You’re making quite a lot of assumptions about the people who took part in yesterday’s action, but I’m not that sure they’re fair.
You speak of the miserable conditions faced by Adidas workers in London as well as in China, and I entirely agree with your assessment of how the managers use low pay and cut shifts to discipline the work force. Two different parts of the world, but the same impulse – to make conditions more and more precarious, and the rewards less and less so that the company can continue to make as much profit as it can. It therefore confuses me why you see the struggle of Chinese workers as somehow separate from your own. You seem to be angry that we were out there backing the Chinese and not the workers at your store; but I can guarantee you’d have exactly the same support if you asked for it, or needed it, for exactly the reason that the difficulties you face are one and the same. I don’t underestimate how difficult that kind of organising can be under the conditions faced by UK workers in precarious jobs, but it’s the kind of organisations and networks which are backing the Chinese workers who you can turn to for help if you wanted it. It’s the people you deride who will come out in support. Check out a union like the IWGB
and their recent battles at the University of London with the 3cosas cleaner campaign. http://iwgb.org.uk/
I’ll skip your psychoanalysis, but you’re right that the political left is too often dominated by the middle class. It simply isn’t true though that the people involved in the demonstration were either all middle class or think UK workers are inferior and beneath them. There’s no reason why showing support for Chinese workers because they asked for it stops anybody showing, or desiring to show, support for UK workers. It’s a fact that the people involved in the action yesterday are also involved in political activity relating to the situation of UK workers – many of us are in poorly paid, precarious jobs ourselves. I’d be sceptical about the kind of politics where activists come in to try to ‘inspire’ workers to action, but I hope that the example of campaigns like the aforementioned 3cosas can be inspiring in themselves.
I doubt you’d find that anybody is “pretending” to despise the system they live under. Maybe I can only speak for myself here but I’m pretty sure my sentiments would be shared. It’s a system built on values I find repulsive. It has, and will continue, to do its best to make my life and the lives of those around me as difficult and miserable as possible. It’s a system which brings violence to bear against the people who tried to oppose it, beating, arresting them, dragging them through courts, imprisoning them and so on – all to protect the interests of the powerful; for instance your employers. It’s destroying the country, the world, and the things I love. I’ve committed a good deal of my life and energy to its annihilation. I won’t be rushing to put out any fires if, or when, as you hope, they start.
I don’t see much potential for self-glorification from standing outside the shop in the rain after a long day at work to be honest. My life isn’t so dull as to find the prospect of confrontation with a security guard or being pestered by the police particularly exciting. I suspect most people who are active in politics outside of tedious parliamentary crap have the stories to tell already if it were all about that. You’re right that these protests would be entirely insufficient if it was all we were up to, or that they’ll make a massive difference to the world in the long run. Still, it’s important to show support to people when they take difficult strike action. It’s important to show, in however tokenistic a manner, that there is an international response. It’s important for people to hear more about what’s taking place and why. It’s important for Adidas to see that yes, there are ‘brand’ implications for shitting on its workers. In their own small way, that’s perhaps the most these sorts of actions can hope to achieve. To which I can only say: surely better than nothing? Were the strikes to spread to UK workers, then you’re right, that would mean a lot more. Perhaps this can start the dialogue which could bring about that kind of situation. Let’s talk.
As for the “after party” (yes we had a beer or two like normal people) there wasn’t much chat about being shoved by security guards. Like you, we mostly talked about hating our jobs.
All the best,