Banks Line Up to Join ‘ESG’ Mob

In the last year, the cost of energy has increased significantly. Gasoline, diesel, and domestic electricity and natural gas prices are now past the point that many people can bear. The problem affects businesses too, including manufacturing and agriculture, with consequences for the wider economy, jobs and the cost of living. It has led to a new word, “greenflation.” Greenflation is harming those who, literally, can least afford it.

However, instead of discerning what is behind these problems, what caused them, what role the federal government had and what it can do to ease the problem, the government is simply blaming others and pressing on. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is not only in denial but serially insists that the problem is that the administration just hasn’t proceeded on the “climate” front fast enough.

This is governmental malpractice. But the perpetrators are not without accomplices. The investor class, and big banks foremost among them, share equal responsibility. One of the chief culprits is a pernicious and destructive concept called Environmental, Social, and Governance investing.

Yellen: in "climate" denial.

A 2016 email suggests that modern “ESG” began as anti-energy campaigning against financial institutions in 1999 focusing on hydropower, then morphed into anti-coal advocacy then soon expanded to opposing all abundant energy sources.

Bank of America seems to have been captured first, vowing to not finance hydrocarbon energy (beginning with coal). Freedom of Information Act litigation showed the bank's enthusiasm for the "climate" agenda. A senior bank official, Jim Mahoney, hired former Clinton hands as consultants to get the bank close to then-Secretary of State John Kerry with offers to sponsor as much of the 2015 Paris climate talks as it could.

Yes, financial institutions sponsoring treaty negotiations. More recently, FOIA litigation produced still more craven correspondence, this time to Yellen from, among others, Wells Fargo. In a March 2021 email to a senior Treasury official, former Clinton Treasury official turned Wells lobbyist Elisabeth A. Bresee laid out the bank’s “climate” plan:

I'm reaching out to share an exciting climate change announcement. Wells Fargo just announced that we're setting a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, including in its financed emissions, by 2050. Wells Fargo believes that climate change is one of the most urgent environmental and social issues of our time and, as one of the largest financial institutions, we are committed to taking action, including aligning our activities to support the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In recent years, we've made tremendous progress in meeting and exceeding sustainability goals in our operations, working with NGOs and other stakeholders on climate-finance strategies, enhancing our transparency and disclosure, and partnering to advance clean technology innovation, community resiliency, and green jobs. We've also put in place a strong foundation and processes for managing climate risk across the enterprise and accelerating sustainable finance in our lines of business, including providing financing for utility-scale renewables and clean technologies, underwriting sustainability bonds. and innovating in ESG-linked lending.

Our path forward includes five focus areas:

The email closed by checking every box in the woke liturgy, about being—

committed to fostering an inclusive recovery from Covid-19 and to building a more inclusive and sustainable future for all.… includ[ing] supporting greater racial equity across our business and philanthropic giving and addressing evolving issues like climate change,” with a nod to the bank’s “clients and stakeholders.

This week, the bank announced it was demanding Paris-like emission cuts from companies it lends to.

This inherently conflicted, inane equivalence between and even preference for “stakeholders” (pressure groups and political interests) over shareholders and clients is, according to the Wall Street Journal, "using the ethical-custom concept to impose a progressive agenda on American businesses. It will have negative implications for investor returns.” 

Yet the costs of this public-private tag-team are far greater. For example, in late 2021 some U.S. traditional energy producers, particularly coal and related industries (e.g., rail), were unable to affordably access capital markets to purchase (or, in some cases, re-purchase) equipment to ramp up production and transport in the face of a looming energy crisis (which continues today), leading to serious energy security concerns. The companies were informed by lenders that loaning money to, e.g., coal, gave the banks an “ESG problem.” 

Wall Street, we have an ESG problem.

This resulted not from regulation but pressure campaigns including from a Biden administration that has made clear it has targeted hydrocarbon energy interests for extinction and that assisting them would not be well-received in Washington. 

Such a policy directly threatens U.S. national security. The broader consequence of greenflation has pushed prices and the cost of living upwards, and destabilized manufacturing sectors in the U.S., U.K. and Europe. It has been a major contributor to European dependence on Russian energy, undermining the West’s geopolitical position and global security. 

It has made firms worldwide increasingly dependent on China’s so-very-not-ESG manufacturing and materials. What this agenda demands of targeted industries is strongly contrary to America’s interests but is precisely as countries who wish us ill would have things.

Financial institutions draw from the same talent pool from which the Biden administration staffs itself, with the same woke priorities. This misguided partnership poses a grave danger to the U.S.

Canada: Fascist or Communist?

