I Think That Boycotting The Entire Russian Society Is Bad

I know that this is not true, but right now I feel that I am the only one opposing the string of indiscriminate sanctions and private actions affecting the life of Russian people.

Of course, it goes without saying, that I also empathize with the people of Ukraine, and Syria, and Yemen, and… I just not think that taking out our frustrations on random Russian citizens will achieve anything but more suffering. Let’s put this aspect out of the way and do not engage in whataboutism or a competition about suffering.

The Stuff That Does Not Matter

Let’s start by setting aside also issues of fairness, like that the USA also has engaged in wars of aggressions against Iraq, Libya, etc. The war in Afghanistan was also unnecessary, given that it emerged the Taliban were ready to give up Bin Laden, but the US administration was unwilling to negotiate. I want to set these debates aside because, even if the comparison made sense, that is all beside the point.

I would also set aside debating about completely unnecessary actions against the Russian people, made only to make a point. Like banning Russian and Belarusian athletes from the Paralympics. I am sure that punishing random disabled Russians will bring peace to the world because the fearful regime rests all on the great victories of their sport teams.

These are examples of a mixture of bad human attitudes that show themselves in time of conflict. They are due to many things, such as:

  • real hate against the Russians
  • a need to feel that you are doing something to show your opposition to the actions of their government
  • a narcisstic will to put yourself at the center of attention to look like the good guy
  • etc.

These are indeed bad and harmful, but they are manifestationz of common human reactions that I do not think we can eliminate. I mean, look at this bizarre article trying to justify the move with the ridiculous claim that sports are vital to the regime support. Once you have gone through a few crises you have read a lot of articles like this one. They are rationalizations to support any random action taken in terms of vague and unproven political meanings.

Indiscriminate Sactions Are Immoral

I am simply against indiscriminate actions ruining the lives of common people and companies in Russia.

I am talking about sanctions that make it hard or impossible to use credit cards in Russia or make hard to do business with foreigners. Nowadays people depend on credit card for buying everything, from groceries to furniture. How would you survive if you could not use your credit card?

I work online mostly with people outside my country. If that happened to me, I think I would lose everything. I live in a democracy, but I do not think I can stop my government from doing anything.

It is immoral because we are harming people who have not done anything wrong and have no power to change the situation on the ground. These decisions cost nothing to the ones taking them, but can ruin the lives of common citizens and companies in Russia which have no chance of affecting the decisions of Russian leadership.

Whenever we talk about Iran or Cuba we take care in distinguishing between the people and the government. Their governments might be bad, but we should not hate the people that live there. This time is no different. These actions create a cleavage between our societies and their societies.

Indiscriminate Sanctions Are Counterproductive

These sanctions also do not seem particularly effective in obtaining their political goals, only in hurting the economy of the target. That is because people become more dependent on the government even for basic survival. However, that is also not the main point of my opposition.

The reason I think they will be counterproductive is their long-term consequences. Citizens of authoritarian countries are always subject to some risks when dealing with foreigners. That is because authoritarian countries need to maintain control of their population. And since they cannot control foreigners, they instead look with suspicion everyone of their citizen who deals with foreigners.

Now people living in authoritarian countries will be even more wary of having contacts outside their own countries. They learned that their lives and businesses could be completely destroyed if their government did something the rest of the world did not approve.

We are fostering isolation and laying the groundwork for a total war, in which any basic civilian infrastructure is a legitimate target in times of conflict. I think we can all agree that banking and the Internet are vital necessities for the average citizen. Would you be in favor of blocking food, electricity or water to people living in bad countries?

And yet many companies are volunteering to stop providing their services to score political points in their own countries. So much so that the ones that oppose such moves are hated and boycotted. I mean read the comments in this article about Cloudflare refusal to stop providing services in Russia.

This Is Going To Happen Against Internal Enemies In Democracies, Too

I understand that Russian people are very unlikable victims right now, but we have to protect civil rights for everybody if we want them to actually work.

I fear that we are starting to see similar extreme measures used against civilians in democratic countries. Given the animosity that we see in our societies, I do not think this bodes well for our future.

To me, the most surprising thing is historical comparison. In Italy, we had a long period of terroristic campaigns and yet I do not think that anybody argued that people on the extreme left or extreme right should be denied basic services.

1 thought on “I Think That Boycotting The Entire Russian Society Is Bad”

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