Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Middle Class Guilt

Sitting on the tube last night, a couple of posters for Oxfam’s current ‘I’m in’ campaign caught my eye

They also caught the back of my throat and left me with a wanting to vomit all over myself kind of feeling

‘It really hits home when you hear that poverty will kill 50,000 people today. my £10 will help change that.’

No, no it won’t.

I haven’t felt quite so nauseated by a charity fund raising poster since the Bono-sponsored ‘Red’ campaign a few months back

Red still wins hands down but Oxfam’s current effort is still pretty special.

I haven’t seen posters that seek to nurture and exploit white middle-class guilt quite so effectively for a long time...

Just £10

And you don’t even have to get off your arse to pay it.

Just send a text message

Surely your pampered cosy white boy conscience is worth a mere £10?

… brought to you by the same kind of people who told you last year that getting pissed and sitting in a park listening to bands would save the World.

… the kind of people who lecture us about what to do with our money whilst merrily dodging tax, investing in Forbes magazine and spending $1,700 to fly their favourite hat first class.


The usual response to people like me heaving their guts up over this kind of nonsense runs along the lines of

‘It’s better than nothing’


‘What’s the harm of using sophisticated advertising and PR techniques if the results serve a higher purpose?’

Personally I’ve never been a big fan of the Noble Lie concept. If you practice that kind of tomfoolery you end up forgetting what the Truth is pdq.

And the Truth is yes, a regular contribution of just £10 a month and the occasional purchase of some crappy sweatshop-produced bracelet that you can nonce round with in public to show how fucking great you are will help save the (Corporate) World.

As well as easing that nagging sense of personal guilt at modest cost, your contribution will enable campaigning groups to

  • Support debt relief tied to ‘economic reforms’ dictated by the World Bank; including abolition of employment rights and sale of infrastructure to privately owned multinational companies
  • Ensure that drug companies continue to receive shit loads of money for toxic drugs needed to treat a disease that might not even exist

Remember, global poverty and suffering is the fault of every individual in the Western World, especially you Middle Class types. All those fluffy multinational corporations, politicians, has-been rock stars and NGOs are just trying to clean up after you and they need your money and support to do it. But even more important than the money, they wan't to liberate you from the tiresome burden of thinking things through and reaching your own conclusions about why the World is fucked up.

Just send the text message and don't worry about it.


Peter said...

Thank you Stef, great post. God damn, charity guilt relief makes my blood boil. It's the hard (or very occasionally self-aggrandising publicity) work of a few people that mops up a few of the terrible effects of our way of life and enables government to ignore the problem, individuals to forget the problem, and corporations to gain goodwill, pretending to care by chucking a few pennies as they exxacerbate, manipulate and exploit the problem.

Peter said...

Oh, I meant to ask you, is your other blog, The Biscuit Game, named in tribute to a game played at upper crust public schools?

Stef said...

Indeed it is

No connection between the title of that other blog and it's content as such. I've just created a second blog to experiment with some new Blogger features and the title 'The Biscuit Game' excited the schoolboy in me

Stef said...

phnar phnar

Daniel said...

Hear, hear!

Well said! I've been thinking this as well for a while.

Shahid said...

What an absolutely stunning post. I feel winded by that Stef - utterly brilliant writing.

Wolfie said...

...and another thing.

There are plenty of people who have been selling "Globalisation" as some sort of panacea for world poverty and that it will make the world, wait for it, its a classic Blairism - "a fairer place".

Its amazing how many well educated middle-class Guardian readers fell for this laughable leap of logic because they saw it as some sort of guilt sticking-plaster. Next they'll be saying what a great man Paul Wolfowitz is! Strewth.

Claphamrob said...

WOW - You really say it like it is! Good on you for sseing things as they really are. In the UK at the moment a leading bank (who shall remain nameless but rhymes with "Shat Vest" are going into schools and teaching kids the merits of the banking world (how to set up a bank account; borrow; pay your bills; borrow; set up a standing order; borrow; apply for a credit card; borrow; apply for a loan; borrow; borrow and borrow!!!) The sharks now have legal access to brainwash our next generation!