Direct Action (SolFed) #25 2002

Michelangelo's "reaching hands", from his painting The Creation of Adam are confgured to look like they are grasping for a wad of paper money. Headline "Buy more stuff"

Anarcho-syndicalist magazine, this issue themed around consumption and consumer culture.

Submitted by Fozzie on September 2, 2022


  • 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 food.
  • Friends of the Earth... but not of their workers?
  • Radio Active; On the rise: Bougainville
  • Solidarity call - Firefighters; Institutionalised sectarianism: On the edge: Makes you McWeep; Packed to madness; Oil Junkies; Disk mountains; Jumping the queue; Asda - cheap lies; War is Peace; Fixed-Term Work Regulations; Grey guerrillas.
  • international news: Portugal; USA; Canada; Australia; India; Russia; Italy; France; Brazil; Spain; Poland Feature: Dirty Mac Protests
  • globalfocus: Argentina: Debt-defaulting and workers' control.
  • Consuming Issues - Notes on consumption and fear: right and wrong enters the market place.
  • blairedvision: The ultimate New Labour focus group?
  • Third Way thinking: Local Strategic Partnerships.
  • action for change: Organising at work
  • debate: 21st century Bakuninism: Boisterous gatecrashers at the global street party?
  • notes+letters: Stopping the war; Killing the View; National Liberation; Why I married an Estate Agent.
  • books & pamphlets reviews:
    9-11 - Noam Chomsky
    Food in History - Reay Tannahill *
    Orgasms of History - Yves Fremion
    In the devil's garden: A sinful history of forbidden food - Stewart Lee Allen
    Facing the Enemy - Alexandre Skirda, translated by Paul Sharkey
    Alternative Approaches to Education - Fiona Camie
    Housing Benefit Hill and other places - C. J. Stone
    Party over Class - Alan Woodward
    Sylvia Pankhurst and anti-Parliamentary communism - NELSF
  • music reviews:
    Dropping Food on their Heads is not Enough! Benefit CD for the women of Afghanistan
    Plea for Peace - Take Action: Volume 2 - a benefit for the National Hopeline Network
    Steve Earle - Jerusalem / Oysterband - Rise Above / Waco Bros - New Deal
  • justicepage - Yannis Serifis: Once more a hostage of state terrorism
  • Mass-producing Poverty: Globalisation and debt - how it is, and how it can be challenged.
  • DA resources: Info., upcoming events, campaigns, friends & neighbours.

Editorial: 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 mouth?’

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 production.

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.