The CCC in Switzerland just finished their campaign on living wages and collected more than 30.000 signatures. From November, 2nd until 18th, a representative from the German CCC together with two workers from Bangladesh and representatives of the Asian Floor Wage Campaign from Bangladesh and Indonesia are touring through Germany until November to discuss the issue of a living wage. They will be in Bonn, Stuttgart, Munich, Hannover, Leipzig, Berlin, Hamburg, Rellingen, Bremen, Münster, Oberhausen, Koblenz (here is a plan of the tour).
- Is the demand for a transnational living wage helpful?
- Whom shall it address?
- What shall German companies do?
- What shall governments and civil society do?
I just came across a wonderful illustration of a speech by the famous philosopher and psychoanalytic Slavoj Zizek “First a tradegy then a farce” at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). In his speech he criticizes “cultural capitalism” and argues why charity is the basic constituent of our economy. Let me just point out some of his rather radical (but never the less insteresting) suggestions:
He claims that “there is an element of hypocracy in charity” and that charity degrades and demoralizes (e.g. it is immoral to use private property in order to alleviate the horrible evils that result from the institution of private property). He illustrates what he means by consumer culture with the example of buying starbucks’ fair trade coffee: In your consumerist act of buying a cup of fair trade coffee you also do good for the environment, for the communities in Guatamala etc. – i.e. you fulfil ethical duties, which “makes you feel warm”. However, he calls this a “short circuit where the very act of egotist consumption already includes the price for its opposite”. The problem about charity, in this view, is that it does not cure the disease, but merely prolongs it. The real aim should be to try to reconstruct society on such a basis that poverty will be impossible (while not arguing marxist).
I am not saying that I support his arguments – but there is something about his thoughts and the animation is just wonderful.