Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Benefits of Boycotting . . .
Many of us today have forgotten the benefits of boycotting? Boycotting got a bad rep, so to speak, during the civil unrests in the United States in the 50's, when Martin Luther King, Jr. promoted boycotting practices among African Americans and was later assassinated much like Gandhi who was also a proponent of boycotting and the methods of both are closely linked. Let's look back at boycotting to truly understand its causes and benefits: the concept originated during the Irish Land War in the late 1800's when a wealthy landowner Charles Boycott imposed heavy tarriffs on his properties and in lieu of violent protest, the tenant farmers ceased all business dealings with the disingenuous landlord - giving way to boycotting as a social practice. Thus, began the history of boycotting in the industrialized nations and became an effective way of dealing with unfair economic practices and banning illegitimate production of goods to disadvantaged buyers. We are reminded once again of Kant's categorical imperative that we know well from this blog that dictates: act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. This is obviously ignored by many ruthless barons of the business world that extort and manipulate buyers to their advantage. Plainly put, this is akin to punching someone in the face for wearing a yellow shirt when you know that such an action cannot be turned into a universal law insomuch as it may bring chaos and upheaval to a civilized society - personal feelings aside, of course and instances of war. No amount of rationalization can dictate such an action that promotes the use of violence to undermine human freedom and our collective ability to reach mutual understanding under the pavilion of divine love, grace and mercy. Thus, the agents of this universal truth must be recognized for their ability to uphold such a message (police, firemen, teachers and social workers come to mind) and boycotting can facilitate their work when the balance of our spiritual lives is offset. We ascertain that Kant's categorical imperative is deeply rooted in religion. Boycotts have been very effective throughout history during the liberation movements in South Africa, India and the Arab world. Indeed, capitalism too breeds excessive greed and economic hegemony over the few and can sometimes go unchecked. Thus, boycotting can be very effective in banning products that are harmful to consumers and that ignore or trample their personal rights to be self-sufficient or deter self-determination. As a non-violent approach, boycotting is a truly noble action when one is faced with great economic hardship and oppression. But for an effective boycott to take place, one must truly believe in themselves and resist the temptation to boycott for boycotting's sake - it is arguable that the antisemitic boycotts during Nazi Germany were misguided. But boycotting can certainly undo and correct an oppressive business action to relieve social duress. This is a wonderful right and we must exercise it sparingly and wisely. Much good can be accomplished through boycotting and help communities to move forward and prosper. Let's not let the vague image of boycotting in America prevent us from studying this practice and utilizing it when necessary.