Archive for the 'Consumerism' Category


The Phone Not Taken–and a Modest Proposal

Something everybody should do once in a while is taking a free day in the middle of the week. The people one meets belong to two main categories: those who have no work, and therefore very little money, and those who have too much money, and therefore need not work. It is the world neoliberalism would have: one of absolute disparities. Retired people, bled dry by Danish prices and property taxes, walk slowly around in old clothes, looking at shop windows; meanwhile, trophy wives in mink furs happily hop from hairdressers to peddlers of foie gras sandwiches, concept furniture, ethnic trinkets, designer clothes and lamps.
Businesses are divided too: there’s the normal and the Frederiksberg type (Frederiksberg is a low-taxation enclave in the middle of Copenhagen where the urban rich tend to live; it has the highest density of this kind of businesses, but they can be found in every fancy area of Denmark). Normal shops struggle to stay open, in central Copenhagen, trying to offset rentals starting from 3000 € a month by selling cheap crap for quick cash some 10 hours a day. Frederiksberg Shops are owned and fully paid for by rich people, and used not so much as a source of income but as a means to claim that they, too, work, and are therefore not akin to the disgusting crowd of the unemployed. They can easily be recognized, aside from the bizarre quality of their wares, by their extremely short opening times. I have seen some open three hours a day three days a week, and hold months-long holidays every year. There is hardly a chance of ever seeing one of them open when I am not at work, namely, after 7 pm and during the week-end.

I had, therefore, never seen this particular shop (which, indeed, is in the heart of Frederiksberg) open before:

POP phones in Frederiksberg

Excess Chinese-made crap

It sells discount designer items–something that, in plain English, translates to “Overpriced, but no longer enormously so, items” (note the price drop from 349 to 100 DKK). Inside, the shop was mostly full of lampshades, but the window showcased piles of old-style telephone receivers for mobile phones. These are, objectively, a good idea: they are a lot more ergonomic than naked mobiles, and they reduce the risk of brain tumours by several orders of magnitude. I was about to buy one when I saw the usual “Made in China” tag. That changed my mind: it is time somebody takes a stand. A stand against underpaid labour, against non-existent environmental regulations, against state-sponsored strike-breaking. It is time, in particular, that communists distance themselves from the Chinese gang that still insists in calling itself a communist party. This is not, however a particularly communist concept: for once, I am asking people to transcend party lines, and to think instead of the bottom line: their employment, and the future of the planet. I would like to have August 8 as Do Not Buy Chinese Day. Details will follow. But spread the word in the meanwhile.


For Norses Only?

For the few among my readers who still can’t see why communism is the sustainable solution, and capitalism is intrinsically wasteful there is this excellent documentary. Most of it is in English, with some small parts in French and German. Originally, I could only find a link available to Denmark; now, it’s only available with Norwegian titles. Try watching it all the same: most of the dialogues are in English

The best quote from the documentary comes from a Frenchman, however:

If you believe this model is sustainable, you are either an idiot or an economist.

Great is the temptation of adding, with Mark Twain, “but I repeat myself” (the Frenchman said, instead: “and, today, we are all economists”).