Australia has been in the news quite often in the last year for its new Prime Minister’s controversial legislation that protest groups say put vast areas of Australian nature in threat of destruction. Environmental issues are one of the more complex issues facing libertarians today. The vast entanglement of property rights can make explaining those issues to non-libertarians quickly and clearly quite difficult. Luckily for me the Australian government is currently attempting to assault a far more basic set of rights. The right to organize, the right to persuade, and the right to spend your money and time how you wish. We are, as the title implies discussing the right to organize a boycott of a product or products.
The Australian secretary of agriculture Richard Colbeck wants to “remove an exemption for environmental groups from the consumer law ban on so-called “secondary boycotts”. These secondary boycotts are also illegal in the UK and the United States. For clarification a secondary action “is industrial action by a trade union in support of a strike initiated by workers in another, separate enterprise”.
Libertarians often find themselves on the wrong side of both environmental and union actions but it is important to remember that liberty also means the freedom to refuse to purchase a product for any reason you can imagine; whether it is because the company that makes the product is partaking in actions you disagree with or because their logo is yellow.
Even though libertarians disagree with the end goals of the hard-line environmentalist movements (namely government control of industry) we cannot forget to support situations like this on principle and also to remember that environmental issues are essentially property rights issues and thus core to libertarian ethics.