The WTO Fashion Show

Sent:  11-10-2000

Consider this tangent, as it defines the territory for a future discussion very clearly: my most widely covered observation from the first day of WTO rioting - a point that was picked up immediately by the French press who interviewed us on the street - was that the majority of the kids who we could see from where we stood were dressed in clothing - from the tips of their toes to the tops of their heads - from shoes to backpacks - that had been made in sweatshops in Mexico, Brazil, Malaysia, Thailand and other 3rd world enclaves of environmental non-regulation and near slave labor wage-scale.

Meaning that the protesters were not hip enough to wear their solidarity with union-made clothing, even to a high profile event like a riot that was in fact protesting the unrealistically low prices we all pay for gasoline, food and clothing, directly subsidized by the oppression of the rest of the world, an oppression enforced at gunpoint, if need be.

Because it really appeared to me that the majority of the protesters appeared to be quite willing to suspend their ethical positions when faced with the sticker-shock posed by a comparable backpack, rainshell or footwear made by an artisan in the US - because it would cost 5 to 10 times more money than the 3rd world knockoffs from Nike, JanSport or North Face - and that they were unwilling back up their ethical positions with their dollars.

I used the term "made by an artisan" advisedly because there are essentially no factories in the US making such products anymore, not since Wally Smith was hired to turn REI into "Sears for the baby boomers".

©Joe Breskin November 2000
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