Boycott coalition products

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I've been feeling pretty helpless lately. The war is hard to swallow. What can I do?

Protests do nothing to sway the madmen who are running the show. They couldn't care less if a 100,000 people wave banners peacefully or play dead in the streets.

I have no Congressmen to appeal to, and even if I did, Congress gave up its power regarding wars to the president after 9/11, if not before, but that's another blog.

I could write articles (well-reaasoned or ranting) about how wrong the war is, how it hurts the stability or the entire world, how foolish I think Bush is. How America is going down the tubes. But there are scads of them out there all being read by people who agree. It's like preaching to the choir.

boycott.gifBut I can do something.

I will boycott American and coalition products.

Maybe a boycott will gain the attention of the corporations that usually wield so much power. Perhaps they can pressure the coalition into stopping the war.

At first, I thought this might be a no-pain gesture for me, since I live in another country anyway. Then I started to think about it, and there's more American, Britsh and Australian stuff in my life than I expected. So no more American junk food, no British tea or Australian cookies. No Autralian wines. No properly-sized American clothes. No new computer hardware or software. No English-language books or movies.

We could sell off our American-based investments. Not that it would make much of a difference to the market, but it might feel good. There are other places to put our money.

I could take it a step farther and stop using what American things I already own--but that would mean no computers. And I'd be going around more or less naked. Since I like being dressed in public and I like working, I have to think more about that before acting.

But it's an empty gesture if I'm the only one doing it.

If lots of people take a small stand against American and coalition economics, then there's some power there. On the other hand, it's probably futile. But it makes me feel a little better and a touch more powerful, so I'm going to do it anyway.

And I'm not the only one. There are quite a few similar boycotts going on around the world. They take a lot of different forms--boycotts of big brands only, not watching TV, boycotting oil companies and defense contractors, avoiding American entertainment and fast food.

Boycott Brand America 33,000 people
Boycott lists from an Aussie peace group
Consumers Against War in Germany
Boycott Bush

I think this is a gesture that you can make at a level of self-sacrifice that feels right to you. Care to join me?

12 Comments

Writing to your congressman and senator, who have the power to cut off funding for the war, is futile, but boycotting Apple and selling your UK shares is not? Why?

Considering the huge numbers of people, including many farmers, and the fact that most workers unions in Australia have spoken out against the war I will continue to support them by buying Australian products. They already have to foot the bill for this war - why penalize them twice?

Besides give up Australian wine?

*shudders*

I don't have a congressman or a senator to write to. I don't live in a state or maintain an abode anywhere in the US. As an expatriate, I don't have Congressional representation.

Personally, I think Congress is a bunch of knee-jerk fools. So maybe a massive letter-writing campaign from the citizens would prompt some response. After all, they passed the US PATRIOT act in October 2002 to give their power to the President when he was screaming "war on terror." Maybe they'll take away his funding if the citizens scream "no war."

Go on and try it. It can't hurt.

Kuri-san,

Can't say I'm optimistic about it having much of an effect, but at least for tomorrow (already hit Starbucks today) I'm with you.

-Jason

Hi Kristen:

It's a horrible feeling to believe that this insanity can't be stopped: the war is the latest in a long list of bush blunders. I just joined Democrats Abroad Japan feeling the same way. When I asked John McCreery about activism and voting (he heads DAJ and is vice-chair of Democrats Abroad), here, paraphrased, is his response to my question (about all 3million(!) of us US expats using our power via voting):


"First, the Democratic Party treats Democrats Abroad as if we are a state. That's why we get to elect delegates to the National Convention and DNC. We don't have Congressional representation as Democrats Abroad.
What each of us does have, however, is a Representative and two Senators in the state in which we register to vote. So the quick answer is, "If you register to vote, you do have people in Congress to whom you can address your concerns." And, although it may seem so, Congress is not a single big blob. There are 537 individual Representatives and Senators. After the 2002 elections, Republicans hold the majority in both houses, so they are the ones making most of the news. On almost every issue, however, there are individuals who cross over and vote with the other side of the aisle. It was, for example, three Republicans crossing over in the Senate that cut Bush's tax cut in half in the Senate version of the bill."

I'm still learning what's possible with a political process I had just about given up on. Going to demos, writing in and signing petitions are all things I've been doing, and boycotting can join that list, but I want to see real, lasting, truly positive change for the future, so it seems voting is the way to go. The repugs have been able to do what they do 'cause so many people haven't turned up to vote them out of office (of course, part of their wins are due to machinations with the voting process itself, as we saw in 2000, so that's another issue), and so many conservative fundaments make sure their moral outrage is heard via voting. It's way past time for wiser heads to prevail, in my opinion!

