Last Sundays (21/9/08) Clotheswaparama (Drill hall, Dalmeny St, Leith) was slick, well attended affair with approximately two hundred people refreshing their wardrobes with recycled garments.
There was live music from several local artists as well great food including a particularly fine locally produced salad. It was intended as a soft introduction to community action and climate change.
Indeed the whole event was an example of a mass action – via consumption! It would have been a fairly impressive affair had it been purely DIY. It wasnt though. With its government sponsorship (department for international development amongst others), its paid employees running around with clipboards and glossy publicity materials it looked great but it failed to address the unpleasant realities that are social war and business as usual corporate politics.
There may be a lot to praise this type of event for. It certainly got a lot of people along, there were opportunities for engaging in climate change politics: there were films, literature and workshops. I guess you could say it had quality and quantity.
What it didn't have however was depth or a realistic analysis of our current predicament. We are not simply going to consume our way out of this one. The facile idea that we can make some sort of defense of the Earth by trading jumpers is not helpful to anyone. It just puts the burden of responsibility on the consumer.
By sponsoring events like this, by promoting false solutions to climate change governments coopt movements and people. By supporting these type of non events we shoot ourselves in the foot. We give them weight by adhering to their reformist agenda.