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Ah, capitalism and communism, hand in hand (Criticism)

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Thursday, October 10, 2019, 10:09 (62 days ago) @ Claude Errera

Boycotts are too often (mostly painless) gestures done to appear virtuous to those who already agree with you, and these days no one seems as interested in talking to anyone who isn't already on board your train.


Just wanted to throw in a slightly different perspective here: while it's true that this can be what boycotts are about... often, they're just a personal way to 'save your own soul'. (That's in quotes because I'm not assigning any religious significance to it here.)

For example: I boycott Exxon because of the Valdez spill; I have since it happened. I don't tell people I'm doing it, I don't talk about it - so it's not an attempt to 'appear virtuous', it's simply my way of keeping myself from supporting a company that did something unforgivable (in my eyes). (I don't use BP for similar reasons.) I feel better about myself by not giving money to companies that have committed what I believe to be egregious sins.

(To be clear: in both cases, the accident by itself isn't what caused me to stop using the product - it's either HOW it happened (drunk pilot for the Valdez), or how the company responded (unwillingness to admit the problem for far too long for Deepwater). Lots of oil companies have spills; if my rule was 'if you have a spill, I won't buy gas from you', I wouldn't be able to buy gas.)

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that virtue signaling isn't the only reason to boycott a company, and so the fact that convincing those who don't share your views is the 'hard work of change' shouldn't discourage people from withholding money from companies whose moral code clashes too strongly with your own. I know that my choice not to purchase gas from Exxon or BP has ZERO effect on either company's bottom line. I don't really care; I simply know that I sleep a little better knowing my money isn't going to them.

Perfectly valid. For the same reason I've avoided Exxon myself except in emergencies. Maybe it comes down to what we mean by often. Surely, the kind of personal boycott you're talking about happens more often, but I was thinking of the kinds of boycotts that make the news or proliferate on social media--the explicit purpose of those boycotts is to facilitate change. I like to think good arguments win, consensus leads to a more stable peace, and so on. Building consensus is the hard work, listening to differing views, finding common ground, perhaps even compromising a little. I feel like many organized boycotts are simply team-building exercises for people who think alike, which feels good for sure, but maybe isn't that effective for changing minds.


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