Activists, This is How To Respond When Someone Call You A Hypocrite
In the US, it seems like any time someone protests an issue in which they (as a normal member of society) take part in some shape or form, they get called out for being a hypocrite.
Ex: The environmentalists who drove up to the Dakota Access Pipeline to block its construction. Hypocrites, they burned fossil fuels to get there!
Ex: Someone who wears cheap clothes and protests the unjust business practices of global clothing companies. Hypocrites, they are buying their products!
Ex: Someone who buys things from Walmart or Amazon but thinks their workers should get paid more. Hypocrites, they are contributing to those low wages!
What these enlightened assholes don’t understand is two distinct, irrefutable points.
- It is impossible to NOT take part in exploitative systems if you live in modern society. This is especially true if you are middle or lower class, since you can’t afford shit that ain’t from the worst offenders like Walmart or Amazon.
- Existing in a current system doesn’t mean you can’t fight to change that system. Especially if the alternatives to that system are realistic, practical, and preferable to the current system.
To explain point #2, I’ll use the Dakota Access example. There was no better place to stage a protest against the pipeline than the actual dig location itself. Because of its remoteness, it had to be reached by car, plane, or bus — all things that chug fossil fuels.
Protesting against the pipeline didn’t equate a total and complete denunciation of using oil at all times. It was about stopping an unnecessary and extremely risky project from being built, and bringing attention to the need to shift our national energy resources towards 100% sustainable sources over the coming century.
There are more popular examples of issues which get people called hypocrites though.
In the late 90’s and early 2000s, many activists caught flack over protesting against companies like Nike who pay their workers unnecessarily low wages and hire thugs that literally kill union organizers.
And since virtually all global clothing companies use the kinds of tactics Nike uses, these activists got heat from conservatives who told them “Hmmm you don’t like unfettered global capitalism, yet you wear products produced by it”…..
We can, as a democratic country which has the authority to regulate the business practices of American corporations, mandate that Nike’s employees in foreign countries get paid livable wages for the area they live in. There is significant evidence to back up the claim that Nike could afford some concessions to their workers without any significant damage to consumers.
Before the civil war, die-hard abolitionists refused to buy slave-produced cotton and tried to start a nationwide boycott. It became completely ineffective, however, because the alternatives, linen and wool, were extremely expensive since they were imported from Europe.
The boycott was determined by many initial supporters to be a useless distraction from the main cause — getting direct government reform and intervention into the slave economy.
Imagine if those abolitionists living in the North listened to the people mocking them, and got peer pressured out of fighting against slavery because they got all self-conscious about the fact that they wore clothes made from the cotton picked by slaves in the south.
They knew that it was messed up that they had little choice in the matter. As busy people with jobs and families to take care of, they couldn’t afford the alternatives of buying fine wools or weaving their own clothing from scratch. They pretty much had to purchase clothes from an unjust system, but they still realized that they can change that system through direct action and government intervention.