What we want you to do
1. Recognize that you have the ability, indeed, you are obliged, to implement your personal ethics through what you buy. Through your consumption, you should not support those companies which - among other things - destroy the environment, support dictators, destroy traditional cultures, engage in brainwashing, practice discrimination, abuse labor, and abuse and torture life. For example, if you would not deal with a murderer in your private life, you should not deal with the corporate co-conspirators of mass-murderers, the business partners of the dictators of the world, when you shop.
More generally, we encourage you to protest all unethical institutional behavior, and work to see that such institutions are held accountable for all of the costs - and not just financial, but social and environmental as well - of their actions.
2. Personally support the boycotts and protests described below, and encourage others to do so as well.
3. If you become aware of unethical institutional behavior, please contact us as described below.
What we intend to do
Dictator Watch understands that human social institutions are undergoing a process of evolution and that in many ways power is shifting from military and governmental entities to economic ones. We also recognize that the tactics of the latter, in their efforts to control us, the general population, are far more subtle and pervasive. We will oppose this new accumulation of dictatorial power in a number of specific ways, the first of which is via boycott and protest.
This campaign, to which anyone can contribute, provides a listing of the unethical actions of various institutions, and their social and environmental costs and other consequences. Please submit the names of any companies or other institutions which you know have behaved unethically, and which therefore should be the subject of public protests and boycotts. In support of your submission, please provide a description of the misdeed, and evidence which proves its occurrence, and which describes and (if possible) quantifies such costs and consequences. We would also request that you provide the contact information of the target organization, including for the specific individuals responsible for the misdeed (if you know who they are); and also a list of the goods and services it supplies, which can then be made the subject of a boycott.
The types of institutions on which we seek information include corporations, financial institutions, media companies, advertising agencies, government departments and agencies, supranational organizations, etc.
Also, for individuals actively seeking out instances of unethical institutional behavior, particularly by companies and which should be the subject of protests and boycotts Right Now, we suggest you read the Wall Street Journal. While not intentional, its daily review of the travails of different companies, and the potential impact of such problems on investors therein, also serves as a guide to Breaking News on unethical corporate behavior.
Lastly, as a message to the institutions which are placed on the list. Your best course of action, obviously, is to refrain from your unethical behavior, and to the best of your ability to correct your wrongs: to pay all of the costs of your actions and henceforth to become responsible social citizens. When Dictator Watch is convinced that such steps have been taken, you will be removed from the list.
Boycott and protest
(Note: see the following link for basic information on the companies listed below, including the address and phone number of their head office, the name of the chief executive officer, and the consumer and other products which they sell. Also, we would mention that you will greatly increase the impact of the voluntary action which you take as a consumer not to buy such products if you send a letter to the CEO explaining your reasons therefor. For a general guide to writing such a letter, please see the sample complaint letter from the Media and Advertising campaign.)
To start the list off, we want to encourage consumer boycotts of those companies which:
1. Destroy nature
2. Support mass consumerism
3. Promote mindless and conformist popular culture
4. Back political dictatorships
5. Pursue genetic engineering, cloning, and animal experimentation
6. And commit other specific unethical actions
1. Those companies which pursue the wholesale extermination of nature. We are opposed to all extractive industries, including oil and gas, mining, ranching and timber; the companies which design and construct roads, power lines and stations, pipelines and dams (and the equipment used therefor - Caterpillar!); and all commercial and residential development companies which further the spread of community sprawl.
- For many of these companies, there is no way to mount an effective boycott other than by reducing your own consumption, including of animal products, energy, products involving high-technology, automobiles, and new housing construction.
- Some specific companies, though, are targetable, including WalMart and Home Depot. The first fuels sprawl, and the second benefits from it. All other box stores similarly should be avoided.
- Related to this, and as a more general comment, we want to use boycotts to encourage the elimination of jobs that have to go. The last-gasp defense of many people who have destructive employment is that they are just trying to make a living. While we appreciate that everyone has to fund or otherwise provide for themselves, we are also certain that it is possible to do it in a way which benefits nature and the rest of humanity. While economic changes in labor distribution and prioritization can be disruptive on the individuals who are displaced, services for such individuals, starting with education and retraining for new employment are readily available. Each boycott that is described also includes a discussion of positions which, when considering all of their costs, have no positive economic utility. For this specific boycott, this includes the cutters of old-growth timber; large-scale commercial fishers, particularly driftnetters, push netters, and longliners; oil and gas roughnecks; many specific types of engineers, starting with civil engineers; the builders, architects and construction crews of most new construction; box store employees; and also the animal control specialists in the U.S. government department, Animal Wildlife Services, which hunt down and kill wild species at the behest of ranchers. (For example, every year they kill hundreds of bison which make the mistake of following ancient migration paths and wandering out of Yellowstone National Park.)
