Social Protectionism

Patrick Bond pbond at
Thu Mar 9 04:42:27 PST 2000

Just a couple of points to follow up on, comrade Max...

> From: sawicky at (Max Sawicky)
> [mbs] If we get int'l solidarity, it will grow out of
> the stuff happening now that upsets an assortment
> of lefts. There is still a question as to what
> this means, however. Apparently it does not mean
> defense of labor rights, unless some kind of
> vaguely-defined consensus is attained among
> various parties. Again, I think any such
> consensus grows out of parochial movement.
> Just like some folks here think revolution
> grows out of nationalist struggles.

The stuff going on now is fragmented and chaotic. It has to be pulled together in a way that primarily expands buy-in, rather than primariliy fits US parameters and discourses.

Thinking globally, acting nationally/locally, fine! But also thinking globally and acting globally--what could it mean? Concrete eco/social/labour struggles against corporations with branch plants in various countries? Sure, but that's micro and limiting (and everyone cuts a deal at some stage, letting their comrades down). Maybe using corporate campaign strategies and tactics--pioneered by a 1980s US labour movement with very few other options (e.g. strikes)--to go after common enemies (not just WTO/IMF/WB but also big banks and global media) whose presence is everywhere damaging, and which would maybe result in very substantial concrete concessions, in addition to promoting strategic and ideological cohesion?

> [mbs] I'm no leninist rocket-scientist, but "Imperialism"
> seems to be about the use of force by nations to advantage
> capital. Your definition seems too broad.

That's because I include the labour aristocracy. Someone else did that before, too, right? That reality is the best single argument for pushing much more consultation, in the interests of heightening strategic alignment with all the best labour and social movements across the world, an approach, as you say, that didn't happen on Day One, but is not too late to fix I hope...

> [mbs] well we are some way past Day one, but people
> are working on this too.
> [mbs] "ACILS"?

Who would you say is working on more genuine internationalism? I think ACILS--the Solidarity Center--has a few great folk, in whom I'd place a lot of trust, but I don't know their impact yet.

Ok, if Greider is right that US leftists have a bigger responsibility to sharpen tools to discipline their corporations, here's a month-old Bloomberg story with a couple of nice examples. I gather RAN is going to add debt cancellation/reparations (including apartheid debt) to their environmental-lending critiques, and I hope they also pick up Citibank's record of redlining...

DATE: 02-09-2000 HEADLINE: Bloomberg News

Wed, 09 Feb 2000, 8:51am EST

Companies Responding to Growing Clout of Citizen Action Groups By Emily Schwartz

... Activist groups once focused on pressuring governments to tighten regulation of industries, said Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, a U.S. consumer group. Now, they often zero in on corporations themselves, a strategy that began years ago with a campaign that pressured 160 U.S. companies to sell South African financial holdings to help bring down the apartheid system.

Years of Deliberation

While Home Depot says its lumber decision followed years of internal deliberation about protecting the environment, the Rainforest Action Network says its pressure forced the company to move faster than it would have.

Rainforest Action Network is now targeting the homebuilding industry, urging companies like Centex Corp. and Kaufman & Broad Home Corp. to stop buying wood from suppliers unless they can certify their lumber doesn't come from endangered forests. The group is also going after Citigroup to get the U.S. financial services company to stop financing oil and gas exploration, saying that burning fossil fuels is contributing to global warming.

Companies that don't pay attention can suffer. Monsanto Co., which agreed to a $23.3 billion merger with rival drugmaker Pharmacia & Upjohn Inc. in December, saw its shares fall 25 percent last year. That decline was due in no small part to the activism of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and other groups opposed to Monsanto's genetically engineered seed business.

Monsanto ``destroyed a lot of shareholder value because they didn't listen to what the market was telling them'' about consumer anxiety, said Dawn Rittenhouse, of DuPont Co., the largest U.S. chemical company.


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