Papering Over the Crimes of Capitalism: Amazon, GameStop and the Biden Smoke Screen

As the u.s did in January with its milquetoast replacement for president rump, amazon inc. tried to paint over its crimes this week with a thin coat of whitewash. We learned that the world’s richest person, jeff bezos, had resigned as amazon corp’s CEO. Meanwhile it was revealed — though less widely publicized — that the company had been greedily stealing the tips of its own precarious workers.¹

photo by Yves Marchand & Romain Meffre

Stealing $60 million of its drivers’ hard-earned money is far from the amazon corp’s greatest crime. Instead of resigning, bezos could have easily rehabilitated his reputation by tackling one of the world’s deadliest afflictions, which kills millions every year, and for which everyone knows the cure: not COVID-19, but hunger. Bill gates, elon musk, buffett, zuckerberg, or any number of shadowy corp shareholders could have fought homelessness, hunger, and provided free healthcare to all u.s citizens many times over, if they were actually concerned about doing good. Instead their agents are ravenously buying up land and shares in the midst of an economic recession.

In India, as in the West, the march for profit only gathered speed during the pandemic, spurring the largest labour movement ever witnessed in humankind’s history. The country’s two richest men, mukesh ambani and gautam adani, “are set to benefit most from the recently passed farm bills that will lead to the wholesale corporatisation of the agrifood sector,” wrote Colin Todhunter. “The tech giants entry into the sector will increasingly lead to a mutually beneficial integration between the companies that supply products to farmers (pesticides, seeds, fertilisers, tractors, drones, etc) and those that control the flow of data and have access to digital (cloud) infrastructure and food consumers. This system is based on corporate centralisation and concentration (monopolisation)… The aim is to buy up rural land, amalgamate it and roll out a system of chemically-drenched farmerless farms owned or controlled by financial speculators, the high-tech giants and traditional agribusiness concerns. The end-game is a system of contract farming that serves the interests of big tech, big agribusiness and big retail.”²

These operations only confirm what economists have known for well over a hundred years. “During periods of depression small and unsound businesses go out of existence and the big banks take ‘holdings’ in their shares which are bought up for next to nothing, or in profitable schemes for their ‘reconstruction’ and ‘reorganization,’” wrote Lenin in 1916. ³

Like the changing of the guard that happened in the u.s, where the senile reprobate biden has replaced the criminal rump, it won’t matter a scrap who’s in charge at amazon inc., walmart, or facebook; depredation and exploitation will continue full scale. The avarice and rapacity essential to maximizing profit continues unabated, in fact it’s exacerbated every moment as the giants, desperate to continue growing, need to be fed larger forkfuls of inequity. These machinations prove time and again that there will never be a “kinder, gentler capitalism.” And yet, the spoon-fed media would have us believe that the hungry masses led a revolution against big capital when they stormed GameStop and bankrupted a hedge fund company, as if millionaires don’t declare bankruptcy every day — as if rump himself didn’t bankrupt eleven companies before going public as a world leader. I imagine these bankrupt hedge-fund managers are now living penniless in moldering cardboard shacks by the side of railroads and interstates, under dank bridges or on unstable escarpments, starving to death.

“Take this global pandemic,” said Sara Flounders. “The vaccine as a cure would only be possible if big pharma could figure out a way to make it enormously profitable. And that is what Pfizer and Moderna have managed to do. They’re talking about 60 to 80 percent return on profit for the vaccines; and they’ve stretched it out so most of us can’t even expect to get the vaccine for another year, so the virus continues to run rampant. Now, much simpler solutions were possible, particularly based on cooperation, but capitalism is not interested in that. As a matter of fact, they fight it tooth and nail. And if they we’re interested in it, in the least, there is a sickness that takes far more lives than COVID-19, and everyone knows the cure. And yet the cure is refused under capitalism. The disease is hunger. Hunger kills nine million people a year on this planet, and everyone — even a baby — knows how to cure hunger. There’s more than enough food than we could ever deal with. It’s the very first thing that every socialist country deals with: enough food for everyone. And yet under capitalism it’s never, ever dealt with. As a matter of fact, it’s growing… It’s the capitalist system that makes every problem impossible to solve, from hunger to COVID-19, to Amazon workers organizing.”⁴

A few thousand mooches and rubes buying into capitalism to bankrupt a couple of suits won’t stop the machine. It doesn’t even put a spoke in its wheels — even it they used an app named for a disney cartoon social justice warrior. It feeds the machine. Similarly, rejoicing over bezos’ resignation is equivalent to congratulating the criminals for a brilliant paint job.

