Sunday, May 4, 2014

Lululemon, "Yogic" Reform, and First World Privilege

There's been a lot of talk amongst the online yoga blogging community about a recent panel discussion with the new leadership of the multinational yoga apparel corporation Lululemon. I've always seen Lululemon's prominence in the North American yoga world as a clear sign of how heavily capitalism has impacted yoga here. The fact that so many "yoga people" identify with this single company in some manner or another, says volumes, as does the reality that whatever moves the company has made in recent years attract copious amounts of attention from yoga practitioners (positive or critical) in ways that no other specific organization does.

One of the panelists, Carol Horton, wrote this response piece, in which she offered 4 possible reform directions the new leadership of Lululemon could take to become a more socially responsible corporation. And by extension, it seems to me, one that represents "yogic values" in the North American yoga community and beyond. Carol was one of the editors of 21st Century Yoga, a volume I wrote an essay for, and was happy to be a part of - and thankful for Carol and co-editor Roseanne Harvey's vision and work to make it a reality.

This particular post by Carol, though, with it's positivity about Lululemon's choice to participate in a discussion and also the possible solutions offered, just didn't sit well with me. In my first response, I wrote the following:

Carol, I can’t see what Lulu is doing as anything other than a PR repair campaign. As much as it would be nice to think that they actually intend to a beacon of change in the corporate world, the fact is that they’re still arranged in the traditional corporate manner, and are at the ultimate demand of their shareholders’ wishes. Being embedded within a global system that is, by design, about squeezing profits out of anything and everything in the world, these companies talk big, but never deliver precisely because they refuse to actually change how they are organized in the world. Using capitalist structures to transform capitalist created social problems isn’t gonna happen. The main reason Lulu was there, in my view, was to use you all as market research, so they can change just enough of what they’re doing to keep folks happy. To be honest, the very fact that the North American yoga community puts so much attention and energy towards a corporation, either to defend it or to get it to act more yogic, says volumes.

As far as your 4 visions, my gut sense is that I’d rather see corporations die off than become even more enmeshed as the hubs of our social action and activities. Take #4 for instance. Would a large corporation like Lulu be willing to support community efforts without needing to promote their brand, or use those efforts to market how “great” they are in the community? In other words, how likely is it that a sponsored yoga program in a lower income neighborhood, for example, would be string free, or mostly string free? Would they be willing to forgo the “look at us helping the poor people photos” and the piles of data collecting to “demonstrate” to the world how much “good” we’re doing? I’ve worked in non-profit settings on the other end of sponsored programs (corporate and foundation), and more often than not, there are so many strings attached that not only significantly limit what can happen on the ground, but also require that groups with limited financial means must hire people specifically to tackle all the busywork called for to help with maintaining the donor’s public image. At the end of the day, it’s less about truly giving, than being seen as “a giver” who “cares.” The only real way to change that dynamic is for these companies to do the work without any expectation of “being seen,” or being able to market or brand in any shape or form.

In response to several comments by different authors, including mine, Carol responded with this:

One thing that people need to think about is whether they care at all about the differences in how some corporations are run versus others. For example, does it matter to you that Costco is known for its relatively good labor practices, whereas Walmart is not? You can say it doesn’t matter because until the whole system is transformed, it’s all no good. But in the meantime, there are a lot of workers who care very much if they have a more or less decent wage, working conditions, etc.

Closer to the Lululemon issue, consider the difference between Patagonia and Lululemon when it comes to environmental and labor issues. Just from what’s available online, I’d say that Patagonia is far ahead. If consumer pressure could move Lululemon up to the point where Patagonia is, I would consider that quite worthwhile to support. Again, it’s not transforming neoliberalism etc., but, who among us has the power to do that? So there are some very pragmatic issues to consider here.

