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Conflicting Views on the Boycott

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The October issue of Labor, the monthly organ of the British Trades Union Congress and the Labor Party, contains a very interesting article on the boycott of Nazi Germany, which describes the different ways of carrying out the boycott and gives a list of the most important goods concerned. Regarding the pros and cons of the boycott, the article says:

On the face of it, this policy might appear to provoke certain objections. For instance, do we want to establish a precedent which might be used to justify the boycott of a newly established Socialist State? Might it not prove to be a dangerous expedient, suggestive of reprisals? Will it not involve the suffering of the innocent with the guilty, including the very victims we wish to help? Regarded from the ethical point of view, is it not doing evil that good may come? Furthermore, can the individual do anything commensurate with the inconvenience to himself? Is he not too infinitesimal a factor to count in large political and economic movements? Lastly, may we not bring more unemployment down upon ourselves, if Germany should retaliate?

As for the establishment of a precedent, I think we need not consider that. For one thing, the expedient is not a new one; it has been tried on many occasions before, with or without advertisement, and the boycotts which have not announced themselves as such, but have depended on the incitement of mass hatred which will find its natural outlet in an avoidance of the goods of the country in question, have often been very effective indeed.

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