Snowflake Activism

So, the Russian government, acting out of a deeply held principle of 'gays are icky', is doing all kinds of things to make the LGBTQQIAAP community upset. Something about the Olympics, and making gay illegal again, and I dunno, frankly. It's not one of my pet issues, so I don't keep up.

First off, let's get real. It's Russia. The Russian government is currently headed up by a guy who used to be an enforcer for the KGB. Expecting them to act like college-educated American liberals think everyone should behave strikes me as borderline retarded. I was also in the military back when we spent a lot of times worrying about the Red Hordes rolling through the Fulda Gap and laying waste to the poor Western Europeans. In general, I'm not conditioned to think of Russians as great defenders of human rights for all, and so far, they've borne this view out.

So, anyways, in an attempt to make the Russian government stop hatin' on the homos, a vocal subset of the American LGBTQQIAAPOMGWTFBBQ community is boycotting all things Russian, including Russian vodka like that made by our good friends* at Stolichnaya. Leaving aside the fact that the Stoli sold here in the States comes out of Latvia, the whole thing is kind of incoherent to me. I'm not sure what the point is.

I mean, they can't seriously expect whoever runs Stoli in Russia to publicly come out against the government, can they? I guess the example of Mikhail Khodorkovsky is lost on these people. If you'd like to live a long happy life unencumbered by little things like prisons, you don't publicly challenge the state in Russia. Expecting other people to go to jail for you is a bit presumptuous, I think, especially since nobody here seems inclined to go to Russia and get arrested over the issue.

Honestly, the whole thing stinks of the current generation of slacktivism. Don't figure out an action or a plan likely to cause the change you want to see in the world, do something easy. In this case, drink Skyy or Absolut or Ketel One when you're out getting hammered instead of Stoli or White Gold. Then you can fool yourself into thinking you're doing something about the problem! You're aware! You're fighting the man!

Truth be told, you're still just sitting in a bar getting drunk. The Russian government doesn't give a shit what you drink, and doesn't really care if whichever conglomerate that currently owns Stoli makes a little less money. So, what exactly have you done but make yourself feel better? I sure don't think you've helped anybody in Russia out.

As a final note, actions like this have a long history of not doing a damn thing to influence governments. If SPI Group was doing something objectionable, a boycott is the perfect way to get SPI Group to change behaviors. But boycotting companies to make a government change? It doesn't work so well. Hell, we've boycotted the entire country of Cuba for longer than I've been alive and guess what? The government there is still a bunch of communists with an atrocious human rights record.

But hey, not drinking Stoli makes people feel better and makes them feel like they're doing something. And I am, after all, a libertarian, so, by all means, encourage it! Get your slacktivism on! Just don't be real surprised when your grand master plan of boycotting Latvian vodka doesn't lead to any substantive change in Russia's halls of power.

An addendum: the way to influence Russia through economics is to fuck with their oil and gas exports or their arms exports. Unless you're in the market for a few million cubic feet of natural gas or a dozen or so Sukhois, you're not in a position to matter.

*We have lots of Stoli at YPS Manor, sweetie darling.

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