It seems like political views in the yoga community (at least as it shows up online) fall into three camps: 1) leftists who are very theoretical and dismissive of practical everyday issues as insufficient to effect enough change to matter, 2) libertarians who don’t believe in policies , regulation, labor standards etc. because individual choice and market forces are all that needed and legitimate, and 3) the vast majority who are deeply apolitical and don’t have the slightest interest in any of these issues. So the level of engagement that this Lululemon stuff demands falls through the cracks. There are just not a lot of people who want to engage with these questions in this community. Which is somewhat disappointing, but also understandable in many ways.

In closing, I’ll just add that from being involved in the development of the NY YJ conference event, it seems clear that it was an Off the Mat-driven development and that it was not engineered by Lululemon’s PR department. In fact, I was VERY surprised that they agreed to it. And, I think that it was a really good event if for no other reason than it set a precedent for being able to bring up issues such as the relationship between yoga advertising, body image, and identity, and the social location of yoga in our highly unequal society in a way that’s never been done before. So, I am appreciative of the fact that the company supported that – and that they’re willing to do more. It’s hard for me to see what’s really in it for them, and still think they may want to pull out of the future events.

Now, I think her 3 categories are fairly representative of the broader North American yoga world. Although she left out a forth one, which it seems to me might be the one that best fits where she's at right now. Here's what I'll offer in response.

First off, this post - partly a reply to yours - offers some of the reasons I'm skeptical of all this reform work around Lulu. In particular, consider these lines:

"I am concerned that Lululemon might be looking for their own marketing technique of “commodity activism” using OTM and the face of Corn to sell products to a yoga community, but might simultaneously be exploiting or marginalizing groups globally all under the comodification of social justice and community outreach, branding Lululemon as the apparel of “yoga activists.” Horton suggests that we all do our research on Lululemon and make up our own minds about their practices. What I found is that over 70% of the manufacturing of Lululemon is made in developing countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam – a large percentage of the workers being women and children, and Lulu is netting $340 million (2012) in annual revenue off the backs of women, children, and predominantly poor people of color. So, let’s say Lulu begins using more people of color in their marketing to attempt to make yoga look inclusive. On the surface, like the Nike commercial, one could argue that this is a good thing. But, there is too much of a hypocrisy for me if those same products being modeled by North American women are being manufactured through the exploitation of people of color in the global south. Even more dangerous, what if Lulu takes the suggestion offered by Horton in her 4th point, that their already existing ambassador and community outreach programs take more specific steps to work in communities that are at-risk or don’t have access to mainstream yoga studios? It would seem contradictory to me to have Lulu ambassadors in the global north going into at-risk communities teaching yoga (which also reminds me of some very dangerous versions of paternalistic volunteerism) when impoverished and exploited workers in the global south are working every day in dangerous conditions to make the clothes these teachers would likely be wearing."

Far, far too often what happens when corporations become involved in social justice issues is that they reinforce the dominant narratives, even when some people gain some material benefits. And in particular, Dr. Kauer's points about First World benefits at the expense of the Global South are very sobering, and also difficult to address under current corporate structures.

My main point is not to outright reject any effort to make corporate reforms like some of the things Costco has done. In fact, I readily support your first two reform points ("yoga body image" and labor/environmental standards). What I'm speaking to, though, is to recognize that even what they do is woefully incomplete, and that one of the targets people in the yoga world who really care about this is needs to be at the structures of corporations themselves. And be willing to include and uphold big picture, systemic change visions, even if they seem completely out of reach in out lifetimes.

We need to stop being naive enough to believe that a simple change in leadership in a multinational in the current system is going to bring about drastic transformation. Even if the new CEO really desires to make Lulu a truly beneficial social change agent, the very structures of corporations and our economic system as a whole place severe limits on that possibility. We also need to recognize that giving up the dreams of justice in favor of solely taking whatever table scraps the elite offers is really just a road to misery. Because the elite of tomorrow will still have the power to take away whatever the elite of today give the rest of us. Witness all the social programs and buffers that have been stripped away in the U.S. over the past 3 decades, with a similar pattern slowly unfolding in Canada under the Harper Administration.