The lifting of the Emergencies Act is an enormous relief to all liberty-loving Canadians, but the fact that it could have been invoked on demonstrably flimsy grounds—for a peaceful protest in which no violence or property damage occurred—demonstrates the lawless lengths the Justin Trudeau government will go to secure total power. Perhaps the Act was a test to gauge the reaction of Canadians, many of whom accepted it supinely. Perhaps it was withdrawn because it appeared set to be revoked by the Senate. According to No More Lockdowns Canada, the reason may have had something to do with “an abrupt loss of institutional confidence in the banking system.”

Whatever the case, the willingness to suspend peaceful citizens’ liberties so harshly demonstrates the autocratic impulses of the ruling party. In innumerable articles, blogs and podcasts I’ve consulted over the last few turbulent weeks, the government has been variously described as fascist or communist. The terms are used interchangeably. An acquaintance recently asked which would be the proper designation.

The red queen.

As Mussolini wrote in The Doctrine of Fascism, “The Fascist State lays claim to rule in the economic field no less than in others; it makes its action felt throughout the length and breadth of the country by means of its corporate, social, and educational institutions.” Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s recent directives under the Emergencies Act were wholly fascist in nature, to wit: 

First: we are broadening the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules so that they cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use. These changes cover all forms of transactions, including digital assets such as cryptocurrencies. Second: the government is issuing an order with immediate effect, under the Emergencies Act, authorizing Canadian financial institutions to temporarily cease providing financial services where the institution suspects that an account is being used to further the illegal blockades and occupations.

Obviously, the freezing of bank accounts would proceed without a court order. The corporations and financial and social institutions seem eager to comply. The definition of “illegal,” of course, is moot, a tyrannical expedient.

Canada has also adopted the top-down, social credit and contact tracing system practiced by Communist China, a country it is rapidly coming to resemble. Justin Trudeau made no secret of his admiration for the Chinese “basic dictatorship”: “There’s a level of admiration I actually have for China. Their basic dictatorship is actually allowing them to turn their economy around on a dime.” Indeed, Trudeau invited the Chinese military to train in Canada. (The site chosen for cold-weather maneuvers was Petawawa, Ontario.) Fascist Venezuela and communist Cuba are also major influences and templates. 

Which is it, then, fascist or communist? The answer is both, for the distinction is fundamentally irrelevant. Both are totalitarian entities, defined as systems of government that are centralized and autocratic and that demand total subservience to the state—hence “totalitarian.” Jonah Goldberg made the point eloquently in his Liberal Fascism. There is no paradox. As Paul Gottfried writes in Fascism: The Career of a Concept, “Totalitarianism is defined as a twentieth-century problem that is illustrated most dramatically by Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia…Hitler and Stalin were not ideological opposites but similar dangers to human freedom.”

Besties.

If there is a difference between the two totalitarian ideologies, it pertains to the relation between state and corporation: the communist system is a sealed unit in which state and corporation are one and the same; the fascist system uses the corporation as a semi-independent institution to be manipulated and controlled. Between one and the other falls the shadow of not much.

The issue of whether Canada in its current manifestation is fascist or communist is therefore immaterial. It is both, owing to the habitual governing practice of the Trudeaus. Invoking the War Measures Act to deal with national emergencies that are not national emergencies seems to run in the Trudeau family. During the 1970 “October Crisis,” Trudeau père applied the measure to disable, as Nationalist Passions puts it, “an informal group, organized in small, autonomous cells [that] had no more than thirty-five members.” In 2022, Trudeau fils invoked the successor Emergencies Act to crush a peaceful trucker convoy protest and shut down banking privileges of both protestors and those who contributed to the trucker fund, retroactively made illegal. 

“Getting rid of troublemakers en masse,” Gottlieb writes, “would help to advance the common project imposed by the leader,” consisting of control over the economy and public life, “a monopoly over all forms of communication” (Cf. Bill C-10), and the crushing of political dissent and fractious minorities. Sound familiar? What we are witnessing is a dynasty on the make and a country on the skids.

Père Pierre?

The Emergencies Act may have ben revoked, but the federal Covid mandates and restrictions, which the Freedom Convoy originally protested, are still on the books. Moreover, the truckers have lost their licences and operating insurance and many have lost their rigs. Their livelihoods have been destroyed. Some continue to languish in jail without bail. These are the wages of a peaceful protest that broke no laws, despite the misinformation and disinformation that is Justin Trudeau’s stock-in-trade.

We should not, then, be distracted by irrelevant distinctions and scholarly niceties. Whether the government is fascist or communist is moot. Under the current administration, a working coalition between two far-left parties, the Liberals and the enclitic NDP, Canada bears all the hallmarks of a repressive, oligopolist state that is laboring to permanently entrench itself. The Trudeaus have seen to that. Canadians have elected them on multiple occasions and, with the exception of those whose minds have not dimmed—a minority, be it said—Canadians have reaped the country they deserve. Mutatis mutandis, we now live under the boot of a communofascist regime and, barring some unforeseen change, we will all suffer for it.