Christmas season is one of the most beautiful time of the year. It brings family and friends together it supposed to be the season when we can slow down a bit, take minute to enjoy each other, regardless your beliefs or religion. Even though I was brought up as a catholic, Christmas for me never was about religion, it was more a family tradition when you can sit together with your closest people and enjoy the moment, a moment which in this rapidly moving world really worth a while. However, I couldn’t not notice how Christmas became a trademark and a commodity. Christmas season for markets is like superbowl for NFL fans, the world cup final for football fans, and restless period for retail workers. Christmas had become the pinnacle of consumerism, when market efficiency is being maximised to the top and neoliberal machine are at its finest. Despite that, who is paying the real price?
To understand consumerism and effects of it we need to look into the roots of systematic paradigm we are living in today. George Monbiot in he’s article gives a clear summarise on how market fundamentalism or neoliberalism is working:
“The story it tells is that the market can resolve almost all social, economic and political problems. The less the state regulates and taxes us, the better off we will be. Public services should be privatised, public spending should be cut, and business should be freed from social control. In countries such as the UK and the US, this story has shaped our norms and values for around 35 years: since Thatcher and Reagan came to power. It is rapidly colonising the rest of the world.” ( Monbiot 2016)
Market competition had become the main principle in economic growth achievement. Profit based companies are doing whatever they can to sell and grow the profit in any way possible. And Christmas, celebration known for gratitude expression is the perfect platform for market and competition to thrive. In a way it seems nothing wrong with given ability to help express people their gratitude with more options and easier accesses, however there is other side of it. Amazon is one of the biggest retailers in the world, whose popularity in last few years had grown substantially. In last 5 years’ amazon revenue had doubled from $10 billion in 2013 to $21 billion in 2016 according to Business Insider intelligence in 2016. (BI intelligence 2016) this growth had cost a large need of unskilled labour. According to The Guardian article Amazon warehouse in Scotland is hiring extra 20,000 personnel just for Christmas season (Osborne 2016) This almost doubled demand of employees are causing a serious trouble regarding conditions of work. Because of the low wages and long working hours’ workers are unable to commune with their own transportation and provision of transport is just not coping with the need. (Osborne 2016) Most of those employees probably going to be working on Christmas with no days off, because of the precarious nature of their job and social status. However besidse tremedous problem of labour explotation there is other issues which are being touched by consumerism.
Max production and manufacturing of goods are requiring big amount of resources, human and nature. At the moment the engine of productivity and delivery are based on fossil fuels, which is the main contributor of global warming. The biggest oil companies in the world and their lobbyist are still trying to shape climate change agenda as an hoax. Recent presidental elections in US is not helping with the matter at all. Donald Trump is known for he’s opinion about climate change,” a creation of Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competative” (Philips 2016) This denial of scientific facts is working as self-defence mechanism of neoliberal order. However having in mind that people like Ronald Reagan and George W Bush had put the global warming issue in their international agenda ( don’t forget they were a true pioniers of market fundamenatlism)denial just looks suspisiously unreasonable. This phenomena is showing that political economy and global paradigm is shifting towards extreme consequences or big revolution. Either way if changes not going to come from people, planet intervention which is already happening ,will going to remind us that change is a must.
By Aurimas Mieliauskas
1. Osborne, H. (2016). [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/11/amazon-accused-of-intolerable-conditions-at-scottish-warehouse [Accessed 12 Dec. 2016].
2. Monbiot, G. (2014). [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/aug/05/neoliberalism-mental-health-rich-poverty-economy [Accessed 5 Aug. 2014].
3.BI Intellegence. (2016). [online] Available at: http://uk.businessinsider.com/amazon-echo-owners-are-spending-more-money-on-amazon-2016-9 [Accessed 20 Sep. 2016].
4. Phillips, T. (2016). [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/17/climate-change-a-chinese-plot-beijing-gives-donald-trump-a-history-lesson [Accessed 17 Nov. 2016]