As we all know, many corporations engage in all manner of anti-social behavior from mistreating their employees to employing Bangladeshi sweat shops where fires and other unsafe conditions kill scores of workers on regular basis to using their fortunes to contaminate the political process. In order bring errant—and often avaricious— corporations to heal, we must hit them where it hurts most: their bank accounts. Hated by Conservatives because it costs them the thing they value most—money, the boycott has, for many years, been one of the most effective weapons consumers had in their arsenal to force companies to behave ethically, operate responsibly, and avoid relationships—especially advertising sponsorships—with controversial and often, as in the case of Rush Limbaugh noxious characters. But while boycotts can be effective, they often take many months and even years to bring the targeted party to heel. So the question arises is there any way to make boycotts more effective and meet their goals outside of attended group protest events which need planning, capital, and participation which is often hard to muster?
Yes, I believe there is: Welcome to the Guerrilla Boycott.
What is the Guerrilla boycott you ask? The Guerrilla boycott works on two levels, on one level it denies the targeted organization income from the boycott participants, and on the second level it consumes their resources. In today’s world of hyper-marketing, we can take the boycott to this second level by applying the lessons of Ho Chi Min’s The Way of the Guerrilla Warrior and Che Guevara’s La Guerra de Guerrillas. The guerrilla warrior works behind enemy lines—silently, secretly, blending in with his adversaries, allowing no one to discover his true purpose. The guerrilla warrior is resolute, patient, alert, disciplined, and always seeking opportunities to attack. He embeds himself into his enemy’s network as a spy, a clerk, a servant, or a consumer. In this role he finds opportunities to undermine, confuse, and misdirect his foe, consuming his enemy’s resources wholesale. As Progressives we can use the guerrilla warrior’s techniques to undermine the big business money machine which has dedicated itself to acting against The People’s best interest.
The Pain of Loss
There are many ways to sap the resources commercial of operations while denying them your patronage. If you’re feeling bored and bit warlike, you can search for the business using your favorite search engine and click the target company’s sponsored links as many times as you like, knowing they’re paying for each click. To take things a step further, you can actually visit their web site—being certain to use one of their paid ads in any of the major search engine results or in your favorite social networking site—and join their mailing list. If they have a coupon mailing list that uses USPS services that’s best, but even sending electronic mail requires time and valuable processing resources. When you receive their marketing materials you can simply toss them in the trash bin or add the sending email address to your blocked/junk list. Or you can carry your attack one step further.
Make sure you claim any free items they may offer or by making a special shopping list which includes their loss leaders—items they sell below cost to generate traffic. Just be sure you confine your activity to the free and loss leader items. Don’t purchase anything else! Now you’ve not only denied them profit you’ve also cost them the money lost on the item and consumed resources from advertising to the checkout clerk’s wages. You can visit fast food outlets and request a cup of water, then buy nothing. If you have qualms about using the employee’s time in such tasks, just remember, they get paid the same to service paying customers as to honor your requests. And in many cases you’re working to improve their quality of life. And don’t attack the employees over their employer’s policies, Save that for management! To this list, you can add any other form of mayhem your imagination can conceive from complaining loudly in front of a crowd of other customers to making repeated calls to management. If you have a strong social network, you can even stage flash protests. Just be sure to get in and out faster than the store management—and local police—can respond. And be sure not to do anything that endangers anyone or that’s blatantly illegal. That is unless you don’t mind being escorted from the store or, worse, arrested or sued.
Catalogs and Free Samples offer another method you can use to cost these companies—especially the construction materials supply business owned by the Koch brothers. Among these businesses, sending out printed marketing materials, product catalogs and free samples is a regular part of their sales efforts. Often, their sales associates will try to follow up in order to make the sale. When they do, you can tell them you’ve decided not to do business with them due to their abhorrent policies. This is sure to create blowback from the sales staff and raise awareness among the organizations sales staff and management which can help drive positive change. So be sure to keep this in mind. When they see their marketing costs rising and their sales remaining flat, they’re sure to investigate why this is occurring. We will post information on how to make these requests as the boycott develops.
