.
Says the entry: “In Britain, there is a tendency to see racism as something that happens on the other side of the Atlantic. Through their work, they aim to challenge that view, and open up conversations about racism in Britain today. They strive to challenge the structural racism reproduced by the British state through community organising, education and peaceful direct action”.
Another big hitter is Rising Up, the network behind Extinction Rebellion, which received £1,500.
We learn: “Rising Up are focused on system change through non-violent uprising (knowing that is ridiculously ambitious!). They deliberately don’t identify with a particular political orientation (e.g. anarchist or socialist) because they believe in creating the conditions for genuine dialogue / participation rather than imposing pre-determined models”.
Rather worryingly, given my concerns about the influence of impact capitalism, one of Edge Fund’s grantees is called Positive Impact Community (“campaigning for justices for young people, predominantly those who are East african, and refugees who are facing deportation”).
Quite a lot of the groups that have received Edge Fund money since 2012 are involved in issues around race or refugees, such as the Brighton & Hove Black Women’s Group, the International Federation of Iraqi Refugees (“Support their integration into their new societies”) or The Ubele Initiative (“an African Diaspora social action focused organisation” focused on “intergenerational leadership and social action processes”).
There is also PAC45 Foundation in Manchester, which works “to create spaces and opportunities for the Black community to comprehend, articulate and challenge the racist practices that lead to a life of exclusion in our so-called post-racial society”.
Taking a more pro-active position are Speaking Statues (“repurpose and subvert the ways in which these white supremacist symbols exist in our society with very little challenge”) and Mixed Race Families Scotland (“challenges the social acceptance of Blackface for Halloween and other regional festival and cultural celebrations such as ‘Up Helly Aa'”).
There are also several groups involved with gypsy, Roma and traveller issues such as Travellers and Roma Against Prejudice, United Europe Roma, Hampshire’s Romanys and Kushti Bok.
Other recipients are focused on mental health, such as Recovery in the Bin (“a group of Mental Health Survivors and their supporters”), Phoenix in Leicester (“a collective of working class mental health survivors”) and Empowering Renewal UK (“Sustainable activism and radical mental health in the UK”).
Feminism is represented, such as by Feminist Webs (“campaigning to challenge sexism and develop a fairer world for young women and girls through liberatory youth work”).
Transgenderism features prominently, for example with TransActual (“amplify the voices of trans people”), Childcare Collective in Glasgow (“women, non-binary identifying, and trans-masculine folk”), London Trans+ Pride (“actively opposing any transphobic legislation”), and CliniQ in London, a “holistic, wellbeing service set up by the trans community for the trans community” which is “providing resilience strengthening community-level programmes”.
There is also Open Lavs, which is apparently “a practical, online tool for finding non-binary (gender neutral) loos across the UK”.
But Edge Fund clearly has a special liking for projects which invest in victims suffering from more than one element of oppression or domination.
Here are some examples of funded groups boasting this identity politics “intersectionality”:
African Rainbow Family. “Run horizontally by LGBTIQ people seeking aslyum and refugees with lived experiences of persecution based on their sexuality, gender identities, religion, race, ethnicity, disability”.
Association of Black Parents of Disabled Children. “Make sure their voices be amplified, and their needs considered”.
Sex Worker Open University. “Working to end state and societal violence against all sex workers, and to dismantle the structures of oppression through which many sex workers face compounded violence: such as transmisogyny, racism and xeno-racism, classism and homophobia”.
Beyond Bars. “Queer and trans prison abolitionists who send books and other educational materials to LGBTQAI+ people who are incarcerated”.
Ffena – Black Women Living with HIV. “Building social capital”.
Global Majority Network. “A coalition of black, brown and diaspora people, including migrants, LGBTQ+ people, Muslims and revolutionaries from different campaigning and community groups”.
LGBT Unity, Scotland. “The only place in Scotland where the space is held solely for LGBTQ asylum seekers and allies to come together”.
Phillippa Willitts. “The intersections of disability, race, class, sexuality and gender identity”.
Sisters of Frida. “They would like to build a sisterhood, a circle of disabled women to discuss, share experiences and explore intersectional possibilities”.
Just Books – Belfast Solidarity Centre. “Providing people at the receiving end of intersecting oppressions the resources to resist”.
Lesbian Immigration Support Group. “They challenge myths about LGBT people and about asylum seekers and refugees”.
6 Rang. “A group of concerned Iranian lesbian individuals”.
Queer AF Brighton. “Formed in response to the rise of racism and transphobia in the community and beyond”.
Rainbow Noir. “A community group for Black Minority Ethnic (BME) Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) people”.
In a testimonial on the Edge Fund site, a representative of Black Lives Matter UK reports their delight at the intersectionality on offer at an Edge Fund meeting in Birmingham on July 15, 2017.
They write: “It was so invigorating to know how much grass routes [sic] work is being done all over the country across the issues of sex worker rights, housing, climate change, LGBTQIA+ rights, mental health, addiction recovery, and racial justice”.
Antifascist groups have also received Edge Fund cash, such as Brighton Antifascists (“part of the South East Antifascist Regional group and also the nationwide Antifascist network”), Leeds Anti-Fascist Network and Berkshire Anti Fascists, who are “more interested in action than political philosophy”.
Edge Fund grants have gone to many groups which are familiar to me and which I have campaigned alongside or had dealings with.
There is the Brighton and Hove Unemployed Workers Centre, Smash IPP, the Black Triangle Campaign, Focus E15, Fuel Poverty Action, Glasgow Autonomous Space, Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh, Liverpool Social Centre Collective/Next to Nowhere, Belfast Solidarity Federation, Peace News Summer Camp, Space Hijackers, Fitwatch, Anti Raids Network, Green and Black Cross, Reel News, Empty Cages Collective, Food Not Bombs London, Haringey Housing Action Group, UK Uncut, Undercover Research Group and the Stop the Arms Fair Coalition.
Money has been given to environmental groups which I have supported, such as the Land Justice Network, Transition Heathrow, Coal Action Network, Rossport Solidarity Camp, Misson Springs anti-fracking camp, Frack Free Upton, The Campaign to Protect Pont Valley, Kirby Misperton Protection Camp, Frack Free South Yorkshire, Frack Free North West, Keep East Lancashire Frack Free, Frack Free Five Valleys, Residents Action on Fylde Fracking, Anti-Fracking Nanas and Fracking Free Ireland.
The London Anarchist Bookfair, which I attended for decades and where I have run various stalls and workshops, is on the Edge Fund list.
Even Stop G8, with which I was heavily involved in 2012-2013 received a “small grant”.
The Edge Fund grant recipients also include Shoal Collective, of which I was a member until a year ago and for whom I wrote a number of reports on the Gilets Jaunes uprising in France. More on that later.
I mention my personal connections not just for the sake of transparency, but to make it clear that I am not coming from a position of a priori hostility to this radical left milieu and that I am not suggesting (how could I?) that people who have been involved in these groups are necessarily “dodgy” or “controlled opposition”.
All I am doing is stating that these organisations are all listed by Edge Fund as having applied for and received financial grants.
4. A network of global funders
When I started researching Edge Fund, it quickly became clear that it is very much part of a broader network which seems a million miles away from the radical left which it helps bankroll.
For instance, in this 2014 report, Edge Fund appears alongside the likes of the Shell Foundation and its contribution to the theme of ‘Balancing funder power’ is listed just before that of ‘100% Impact Investing’ as exemplified by the USA’s KL Felicitas Foundation.
In the report, Edge Fund is praised by Maria Chertok, director of the Russian branch of the Charities Aid Foundation (“We consult with the world’s leading brands. Inspiring, enabling and transforming their purpose into impact”).
It seems that Chertok likes the Edge Fund idea of “balancing funder power” because this is “another new approach to funding”.
