Shell Must Fall: A blueprint for system change?

During the build up of the Shell Must Fall movement we found ourselves overwhelmed with enthusiasm for the campaign and Shell Must Fall actions. Whereas we were inspired by the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, Shell Must Fall inspired other climate activists to demand the Fall of fossil multinationals. It has long outgrown us as a single group, potentially becoming a blueprint for other groups and similar struggles. We hope that Part 1 of the Action Toolkit, which explains the background and strategy of Shell Must Fall, can help other groups to take on destructive multinationals. Here’s why:

When we say that we must dismantle Shell by all available means, we are implying the dismantling of the capitalist, colonialist system of exploitation that has given rise to it and allowed it to thrive at the expense of people and planet. Most people would agree this system needs to change but can’t agree on how. Conversely, if we succeed in our goal to dismantle Shell, we will poke a hole into that unjust system: by the people taking power into their own hands to bring down the world’s biggest polluters one by one, beginning with Shell, in a truly just transition. A victory in bringing down or at least building a convincing step-by-step plan to dismantle what is ostensibly one of the world’s worst multinational climate criminals, could pave the way for people around the world. The knowledge that it is possible can motivate others to take the initiative further and to apply the same principles and techniques against other multinationals as well. 

Secondly, connecting the dots of the supply chains of Shell (or other multinationals) between extraction sites (mostly in the Global South) and their consuming counterparts in the Global North (where Shell and other multinationals are mostly headquartered in) in actions of international solidarity can be key to succeed in the paramount challenge of dismantling the multinational and the capitalist and colonial system at large. Connecting between grassroots resistance movements fighting different parts of the supply chain at the same time, sharing a common narrative, can have a tremendous impact in amplifying each other’s struggles as well as building critical mass against Shell.

Concluding, with Shell Must Fall (SMF) we hope to provide a pragmatic example where various ideas and forces for system change come together to focus on a concrete target. The principles, ideas and techniques set forth by SMF could become a blueprint to target other major fossil fuel multinationals operating in a similar manner and build upon the same foundations of a system of exploitation. Initiatives following the same principles and strategies as SMF have been launched recently in other countries such as Total Must Fall, BP Must Fall, Wintershall Must Fall, Ineos Will FallENI Must FallGALP Must Fall, among others. It is up to the various activist groups and individuals to determine where and how they can best focus their actions, depending on the most relevant and strategic target in their particular country and (political) situation. Our additional strength comes from connecting those struggles and thereby changing the underlying system. Let’s make Shell history! 

In addition to Shell actions, we hope to see waves of actions targeting all the shareholders meetings of fossil fuel multinationals in May 2021: Let’s make them all history!