Disclaimer: I am not advocating for the abolition of capitalism, and believe that capitalism can offer many freedoms that many other forms of government do not. However, Capitalism is something that isn’t perfect, and in fact, causes a lot of harm. Let’s at least start to accept that the flaws so that we can fix them.
Ah, the holidays. Most people view them as a time of happiness and festivities, as well as a time of stress. We all feel obligated to spend this time getting people great (or not so great) presents. Even if we do not have the funds to buy these potentially expensive gifts that we know our loved ones will love, we feel as if we have to go into debt in order to get them anyways. We often feel like crap when we can’t, or won’t engage in the festivities.
That is not to say that I personally dislike Christmas or the other holidays, in fact, I love the holidays as I get to spend them with my loved ones and make them happy. Also, there is a ton of great food that comes out of it.
The Marketing Machine
However, I dare anyone to say to my face that the modern depiction of the holidays is not just a marketing gimmick. There may be some religious symbolism tossed in, but come on now, Santa Clause is there just to push the idea that you need to buy toys for your kids in order to not make them feel as if the mythical Saint Nick thinks they are a bad kid.
Why else do you think businesses push Santa Clause so hard? You may be poor and can barely afford food, but in order to make your kid feel happy during the holidays, you have to either buy them very cheap toys (or get cheap toys from donations) or get into massive debt in order to make them joyous for a month or two.
And let’s not even get into the planned obsolescence of technology. In fact, I will talk about that in an upcoming sequel.
Black Friday is one of those joyous occasions where everyone rushes into stores in order to get the best prices around. This often results in people either being trampled to death, murdered, or otherwise injured as fights break out over a 10% discount on a flat screen TV.
While this is getting better due to the fact that people purchase more of their gifts online instead of having to go into stores, it’s depressing that anyone would have to say “it’s getting better.” This is the day where many people do their holiday shopping, so it’s definitely connected.
I have talked about sweatshops before, but I want to do it again. You may have guessed, but not really cared, but your toys that you tell your kids are made by “Santa’s elves” are actually made in sweatshops. Often by the very kids who are unable to enjoy them.
Sweatshops are known to have terrible abuses of labor, and although several internet pundits have gone out of their way to claim these shops are good, that does not help the abysmal working conditions that the workers suffer from. Some even get charged for using the bathroom without express permission to do so.
So while we are enjoying our festive holidays, people in other countries are getting paid pennies an hour in order to make these toys and gadgets. Is it really worth it for about a month or two of “feel goods?”
Animal Agriculture and Environmental Racism
Yup, we are now going to get into the issue of animal suffering and massive pollution. I have talked about it far more in depth on my blog, but I will discuss it here.
The holidays often means that we look forward to massive amounts of food that we feast one for days after the holidays. While it is meant to promote happiness and togetherness, depending on what you buy, it can cause suffering to innumerable families across the nation.
For instance, your Christmas Ham comes from a pig. This may not be awful in and of itself, but the fact that giant hog farms are known to spew hog waste all over the surrounding areas, up to and including people’s homes, it is a huge issue.
The poultry industry is also known to cause abuse to workers. Many companies selling poultry, such as chickens and turkey, have workers who wear diapers because they are often denied bathroom breaks. More information about this can be found on my blog.
There is so much more that I can talk about when it comes to the holidays. Such as the pollution and waste caused by the giftwrap, the carbon emissions emitted by increased electricity usage, and the health effects caused by the undue stress that it causes. There is no end to how the holidays impacts us all.
Again, I love Christmas, and I love Thanksgiving. They are my favorite holidays and I look forward to them every year. However, I cannot just continue to ignore the bad that capitalism and the holidays produces. We need to live in an economy that helps humanity, not hurts them.