Submitted by Aznatech in Anarchism

just for fun i tried to find a few ethical companies (treat their employees well, respect their customers...) and i couldn't find any medium-sized/big companies!!

Even when looking at smaller companies it's already a struggle!!!!

Why is that? why are companies unethical?

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ziq wrote

Capital is required to grow, if a company doesn't grow, it collapses. Economic growth can't be ethical, it requires that the well-being of the capital be put before every other concern - workers, environment, society.

If you lock 5 people in a room and only provide enough food for 1 person on a daily basis, either they'll all slowly starve trying to ethically share the food like so many failed companies, or one will kill the others and survive. That's a successful company. The person willing to murder everyone standing in the way of their survival.

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kore wrote

I think it's very interesting that you make this comparison, in any situation of finite resources the growth of one thing (be it a single organism, a species, a community, or a corporation) is always a detriment to the growth of another.

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celebratedrecluse wrote

there is no consumption under ethicalism

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[deleted] wrote

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celebratedrecluse wrote

If people are still living "under" something after capitalism, then I'm not sure that we've really made the kind of changes that I'd hope us & future generations will be making.

Consumption itself degrades the human into a shell of itself, because consumption is basically a process of symbolic representation. While the commodity also destroys the planet, chews up human beings and the environment in the process, there is also a corollary violence which produces from a human being, a consumer.

The consumer has needs, and those needs are constructed from wounds that are etched into the psyche. This is where this seemingly banal conversation of "ethical consumption" hails from, and now sits. It is a futile attempt to reconstruct a coherent moral universe from the myriad of slits and abrasions cultivated in each of us by our emotionally violent society. Futile, because not only are the material conditions of this mode of production inclining everything towards a neoliberali totalitarianism, not only are the governments going in this generally reactionary trajectory, but indeed the very foundation of bourgeois consumer identity is a sense of shame, alienation and a desire for redemption.

Consumptive western economics as we even remotely know it cannot be sustained, literally cannot exist as a mode of production, without us viewing our own daily lives as something which has an overall negative effect on the world. Trying to change the world into something we want, where we don't feel such a dire imperative to keep buying green union-made vegan whatever products would crash the economy, even a planned/centralized one. So the problem at hand seems to be the nature of the economy itself.

This question of ethical consumption among the leftists is startlingly similar to what the US Puritans and Swiss Calvinists and other utterly brutal religions used to fixate upon: "what are Good Works?" Good Works, as in the need to do the Right Thing here on Earth, rather than just believe in X god/dogma, to get into Heaven. It's a secular version of this exact same conversation, with the same melodramas over "good" and "bad" people, "good" and "bad" companies, etc etc, with everything bizzarely couched in impossibly corrupted and horrifying social context.

It's not to say that you shouldn't try to change the world/fight back, that's why we're here is to do that. But trying to buy your way out of this pickle we're in, much like trying to vote our way out, is a losing strategy and will cause us to make poor decisions that hurt us and the people we care about.

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[deleted] wrote

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celebratedrecluse wrote (edited )

I can't but think that consumption per se is not degrading, but can even be fulfilling.

Consumption, as we conceive of it, is only fulfilling to the extent that it provides leisure time a product to manufacture. CMV

How can eating an apple be degrading?

Eating an apple is not degrading. Having no relationship whatsoever to the bland monocultural food you eat, and no conception of virtually anything else, that's degrading. You can't buy an "ethical apple" which is going to alter the mode of production and alienated sociality characteristic of the food industry. It won't happen, any attempt at it is just a way to recuperate energy away from more dangerous and aggressive ways of confronting the current productive modes. For example, the way the organic food movement became commercialized.

Zizek

sniffs

Thinking that one or the other are the only way to achieve a change is naïve to me.

You can certainly achieve changes with consumption. The world is changing very much right now, it's changing into an unlivable wasteland and all. Not all change is good, and there's certain forms of change that are in fact quite bad-- like climate change, or authoritarian forms of governance, corporate consolidation. Certainly, changes away from these trends are good, but the thing is that these trends are themselves also changes to a world, not a static baseline.

That is, they require reproduction to maintain themselves: for example, the growth imperative of capitalism, or cisheteropatriarchy, or white supremacy. These systems are grow-or-die, so you have to change the world in order to keep it along the same trajectory.

So consumption definitely changes the world, but the thing is that it cannot change the fundamental relationships of capital. Instead, we need to conceive of another way of relating to each other and the world, of fulfilling needs, that is entirely distinct from consumption in our current context. For example, abolishing the concept of apples as a product which is bought in the grocery store, by planting so many apple trees everywhere that they grow naturally, like the American story of Jon Appleseed.

Buying something in the market? That's the mark of the beast my friend, it's always going to be fucked, and never a direct action step towards the world we want. Not even if it's "a good company", a small business, environmentally friendly, immigrant LGBTQ woman of color owned, whatever branding they come up with. Even if the company genuinely is all of these things, the fact that it is a company still compels it to reproduce the same exact economic framework of reality. What is needed is the decommodification of life and everything in it, because it's a matter of life and death survival for the whole biosphere.

By all means, vote Labour and use the expensive "green" laundry detergent and get all your fresh food from worker coops at the farmer's market. Or, get the cheap brands of everything, and give the capitalist titans the least amount of your money as possible. But what's really important about our economic practices as anarchists are the ways we are creating space for decommodification, not only of the ways we fulfill our needs and wants, but also in the ways we treat each other. This means changing our conception of human relationships, to one that prioritizes autonomy for everyone. That's how the abolition of marriage relates to the way you eat-- same struggle, slightly different context/terrain.

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Volt wrote

Capitalism.

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masque wrote

In addition to the fact that unethical companies have a competitive advantage over ethical ones as pointed out by ziq, another factor is the fact that a hypothetical "ethical" company, which seeks to be profitable only to the extent that it allows the company to continue providing & improving some good or service, is not necessarily going to be aiming for growth in the way that bigger corporations are.

Investors want growth because they make money as the value of their shares grows, but a more traditional "ethical" business that isn't worry about attracting investors can be successful (in the sense of being profitable) without ever aspiring to be big. So ethical companies (to the extent that they exist) might be more likely to remain small than unethical ones.

Also, as a company gets bigger, the impact of individual people and their values on the direction of the company decreases, and the company becomes more beholden to bureaucracy, market forces, the hive-mind of its investors, and so on. And the goal that internal bureaucratic procedures, market pressures, executives, and investors all consistently push the company towards is success in the capitalist market. Any other goal will be relevant to only some components of the complex system that is a corporation, and will likely be drowned out.

Finally, there's the argument that no for-profit company is truly ethical, since any profit must, by necessity, be stolen from the workers in some sense.

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kore wrote

Costco is about as close as you're gonna get for a large company.

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