In the crackdown on Russia, capitalism has a key role to play

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The spirit of capitalism, in this fast and harsh world, is beyond the capabilities of any tyrant. I am talking about the irreversible forces accumulated in social history since the Second World War. It’s the speed of the internet, the 24/7 news cycle, and the retaliation of these peace-seeking corporations that are all so new.

This relentless and ferocious spirit of modern world capitalism ignores how many tanks or hypersonic rockets a Vladimir Putin or a Xi Jinping can have, and the numbness and blindness of their soldiers, while the punishments of capitalism roll with a fiercer force and momentum than normal tactical and physical responses to tyrant aggression.

I first wrote this reflection during week two of the invasion of Ukraine, but it is now truer and more impactful in week seven with kyiv still not taken. And it will be truer and more impactful in the months to come.

Most Fortune 500 companies, which collectively are now larger in dollar terms than the majority of nation states, want the peaceful exchange of commerce and goods, not war and its barriers and expense. National policies can’t do much in this world of World, Inc.

The world of advanced capitalism, a web of supply chain interdependencies between the world’s 500-5,000 largest corporations, and the new world order of an essentially liberal and open democracy based on the Internet, will not tolerate Putin. and his state of mind as a czar.

The social response capitalism we now see in the punitive actions against Putin taken by big global corporations is evidence of a new form of competitive capitalism that outshines short-term speculative capitalism. It is an evolution in the application of global capitalism towards social openness and peace.

Today more than 150 of the largest firms in this world have stopped the economic exchanges they maintained with Russia, to punish Putin. Among them, BP announced it was divesting its 19.75% investment in Russian oil company Rosneft, and two executives – CEO Bernard Looney and former group chief executive Bob Dudley – resigned from the board. administration of Rosneft – for reasons of social response, not market benefits. And Disney temporarily halted theatrical releases in Russia, the first major Hollywood studio to do so, and put all of its other activities there on “pause”.

More than 750 small and medium-sized businesses have joined these giants, according to tracking from the Yale School of Management.

This is good news for those seeking social change in diversity and inclusion, climate change and many other things that are normally pushed by politicians.

According to Bill Novelli, author of “Good Business” and founder of Porter Novelli, a global public relations firm: “Companies on the global stage often have to decide when to take a stand on political and moral issues. They have governments, consumers, employees and others to contend with. But they choose the best path when they adhere to their corporate and human values.

It is now essential that we recognize and embrace this historic trend for those fighting on the streets of Ukraine. I’m not saying it will help those thousands of people who are being killed right now. I say it is only the economic pain that will help the oligarchs and others in Russia to start resisting Putin.

It takes time, but it has an impact: the US Treasury Department says corporate and government interventions have caused Russia’s economy to plummet between 22 and 28 percent.


Despots can maintain anti-democratic, racist and other heinous practices within the confines of their nations. But when Putin, a small man with big ambitions, breaks through these confined walls, things come crashing down.

Bruce Piasecki of Ballston Spa is the author of “A New Way to Wealth”.

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