Needless to say, if you are just entering the job market, these are areas to avoid.
2. Those companies which are the leaders in consumer globalization, which through their practices seek the destruction of cultural diversity.
- McDonalds: the best symbol of unrestrained commercial globalization, which has become known as McDomination.
This boycott also extends to all other such fast food outlets. The question must be asked: why should you be in a rush with one of lifes most basic pleasures? And why substitute factory food for fine local cuisine? (It makes no sense at all, unless you have been brainwashed.)
- Nike: while Nike has used sweatshop labor in such places as Indonesia and Vietnam, the obvious starting point in any criticism of it is its advertising. This begins with its ridiculous symbol, which is seen on everything, everywhere. There are few things more absurd than encountering it on the school bags of children in the most remote corners of the world, bags which also say: Tiger Woods, and Just do it. This, on the backs of children who do not read English, or even use the same alphabet. It is called building brand recognition. We call it the destruction of local culture.
This goal - the destruction of local culture - can be easily understood as follows. All around the world thousands of distinct cultures have evolved. And as they did they developed their own distinct languages, and ways of thinking which such languages enabled; and structures, food, and clothing; and ideas about all manner of subjects, starting with religious or spiritual beliefs. The forces of globalization - the different types of social institutions which are responsible for it - want to eliminate all of these differences, all of this cultural diversity. According to them, everyone should speak the same language, and think the same; everyone should live and work in the same types of structures, wear the same clothes, and eat the same foods; and everyone should have the same beliefs, the faith therein, regarding the origin and purpose of the universe and life.
To return to Nike, this boycott also extends to the product known as Tiger Woods. While we will admit that he is very good at playing with little balls, we do not believe this is sufficient basis to earn universal adoration, or, for that matter, any adoration.
We would also comment that while we support excellence in physical endeavors, competitive sports - those which have been commercialized - are also worthy of boycott. Competition is one of the first links in the chain that leads to inequality and dictatorship. We should not support it and reinforce it in any way. Indeed, the next job that has to go is that of cool competitors, all of the athletes whom we are taught to idolize.
- Pepsi: Pepsico is again guilty on multiple accounts, from its abhorrent advertising - the young people in Pepsi ads are just so cool, dude, perfect poster children for the latest in brainwashed mass conformity; to its use of genetically-modified ingredients, starting with the corn syrup used as a sweetener in the beverage itself; to its now grudgingly retracted support for the Burmese dictatorship. Pepsi only divested from Burma when students at Harvard and Stanford protested the opening of Pizza Hut and Taco Bell outlets (formerly Pepsi subsidiaries) on their campuses. As far as we are concerned, this demonstrates the power of the boycott, and, for Pepsi, we do not believe that the company has truly reformed its ways or that justice has yet been served.
- Microsoft: This company is - and was found in a court of law to be - a monopoly. As occurred with AT&T, and earlier with Standard Oil, when the government defended us against monopolistic and predatory corporations, it should be broken-up as soon as possible. Bill Gates, the dictator of Microsoft, and his employees, continue to be belligerent in their attitude to all whom fall prey to their monopoly. Rather than accept the validity of the judgement against them, and reform their ways, they pursue their domination of computer software, and various aspects of the internet, with wild abandon. They are fundamentally unprincipled, and serve as perhaps the best example of all of the economic model upon which modern society is based, capitalism without ethical restraint, and which causes so many of its ills. Take a stand against Microsoft! Defeat your addiction. Get an Apple, or Linux. And do not use Internet Explorer, or any other M$ products. There are alternatives (Netscape!), and good ones.
Also, it is worth noting that the prevalence of computer viruses is due to Microsoft' monopoly. Having a position of total market dominance, they have no incentive to write tight code, which hackers would be unable to exploit. It is no surprise that most viruses exploit flaws in Microsoft's email and server software programs.
Lastly, we should mention that if you buy a copy of the Microsoft XP operating system, you have willingly agreed to be enslaved. How do the shackles fit? Are they comfortable? Do you like being dictated to, by a company which is supposed to serve you, and for which service you have paid a high price?
