boycotts - the way to bring down neo-conservatism? discuss.

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lucy82
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Dec 17 2004 23:53
boycotts - the way to bring down neo-conservatism? discuss.

This is an email i got.

you have 2 hours and no more than 250 words. you can turn your papers over now. and the first person to say its about class in a relevent context gets a prize smile

"we discussed the idea of a world boycott of companies and organisations which support the neo-conservative Bush/Blair agenda. The idea is to focus the pre-existing work of campaigns like the Coca-cola boycott, anti-MacDonald's, environmental campaigns and anti-war campaigns by helping us to work more closely together and identify clearly some common strategies, pool resources and information and amplify the scale of protest. We need to work on a worldwide scale because the effects of neo-conservative policies are felt worldwide.

The neo-conservatives are powerful and dangerous, well-funded and ruthless. However, it's all built on money. Powerful multinationals play a key role in supporting politicians and lobbying for policy changes which are detrimental to ordinary people worldwide and to the life of the planet itelf. We have marched, leafletted and argued for years; now we also need to focus on the financial support, by publicising and unravelling the financial links, refusing to purchase the goods of harmful companies.

If we can, by cooperating worldwide, produce a downturn in profits then we may be able to convince policymakers that crime does not pay. This effort will require cooperation, mutual support and sustained campaigning and information sharing. Worldwide networks and participating campaigns are already engaged. Let's make it official. US products and policies are the No 1 target because of the country's aggressive warmongering policies, its unfair trade practices and its disregard for human rights in territories it controls and in many of its businesses and their subsidiaries. The UK must also bear its share of the blame.

Some may feel that they wish to enquire of non-commercial organisations what their stance on neo-conservative policies is and withdraw cooperation accordingly.

it was stressed that good practice and good principles should be praised and rewarded, whether in the US or elsewhere. We should buy responsibly, work responsibly and live responsibly. We should encourage the efforts of the peacemakers and those who work for justice by linking more closely with them in order to support and encourage. Undoubtedly non-Republicans in the US will be feeling the need of that support.

Let us stress that this action is in no way a condemnation of ordinary citizens in the USA: it is merely an expression of our desire to work for the common good and against those who would enslave us.

We are for a multicultural, multifaith world which is socially and environmentally sustainable.

STOP THE MADNESS BEFORE THE EARTH CLOSES DOWN THE HUMAN RACE!"

lucy82
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Dec 18 2004 01:05

oops forgot to add what my problem with it is.

this is a serious call from the social forum network to put peoples energy into mass boycotting as a form of protest which theyappear to believe is effective.

calling for a boycott of a country is premised on the assumption that if we all withdraw our spending power and stop buying the goods we can convince policymakers that "crime doesn't pay". hasn't worked with israel, except from a little embarrassement possibly and i can't see it working with america which has so many powerful fingers in so many pies.

you could possibly bring down a company but can you boycott a country with any effectiveness? I dont see Israel pulling out of Gaza and renouncing its US funded political murder. or even (on the level of companies) Nestle coming down despite a massive, long running and well organised campaign.

also if you really wanted to start boycotting products from America at what point of complicity do you stop? do you boycott plastic because of the use of petrochemicals developed by US corporations in its manufacture?

or do we just get sweetly naive and believe that if its not marked "made in the US" thats ok. This is the interconnected economic web of power and oppression ffs. Boycotts are not challenging that except on a really simpllistic level.

it seems to me pretty stupid.

i am sorry that this the big call to action that came out of a meeting of local social forums. it seems to me that there are other more concrete and effective ways of spending time and energy locally.

in my opinion there are better ways of attacking corporations than boycotts. and it is impossible to boycott the products of a country as powerful as america.

it feels kinda wooly liberal to me and pretty much a waste of time.

boycott boycotts.

grin

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 18 2004 13:26

I agree. I write for a zine (oooh, the shame) which is mostly full of lifestylist "radical liberals" (as Jack calls them) who pass themselves off as anarchists. Rather irritated by this, I wrote a column pointing out the futilities of boycotts and now I'm about as popular as Daddy cutting up their credit cards (there, class slur...I win).

My next column is about the futility of hunt sabbing. Booyah!!

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JDMF
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Dec 18 2004 15:07

alan, do you ever write about anything which might work, or is your colums called "futility corner"? wink

Or wait, perhaps all your columns end with "the only answer is organising at our workplaces and our communities" grin

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JDMF
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Dec 18 2004 15:18

and to comment on Lucys point, historically we have the example of south africa as a country wide boycott, and boycott which spread to companies who make business in SA. That was pretty effective, and during time when i think "consumerist" politics weren't even that widespread.

But this call for boycott probably doesn't get far and currently if boycotts are called they should be very targetted.

Though haviong said that, had all the millions of people who marched from A to B boycotted US products perhaps that would have made more of an impact? Probably not...

I'm boycotting your boycott of boycotts though wink

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 18 2004 15:46
JDMF wrote:
alan, do you ever write about anything which might work, or is your colums called "futility corner"? ;)

No...I make sure I end it with...

Quote:
Or wait, perhaps all your columns end with "the only answer is organising at our workplaces and our communities" grin

Busted. embarrassed

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 18 2004 15:50
JDMF wrote:
and to comment on Lucys point, historically we have the example of south africa as a country wide boycott, and boycott which spread to companies who make business in SA. That was pretty effective, and during time when i think "consumerist" politics weren't even that widespread.

But this call for boycott probably doesn't get far and currently if boycotts are called they should be very targetted.

Though haviong said that, had all the millions of people who marched from A to B boycotted US products perhaps that would have made more of an impact? Probably not...

