portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts global

corporate dominance | economic justice | imperialism & war

Let the Worldwide Boycott of America Begin

Notes on post-election strategy.
The U.S. election is simply unacceptable. No president, no matter how
large the vote, has any authority to commit war crimes, to destroy
cities from the air, to create inhuman prison systems beyond the rule of
law, to violate the sovereignty of states.
The Role of Boycotts in the Fight for Peace
By Paul Rockwell
CommonDreams.org

Thursday 18 November 2004
Notes on post-election strategy.
The U.S. election is simply unacceptable. No president, no matter how
large the vote, has any authority to commit war crimes, to destroy
cities from the air, to create inhuman prison systems beyond the rule of
law, to violate the sovereignty of states. No franchise anywhere
entitles any leader to subjugate foreign peoples, or to violate
international law. Far from being a democratic "mandate" for Bush, the
election is a mandate for world-wide resistance. As James Madison wrote:
"Elective despotism is not the government we fought for."

Notwithstanding the consensus of defiance, questions of strategy remain
to be addressed. How and where and by what means do we carry on the
fight for peace? Do we continue to work within deformed, money-drenched
elections? Or do we move into a new phase of direct, economic actions?

At the turn of the 20th century, when imperialism was in its ascendancy,
British economist J.A. Hobson, wrote: "Consumption alone vitalizes
capital and makes it capable of yielding profits...It is idle to attack
Imperialism or Militarism as political expedients or policies unless the
axe is laid at the economic root of the tree."

No country is more market-driven, more intertwined with foreign commerce
and trade, more dependent on the good will of workers and consumers,
than the United States. Its war machine depends on parts produced in
foreign countries, and there is growing feeling throughout the world
that farmers, entrepreneurs, workers and consumers should do unto the
U.S. what the U.S. does unto others.

As peace organizations formulate strategy and co-ordinate actions, the
teachings of Arundhati Roy, the most visionary and sagacious strategist
on the world stage, take on immediate significance.

In her address at the World Social Forum in Porte Allegre, Brazil,
January 27th, 2003, Roy put out a call for a new strategy of
non-cooperation. Steeped in the traditions of Gandhi, Roy's books and
speeches emphasize the economic vulnerability of the U.S. empire.

"The U.S. economy," she writes, "is strung out across the globe. It's
economic outposts are exposed and vulnerable. Our strategy must be to
isolate Empire's working parts and disable them one by one. No target is
too small. No victory too insignificant."

"We could reverse the idea of economic sanctions imposed on poor
countries by Empire and its Allies. We could impose a regime of People's
sanctions on every corporation that has been awarded a contract in
post-war Iraq. Each one of them should be named, exposed and
boycotted-forced out of business. It would be a great start."

Weekend protests, Roy tells us, are not enough. "What we need to discuss
urgently are strategies of resistance...Gandhi's salt march was not just
political theatre. In a simple act of defiance, thousands of Indians
marched to the sea and made their own salt. It was a direct strike at
the economic underpinning of the British Empire."

"Already the Internet is buzzing with elaborate lists of American and
British government products and companies that should be
boycotted...They could become a practical guide that directs and
channels the amorphous but growing fury in the world."

For Roy, it is not enough to communicate ideas, to write letters to
Congress. "We must make it materially impossible for the empire to
achieve its aims." She does not ignore elections. But she believes that
"Free elections, a free press, and independent judiciary mean little
when the free market has reduced them to commodities available for sale
to the highest bidder...The machinery of democracy has been effectively
subverted."

The Pending World-wide Boycott

All over the world, peace and anti-globalization movements are preparing
to put Roy's concepts into practice. They are calling for a new kind of
strategy to end the occupation of Iraq: a well-organized, sustained
boycott of U.S. and British goods. In its range and scope, the coming
boycott (including divestment from U.S. corporations) could resemble the
historic boycott of South African apartheid.

The theme of the boycott, unencumbered by riders or secondary demands,
is clear and simple: end the heinous occupation of Iraq. The boycott
will not subside until all U.S. and British troops are withdrawn from
the sovereign soil of Iraq; until all U.S. military bases are
dismantled; until all U.S. corporations on Iraqi soil are closed down.

Boycotts have often changed the world. The American Revolution began
with the Boston Tea Party. The non-violent movement that brought down
the British Empire included Gandhi's boycott against British textiles.
The Montgomery bus boycott launched the civil rights movement. The
United Farm Workers in the U.S., led by Caesar Chavez, were unionized
through laborious national boycotts of lettuce and grapes. And of
course, the international boycott of South Africa played a vital role in
bringing down the system of apartheid.

Spontaneous Boycotts Are already Happening

Sporadic and spontaneous boycotts, local in form, have been taking place
in cities throughout the globe. National Public Radio (U.S.) reports
that thousands of Europeans, repulsed by the election of Bush, are
refusing to buy American goods. One placard in a Paris window says:
"Promote peace. Don't buy American." According to Pulitzer Prize-winning
journalist Seymour Hersh, Europe is simmering. "You're going to see
American profits disappear. American corporations are going to be in big
trouble. It's going to be a mantra not to buy American. All our major
manufacturers are reporting major slowdowns in Europe. You're going to
see the dollar disappear."