Chertok previously worked for the Ford Foundation and is also “a member of the Editorial Board of Alliance magazine“, a publication which we will encounter again later.
Edge Fund also crops up in a 2016 report on ‘Internet Philanthropy in China’ from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) China.
This notes that Edge Fund’s approach allows it to “better target needs and ensure community ownership over the management process” and concludes that “the greatest area for improvement in the management and reporting system lies in ensuring consistent and thorough reporting and performance tracking across organizations”.
The same report also praises the Shell Foundation, noting that it “exemplifies the increasing comprehensiveness of internal evaluations” and that “this kind of transparent and honest evaluation is valuable for the effectiveness of philanthropy more broadly”.
It is difficult, for an outsider, to understand where exactly Edge Fund fits in to this strange and murky world of so-called philanthropic funding.
Explaining its own history, the Group says: “This initiative began to really gather momentum after three members, Sophie Pritchard (Edge co -founder), Isis Amlak and Patrick Boase (Network for Social Change) attended the Funders for a Just Transition meeting in La Bergerie, Paris (14-16 March 2014).
“The meeting was organised by what has since become Edge Funders Alliance Europe. The main objective was for the funders present to share information and to begin exploring possible ways of collaboration.
“In April 2015 we were selected to facilitate a workshop at the EDGE Funders Alliance’s conference, Towards A Just Transition, in Baltimore”.
EDGE Funders Alliance, based in the USA, is not the same entity as Edge Fund in the UK, but is closely linked.
It tags itself “Engaged Donors for Global Equity”, which explains where the “Edge Fund” name comes from, apart from being an obvious pun on ‘Hedge Fund’.
Professor Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research wrote about this US organisation in 2016, saying: “In 2013, the Rockefeller Brothers representative Tom Kruse co-chaired EDGE’s program committee.
“At the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Kruse was responsible for ‘Global Governance’ under the ‘Democratic Practice’ program.
“Rockefeller Brothers grants to NGOs are approved under the ‘Strengthening Democracy in Global Governance’ program, which is broadly similar to that put forth by the US State Department”.
A glance at the programme for the 2015 Baltimore event attended by the UK Edge Fund delegation confirms the Rockefeller connection.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is listed as one of the conference’s sponsoring groups, along with the Ford Foundation, Open Society Justice Initiative, the American Jewish World Service, the Wallace Global Fund, Fondation Charles Léopold Mayer, The JMG Foundation and New Venture Fund.
Chossudovsky points out the presence on the EDGE Funders board of a representative of the Open Society Initiative for Europe.
The UK outfit is part of the US-based Global Greengrants organisation whose secretary Katherine Pease is director of impact investing at Cornerstone Capital Investment Advisors and “regularly speaks about the intersection of impact investing and social equity”.
We also learn from the EDGE Funders website: “In 2017 Rose helped to establish FundAction, a participatory fund and platform for European activism” .
FundAction is described as “a new participatory fund making grants for social transformation, organised around a community of activists based in Europe to support social movements working towards a transition to a just and equitable world”.
This helpful information comes from Guerrilla Foundation, the funders of Extinction Rebellion and other “activist” groups exposed in November 2020 as belonging to the world of impact capitalism.
They explain: “FundAction was born out of conversations between activists and funders at several occasions. At the EDGE Funders Alliance European Retreat in 2016, four foundations (Open Society Initiative for Europe, European Cultural Foundation, Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation and Guerrilla Foundation) decided to pool funding”.
The Guerrilla Foundation presentation of FundAction even features a lovely photo of Edge Fund’s Longhurst running a workshop during an EDGE Funders Alliance Meeting.
Another article mentioning Longhurst’s involvement in FundAction describes the project as “imagining an alternative to the rise of popularism and extremism”.
This is a strange phrase to find associated with an initiative supposedly interested in funding radical change! A fear of “popularism and extremism” is more what you would expect from those interested in protecting the status quo, isn’t it?
The quote in question in fact comes from Longhurst’s profile as an Atlantic Fellow (“for social and economic equity”) – yet another of the many hats she wears!
The Atlantic Fellows for Social and Economic Equity programme, based at the International Inequalities Institute at the London School of Economics and Political Science, is “building a catalytic, values-led global community of people who are committed to using collective leadership to work towards social and economic justice for all”.
It says it is “empowering a new generation of change-makers, including policy-makers, activists, researchers, practitioners and campaigners, to work together across disciplines, backgrounds and borders”.
Over 20 years, the scheme “will support over 400 Fellows drawn from both the global South and global North” and was “established with a landmark gift from The Atlantic Philanthropies in 2017”.
It uses the slogan “Big Bets for a Better World” and declares “Today’s Investments Pay Big Dividends for Many Tomorrows”.
American billionaire Warren Buffett has described Feeney as “my hero and Bill Gates’ hero” and Gates himself hailed Feeney in 2012 as “a remarkable role model”.
Longhurst’s Atlantic Fellows profile also reveals that in 2013 she joined Bond, “the UK network for international development and humanitarian organisations”.
We learn from this organisation’s own site that “Bond’s work is funded by member subscriptions, income generated through paid-for service, and grants, including strategic funding from UK aid through the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation”.
6. Isis Amlak
The chair of Edge Fund is Isis Amlak, a 54-year-old American citizen living in London.
Ho’s organisation aims to “organize 18-35 year olds with access to wealth who are among the richest top 10% of individuals or families in the U.S.”. It has been funded by the Ford Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation and provided with New York office space by the Mertz Gilmore Foundation.
Amlak, speaking from 57 minutes in, introduces Edge Fund in the UK to an international audience, declaring: “Our raison d’être is that we recognise that grassroots activist campaigners and social movements are the people who are at the vanguard of seeking to reconfigure society and we are all about systemic change. So we realise that in order to bring about systemic change, to do the work that they’re doing, they need resources”.
She says Edge Fund are pioneers of a “participatory” model of philanthropy, which is now being adopted elsewhere: “It is important to understand that we were established specifically to do this kind of work”.
She adds that the project is about “building a movement and keeping that movement growing”.
Although she is sometimes described as an “anti-racism activist”, Amlak in fact boasts very specific professional expertise.
A profile explains: “Isis’ leadership experience includes successfully managing partnerships, service level agreements (contracts), building effective relationships and liaising with a range of stakeholder groups and audiences, across sectors”.
This information comes from the website of an organisation called Olmec, of which Amlak is a trustee.
Olmec describes itself as “a BME led Social Enterprise which champions race equality through economic and social justice”.
It says: “We support people into jobs, into social businesses and on to Boards. We work as a catalyst for social change”.
The home page of its website is very much focused on Black Lives Matter and it even boasts a whole page dedicated to the “movement”.
For a start the report’s sponsors include those well-known campaigners for “economic and social justice” the City of London and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Furthermore, the language and content of the report makes it quite clear that Olmec belongs to the world of social impact investing, or “impact capitalism” as Sir Ronald Cohen calls it.
For example, under the heading “methodology” it lists “Focus on migrant-led social enterprise”, “Programme Impacts on social housing residents”, “Impacts on Olmec as the delivery organisation” and “Linking First Steps in Social Enterprise case studies with socio-economic impacts”.
The report adds: “Because of its social enterprise perspective, Olmec is able to help migrants to design dynamic organisational structures which embed their community’s social aims, channel surpluses to meet social objectives and foster active stakeholder involvement”.
Olmec go on to describe a “social impact study” carried out by the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT) with funding from Affinity Sutton and Catalyst.
They say: “HACT is also working on a pilot microfinance initiative programme to develop viable and scalable micro-loan fund for housing association residents. The pilot is being developed with a number of partners including Community Development Finance Association (CDFA), regional community development finance institutions and Big Society Capital“.
