Tripping up Trumpism through a global boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign
* considers sanctions and how they might work against Trump and US megacorporations;
* reminds of the recent history of climate sanctions and carbon-tax advocacy;
* lists some Trump-related corporations to potentially target; and
* concludes with a hopeful precedent – anti-apartheid sanctions that allowed black South Africans and their allies to wedge global and local capital away from a fascist state. Climate chaos reignited First, what will it take to solve the climate crisis? There are technicist strategies to lower greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy, transport, agriculture and forestry, urbanisation, production, consumption and disposal. But the overwhelming change required will be to overcome what has been termed “inertia by political and social will.”
Trump company targets will continue to be relevant, especially because the new president refuses to divest any of his holdings, thus ensuring coming years of activist protests and court hearings over conflicts of interest. What other corporate targets are logical for consumers and sympathetic states worldwide, are vulnerable to brand damage associated with BDS strategy, and will most adversely affect Trump and his cronies?Grievances against Trump family-firm holdings are legion, but political attacks on Trump-associated companies are even more important. In February 2016, for example, the e-activist network Color of Change directed its Trump campaigning against one of the world’s largest companies because of its sponsorship of last year’s Republican Party convention: “How can Coca-Cola, a company that heavily markets to and profits from Black people, fund a platform for a presidential nominee that is being bolstered into office by former Grand Wizard David Duke, the KKK, and other white supremacists?” The petition was signed by 100,000. Within three weeks, Coca-Cola had agreed to withhold $600,000 it had earlier earmarked to help pay for the Cleveland convention. Another example was the ‘Sleeping Giants’ Twitter network of several thousand activists which since last November discovered that more than 1000 major firms and non-profit institutions were advertising (most without being aware) on the breitbart.com white nationalist website. Their attempts to confront these firms by sending a screenshot were remarkably successful, and led to 400 withdrawing the adverts. But there are, in contrast, mega-corporations anxious to pick up vast new contracts with the US government, reflecting the 9 percent increase in the Dow Jones stock market index after November 8, led by banking, oil and military firms. Trump’s cabinet and top officials are from Goldman Sachs bank, ExxonMobil oil, Koch Industries oil, Lockheed Martin military, Pfizer drugs, General Dynamics military, Wells Fargo bank, Amway beauty, Hardees food and Breitbart media. Precedents against not a person (Trump) but a system (Trumpism) How far have dominant US politics slid to the far right? Trump only received 25.3 percent of the eligible vote, yet there can be no mistaking how Washington’s state-corporate power now fuses multiple reactionary political, socio-cultural and economic forces into a US version of neo-fascism. To be sure, conflicts will continue rising between Trumpism and moderate Republicanism, the neo-liberals and liberal Democratic elites, the so-called Deep State opponents (especially in the Central Intelligence Agency) and neoconservative factions of the military, and increasingly in 2017, deficit hawks. Probably though, these won’t reach break point. If they do, a Trumpism-without-Trump may well be the result. If Trump is removed from the presidency by a faction of the Deep State or a bloc representing Koch interests, they will simply have concluded that Michael Pence would far better serve their interests. Could a smart-sanctions campaign against the corporations undergirding Trumpism (not just Trump) be effective? If some of these firms – e.g. Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, Lockheed Martin, Pfizer – are the most likely targets of a people’s smart-sanctions strategy, there are some lessons to be learned from prior BDS campaigns. Current BDS-from-below targets include Israel due to its legal and human rights violations in Palestine, and the world fossil fuel industry which faces an ‘unburnable carbon’ financial crisis known as ‘stranded assets,’ in which investment managers’ fiduciary responsibility is to not invest in firms which falsely state the value of their coal, oil and gas assets. The Dakota Access Pipe Line battle partially won by mass action last December also has a parallel divestment fight underway against the pipeline’s bankers. In both cases, the stigmatization strategy has worked to some extent, and often, the disinvestment tactic has been financially painful to the target.