This week we consider the link between nationalism and the economy, with special focus on the economic crisis. Our group thought it was interesting to focus on nationalist elements in consumerism.
The consumer is central to the success of an economy and can, when organized, use it to fulfill nationalist goals. In this blog we will present two examples that show two initiatives that link the nation with the economy. First, we have an example of ‘positive’ consumerism: ‘help Britain, buy British’. Our second case focuses on ‘negative’ consumerism, namely the ‘boycott Israel’ movement.
‘Help Britain, buy British’
Last week we asked you to pay attention to nationalist connotations in your local supermarket. As you might have noticed, there are numerous examples where the nation is linked to products, for example British chicken, British potatoes, Scottish mushrooms etc. What you might not now is that there is a major movement behind this phenomenon. The ‘buy British’ movement was started by the green movement to promote more environmental ways of delivering food to supermarkets. Over time, many reasons for buying British have been added. Examples are that buying British is safer because Britain has safer food laws, ethical production, fair wages and decent working conditions, security of supply, pride of ownership and pride of British capabilities and helping local farmers. The current economic crisis has linked buying British with helping the British economy recover. The article from the mirror, which actively campaigns for buying British, sketches an interesting link between buying British and helping Britain.
Jamie Oliver, Britain’s most famous chef is one of the leading figures of the movement. In the article below you read his views on buying British and the economic crisis.
On the websites of the ‘buy British’ movement, buying British products is clearly linked to British identity, British self-preservation and helping the British economy. Below you can find a couple of websites that give you an idea of how the movement works and what rhetoric it uses.
A year ago, the police arrested a few campaigners in Swansea (Wales) after they stole some goods produced in the illegal Israeli settlements on the West Bank (Palestine) from Tesco. These people were members of the UK campaign for the Boycott of the Israeli goods. The movement staged a protest outside of Tesco to let people know of the existence of the campaign.
However, the idea of boycotting goods from one country is not new. An example of a previous campaign is the anti- apartheid campaign in South Africa. The focus of the boycott Israel campaign is to make people stop buying goods related to Israel. Campaigners see this as a political and economic action against a nation that, according to them, is constantly violating the Human Rights and the rights of the Palestinian people. Besides street rallies, the campaign has been enormously internet based as you can see in the youtube link posted below. In the video, you can see several brands that supposedly have activities in Israel and according to the activists, in some extend, are collaborating with this nation.
The idea behind the campaign is easy to understand: if we damage the Israeli economy by not buying Israeli goods, the Israel Government will change its policies and Palestinian rights will be guaranteed. This campaign is a clear example of what kind of political message a consumer can send out by not buying a certain product.
Interesting website of the boycott Israel campaign: http://www.mylinkspage.com/israel.html
Below another youtube video on the movement