Big Society Capital, is of course, the institution set up by Cohen, the father of impact capitalism.
As Amlak herself once said: “There is also a great deal of suspicion, rightly so, about sources of funding; who are the benefactors/philanthropists behind the scenes? What is the real agenda?”
The 44-year-old from Bristol tells the Edge Fund site: “Prior to working in grant-making I mostly worked as a fundraiser for animal rights, environmental and social justice organisations”.
In 2007 she was listed as working for Friends of the Earth International in the Netherlands and shortly afterwards she set up a blog called ‘Food for Change’.
This very much pre-empted the attack on traditional animal agriculture currently being pushed by corporate fake-greens like George Monbiot and the rest of the Great Reset crowd.
“A reduction in beef and pork consumption could cut $20 trillion off the cost of fighting climate change”, declared Pritchard in 2009.
Turning her back on the organic approach to animal welfare, she even publicised a report claiming that “intensive animal farming is better for the environment than extensive farming”.
Pritchard commented: “Whilst farmers and environmental groups battle it out; the truth is clear. When it comes to animal agriculture there isn’t a sustainable, environmentally responsible solution”.
More recently, Pritchard has been coordinator of Bristol Energy Network.
She is also a director of TIGER (Teaching Individuals Gender Equality & Respect), who describe themselves as “intersectional feminists” who want to “encourage young people to question and challenge gender norms, stereotypes and unconscious biases”.
They say: “We strive to improve mental health and well-being through our wide range of training and workshops for schools, youth groups and also businesses, by exploring and challenging the impact that different strands of gender biases and discrimination can have in the school environment and in the workplace. In doing this we aim to push for higher aspiration amongst young people and increase productivity for staff in the workplace”.
Note the use of the word “impact”, the talk of “aspiration” and the confessed aim to “increase productivity”…
In March 2013, seven months before she sent out the Edge Fund email to anarchist groups in the UK, Pritchard was attending an event in London entitled ‘Social Justice Philanthropy Implications for Practice and Policy’, where she spoke on ‘Using philanthropy to promote economic and social inclusion’.
The University of Kent’s (archived) report on the conference features a link to Alliance Magazine, a journal to which Pritchard and Rose Longhurst have both contributed and which takes a keen interest in the work of Edge Fund and the EDGE Funders Alliance.
In a 2017 article for the publication, Longhurst enthuses about “the emergence of innovative forms of charitable giving such as flow funding, impact investing and direct cash transfers”.
She praises FundAction, the initiative she helped set up with financier Antonis Schwarz’s Guerrilla Foundation, as offering “a low-risk way of dipping a toe into new ways of working”.
Pritchard herself wrote a four-page article for Alliance Magazine in September 2013, in which she introduces Edge Fund and cites the work of Global Greengrants Fund of which colleague Longhurst is a director.
Her connection to Alliance goes even deeper as she “discussed questions arising from Alliance magazine’s September 2013 special feature on Philanthropy and Power at the September 2013 Alliance Breakfast Club held in association with Philanthropy Impact“.
He writes: “Sophie Pritchard of the Edge Fund gives an exhilarating tour of a number of philanthropic vehicles in which beneficiaries are involved and sometimes lead the decisions about where money should go.
“This brief article should be a source of great inspiration to us all, and spur innovation in new forms of philanthropy. At NPC we’ve been arguing for a greater focus on outcomes and impact for well over a decade”.
NPC is New Philanthropy Capital, where Lumley leads its work on “innovation, developing new approaches, programmes and ventures” and “developing NPC’s relationships with core funders—philanthropists, foundations and businesses who have a shared commitment to transforming the social sector to achieve its full potential”.
New Philanthropy Capital is listed on Alliance Magazine’s website as one of its official partners, alongside, by a remarkable coincidence, EDGE Funders Alliance and Bond, the Gates-funded network to which Edge Fund’s Longhurst belongs.
Other partners include the China Global Philanthropy Institute, the African Youth Philanthropy Network, the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network and the British Asian Trust, “founded in 2007 by HRH The Prince of Wales” whose “mission is to unlock the potential of disavantaged people in South Asia by maximising the impact and support from the Asian diaspora and beyond”.
There is also the European Venture Philanthropy Association (“creating positive societal impact through venture philanthropy”), the Fondazione Lang Italia (“Strategic Philanthropy to increase the impact of social initiatives”), Philanthropy Impact and Spring Impact.
Another Alliance Magazine partner is the UN Development Programme, famous for its Sustainable Development Goals (a key framework for impact capitalism).
New Philanthropy Capital itself is described as being “a charity think tank and consultancy that occupies a unique position at the nexus between charities and funders, helping them achieve the greatest impact”.
Its website explains that NPC sets out to “create the conditions for impact”, with its ‘Open Impact’ page revelling in the “opportunity” presented by the use of “digital technologies and data” to “break down some of the barriers preventing progress”.
NPC, initially and very briefly known as Project Utopia, was set up in 2001 by David Robins, Peter Sweatman, then vice-president of JPMorgan, and Peter Wheeler, formerly of Goldman Sachs.
Wherever NPC is mentioned, the term “impact” crops up.
Current director Harvey McGrath said in a 2014 interview: “Drawing on my business background I have always tried to find ways in which you can get leverage and NPC provided that.
“I would have to say that I am particularly pleased with NPC because of the cumulative impact the organisation has had on the sector”.
In fact, NPC, for whom Edge Fund is such a “source of great inspiration”, sometimes actually brands itself “the social impact think tank and consultancy”.
It is, thus, no shock to find that former NPC director (2005 to 2007) Danielle Jeannine Walker Palmour went on to sit on the board of impact capitalist Ronald Cohen’s Big Society Capital between 2011 and 2019.
Lankelly Chase has directly funded Edge Fund activities in recent years. Reports the Edge Fund website: “Following the work of our Influencing Funders group, we received a grant from Lankelly Chase, so that they could learn more about participatory grant making, shadow and support us in our model of participatory, member-led funding. This grant allowed us to run a funding round, 3 sharing forums and a workshop on fundraising for grassroots groups”.
And again: “In August, with the help of a grant from Lankelly Chase, we opened our 11th funding round with over 150 groups applying for funds”.
It was also on Lankelly Chase’s site that Edge Fund’s Rose Longhurst boasted in 2019 that “the work I’m involved in is quite unusual”.
She went on to explain that she had attended a “recent retreat convened by Lankelly Chase”.
Longhurst says that the EDGE Funders Alliance, of which she is co-chair, insists philanthropy “must embrace an alternative praxis” and “create brave and safe spaces”.
She adds: “One such ‘brave and safe space’ was the Lankelly Chase convening. As I emerge from the retreat, I’m galvanised to connect the dots between the local, the national and the global”.
Others might feel “galvanised to connect the dots” regarding the role of Lankelly Chase in the Edge Fund project…
Lankelly Chase describes itself as an “independent foundation”, whose money originally came from the property development sector.
It says it is “working in partnership with people, across the UK, to change the systems that perpetuate severe and multiple disadvantage”.
On July 27, 2017, Lankelly Chase was proud to publish on its website a press release revealing its involvement in the “world’s 1st social impact bond”.
Other investors in this Peterborough Social Impact Bond included the J Paul Getty Jr Charitable Trust, the K L Felicitas Foundation, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Also involved in the scheme, needless to say, was the R&S Cohen Foundation.
Indeed, pioneering impact capitalist Ronald Cohen boasted in his 2020 book Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to Drive Real Change that it had “paid investors 3.1 per cent a year on top of their capital”.
Another dot worth connecting regards Katie Boswell, one of the authors of Langkelly Chase’s ‘Thinking Big’ brochure.
She has written approvingly elsewhere of Edge Fund and the way it has “embraced collective decision-making structures”.
