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punks against sweatshops

Punks Against Sweatshops

Punks Against Sweatshops by Punk Ethics is particularly close to my heart

Today, no music, film or book discovery, but an initiative that deserves to be talked about, because it doesn’t seem natural for everyone, and that’s where the problem lies.

I have mentioned on several occasions the visceral incomprehension I feel towards certain aspects of society, my rejection of capitalism, of the race for profit, of injustice and exploitation. I have also mentioned several times how important it is for me that a group takes a stand on this kind of subject. And the coherence of the Punk Ethics collective is exactly what I need.

Punk Ethics, what is it?

Punk Ethics is a British DIY collective project that aims to promote progressive elements of the world punk scene. In their presentation, they recall where the punk movement was born, that is from the rejection of a society by people rejected by that society. They evoke this punk scene rejecting hierarchy and oppression, taking the side of the underprivileged, fighting for the rights of the excluded, and advocating DIY.

With their campaigns, events and solidarity actions, they work to make punk, this art form, a social movement. To learn more about Punk Ethics, their actions, events, campaigns, etc… I invite you, or even order you, to go to their website, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, or Instagram.

What about Punks Against Sweatshops? Punks Against Sweatshops (see here) is a campaign that Punk Ethics launched in spring 2019. It has all the coherence that seems to me obvious. Sweatshops? It means “exploitation factories”. Manufactory, workshop or factory, very often in the textile industry, where employees are exploited, and where we find a whole bunch of crap: poverty wages, insecurity, child labour, forced labour, indecent working hours, various forms of abuse… In short, exploitation, i.e. modern slavery in due form. The kind of thing you can’t fucking endorse.

Punks Against Sweatshops initiative

That’s where, in my opinion, you find all the coherence of the idea. The punk who advocates social justice and cares to defend the oppressed, cannot decently endorse such practices as those of sweatshops. Yet merch, sweats, t-shirts and co, are an integral part of the punk scene. Are you starting to see what I’m getting at? Who really questions the product, the manufacturing context? Under what conditions do the people who make it work? It’s a filthy hypocrisy to proclaim oneself against these forms of injustice, while participating in their development and ensuring that they continue. Both groups and consumers should be responsible for this.

punks against sweatshops manifesto

This is why Punks Ethics has partnered with No Sweat, to launch the Punks Against Sweatshops campaign (see here) and defend the rights of textile workers. Punks Against Sweatshops calls on bands to commit to buying their textiles from ethical suppliers and to get sweatshops out of the punk scene. Many bands have already joined the campaign and we can find all the coherence with the positions they have taken and their lyrics. Among them are Propagandhi, Jello Biafra, Crass, Petrol Girls, Wonk Unit, Oi Polloi, The Restarts, etc…

It’s all best summed up in the campaign video:

And more generally?

This campaign is in line with a more general idea that I do not give up: consumer’s responsibility. For me it’s really basic; if you buy, it will continue to be produced to meet demand. The banal law of supply and demand. So I’m already hearing that, but it’s more complicated than that… So what? We continue to play the game while offending and cursing?

Well, no. For me the consumer has a real power, as comfortable as it is not to want to admit it. His consumption choices can leverage production choices. Just look at the whole range of vegan products that have arrived in recent years to meet strong demand. Of course, it’s still the same quest for profit on the part of industrialists, but if it helps to change things, why deprive ourselves of it? It’s the same for everything, including textiles. I refer in particular to the Fair Wear Foundation, a foundation created in Holland, which works to ensure that decent working conditions are respected in companies in the sector. Among other things, their website contains a list of controlled brands that comply with their Code of Labour Practices. Go to their site to find out more.

punks against sweatshops logo

In short, Punks Against Sweatshops is an initiative that for me is completely in line with punk values. More globally, if you really want to fight something, ask yourself the right questions. Make sure you don’t endorse or encourage what you say you are fighting. Stop selling shit, stop buying shit. Fuck.

We translated this article from the French blog Once Upon A Punk. You can read the original article here.

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