Prescription medications present a special case, but you can even apply the Guerrilla Boycott technique to Big Pharma. Here’s a trick my father uses and he never pays for prescriptions. When a doctor writes him a new prescription, he asks for a free sample and tells the doctor it’s the only way he’ll take the medication. So he leaves the doctor’s office with samples in hand. When the sample is gone, he calls the doctor’s office and tells them he’s out of the medication and needs to stop by and pick up more samples. Believe it or not they agree, and he drops by the doctor’s office and picks up a new supply from the front desk courtesy of Big Pharma. While this may not work for everyone, it’s worth a shot. Just think of the savings! And as an added bonus there’s the sweet taste of revenge when you stick it to the pharmaceutical industry instead them sticking it to you.
Right Wing Politicians, Super Pacs, & Groups
You can also apply the Guerrilla Boycott technique to Right Wing politicians, foundations, Super PACs, and groups. The Koch Brothers, Tea Party, and the GOP spend massive amounts advertising on search engines and social media in their endless search for suckers who’ll buy their dogma. Use any search engine to begin your guerrilla attack. Just search for the current target. Then you can run up impressions as well as click their ads until your fingers grow weary as you have of the Faux News driven GOP agenda. Once you’ve loaded the search results, right click (control click for Mac) the target organization’s paid link–hint these are at the top of the page or in the right sidebar–and select “Open in New Tab” from the context menu. When the site opens you can close it. Or you can take your attack to the next level.
Sign up for their mailing list. If there’s an option to receive traditional mail, be sure to choose it. When you get their email—and you will, add the return address to your Blocked or Junk list. When they call, add the number to your call reject or ignore list, but don’t opt out; for each call they make and each email they send consumes valuable resources they could use to contact supporters.
You’ll also see Right wing politicians, Tea Party, and other Right Wing groups ads in social media. Instead of blocking their ads, smile each time you see one knowing they just wasted some of their precious money.
If a thousand Progressives each did this ten times a day it could cost them additional tens of thousands per month. And if ten thousand Progressive do it each day, it could cost them hundreds of thousands or even millions each year and degrade their propaganda machine’s effectiveness.
Time is the most valuable resource. The more time they waste on those whose sole purpose consume their resources while providing no return, the less time they have to pay off their favorite Congress critters, build multimillion dollar homes with lakes, golf course and twenty car garages, and generally be leeches clinging to the ass of society.
It’s easy to get started. You can attack from the comfort of your home, office, or on the run with your notebook or smart phone with none the wiser. It will fill you with the delicious feeling of empowerment denied so long by their obstructionist handmaidens in Washington and state houses across the nation. Even better, Guerrilla Boycott tactics free money they’ve lined their coffers with during the last thirty years of Reaganomics and its attack on the poor and middle classes and puts it back into a monetary system starved by their avarice, providing quantitative easing and, perhaps, creating employment opportunities when they have to hire more people to market to, clean up after, and service customers who represent a net loss. That’s Job Creation we can all support!
If you’re looking for a place to start your Guerrilla Boycott, we’re creating list of deserving companies here. While we discourage everyone from doing business with all the companies on our list, each month we’ll feature an Offender of the Month and give them special treatment. We will include information you need to carry out your Guerrilla attack with the Offender of the Month. If you have a deserving candidate we missed, please send their name and website address to email@example.com. Also be sure to download our *.pdf list of companies that Have Cut Ties to ALEC and ALEC Sponsors and visit the ALEC Exposed website for in depth information about ALEC and its anti-social activities. These will give you information needed to reward the good and punish the bad.
We’re giving special attention to the Koch Industries companies. Politics USA has a great list of Koch companies on their Koch Block It page.
So, what you waiting for? Join a Guerrilla Boycott today-or start your own!