Do as I say, not as do

Writing in defence of “Fairtrade” in the Guardian reminded me of an ongoing debate I have with Jeremy about the pointlessness or otherwise of doing things that only have an effect if lots of people do them.
Here’s the problem. Let’s assume for the moment that Fairtrade works, in that it does improve the lives of producers in the developing world. (See this piece for evidence that it does.) Does that mean I should buy, say, Fairtrade bananas? According to one argument, no.
The point is that the effect of my individual purchasing decision is negligible. No one is better or worse off as a result of the relatively few bananas I buy. So it’s just self-delusion if I buy Fairtrade bananas under the impression I’m actually causing any benefit to anyone by doing so.
However, it is good if lots of people buy them. So surely I should “do my bit”? No, runs the argument. I should encourage others to do their bit, but doing so involves a kind of noble lie. I have to make people think their individual choices count, because if enough of them believe this (falsely) then collectively their actions will have an effect. I, however, knowing better, need not worry if I don’t practice what I preach.
Does this argument work? Possibly, if you’re an “act utilitarian”, which is to say you believe that you should judge the morality of actions individually, on the basis of whether they produce good or bad outcomes. An act utilitarian would seem to be committed to biting the bullet and agreeing that actually, although you can improve the lives of poor producers by getting many others to buy Fairtrade, you can’t do any good by buying yourself (unless you buy in huge bulk, or your purchase is likely to help persuade many others to do the same).
But if you’re not an act utilitarian, clearly you have many other reasons to buy Fairtrade bananas. For example, the rule “buy Fairtrade bananas” is one which if generally followed has better consequences than not, so a rule utilitarian should follow it.
Am I right? If so, is this just another reason to think that act utilitarianism, to use the technical term, sucks? Or should I be more worried about an argument that, depending on your point of view, either leads us down a dead-end to quietism and despair, or makes us confront the futility of many of our moral gestures?

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