The radical visions need to be part of the active effort picture, even when short term gains are being pushed for and made.

Since you've offered a 3 prong split description of the yoga community, I'll offer a two pronged one of the left activist world.

The first group are those who nearly always opt for the practical, doable, achievable, even if they know in their heart of hearts that sometimes this means betraying their deepest desires and intentions. Anyone who supports the Democratic Party on a regular basis falls into this category, but I've also witnessed this behavior amongst more radical leftists who reject the Dems, but will only involve themselves in issue campaigns with specific, short term goals and aims.

The second group are those who reject most or all reform efforts, and are only focused on long term, grand scale systemic change efforts. They'll join efforts to pressure specific politicians or corporations on specific issues, but for the most part, they view the current system as oppressive and non-redemptive. Some are also involved in creating "new society" on a small scale in their communities, while others are mostly battling against the current systems.

Now, I tend to fall into the second group, but I think this split needs to be bridged. Because as it is, we spend far too much time fighting each other and dismissing each others' frameworks as completely wrongheaded. When the reality is that we need both practical, achievable goals, and also radical, long term systemic change work. And the thinking and visioning around all of it needs to be much deeper, and much more daring and intelligent.

I'll be honest. I'm highly skeptical that a community like the North American yoga community (as it mostly stands) will make any major effort in the near term to move beyond essentially cheering on minor corporate and political reforms. Why do I say this? Because the the majority of "our" community are direct beneficiaries of neoliberalism and the colonialist mindset that created it. Which is why most can afford to be apolitical or loosely political (like voting during elections). And amongst those who are more politically active, the lure of pushing solely for reform-based outcomes is far too seductive. Because doing anything more would mean risking the social position and privilege they currently enjoy.

Notice how when significant efforts to enforce Native treaty rights and overturn settler-colonial patterns occur, for example, how the majority of "allies" suddenly become opponents. They'll support charity programs, education programs, affirmative action programs, etc., so long as none of it directly impacts their privileged status in any shape or form. Even something as simple as changing a racist sports team mascot name becomes a heated battleground uniting liberals and conservatives across the racial spectrum in an effort to keep their team's "traditions" alive.

Along those lines, it's fairly easy to see a company like Lulu making some reforms either as a result of direct pressure from yoga folks, and/or as a public relations campaign, and that will be that. Yoga folks will applaud their efforts, elevate them as a corporate beacon, and the bulk of the activism around the company will disappear. With those who seek to continue with more systemic efforts being dismissed or publicly shamed. It's already far too common to find the "don't be a downer, Lululemon is awesome" kind of responses amongst yoga folks.

Since this is already a long post, I'll end it here. I invite your comments and considerations.

*Photo of collapsed Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, in which over 1100 workers died, and over 2500 others were injured. Several prominent North American appear companies had clothing manufactured in this sweatshop. While Lululemon was not one of them, some of their products are manufactured by workers under similar conditions in Bangladesh.


Anonymous said...

Non-profits are comparatively easy - you are relying on other people's money.

Running a business is much more difficult - it is your money. Paying a living wage and using ethical sourcing and fairtrade etc is all very well but it increases your costs.

If Starbucks are serving lattes for $5 and yours cost $6 then even if they are amazing you may not sell enough to be viable. Or maybe you charge $5.50 but now have nothing left to pay a salary for yourself.

Running a business is tough. Adding all the other stuff in is even tougher - and many fail doing it.

Telling other people how they should spend their money is easy. Doing these things with your own money is really tough.

Sometimes it's a compromise. Maybe competing with starbucks means you can pay decent wages but not afford fairtrade coffee. Maybe it's the other way around.

Maybe you can do it, maybe there's a niche market for fairtrade sandals in the bay area - but finding that out will be expensive and stressful and may find you living in a tiny room in a shared apartment.

When you run a business you'll be amazed how many people want a piece of the pie you are baking, the problem is always the pie may not be big enough so that everyone gets a piece including you.

