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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Thursday, June 15, 2006
    Choosing not to shop is just another form of shopping
     
    Google 'should I shop at Wal-Mart?' and you will find a cool 12 million hits; this is a question that has many people profoundly exercised. The trouble is that choosing not to shop at Wal-Mart for ethical reasons is both a political action and a retreat from politics. Ethical consumption may indeed be the best we can do, and it gives the ethical consumer a nice warm glow, but it is also another form of self-expression through consumption, and it is consumption, at root, which is the problem. At a global level, you could say that choosing not to shop at Wal-Mart is just another form of shopping at Wal-Mart.

    - John Lanchester in the current London Review of Books. He's writing about the perception that we 'lack a way of talking about the public good that is not framed purely in terms of economics'. Local protests and objections, ethical consumerism - these are not enough, he says. Its about reclaiming language, or learning to speak all over again.