Dig for victory! Anti-consumerism, austerity and new historical subjectivities
- 115 Downloads
In recent years, austerity-related discourses have become a popular means of imagining and promoting more sustainable living. This article situates the re-emergence of the slogan ‘dig for victory’ in the wider discursive formation of ‘anti-consumerism’, and explores the relationship between the ‘defetishizing’ qualities of commodity histories and the constitution of ethico-political consuming subjects. Following Laclau's notion that a conversion of subjectivity results from persuasion, I suggest that the persuasiveness of ‘dig for victory’ lies in its insistence upon historical solutions to today's problems. The discourse seems to consolidate the dominant-hegemonic ‘myth of the home front’, yet ‘dig for victory’ also appears to have the capacity to render certain radical ideas, such as operating outside of the capitalist commodity system, unthreatening and even appealing. I explain why this case study points to an urgent need to rethink the historical as a resource for the constitution of radical collective projects and agents.
Keywordsausterity anti-consumerism environmentalism history home front sustainability
- Barnett, C., Littler, J. and Soper, K. (2005) Consumers: Agents of change? Soundings 31: 147–160.Google Scholar
- Bromley, R. (1988) Lost Narratives: Popular Fictions, Politics and Recent History. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Cameron, D. (2009) The age of austerity. Speech to the Spring Forum. Cheltenham, 26 April.Google Scholar
- Davies, C. (2009) Queen turns corner of palace backyard into an allotment. Guardian, 14 June.Google Scholar
- Digging for Victory. (2007) Reef Television for UKTV Gardens. UKTV Gardens Broadcast April–June.Google Scholar
- Foucault, M. (1975) Film and popular memory. Radical Philosophy 11: 24–29.Google Scholar
- Franceschini, A. (2008) Victory Gardens 2008. http://www.sfvictorygardens.org/about.html, accessed 8 August 2009.
- Gilbert, J. (2008) Anticapitalism and Culture: Radical Theory and Popular Politics. Oxford: Berg.Google Scholar
- Hall, S. (1996) The problem of ideology: Marxism without guarantees. In: D. Morley and K.-H. Chen (eds.) Stuart Hall: Critical Dialogues in Cultural Studies. Abingdon, UK: Oxford, pp. 25–46.Google Scholar
- Harvey, D. (1989) The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Hickman, L. (2008a) Dig for victory. Guardian, 30 August.Google Scholar
- Hickman, L. (2008b) Dig for thrifty. Guardian website, 16 June http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/ethicallivingblog/2008/jun/16/digforthrifty, accessed 12 July 2009.
- Imperial War Museum. (2008) Dig for victory teachers’ pack. Imperial War Museum website, http://cwr.iwm.org.uk/upload/package/79/DigForVictory/schools.htm, accessed 12 September 2008.
- Jameson, F. (1971) Marxism and Form. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Jameson, F. (1991) Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Johnson, R., Chambers, D., Raghuram, P. and Tincknell, E. (2004) The Practice of Cultural Studies. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Laclau, E. and Mouffe, C. (2001) Hegemony and Socialist Strategy. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Littler, J. (2009) Radical Consumption. Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Norman, N. (2007) Bus shelter 2015. In: Global Cities. London: Tate Modern, June–August.Google Scholar
- Pollan, M. (2006) The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Popular Memory Group. (1982) Popular memory: Theory, politics, method. In: R. Johnson, G. McLennan, B. Schwarz, and D. Sutton (eds.) Making Histories: Studies in History-Writing and Politics. London: Hutchinson.Google Scholar
- Readings, B. (1991) Introducing Lyotard: Art and Politics. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- River Cottage Autumn. (2008) Episode 3: Wild food feast. Keo Films for Channel 4. Broadcast 30 October.Google Scholar
- Samuel, R. (1989) Introduction: Exciting to be English. In: R. Samuel (ed.) Patriotism: The Making and Unmaking of British National Identity, Volume I: History and Politics, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Sassatelli, R. (2009) Representing consumers: Contesting claims and agendas. In: K. Soper, M. Ryle and L. Thomas (eds.) The Politics and Pleasures of Consuming Differently. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Shaw, W. (2009) Let's hear it for vegetables. Observer, 19 April.Google Scholar
- Sinfield, A. (1989) Literature, Politics and Culture in Post-war Britain. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Soper, K. (2009) Introduction: The mainstreaming of counter-consumerist concern. In: K. Soper, M. Ryle and L. Thomas (eds.) The Politics and Pleasures of Consuming Differently. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- The Digger Archives. (2010) Website http://diggers.org, accessed 3 August 2010.
- Weedon, C. (1987) Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Williams, R. (1975) The Country and the City. St Albans, Hertfordshire: Paladin.Google Scholar
- Wright, P. (1985) On Living in an Old Country: The National Past in Contemporary Britain. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Zweiniger-Bargielowska, I. (2000) Austerity in Britain: Rationing, Controls, and Consumption, 1939–1955. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar