Historical Use Of The Economic Boycott


The economic boycott is not an invention of Life Decisions International (LDI). In fact, the strategy has been around for centuries.

How did the economic boycott strategy begin?

“Economic boycotts have a long and illustrious history, tracing their lineage from the Stamp Act of 1765 (American colonists refused to pay a British tax) to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s call to…stay off Alabama buses,” writes Marshall Glickman, author of “Pocketbook Power: How Well-Organized Boycotts Change Corporate Policy,” in E magazine.

Charles Stewart Parnell coined the actual term “boycott” in 1880 when describing the ostracism of Captain Charles Cunningham Boycott by his Irish neighbors. Such tactics were effective in the struggle of Irish peasants against English landlords. Tenants faced barriers to ownership and paid increasingly high rents that left them destitute. One year earlier, Parnell and Michael Davitt had founded the Land League to fight for just treatment in housing and land. The League began Ireland’s first peaceful widespread peasant rebellion.

The highly successful strategies of India’s Mahatma Gandhi and America’s Martin Luther King, Jr., were employed to bring change to South Africa. Boycotts of white-owned businesses, legal actions challenging racist laws, rent boycotts, and mass demonstrations became commonplace. International boycotts by governments and corporations alike, including an end to foreign investment, were unquestionably too much for the apartheid regime to bear.

What are some examples of economic boycotts?

There have been many other boycotts, a mere fraction of which is listed herein. Note the various types of causes (from the far political left to the far political right) making use of the strategy. (Note: This list does not constitute an endorsement of any organization or cause listed herein. Nor does it mean we endorse the methods or rhetoric used during the action.)

Nuclear Weapons

Infact, a group that uses the slogan “Challenging Corporate Abuse, Building Grassroots Power,” boycotted General Electric for its involvement in making nuclear weapons.


Homosexual activists have twice boycotted Florida orange juice due to the selection of spokesmen who were vocal critics of homosexuality: Anita Bryant and Rush Limbaugh.

Activists called for a boycott of Colorado because the state’s voters decided against granting homosexuals protected class status in state law.

A boycott of Coors Brewing began when the company started asking employees about their sexual orientation. It had also funded political efforts that were in opposition to those efforts supported by activist groups.

“Dr. Laura” Schlessinger’s television talk show and its advertisers were boycotted because she had publicly opposed homosexuality. (By contrast, Rosie O’Donnell’s vocal beliefs on homosexuality and gun control did not mean she had to leave television. O’Donnell, a lesbian, was called “brave,” while Schlessinger, whose show was cancelled, was called a “homophobic bigot.”)

The Human Rights Campaign called for a boycott of ExxonMobil because the company refused to offer domestic partner benefits and include sexual orientation in its anti-discrimination policies.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores were boycotted after eleven homosexual employees were fired.

The National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum called for a boycott of Egypt after 52 homosexual men were charged with engaging in “immoral behavior” and “contempt of religion.” Those convicted were sentenced to between one and five years of hard labor. (In Saudi Arabia, three men were beheaded for engaging in sodomy, but no one called for a boycott.)

Ohio activist group boycotted United Way because of its support for the Boy Scouts, which at the time barred homosexuals from leadership positions.

The Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights called for a boycott of The New York Times to protest the newspaper’s alleged poor coverage of its issues.

United Airlines was boycotted after it challenged a San Francisco law that requires the city to contract only with companies that offer domestic partner benefits. A federal court upheld the ordinance and forced the airline to comply.

The radical activist groups AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) targeted Philip Morris after the company donated to then-Senator Jesse Helms. (The donation had nothing to do with the late Senator’s position on issues important to homosexual political groups and everything to do with his stand on tobacco.)


A boycott against Daishowa began when the paper company started logging on land claimed by Canada’s Lubicon Cree natives. Companies using Daishowa products were asked to change suppliers and 48 did so, costing the boycott target $14 million.

Infact led a boycott against Dow Chemical, the parent corporation of Union Carbide. The latter company was responsible for the world’s worst industrial disaster ever–a 1984 gas leak in Bhopal, India, that killed an estimated 16,000 and injured another 500,000 men, women and children.

International Rivers Network (IRN) asked consumers to boycott Discover Card to protest the company’s financial involvement with Communist China’s Three Gorges Dam. IRN claimed it would be one of the most ecologically and socially destructive dams ever built.

