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 by Miracle Jones

What is the difference between Amazon and the Manson family? They are both rapacious organizations that create cohesion by dissolving human values using technology (dune buggies, LSD, drones, “search”). Like the Manson Family, Amazon attracts hyperactive psychopaths who thrive within its unique structure of rabbity cruelty and who relish the brutal internal culling practices that keep the company from accidentally becoming humane or responsible. Both organizations were designed to grow more lean and fucked-up over time in order to do as much damage as possible for dubious goals: not always to make money, but often instead to "disrupt" all the piggies.  

One important difference between Amazon and the Manson Family is that it is much easier to avoid joining the Manson family. 

Amazon has a totalitarian economic streak that is hard to deny: it creates a tight iron band around the free market that throttles all retail trade.  Amazon's model is not to be a store, but to be the marketplace itself. There are no laws yet against Amazon's particularly clever brand of market-torturing Internet retail, though perhaps someday we will nationalize companies whose only service is to insert themselves between buyers and sellers, collecting a private sales tax instead of a profit. In fact, one day we may look back at Amazon as the dark lich that ended a generation's optimistic belief in the power of a technological ideal. Amazon may one day murder the dream of the Utopian Internet the same way that Manson murdered the dream of the Utopian sixties.

But until that happens, Amazon will continue to make us all shittier people by degrees (especially during the holidays) and so we must find a way to manage the daily harm; to keep from sliding deeper into the cult. Amazon is very good at tapping into each person's desire to cheat the system and get cheap shit for the lowest possible price, even though every time we do this we are directly harming our fellow human beings who work in their sadistic fulfillment centers. Every time we let Amazon siphon a few dollars in private mulct from our purchase we are also kicking every other business who may be competing against Amazon in the kidneys (which is all other businesses since Amazon is in every single market including the market for military intelligence—which means that if you work for a business other than Amazon, you are also kicking yourself in the kidneys every time you buy from Amazon). This makes Amazon a permanent challenge to morality, a challenge that we fail every time we use its services.

At this point, I think the only way to effectively fight Amazon is to hijack its system and claim our rights as customers, demanding at the very least that our "customer experience" be as ethical as possible. Like making Charles Manson actually sit down and try to cut a hit record, we need to be empowered as customers to treat the workers of Amazon better, since customers are the only people Amazon fears and loves, the same way Charles Manson only feared and loved the Beatles. 

As customers, we should be able to give Amazon workers money directly by tipping them. Tipping Amazon employees shouldn’t be mandatory (plenty of people are outraged by the very idea of tipping), but tipping Amazon employees ought to be possible, the same way it is possible to tip Uber drivers or Seamless couriers or any other member of the exhausted precariat underclass who silently enable our sociopathic new millennium.

People avoid retail these days because retail employees are depressing. We all know that retail workers are desperately superfluous. While watching them in action, we start to see the ley lines for the dark pyramid of siphoned human essence that powers the immortality machine for the vampires who control all human dreams.  It is unsettling.  You are not supposed to see the dark pyramid. 

Amazon makes the pyramid disappear utterly, even as it creates new layers, pushing everybody down. Amazon pickers aren't retail workers, but they aren't union warehouse labor either. They are unrepresented and hidden from the agora, making them more easy to abuse. Having the option to tip them will remind us that they exist in the first place.

Intriguingly, Amazon already has a program called AmazonSmile that allows you to channel gratuities to the charity of your choice every time you buy something.  AmazonSmile’s motto is “You shop. Amazon gives.”  You assign a charity to your account and Amazon donates .5% of all your purchases to that particular charity.  There are over a million charities to choose from, but so far, it is not possible to choose “the workers of Amazon" as a place to funnel this cash. If Amazon does not want to enable tipping directly, we could register the workers of Amazon as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, and we could then put pressure on Amazon to accept this charity as one of the eligible beneficiaries of our Smilepoints. It would of course be up to a representative of the workers at Amazon to decide how these donations might be distributed. One would think that Amazon might even welcome the opportunity to make their warehouse jobs more desirable by letting customers tip the workers there for their hard work.  

Amazon itself may take professional glee in being bestial, but the rest of us shouldn't have to feel like monsters for using Amazon, if we would instead prefer that our Amazon experience be a conscientious one. Becoming accustomed to brutality done in our name has a palpable emotional cost that saps our spiritual force, and we should demand the opportunity to be better than Amazon. We shouldn't let Amazon make us all feel like the executives who work there, inducing psychic pain on those below us in order to draw them closer. 

This holiday season, as you lean on Amazon to make ends meet, at least try and spend a few moments thinking about the warehouse workers.  Think about how it is not even possible to be nice to them; how there is a giant cardboard dragon between your benevolence and the people that Amazon abuses.

Think about how it would feel to walk up to the gates of a fulfillment center and ask the person standing out front to go find you a tube of toothpaste, and what it would feel like if they actually shuffled off into the miserable pandemonium to get it for you. Think about how you might slip that person a cash dollar for their trouble so that they would hate their boss more than they hate you and all of humanity. 

And think about how shifting this loyalty is absolutely the last thing that Amazon wants. Think about why Amazon doesn't want to make tipping possible, lest this cause Amazon customers to feel even one moment of responsibility or guilt. Meanwhile, Amazon blames every questionable thing that it does on customers. It tells its abused employees (and "partners") that it is the fault of customers that workers are suffering; that customers are the reason for every brutal policy. 

But that's you. You are a fucking Amazon customer. You are part of the Manson Family. Are you going to keep letting Amazon be your whiphand, inviting even more egregious behavior in the name of cheap shit by staying silent, or are you finally going to demand limits, beginning the unlovely work of reversing the apocalypse we have all enabled, taking responsibility for what Amazon does and making an inevitable way of doing business (Internet retail) into something fair, benign, and morally acceptable? 






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(c) Miracle Jones 2015