Manifesto for a global economic boycott of the empire


[Translated from the Spanish by Alistair Ross]


At last, with the fearful inevitability of a Greek tragedy, Washington’s murderous warriors have sown the ancient land of Iraq with the seeds of death. Nothing it seems can assuage their thirst for revenge – not the fierce objections of some European governments, not the opposition of the UN Security Council, and least of all the spectacular wave of pro-peace demonstrations world wide.


Much has been said in the past few weeks about the illegal nature of this obscene war, which explicitly breaches international law. This is undeniable, but it really does no more than underline a more permanent historical truth – namely, that the course of world affairs has never been guided by law but by the power of the strongest. All the rest – leagues of nations, international courts, human rights declarations, that is fine words – is simply the rhetoric that provides a smokescreen for reality. Whenever such principles are invoked as a bridle on actions contrary to the common good, the response is invariable: violence.


The fact is that empires arise, flourish and eventually decline. It happened to Rome, to Spain and to Britain. Today, the United States occupies the space that others once did. The means of governance have not changed – only the rhetoric. There is no longer talk of civilizing savages or converting them to the word of God; now, the empire follows a policy of fire and sword to impose its own peculiar version of democracy or to free the unfortunates from whatever dictator is in power, coincidentally achieving control of foreign natural resources that Washington needs to survive. To that end, the present empire has built up the most monstrous array of weaponry of all time and will not hesitate to use it whenever it suits. The attack on Iraq is the latest example.


But arms are simply a spearhead to clear the way so that the civil troops can advance unimpeded and occupy strategic positions. Because what this empire ultimately seeks is not violence for its own sake but total control of the world economy. The civil troops are US multinational corporations, among which the audio-visual purveyors of ideology – with Hollywood at the head – have a special role. In the long run they are more deadly than bombs in that they produce a gradual and insidious change in the cultures of the colonized nations, which eventually become unwitting and servile pawns of that power.


Rebelión now addresses the cyberspace community with a proposal for a global economic boycott of the United States (www.rebelion.org/economia/030325boicot.htm). The purpose of this article is to constitute a manifesto and to appeal to right-thinking people – that is, most of the human race – to boycott (selectively and as far as they are able) imperialist US products, from fast-food restaurants to canned drinks, from films propagating imperial ideas to cars that help enrich the automobile industry of Detroit, from credit cards to household appliances, from all-powerful and dictatorial record labels to oil companies that sell bloodstained gasoline. A huge percentage of US profits comes from markets outside the USA. In the long run, the best way to damage this parasitic economy and help promote peace is to refuse to buy imperial products. We are calling for a change in consumer habits, but this cannot be pro-tem – it has to be sustained over the long term.


We now call on committed anti-imperialists from whatever culture to spread this manifesto and translate it into as many languages as possible. And we ask them to call on people to carefully select the US products identified for boycott and to get the message out to all points of the compass. Friends, it is time to get to work!






Boycott US products


If you don’t like wars,
consume for peace


Rebelión


The language of war is sweeping our planet. For years most of the messages issuing from governments and major media have been identifying new enemies who supposedly threaten our well-being.


The dynamics that led to two world wars, and indeed to most wars, seem to be recurring: a stirring up of hatred for all that is different, a culture of violence and an intensification of militarism. And in the end, as always, millions of people are exterminated, civilians and military alike – in short, human beings.
Whoever the enemy, whether real or fabricated, there is always plenty of business for the countries and corporations engaged in the manufacture of weaponry, which generally supply arms and materiel to all sides in the conflict. In point of fact, 70% of the weapons being used in all the various wars are made by the United States.


As if that were not enough, the USA has raised its military budget so that it now accounts for 40% of world military spending. The aim is to be able to intervene whenever and wherever it wishes, and on whatever pretext it sees fit, including the option of nuclear attack.
The entire US military industry, which is of enormous economic importance, is working at full capacity and needs to sell its products come what may to avoid any slowdown of production in one of the most profitable businesses on the planet.


The mild misgivings of some governments in other countries and the protests of many citizens at this dynamic does not appear to affect or worry a complex of politicians and large corporations who understand only the language of money.


With the warmongers now invading Iraq, we need to organize and spread other kinds of resistance that will directly hit the pockets of those who underwrite the arms business and profit from wars.


In a world where consumption is king and corporations and capital flows go wherever there are profits to be made, we as citizens and consumers can influence corporate practices in a new way.


The act of consumption can become a new form of resistance, and one that is very hard to combat. A lot can be done without a great deal of effort. For a start, we should all seek to behave in a way that is consistent with our ethics – after all, what is the point of demonstrating against the war while daily buying the products of firms linked to the arms business?


We should first spend a little time on selecting what we buy; with practice it will become easier. Given two comparable products, simply choose the brand that has no links to war. If they are all linked to war, look at a different kind of product even if it is a bit more expensive.


We cannot possibly expect everyone to stop buying certain products, but for big corporations a 10% fall in profits is a serious blow.


We have selected a number of firms which we believe are significant given their world-wide presence. However, there are more and we hope that other individuals and groups will join in the task of investigating, denouncing and spreading the word about them. It will also be important to identify the brand names under which these firms’ products are retailed.
As regards US corporations, in response to the war on Iraq we have also included multinational corporations not directly involved in the arms industry. This is because we believe it necessary to target any enterprise that could put pressure on the US government to stop the war.


See the table of firms

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