aNewDomain — Walmart closed five stores on short notice recently, supposedly due to plumbing problems. But Walmart conspiracy theories emerged right away.
The best one: Walmart is teaming with FEMA and the federal government to turn some of its stores into concentrations camps for American citizens – particularly scared, gun-toting conservative Libertarian citizens.
If it were me, I’d start with the Sovereign Citizen people, who are sometimes terrorists in disguise and, often, tax-dodgers.
And, anyway, Walmart is already a labor camp.
It just pays the absolute minimum we will accept to transfer the maximum amount of that labor into wealth for shareholders, the minimum into wealth for workers. Also, Walmart suppresses wages and drives out competition. When it moves into a town, it does so after negotiating significant tax breaks and building code changes. It puts local businesses out of business and its workers are frequently former business owners from the community with no-place else to go.
The conspiracy theory about Walmart joining FEMA and other feds to build nefarious labor camps does make sense in that light: What we’re hearing really are metaphors for what is already taking place.
For instance, another conspiracy theory around the store closures is that Walmart closed these five stores across the country to punish workers for agitating for higher wages. But the workers are getting two months’ vacation pay and the chance to transfer to other stores. That’s expensive punishment for a few agitators. But workers are getting punished, true. Walmart makes everything the same, homogeneous, right? Every town with a Walmart now used to have bakers and grocers and hardware stores, each different, owned by different people. Now they just have a Walmart.
What the conspiracy theorists are really afraid of is actually happening: Homogeneity.
They fear the loss of the America they remember, one of successful, thriving small-business where you could get a loan from the bank, start up, and still leave something to your kids.
Again, it’s an obvious case of a fantasy as metaphor for the reality. It really is that simple to fire workers who agitate. They won’t all make the 9-o-clock news because Walmart doesn’t usually even need a reason to fire a part-time worker.
At-will states do away with the requirement entirely, and contingent workers can just be assigned fewer or no shifts.
In the part-time, contingent world you learn to keep your mouth shut for these reasons. College instructors face exactly the same problem: we’re generally part-time and contingent. My bosses don’t have to assign me any classes. They would never need to fire me, just not assign me any more work. This happens all the time. Even my full-time colleagues are more often than not on time-limited contracts. At the end of the year or two years or five, the school can just decide not to renew their contract.
For any reason or for no reason.
These things are already happening, and we don’t need mysterious Walmart closures in order to think about them or elaborate post-hoc reasoning.
So. There are blinds in the windows and therefore what they’re hiding is death camps? Does that really follow? It does at least as much as Jibbers Crabst, below, does.
But that’s not necessary. None of it is necessary. We don’t, for example, need Jade Helm to accustom us to seeing military people and vehicles on the streets in preparation for martial law.
We already accept all that.
We already live under martial law when the cops can kill us for any reason or no reason and go unindicted, tanks can roll through city streets, governors can establish curfews and back them up with the national guard, and the LAPD keeps secret recordings of celebrity stops for 14 years in case you become a thorn in their side later (http://anewdomain.net/2015/07/31/ted-rall-lapd-latimes-battle-cops-lied-new-tape-shows-listen-here-anewdomain-exclusive/).
Following the Boston Marathon bombing, we got a really good look at the ability of police departments to lock down a place and call on military tactics, equipment and weaponry – and their willingness to use them against citizens
So the conspiracy theorists are crazy. Out of their minds paranoid. Good job.
In the psychiatric hospital, though, we learn to speak with people who experience fixed delusions. The delusion itself is never going to change for the better, not for the folks on the long-term units for whom every remedy has failed. And if you argue with fixed delusions, you get wrapped into them as the bad guy.
When someone tells you that President Bush disguised himself as a traffic cop and shot and killed them, that idea is clearly a bizarre illusion. But there’s a mentation under that delusion that makes complete sense: that authority is not to be trusted, that you’ve been disenfranchised somehow. Those are reasonable assertions.
Our job is to relate not to the content of the delusional person’s speech, but to the mentations that underlie that speech.
When it comes to Walmart, the giant chain is not doing us any good. That much is provable fact. Walmart depresses wages, transfer wealth from the government to private hands through tax gaming and welfare abuse, homogenize towns. Worse. That they aren’t actually building concentration camps for FEMA (who you really can’t rely on) and the military (whose equipment and tactics are really being used to oppress you). And that’s what makes all the conspiracy people extra crazy.
It’s what’s under the crazy that ought to watch out for.
For aNewDomain, I’m Jason Dias.