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TL;DR How do you convince megacorporations to implement ecologic measures when the democratic system is all but effective?


You are in a cyberpunk world with cramed cities spanning over most of 1st world territories. the megacorporations have full control over the economy, and they're aren't particularly cautious with the environment. Which is something you want to change.

With some friends you build up some group to act on that. You had the various phases

  • At first, you decided to protest in the streets, organise demonstrations, write and distribute pamphlet, organise polls in the streets or online. The whole group was extremely busy, but let's face it, no one cared. Yes your group got larger, but neither the Megacorp changed their ways, nor the government tried to change the policies, and the population at large didn't even paused to look at it.

  • At the initiative of some of the members of the group, you changed to more radical actions. You followed some actions shown by some Greenpeace at the beginning of the 21st Century. You invaded ships, blocked containers. Protest on the spot to disrupt the work of the corporations. Interrupted meetings and talks, etc. This was accompanied by a strong lobbying with the government, large on-line actions, etc.

    That way you got the attention of the population and it seemed to be affecting the corporations enough that they started to notice you at last. Unfortunately that did not turn out so well. If amongst the population, you had a good image, the corporations sent their militia to retaliate. And often violently. Many of your members got arrested by those private militia and held for weeks at a time. Some got pretty beaten up, and some even got killed.

  • The more extreme of your members decided to fight back. They started eco-terrorrism. Where instead of protests in front of the corporations offices, they used bombs. They systematically blew up properties of the corporations to provoke terrors. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be effective, as the corporations used that pretext to have even stronger units sent to you, and it has turned into a war. And, since the city is full with people and the corporations' buildings are stronger than the neighbouring houses, there are many civilians victims. As a consequence, you are loosing the good impression the population had of you, and their (often passive) support.

You organise a reunion with some more moderate members of the organisation. You are 5, but your aura as one of the original founder of the movement allows you to count on some 50-400 followers, were you to organise things differently. You haven't lost completely track of your ultimate goal, which is to get corporations to enforce some ecologic measure to protect what is left of the environment, fauna and flora, in some remote places of the world.

You are convinced that the key relies on getting a strong support from the population at large. But if the second phase seemed to be the best for that, it was very costly for you.

You are at the meeting, which might be your one chance to actually do something. Some of the participants suggested:

  • cyber-hacktivism. Hacking websites and distrupting the online communication of the corporations, etc.
  • specialised killing. The bomb-based terror turned the city into a battlefield, and you lose the opinion battle. But how about specialised killings? You could train (and enhanced) yourselves to kill the leaders and managers of the corporations, to bring the fear to them.
  • some thousands of years ago, a guy got his revolution started by getting killed in a public place, making himself a martyr. It might be replicated.
  • get stronger. Nuclear bombs. Yes people won't like it, but there won't be many to reply to that.

Now is your time to speak, which way are you going to favour? What path would be the most effective to implement ecologic measures at the lowest cost of lives?

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    $\begingroup$ How exactly could a group who are supposedly environmental activists even contemplate use of "Nuclear bombs"? Isn't the creation of a radioactive wasteland the complete antithesis of what they are trying to achieve? $\endgroup$ – Steve Bird Sep 16 '15 at 6:23
  • $\begingroup$ I did not say that they were all good. But you have to think that they would create a nuclear wasteland, where there is currently only cities. Have you seen images of surrounding of Chernobyl? Its covered in trees and grass. It might be beneficial in the long run. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Sep 16 '15 at 6:32
  • $\begingroup$ Do you really have to choose from one of these humpty dumpty suggestions or you can make your own unique decision? $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Sep 16 '15 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ @YoustayIgo It's a meeting, everyone says whatever he/she wants. You can choose, or propose something else. You just have to convince the others that it's a good idea. $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Sep 16 '15 at 8:23
  • $\begingroup$ Hello, Shin-Ra! Empowering your life with Mako, since 1997! $\endgroup$ – o0'. Sep 16 '15 at 10:19
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*ahem*

If I may suggest an alternative course of action that costs the lowest number of lives:

If you want a corporation to change it's mind, hit them where it hurts: Their profit margin. To the corporate beancounters everything comes down to a spreadsheet. If it costs them more to continue operating in an ecologicaly unsound way than it does to fix their processes, then they will fix their processes.

