Rebellion of the rulers or grapes in winter?

For many of us born in the sixties or earlier, it was not common to be able to buy strawberries and grapes at Christmas. In the sixties and seventies of the last century, global supply chains were not as extensive and developed as they are today.

While our grandparents could often only consume cabbage and potatoes in winter, we can buy all imaginable summer fruits fresh and cheap in the supermarket – end of December!

How do we do that?

By operating globally and moving our production to warmer – but often also poorer – countries. There, companies produce under less strict conditions to protect the environment or people.

We could be aware of this connection with every purchase. Only in this way is the absurd fact possible that people in Bangladesh and other countries sew textiles or harvest tropical fruits for a few cents a day, which are still ridiculously cheap even after weeks of transport to our best-selling countries.

So anyone who buys mangos for a few cents in December, or a cheap sweater, is part of the murderous and exploitative system that often provides people in other places with nothing but a lousy existence. A dilemma, because if we do not buy, even this one seems to be no longer secure.

The ruling class – us?

Some Sociologists argue that the class system, which Karl Marx denounced, has never dissolved. The classes have merely shifted globally.

According to this we live today in a global class society. Here, in the civilized countries with great purchasing power, we are the ruling class – the exploitative factory owners from Marx’s time. The new exploited working class is now the workers in the supplier countries – be it in Asia or in Africa.

The price for the continuous increase in our purchasing power is the poverty and insecurity of people in low-wage countries, as well as a frightening climate balance. Unfortunately, the idea that people who are completely unknown to us are often half-dead – and unfortunately far too often really dead – working for our prosperity in another part of the world is very abstract.

Otherwise, I’m sure many would act and shop differently. Finally, there are numerous aid organisations for animals in need in other countries. The difference is probably that the fate of the animals often became more familiar to us with a photo and a corresponding prehistory than that of the people, of whom we never saw, read or heard anything.

A fair and sustainable global economy?

This could of course be helped above all by a rethinking of the economy. But since this is hardly to be expected in a growth-oriented and globally oriented economy, we have to do something ourselves. The first thing we could do is to become aware of our purchasing power as consumers.

Without us, the buyers, the global general store would not run!

In the economy, the law is that supply determines demand. If we buy less and consciously support sustainable producers and businesses, i.e. basically simply pay a fair price for their products, this is not the solution to all global problems, but it is a start. In Germany, for example, the sustainable shopping basket compiled by the German Council for Sustainable Development provides information on which products have which advantages and disadvantages.

Can we instigate a revolution of the exploiters – a revolution of the factory owners? A revolt by the ruling class?

This has never been seen before in the entire history of industry! Can we do this – digitally?

To form ourselves into a world community that no longer leaves international problems such as unfair trade relations, population growth and climate disasters to the responsibility of national states?

How can we all together shape guidelines for this – a Global Economic Governance? How to overcome our greed – for ever more consumption and luxury – for the benefit of all people? Sustainable shopping is the beginning of the end of global exploitation.

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