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Dear Dancing Queen,
Subcomandauntie’s mailbag has once again been bulging with letters on ethical-consumer issues (don’t you people have any real problems?). I”m afraid there’s no easy answer, but you mustn’t feel guilty about buying sweatshop labour products: half the world’s workers are denied the basic right to even join a trade union, so most clothing we buy reeks of exploitation.
Nor should you treat the ethical purchasing of trainers as an act of self-indulgent consumer choice, as many ‘bourgeois boycotters’ do. Your power to choose is a luxury most of the world’s working classes don’t have: Chinese or Indonesian workers in tax-free, anti-union export-processing zones cannot suddenly decide to go and work in better conditions.
As a stand-alone act, boycotting sweated labour products in favour of a ‘fair-trade label’ usually means redistributing wealth from one country’s working class to another. This does nothing to eradicate sweatshop labour itself.
There are ‘ethical footwear’ options out there, however. Ethical Wares is run by vegans who seek to trade goods that are non-exploitative of animals, humans and the wider environment. A similar venture is Vegetarian Shoes. Check out the websites www.ethicalconsumer.org and www.nosweatapparel.com for outlets.
But ultimately, whatever trainers you purchase, someone or something will always be exploited as long as you continue to work for the system. Auntie ‘sub-commands’ you to cut down on selling dodgy pensions and partying all night.
Grace Blakeley investigates the curious case of Carillion: how the company’s slow decline and abrupt liquidation reveals the nature of modern capitalism.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns