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(en) UK Solidarity Federation - DA #25 (http://www.solfed.org.uk/)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 8 Mar 2003 18:50:22 +0100 (CET)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

>    DA 25 - Consumption
Buy Nothing

Consumption - you may ask, why theme
      an issue of DA around an old name for
lung wastage disease, especially
Tuberculosis? Well, it could be because
the said TB is on the rise again
throughout the west and endemic in parts
of the Third World. But it isn't.
However, while we are on the subject, TB
is a classic example of a disease linked
with poverty; it indicates the disgusting
state of 21st century inequality; the
poverty of a world where billions are
spent on bombs and millions are left
pitilessly to die of preventable disease
brought on by them being denied access to
the most basic of resources.

"Buy Nothing" might be misleading too. It
is no more about retail abstinence or
symbolic protests once a year than it is
a crass phrase meaning; "don't get taken
in by them", e.g. DON'T BUY THEIR WAR.

Now we've got that cleared up, hopefully
it is clearer what this is not about, and
time to get `on-message'. For far too
long, shops and advertising agencies have
been force-feeding us with their products
and information. We've been hearing,
seeing, drinking, and eating what they've
been producing, and it is sticking in the
throat (the more so for the endless
build-up to the festive orgy of
consumption, followed by January
pseudo-discounts to try to spin out the
hard-core orgy funsters).

Why have we had enough? Surely `the
consumer is king' (sic), and that's a
good feeling? One of capitalism's major
flaws is that it is over-profligate at
producing goods, so it is in constant
danger of over-production and slump. To
keep it going, we have to crown the
consumer and urge them to eat cake and
keep on having another piece. Not
surprising that masses of people are
reaching vomiting point. I wonder if
kings long to be just left alone and
treated normally.

There are so many reasons why consumerism
is crap, it is difficult to know where to
start. You know that as soon as you start
opening up the gates, you are going to
get drowned in the flood. Crap goods,
obsolescence, slave labour, global
destruction, climate change, junk food,
in fact, junk everywhere... But I will
start in the middle (Consuming Issues),
with that creeping uneasiness that
consumerism causes; the feeling that you
need to run to stand still these days
just to keep up with where, what and how
to get stuff; wondering what the Jones'
have and if you are up with them;
balancing being `individual' yet `in'
enough, wearing the right image;
culminating in fear and alienation (OK,
that last bit might just be me, then).
Maybe instead of asking `Is shopping a
Human Right?', we should be asking `can
you please stop stuffing cakes in my

At random, next up is the global
environment (Sense and sustainability).
The idea of a sustainable future is so
conceptually simple, it is baffling why
there are hundred of definitions of
sustainability knocking about. Once
again, capitalism creates a conjuring
trick, with a whirl of the hands and deft
concealment, in a vain attempt to hide
the fact that is so obvious: Capitalism
is about as sustainable and restrained as
a school of small children in a sweet
shop. Left to it, there will be nothing
but sweet wrappers and tummy aches, and
pools of vomit. As vomiting keeps coming
up, it seems sensible to talk food. Since
we can't limitlessly increase our
consumption of food, capitalism has to
find ways of screwing a profit out of it,
so it provides `value added foods' and
very cheaply, mass-produced stuff which
is unhealthy but profitable (Are we what
we eat?). 24% of UK pigs now have
salmonella in their guts, and this new
epidemic is being kept under wraps
because the government knows we remember
BSE, ecoli, FMD, etc., and we are
literally sick (oops, there we go again)
of shit food and the misery bound up in
the food production system.

Finally for today, is the big GAP that
consumerism has created between rich and
poor (Mass-producing Poverty).
Incidentally, GAP is the US's biggest
retailer and the biggest abuser of
workers. Thanks to anti-GAP campaigns, we
all know they use arm's-length contracts
to pay peanuts and fatten profits. UNITE
(the US labour union) recently visited
GAP factories around the world and found
widescale evidence of physical abuse,
abysmal health and safety and pay and
conditions, and generally a barbaric and
inhumane picture of GAP's clothes

If Bush can get a majority, anything can
happen. Authoritarians will play their
`them and us' cards until we don't buy it
any more. Then, their game is over and
the future is ours. As soon as the shops
shut, let's go for it.

The Content of DA 25 http://www.directa.force9.co.uk/back%20issues/DA%2025/content.htm

Sense and sustainability
What shall we do once we have
consumed our natural environment?
More optimistically, can we sort the
nonsense talk of sustainability from
the rest?
Is shopping a Human Right?
Capitalism has brought every manner
of consumer luxury within easy reach
  - if you can pay for it: Freedom
and the (Human) Right to consume.
Are we what we eat?
Burgers, bad behaviour and prison
Consuming Issues
Notes on consumption and fear: right
and wrong enters the market place.
Mass-producing poverty
Globalisation and debt - how it is,
and how it can be challenged.

Regular sections include;
Actions & comment (e.g. Friends of the
Earth... but nor of their workers?);
blairedvision (e.g. The ultimate New
Labour focus group?); international news
(e.g. Dirty Mac Protests, India, France
and Spain); globalfocus (e.g. Argentina:
Debt-defaulting and workers' control);
justicepage (e.g. Yannis Serifis: Once
more a hostage of state terrorism);
reviews (e.g. Housing Benefit Hill and
other places and Waco Bros - New Deal);
and lots more.

