"Fire is motion / Work is repetition / This is my document / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all we've done / We are all all defenses."

- Cap'N Jazz, "Oh Messy Life," Analphabetapolothology

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

is bono trying to tell us something??!?

so my social entrepreneurship class is working with mrs. bono (as in, the wife of irish "rockstar"/u2 frontman bono) to promote and expand their existing "socially conscious" clothing line, EDUN.

EDUN aims to help the people of lesotho, africa (yes, the lesotho of recent diamond fame) by creating living wage jobs in the garment industry. every process in the production of the clothes for EDUN are done by african laborers (for a living wage) and then shipped back here for sale in the US (at a hefty price of upwards from $45 for a t-shirt).

i only have a few qualms about this:

first, at $45+ for a t-shirt, even if it is made by a well-fed african laborer, do they think their business is going to make enough sales to dramatically impact the lives of all the workers? and how many workers are actually working at these factories? enough to change life in lesotho for everyone? and what about the rest of africa?

even though EDUN aspires to help the citizens of lesotho, africa by creating living wage jobs in the manufacturing of factory-made t-shirts, i don't necessarily think industrialization is appropriate for sustainable growth. this may help the few ppl actually working the jobs, and maybe their families, but what are the odds this will actually help their place in the global economy?

also, industrialization has a history of destroying cultures and communities in the name of economic growth.

further, having workers in africa make t-shirts for sale in the US requires shipment of supplies and products across seas, and takes away from the possibility of growing local business. products made are shipped out, with no immediate local impact, besides the fact of the wages themselves, which, though they are living wages, still doesn't take away from the fact that they are wages in the place of one's labor.

even though lesotho citizens are getting living wages at these jobs, the fact is that they are still working to produce objects of consumption, products which they don't themselves consume. as any marx scholar would be able to tell you, this is alienation as a result of the capitalist system at its best. and speaking of capitalism...

rather then helping to eliminate the source of the problem (: CAPITALISM), this model perpetuates the very source of strife in our modern world. think about it: if capitalism didn't exist, everything we did would not revolve around this abstract and arbitrary numerical monetary value we place on it, but would only depend on its use value. thus, the things we produce wouldn't be cheap in quality because that makes it cheaper to produce, and things would last longer, and would be of more use to us as people.

AND, rather than have our lives consumed by the act of consumption, we could live to produce meaningful labor. that is, rather than working to earn the money we need to buy the products of someone else's reluctant labor, we could work together to produce things of value to us, rather than laboring and spending our energies on empty $'s.

thus, materialism is not the way. and capitalism only serves to maintain the status quo and continue to imprison our fellow human beings. for, as long as capitalism exists along with a system of production and consumption, we remain slaves to the $, limited in our potential by the hope of material advancement.

and of course, as long as capitalism exists, the lower working classes will always exist to make the upper elite feel special. and that goes against the very idea of democracy.

and finally:
EDUN = NUDE backwards.



but don't get me wrong. i mean, i think bono's idea is great. and though a little flawed, it's at least a step in the right direction. but what we really need, i mean really REALLY need, is systemic change.

and the annihalation of capitalism. :-)

but hey, it's a start.

groveling before the shrine of bono,

p.s. i stayed up all night for the second night in a row working on a paper for this class.
and i feel like my spine is melting.

i dislike business class. it makes my heart stop beating.


remaerdyaD said...

sorry, i have to spam you on this one...

my highschool gf and i made a tshirt company - we made our moniker by combining our first names (sick freaking lennon-yoko ono puppy wuv - i think i was drumming in a band playing u2 covers even (i think i am going to throw up... )-; )) where are 'blanks' were from was paramount as the cheapies (which is usually a few bucks a shirt) carried slave labour - - it is hard to trust which is what how when it comes to these things...

personally, i stick by present solutions: avoid ANY AND ALL factory outlet and keep it local - the solution is in tracing it to the actual production factory (if that makes me socialist, so be it)

so on the whole, you touch here on an issue for me - as i went on to apprentice as a fashion designer, working under a seamstress for a spell even (just about the only job i had in my unemployed life)

this kind of 'entrepreneurship' has nothing to do with anything that works. first off, it is the sale of a brand, not a t-shirt (my friend and i just needed some kind of logo, not some... CRUSADE) Second. the features were the product of the labour of four hands: those of me and my friend. we were able to produce from the ground up enough product to fill our niche (tie die, batik, stencil (nothing like silk stenciling)) if we enforced slave labour (the employment of wage earners) it would be in line with production meeting demand

what is happening here is the brand is being used to promote a liberal agenda. the fact that it is something as low on the totem pole as t-shirts - which you cannot getting any lower than in textile trade (please note: stretch poly/cotton is kinda hard to work with on the kinda crappy, old sewing machine like mine (well, my grandmother's actually (-;)) is just endemnic of the KIND of liberalism being promoted through the BRAND - we could just as easily be talking about cars, pickles, or the infamous "widget"

your (funny) capitalist assertions are right on... i just wonder if there is not some hidden place where people like bono and marx meet to gorge themselves on fruits of the labour of the hands of others

i would like to bring up dividenture, as it seems to be mysteriously absent from other discussions i have on the subject of business... it might not relate, but with privatization, it is very, very difficult to avoid asking, "were EXACTLY does any PROFIT on investment (such as stock - this is called dividend) really come from?" i think that to answer this question is not a matter of giving africans anything but taking from africans a great deal.

the profit made on investment, the basis for which are an absolute necessity so that such nice, liberal-minded nicities can even exist (re: the stores in which they sell the t-shirts; companies that do the shipping; the dockworkers who must load and unload raw material and product; ect.), come from the following type of pecking order:
0. the working poor of america (until such time as labour laws trump police action)
1. the working poor of, say, africa (until such time as has never existed - or until bono wins his liberal game)
2. the working poor anywhere else... say, oh, i dunno, maybe, like... china (just a guess)

end of spam, have a nice day (-:

The ZenFo Pro said...


Not adding anything, but, well...American Apparel's model is probably a little better suited for creating a sustainable market for fairly-traded clothing.

$45 per tee? That's just stupid.

stephan!e lee said...

i know, right?

american apparel is also ridiculously expensive: 40-60 a shirt (and just a plain t-shirt!)

but the problem is, we should be WILLING to pay for this stuff if we want to end poverty. the REAL problem lies in the fact that evil-doers such as walmart exist to undermine these humanitarian efforts.