Life is complex. Businesses make choices that NFPs don't have to make. Businesses have costs that NFPs don't face. You want medical and dental and a pension and a decent wage and fairtrade coffee and recycled furniture and you want to sell a latte for $5 and the state wants its cut and you want a wage for working 60-hour weeks to keep the show on the road right....

Nathan said...

I actually would disagree about non-profits being "comparatively easy," but that's not what this post was about.

Nor was it about small businesses that are often in a crunch because the margin line tends to be really thin, and the entire system is built to support the big corps.

Lululemon makes hundreds of millions of dollars in profit every quarter. I fail to see how anything you wrote applies to them.

Anonymous said...

"Lululemon makes hundreds of millions of dollars in profit every quarter. I fail to see how anything you wrote applies to them. "

And that is the problem. Businesses face the same issues. Even for a big business the difference between millions of dollars profit and a loss is very little.

If they made one dollar of profit every quarter would you be happy?

Anyway, I've expressed my view and you disagree, I can llive with thae.

Anonymous said...

"Founded in Vancouver BC in 1998, the first lululemon shared its retail space with a yoga studio. We've been growing ever since, and our technical yoga and run clothes are now available in countries all over the world (view the complete list here). Read more about our history."

They were small once. They took a risk. They grew. (I've never heard of them, I don't buy yoga stuff).

neti yeti said...

There is so much here worth reading, thanks for this.

My response is based on many years in the developing world, where I discovered exploitation does not come exclusively from without, but also from within (although among South-South relations, generally the great Bugaboo is the North, chiefly the USA, which is something I see as a bit of a smokescreen over local forms of oppression and deeply divisive power structures). So while it is worthwhile to address corporate reforms from North America and Europe as consumers, it is also worthwhile to support education, public health, water/sanitation, police reform and other such measures around the world where the effects can be more amply experienced and take root toward social change.

My second observation is more practical, which is that the American left often forgets such things as cooperativism, which is a wonderful method of production and sustainable social development from small scale cottage industry all the way up to larger forms of enterprise. The co-op model allows individual determination and effort (self actualization) while forming a bloc of more or less consolidated polity and strength of voice to combat some of the more egregious and deeply entrenched forms of labor and social exploitation. Cooperativism within the zendo, dojo, or yoga studio might entail groups of like minded people pooling skills and resources toward self-sustaining production of one's own garments and necessities (I myself am working on one geared toward sustainable organic agriculture for neighborhoods, as an alternative to supermarket mass production and distribution). What I think is the major obstacle is a knowledge deficit about cooperativism in the United States, as well as lack of a generalized consensus that such a thing can work, providing comparable quality and so on to commercial/capitalistic enterprise. If we are not willing to use our own time and effort in a supportive and constructive way, little will be accomplished.

Nathan said...


I'm not a capitalist, and feel that simply boiling everything down to financial risk and profits is a disaster. Exxon or BP, for example, could have a tiny profit margin, and I'd still want them gone. Why? Because they're actions are destroying the planet.

I desire a new economy built on generosity, diversity, and the well being of the planet as a whole. In the meantime, I'm much more likely to support small, local businesses than giant corporations because they're human scale, and are much less likely to produce mass environmental damage, or have a negative national or global level impact on worker's rights and working conditions.

Equating a local business with a handful of employees and a razor thin profit margin with a multinational corporation with thousands of employees and a global reach is a colossal erasure. Do you really think that the incoming Walmart in a given community and all the local businesses that will probably disappear once it's established face the same issues?

Nathan said...

"What I think is the major obstacle is a knowledge deficit about cooperativism in the United States, as well as lack of a generalized consensus that such a thing can work, providing comparable quality and so on to commercial/capitalistic enterprise. If we are not willing to use our own time and effort in a supportive and constructive way, little will be accomplished."

Yes. This is very true. I tend to think that the more alternative organization structures the better. Yet, it's a slog in this environment. And no doubt, a fair amount of the American left is still trapped in the capitalist framework of corporations and non-profits.