Like Edge Fund coordinator and co-founder Sophie Pritchard, Boswell frequentsAlliance Magazine Breakfast Club events.
She wrote after a “great discussion” on feminist philanthropy in December 2019: “So much that philanthropists of all stripes can learn: focus on power & intersectionality, think about how you structure relationships & fund movements, change who makes decisions & who decides what ‘impact’ looks like”.
Boswell is a trustee of The Finance Innovation Lab, under chair Sue Charman, recently retired as head of “Sustainable Business” at WWF-UK and formerly with Barclays Bank. WWF-UK is one of the Finance Innovation Lab’s founding partners.
Fellow trustee and vice-chair David Carrington is “an experienced non-executive board member, adviser and consultant, working with social purpose organisations on governance, income generation and the development of social impact investing” and “a non-executive director of the Impact Investing Institute“.
His profile explains that he is a founder-director and chair of Inspiring Impact and has been a member of the Social Investment Task Force and the Commission on Unclaimed Assets (see here).
Carrington was a director of Cohen’s Big Society Capital from 2012 to 2017. Funny how this organisation keeps cropping up!
He was also a founding director of the Alliance Publishing Trust, publisher of Alliance Magazine, which has been so generous in its support of Edge Fund.
Finance Innovation Lab treasurer is Kate Ormiston Smith, formerly working on “sustainablity” with PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and now working with Richard Branson’s The B Team.
Boswell herself is employed by NPC, those close collaborators of Lankelly Chase and Edge Fund, where she “works with a range of charities and funders to improve their strategies and maximise their impact”.
Her profile reveals: “As a result of her work, Katie has received several honours and awards, including an RSA Fellowship for her community research work, and the title of Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum”.
She writes: “It is the ‘impact metrics’ that enable the world’s richest to profit off misery. The general idea is that social problems are assigned a cost, which creates an offset that is used to fund ‘evidence-based’ ‘solutions’.”
“Philanthropists, acting on behalf of finance and technology interests, fund academics at elite institutions to formulate ‘human capital’ equations that justify this predatory enterprise”.
This is “wokewashing” hypocrisy of the first order – pretending to be acting in the interests of the very people you are exploiting.
As the result of the research I have detailed above (now summarised in this Twitter thread), I am entirely convinced that Edge Fund is an integral part of this impact capitalism scam.
It stands out from the rest of the impact crowd only because of its particular approach to funding, which enables it to reach beyond charities and other institutions into the world of left-wing and anarchist activism.
When an arm of the capitalist system surreptiously pours money into networks which are often avowedly anti-capitalist, there is obviously a question of control at stake.
Up until very recently I would have said it was simply about taking control of radical groups and networks to ensure they present no real threat to the system.
There is certainly this element. By diverting radicals’ attention and energy into the dead-end narcissism of identity politics, the 0.01% ensure that their own domination is not challenged.
Firstly, this compromised left actively promotes and amplifies the causes and ideologies favoured by the wealthy elite, namely those calling for a more “inclusive” capitalist system.
Secondly it enforces this “new normal” way of thinking within what used to be the anti-capitalist movement, taking on a “thought police” function in shaming and excluding all those radicals who refuse to toe the line.
This is why the “woke” die-hards never seem prepared to discuss the issues, or to “agree to disagree” like most of us are prepared to do with comrades.
Their job is to impose a particular, very narrow, way of thinking and so they jump to insult and intimidation to try and get their way, with no interest in consensual compromise.
It seems very telling to me that many of the people and groups imposing “politically correct” identity politics also turned their back on any questioning of the climate capitalist agenda, dismissing all such analysis as “conspiracy theories”.
They have also generally taken the side of the system since the Covid crisis began, supporting lockdowns and masks and shaming dissidents (see this article or this one).
I have had some personal experience of this, not least with Shoal Collective, a group funded by Edge Fund (and other similar organisations), to which I belonged until a year ago.
My exit from Shoal (Shexit?) began at a meeting in north London on December 4 2019 at which I said that I wanted to keep working with Shoal, but did not want to be censored in any way.
Pushed for an example of the kind of censorship I had in mind, I cited, on the spur of the moment, the absurd gender-politics insistence that there is no difference between trans women and women born as women, or indeed between trans men and men born as men.
This was a fairly hypothetical issue, in fact, as I had never really dealt with gender issues in my writing. But as a matter of principle around free speech it felt important.
My point of view was not acceptable to my comrades, who, despite my insistence that I had no problems with trans people on a real-life individual basis and that my objections were on the level of simple common sense logic, declared me guilty of “transphobia”.
One of them replied (December 8 2019): “I remain unconvinced by the argument that trans movements are driven and shaped by the interests of corporations. In my view they are grassroots movements by an oppressed section of society. These movements are bringing about a major change of people’s mindsets about gender. Something I think is incredibly important, and revolutionary”.
Another chipped in: “i found it completely offensive the other day when you said ‘if one day i decide that i’m a horse does that make me a horse?'”.
She added a few days later that “the theory that the pharmaceutical industry is driving the trans movement” was “just like what the Daily Mail says” and therefore automatically wrong.
With her comrade still adamant that “denying that trans women/men are women/men is oppressive”, I drifted away from Shoal, aware that my views were considered deeply problematic, but unsure as to whether or not I had been definitively excommunicated.
However, after I started challenging the Covid coup in the spring of 2020, I heard back from Shoal, who were unhappy that my website profile still identified me as part of their collective.
One of them wrote on April 21 2020: “A number of people have now approached us to critically ask us about your writings and tweets around coronavirus, as they think that we are still working with you”.
She went on to accuse me of spreading “conspiracy theories” and “misinformation”, such as by criticising 5G, suggesting “that numbers (cases/deaths) are being exaggerated” and reproached me for my “continuous tweeting about Bill Gates”.
She added: “it’s really sad because although you may be gaining more respect from certain people (your views are also views of a lot of far-right people, as well as David Icke), you are also losing respect of anarchists in the UK who previously really valued your work and your contributions to anarchism, and who saw you as a comrade”.
It is a strange world indeed where challenging a global techno-fascist coup is regarded as a resignation letter from the anarchist movement!
Since exploring the world of impact capitalism, I feel that the role of the identity-politics thought police goes further than simply preventing meaningful opposition to the system.
It is clear that they are actually working for impact capitalism, either directly or via the pressure of conformist groupthink.
Impact capitalists have only one interest in life and that is to make money.
If they are prepared to go to such lengths and take such risks by “investing” in far left groups, it is because they are hoping for a considerable financial return.
Proponents of identity politics act as agents of influence for the impact industry, as their ad reps, their marketing staff, their PR division, their security wing.
Maybe they would have been doing all this anyway, for ideological reasons, without any cash from Edge Fund or Guerrilla Foundation or FundAction, but if the impact capitalists can show that they have invested even small amounts in these groups, they can then claim credit and financial benefit from the results they help bring about.
So impact leftists not only help push public opinion into accepting that impact-related causes are worthy of support and therefore of taxpayer funding, not only help silence those who question these agendas, but also – through the very fact of being traceably funded by impact networks – help the impact investors reap profit when desired “outcomes” are reached and financial returns are triggered.
And why are impact investors so keen on intersectionality? Could it be that, for them, identifying an intersection of “problems” to be “solved” in one single individual is like spotting a “triple word score” when playing Scrabble?
If they make good use of the opportunity to show they have funded several successful outcomes with one single investment, do they reap a greater profit?
10. The future
A “radical” movement so thoroughly riddled with corporate corruption has obviously come to the end of its useful life and is completely discredited.
Maybe, to be fair, those unwittingly caught up in the phenomenon (like me, to some extent) should be given one last chance to come clean and join the resistance.