- Citigroup: I used to work for Citibank, now part of Citigroup. One time, when I was based in Stockholm, a small team of specialized funders - relationship managers - came through. They kept to themselves, so we were initially in the dark as to their identity and objectives. Later, after we learned that they had visited a number of Swedish armaments companies, we realized they were, effectively, arms dealers: a secret bank unit which financed the sale and purchase of war materiél. Other banks also engage is such activities, but it was distressing to see, in person, the actions of Global Money funding Global War. This is an institutional alliance the defeat of which should be at the top of our list. Citigroup has been faulted for many other acts as well, well beyond those of which I personally am aware. (For additional information, please refer to Rainforest Action Networks campaign against the company.) We recommend a boycott of all its operations and businesses.
Also, regarding the anecdote, this is of course an example of more jobs that have to go, including anyone associated with the military/industrial complex: arms producers and dealers, funders, the military itself, the police, and, for good measure, politicians, since they are the individuals who actually start most wars.
3. Those media companies which engage in public brainwashing. We encourage boycotts of glossy lifestyle, fashion and teen magazines, pop music stars (Brittany, and all her clones), and virtually all computer games, television programs and films. More generally, we want to encourage the rejection of all modern popular culture. One job category which definitely has to go is that of celebrity.
It is of course also critical to reject all symbols of modern culture, and of these we can begin with the word itself: cool. This word should be boycotted. Its use has been hijacked by the most uncool elements imaginable. No one who considers themselves to be what the word purports to describe should ever use it again. And, we should heap scorn on those who do.
4. Those companies which invest in, and thereby support, the remaining political dictatorships. For the military dictatorship of Burma, this includes:
(Note: In July 2003, the US passed the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act, which prohibits the importation into the United States of any goods from Burma. This was a huge success for the democracy movement, one that activists - including Dictator Watch - had worked on for years, and which also ended the need to pursue company by company boycotts. However, American companies with investments in Burma, largely oil companies, retain the right to pursue their operations. We therefore must continue the fight to have them expelled as well. (The sanctions implemented by the US in 1997 on new investments in Burma must be extended to all investments.) Also, this success only holds for the United States. European and Asian companies continue to invest in Burma, and to import goods from the country. The effort to end all the international trade that supports the dictatorship still has a long way to go.)
Consumer products - Apparel (source goods in Burma) - SUCCESS - see the above note
Burlington Coats - SUCCESS - announced will stop sourcing in Burma
Children's Place - SUCCESS - announced will stop sourcing from March 2003
Haband (mail order menswear)
Mountain Gear Corp.
David Peyser Sportswear (Weatherpro, MV Sport)
(have products for sale from Burma) - SUCCESS - see the above note
Federated Department Stores (including Bloomingdales and Macy's) - SUCCESS - announced will stop sourcing from September 2002
May Department Stores (Hecht's, Lord&Taylor, Strawbridges, Kaufmann's, Filene's) - SUCCESS - announced in March 2003 will stop sourcing
Saks Fifth Avenue - SUCCESS - announced in March 2003 will stop sourcing
in Burma, some made their also)
Suzuki (production in Burma)
DaimlerChrysler (not sold in Burma, but owns stake in Mitsubishi)
General Motors (not sold in Burma, but owns stake in Suzuki)
Tourism (have or
use facilities in Burma)
Abercrombie & Kent Tours
Mandarin Oriental Hotels
Other consumer (sourced
from or sold in Burma)
American Sporting Goods Corp.
Black & Decker
Crate & Barrel
Wilson Sporting Goods
Industrial - Oil
Premier Oil - SUCCESS - announced sale to Petronas of Malaysia
Amerada Hess (owns stake in Premier) - SUCCESS
Petronas (Malaysia) - bought Yetagun gas field and pipeline interest from Premier Oil
Halliburton (formerly run by Dick Cheney)
ChevronTexaco (owns Caltex)
Aon Corp. (Insures Myanmar Airlines)
Computer Services Corp.
For China, a number of
additional comments are in order. Dictator Watch believes that the leaders of
the Chinese dictatorship, of the Communist Party and the People's Liberation
Army, are the leading political and military threat the world faces, the enemy
of freedom and equality if ever there was one. (U.S. imperialism, particularly
under George Bush, is a close second, and in fact U.S. and Chinese autocrats
regularly work together.)