The boycott is spreading. Greenpeace is already involved in a boycott
against Exxon-Esso and Mobil Oil. Fermiamo La Guerre, a coalition of
peace groups in Italy, called for a boycott of Esso when the U.S.
invasion commenced. Sales of Pepsi and Coca Cola have plummeted in the
Mideast during the occupation, and Islamic nations are creating
alternative cola drinks called Zam Zam and Mecca Cola. Iran banned ads
for U.S.-manufactured goods. South African protesters in Cape Town
demanded that Denel, a South African contractor, cancel all its
contracts to supply military components to the U.S. war machine. The
people of South Africa are well aware of the power of boycotts. As South
Africa Indymedia put it: We must "take aim at the only thing that can
bring Bush to his knees-the American economy."

In the capital of Pakistan, the bustling Jehangir restaurant has taken
U.S. soft drinks off the menu. "We only serve Pakistani drinks," one
waiter said in an interview with Inter Press Service. "We don't serve
Pepsi or Coca-Cola or any other American soft drinks anymore." Fast-food
chains-Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken-are under a boycott in
Pakistan. As one member of the Islamist Party said: "We must stop buying
anything American or British. We must hurt American interests as much as
possible."

The Myth of U.S. Invincibility

Mussolini once said there is no greater sin than looking weak. All
empires sustain themselves through a mystique of invincibility. The U.S.
is no exception. Its leaders now choose their words-"Shock and Awe,"
"Operation Iron Hammer"-to cow the timid.

But all of its nuclear weapons, all of its attack helicopters and B-52s,
its power to turn mosques, hospitals and cities into rubble; all of its
tanks, cluster bombs, computers and depleted uranium, cannot protect the
U.S. empire from the ubiquity and power of non-cooperation. The U.S. may
post soldiers at its foreign bases. It may continue to bribe foreign
officials, to blackmail foreign governments. But its economic outposts,
from Starbucks to Disneyland, from Hollywood films to corporations that
advertise on Fox "News," are open and vulnerable. It is the U.S. that
depends on the people of the world-on their land, their oil, their
skills and labor, their buying power and good will-not the people of the
world who depend on the U.S. That is the key insight for peace
strategists of our time.

The U.S. empire is weaker than its neo-cons dare admit. Laborers and
farmers and entrepreneurs are stronger than they realize.

Spontaneous boycotts, however, are rarely effective. Without
organizational support, long-range planning, creative tactics and
publicity, boycotts lose momentum. Successful boycotts require
leadership. They're arduous struggles that last for years. When the
leaders of the peace movement are ready to seize the time, prepared to
unleash the power of non-cooperation, the darkness and despondency of
our post-election days will fade.

Christmas, the most commercial season of the year, will soon arrive.
Under Bush, Christmas is a time to make war and shop. But for us, it is
the time to make peace and boycott.

Gandhi wrote: "Non-cooperation with evil is as much a responsibility as
co-operation with good."

Let the boycott begin.


Paul Rockwell is a columnist for In Motion Magazine, among other
journals. He can be reached at  rockyspad@hotmail.com.

 http://www.truthout.org/docs_04/printer_112004J.shtml

Also: buyblue.org

 http://www.dailykos.com/story/2004/11/21/1256/4546
Itís already begun 29.Nov.2004 18:23

Red neck

Been going on for a few years now, It looks like it's snowballing.

"American corporations are in danger of suffering a major shift in purchasing habits as nearly 20% of foreign consumers say they'll avoid select U.S. products due to America's position on foreign affairs, according to the latest poll by independent global market research company GMI, Inc. ( http://www.worldpoll.com).

The GMI World Poll reveals that people in China, Japan, Germany and other industrialized Western nations are less willing today to purchase American brands ó notably Starbucks, Marlboro and Mattel ó or fly American-based airlines than before the Iraqi invasion and the United States' unilateral foreign policies. More than half of those surveyed cite an increasingly negative perception of the U.S., while 67% believe U.S. foreign policy is guided by "self interests" and "empire building."

"GMI's World Poll clearly indicates the rest of the world views America's intervention in Iraq as arrogant and selfish," said Princeton University Professor Douglas S. Massey with the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. "Because of their anger and frustration, they are consciously considering changing their buying habits," continued Massey. He added that continued unilateral action on the part of the U.S. will not only "isolate it politically, but economically as well, depressing worldwide demand for American products and services."
 http://www.the-hamster.com/mtype/archives/2004/10/bush_foreign_po.html

This is from last February
"Foreigners shouting anti-Bush slogans are one problem; foreigners refusing to buy American products - that's real trouble.
Worried that anti-Americanism will hurt U.S. companies' brand image and sales, a group of business leaders has banded together to figure out how to reverse the trend.
"There is a definite cooling toward American culture," said Keith Reinhard, chairman of advertising company DDB Worldwide and the founder and chairman of Business for Diplomatic Action. "It's widespread, and it's at the point where it's affecting the ability of U.S. brands - or shortly will affect the ability of U.S. brands - to compete effectively and expand freely."
American companies such as Nike and Citibank have found their stores or offices attacked. Terrorists bombed a Marriott hotel in Indonesia and planted a bomb outside IBM's Bologna, Italy, office. Anti-globalization protesters have launched boycotts and campaigns against global icons like Burger King, Coca-Cola, Gap, McDonald's, Microsoft, and Pepsi.
U.S. companies are trusted less because of mistrust of the government - a "trust discount," according Edelman Public Relations, which conducts an annual survey on brand images. Nearly two-thirds of French and Germans claimed they were less likely to buy U.S. products because of their dislike for American foreign policies.
In the Arab world alone, anti-Americanism costs American companies an estimated $9.4 billion a year in lost sales, according to a Washington research group."
 http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/02/22/biz_bizdiplomacy22.html

We Anti-globalization activist would like to thank Dubya. You've made our job so much easier.