Monday, September 10, 2007

RIP Anita Roddick

Whatever points of disagreement I've had with Anita Roddick, small and less small, she is a very sad loss. A progressive campaigner involved with anti-war activities, like that pictured, and connected to groups like the Ruckus Society she was definitely part of the solution - not the problem.

Anita had been battling the Hepatitis C virus for some time and died tonight of a brain hemorrhage.


Renegade Eye said...

Very sad.

Keith Watermelon said...

You really are a pillock, Jim Jay. How can someone who banned trade unions from her company, who ruthlessly attacked worker's pay and conditions, be 'part of the solution'.

at least you've finally admitted that you're no kind of socialist whatsoever, unless you expect the bourgeoisie to somehow lead the working class to power.

good riddance to the anti-working class scumbag

Jim Jay said...

Keith, you have a charming turn of phrase, have you considered a career in the diplomatic corps or grief councilling perhaps?

Would you care to substantiate Body Shop being an anti-union employer? After all they state very clearly on their website that all employees should have the right to join a union and on anita roddick's personal page there are a good number of positive references to role of trade unions around the world.

As far as I'm aware it is only the mclibel people who ever made this accusation (in 97?) and they reference her supposedly saying something they didn't like on radio four once and that body shop workers get paid the kind of workers shop workers get paid. That's it.

That's not enough to label her anti-working class and dismiss every progressive thing she ever did. Give me more evidence (more than just repetition of the same unsubstantiated slur)

I'm not prepared to use this context to go into my criticisms of Roddick but it seems to me that this kind of thing has more to do with gate keeping who is and is not allowed to be seen as progressive than it has to do with any understanding of the effect Roddick had on the world.

Keith Watermelon said...

if you want to know about roddick's anti-unionism, just google a few articles on the strike that took place at soapworks (one of her subsidiaries) a few years back.

and i'll ask you again, how can the boss of a corporation be part of the solution? i'll look forward to your response

Jim Jay said...

OK - this is getting better.

I'm assuming you're retracting your silly accusations that she was "someone who banned trade unions from her company" as the only thing you cite is a strike from a recognised union in a subsidiary. The claim that she "ruthlessly attacked worker's pay and conditions" looks pretty thin too.

I realise that it's too much to ask that you actually recognise you were firing off ill considered hyperbole, but don't worry about that. Let's move on.

I guess we're starting afresh with a far more interesting disagreement about whether it is possible to be both a progressive *and* a capitalist.

I'm tempted to start with Robert Owen and the contradictions contained within what was a well intentioned enterprise. But for brevity let's begin with Roddick being "anti-union" on the basis that she ran a profit making company.

Of course more precisely this should be "anti-worker" because her business involved paying employees the kind of salaries you get for shop and factory work - ie not particularly good ones.

Whilst she may have been happy to have unions in her companies and was a great supporter of many progressive causes there *is* a contradiction contained within her chosen role within capitalism. After all body shop was not even a workers coop.

As I said I had disagreements with her, both large and small, and I've not described her as a socialist because she was not one. What that does not mean is that we can write off her support for direct action, for the anti-capitalist movement, for human and animal rights and all the rest of it.

She made use of the existing economic system and that's an interesting choice because it allowed her to popularise more "ethical" products (for instance by reducing animal testing) which would not have been possible in another way, and it necessitated the kinds of practices that as a trade union activist I've been involved in opposing many times. It is not an unproblematic position.

However, your way of looking at the world, demonising those who step out of line, is clunky to say the least. Roddick did make a significant contribution to progressive causes and was a benefit to the anti-capitalist movement. You need to recognise this rather than changing the subject.

The question is do we expect untainted behaviour from someone who makes real contributions. I think the answer is no, but it is useful to recognise where differences of opinion lie.

weggis said...

Very good, Jim.

Someone who recognises that there are contridictions. For every Proverb there is a counter Proverb. Many hands make light work, but too many cooks spoil the broth!

Capitalist, anti-Capitalist? Which is right? Who Knows? Nobody knows. It's just a question of balance. It is not a person's actions that are important, it is their MOTIVE.