Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Reads Naomi Klein!

Rush Limbaugh raises the specter of boycotting GM because it is now owned by the government (and thus, the Obama administration). Not being a fan of boycotts in general, I'm not a fan of this one specifically, though I am curious why a boycott of American government-owned corporations would be less justified than a boycott of Israel (obviously Limbaugh's reasons aren't particularly strong, but would a similar boycott with more left-friendly motives pass muster?).

But let's put that aside, and instead parse this bit:
Limbaugh reassures any GM workers who might be listening that the boycotters aren't angry at them. "They don't want to patronize Obama. They don't want to do anything to make Obama's policies work!" he explains. "This is an untold story, by the way. Of course, the government-controlled media is not gonna report anything like this but there are a lot of people who are not going to buy from Chrysler or General Motors as long as it is perceived Barack Obama is running it, because people do not want his policy to work here because this is antithetical to the American economic way of life."

Klein, of course, likewise claimed that her boycott was targeted at the policies, not the people, which presumably is supposed to shield her from their ire and insure it is instead directed at the proper source. Now, raise your hand if you doubt GM workers are really going to care one flying fig that Limbaugh says he doesn't harbor any ill-will towards them, when it is their jobs that will be lost and their families who will suffer, and blame the Obama administration instead. Okay great. Now, anybody who thinks Israeli families will think differently, lower your hands. Everybody's hands should still be up.

Via Balloon Juice


chingona said...

Can you boycott anything? Would you buy a Ford if it was run by someone whose views matched those of the company's founder?

I don't buy Nestle products or eat veal. I was a vegetarian for 10 years. I'm sure Nestle employs lots of hard-working people, as does the meat industry. Am I wrong to withhold my money from them?

I really don't get the argument you're making here.

David Schraub said...

Do you expect Nestle employees to like you? If the goal was to persuade them (the employees) to press for policies more to your liking, do you expect them to see you as a friend and ally? If so, I think you're in for a shocking surprise. But fortunately, I don't think any element of a boycott Nestle campaign depends on the views of Nestle's workers in this respect, so you don't have to worry about it one way or the other.

What the Rush boycott and the Klein boycott have in common is that both are quite worried about alienating "the people" while they vent about the country -- both are concerned about how the boycotees will react as citizens. For Klein it's important because she wants the Israeli reaction to be favorable to her politics instead of backlashing; for Rush its because he doesn't want the entire autoworker sector to vote Democrat en masse. Both are equally delusional that their "it's nothing personal" protest is going to assist them in this regard.

Joe said...

Any boycotter of anything might well ask "so what?" The point of a boycott isn't about being loved; it's an economic power play meant to change the boycottee's conduct. And they do sometimes work, provided the pressure is great enough.

I'm not sure if you're making a moral case against boycotts generally, but if you are I think it fails because I don't see what claim any company or state has on my purchasing power to begin with. And while some people lose under a boycott, there are also winners. GM may have to lay people off, but that should mean boycotters will buy from another manufacturer who will be in a position to hire (or at least stop from laying off) more workers. So, in review, no net harm *and* no violation of rights.

David Schraub said...

I'm not making a moral argument against boycotts. I'm saying that, where "not pissing off the citizens/employees of the boycott target" is important to the goals of the boycotters (as Klein and Limbaugh both seem to recognize it is), then they're deluding themselves.

Normally, this isn't a consideration when boycotting a corporation (what the workers think of me has no bearing on the efficacy of my action);* boycotting a nation is a different matter, of course, because the fuckers have the right to vote.

* Limbaugh's boycott is an exception because it is political -- he's trying to express collateral political anger at the government, but doesn't want the workers of GM to vote against his preferred candidates. That's disanalogous to most other corporate boycotts.

ciamemoryhole said...

For a second I thought Rush actually read Naomi Klein... that would be something. Neither boycott will work, but it will make each of them feel better for a time.

Rebecca said...

And in fact, for some of us, if Rush Limbaugh wants us to boycott GM cars, that might me actually consider buying one!