Rainforest Action Network boycotted companies such as Citigroup, Boise Corporation, U.S. Home Corporation, and Burger King because of alleged involved in the destruction of rainforests.

Environmental groups joined The Foundation on Economic Trends in a boycott of Monsanto because it manufactured the Bovine Growth Hormone. Several supermarket chains were convinced to not sell milk from cows that received the hormone supplement. Other corporations such as Kraft USA, Borden’s, and Ben & Jerry’s Homemade, agreed to not use it in their dairy products. (Several consumer and animal welfare groups were also involved in this boycott.)

California grapes have been boycotted due to the use of pesticides by growers.

Mitsubishi became a boycott target of environmental groups after announcing plans to build the world’s largest salt plant in Laguna San Ignacio, which is located off the coast of Mexico.

Animal Rights

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) called for a boycott of a hamburger restaurant chain because of the inhumane manner in which the animals were treated.


The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) threatened television networks with a boycott for failing to increase racial diversity in its programming to demanded levels.

The NAACP and other groups called for a boycott of South Carolina and Mississippi after the duly elected representatives of the people in the two sovereign states decided to continue flying the Confederate flag.

Some groups sought to impose their morality on the people of Arizona by calling for a boycott of the state after voters decided against making Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, birthday a paid state holiday. Voters quickly relented after charges of racism flew, even though citizens had cited the cost of the proposal to state taxpayers, not race, as their reason for voting against the proposal.

Jesse Jackson has led boycotts against companies such as Coca-Cola and Anheuser-Busch to pressure them to increase opportunities for racial minorities. He also threatened to boycott Toyota in response to what he called an offensive and racist advertisement.

Black activists in Cincinnati, Ohio, called for a boycott of their own city to convince officials to address the issue of race relations.

Some people associated with Hollywood movie-making called for a boycott of The Oscars because no black artists had been nominated in major award categories. Several comedians, both black and white, commented that those participating in the boycott had not been invited to the ceremony anyway.

Labor Movement

United Farm Workers (UFW) led three boycotts against grape growers between 1967 and 2000, and another against lettuce growers. The boycotts were aimed at bringing attention to abuses inflicted upon farm workers and winning union contracts. According to Marc Grossman, UFW founder Cesar Chavez believed boycotts “allowed consumers, wherever they were, to help farm workers by making small sacrifices.”

The AFL-CIO boycotted Wells Fargo to protest the bank lending money to Oregon Steel for “union busting activities.”


The National Organization for Women (NOW) urged a boycott of those states that did not pass the pro-abortion “Equal Rights Amendment” to the Constitution of the United States.

Pro-abortion groups boycotted Dayton Hudson (now Target Corporation) when it stopped giving money to Planned Parenthood. (It could be argued that the groups abused and perverted the basic altruistic nature of the economic boycott by using it as a means of extracting money from the company–an act sometimes called “extortion.”)

Pro-abortion groups boycotted Dominos Pizza when its founder made a personal donation (not with corporate money) toward pro-life work.

Sex, Drugs and Violence

The American Family Association (AFA) and American Decency Association (ADA) lead boycotts against sponsors of anti-family television programming and purveyors of pornography.

Feminist and pro-family organizations have boycotted Abercrombie & Fitch due to its sexually provocative advertising and catalogs.


The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (CLRCR) led a boycott against advertisers of ABC television’s anti-Christian (anti-Catholic in particular) program called Nothing Sacred.

The Young Earth Creation Club spearheaded action against corporate enemies of Creationism.

The Southern Baptist Convention called for a boycott of The Walt Disney Company due to its adoption of pro-homosexual policies.

The Assemblies of God, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (CLRCR) and other religious groups have also boycotted Disney for various reasons.

Many groups boycotted Miramax (then owned by Disney) when it released the film Priest, which portrays a cleric who gives thought to a homosexual lifestyle. Most of the same groups also boycotted Universal Pictures for The Last Temptation of Christ. Other films, such as The Boys of Saint Vincent and Sacred Silence (the English name for the Italian film) also portray sexual abuse of children by priests as though it is the unofficially tolerated norm.

Were most of these boycotts successful?

Some of the boycotts have seen moderate to remarkable success. Those that failed did so for very predictable reasons (see Ethics, Morals And Economic Boycotts).