The state of Amazon
There is a certain predictability about how the right will interpret the reaction to Amazon’s plan for upfront payments to the workers it will then exploit at a minimum wage.
Here’s the one line version, but we can expect to see it in full column form by tomorrow morning.
In brief the join-the-dots columns will portray anyone worried about the impact of Amazon’s capture of labour as champagne socialist hypocrites, who don’t actually care about workers getting decent pay and, faced with the reality of capitalist supply and demand bringing about rewards for the workers, desperately search for new explanations about why capitalism is broken.
This will be quite a persuasive argument. Supply and demands is easy to understand, and the usual tropes about lefties not really caring about the workers will be quite effective. After all, some people will get £3,000 up front, and that will be good for them in te short term, though they’ll need to be careful about the small print on the deal, which will actually be about bonded labout. (It’s sort of the wahehousing equivalent of the County Lines operation, where desperate people are drawn into the drugs trade through early ‘gifts’).
What will go unnoted, unless left commentators make the point effectively, is that Amazon should no longer be regarded as just a private firm operating in the capitalist maretplace.
Amazon's scale is now such that it’s becoming a category error even to class it as a corporate. It’s so big that it is beginning to look and act like a semi-autonomous state, with a state formation trajectory not out of keeping with that famously described by Charles Tilly as being a transition from lawlessness to law-making via organized crime.
In this interpretation, Amazon is no longer involved in the freemarket exercise of upping wages in the context of labour shortage; it’s involved in a trade war with other, more traditional state forms, and its strategy is to use its state-sized financial muscle to break and then buy up on the cheap a huge part of those states’ economies. £3,000 per employee purchase may not maek sesne in market terms, but Amazon is not operating in market terms anyore.
That’s the story the left should be telling about Amazon and the other new states (Facebook) — a story of financialized capital no longer acting like capital at all and, yes, neoliberalism being dead and something much worse coming down the tracks at speed.