We Are Attracted to Shiny Things

This article at Jacobin correctly identifies the “potentially enormous political and economic power” of workers in the “logistics” (transportation) industry, even if it downplays the weak position of these workers. It advocates for bringing more and more of these workers into One Big Union, which would certainly increase the power of workers, as any good Wobbly knows. However, there’s one big thing that goes unsaid, and I think it is too frequently ignored amongst radicals and unionists alike: rampant consumerism, particularly in a market system. The transportation industry is as big as it is because more and more people are buying ridiculous things from whatever corner of the globe is able to produce and sell it at the lowest price. I am certainly in favor of organizing ever worker in the world (and overthrowing capitalism), but can we also address the fact that our consumerism is a huge problem? And not only for us as exploited workers, some of whom spend their time bringing junk item X from point A to point B, but also for us as living beings in the environment, which is getting shredded by this criss-crossing of vehicle emissions back and forth all over the place? And also for us as social beings, who are becoming more and more detached from the things that matter like personal relationships? Capitalism attempts to commodify everything and make us think we need things we really don’t and in this process it makes the world a worse place – let’s recognize that we are partly to blame because we are attracted to shiny things and try to reign in our contribution to this deadly consumerism.

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