FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Bourgeois’ Dilemma

by

The other day a colleague called it to my attention that I was wearing New Balance so in some way I was breaking a boycott. I pointed out that they were the only shoes I had. In retrospect I was becoming so gringo. I have never been for the indiscriminate application of boycotts. In 2010, the early stages of Arizona assault on immigrants and then on Mexican American Studies I questioned the call for a boycott of Arizona. I felt that it isolated Tucson and prevented friends for going there to show their support by visiting the Wall and standing in solidarity. Not all boycotts were like the Farm Worker Boycott.

Getting back to the New Balance Boycott, I will certainly not buy that brand again just like I won’t buy at Walmart. However, I believe it would be stupid for me to throw away a pair of shoes that I wear for health reasons. Having diabetes, shoes are a big deal! You’d know if you had it. New Balance is one of the few brands that have triple width shoes. In my estimation if would be a bit more strategic to pass out buttons emphasizing not to buy New Balance. While I respect the sentiments of Debra Messing and Swae Lee, they are not my teachers.

In the 1960s I pointed out to a group of activists that we should dispense with introductions because they consumed so much time. We should substitute the intros by wearing combat ribbons like generals do telling the world which demonstrations we had attended, with stars for each time we had been arrested. Maybe a platinum star for each time we had been fired from our jobs. Not buying the products of our enemies would be and should have been taken for granted. Instead of throwing away the product the emphasis should be on not buying it. This, however, would take work; you would have to organize trips to the boycotted places. The truth be told, liberals don’t much cotton to work. It is easier to tell people to throw away things.

During the grape boycott, my understanding was that the purpose was to hurt the grape growers economically. It was not to have us run to our refrigerators and throw all of the grapes away. It was to go out and picket the super markets where the sales we made. No one thought of regurgitating them and purging our bodies of the evil substance.

It kind of irks me because so much of our politics is for show. It reminds me of the 1960s when we purposely dressed down because everything seemed to be for show. I remember that students were ridiculed for dressing up to go to classes. They were “bourgie.”

We all followed this trend often without questioning. In the eighties I remember going to a meeting for the “Save the Van Nuys GM Plant open” at the machinist hall in Burbank. During the meeting the machinist rep whispered to me, “Rudy, I want to show you something after the meeting.”

After the meeting we went out onto the parking lot. Leroy led me to a brand new white Cadillac convertible. He had just bought it. I self-reflected that in activist circles this would be labeled “bourgie.” I thought to myself, “Leroy has been a worker all of his life. He has been involved in the labor movement. His labor had made this possible whereas I as a university professor apologize for wearing Rayburn Sunglasses.” That is the difference between the factory worker and the so-called cultural proletariat.

I am getting old and find myself getting cranky and I guess nit picking. But I get impatient between those calling for symbolic acts versus substance. At the university professors’ advocate but few will sacrifice for a cause. They will picket and even strike for higher wages but ignore increases in student tuition. They turn the other way while neoliberal policies decimate the blue collar class. Privately they will complain about the administration but when confronted by administrators they get sick smiles on their faces. I got my fill during the UNAM (Universidad Autonoma de Mexico) controversy when many Chicana/o Studies professors were unwilling to go to the edge of the proverbial class and to go over it to fight for faculty governance. It is easy to say I am boycotting but another thing to sacrifice. Instead professors smile at despicable people like the College of Humanities Dean Beth Say. Perhaps I should throw away my used New Balance shoes, go barefooted and smile.

RODOLFO ACUÑA, a professor emeritus at California State University Northridge, has published 20 books and over 200 public and scholarly articles. He is the founding chair of the first Chicano Studies Dept which today offers 166 sections per semester in Chicano Studies. His history book Occupied America has been banned in Arizona. In solidarity with Mexican Americans in Tucson, he has organized fundraisers and support groups to ground zero and written over two dozen articles exposing efforts there to nullify the U.S. Constitution.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

May 24, 2017
Paul Street
Beyond Neoliberal Identity Politics
Daniel Read
Powder Keg: Manchester Terror Attack Could Lead to Yet Another Resurgence in Nationalist Hate
Robert Fisk
When Peace is a Commodity: Trump in the Middle East
Kenneth Surin
The UK’s Epochal Election
Jeff Berg
Lessons From a Modern Greek Tragedy
Steve Cooper
A Concrete Agenda for Progressives
Michael McKinley
Australia-as-Concierge: the Need for a Change of Occupation
William Hawes
Where Are Your Minds? An Open Letter to Thomas de Maiziere and the CDU
Steve Early
“Corporate Free” Candidates Move Up
Fariborz Saremi
Presidential Elections in Iran and the Outcomes
Dan Bacher
The Dark Heart of California’s Water Politics
Alessandra Bajec
Never Ending Injustice for Pinar Selek
Rob Seimetz
Death By Demigod
Jesse Jackson
Venezuela Needs Helping Hand, Not a Hammer Blow 
Binoy Kampmark
Return to Realpolitik: Trump in Saudi Arabia
Vern Loomis
The NRA: the Dragon in Our Midst
May 23, 2017
John Wight
Manchester Attacks: What Price Hypocrisy?
Patrick Cockburn
A Gathering of Autocrats: Trump Puts US on Sunni Muslim Side of Bitter Sectarian War with Shias
Shamus Cooke
Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?
Thomas S. Harrington
“Risk”: a Sad Comedown for Laura Poitras
Josh White
Towards the Corbyn Doctrine
Mike Whitney
Rosenstein and Mueller: the Regime Change Tag-Team
Jan Oberg
Trump in Riyadh: an Arab NATO Against Syria and Iran
Susan Babbitt
The Most Dangerous Spy You’ve Never Heard Of: Ana Belén Montes
Rannie Amiri
Al-Awamiya: City of Resistance
Dimitris Konstantakopoulos
The European Left and the Greek Tragedy
Laura Leigh
This Land is Your Land, Except If You’re a Wild Horse Advocate
Hervé Kempf
Macron, Old World President
Michael J. Sainato
Devos Takes Out Her Hatchet
L. Ali Khan
I’m a Human and I’m a Cartoon
May 22, 2017
Diana Johnstone
All Power to the Banks! The Winners-Take-All Regime of Emmanuel Macron
Robert Fisk
Hypocrisy and Condescension: Trump’s Speech to the Middle East
John Grant
Jeff Sessions, Jesus Christ and the Return of Reefer Madness
Nozomi Hayase
Trump and the Resurgence of Colonial Racism
Rev. William Alberts
The Normalizing of Authoritarianism in America
Frank Stricker
Getting Full Employment: the Fake Way and the Right Way 
Jamie Davidson
Red Terror: Anti-Corbynism and Double Standards
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, Sweden, and Continuing Battles
Robert Jensen
Beyond Liberal Pieties: the Radical Challenge for Journalism
Patrick Cockburn
Trump’s Extravagant Saudi Trip Distracts from His Crisis at Home
Angie Beeman
Gig Economy or Odd Jobs: What May Seem Trendy to Privileged City Dwellers and Suburbanites is as Old as Poverty
Colin Todhunter
The Public Or The Agrochemical Industry: Who Does The European Chemicals Agency Serve?
Jerrod A. Laber
Somalia’s Worsening Drought: Blowback From US Policy
Michael J. Sainato
Police Claimed Black Man Who Died in Custody Was Faking It
Clancy Sigal
I’m a Trump Guy, So What?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail