Wednesday, 27 October 2010

What to think about...Fairtrade

Cadburys are lovely
 Welcome to another in my educational series of posts called "What to think about..." Their purpose is to summarise correct thinking and help steer you clear of mental pitfalls. They are presented in a bullet-pointed style, because management consultants tell us that no subject in the world is too complex to summarise in bullet points, and if you say something often enough it becomes true.

  • Fairtrade goods allow us to choose products that ensure the workers get a fairer price, and this is good, obviously - I mean, who could argue with that? A monster maybe.
  • People want to be good - they just need to be given a chance to consume in the right way
  • It's not charity, and it's not a cut-throat market attitude. It's a third way, and as reasonable people we all know that Third Ways are the answer
  • Even if we don't know a lot about the condition of the labourers we never meet, or the conditions of the immigrant labourers in the Tesco warehouse that weren't included on the label, at least Fairtrade is doing something 
  • A smiling face of a coffee picker on the side of your packet of coffee makes you feel slightly less complicit in the general reliance of your civilisation on poor labourers. They are smiling because you bought their coffee, and this makes you happy

And what not to think (unfortunate mental aberrations that may arise) :
  • If the goods are not signficantly more expensive than non-Fairtrade goods, the workers can't really be getting that much extra money - £2.25 a day instead of £2 is still dirt poor. And if the goods are significantly more expensive, they become a niche product for well-heeled people, because most people, by both necessity and training, do shop according to price. 
  • If ethics can be consumed then it is just another product, in which case I'm gonna get some from my local dealer every day and do it intravenously, cos I love that ethical rush


  1. you cynical bastard.

  2. Good post. Reminded me of this animated clip of Zizek's talk at the RSA, where he says that in our current era consumerism and philanthropy are combined in inventions such as Fairtrade.

  3. *yawn* he spouts shit about can't make ommlettes without breakin eggs...fuck'im.