I don't know what it will take to change this. Education and experimentation are happening on a small scale. I see some great stuff around the country. But it often feels like drops in the bucket. And fragile. One group I was involved in trying to create a new form of organization based on gift economy fell apart because of a handful of personal conflicts that got out of control. Obviously, this happens in capitalist-based orgs too, but the difference is that if one goes, there are numerous others still around as possible models.

yeti said...

"But it often feels like drops in the bucket. And fragile."

Yes, it does. Sometimes it feels completely futile under the weight of the capitalistic juggernaut which sweeps away all efforts to try anything else. However this too is a construct of the mind, it does not exist from any other source, so I think that by training our mind toward that which is wholesome, we do, though it may not appear to be so, make things better. This is where it is important to have faith in practice, and no small amount of courage and moral resolve.

Nathan said...

Agreed that the "completely futile" narrative is just a story. But it's damned compelling to give in sometimes. Some days are easier than others for me, in terms of letting that go, and carrying on.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a capitalist either but think it's probably the least bad optiion when tempered by all the other things out there.

Lululemon wasn't always a multinational and one was small - did it one day become evil by being big or was it evil before or is it in fact just as ethical and healtthy as its always been. Maybe manufacturing garments in the third world is better for them than manufacturing in the states?

Lex Luthor was an American and Superman an illegal immigrant. Should I therefore say that all Americans are evil?

"I desire a new economy built on generosity, diversity, and the well being of the planet as a whole....."

So go ahead and do that. Don't just wine. Don't berate others for not living up to your standards.

DH is hosted on blogger. Surely that's promoting a multi-national. But of course the internet is built on a mix of military, cooperative and benevolent approaches - ARPANet, NSA, RFCs, Tim Bernes-Lee, Shannon, et al.

I've run a business in the past. Now I work for someone else. I've used my business income to fund NFPs. I've invented stuff and given it away for free under Creative Commons. I've written stuff and charged for it. I've worked for some ethical companies and not other less ethical companies. I tried and failed to build a Coop. I believe that business can be ethical and profitable and that profit is not inherently bad.

Recently I've sold some surplus DVDs in bulk via the internet. I did so getting less for them than if I'd gone down another path. Doing that supports the people who then sort, warehouse and onsell those DVDs. They all get paid out of the money I didn't maximise by putting my DVDs on eBay. The time I saved by not doing that allowed me to do other things - like write this.

I believe that Zen should be taught freely and so don't charge. I believe that others cannot teach unless they are supported financially and so try to support them.

I'm doing the things that I believe will help build the world you say you want to see. What is it that _YOU_ are doing to build the world you desire. Berating others doesn't count. Blaming America or Capitalism doesn't count.

If you feel you cannot build the world you want in the country that you live in then you can relocate to a country that's closer to your ideals.

It's great to "raise awareness" but that is often nothing more than shouting masking a lack of action.

Nathan said...

"So go ahead and do that. Don't just wine. Don't berate others for not living up to your standards."

Sorry, but this isn't individual "desires" and reducing the critiques I and others have about Lululemon (or capitalism in general) to whining and berating is totally dismissive. This is about how our economy is structured, systemic oppression, and destruction of the planet on a global scale. This isn't about "me"; it's about how our actions and what we choose to support or not support impacts the entire planet.

Telling me to "relocate to another nation" demonstrates how just how privileged. Millions of people around the globe, including here in the US, myself included, do not have the financial resources to up and relocate. Nor does moving somewhere else really address the fact that these issues are global.

Lululemon is really a bit player in the grand scheme. I'm pointing them out primarily because of the yoga connection. But corporate influence - for better or worse - isn't bound by national borders.

And here's the thing about global capitalism: as long as the entire structure is built around growth, accumulation of wealth, and privatizing profits while socializing costs - then it's basically a recipe for disaster. And without more consciousness raising and critique, people aren't going to have any incentive to change. It's one piece of the equation, along with doing what you can to build something different.

