Hey there, friends! I hope you’re all doing well🙂 The last time we talked I had mentioned that I got a job. Well, I’ve worked two days of it now. I can’t really say that I like or dislike it, but it’s a little disappointing anyways. The work is easy, and the people I work with are nice, but nobody goes to college for 4 years just to get a part-time minimum wage job, ya feel?
The Capitalist Conundrum
Even if I hadn’t gone to college, I wouldn’t want to work retail. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with working retail. Retail workers are essential parts of our current society, and customer service on top of all the other job duties can be stressful and tiring. Retail workers for sure deserve more credit(and livable wages)!
But…I think I’m an anarchist, so working to support a big corporation is less than ideal for me. I say think because I’m still learning about anarchy. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with anarchism, or anyone who might have some misconceptions about it, here’s a basic set of anarchist principals put together by Peter Gelderloos from The Anarchist Library:
Peter Gelderloos -The Anarchist Library
Autonomy and Horizontality: All people deserve the freedom to define and organize themselves on their own terms. Decision-making structures should be horizontal rather than vertical, so no one dominates anyone else; they should foster power to act freely rather than power over others. Anarchism opposes all coercive hierarchies, including capitalism, the state, white supremacy, and patriarchy.
Mutual Aid: People should help one another voluntarily; bonds of solidarity and generosity form a stronger social glue than the fear inspired by laws, borders, prisons, and armies. Mutual aid is neither a form of charity nor of zero-sum exchange; both giver and receiver are equal and interchangeable. Since neither holds power over the other, they increase their collective power by creating opportunities to work together.
Voluntary Association: People should be free to cooperate with whomever they want, however they see fit; likewise, they should be free to refuse any relationship or arrangement they do not judge to be in their interest. Everyone should be able to move freely, both physically and socially. Anarchists oppose borders of all kinds and involuntary categorization by citizenship, gender, or race.
Direct Action: It is more empowering and effective to accomplish goals directly than to rely on authorities or representatives. Free people do not request the changes they want to see in the world; they make those changes.
Revolution: Today’s entrenched systems of repression cannot be reformed away. Those who hold power in a hierarchical system are the ones who institute reforms, and they generally do so in ways that preserve or even amplify their power. Systems like capitalism and white supremacy are forms of warfare waged by elites; anarchist revolution means fighting to overthrow these elites in order to create a free society.
Self-Liberation: “The liberation of the workers is the duty of the workers themselves,” as the old slogan goes. This applies to other groups as well: people must be at the forefront of their own liberation. Freedom cannot be given; it must be taken.
I used to think anarchy meant chaos, but my research has 100% proved me wrong so far. Not only that, but it even seems like it could be more environmentally friendly and sustainable than capitalism! At least, based on what I’ve read so far that seems to be the case.
Capitalism and Sustainability
This isn’t true of all capitalists, but in general, the capitalist focus on earning a profit is a slippery slope towards greediness. Net worth starts to define people. Materialism becomes rampant. One of the easiest ways to make money is by exploiting the work of others, and that happens every single day here in America. Especially by corporations. Women get paid less than men, people of color get paid less than white people, disabled people get paid less than able-bodied people; corporations try to justify exploitation by claiming they’re meritocracies so they can claim that the people who don’t make livable wages simply don’t earn livable wages. They act like workers have control over their wages when they very clearly don’t.
Part of corporate corruption and greed relies on decimating our planet. Let’s face it, practices that are harmful for the environment help big corporations earn more profit, and they tend to seem cheaper for us as consumers.
Take a look at fast fashion, for example. Stores like Forever 21 sell cheap and trendy clothes that are made in unethical, ‘sweatshop-like’ factories that exploit workers. The clothes aren’t made to last and often fall apart after a few months if they haven’t already fallen out of fashion and been tossed or donated by then. They’re usually made from synthetic materials, too. Synthetic materials are neat, they’re cheap and shiny and waterproof. But they’re so so SO bad for the environment! Since many synthetic materials are petroleum-based, they take basically forever to biodegrade. Not to mention the micro-plastics produced when synthetic clothes go through the wash!
Reject Big Corporations by Shopping Locally
Even though not all big corporations are unethical, loads of them are. Not all of them exploit workers and destroy the planet to make their wallets fatter, but loads of them do. A lot of us rely on our less-than-livable-wage incomes from these companies, and they chase local businesses out of the market with their low prices. How can we fight against them?
Shop locally. Is it more expensive than Walmart? Sometimes. Do the people who run local businesses need money more than the Walton family? Definitely.
At $9/hour, Walmart workers make less than $16,000/year working 34 hours per week, which is Walmart’s definition of full-time. The Waltons, however, get $26,000 per minute from their Walmart dividends alone.
That’s obscene. Nobody needs that much money! Especially not when poverty is such a big problem!!
If you ask me, part of the reason why they pay their workers such low wages is to ensure that the only place they can afford to shop is Walmart. But maybe I’m being too cynical.
It’s easier to say “don’t give your money to big corporations” than it is to actually do it. Like I said, shopping locally can be a little pricier, and since lots of corporate employers do everything they can to pay their employees as little as possible it can be difficult for people to shop locally.
BUT local companies tend to be more ethical than large corporations. They treat their workers like living people instead of as a means to a profit. They tend to be more environmentally friendly, too.