None of these superficial changes will halt peoples’ increasing frustration with the inequalities generated by the economic system. On the contrary, these facelifts occur at a time when capitalism lays itself most bare, as the system reveals its utter uselessness in the face of a health crisis in which millions have perished from a largely preventable disease. A simple method for saving the vast majority of lives was shown to us almost a year ago by China, and replicated more or less by other countries that have far less “money” than the u.s or the u.k, for example. Imperialist media join in the charade, printing headlines such as the new york times’ “Has China Done Too Well Against COVID-19?” of January 24, 2021.⁵ Could anyone who has lost a loved one to the coronavirus be misled by this malicious drivel?

Instead of saving lives capital seized the opportunity — as it does all calamities, be they war, starvation, or the inevitable economic depressions and recessions that pummel its shores with increasing regularity — to cannibalize and cartelize itself at a scale never before seen.

The great crime of capitalism, of course, is not its heartless murder of hundreds of thousands of our wisest citizens via the coronavirus, but the much larger truth, resting on the mass media backburner for the time being, that it’s destroying our planet and future with anarchic production and suicidal consumption, to enrich the wealthiest tiers at the expense of our mother earth, while maintaining a state of permanent war, adding inconceivably staggering totals to any death count we could possibly calculate.

Before India’s general strike mobilized one quarter of a billion workers against neoliberal policies, the West was galvanized by another strike movement, led by much-maligned Greta Thunberg. In 2019, millions of strikers walked out of work and demonstrated, including hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren who skipped school every Friday for months to demand global change. “The environmental movement is out to smash capitalism. Corporations need to stand up to them or be destroyed,” wrote u.k’s daily telegraph anxiously.⁶

In India, Delhi police charged Greta Thunberg for sharing a toolkit on social media, intended for use by striking farmers in their battle against predatory neoliberalism. The toolkit, posted on Thunberg’s twitter account, proposed various methods of non-violent organizing, including writing letters or using social media. Charges of “criminal conspiracy”⁷ laid against Thunberg are reminiscent of the language used by jfk in his infamous 1961 anti-communist speech, in which he rallied journalists to combat the “monolithic and ruthless conspiracy” facing the u.s warmongers.⁸

As the pandemic rages and recession grips the capitalist nations, corporations gobble up assets in great swaths and try to privatize everything from water to Social Security — to buy it all up and entrench our dependency on wage slavery. Loans are wielded as an international weapon that keeps the imperialist contraption creakily expanding, while capitalism ushers in the nightmarish world described in detail for us in countless dystopian artworks like Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, or the films Sorry to Bother You, Children of Men or V for Vendetta.

Nevertheless, it seems that a solution is again right under our noses. Eight countries in the world meet the United Nations’ minimum criteria for global sustainable development. Of these only one country earned the designation of “very high human development.”⁹ That country is Cuba, which now has formal relations with 160 nations of the world despite being designated as a state sponsor of terrorism by the u.s warmongers. This designation alone should be enough to tell us that Cuba’s example poses a great danger to the capitalist death machine. There is a readily available cure for the greed, larceny, and exploitation of capitalism. All that we need to do is acknowledge our illness.

Notes:

  1. “Media Runs Defense for Amazon After Retail Giant Caught Stealing Millions From Workers: Amazon just got caught stealing millions from its workers, but instead of grilling the retail giant, the media appear to be working hard to run defense for it,” by Alan Macleod, Mintpress News, February 3, 2021. [link]
  2. “Viral Inequality and the Farmers’ Struggle in India,” by Colin Todhunter, Dissident Voice, January 31, 2021. [link]
  3. Imperialism, The Highest Stage of Capitalism, by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, 1917. [link]
  4. “Bursting the Bubble: Capitalism, GameStop, and Marxist Economics,” Workers World Party feat. Sara Flounders (video), February 4, 2021. [link]
  5. “Has China Done Too Well Against Covid-19? The country doesn’t care enough about vaccination because of a false sense of security,” New York Times, January 24, 2021.
  6. “Kowtowing to Greta won’t save woke corporations from the wrath of the anti-capitalist Green movement,” by Ross Clark, Daily Telegraph, January 22, 2020.
  7. “Delhi police book Greta Thunberg on charges of ‘criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity,’ by The Tribune India, February 5, 2021. [link]
  8. The President and the Press: Address Before the American Newspaper Publishers Association,” by John F. Kennedy, April 27, 1961. [link]
  9. ”Only eight countries meet two key conditions for sustainable development as United Nations adopts Sustainable Development Goals,” Global Footprint Network, September 23, 2015. [link]

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