If they decline to leave the corporate camp through this narrow window of opportunity, they should henceforth be regarded not as former comrades in the international struggle for freedom, autonomy and justice, but as hostile infiltrators working for our historical enemy, the global ruling class.
More than this, the sterile, divisive mindset they have been spreading on behalf of their corporate paymasters should be thrown on the scrapheap of ideological history, where it belongs.
As Miguel Amorós has warned, an “intersectional game of oppressed minorities” has gradually been replacing a collective resistance to established power.
For years now, fake leftists have been pouring scorn on authentic opponents of the system.
They have branded anyone analysing and challenging the corporate elite and their imperialism as “conspiracy theorists” or apologists for foreign powers.
Any criticism of the financial ruling class is declared to be automatically “antisemitic”, even when ethnicity or religion is not the issue, with the whole anti-globalisation movement dismissed out of hand as “an anti-Semitic brown-green-red alliance”.
The impact left have smeared women standing up for their rights as “terfs” or “transphobes” and tried to claim that anti-industrialism and a love of nature is “fascist”, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
We need a resistance to the global wealthy elite that is deeply and fundamentally opposed to everything they are promoting in their bid to further enslave and exploit us.
We need to be delving into their machinations and manipulations, exposing their scams and denouncing their lies.
Our resistance needs to be based on solidarity and unity in the face of oppression, rather than on divisive classification and fetishisation of people along lines of race or gender.
It has to be rooted in a love of freedom, independence and self-expression rather than grafted on to a fearful cowed obedience to authority and its propaganda.
We need to say clearly that the values we cherish have nothing to do with the low money-lust of the corporate crooks and their sweaty dreams of endless profit and power.
Turning our backs forever on their corrupt transhumanist death-cult politics of artifice, hypocrisy and deceit, we need to stand tall and loudly proclaim our belief in nature, in humanity, in truth, in beauty, in justice, in the life energy itself.
Social impact investing is at the heart of the Great Reset. It reduces human beings to the status of potential investments, sources of profit for the wealthy elite.
In ‘Guerrillas of the Great Reset‘ we saw how the Guerrilla Foundation, ostensibly a body that gives grants to activists involved in “a variety of social causes”, in fact very much belongs to the world of social impact investment.
Founder Antonis Schwarz (pictured) even actively promotes a WEF-supported course on ‘Impact Investing for the Next Generation’ aimed specifically at young billionaires.
And our five-part series on the WEF’s Global Shapers revealed that impact investment is one of the pillars of their New Normal project.
IISS’s funders include NATO, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the UK Ministry of Defence, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British Army, the Canadian Department of Defence, the Carnegie Corporation, BAE Systems, GKN Aerospace, the Embassy of Israel to the UK, the Kingdom of Bahrain, The Nicky Oppenheimer Foundation and US Friends of the IISS, which “allows the Institute to raise tax-deductible contributions in the United States”.
On its website it offers visitors “analysis with impact”.
Cohen has been involved in controversy in the past.
He was chairman of venture capital firm Apax Partners at the time of the Apax-owned British United Shoe Machinery pension collapse in 2000, which left 544 workers, many of them with long service, without any pension. (1)
MPs Edward Garnier, Patricia Hewitt and Ashok Kumar all called for a proper enquiry, Garnier citing the “mysterious circumstances” under which the pensions “disappeared”.
But no new investigation took place, leading Kumar to say: “I feel so angry on behalf of decent upright citizens robbed of their basic human rights. Somebody should be made responsible. There should be a public inquiry into this. People should be brought to account. These are greedy, selfish, capitalists who live on the backs of others”. (2)
These days Cohen is involved with Klaus Schwab’s World Economic Forum, whose website describes him as “a preeminent international philanthropist, venture capitalist, private equity investor, and social innovator, who is driving forward the global impact revolution”.
The WEF adds: “He is Chairman of the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment; Chairman of the Education Outcomes Fund for Africa and the Middle East; Chairman and co-Founder of The Portland Trust; co-Founder of Social Finance UK, US, and Israel; co-Founder of Bridges Fund Management UK, US, and Israel; and co-Founder of Big Society Capital.
“Each of the initiatives he leads today aims to shift the allocation of human and financial resources to creating positive impact”.
Cohen’s Big Society Capital is all about social impact investment, which it insists is “a trend that is set to continue”.
As its chairman, he enthused in 2014: “I believe there is, at the very least, an untapped $1 trillion of private sector impact investment”.
Here, he explains that we can thank him for having introduced venture capitalism to the UK, since during his continuing education at Harvard he “discovered venture capital just as it was emerging”.
Cohen adds that the arrangement for his studies in the USA required him to bring back something of value to the UK: “I ended up bringing back venture capital, for which I was knighted in 2001”. (4)
The businessman explains that he later switched his attention to impact investment, mainly through the Social Investment Task Force, which he set up in 2000 at the request of Tony Blair’s regime.
He recalls: “After David Cameron’s Conservative election win in 2010, he elevated responsibility for impact investment to the Cabinet Office which reports directly to the prime minister, where Frances Maude, Nick Hurd and Kieron Boyle led, among many other initiatives, the effort to establish Big Society Capital as a social investment bank that can drive the advance of the impact ecosystem”. (5)
In 2013, he says, Cameron “asked me to lead the G8 Social Impact Investment Taskforce, in order ‘to catalyze a global market in social impact investment’”. (6)
3. Financial services for the poor
Like his WEF colleague Klaus Schwab, and the business organisation’s phoney “youth movement” the Global Shapers, Cohen likes to depict “impact capitalism” (7) in the rosiest of lights.
As we will see later, the impact network’s presentation of its activity as indisputably worthy and in the general public good performs a crucial role in its overall strategy.
Thus Cohen coos that impact capitalism “will lead us to a new and better world” (8) by “helping those in need and preserving our planet”. (9)
It will address “a variety of social issues”, including homelessness, affordable housing, community organizations, childhood obesity and mental health, (10) not to mention “poverty, under-education, unemployment, an aging population and environmental destruction”. (11)
It will do this by “helping disadvantaged young people”, (12) supporting “refugee and immigrant integration” (13) and boosting “women’s empowerment and gender equality”. (14)
Impact projects aim to provide “financial services for the poor”, (15) “affordable and green housing” (16) and to “transform the lives of more than 12,000 households in rural Kenya and Uganda”. (17)
Cohen declares: “We must shift our economies to create positive outcomes”. (18) Make a mental note of that particular phrase…
4. Meet the impact gang!
Unfortunately for Cohen, the effect of all this “wokewashing” verbiage is severely undermined by his own account of the organisations and individuals who are on board his impact gravy train.
He tells us: “All big movements, including recent neoliberalism, were funded by philanthropists, and the same is becoming true of the impact movement. The Omidyar Network, Ford, Rockefeller, MacArthur, Kresge and Hewlett Foundation in the US; Europe’s Bertelsmann Stiftung in Germany and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Portugal; Lord (Jacob) Rothschild’s family foundation, Yad Hanadiv, and the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation, in Israel; and Ratan Tata and the Tata Trusts, in India, have all supported the impact movement”. (19)
He adds: “One of the most promising new family foundations is the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI). In 2015, at the age of 30, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced that they plan to direct 99 per cent of their $45 billion wealth into CZI. Their goal is to make a substantial commitment to impact investing that is focused on ‘personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities’”. (20)
Cohen approvingly quotes Megan Starr, the global head of impact for the arms-dealing Carlyle Group (closely linked to the WEF and its Global Shapers – see here and here), when she remarked that “it’s no longer possible to generate high rates of return unless you invest for impact”. (21)
He lists Goldman Sachs, “another big-name asset management firm that is involved in impact investing”, (22) “Unilever, under the enlightened leadership of CEO Paul Polman”, (23) The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, (24), Accenture, (25) Nestlé (26) and Coca-Cola. (27)
Cohen tells us that Bono, of U2 and Band Aid fame, has, through his Rise Fund, “become a powerful advocate for the use of impact investment”. (28)
He mentions Emmanuel Macron (29) and Richard Branson’s B-Team, (30) while praising both Andela (31) in Nigeria (see here) and Ashoka, (32) that strange cult-like organisation so closely linked to Klaus Schwab’s Global Shapers as well as to the Transition Movement’s Rob Hopkins.
