An Anti-Capitalist Approach to Fashion
There hasn’t yet been a book that links fashion and capitalism so directly, so ‘Stitched Up. The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion’ by Tansy Hoskins, is something of a first and Tansy teases and picks at the threads of the industry, pulling them to unravel dark undersides that are, so she argues, caused by the system that governs the fashion industry – capitalism. At the book launch last week, fashion and it’s practices were interrogated by Tansy, her panel of guest speakers and a packed and engaged audience at the Rag Factory in East London. The book sheds light on the fashion industry’s unsavory practices by addressing a range of issues from the exploitation of workers along the supply chain, from garment workers’ rights, working conditions for models, the pressures and problems of a one-size-(zero)-fits-all aesthetic, the role of the fashion media, to the emphasis on people as consumers rather than citizens. As Tansy said at the beginning of the evening, “Fashion is a lens to look at capitalism through.” And the various problematic threads that run through the industry were scrutinized during the evening, with not much offer by way of defence. As the first book to address fashion from an anti-capitalist perspective, Tansy’s hope is that people will be able to see more clearly what fashion represents i.e. largely the best interests of corporations and their profit margins. Discussions about fashion need more than this too, so as not to be in danger of ‘victimising’ fashion, of seeing fashion only as a form of exploitation is to neglect it’s role as creative, engaging and inspiring. That at the end of book Tansy recognises, “Fashion will never be free without an end to capitalism. And yet fashion can contribute to the remaking of the world. It has the ability to replace the old with the new, to makes us hope and dream”. After Tansy introduced her book, Nadia Idle, of War on Want, discussed the issues around workers rights and the Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops campaign; Leah Borromeo showed her film ‘Dirty White Gold’ and Dunja Knezevic of the Models Union told how she’d created the first union for the industry. “Fashion fashions our bodies” asserted Susie. Can we dare to occupy our own bodies, embody them even, rather than constantly sculpt them, continuously fashion them? Fashion can be this space, a place for inspiration and debate, it can contribute more to the discussion than pretty frocks – it can, embrace diversity and yet address adversity. Fashion as an appeal as something more than shopping, as Tansy says in her book fashion is “Truly glorious and enthralling” and “An incredibly skilled and demanding art form”, that can hopefully play a role in a world that people want to see.
BOTTOM LINE- The true costs of Reagan and extreme capitalism by Sam Smith
BOTTOM LINEThe true costs of Reagan and extreme capitalism by Sam Smith. Reagan was still just a brash voice for the wealthy, the greedy, and the lucky, a Bill O’Reilly with charm. As Newt Gingrich noted, “Margaret Thatcher was the forerunner who made Reagan possible. The 1979 campaign was the direct model from which we took much of the 1980 Republican campaign.” To be sure, Reagan and Thatcher can not be blamed for everything that followed. As Gingrich remarked, “In a lot of ways Tony Blair is Margaret Thatcher’s adopted son.” Still it was Thatcher and Reagan that got things rolling. “I do not propose that Reagan and his aides are fascists, but I do suggest that they could well – because of their ignorance, selfishness and egotism – be leading us into a proto-fascist period in which America would accept accelerated depreciation of its democratic values based on the faulty premises so effectively sold by the Reagan crowd.” “Stand back a minute and look around you. We face a massive deficit and what does our president want to do to correct it? Increase still further military spending even at the cost of destroying programs that have been an integral part of American life for decades. Forget about the issue of priorities and think what this says about who holds power in this country. When people starve to feed the military machine, democracy is in deep trouble. In truth, the Reagan administration is an attempt to turn the military-industrial combination from a complex to a full autocracy.” “Part of the problem stems from the cultural background of the Reagan elite; they are used to being bosses, they now have the key to executive washroom of the world, America, and damned if anyone else is going to get in. This executive suite mentality helps perhaps to explain why the Reagan people are so abysmal at the ordinary politics of compromise and negotiation. They’re best at telling people what to do, only now instead of it being a branch manager it’s a senator, an interest group or another once sovereign nation. Listen to them talking about why they won’t help this or that segment of the population; their rhetoric is that of a CEO announcing the closing of a plant to improve the profitability of the company…”. Reagan transformed American politics into show business and the media was glad to join the cast. Reagan had taught us that truth and reality were no longer important. Reagan was still calling the shots nearly a decade after leaving office. O. So where has all this left us? To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, are you better off than you were 25 years ago?