Sunday, December 09, 2007


We learn to shelve our most barbaric impulses until they are deemed acceptable. Then, once the rest of society has caught up, we may be as frank about them as we wish.

So it is that, when you buy certain sandwiches or drinks from Pret a Manger, five pence of your payment will go to the Pret Foundation Trust, which funds various charities for homeless people. The packaging of the purchased item tells you (in the aggressively simpering way that comes most naturally to people who decided to open a fast food chain while studying property law at the University of Westminster): "We don't do this because we're nice people - we do it because it makes sense."

This is arresting for two reasons. First, Pret assures us that donations are only made for business reasons, because it feels shame-faced about its altruistic act. Pret is not being generous for the sake of it; kindness is a by-product (an unfortunate one) of adherence to the capitalist economic model.

Secondly, because Pret deemed that this caveat would assure me. Pret is not seeking to calm the nerves of its board. As customers, we collude with the commodity system as much as the capitalist. There is no them and us. We depend on they depend on we depend on they depend ........ We are all in this together - pure consumers and pure producers.


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