No self-respecting “philanthropist” billionaire today would be caught without his own personal foundation and Cohen explains why. “The nature of foundations makes them a perfect leader of the Impact Revolution. Because of their charitable status and sense of mission, they can experiment with different roles – acting as grantors, investors, guarantors or outcome payers. They can fund efforts to support the growth of the impact field, as well as influence delivery organizations, governments and investors to collaborate in new ways in tackling social problems”. (33)
And he does nothing to dispel suspicions of something rather alarming going on when he describes the activities of one particular foundation.
“Silicon Valley alumni Charly and Lisa Kleissner’s KL Felicitas Foundation is going all-in by dedicating its total assets of approximately $10 million to impact investing, and they are encouraging their peers to do the same. Under the umbrella of Toniic, a global action community of impact investors, the Kleissners co-founded the ‘100 per cent Impact Network’, a collaborative group of more than one hundred family offices, high-net worth individuals and foundations who have each pledged to dedicate their portfolios to impact investment. The group has a collective $6 billion of assets, with more than $3 billion already deployed, and aims to create an international movement of impact investors”. (34)
5. Saving capitalism
A fascinating aspect of the thinking behind Klaus Schwab’s Great Reset is his avowed fear of “political backlash”, “antiglobalization and “social unrest”.
The same anxiety seems to underlie Cohen’s mission to bring about what he repeatedly describes as the “Impact Revolution” (35) but which, in this light, would clearly better be termed the “Impact Counter-Revolution”, or the “Impact Coup”.
He writes, for instance, of his fear that a “curtain of fire” could soon separate the rich from the poor in our cities, as people revolt against injustice: “We have recently seen this curtain rise in countries such as France, Lebanon and Chile, which have suffered violent protests, while in the UK rising inequality was a factor in the decision taken in the referendum of June 2016 to leave the EU”. (36)
Cohen argues: “The fact is that our existing social contract has expired and we are now in the process of drawing up a new one in the form of impact capitalism”. (37)
In other words, his impact revolution aims to save capitalism by reshaping it. It is part of the Great Reset.
Cohen talks about “a historic transition”, (38) “resetting investment for a new reality”, (39) and dedicates a whole chapter to the thesis that “Impact investing sets the New Normal”. (40)
“Impact changes everything,” (41) he says. “Impact thinking will now transform our economies and reshape our world”. (42) “There has never been a more tangible opportunity to make a transformative difference”. (43)
Using the very same term as Schwab, the Global Shapers and the Guerrilla Foundation, Cohen believes in the importance of making “systemic change”, (44) and makes it quite clear in which direction this would take us.
He writes: “Impact entrepreneurs leading delivery organizations will be able to raise the funding they need to implement their innovative approaches at scale, bringing systemic change – just as venture capital and tech entrepreneurs brought systemic change through the Tech Revolution”. (45)
Indeed, Fourth Industrial Revolution technology inevitably forms part of Cohen’s vision, with talk of “drones and driverless cars”, (46) biotechnology, (47) and equipping schools in rural Africa with “an individualized e-learning platform, computer tablets and broadband access”. (48)
Like Schwab’s Great Reset, the Impact Revolution is apparently “an idea whose time has come”. (49)
Cohen announces, with all the thunderous authority of the Old Man of Davos: “It will take at least a decade to transform our system, and the transformation will unfold in stages: starting with impact investment and impact measurement; through the development of impact economies; to a new global system of impact capitalism”. (50)
6. Privatising government
So what precisely is impact capitalism and how, on a practical level, does it work?
It essentially amounts to a privatisation of the role of governments across a wide range of spheres, in which bringing about certain social outcomes is treated as a potentially profitable financial investment.
In Cohen’s words, describing an early scheme hatched up with New Labour’s Jack Straw: “If our effort helped the government save money, both investors and the organizations they funded could pocket a fraction of the money saved”. (51)
The word “impact” has been used in this context for the last 14 years. Recalls Cohen: “It was in 2007, at a meeting hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation at its Bellagio Center in Italy, that ‘impact investing’ was coined as a term to replace ‘social investment’”. (52)
Data is central to the way that impact schemes work, because investors need evidence of a positive outcome in order to justify the eventual profitable dividend. These are “pay-for-success investment models”, (53) explains Cohen.
He says: “If we regard impact investing as our rocket ship to social change, impact measurement is our navigation system. It will lead to change and the establishment of new norms”. (54)
The new norm for the large part of the world’s population is that their lives will be regarded as nothing but investment opportunities for the financial elite and their hopes, fears, successes and failures reduced to statistics on a centralised database.
Cohen speaks warmly of the Global Value Exchange, “a crowd-sourced database of over 30,000 impact measurement metrics that offers valuations in a similar way to the Unit Cost Database. For example, you can find out the annual cost of a homeless person who is out of work in the UK based on the benefits payments they receive, their lost income tax and national insurance payments, and their lost economic output”. (55)
Cohen explains more about the rules of this lucratively entertaining new game of gambling on the ups and downs of ordinary people’s lives across the world: “Social impact bonds involve three key players: outcome payers, social service providers (these are generally non-profit organizations, but they can also be purpose-driven businesses) and investors”. (56)
Children’s lives are of particular interest to the financial vampires of the impact scene, particularly those most ripe to be “improved” in a “pay-for-success” context.
Cohen writes about the work of the Education Outcomes Fund for Africa and the Middle East, which “aims to raise $1 billion to improve the education of ten million children”. (57)
He reveals it is “supported by an international group of foundations looking for innovative ways to maximize improvement in education in Africa and the Middle East, notably the Aliko Dangote Foundation, Ford, Omidyar, The Big Win, ELMA, UBS Optimus, Hewlett and DFID”.
It will “help catalyze investment in effective education delivery organizations, such as Camfed, an NGO that has supported the education of over 500,000 girls in the most deprived communities of Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Ghana, Zambia and Malawi”. (58)
Cohen wants to “integrate impact investment into international development aid” to create a new kind of impact imperialism closely tied in to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which “will require $3.3–$4.5 trillion each year over the next decade”. (59)
He is pleased to report that the UK’s Department for International Development in the UK “launched its Impact Programme in 2012 and planned to provide up to £160 million ($212.8 million) over 23 years, in order to catalyze the market for impact investment in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia”. (60)
For impact capitalism, everything is a potential source of investment and, thus, profit – from nature to education, from the oceans to gender.
Cohen says: “Bringing impact measurement to the bond market, which as we have previously seen totals $100 trillion, will also have a major effect. The place to start here is with green bonds (climate), which are now being followed by blue (oceans), education, social and gender bonds.
“For example, Prince Charles, founder of the British Asian Trust, and Richard Hawkes, its CEO, have announced the launch of a $100 million gender bond to provide access to better education, jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for half a million women and girls in South Asia.
“The market for green bonds stands at around $750 billion today; if they and other purpose-driven bonds that measure their impact come to account for 10 per cent of the $100 trillion bond market over the next ten years, this would bring $10 trillion of funding to companies for projects that contribute to the SDGs”. (61)
For Cohen, this “new model for philanthropy and aid” (62) is the start of something big and he says it is “time to scale Outcome Funds”. (63)
These are “professionally managed vehicles that sign outcome-based contracts with social delivery organizations” and their goal is to “drastically reduce the time and cost it takes to put them in place”. (64)
“We must shift our economies to create positive outcomes”, (65) he declares. We told you to bear that phrase in mind. All is becoming clear!
