The Devil is Kind, Charming, and Beautiful

Amazon is one of the worst companies that has ever existed. It is also, perhaps, the greatest.

Amazon is both great and terrible, and it may be impossible for it to be one without the other.

Amazon abuses its workers. Investigations and personal testimonies have detailed the ways in which Amazon workers are forced to do strenuous, sometimes dangerous, tasks in high pressure, stressful environments for low pay and little in the way of benefits, let alone job security. Workers are under such extreme pressure, their every second and action so scrutinized that they are regularly forced to forego bathroom breaks, having instead to pee in bottles, or perhaps piss themselves, or develop bladder infections. Amazon workers are injured and/or killed in work-related incidents at twice the industry average. When workers are injured and can no longer work due to their disability, developed at Amazon, they are essentially left in the lurch trying to get help. Amazon is in a class second only to the prison industrial complex in exemplifying how close a business can come to practicing legal slave labor in the modern United States. Hardly since the unregulated exploitation of Depression-era migrants has US industry been so free to abuse employees so liberally and at such vulgar profit.

If you’re an executive at the company, you’re doing very well for yourself. If you’re the owner, you’re the richest, smuggest, most entitled and callous piece of shit on the planet. But if you’re one of the tens of thousands of low-level employees, you are at best viewed as a useful robot, at worst you are the expendable scum of the earth. Your job is to do the most menial, demanding, unfulfilling, and often degrading work as efficiently as you can until you’re no longer able.

Amazon employees are habitually abused and exploited primarily in the name of profit, and correlationally in the interest of being the best, most consumer-friendly business ever, and the frank fact is that the company succeeds.

I’ve tried to stop using Amazon. I’ve definitely cut back my use. But I’m addicted, because it is literally the best way to buy most things. The variety and prices are virtually always better than brick and mortar stores or any other online service. The fact that I can get whatever I want delivered to my home in a day or two is phenomenal. And if there’s ever a problem, if a purchase was a mistake, or it’s broken, or was misdelivered or stolen, sending things back or getting them replaced is so goddamn easy.

I committed the sin of ordering a computer from Amazon on Black Friday this year. In the past I’ve stayed off Amazon on the week of Black Friday and mostly eschewed spending any money on the day itself as a form of silent anti-capitalist protest. But it was sixty dollars off! I’d had my eye on that computer for weeks. It spent much of that time sitting in my cart while I debated whether it was worth the expense. Then the price went down sixty dollars! When I ordered it, the estimated delivery time was two days. But guess what! It came the next morning! From the time I ordered, it took barely twenty-four hours to have a shiny new computer humming under my desk.

Almost as an experiment, practically forcing myself, I’ve ordered a few things recently from other online services, whether directly from manufacturers like Crest, or bad-but-not-as-bad-as-Amazon outlets like Best Buy. Also, Costco, which I understand to be pretty okay. Crest took two days to process my order, then estimated a week for delivery. Best Buy promised next day delivery, but has since hedged back that drunken boast, and now say my delivery could be delayed a week, or more than a month, who knows. Costco is limited in selection and variety. It’s my go-to for dog food and toilet paper, but not much else. Their delivery isn’t that fast, but good by pre-Prime standards.

It would be ideal if Amazon could be made a public utility. Fat chance of that happening. And who’s to say whether the infrastructure it’s built and the high performance standards it brutally enforces would be maintained under civil control. The logical compromise would be to pass legislation, as well as enforce the legislation that already exists, to protect workers’ rights. If Bezos and his cronies are determined to retain their empire, they should accept that they need to pay employees better, treat them much better, and improve safety and working standards at their facilities. If they won’t do that willingly, they must be forced to do so by law and mobs of torch- and pitchfork-wielding commonfolk.

The devil is cunning. The devil is beautiful and charming and kind. The devil will give you everything you want and treat you like you deserve more. But the devil is evil. We can’t forget that. We can’t forget that while the devil is speedily delivering us computers, and Wu Tang logo t-shirts, and designer handbags that may or may not be authentic, and cases of sardines, and little Harry Potter dolls with giant heads, and fifty-packs of polyisoprene condoms, and unnerving blowjob machines that we can’t imagine work well, or are safe, or will not have devastating side effects on our social skills and general life-function capabilities, but by which we are powerfully intrigued, that our convenience and pleasure is coming at the expense of the suffering of others. Every time we ring the Amazon bell, an Amazon angel crushes an Amazon worker beneath a forklift.