So, you’re going to refuse to buy something from company x, even though it would be to your immediate advantage to do so.

You want to “starve the beast,” or “refuse to support a company that ____.”

That’s nice.

NO ONE CARES.

Sure, if a small business has a handful of customers, and half of them stop buying in protest, you can really force an owner to re-think his policy. It’s standard procedure for leftists to bully mom and pop shops into baking lesbian wedding cakes, or run them out of business by smearing them as “racists” or “sexists” or some other offense to the People’s Revolution of Hand-Holding Vegan Transvestites. Happens all the time.

But a company operating in a national or global market isn’t going to notice if 1,000 radical weirdos switch brands of shampoo. Unless you manage to shame them in the mainstream media and your objection goes viral, no one will even notice. You’re a rounding error.

The beast won’t starve. The beast is still getting seconds, and dessert, and a nip off that dusty old bottle of port from the cellar.

Your refusal to open your precious little purse is not only pointless, it’s also reductive. If your critique of modernity is that it reduces us all to bank accounts and units of labor, then why reduce your protest of modernity to a financial transaction? You may say, “to hit ‘em where it hurts,” but since it doesn’t hurt, then why bother?

I understand not wanting to luxuriate in the tasteless decadence of Wal-Mart, but if they have the lowest price on something you need for your survival or to advance your own concerns — GO BUY THAT SHIT.

No shot-callers care about your personal boycott, which matters about as much as your fringe vote, so refusing to buy something you could use or paying more to buy it elsewhere is self-destructive asceticism at best, and vapid in-group social posturing at worst. You’re not starving the beast. You’re starving yourself, or starving your cause.

Use the system. Use it like a whore. Take what you want from it and leave the rest for the rats.

And what’s more — instead of boycotting, turn the whole thing around.

Don’t worry about withholding money from the people you don’t like. Concentrate on putting resources into the hands of people doing things you enjoy or believe in.

Don’t go out of your way to avoid buying something from a company you hate. Go out of your way to buy something from a company you like.

And don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. It’s good practice in Portland to assume that everyone I come in contact with is some kind of Progressive, if not a complete hippy fruitcake. If I worried about that, I could never support anything local. If they’re doing something I think is essentially good, but for all of the wrong reasons, that’s probably still better than most of the alternatives.

Money is only a means — a way to achieve an end. Withholding money is a passive-aggressive scold, not a positive path forward. If you want to exert a positive influence, instead of being a miserable bastard who is always against everything, show people in your sphere how you are using money as a means to support ideas that matter to you.

This, too, can be obnoxious once it catches on, as you well know if you’ve listened to SWPLs (or urban elves, as I call them) brag about buying recycled toilet paper or “free trade” coffee beans.

It does, however, seem to be more effective than bitching all the time, or financially handicapping yourself by refusing to buy trivial things at the lowest price.

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2 Responses to The Boycott is a Bourgeois Form of Protest

  1. […] He doesn’t use the term ‘buycott’, but that’s essentially part of what he’s arguing here. […]

  2. […] The uselessness of the boycott. […]