To this end: Don't target the corporations directly. Nothing you can do to them directly will work. Instead focus on convincing people to only buy goods and services from the most ecologically friendly of the corporations. Plant fliers saying that corporation is better, give people the idea that fresh grown fruit and veg is better than vat-manufactured, and make sure that all the corporations know that's the reason people are starting to move over to another corporation. If you can, get people into the corporations not to act as spies, but to raise the idea that 'maybe we'll get more custom if we improve our ecological impact numbers?'. One or two corporations will sink millions into adverts trumpeting their ecological credentials, and they'll get more customers thanks to your work.

Once one corporation starts to show an increase in profit due to this, the others will follow suit as they begin losing money to the more ecologically sound corporations. This will cement in people's minds that 'eco is better' and from there the process becomes self-sustaining. If any particular area of industry stalls or starts to backslide, focus on that for a while and get people to buy the more eco-friendly plastic goods (or whatever) plant stories that the latest mining techniques spill poison into the groundwater and so nobody should buy oil from company X, only from company Y who get their oil from artesan wells (That's not a typo) hand-cranked by Grandmas. The same principles of economics will swing into play.

Now: this is a long game. It might take decades to change public opinion enough that the corporations are forced to act: but it has the advantage that it costs no lives, and over time the entire populace of the planet become just as invested in your goals as you are without even realising it.

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OK I am the president of this organization, overseeing this meeting. Here is my culminating speech.


Ladies and gentlemen, I have listened to your suggestions about our future agenda. I would like to present my views on the propositions.

Hactivism

Mr Ryo has proposed hactivism so as to disrupt their digital communications and disturb their modus operandi without getting into physical violence. I can see he is the brightest member in our community when it comes to computers and electronics. I have not the least doubt of his abilities in this field and he can certainly accomplish what he suggests.

However, I doubt this approach would help us achieve our goals. In the past we have tried engaging the corporations physically and we know what came of it. All we had in the end was lost support of the public and several of our members maimed or even killed. I'm afraid taking the same mode of operations to the digital realm would end up in likewise consequences, only the battlefield would be different. We would hit them, they would hit us back. And we know they can hire more digital security experts, purchase high-end equipment off our budget, and make it harder and harder for us to achieve continuous success in that. We would be fighting the war in their desired battlefields where they are certain to have the upper hand and triumph over us in the end.

Assassination

A suggestion of specialized assassination of their elite personnel has been proposed by Ms. Natasha. While she certainly has been able to accomplish almost all of the sabotage and disruption missions assigned to her in the past, I do not think this is a viable option for our future strategy.

We are lesser in numbers, we are unable to acquire the battlefield equipment they can obtain, and not all of us are fit for a warfare. For every one of their elite person we take down, they would retaliate with taking down 5 or more of us. Furthermore, we are not a terrorist organization and with actions like these, we would not only be facing a lot of hostility from the corporations, but also the government law enforcement agencies. No, I certainly don't think this is a viable option.

Martyrdom

This has been suggested by Mr. Tanaka, who happens to be a history expert. I'm certain this would have succeeded if only our public was not as morose and cold as it is. We ave killed people for them, we have destroyed property, we have faced persecution. For whom? This public. And how does this public return our favors? By staying put. By not standing up for their cause. No sir, I don't think this is going to work.

Nuclear Weapons

And this is the most radical approach suggested by Mr. Joe. That is, to acquire nuclear weapons and threaten to trigger them if the corporations do not heed our warnings. Now, first off, I would like to stress on the difficulties of obtaining a nuclear device from the black market. It is going to raise immediate alarms in the law enforcement agencies. I do not think the public would support our actions either. Not to mention our feeble funds and the difficulty of storing such a device and setting up infrastructure to launch such a device successfully. No, this is certainly the least feasible option of all.

As much as I disagree with the suggestions presented forward, I cannot help saying they are all very effective in their own right. So instead of dismissing them all, I have a plan that incorporates all of these * cough cough * well most of these into one unified strategy.

