radical is the new sensible . . .

The Irish and the Boycott

Many on St. Patrick’s Day will be headed to pubs with shamrocks pinned to their jackets to celebrate all things Irish, there is one contribution from Ireland that bears a toast (or two!): the boycott.

Coined in 1880 during the Irish Land Wars, the phrase refers to Captain Charles Boycott, a land agent for Lord Erne. It was a rough year, harvests had been poor, and the tenants had petitioned for a twenty-five percent rent reduction due to hardship. It had been refused. Boycott attempted to evict eleven tenant farmers. Outraged, the rest of the community began a social ostracism campaign, shunning the captain, refusing to help harvest his crops, and noncooperating with his eviction efforts.

The Irish author, George Moore, reported: ‘Like a comet the verb ‘boycott’ appeared’. Within six weeks, newspapers as far away as New York City were using the term.

According to Wikipedia, a “boycott is an act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for social or political reasons. The purpose of a boycott is to inflict some economic loss on the target, or to indicate a moral outrage, to try to compel the target to alter an objectionable behavior.”

There is hardly a nonviolent movement around the world, out of hundreds of case studies, that has not used some form of a boycott! So, this St. Patrick’s Day, while you’re celebrating leprechauns and shamrocks, lift a glass and raise a toast to one of Ireland’s greatest contributions to a more just and equitable world: the boycott.

This article is from Rivera Sun’s book of nonviolent histories that have made our world. Click here for more information.

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Rivera Sun is a change-maker, a cultural creative, a protest novelist, and an advocate for nonviolence and social justice. She’s a love-based revolutionary and the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, The Way Between and ten other fiction, non-fiction and poetry books. Her essays and writings are syndicated by Peace Voice, and have appeared in over a hundred journals nationwide. Rivera Sun speaks and facilitates workshops in strategy for nonviolent change across the country and around the world. She connects the dots between the issues, shares solutionary ideas, and inspires people to step up to the challenge of being a part of the story of change in our times. www.riverasun.com

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Learn more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boycott

Photo Credit:  “Eviction Scene The Council” # 1763 scene the Vandeleur estate, County Clare by Lawrence Collection – National Library of Ireland, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16218221

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