More on the “Anti-ESG” movement


Here’s an excerpt from this article penned by Chuck Epstein entitled “Elon Musk is Very Rich, But Very Wrong About ESG Investing”:

The unprecedented global corporate activism sparked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 marked a turning point in ESG investing. ESG investing has about $40 trillion in assets under management worldwide, but to social and economic conservatives, ESG investing poses a significant threat to the unchallenged authority of corporations.

This is why the rapid decision by significant corporations worldwide to suspend business operations with Russia marked the largest concerted corporate protest focused around a single cause ever organized. It was also a massive milestone for ESG investing.

To date, some 600 corporations have suspended operations with Russia. But, while public opinion has overwhelmingly supported this new level of corporate activism, cultural and economic conservatives have condemned the Russian sanctions as a violation of corporate responsibilities that endangers corporate goals and violates the workings of free-market capitalism.

Today, conservatives oppose ESG investing for four reasons:

1. ESG policies detract corporations from their primary goal of making the most significant profits possible;
2. ESG gives shareholders too much influence over guiding corporate policies outside of direct business operations;
3. ESG is a threat to traditional corporate and political power.
4. ESG is incompatible with free-market capitalism and conventional economic theory.

This is nothing new. As early as the 1970s, right-wingers have rung the bell that capitalism is under attack. In the famous 1971 memo to the conservative U.S. Chamber of Lewis Powell, the right-wing fanatic. Commerce by Lewis Powell (later a Supreme Court judge), the Californian said the free enterprise system was under attack from liberal arts departments at college campuses, the New Left, television, Ralph Nader, the clergy, books, and intellectual journals. Looking back, Powell provided the fuel to start the culture wars that have become the daily fodder for the right wing.