Before I proceed, I must ask you this question: Who are we fighting for? Ourselves? No. Nature, yes partly. But our struggle is mainly for the people, for the society. So why are we fighting this war alone without the active support of the people? Why? We are fighting for them and they have to join us, for their own good.

I agree with Mr. Tanaka that gaining people's active support is our only hope in achieving our goal, but how to do that, is the main issue. For this, I have a threefold plan.

The Plan

In the first stage, we are going to have to covertly contaminate the products prepared by the corporations to make them more hazardous to the environment and the people. Yes, you heard me right, more hazardous, not less. For this we will have to operate covertly. This will involve sabotage, infiltration and covert operations. Ms. Natasha and her highly qualified team can do this perfectly. We shall take care to make it look like the corporations are substituting the costly, less-hazardous ingredients with cheaper, highly hazardous ones, dangerous not only for the environment, but the people too! Now we shall wait until these products hit the market.

In stage 2, when the products hit the consumer market, we shall raise the flags and update the public on these hazardous activities. We shall highlight any deaths or sufferings resulting from this and create an uproar. We shall also make sure the infiltration into their production facilities and addition of hazardous ingredients continues. We shall now hack their websites and put information depicting lack of attention towards public losses. We shall make their websites portray an image where they are shown to care about only their profits margins. We shall fuel the flames and if some renowned person of the public openly raises voice against it, we shall assassinate him, blaming the corporations for it! Now the public will understand it is not our war, but theirs!

In stage 3, we shall stage a public martyrdom, making sure it flames the war further. We shall also instigate an all-out violent protest against the corporations. Now we shall start assassinating their elite personnel and break their forces. They would be too busy trying to counter the masses that they would have no time for countering our activities.

That, in short, is my plan gentlemen.

NOTE: This plan is in fact a modified version of the zionist manifesto about controlling the media and food industry, back in 1960s.

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  • $\begingroup$ "we shall assassinate him, blaming the corporations for it" I'm confused by this. Is the target supporting corporate efforts (in which case it doesn't make any sense for the corporations to kill him) or is the target supporting the eco-warriors (in which case it doesn't make sense for him/her to be killed)? $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Sep 16 '15 at 12:21
  • $\begingroup$ Also, it seems your plan is to have the group become dedicated terrorists: sabotage detrimental to public health, vandalism of private property, cyberwarfare, assassinations... $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Sep 16 '15 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ The later of the possibilities for the first comment. I didn't know sabotage and murder would come in so shocking, considering the members are proposing to employ nuclear bombs! Here things stay to half a dozen murders, some vandalism and conspiracy and we get the job done. As the (not-so) great sages of American parliament argue, the ends justify the means. So here, we shout out loud "For a cleaner future!" before shooting every bullet and contaminating every packet of food. $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Sep 16 '15 at 12:42
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Corporate warfare is done by spreadsheet and public relations rather than bombs and bullets.

The ultimate way to fight a corporation is to become an even better corporation which provides ecological services. Some examples of the sort of corporate warfare might be an energy management company which retrofits buildings and industrial processes to use less energy and provide a cost saving to the purchaser. A company called "Afforestt" (http://afforestt.com) literally plants complete forests as a service, which can be used for landscaping, watershed management, fruit production or longer term as actual forests for harvesting. Any other good or service which reduces "inputs" of energy and raw materials will be of great interest to profit minded corporations.

So your eco warriors need to drop the Che T-shirts and put on their suits and ties and use corporate judo against the "bad guys". The boards of directors will be much more responsive to their shareholders rewarding them for saving money and increasing profits than to being held hostage to terrorists.

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  • $\begingroup$ Sounds appealing, but a new company would have trouble to compete with the giants that already hold the market. Think a new ISP in the USA... tough job. How do you propose they do that? $\endgroup$ – bilbo_pingouin Sep 21 '15 at 8:32
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    $\begingroup$ The question presupposes the existing companies do not service the environmental "market", and could perhaps be a market themselves for environmental (i.e. saving energy and raw materials) services $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Sep 27 '15 at 2:27

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