DiEM25 panel: How to make Amazon pay this Black Friday

Black Friday is coming up, the day of the year where stores and outlets offer massive sales on their products. Yet while many see as it as an opportunity to snap up bargain goods, it is the big businesses that ultimately come away victorious.

Among the biggest beneficiaries is Amazon, the e-commerce giant that has grown into a global behemoth at the expense of cheap and abusive labour, technological invasiveness and environmental exploitation.

To mark this day, therefore, DiEM25 is taking an alternative route, supporting the Make Amazon Pay campaign launched by the Progressive International, which seeks to unite workers and unions in striking on November 25. The aim is to send a message to the Jeff Bezos-owned company and hopefully put a small dent in its activity.

On our latest DiEM25 panel, we discussed both this action and other potential ways of combating Amazon’s abuses.

Amazon is a technological fiefdom

Yanis Varoufakis first summarised how Amazon is like no other ‘market’ and shouldn’t even be described as such, given that it targets customers algorithmically.

“The moment you enter Amazon.com you exit capitalism (laughs). You exit the marketplace because Amazon is not a market,” he began. “For a market to be a market you need to have a common space where there is an interaction between buyers. [In a market] we walk down the street and see the same things.

“If any of us here logged on and searched for a book, each one of us would be directed to a different book. It’s the equivalent of us walking down a market street side by side, turning our eyes to the same spot and seeing different things and what we see is determined by the owner of the alogirthm, of the digital space. The digital fiefdom.

“Because this is not a market place, it is a fiefdom, it goes back to a kind of feudalism, only it is a digital, technological fiefdom.”

Digital boycott

As well as the Make Amazon Pay strikes, Varoufakis then stressed the need for a consumer boycott, a digital boycott, to send a message to Jeff Bezos.

“The only thing that would affect Jeff Bezos is a fall in the share price. There will be no such drop even if a significant proportion of Amazon warehouses don’t work for one day – it is important, but there has to be [a consumer boycott].

“I would love to have a 20 percent reduction on Amazon.com on that day because that would really piss of Jeff Bezos. That would have a negative impact on the share price. Even for one day. That’s when he takes notice, that’s when we win.”

Adding to Yanis’ point of staging a digital boycott was Daniel Kopp from Progressive International, who is leading the Make Amazon Pay campaign.

He mentioned GenZ for Change as a good example of collective activism, a group of US TikTokers that stood in solidarity with Amazon workers by creating the ‘People Over Prime’ campaign that saw TikTokers with a combined following of 50 million people refuse to monetise their content with Amazon content.

“That was so powerful that the company [Amazon] had to respond,” Daniel said.

Amazon is becoming one of the biggest advertisers on the internet and so “maybe it’s not the Make Amazon Pay campaign or the trade unions that should call for it but those who actually have the most direct line to consumers, whether it’s TikTokers or Twitch streamers, which Amazon recently bought”.

Vote with your wallet

Julijana Zita also made a necessary point. She mentioned how Amazon have long been edging towards the automation of their production line, whether it be robots in their factories for the production of goods or drones that would deliver the products. A consumer boycott would therefore dent both its attempt to reduce the need for human workers and, at the same time, dent its profits.

The need to shop local was also stated, referencing how there has been a demise for local businesses, which have been replaced by international conglomerates. “I think that reality, real life, has to fight back against these online companies. It is in the interest of small business owners and consumers to question what they’re buying there [on Amazon].”

Find out more about the Make Amazon Pay campaign here.

You can watch the full discussion below








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