So many folks in the "yoga community" aren't thinking about any of this stuff. They're in a position to be blissfully unaware of the connection between the nice yoga pants they buy, for example, and the labor conditions those clothes are being made in. I'm a bit rough on Carol's position in this post, but I have to say that she's also been writing a lot about these issues, seeing writing and speaking about that writing as a piece of the puzzle. Really, the bulk of the writers from the 21st Century volume are concerned about the impact of capitalism and consumerism on yoga in North America, and use writing as one way to address these issues.

I get the sense that you don't value writing, or see it as having any real impact in the world. Maybe that's a mistaken view, but this blog isn't just bitching and whining, nor is it the only thing I do (either with my writing, or with other skills I have).

"What is it that _YOU_ are doing to build the world you desire. Berating others doesn't count. Blaming America or Capitalism doesn't count."

I'll just say this. Yesterday, I spent 4 hours in a state courtroom with Native activists attempting to demonstrate that their treaty rights were such that a multinational national oil corporation, Enbridge, should be required to gain tribal permission to build oil pipelines on their lands. Currently, they're saying they don't need to consult anyone but the state Public Utilities Commission. I do this kind of stuff on a regular basis, not only in support of Native rights, but also because the future of our land, water, and food are really in the balance right now.

Anonymous said...

3I have nothing for or against writing but it can create the illusion of action and not action.

"Supporting" Native activists is all very noble but you are not a Native and so I wonder if you are just going along for the fight. Your argument is that one group of humans owns ground and another doesn't. Who decides these things? Does that not mean that the planet and it's resources is not for everyone, but only for a few? Is not the very heart of capitalism about capital and ownership of capital. Is that not the very thing you seem to be against?

If you believe that Lululemon is doing things in a way that is undesirable there is nothing at all to stop you doing a fundraiser on Kickstarter for a Coop or non-profit or alternative structure venture to create ethically sourced Yoga Pants. This would be a great way to raise awareness and show people that there are alternative models of production that work.

It's very easy to be "against" anything and to talk in theoretical terms about alternative models as being somehow better but it's rather more difficult to actually create the change or show the models are better. The argument that you cannot do anything to change the current system because of the current system is of course circular. You haven't demonstrated that change is impossible, merely assumed it.

If these issues are global then it doesn't matter where you are located. If it's just lack of money stopping you moving to a less capitalist and more egalitarian country - such as Sweden, Norway, Russia, Ukraine or wherever then by all means start a campaign and use your donate button (using Paypal, yet another evil Multi-National). Clearly your donate button indicates that you support non- traditional ways of earning money even if that money has been raised in a capitalist system.

As for the earth and its resources I take a longer view. Oil and Gas are dead trees being recycled. Helium is one of the few resources which is being lost (escaping into space). Almost all other resources are merely moving around the planet. Mining Lithium for the battery which powers your laptop (mined under appalling conditions) merely moves lithium from one place to another.

Humans will not destroy the planet, we will change it - as did the trees that are now oil - and it will outlive us. If we trash the planet to the extent that it no longer supports human life then maybe that's for the best. After we are gone maybe some obscure frog with an accidentally high tolerance of Carbon Dioxide will in fact form the basis of the next dominant species on the planet (after microbes, Ants).

Fundamentally I just fail to see the systems and things that you think exist. I fail to see a massive global conspiracy. What I see is a complex picture. Take for instance the last "Heart Bleed" attack on the Internet. The upshot was that a whole bunch of companies and individuals in the Linux community (Coop, done for free for the greater good) decided to throw people and resource at the problem to continue to create the core software that's free and safe for all to use. The people who create Linux and many other tools have specialist skills that they provide for free.

So yes it is in fact about "you" and "me" and the world we think we see. This is Zen 101. There is not a world "out there" that exists that we can both agree on. Which set of humans has rights over a lump of the planet is fundamentally a question of belief and convention that cheerfully ignores the rights of Gophers and Ants and Eagles and myriad other beings who we deem not worthy of an opinion or whom we presuppose to have an opinion of their choosing.

