October 21, 2007
Bricks in DC
Posted by Lawrence Cunningham

            The brick that rioters used to shatter the front door of the Starbucks in my building on 24th & M Friday night contained the message: “fair trade, not free trade.”  Although this brick did not strike anyone, as a similar brick did up the street hours earlier, is doing physical damage to Starbucks a good way to advance this cause?

            Starbucks is a target for such attacks despite its policy and ongoing efforts to increasingly buy and sell more “Certified Fair Trade” coffee. It shares the fair trade movement’s objectives; it is the largest purchaser of Certified Fair Trade coffee in North America and sells such coffee worldwide; it pays premium prices for it to ensure farmer profitability even though this increases costs to its consumers and reduces its profits.

            Critics, including the Organic Consumers Association and Global Exchange, complain about the pace of the Starbucks effort. They contend that Certified Fair Trade coffee still represents less than 4% of Starbucks total worldwide sales.  Another common complaint of these critics who have been maintaining the so-called Starbucks Campaign: “Starbucks rarely offers certified Fair Trade coffee as their coffee of the day.”

            The persons who hurled this brick did not identify themselves or any organization in whose name they were acting. At the store this morning, scanning the coffee offered for sale, the most striking thing was the ubiquitous labeling that the coffee is “Certified Fair Trade.”  The premium pricing was reflected in my bill.  The costs of the shattered glass will appear later.

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Comments (12)

1. Posted by jk on October 21, 2007 @ 10:20 | Permalink

I think you impute too much reason on a brickthrower. Whatever is written on their bricks, brickthrowers are anti-modernity, anti-profit, and anti-capitalism.

I'm rather unimpressed with "Fair Trade Coffee" from the other side -- I think it hurts farmers in other countries and distorts the market. I will not be marching or hurling bricks, however. I might just leave a comment on your blog.


2. Posted by Bob K on October 21, 2007 @ 10:42 | Permalink

It's also clear that somebody thinks "free" and "fair" are opposites.

One always believes that one's own freedom is fair; the test of a true liberal is whether they can tolerate the freedom of others.

3. Posted by jack on October 21, 2007 @ 10:49 | Permalink

Bob, I think you're giving to much credit to the brickthrower.

"it's also clear that somebody *thinks*"

No, they didn't think. If they did, perhaps they would realized that using one's brain is usually the best option before resulting to violence.

4. Posted by Snidely Whiplash on October 21, 2007 @ 11:15 | Permalink

They are anarchists, people. As if they think at all. They just get off on smashing people and property.

5. Posted by MG on October 21, 2007 @ 11:26 | Permalink

Let's not dignify them with the title "anarchist". Anarchism has a structured ideology.

This punk is a thug in the making. He is short on self-control, and lacking in empathy.

In short, he is a sociopath.

No need to understand him any further, except to determine what medication will reduce his impulsiveness.

6. Posted by JorgXMcKie on October 21, 2007 @ 11:27 | Permalink

Nah, they're not anarchists, they just use anarchist sounding arguments to cover the fact that they're self-centered, Stalinist a**holes. True anarchism requires more thought than these douchebags are capable of, but since enough people are now aware of the huge, unsurmountable problems of Marxism, they've had to find a new(ish), exotic, less-well-understood-by-the-public thesis on which to justify their Stalinist thuggishness. Plus, they get to wear black and bandanas or balaclavas over their faces, and that is sooooooo KEWL.

7. Posted by Fritz on October 21, 2007 @ 11:41 | Permalink

Such people are not anarchists. I would submit that they are nothing more than terrorists who use violent behavior to advance their beliefs. I would argue that we need to treat such people like the terrorists they are or we will end up regretting it. As long as we allow people to act outside the law none of us are safe.

8. Posted by Snidely Whiplash on October 21, 2007 @ 12:39 | Permalink

To talk about " structured arguments" and "true anarchism" is pointless and meaningless, and merely the time honored camouflage- or misunderstanding, to be charitable- of the reality of anarchy.
Anarchy is the love and practise of violence and destruction.

9. Posted by ThomasD on October 21, 2007 @ 14:19 | Permalink

Capital 'A' anarchism (with structure!) True anarchism...

It all sounds alot like true communism, which as we all know, has never resulted in the deaths of millions.

10. Posted by Tim in PA on October 21, 2007 @ 21:45 | Permalink

People who drag "fairness" into these sorts of subjects are invariably arguing how they think things *should* work against people who try in vain to explain how things *do* work. They're blinded by the process without taking into account actual results.

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