By Lawrence B. Glickman
Faraway from ephemeral patron traits, paying for eco-friendly and heading off sweatshop-made garments symbolize the latest issues on a centuries-long continuum of yankee buyer activism. A sweeping and definitive heritage of this political culture, purchasing strength lines its lineage again to our nation’s founding, revealing that american citizens used paying for strength to aid reasons and punish enemies lengthy earlier than the observe boycott even entered our lexicon.Taking the Boston Tea celebration as his place to begin, Lawrence Glickman argues that the rejection of British imports through progressive patriots inaugurated a continuing sequence of patron boycotts, campaigns for secure and moral intake, and efforts to make items extra commonly available. He explores abolitionist-led efforts to eschew slave-made items, African American buyer campaigns opposed to Jim Crow, a Thirties refusal of silk from fascist Japan, a variety of modern boycotts, and rising routine like reasonable exchange and gradual nutrition. Uncovering formerly unknown episodes and studying well-known occasions from a clean standpoint, Glickman emphasizes either swap and continuity within the lengthy culture of purchaser activism. within the strategy, he illuminates moments whilst its multifaceted trajectory intersected with fights for political and civil rights. He additionally sheds new mild on activists’ dating with the shopper flow, which gave upward thrust to lobbies just like the nationwide shoppers League and shoppers Union in addition to ill-fated laws to create a federal shopper defense Agency.A strong corrective to the proposal purchaser society degrades and diminishes its citizenry, purchasing strength presents a brand new lens by which to view the historical past of the us.
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Additional info for Buying Power: A History of Consumer Activism in America
Even as they have vested extraordinary power in individual consumers, a majority of consumer activists have at the same time denigrated the self and its desires, along with the practices of consumption that mediate that relationship. This strand of thinking holds to the original meaning of consumption as destruction, and emphasizes the dangers of consumption, usually in both personal and social terms. Adherents of this mode of consumer activism have understood consumption as generating unvirtuous, immoral people and injustice.
Indeed, one of the leitmotifs of this book is the internal contestation that has characterized almost every boycott campaign. External critics of consumer activism existed as well. Often, these were critics of the cause as much as of the tactics of consumer activism, but they typically justiﬁed their opposition by condemning consumer politics as immoral, un-American, or both. For example, shortly after the labor movement developed a set of consumer tactics in the late nineteenth century—quickly dubbed the “labor boycott”—their opponents in law and business developed antiboycott leagues, which not only condemned the causes for which labor stood, but successfully deﬁned the tactic as illegal.
Thus, they emphasized honor and dishonor and sought to wear emblems of their support and to physically show their enemies to be dishonorable, most famously through the threat of tar and feathers. Nineteenth-century consumer activists, the ﬁrst generation to accept the Smithian revolution in economic thought, understood consumption essentially as we do today, as the purchase of a good or service. For them, the politics of consumption therefore had less to do with the use or nonuse of a good—although this too was important—and more to do with the prior, and to them fundamental, act of its purchase.