Author’s Note: I know how in the last post I mentioned how this post was going to focus on the blog post, but in today’s lecture, I got extremely interested in something Professor Chatuvedi mentioned about the resistance against empire. So that post will have to hold off. Sorry!
In Lecture, Professor Chaturvedi talked about the resistance against empire in 19th to 20th century India, as societies such as the Pan-Indian Organization or the Young India society tried to free themselves from the shackles of the British. He talked about how each thinker (Gandhi and Savarkar) and their respective organization tried to achieve independence in their own way.
Still thinking about the modern commercial empires of today, I thought of how this idea of resistance could possibly be applied to our world today. And then I remembered a story that came up recently about the Parkland, Florida shooting. (My hopes go out to all the victims and their families). But one of the main issues of contention was about gun control. But different to the other school shootings, this one had much more successful results when it came to protesting and getting the word out about guns and its corresponding organization/empire: the NRA.
To be brief, the NRA (National Rifle Association) is one of the largest organizations in the USA and one of the most major that supports the second amendment, the right to own a firearm. It boasts of over 5 million members, and has a vast influence over American citizens. It has key ties with many corporations, with them offering NRA members special benefits and discounts, showing how vast NRA influence truly is. But that influence is one of the first things that came under fire after the Parkland shootings.
The NRA was the first organization that people began to point at in terms of causes of the shootings and many survivors began to essentially bring media attention to the NRA. As a result, the NRA became one of the focuses of media attention and their sponsors began to suffer for it.
As mentioned in the New York Times, eight days after the shooting, a company, The National Bank of Omaha finally made a move and cut all ties with the NRA and unknowingly sparked a ‘revolution’. Soon many teenagers, parents, and citizens began protesting other companies that had ties with the NRA or offered special discounts to members with the NRA. As a form of resistance, protest became a way to fight against empires, companies if you will, and actually succeed.
Many other companies that had previous ties with the NRA are breaking them off as many protesters pass along the hashtag #PROTEST (Insert company name here). Fearing for their profit and their revenue, companies are actually yielding to the citizen form of resistance.
From USA times, a list of all companies that have broken off ties with the NRA:
*Delta Air Lines: The company axed discounted rates for NRA members.
*United Airlines: United ended an offer of discounted flights for NRA members traveling to their annual meeting.
*Enterprise Holdings: The parent company of car rental brands Enterprise, Alamo and National is ending discount deals with the NRA within a few weeks.
*Hertz: Like Enterprise, car rental company Hertz is ending discounts to NRA members.
*Avis and Budget: The company that owns the Avis and Budget rental car firms also plans to end discounts for NRA members.
*Symantec: The cybersecurity company’s LifeLock identity theft protection service for businesses and its Norton anti-virus software had both offered discounts to NRA members. Those deals are off.
*TrueCar: The online car-buying service is ending its deal for NRA members, who previously saved an average of nearly $3,400 off the retail price of new and used vehicles.
*MetLife: The insurer had offered discounts to NRA members on auto and home policies before axing the deal.
*SimpliSafe: The home security company had offered a special promotion to NRA members, but that ended Friday.
*First National Bank of Omaha: The financial institution cut an NRA-branded Visa credit card.
This kind of resistance is reminiscent, in my opinion, of Gandhi’s protests against the British Empire. A peaceful way of protest and using the social media to spread the word, seen through how Gandhi used his book, Hind Swaraj, to spread awareness of self rule in India, just as the protesters are spreading awareness of gun control and the benefits that they believe it will bring to society.
As Bloomburg View put it, “People are pushing companies to cut ties with the powerful gun lobby. Advocates are targeting not weapons makers, but banks, rental car agencies, airlines, insurers and other companies with ties to the NRA”. Essentially speaking the protesters are targeting the root of the NRA, the organizations that support it and thus give it power.
Once more, this is extremely reminiscent of a metaphor that Gandhi makes about empire. In Hind Swaraj, Gandhi relates empire to the Upas Tree, a poisonous tree that kills anything within 20 miles of it and how this tree (empire) is corrupting everything around it and how more problems (doctors, medicine, lawyers) are the branches of said tree. But Gandhi mentions how with the axe of ‘true religion’ or satya, the tree may be killed and India may be free from the poison empire. Essentially to kill empire, we would have to cut the tree at the root, instead of targeting the individual branches and the vices they carry.
The protesters are taking a similar approach, where they are targeting the root of NRA, the companies that support it and even finance it. Without said support, the NRA is essentially almost powerless, and the problems, the roots, (that protesters deem) such as gun problems could come to an end. As we can see, their efforts are actually making a difference, as CNN notes, gunmakers are actually losing customers as the days go by. As CNN puts it, “Shares of American Outdoor Brands have dropped 8% since the day after the shooting. Vista Outdoor, which makes guns and ammunition, has declined 7%. Sturm Ruger is down slightly. All while the broader market has risen”.
Companies, influential in their own right, can become the impetus of change. But most importantly, citizens unlike in the past, have the power to change the empires that they live under, whether it be the nation they live in or the business empires that they buy from. This is evident through the massive success of the protests following the Parkland shootings. An issue that has always been avoided by policymakers is now the forefront of their agenda because citizens, who are usually the ignored party, are speaking out now in a united effort. Gandhi’s movement wouldn’t have been a success either, unless there were India was united and stood against Britain TOGETHER. Alone, a person has little influence, but together, people can make a huge difference in the empire that we live in.