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Proletarian issue 21 (December 2007)
Letter: Boycott US goods
The rise of a single world superpower has created a grave situation in the world, a situation in which the lives of millions are threatened, either by military action or genocidal sanctions. Leading political figures in the US talk of a war on terrorism lasting 40-60 years, with numerous countries needing pacification by US-led forces.

The demand for resources acquired by military means will not abate with a change of US government. All criticism of US policies is either censored by the government, self-censored by the media, or subdued by threats to people’s lives or livelihood. The US has nurtured a climate of fear worldwide.

The collaboration between government and business is plain for all to see, and their joint activities blackmail many countries into signing away the resources of the people to these predators. The lists of countries involved, the lists of multinationals involved, the lists of the millions of people affected, would fill many volumes. What weapons do the poor have against this onslaught?

In France, a farmer Jose Bové started a protest against McDonald’s restaurants, as he felt they threatened the French way of life. In Kerala, India, farmers called for a boycott and applied direct action to stop Coca-Cola using local water to make their product, water that was needed for farming and everyday usage; their wells had run dry over a large area. In Colombia, trade unionists are calling for a boycott of Coca-Cola, because they accuse the company of funding paramilitaries who are killing trade unionists.

Of course, the boycott of South African goods during the Apartheid era is well known, and, to historians, the Indian boycott of British cotton goods is known as a weapon used during the struggle for independence.

During an interview of TV, Alastair Campbell let slip a gem of information: he said that the government assessed discontent by applying a factor of (10) ten to all demonstrations. I will not argue with him on this, so 2 million marching against the war on Iraq = 20 million; 30 million marching worldwide = 300 million.

Add to these figures the millions of discontented poor who see the US as their enemy and one has a huge grand total. Now estimate the purchasing power of these people: it is a phenomenal sum, even though almost impossible to calculate. A brief article that I read recently said that a state of Australia, or the Australian government, had passed a law making it illegal to call for boycotts on ethical or economic grounds. Well, what is happening in Australia to frighten businesses?

I propose that the CPGB-ML use its influence and its contacts here and worldwide to call for a boycott of US goods and services. I think that we should start by persuading the anti-war movements to adopt the call for a boycott, pointing out that US firms gain from US military actions. Hand in glove they massacre millions. Support for this call should be canvassed among trade unionists worldwide, communist parties, socialists, greens and nationalists and the muslim countries. How many millions of people have cause to oppose US policies, but cannot think of ways to fight back? A coalition of the oppressed can fight back – and become politicised in the process. The stress must be on activity against US government and big business, not the US population in general.

Propaganda for this call should incorporate pictures of US activities, Abu Ghraib etc, with captions questioning the ethics of USA policies. I believe that many US citizens would be sympathetic to the call for a boycott as they also suffer the results of US policies.

Thank you for your time in reading my proposal, I hope that it stimulates discussion and raises further ideas for people’s power.
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