An Anarchist Survey of Amazon: Day Two
Since the conclusion of our previous survey, two interesting events occurred in various Amazon facilities. In one instance, a fulfillment center was torched in the British Midlands. In another instance, coordinated strikes hit Amazon in Germany and Northern Italy. All of this preceded the holiday sales blitz and threw Amazon into internal chaos. At the end of the holiday season, all Amazon could tout was its toxic accomplishment of shipping one billion commodities and selling “tens of millions” of talking Alexa units. When the shopping extravaganza was over, the corporate employees of Amazon were rewarded with a lavish spectacle to sooth their overworked souls.
Their annual Post-Holiday Party was held within the CenturyLink Stadium, otherwise known as the Seahawks Stadium in Seattle. The entire facility was commandeered by the corporation and when we arrived it appeared as if a football game were taking place. Police directed traffic in and out of the stadium area and a stampede of well dressed parties flooded towards the entrance. This was the only day of the year where their employer gave them something for free. This was where our survey began.
Security was very lose and we entered without issue or incident. This laxness was due in large part to the fact that Jeff Bezos was not going to be there. Our first observation was that the majority of Amazon employees in Seattle are between the ages of 25 and 35, many of whom wore Romanesque laurels around their heads. The only major exceptions were immigrant tech employees on H1B visas who were mostly in their 40s and early 50s. Our first stop was the silent dancing area where two hundred employees danced to music over specialty headphones provided for the occasion. It was eerily reminiscent of the celibate loner cult depicted in the film The Lobster who danced silently to their headphones in the middle of a forest.
We snapped the enclosed photograph in the middle of this surreal and disturbing environment, after which we proceeded to the next area where we encountered twenty steaming silver trays of macaroni and cheese. The quality was quite good but the abundance of this dairy-rich food proved to be slightly nauseating. In the next area we found doughnuts, cookies, and Starbucks coffee, all of which was provided for free. At the entrance of the stadium we managed to obtain several alcohol tickets which could be redeemed at the various bars. Each guest was meant to only have two tickets, after which they could pay seven dollars per drink. Our group bypassed this for the entire evening, as bottles of wine and cans of beer were easy to steal in this environment. The service workers had no incentive to care. There were SPD officers and King County Sheriffs hired for the event but they were stationed near the front doors away from the food.
Our second major observation was that everyone in the stadium betrayed a compulsive willingness to stand in line, even when there was no apparent reason. Our group initially found ourselves standing in various lines only to discover they were entirely pointless. With this simple object lesson in mind, we proceeded to cut every line we encountered with great success. We eventually made it into the stadium where we passed beneath a gate reminiscent of a concentration camp. This was apparently part of the 80s theme and emblazoned with the shiny command HAVE FUN. The mildly Vaporwave aesthetic of the evening drew from the current love of the hit Netflix show Stranger Things. Given this was Amazon, the retro aesthetic even included a real life CIA conspiracy lurking in the background of this neon-lit stadium party. Rather than serving hamburgers and hotdogs to Seahawks fans, the vending stands in the stadium now distributed a variety of free food to the Amazon employees. We cut in line at every occasion and enjoyed complimentary pho, empenadas, fried chicken, tomato bisque soup, and other savory items. It was quite overwhelming but we managed to get through it.
Each employee was allowed to bring a “plus-one” and it soon became clear why Lorde was invited as the main performer at the event. With this famous singer headlining a free Amazon party, the mostly male workforce was better able to secure a date for the evening. While there were many exceptions, the majority of attendees were coupled off for the event. We noticed several older men with younger dates, just as we observed the majority of millennial employees to have dates drawn from their own age group. This transparent tactic to increase the appeal of male Amazon employees in Seattle and fuel their sexual economy was plain to see during this Post-Holiday Party. Tens of thousands packed in to see Lorde perform but they seemed to prefer watching her through the projection screens rather than dancing before them in person. Lorde caused a minor stir when she asked the crowd if some random art object in the stadium was in fact the Amazon logo. She claimed she didn’t know, that she didn’t have an account, and she received scattered boos from the employees in response. She reminded the crowd that Amazon had yet to plant itself in New Zealand and left it at that. She finished her performance to a sea of smartphone cameras and then departed, scattering the crowd back into the stadium.
We had initially planned to lay a curse on Jeff Bezos, believing he would introduce Lorde to the crowd. As we would learn that evening, the CEO never came to these events. They were simply a release valve for the overworked employees who have every reason to despise him as a person. This exceptional evening was meant to compensate for the alienation these people otherwise experience inside and outside of the workplace. At least 15,000 employees aged 25-35 were on display last night as the new capitalist subject meant to replace the traditional worker. Outside of their stadium party, these capitalist subjects are meant to drive up housing costs, maintain high standards of living, and remain in their alienated world of tech induced consumption and narcosis. Many of them are growing sick of this arrangement, based on our observations inside the stadium.
Perhaps in another time our group might have been overwhelmed by the luxury and extravagance of this Post-Holiday Party, succumbing to its opulence and finding ways to rationalize its existence. As it was, we found this spectacle to be entirely undesirable and yet vastly illuminating. We glimpsed the local Amazon workforce in its entirety and beheld a vital portion of its contemporary misery. These people are so used to waiting in line they can do nothing else. They drift from feeding trough to feeding trough until its time to go home to their expensive housing unit in preparation for the work week.
The negative economic effect these people have on Seattle is well-documented and yet these workers seem to be all but paralyzed in the face of the current situation. Their wealth is contrasted every day with the network of favelas and encampments that have spread throughout the city. Each day sees the new Amazon towers rise higher into the air, promising to bring ten thousand more of these high paid workers to the city and heighten the volatility of the current situation. Not all of these workers are happy or amused about the situation they’re in. Many are starting to think for themselves and will one day challenge Jeff Bezos from inside his own war camp.
We had planned to level a curse at Bezos similar to the one leveled by the three witches against Macbeth, King of Scotland. This will have to wait for another time, although the trajectories of Bezos and Macbeth are already tracking very closely. With all his enemies defeated in the path to the throne, the mad king Bezos now awaits his final destruction. We will continue our efforts to study and subvert Amazon’s workforce in Seattle in the hope that it will prove useful for others. We’ve made contact with dozens of employees and the rebellious seeds we’ve planted are now locked in an irreversible growth pattern. People like Jeff Bezos can’t even see the angry roots creeping beneath his fragile castle. We will release another study in the coming days. Good luck in all your efforts. Let’s hope we can figure this all out before it’s too late for everyone.