7. Problems and solutions
Impact investing is all about problems and solutions.
“As the natural torchbearer of the impact movement, philanthropy has the power to usher in a new dawn for charitable organizations, investors, entrepreneurs, businesses and governments, to bring solutions to the greatest social and environmental problems of our time”, (66) writes Cohen, glossing over the fact that impact capitalists are not so much bringing solutions as selling them.
In order for Cohen and his friends to be able to sell a “solution”, the “problem” which this supposedly addresses needs to be officially recognised as such.
It is here that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals play a key role.
They define specific areas in which governments should be taking action and require them to find money to pour into these issues.
SDG Impact, as it calls itself, “is a UNDP initiative tasked with developing resources under three central pillars to accelerate investment towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030”.
It boasts that its “transformational impact” will involve “opening up $12 trillion in market opportunities”.
Cohen notes, with appreciation, in his book, that “in 2015, the impact investing movement gained focus and urgency with the release of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals”. (67)
But he adds: “It has been estimated that financing the achievement of the SDGs will require an additional $30 trillion in investment over the next decade”. (68)
Where is a typical cash-strapped government going to get that all money from, apart from by increasing an already-crippling national debt to the global bankers?
Cohen suggests that states “release unclaimed assets to establish ‘impact capital wholesalers’”.
He explains: “Imagine that you could snap your fingers and create an extra $2.5 billion in a country’s budget, without either raising taxes or cutting crucial programs. Governments around the world are starting to discover that they can do this by using unclaimed assets, essentially creating money out of thin air”. (69)
He adds that in this way a government “can access money that is public money but not tax money, such as unclaimed assets in banks, insurance companies and investment funds. This money can be used to develop a strong sector of impact investment managers who provide start-up and growth capital to charitable organizations and purpose-driven businesses”. (70)
So he thinks the money created “out of thin air” by these “unclaimed assets” should be diverted, by the state, directly into the impact investment slush funds with which he is involved, so that they can be essentially lent back to the state in the form of pay-for-success social investments, to the eventual profit of impact capitalists?
There certainly seem to be significant sums involved. Cohen writes: “In 2019, the Dormant Assets Commission chaired by Nick O’Donohoe reported that up to an additional £2 billion ($2.7 billion) could be released from unclaimed assets held by insurance companies, pension funds and investment funds”. (71)
It is no coincidence that Cohen himself was chairman of a similar initiative, the UK’s Commission on Unclaimed Assets, from 2005-2007. (72)
He reveals: “The UK was the first country that saw the potential of unclaimed assets to spark real change in society. In 2011, following the recommendation of the Commission on Unclaimed Assets (2005–7), which I chaired, Francis Maude, who was then leading the Cabinet Office, asked me and Nick O’Donohoe from JP Morgan to establish a social investment bank along the lines recommended by the Social Investment Task Force in 2000.
“The Cameron government, he informed me, was prepared to provide £400 million ($532 million) of unclaimed bank assets for this purpose. In 2012, this money, having been supplemented by an additional £200 million ($266 million) from Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland, went to establish Big Society Capital (BSC), with me as Chair and Nick O’Donohoe as CEO.
“Since then, an additional £600 million ($798 million) has been released to the Reclaim Fund, which collects the flow of unclaimed assets and distributes them according to the instruction of the government”. (73)
It interesting to note that fellow impact investor Antonis Schwarz of Guerrilla Foundation, funders of social justice “activists”, has spoken about his “campaign to unlock dormant assets for social impact investing in Germany”.
Impact capitalists also have their eyes on pension funds, as former employees of British United Shoe Machinery may not be surprised to hear.
Cohen writes: “The world’s pension funds held $38 trillion in 2016, nearly 20 per cent of the world’s total investment assets. If our pension fund managers were to optimize risk–return–impact, they could significantly support the achievement of the SDGs”. (74)
“Pension fund regulations are a priority for governments, given that pension funds hold so much money globally. It is reasonable for pension savers to be given the option, as happens in France, to choose savings programs that will invest in line with their values – for example, portfolios that aim to contribute to the achievement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”. (75)
8. The fascist model
It is clear from all this that the impact capitalists have taken a big step away from the classic liberal free market mentality which regards the state as purely an impediment to entrepreneurial activity.
Instead, the state plays a crucial role in their plans. The merger of public and private which they seek is not the state-communist idea of government taking over business, but rather the fascist model of business taking over government (see here, here and here).
Cohen, in his book, specifically states that the “new system” of impact capitalism “aligns the private sector with government” (76) and makes it quite clear that impact investment could not work without the active involvement of the state.
After all, the whole idea is that the debt-crippled nation-state cannot afford to provide the “solutions” demanded by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and is therefore obliged to seek pay-for-success investments in these areas from impact capitalists.
Cohen makes no effort to hide what impact capitalists want from governments.
“Governments can accelerate the transition to risk–return–impact economies. They are best positioned to catalyze rapid growth in impact investment, just as they did for venture capital in the late 1970s”, (77) he writes.
“The role of governments in creating systemic change is crucial. Mariana Mazzucato rightly argues in The Entrepreneurial State that governments have actively shaped and created markets. This is what governments need to do for the impact market today. They can stimulate its growth in very clear ways”. (78)
“Governments can provide financial support for incubators and accelerators that nurture purpose-driven enterprises, help prepare them for impact investment and mentor them so that they are capable of delivering impact at scale”. (79)
“Philanthropy can only do so much to help governments meet these challenges: philanthropic foundation donations stand at $150 billion each year globally, a small figure relative to government expenditure”. (80)
“I hope the new thinking revealed in these pages will lead our governments to direct their massive economic measures in such a way that it creates the maximum positive social impact”. (81)
“As the risk–return–impact model disrupts prevailing business thinking, and governments introduce new incentives to drive impact entrepreneurship, impact entrepreneurs will revolutionize our approaches”. (82)
“Shifting the mindset of government procurement from pre-scribing services in detail to paying for outcomes achieved through SIBs will drive the use of pay-for-outcomes approaches, and create a thriving outcomes market for the first time”. (83)
“It is time for governments to lead us on the new path of impact investment, towards impact economies and impact capitalism”. (84)
“Governments must play a role in facilitating and nurturing the impact market, by developing standards in measurement and reporting, building market infrastructure and introducing incentives for investors”. (85)
Yep, we’ve got the picture, Ronnie.
9. Freed from regulations
Of course, the fly in the governmental ointment for the entrepreneurial class is that states do insist on regulating and limiting money-making activities in order to curry favour with The Voters, those poor saps who imagine that the politicians they elect are there to represent their interests and not those of the Global Business Community.
However, as Schwab noted with some satisfaction in his own 2020 book, the Covid crisis means that those inconveniently democratic days are now behind us and we can march forward to a glorious New Normal of totally unchecked profit and exploitation.
“There has never been a better time to launch an impact business, in part because the legal and regulatory environment is becoming much friendlier,” (86) declares Cohen.
He looks back nostalgically to the last major round of financial regulation that allowed him to amass his own personal fortune at the expense of the rest of us: “The explosion in venture capital in the 1980s offers an example of how an industry can be radically transformed through regulatory changes and tax incentives”. (87)
“After 1979, pension fund commitments to venture capital rose dramatically as a result, from $100–200 million a year during the 1970s, to more than $4 billion each year by the end of the 1980s. This important change in regulation combined with the reduction of capital gains tax to 28 per cent in 1978 and to 20 per cent in 1981 gave a big boost to venture capital, which has since grown to become about a trillion-dollar global pool”. (88)
“The experience of my own firm, Apax Partners, shows what is possible when a change in regulations opens up a market. Our first fund in Europe, which was raised in 1981 to invest in the UK, amounted to just £10 million ($13.3 million). Our last European fund before I left the firm, raised in 2002, amounted to €5 billion ($5.6 billion), and Apax has since raised an €11 billion fund ($12.2 billion)”. (89)
Cohen and his fellow impact capitalists have been doing all they can to anticipate and avoid any government regulation or taxation that might hinder their activities.
