In response to the anti-globalization movement's numbers and vigilance,
multinational companies and right-wing think tanks are beginning
to take aim at the protesters.
According to a document obtained by the newsletter Inside EPA,
the Sony Corporation has been preparing an "action plan for counteracting
the efforts of several domestic and international environmental
groups--including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Silicon Valley
Toxics Coalition" that are involved in a campaign to hold electronics
manufacturers responsible for their toxic waste.
Last summer in Brussels, Belgium, Sony representatives presented
a paper called
"NGO Strategy" to the European Information and Communications Technology
Industry Association's conference on environmental policy. Sony's
strategic suggestions included "pre-funding intervention" to reduce
the financial support that liberal foundations give to environmental
organizations; a recommendation that companies ratchet up their capability
to quickly respond to environmental critics and pre-empt future legislation;
and the development of a "detailed monitoring and contact network"
to keep tabs on these organizations.
Inside EPA suggests that that this monitoring might be carried
out by "one of the dozens of new Internet 'intelligence' agencies--such
as the London-based Infonics PLC--that monitor chat rooms, e-mail
lists, electronic bulletin boards, online news services, newsgroups
and other sources of public information for specific data requested
by a company or industry group."
Sony executives have acknowledged that the company is monitoring
environmental groups. "We are obviously concerned about our image,"
Mark Small, Sony's vice president of environmental and health and
safety issues, told the InterPress news service. "If Greenpeace
is pushing something, we want to be on top if it."
Sony's interest in "pre-funding intervention" dovetails with the
publication of "Who Props Up the Protesters," an extensive report
from Truth About Trade, a new organization that purports to "tell
the truth" about the organizations active in the Seattle demonstrations
and the foundations that fund them.
Truth About Trade is a Des Moines, Iowa-based agriculture industry
group headed by Dean Kleckner, former president of the American
Farm Bureau Federation, a leading agribusiness lobby. Kleckner says
that Truth About Trade's mission is "to stand up for farm exports
and advancements in biotechnology based on sound science," and to
prevent environmental extremists and radical protesters from limiting
America's economic and technological potential.
Truth About Trade's report (www.truthabouttrade.com)
provides "an outline of the history, goals, financial strength and
level of activism for ... organizations involved in the anti-trade
protests in Seattle." "Who Props Up the Protesters" contains profiles
of more than 50 "environmental groups actively opposing trade,"
including the Ruckus Society, Direct Action Network, Earth Island
Institute, Friends of the Earth, Global Exchange and the National
Wildlife Federation, and details how these groups participated in
the Seattle protests.
For just one example, in its profile of the Berkeley, California-based
Ruckus Society, Truth About Trade asserts that Ruckus uses its training
on nonviolent civil disobedience as a cover for its real agenda:
"violent lawbreaking" by "leaders [who] are no stranger to violence
themselves, [and who] might actually have expected the vandalism
by the anarchist members of their protest."
One of Truth about Trade's most significant contributions to intelligence
gathering is documentation that the fair-trade network is bankrolled
by "grantmakers [who] are funneling large sums of money to environmental
groups." Among the major foundations highlighted are the Bullitt
Foundation, HKH Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation,
Pew Charitable Trust, Rockefeller Foundation, Turner Foundation,
W. Alton Jones Foundation and C.S. Mott Foundation.
There are several other conservative institutions focusing on the
foundations who are providing the financial lifeblood for the environmental
movement. The Washington-based Capital Research Center is one of
the rising stars in the crowded universe of right-wing think tanks
Established in 1984, the Capital Research Center analyzes how "those
organizations with tax-exempt, tax-deductible--and sometimes tax
dollars--mix advocacy and 'direct action' to promote their own vision
of the public interest." It also looks at how closely individuals
in the corporate and foundation sectors are sticking to the "donor
intent" of the founders of these corporations and foundations.
Conservatives become apoplectic when they discover that a significant
amount of money earmarked for environmental groups comes from foundations
established by free-market entrepreneurs who accumulated enormous
wealth based on decidedly anti-environmental activities. "The source
of wealth for the Pew Trusts comes from energy exploration and development,"
the Capital Research Center's President Robert Huberty told the
House Resource Committee at a May hearing.
Complaining about Pew support for a forest protection campaign,
he said that the original intent of the founders of the foundation
was to "acquaint the American people [with] the evils of bureaucracy,
the values of a free market and the paralyzing effects of government
controls on the lives and activities of people."
Frustrated, Huberty asked, "How do the Pew Trusts honor the intentions
of their donor by supporting a campaign to permanently end logging
in a large portion of the national forests?" Anti-globalization
activities clearly are becoming a direct threat to global corporate
power. Surveillance, propaganda and counter-intelligence efforts
mounted by the rich and powerful are just beginning to reveal themselves,
but they surely are a harbinger of things to come.
Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering the religious
right and related conservative movements. Contact him by e-mail