Monopoly Bookstore Chains and the inanity of moralism

W. Kiernan Wkiernan at
Thu Oct 22 19:45:47 PDT 1998

Carrol Cox wrote:
> K wrote:
> >
> > "Nathan ponders his childhood ....jesus christ on crutches!
> > Borders is a union buster fer cryin' out loud Borders is a union
> > buster!"
> This is an inanity, in fact a very vicious one, that those of us who
> suggested only *organized* boycotts need be honored, that personal
> boycotts were at best non-political, a mere private fancy. Now we see
> that such private fancies, raised to the level of (naturally
> super-moralistic) principle are anti-political, sources of disunity
> and the destruction of solidarity, for they lead to such fucking
> idiocies as K's personal attack on Nathan.
> *Every* corporation is a union busting company. K reminds me of those
> anarchist *idiotes* (private persons) of the 60s who wanted to live
> "outside" capitalism on some communal farm in the hills of Arkansas.

Hello Carrol!

I asked you about this earlier and you didn't answer me. I don't get it. I DON'T GET IT. WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY do you say:

> ...only *organized* boycotts need be honored, that personal boycotts
> were at best non-political, a mere private fancy...

If I hear about a reactionary CEO or a union busting company and decide to refuse to give them my money, why in Hell should I wait until some guy with a organized publicity apparatus performs his magic "Everybody, Simon says!"?

Sure, obviously a boycott is more tactically effective if you spell it out for the management and stockholders. Conceivably, if they knew, they'd change (sure, fat chance, but occasionally it does happen.) But wouldn't it be ideal if bunches of people would spontaneously boycott especially greedy CEOs or particularly crummy corporations, without there even being the necessity to first organize and publicize a structured boycott? Isn't this "private fancy" a tendency you'd encourage, not disparage?

I'm not saying you're wrong. Instead I'm admitting right up front that I'm too stupid to grasp to this theorem of yours, which seems to me totally anti-intuitive. No kidding, if you've got the time and patience, I'd really appreciate it if you explain this idea to me in monosyllables.

That's another separate case when you're talking about one leftist flaming a second leftist because Leftist #2 isn't obeying some implicit (not formally declared) boycott. That's testiness, or bad manners, or else maybe sneering over his regrettable ignorance.

I read an anecdote once about some front-line Marines in WWII: a couple clean-dressed rear-echelon guys, what they called in Vietnam "REMFs," stroll past their position. One turns and asks, "Say, buddy, where's the front-line?" Only then does one of the Marines, laughing, say, "You just passed through it, Mac." Funny I guess, but you lose the war if you keep that up.

By the way, Comrade Carrol, I do believe I overheard you call Comrade "K" "idiotic." Tsk, tsk, tsk.

> *Every* corporation is a union busting company.

You're wrong. Some companies respect unions; they may fight them tooth and nail, still they negotiate with the unions. Other companies bust unions; that is, they refuse to even meet union officials, and they promptly fire all the workers who combine in union action. There's one Hell of a difference there. Union busting is a specific thing: when management exercises its imperial prerogative to one-hundred-percent dominate the workplace. The mechanism is, management gets to work effectively together as a team, while the employees are forced to act individually, atomically, reducing their alternatives to, "You don't like it? Leave."

Anyway, union or non-union, some companies suck way worse than others and you know it. If you say, "they're all the same," and if you honor any one boycott, then it seems to follow logically you should boycott ALL companies. That leaves you no alternative except to run-n-hide away from capital altogether down on that ol Arkansaw hog farm.

> > Borders is a union buster fer cryin' out loud Borders is a union
> > buster!"

Thanks for the tip, "K," I didn't know. (Now flame me for being so out-of-it.) Although I prefer used book stores, I happen to have given that company a pretty pile of cash already, I even bought their overpriced lousy coffee once or twice, but now those f***ers won't get one more cent of mine. My kids like it when I take them there, but there are plenty of other bookstores, and I'll buy coffee at McDonald's. I'll be damned if I'll wait for some organization to print up pamphlets first.

Can you, or anyone reading, document Borders's anti-union moves? Maybe there's a web site? It's not that I don't trust you, but first, I want some grounds to sell this to my friends and cow-orkers. Then also, I want to send Borders a nice personal printed letter, explaining how they lost my business, and what all they'd have to do to get it back. A pack-rat saves all my receipts in a box; I'll Xerox all my Borders receipts for the last couple of years and that'll make an appendix for the letter.

Yours WDK - WKiernan at

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