So, when you can, shop locally instead of from big name stores. Go to a farmers market for fresh produce if you can. Go to a mom and pop shop, or a family restaurant; put your money back into your community. Check out this infographic from the Institute of Local Self-Reliance on the community benefits of local stores:
Look For Quality and Practicality
It’s not always possible to avoid big corporations. But we can still reduce how much we buy from them! With the growth of influencer fashion, people are buying more clothes now more than ever. I get it, too. Trends are a fun way to feel like a part of a community, they’re a way to express ourselves and our modernity.
But trends are trends because they don’t last. They might come back, but by the time they do most people will have already gotten rid of the original trendy items anyways.
And seriously, cheap fast fashion falls apart SO quickly! And again, don’t forget about that sweat-shop labor that goes into producing the clothes. I sure as heck don’t want to support that, and I really hope you don’t either. Unfortunately, knowing which places to shop can be difficult. Thrift stores are more eco-friendly than other clothing stores, but they aren’t always very ethical. From companies paying disabled workers $0.58/hr to donating money to hate groups and discriminatory practices when helping the homeless, some of the big name thrift stores definitely need to improve. Sure, doing a bad thing doesn’t negate all the good that these companies do, but doing good things also doesn’t make the bad things okay, either.
Good On You is a website and app that rates companies based on how ethical they are, and how eco-friendly they are. You’ll be able to find good brands that sell products made to last. Buying products made to last means less shopping in general, and less shopping, in general, is better for the environment! On a budget? Look for quality items from local thrift stores when you can. Donate old clothes to local thrift stores when you can, too!
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Reduce the money you put in big corporation’s pockets by shopping less often and from small businesses when you can. And while you’re at it, save up for reusable items to replace the disposable things in life. Reusable mugs and straws, tote bags instead of plastic bags, lip balm that comes in little glass containers instead of the plastic tubes, or even switching to paper-wrapped bar soap instead of liquid soap in a plastic bottle are all little ways to help reduce your environmental footprint AND help your community.
It takes a while. That’s okay! Slow progress is better than no progress. Plus, nobody’s perfect. I keep my reusable straws in my bag with me, but sometimes I forget to grab my reusable coffee cup on the way out and end up getting an iced coffee in a plastic cup anyways. But it’s still fewer straws, and every time I’ve actually remembered the cup has still helped me use less plastic. Plus, it’s just as easy to make my coffee and take it with me before going out with a nice insulated travel mug. Reducing and reusing goes hand in hand, babes!
Getting reusable goods and avoiding plastic means that I’ve been recycling less. My trash bin and my recycle bins fill up slower. And composting now that it’s warm out means the trash doesn’t get as stinky as it sometimes does. Eventually, I want to get to a point where I hardly have anything that needs to be recycled at all! Always think about whether something can be re-purposed, donated or given away before just throwing it out.
Anarchy is About Diversity and Community
Shopping locally means supporting artists and crafts-people. Maybe there’s a local beekeeper who reuses old jars for honey, a candle-maker who uses recycled containers, or even just a yard sale up the street that has something that you want. Every community is different!
Anarchy needs diversity. Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something, as the saying goes. Everybody has something to contribute to their community, and we can all work together to make it happen. We can work towards a healthier planet while we’re at it, too. We shouldn’t have to rely on billionaires who would rather see us, and our planet, starve. Period.
Leaders, helpers, teachers, creators, entertainers, there are so many types of people and they’re all valuable. They’re all human. We’re all human. In the words of the influential political activist and anarchist Emma Goldman,
Emma Goldman, from goodreads.com
The strongest bulwark of authority is uniformity; the least divergence from it is the greatest crime.
A free society needs diversity. It needs people of all types to do all different sorts of things. Each community has slightly different needs than the other communities, but there are also universal human needs that need to be met. Like human interaction, all humans need other humans. The more we help others, the more we help ourselves. Corporations aren’t people. Sure, they’re run by people, but they’re not run for the people.
People need community, and good communities will take care of each other and celebrate their differences. Our differences are what makes life rich and interesting, and they make sure that there are people willing to do all the tasks that need to get done. Not because the person will be homeless without the job, but because it provides a sense of purpose and fulfillment to the person doing the job. Our differences mean that different things are fulfilling for different people. That’s a good thing! Society needs that!
Diversity and Globalization
When I say local communities, that can also mean online communities. The internet is helping break down location barriers, which means we’re able to build communities with people all over the world! Maybe nobody in your area is selling the product that you’re looking for, or maybe nobody in your area is buying what you have to offer. The internet can help! There’s a market for everything, after all.
I truly believe that the internet will help bring about anarchy for the greater good. I don’t mean chaos or a society without rules; even Nature has laws to follow. When I talk about sustainable anarchy and the downfall of big corporations, I mean that people will all take care of each other and our planet so efficiently that we won’t want or need to hoard money, we won’t want to put others in poverty for personal gain or oppress others. We’ll all see that we can’t truly love unless it’s unconditional, and we can’t truly be free until we’re all free. And at that point, we won’t need a government, either. But that’s a topic for another day.
So, after reading my opinion on all that, can you see why I’m not thrilled with my retail job? But it’s okay because I’ll keep fighting for change. I’ll keep writing on this website, and supporting small businesses, and recycling. And who knows, maybe one day I really will be able to live by my own terms. Hopefully, that day will come for all of us.
Do you think anarchy is possible? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and subscribe!🙂