Does this mean I'm a fan of writing and of consciousness raising?????

Nathan said...

You're purity testing is tiresome - we're all complicit in the system, and I'm well aware that I use products from multinationals.

I'm not going to engage any longer on this.

Anonymous said...

Basically you are having a go at LuluLemon for not living up to ideals that you also do not live up to whilst admitting that they might just be less bad than some other multinationals that you dislike.

At the same time you are unwilling/unable to create what you might consider a more ethical alternative to Lululemon.

So if people want to buy the most ethical Yoga pants where should they go? That would be a much nicer and less antagonistic approach....

Maybe you could do what I did and teach people how to make and design Yoga pants for themselves with a sewing machine? It can be taught in a day, I know, I've done something similar.

It's always much easier to be the hero fighting the big bad guys than to be the little guy doing a little thing that makes a little difference.

Nathan said...

It must be nice to be the anonymous critic who gets to make pithy assumptions about who I am, and how I live in the world.

Also, for someone who claims to not be a capitalist, you sure defend those who are benefiting most from it. Of all the issues raised by myself, Carol, and others in this post and the ones I linked to, you're focus is on my criticism of the moneyed elite. Speaks volumes in my opinion.

Nathaniel said...

I see a guy taking pot-shots based on prejudice against someone who cannot fight back (bad PR kills companies rightly or not).

I don't see a moneyed elite. I see a bunch of dudes/dudettes who decided to start a business and were good at it - producing something that people wanted to buy. Maybe they had money at the start, maybe they put it all on the line and it paid off. I don't know. Maybe in the end they didn't live up to your high standards, I don't know

You want to criticise the efforts of others but offer no alternative of your own beyond saying "you should do things my way because I say so"

If you feel free to be critical of people you have never met I feel free to be critical of you. If you feel free to make pithy assumptions about these people, their motives and their actions I feel free to do the same about you.

You may call me a capitalist and that does not alter reality. It was you who was in court defending the rights of one group to sell something to another group. Actually supporting and validating the system you despise. I'm following you're example! If LL have something that people want to buy that does not a priori make them bad people or an elite any more than it makes Natives who wish to sell land rights a moneyed elite who should be hated.

Nathan said...

Believe what you want. I won't spend any more time engaging it. Peace.

yeti said...

Sorry I'm coming late to this, I've been in retreat. I don't normally feel compelled to defend anyone who is obviously capable of doing so on their own (i.e. Nathan), but I would suggest it is not likely, in my opinion, that anonymous practices Buddhism. I'm not sure what interests anonymous really represents, but the comments do not reveal more than a superficial awareness of the Buddhadharma, while the agenda raised speaks volumes toward concern trolling for political or economic purposes. In short, I don't think it's legit.

Nathan said...

Thanks yeti. I don't know if Anon/Nathaniel practices Buddhism or not. In the end, I decided that trying to defend myself would just be playing into the dynamic that was present.

yeti said...

You're right, Nathan. Your efforts are pretty transparent and I guess it's a question of heart awareness about what we're talking about here whether or not people "get" it. I don't see why this message would be threatening to anyone unless it was read by Lululemon and got wrung through their PR system, finally ending up with the reply that you got. If so, that's a very good sign, although the form it took may not seem so. The wave is traveling far. Let's wait and see.

Nathan said...

There was some commenting like this on many of the Wisdom 2.0/Google posts that folks wrote following the protest there a few months back. One person in particular amongst those was an IT professional who also practices Buddhism, and has been around the Buddhist blog world for many years. So, it's possible that the libertarian/pro-capitalist folks are just becoming more vocal. In addition to the PR machine hires running about stirring up nonsense.

Simply put, there seems to be more of us writing directly about the intersections of social justice, economics, colonialism, and Buddhist/yoga practice. Even mainstream publications like Tricycle are taking these issues up to some degree, something they really didn't do much (if at all) in the past.

Very interesting times...