Who is Solidarity Federation?
 Solidarity Federation was formed in March 1994. It
is a federation of groups and individuals across
England, Scotland & Wales. Everyone involved is
helping to build a non-hierarchical,
anti-authoritarian solidarity movement. This movement
is dedicated to helping to create a society based on
solidarity, collective mutual aid and real individual
    In the process, we must overcome capitalism and
the state. These are the structures which currently
maintain greed, inequality and injustice and so block
our way to a better society. Capitalism exploits and
kills working people and wrecks the environment for
profit world-wide. Governments and the state maintain
the current hierarchy for the privileged few. Hence,
oppression comes not only from economic exploitation,
but can also be based on gender, race, sexuality, or
anything else our rulers find useful to divide and
keep us down.
    Neither political parties nor state apparatus can
be used to fight oppression and exploitation, because
they are the sources of hierarchy themselves. Our
freedom can only be achieved by ourselves. We must
organise around principles of direct democracy,
collective action and class solidarity. Direct
democracy means decisions are made by everyone meeting
together locally, and any delegates elected must
strictly carry out the decisions of the mass meeting.
They are also instantly recallable. Unless we organise
in this way, politicians or self-styled leaders - some
claiming to be revolutionary - will be able to exploit
us for their own ends.
    Solidarity Federation is a political-economic
organisation, with all power devolved to the level of
each individual person. We take on our oppressors both
at home (community) and work. We want to defend our
gains and win more in the short term, but the long
term aim is clear - replacement of capitalism and the
state with freedom and solidarity. The basic
foundation for doing this is the Local group.
Down the Local
    People are getting together to form Locals -
Solidarity Federation groups. Locals put solidarity
into practice. In time, each Local will have a
premises as a base for solidarity action in the local
community. Locals are organising or getting involved
in local campaigns across a wide range of issues -
both in the community and in workplaces. Issues are
wide-ranging: defending our natural and local
environment and health; opposing racism, sexism and
homophobia; in fact, anything which defends or
contributes to our mutual quality of life. It is all
part and parcel of building a solidarity movement.
Direct Action
    Apart from being the name of the Solidarity
Federation Quarterly, Direct Action is the
tool which Locals use in all their work. At a basic
level, this can be simply the spreading of information
through leaflets, local bulletins and public meetings
to raise awareness and involvement locally. However,
Direct Action is not limited to spreading information.
It means a physical presence in defending and
promoting a better quality of life. Fundamental to
Direct Action is the reality that we can only rely on
ourselves to achieve our goals. While we reserve the
right to take opportunities to fight for improvements
to our quality of life now, the solidarity movement
must always remain independent from those we are
demanding from. Solidarity Federation will accept
neither leadership, charity, nor guidance from
government or business - instead, we must couple our
principle of solidarity with the practice of
    Solidarity Federation members who work in the same
work sector have formed Networks. Their purpose is
to promote solidarity amongst workers. Networks also
use Direct Action to fight for better pay and
conditions. Networks form the basis of a completely
new labour movement, nothing like the Trade Unions,
which are weakened by having to abide by ridiculous
laws, and by hierarchical power structures and
self-interested paid officials. The fundamentally
different nature of Networks fits their fundamentally
different aim.
Where next?
    As Locals and Networks grow, they practise
community and workers' self-management. Eventually,
industries will be run by producers and consumers. In
other words, by workers (in Networks) and people in
the wider community (Locals) who want the goods and
services they provide. And this is no flight of fancy
or text-book dream. As the solidarity movement grows
in members and influence, so does the scope for
action. Both the Locals and Networks have already
established a reputation and are showing real results
in membership & effectiveness.
Global Solidarity
    Capitalism is international, so we need to be
organised globally to oppose it and build a viable
alternative. Nationalism and patriotism lead to
pointless and false divisions, used as tools to fuel
economic and bloody wars. Solidarity Federation
opposes these in favour of a movement built on global
    Solidarity Federation is the British section of
the International Workers' Association
(IWA), the anarcho-syndicalist association. This
gives it essential international solidarity and
experience from much larger sections such as the CNT
(Spain) and USI (Italy). Founded in 1922, the IWA has
a long history of solidarity in action; by the 2nd
World War over 5 million people worldwide were
affiliated. A combination of war, fascism, and soviet
`communism' all but destroyed the movement, but after
the Spanish CNT re-emerged in the late 70's, the IWA
had a new lease of life. Today, there are sections
ranging from a few dozen to thousands of members, and
growth is rapid. At the 21st IWA Congress in Granada,
Spain, in December 2000, groups across four continents
are seeking affiliation to the IWA, to add to the
seven new sections welcomed at the last Congress four
years ago. 
Getting Involved
    A global solidarity movement can only gather
strength as many more people who share the same aims
get involved. Contacting Solidarity Federation offers
the possibility of contributing to this growing
momentum. It is not like joining a club, union or
political party - rather, it is an opportunity to
channel your efforts for change and, at the same time,
benefit yourself from the experience.


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