Cat’s cuppa Joe: The Failures of Capitalism part two: William Morris and his Band of Merry Hipsters


Last week, I wrote in about how the capitalist-run education system we live in attempts to erase the voices of those who speak out against capitalism. Today, I’m here to tell you about one of those voices: poet, artist, entrepreneur and architect William Morris.

The Original Morris & Company is a designer wallpaper and fabric company. Their style is extremely distinct and while you may not know the name, any “Sherlock Holmes” or “Penny Dreadful” fan will instantly recognize their prints. The company specializes in hand-made (artisan) designs made by people who enjoyed crafting each item. This makes their pillows, blankets and wallpaper very expensive, but that’s just how Morris wanted it. (How expensive? Try 62 British pounds or 80 U.S. dollars for a throw pillow.)Wikipedia

Morris was obsessed with the idea of craftsmanship in the medieval sense. He yearned for the idea of loving and feeling good about the work he’d done, and hired out his small group of friends to build his famous “Red House” in London.

This idea of artisan goods was so important to Morris who said, “the true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life,” and “the reward of labour is life. Is that not enough?” This is important to us in an age where there are hundreds of websites devoted to helping you find your “calling” or “passion.”

So many times as a child I was told by my mother, “work is just what you do and no one enjoys it,” but to Morris this idea is heinous. He believed good taste was the only way for capitalism to function and without it we would all hate our jobs. Morris would be ashamed to see “Mac-N-Cheetos” and “Whopperitos” cropping up on menus because you cannot feel good making such things. There’s no pride in it.

I don’t feel that he would be ashamed of all modern life, however. The hipster movement encourages the same values he pushed 150 years ago.

Hipsters buy clothing from Etsy and from small independent artists. They go to Uinta Brewing for their beer and listen to local musicians. The hipster movement is one of great taste in art, and Morris would agree with me when I say that buying from people who love what they do, who make wallpaper that will last more than a century and create food that can be considered art, is truly the best way to live and one of the only ethical ways to consume.
I’ll leave you with one more quote from Morris, “if you cannot learn to love real art, at least learn to hate sham art.” Have a great week and if you must buy something, be sure it’s made with care.

Catherine St.Claire is a pretty obscure writer; you’ve probably never heard of her. She enjoys drinking beer from small breweries; you’ve probably never heard of them, and playing indie games (you’ve probably never heard of them either).


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