By aligning their investment strategy with the UN Sustainable Development Goals – or should that be the other way round? – they ensure that their schemes are officially classified as “doing good” and thus “we avoid the risks that accompany investments that do harm: the risk of future regulation, taxation and even the prohibition of activities that could put a halt to business altogether”. (90)
But he would still like to see positive state help in this respect: “Government must adapt to the new thinking about risk–return–impact, and use its regulatory power to accelerate its advance”, (91) he insists. It should “boost the supply of impact capital through changes in regulation and tax incentives”. (92)
“We saw earlier that changes in regulation can be a huge boost in the financial arena. We must widely replicate the initial breakthrough in the US, where a change in regulation opens the door for trustees of foundations and pension funds to make impact investments”. (93)
10. Profits before people
The bottom line behind all this talk of “social impact”, as will be blindingly obvious by now, is good old-fashioned profit.
Cohen is, in fact, quite eager to point out the lucrative potential of the project, perhaps anxious that some might be fooled by all the talk of “helping those in need and preserving our planet” into imagining that he has gone soft in his old age and is no longer the hard-headed business tycoon we all know and love.
He recalls: “For me, the breakthrough in impact thinking came in September 2010, when for the first time we linked the measurement of social impact to financial return”. (94)
“We wanted to make an impact through investment, so we thought like investors and set out to find a way to deliver measurable impact, alongside a 10–12 per cent annual financial return. Eighteen years on, Bridges has raised over a billion pounds and delivered an average net annual return of 17 per cent”. (95)
“The Peterborough SIB achieved a 9.7 per cent reduction in the number of convictions, and paid investors 3.1 per cent a year on top of their capital”. (96)
“Being able to supply underserved populations with products and services allows businesses to tap into huge demand, which in turn creates the opportunity to grow more quickly than companies that serve mainstream markets at higher prices”. (97)
“When entrepreneurs aim for profit and impact at the same time, they are able to define ways to succeed without sacrificing financial returns and are often turning their impact into a key driver of their success. Because they place impact at the core of their companies’ business models, their profits grow together with their impact”. (98)
Cohen is very proud of the fact that the world’s first Development Impact Bond in India, put together by Instiglio, the Colombia-founded impact finance advisor, was “a success”.
He relates: “UBS Optimus Fund recouped its initial funding of $270,000 from the outcome payer, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, plus $144,085 representing a 15 per cent annual return”. (99)
“Starting an impact venture is a reliable way to be more successful”, (100) Cohen stresses. “Investors will come to realize that we are able to increase returns not in spite of impact, but because of it”. (101)
“When we view the world through an impact lens, we discover opportunities to achieve higher growth and returns that we would otherwise pass by”, (102) he explains. “Impact thinking uncovers opportunities that we would otherwise miss”. (103)
“Investment returns from risk–return–impact will be at least as good as the returns from risk–return, and most likely better”. (104) “Impact helps deliver higher rates of return”. (105)
One possible pitfall awaiting the impact capitalist model regards the supply of raw materials from which they can extract these significant financial returns.
These raw materials are the “problems” for which the investors sell the “solutions”. As Cohen puts it himself: “Impact entrepreneurs thrive wherever there are major social and environmental issues to tackle”. (106)
One way to ensure that there are enough problems from which to profit is to define a certain state of affairs as “a problem”, have that definition officially recognised and then get paid by the public purse for “solving” it.
If, for instance, the fact that large parts of the population of Africa or India live close to nature and are not connected to the internet is defined as a “problem”, then the “solution” of technological “inclusivity”, pushing them into the digital world, is going to pay out for impact investors.
In the “woke” world to which these capitalists are so strangely close, there will always be another oppressed minority waiting to be discovered and championed. On a pay-for-success basis.
The other way that impact capitalists can rely on there being enough problems for which they can offer “solutions”, is to ensure that, while they might be able to statistically prove “positive outcomes” in very narrow and specific areas, the poor underlying conditions remain intact.
They are, of course, doing just that by treating the wide-ranging damage caused by capitalists as just another money-making opportunity for those very same capitalists to exploit.
By getting richer and richer from their investments, the impact investors actively make sure that social injustice remains a problem for which they can keep selling so-called “solutions”.
By promoting the Fourth Industrial Revolution and all the mining, manufacturing, power consumption and waste that comes with it, they are making it inevitable that the environmental destruction they claim to be solving with their snake-oil fake-green technologies will not just continue but will massively increase.
This means that they can keep making money by selling yet more “solutions” to the problems they are helping to perpetuate!
In addition, as Alison McDowell points out, economic parasites can also make money by gambling with these impact deals on the financial markets, so that even failure can turn out to be profitable for some.
She writes: “Bundling the debt that SIBs represent transforms them into liquid securities that are immediately available for high frequency trading.
“The level of risk associated with these derivatives fluctuates as data flows through digital platforms linked to public service delivery.
“As bets and counter-bets are made by elite financial investors, the future prospects of real people are woven into the oppressive operations of global financial markets”.
While Cohen may see all this as “a win-win-win situation”, (107) it represents nothing short of disaster for humanity and our Mother Earth.
Like some demented monster feeding furiously off its own excrement, the impact capitalist empire will keep expanding, bloated with its own endlessly recycled toxicity, until its insane and insatiable greed has destroyed us all.
Unless we can stop it.
1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Mourad_Cohen 2. Kumar, described as “fearless in pursuit of what he saw as right”, was found dead in his home in Middlesborough just before the 2010 general election. The Indian-born 53-year-old was not believed to have been unwell but his death was quickly declared by police to be of natural causes. 3. Ronald Cohen, Impact: Reshaping Capitalism to Drive Real Change (London: Ebury Press, 2020). All subsequent notes are ebook position references (%) to this work. 4. 3% 5. 65% 6. 4% 7. 78% 8. 2% 9. 78% 10. 69% 11. 63% 12. 67% 13. 67% 14. 59% 15. 59% 16. 59% 17. 68% 18. 63% 19. 63% 20. 62% 21. 33% 22. 33% 23. 37% 24. 61% 25. 37% 26. 37% 27. 37% 28. 33% 29. 36% 30. 37% 31. 20% 32. 25% 33. 62-63% 34. 60% 35. 74% 36. 2% 37. 78% 38. 72% 39. 35% 40. 26% 41. 63% 42. 5% 43. 6% 44. 57% 45. 57% 46. 17% 47. 19% 48. 56% 49. 78% 50. 78% 51. 10% 52. 6% 53. 53% 54. 13% 55. 13-14% 56. 10% 57. 56% 58. 56% 59. 67% 60. 68% 61. 77% 62. 53% 63. 55% 64. 55% 65. 63% 66. 63% 67. 28% 68. 29% 69. 68% 70. 64% 71. 70% 72. 1% 73. 69% 74. 31% 75. 71% 76. 4% 77. 64% 78. 65% 79. 71% 80. 3% 81. 2% 82. 26% 83. 64% 84. 73% 85. 72% 86. 24% 87. 70% 88. 64% 89. 71% 90. 27% 91. 72% 92. 70% 93. 76% 94. 5% 95. 9% 96. 11% 97. 16% 98. 25% 99. 54% 100. 16% 101. 27% 102. 28% 103. 18% 104. 74% 105. 78% 106. 26% 107. 10%