I'm boycotting your boycott of boycotts though ;)

Yeah but if everyone moved outta houses into squats, if everyone grew their own vegetables, if everyone...fuck it man, it's not gonna happen. It's ridiculously idealistic to believe that you're gonna convert even your neighbourhood to reject capital. The opposite is far more likely to happen, and you'll end up ghettoised and miles outta touch with those you seek to influence. And let's not forget how patronising it is to say: "you're wrong to buy those products".

The zine I write for spouts some real crackpot opinions like: we must live and demonstrate the alternative lifestyle in order to demonstrate that there are alternatives yadda yadda yadda. It's all such of crock of self-indulgent shit done by middle class "intellectuals" who think they're superior.

that said, squatting is really fun and an organised social centre does have (albeit limited) scope for outreach into the local community and facilitating actions and events (for wont of less activist language) that are beneficial and progressive. It's more that it's fun than the other bit though. wink

lucy82
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Dec 18 2004 16:33

oh m'god, i've started another lifestyle war!!

eek embarrassed

but to demonstrate alans point about patronising people, i saw someone take a can of coke out of someones hand and even though he protested, she chucked it down the grid.

i was disgusted at that. it was out of order and the guy who'd bought the coke was really pissed off. can't say i saw him on anyother protest after that.

but i'd bet he still buys coke though.

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 18 2004 16:50

Well to be honest, I think it's kinda patronising to dead Colombian trade unionists to call a boycott and then sit on your laurels (and probably drink Pepsi). They need something far more effective than a few white punks (cos let's face it, it'll be punks doing the boycotting) going "Coke is baaad man, don't drink it".

And there's a wider point here: boycotting certain products is completely missing the point of being a revolutionary. Capitalism itself is wrong, not just Coke, Nike and Starbucks. There's an entire system facilitating the actions of these companies, so shouldn't we try and destroy that instead of certain audacious corporations??

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JDMF
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Dec 18 2004 17:02
Alan_is_Fucking_Dead wrote:
Well to be honest, I think it's kinda patronising to dead Colombian trade unionists to call a boycott and then sit on your laurels (and probably drink Pepsi). They need something far more effective than a few white punks (cos let's face it, it'll be punks doing the boycotting) going "Coke is baaad man, don't drink it".

According to research, around 20-30% of people use ethical and political considerations when making purchasing decisions. Now if 20-30% of brittish population are punks then we are in agreement wink

Quote:

And there's a wider point here: boycotting certain products is completely missing the point of being a revolutionary. Capitalism itself is wrong, not just Coke, Nike and Starbucks. There's an entire system facilitating the actions of these companies, so shouldn't we try and destroy that instead of certain audacious corporations??

No, it never misses this point, because it never makes this point. These two issues are not exclusive. One can, suprise, suprise, be anti-capitalist and still have some political quidance in how they use their money. One can be a fucking brilliant "workplace and community" organiser, and still be involved in different ethical and political consumerist campaigns.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Dec 18 2004 17:12

This call for a USA boycott is nationalist because it assumes that the current world problems are cause by the USA national government, rather than a global elite that has no borders.

We (brits) are a very close part of the particular neo-lib system of which the USA is the leader -- we can't boycott our way out of this, because 'British' products are just as much a part of this system.

France, Russia, etc are just as big a problem and Irefuse to abandon a class, systemic analysis in favour of crude anti-americanism.

lucy82
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Dec 18 2004 17:17
Quote:
his call for a USA boycott is nationalist because it assumes that the current world problems are cause by the USA national government, rather than a global elite that has no borders.

yep. i agree.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Dec 18 2004 17:19

Out of interest, was this idea pushed by citizens of certain *wonderful* Eurpoean countries...

Caiman del Barrio
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Dec 18 2004 17:23
JDMF wrote:
Alan_is_Fucking_Dead wrote:
Well to be honest, I think it's kinda patronising to dead Colombian trade unionists to call a boycott and then sit on your laurels (and probably drink Pepsi). They need something far more effective than a few white punks (cos let's face it, it'll be punks doing the boycotting) going "Coke is baaad man, don't drink it".

According to research, around 20-30% of people use ethical and political considerations when making purchasing decisions. Now if 20-30% of brittish population are punks then we are in agreement ;)

By "ethical and political considerations" they mean buying organic, free range and, if you're lucky, fair trade. Don't kid yourself.

Any boycotts of companies such as Coke or Starbucks or anything would only be done by punks.

Quote:
No, it never misses this point, because it never makes this point. These two issues are not exclusive. One can, suprise, suprise, be anti-capitalist and still have some political quidance in how they use their money. One can be a fucking brilliant "workplace and community" organiser, and still be involved in different ethical and political consumerist campaigns.

Yes but what's the point?? It's as relevant to revolution as whether I put the seat down after taking a piss.

lucy82
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Dec 18 2004 17:46
Quote:
Out of interest, was this idea pushed by citizens of certain *wonderful* Eurpoean countries...

ah hem... yes

Garner
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Dec 20 2004 13:16

Another reason why consumer politics are complete fucking shit, which I don't think anyone's mentioned yet, is that your power as a consumer is directly proportional to your disposable income. So boycotts are a great tactic if you're rich, but if you're poor you aint gonna be buying that much shit anyway so what's the fucking point.

Consumer politics are anti-working-class.

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Steven.
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Dec 20 2004 13:47
Garner wrote:
Another reason why consumer politics are complete fucking shit, which I don't think anyone's mentioned yet, is that your power as a consumer is directly proportional to your disposable income. So boycotts are a great tactic if you're rich, but if you're poor you aint gonna be buying that much shit anyway so what's the fucking point.

Consumer politics are anti-working-class.

Exactly 8)

Joe Hill
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Dec 21 2004 00:12

Interesting. Sounds like we, the individual consumers can 'make a difference'. You're right. I like this forum.