I had some trouble linking, so I attached the expat voter assistance guide as my URL.

Not sure whether or not I'm voting for Dean, because it's too early to tell. But I had to agree when I saw his speech at the California convention: "I want my America back!"

Best,

Terri

PS: really enjoy your blog, btw.

There are more than three countries doing this... and perphaps you should boycott all things japanese as they have expressed their support to the USA.
I think that its blogs like Cerebral Soup with a brother on the line that remind me that these aren't metal soldiers on a map.
But stability isn't menaced. Its never existed. We are constantly on the brink of the unknown even more so now that we are in the age of nuclear warfare. There are very few places on this earth that have a stability they can worry about losing. Maybe what we're really saying is "don't menace MY daily, comfortable stability".

Regardless of whether or not a boycott would work, what I'm wondering is: If the coalition forces pull out of Iraq without removing Saddam Hussein from power what will happen? I agree no country has the right to decide whether the government of another country is good or bad, let alone go in and remove them from power, but I think most people agree Hussein's government is guilty of terrible atrocities against it's own people. Now that we've stepped in it shouldn't we clean it up?

MIchael, I didn't really lay out the details of how and what I'm boycotting, mainly because I haven't decided entirely yet. The obvious culprits are, of course, businesses that support the war and businesses that have the ear of the government (through lobbies, donations, and campaign contributions). Those are fairly well documented. Beyond that, I haven't decided quite how to proceed. One thing I will do is make consious choices and communicate them to the businesses whose products I've avoided. Becasue there's no point in making a stand in this way if you don't let people know about it.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Boycott Haliburton! Demand that captains of industry lobby congress and the president to change the policy! No soft money for warmongers!

Tracey, I understand your point about frustration very well. I have been protesting wars since Vietnam (as a child marching with my parents), and I've signed moveon.org petitions, attended rallies and stood in a candelight vigil in the rain to try to stop this one. It is a difficult thing to do, partly because our leaders are determined to proceed, but also because public opinion is divided, and we don't (yet) have a clear majority opposed to the war, at least in the US. So I completely understand the desire to find more effective means of protest.

I'm just not sure a broadly focused boycott is at all effective. By not buying a new computer, you undermine the profitability of Apple (say), but then what? Is it realistic to expect Apple to become an active opponent of the war? It seems to me that most US companies are not involved in the war in any real sense, incuding the ones who supported Republican candidates (they did so not to hasten an attack on Iraq, but for other reasons that were in theit corporate interest). I suspect very few companies are lobbying for this war, and most of them are out of reach of a consumer boycott.

A boycott is not free-of-charge to the boycotters. To avoid proscribed products, you need to pay more for something that is not exactly what you need. One must also consider the "collateral damage" of boycotts -- reduced revenues and profits lead to layoffs and a stagnant economy, which affects innocent civilians, and hits poor people harder than those with money in the bank.

Everyone is free to do what they want, of course. My only point is that it is wise to develop a view of how a set of actions will be effective before choosing them over other things you might do with your time and money.

Finally, saying "marching, signing petitions, writing letters and voting are all futile" is a particularly self-fulling form of cynicism. If everyone took that view, we would have no peace movement at all, and the warmongers would win in a cakewalk.

Here is helpful list of countries in the coalition. Boycott away!

Afghanistan Angola Albania Australia Azerbaijan Bulgaria Colombia Czech Republic Denmark Dominican Republic El Salvador Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Georgia Honduras Hungary Iceland Italy Japan Kuwait Latvia Lithuania Macedonia Marshall Islands Micronesia Mongolia Netherlands Nicaragua Philippines Poland Portugal Romania Rwanda Singapore Slovakia Solomon Islands South Korea Spain Turkey Uganda United Kingdom United States Uzbekistan

Speaking of people posting very late in regards to old blog entries... I thought this page from the Guardian's Notes and Queries might interest you: http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,5753,-24585,00.html

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  • Laga: Speaking of people posting very late in regards to old read more
  • Bob: Here is helpful list of countries in the coalition. Boycott read more
  • Michael: Tracey, I understand your point about frustration very well. I read more
  • Michael: Boycott Haliburton! Demand that captains of industry lobby congress and read more
  • kuri: MIchael, I didn't really lay out the details of how read more
  • Laga: Regardless of whether or not a boycott would work, what read more
  • Meenoo: There are more than three countries doing this... and perphaps read more
  • Terri: Hi Kristen: It's a horrible feeling to believe that this read more
  • Jason Cha: Kuri-san, Can't say I'm optimistic about it having much of read more
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