The Necessity of Boycotting

Posted on 22/01/2011 by


At the turn of the 20th Century, there were great movements afoot in the US. Socialism was vibrantly touching the lives of working class people, and awakening them to their oppression, and an answer to ending that oppression. This was echoed across the world, of course, but I’m focusing on the US because it is the most militarised country in the world.

Federal troops and state militia, not to mention private armies such as the Pinkertons, were deployed to ruthlessly crush this extremely popular movement. The wider Socialist movement was not the picture of nonviolence, but the violence used against the movement was horrendous.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s there was a general uptick in uncoordinated anger and resentment within the US. Aside from a few tiny and marginalised organisations, this uptick was simply broad dissatisfaction with the status quo. Once again, the US government crushed this resentment with brutal military force, because of its incipient potential of self-organisation.

My point in bringing these things up is simple: there is not a chance that a non-violent (or even mostly non-violent) direct action to change the government will ever work in the US. It is a hopeless cause, and will only result in either being shot or have one’s skull bashed in by a police baton. Such direct action not only fails, but serves as the justification for the reinforcing and intensification of the oppression which fomented the anger to begin with. It is the ancient problem of violence only begetting more violence.

An organisation requires leadership, and leaders can be ‘removed’, removing the ideological font of what makes the group cohesive. That has been the practise of the US government since Public Enemy #1 were Bolsheviks in the washroom.

When people try to effect fundamental changes to their countries, the first and obvious thing to do is to attempt that change via the system needing change. This is not a method which will work, because that system is not responsible to anything except itself. Actual circumstances in the US are simple: there is no place for the people to voice desire for fundamental change. The era of this has passed long ago in the US; the legions of dead Socialists and civil rights supporters can attest to this.

The urgency of change is great, however, and the duty of people to facilitate this change cannot be shirked on excuses. Saying ‘well, that’s how the world really is’, or ‘I can’t lose my job’ is allying oneself with the status quo, and what it commits. The status quo needs to change, in very deep and fundamental ways. That will require deep and fundamental change in people as well. In my opinion this is a process which will happen with or without consent, so the choice is either to proactively change, or in ignorance be swept away.

At the root of the US/Western Empire expansion is the defence of corporations, not people. It is this root which was defended against the Socialist and civil rights movements, and it is this root which is being defended against WikiLeaks. It is also a root which pays human beings no consideration, other than the source of profits and flesh for war machines.

It is this root which must be fundamentally changed. However, this cannot be done through non-violent direct action. Violence itself has not a hope of accomplishing anything at all; it is incompetence to resort to it. The only way to change this root is to starve it of what it needs: our money.

In order for a movement to survive, it has to be non-organised, leaderless, and passive. There is nothing more non-organised, leaderless, and passive than simply not shopping at Wal-Mart, not using Visa and MasterCard, not banking at Wells Fargo and Chase. There is no law – and indeed never will be – against doing these things I mention, so there is no need to fear any reprisals at all.

The only tools to prevent this economic opting-out are the trinkets which one must give up. There is much to consider, but think of it all from a new perspective: it is bribery to keep one supporting the system. So, making the excuse of ‘I can’t give up [TV/Wal-Mart/my defence contractor job/whatever]’ is effectively saying ‘the bribery has been pretty good to me, actually! Long live the status quo’. The world needs rearranging, and so too do our lives in the US and Western Empire. These sacrifices must be made, or they will be made for us, I think.

Economic opting-out needn’t be a complete opt-out, either. If you can’t eliminate all your shopping at Wal-Mart, only buy what you absolutely must, and spend the rest of your money at local stores. If you have to use a credit card, do so; pay it off as quickly as possible, and never have any balance. If you need a bank account, have one at a local bank or credit union, and even then have only one account at all.

In essence, the important thing isn’t to go to a Thoreauvian extreme. Rather, it will only take 20% of US citizens shifting 80% of their economic support away from the status quo. Suddenly shifting spending from major chains to local stores, permanently, would ensure those corporations no longer have the money necessary to support their expansion. If 20% of defence contractor employees, or other high status quo corporations, were to quit and start up their dream small businesses, the government would no longer have the weapons it needs to spread its control across the planet.

If this is copied across the Western Empire, that empire will crumble forever. That crumbling will not be a dark age, but rather the first flowering of a new Renaissance: the corporate profits which are presently sucked off into the black hole of perquisites and performance bonuses would instead build communities; the resources poured into war machines would go toward building up the poorest of the poor.

It will only take a determined few of us to effect real change, but that change will neither be easy, nor from within the system. We must change the system from without. The tools for this change are simple: boycott the system, boost the community.

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Posted in: Activism, Reform