Saturday, August 2, 2014

Stitched Up Snit

This post is inspired by a review in Socialist Action (by Christine Marie) of a book by Tansy Hoskins entitled Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion. Actually, that's a book I'd like to read. But the Kindle price is almost $19! And this for a book that is only 216 pages long.

I refuse to buy it.

The hypocrisy in this case is galling. Much of Ms. Hoskin's argument is about how the fashion industry destroys the environment, along with preventing people from reaching their true aspirations. And then they overprice environmentally-friendly e-books by a factor of three? What gives?

So I'm stuck with Ms. Marie's review (along with a better article in The Guardian). Her piece includes astonishingly meaningless sentences, for example:
Individual artists can create work that inspires dreams of a different kind of society, while, at the same time, the art system that abides that rebellion actually hides capitalism’s inherently destructive mode of functioning and its vulnerability to overthrow by the majority.
Liberation from our own alienation, retail therapy, credit card debt, and body image issues, Hoskins explains, can only be won collectively and in solidarity with garment workers acting in their interest worldwide.
 Judged from Ms. Marie's review, Ms. Hoskins' book makes the following claims.

The industry exploits workers.

This is certainly not true, at least not in China. Per capita GDP in China has increased by a factor of 14 since 1980. That means the average person in China is 14 times richer than they were 35 years ago. Never have so many people been pulled out of poverty ever before in human history--surely one of the greatest accomplishments of the human race. Even if it doesn't stick, i.e., if China goes into a prolonged depression, a decline of 50% (very unlikely short of war) still leaves them seven-fold better off than they were in 1980.

Similar statistics exist for Vietnam, India, and even Bangladesh--modest only by comparison to China.

Fashion is bad for the environment.

Ms. Marie points to the example of the Aral Sea, an inland sea destroyed by cotton farming in the--get this--Soviet Union. How that example discredits capitalism is not clear. But the larger point has at least a grain of truth, for there is no doubt that China, in particular, has serious environmental problems. Their environmental bureaucracy dates from Maoist times--again not much of a rap against capitalism.

The solution to environmental problems is to make people richer. Then they will have enough money to make the necessary capital investment in infrastructure to preserve the environment. Forcing textile workers to return to a life of subsistence farming--which is ultimately what Ms. Marie proposes--is not much of an alternative.

The consumer is a victim of "false need."

Leave it to socialists to determine what your needs are. You think you need new underwear? Well, forget it--you'll never get permission from the Underwear Needs Department. You can apply again in six months. 

Who the hell do these people think they are? Do they really think they have the right to disapprove of your wardrobe because they think you don't "need" it?

I've often wondered what happens to Dunkin Donuts after the revolution. Nobody needs a donut, so maybe they'd just close them all down. Or maybe all we need are plain donuts--none of the bourgeois, cop-attracting sprinkles. The only way I'll ever support socialism is if they appoint me as Commissar for Donuts for life.

Fashion designers are evil scoundrels.

Fashion designers are into waste, deception, exploitation, and profit. That's it. That consumers get cheap prices? Forget it--not important. That consumers enjoy having new things? Stupid consumers--they're consumed with false needs. That workers are able to earn a living? Nah! If only they realized how exploited they were, they'd be first in line to get back behind that old water buffalo. That there's a very sophisticated, home-grown dye and textile manufacturing industry in India? That's just awful. All of that should be regulated by Christine Marie--she absolutely knows what's best for Indian workers.

Socialism is for poverty. It will deprive you of your livelihood. It will deprive you of your ability to buy things you want. It will deprive you of your humanity. The only beneficiaries are the wannabe dictators like Christine Marie.

Further Reading:

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