China must become a democracy. In some cases buying Chinese goods benefits small local producers, but in most it supports major state enterprises, and through them the dictatorship. In 2000, the United States had a trade deficit of $84 billion with China. A large percentage of this went directly to the dictatorship, and was used to fund the PLA, with which we have already had conflict and which we may someday have to fight in a concerted manner (the PLA has increased its defense spending at a rate mathched only by the U.S.); to create propaganda which demonizes us in the eyes of the Chinese public; and for all of the oppressive apparatus of the regime. The world, starting with American consumers, should boycott China, and help push its economy into a recession. Such economic conditions would help instigate social chaos within the nation, which is the only way that the dictatorship will be destroyed.
Also, we would note that whenever the U.S. does anything ethical regarding China, as with speaking out for human rights or the defense of Taiwan, the Chinese dictators and their media propagandists say that our relations will suffer. But, we do not want to have good relations with a murderous dictatorship. We want to oppose them, and help the people of China overthrow them.
China should not have United States Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status. It should not have been admitted to the World Trade Organization. And, it should not host the 2008 Olympics. As the banner of Free Tibet activists said: No Olympics in China before the liberty of Tibet. It should be remembered that many of the sports stars of China are actually sports slaves. Young girls and boys with athletic talent are forced to leave their families. They live in barracks, and are raised by the State. The granting of the Olympics to China was a dictator-to-dictator deal, a parting gift before retirement of the dictator of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch, to the leading political dictatorship on the planet.
Therefore, we are also calling for the elite athletes of the world to lead a boycott of the 2008 Olympic Games, and for consumers to boycott those companies which sponsor the Games or which advertise during its broadcast.
Of course, one might argue that a boycott of Chinese products discriminates against the ordinary people of the nation. In response to this, we have a question regarding such ordinary people. Are the people of China culpable for the crimes of their leaders? If you do not fight your nationss dictators, are you responsible for their actions? More generally, should you work to correct the wrongs of your society, or are you blameless if you care only for yourself?
Being human is a great challenge, and, it is a great obligation. To survive is not enough. One must live, and do it well, including surmounting any barriers that stand in the way. If you do not fight for your freedom, you will be a slave. If the Chinese people (and the American people) are unwilling to fight the repression to which they are subjected, they are effectively complicit with it. They (or anyone else) do not have the right to complain when we decline to do business with them.
5. Those companies which, without exercising any ethical restraint, and with concern only for the satisfaction of their own selfishness and greed, pursue the development of genetic engineering, cloning, and other related technologies (generally, anything that is known as biotechnology). Further, this extends to all companies which use animal exploitation and torture in the development of their products. Indeed, we believe that the executives and scientists of such companies will one day be found guilty of Crimes Against Nature.
- Du Pont
- Aventis (The Aventis CropScience unit, responsible for StarLink corn, has been sold to Bayer)
- Astra-Zeneca (The agro-chemical divisions of Novartis and Astra-Zeneca have been combined to create Syngenta)
We of course encourage the boycott of all products with genetically modified ingredients, starting with food products. And, we note that this should extend to the boycott of those companies which sell GM food anywhere in the world. For example, Nestle and Unilever do not sell GM food in Western Europe, because of the sophisticated opposition which exists to it there, but they routinely sell such products in developing nations, where such opposition has not been formed or is not yet strong.
Further, we note that the labeling of all products which contain any genetically-modified ingredients must become mandatory in all the nations of the world for such a boycott to be enabled. Such dictatorship - forcing GM upon us without our knowledge - must be eliminated.
For a discussion of the reasons why genetic engineering and related technologies should be avoided at all cost, and why they should be prohibited under law, please see this link.
Lastly, the common type of job that must go in these industries is that of animal experimenters - vivisectionists - who torture animals and who justify it by saying that the end, such as a new drug, justifies the means, the slow, painful deaths of thousands of intelligent, feeling animals, on which the drugs and also scientific theories are tested. (Many animals are put to death just to test an idea!)
6. Other specific unethical actions.
- Shell and Chevron: for support of the Nigerian government in its prior dictatorship and current corruption, including, for Chevron, through allowing the military to use company helicopters to fire upon, and murder, unarmed protestors.
- Occidental Petroleum: for exploring for oil in the ancestral homelands of the Uwa people in Columbia, in direct opposition to their wishes.
- Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic, all of which are owned by the Fisher family, which is involved in the logging of redwoods, and which companies have been found to use sweatshop labor (like Nike) to produce their goods.
© Roland O. Watson 2001-3