On Tuesday, February 11th, 2014, a group of people blocked the train line that leads into the Amazon HQ in South Lake Union. They blocked the tracks with a banner that read CIAmazon, a reference to the corporation’s recent decision to provide cloud services for the CIA. Two smoke signal flares were lit in order to attract the attention of the workers inside the Day 1 South building of the campus. The contents of a flier were read over a megaphone and hundreds of fliers were distributed The action lasted around half an hour and group dispersed before the police arrived.
The following is an explanation for the action:
In case you didn’t know, Amazon Web Services is building the digital brain of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), those famous proponents of death squads, fascism, and armed drones. This new data cloud will help the CIA coordinate their massacres, assassinations, and terrorism across the planet. Since 1949, the CIA has had a free hand to install fascist dictatorships in Chile, train death squads in Uruguay, oversee the massacre of students in Greece, and incinerate wedding parties with its Predator drones in Yemen. This horrific history, often obscured by duplicitous journalists and federal propagandists, should never be forgotten.
Amazon Web Services and the CIA are growing to resemble each other in many troubling ways. But before we can explain any further, we must tell a simple story, long buried but extremely pertinent. It takes place in the nation of Bolivia in 1964. A fascist general named RenÃ© Barrientos, long-time solider and aspiring politician, staged a bloody coup against the established government and seized power. This coup was organized and facilitated by the CIA, who retained Barrientos as an asset.
With their puppet in power, the CIA hoped to create a Bolivian bulwark against anti-capitalism. However, their plans were eventually threatened by a miners strike at the Siglo XX tin mine in San Juan. Barrientos had reduced the miner’s pay to starvation wages, forbade unionizing, and ordered the assassination and imprisonment of any outspoken labor leaders. When a strike broke out at the Siglo XX mine and the workers demanded better pay and conditions, the CIA ordered Barrientos to crush them immediately.
On the morning of June 24th, 1967, the Bolivian military, trained by CIA advisors, surrounded the Siglo XX mine and proceeded to fire indiscriminately into the miner’s camp. Twenty were killed and seventy wounded in the initial massacre. An untold and unknown number of people were disappeared, executed, and imprisoned in the days that followed. All of this was done to prevent the poorly paid workers from organizing a better life for themselves and their families. To this day, the CIA has never been held accountable for this particular crime, let alone all of the others it has committed over the past 60 years. The fact that Amazon can openly build a data cloud for the CIA without any meaningful domestic opposition is proof of this simple fact.
One Click Union Busting!
Every attempt at unionization within Amazon has usually met with failure. The company absolutely forbids employees from organizing and will immediately fire anyone even suspected of communicating with unions. However, there have been notable exceptions and some unions have succeeded in organizing different groups of workers.
Outside of the US, Germany is Amazon’s largest consumer market. The company has nine fulfillment centers (where orders are packaged and shipped) in the country that employ nearly 9,000 workers. By classifying them as logistics workers rather than retail workers, Amazon can legally pay them â‚¬4 less for their labor. To combat this loophole, the Ver.di trade union has helped organize almost 2,000 workers, demanding better pay from Amazon.
In December, 2013, the union staged a strike against the company, hoping to disrupt the holiday shipping season. Five fulfillment centers were picketed and the strike lasted five days at some workplaces. A delegation of Ver.di unionists flew to Seattle in the middle of the strike, holding a press conference near the site of today’s protest. The press conference received scant attention and little outside support. Back in Germany, Amazon hired 14,000 temporary employees in the days leading up to Christmas and the shipping schedules were unaffected. These temps were let go once the holiday season ended and Amazon declared the Ver.di strike to be a failure.
In the days that followed, union members learned that Amazon had managed to organize a scab union to combat the growing influence of Ver.di. This “loyalty union,” about 1,000 strong, does not want higher wages and maintains that everything is fine within Amazon’s facilities. Combined with their insistence on the strike’s failure, this scab union represents a desperate move on the part Amazon. They are clearly frightened and doing everything in their power to stop the unionization from spreading.
The Ver.di union is part of the larger Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB). The DGB was formed in the 1890’s and existed until the Nazis dissolved it in 1933. Once the Nazis were destroyed, the DGB was allowed to reform itself in the newly partitioned West Germany. Fearing communist infiltration, the DGB suffered heavy repression from the supposedly democratic government throughout the 1950’s. Numerous ex-Nazis were given positions in the new West German government and continued their practices of union busting against the DGB.
Many of the children who grew up in this time period understood the new German democracy to be a sham and proceeded to attack it over the following decades. Unfortunately, the rebellions in Germany that lasted from the 1960’s to the 1970’s prompted the government to create a repressive surveillance apparatus that plagues Germany to this day. Critics have argued that this computerized surveillance apparatus, initially designed to fight the German rebels, has now engulfed the entire planet.
The Future at Your Doorstep!
On May 1st, 2012, Amazon purchased Kiva Systems, a robotics company specializing in the automation of warehouses. Amazon has no desire to retain its tens of thousands of human fulfillment center employees. Quite the opposite. It hopes to make them redundant. Robots cannot unionize, nor can they complain, nor can they walk out. Robots are the perfect workers and will replace humans as soon as the capitalists have the ability to do so.
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, recently showed off his new robotics scheme. After cheating the United States Postal Service out of money that was due them, Bezos now wishes to introduce autonomous drones into the skies that will deliver packages to consumers doorsteps. His new octocopters are a statement to his entire workforce that they have no future in his robotic utopia.
Along with Google, Amazon is one of the main forces pushing for the total automation of capitalism. We see only one outcome if these corporations are successful: the complete redundancy of the traditional working class, the creation of a massive service class, and ever greater levels of resource extraction across the planet. The upper class of programmers and engineers will be served by the impoverished lower classes while the slave class extracts the gold, platinum, and other precious metals that allow this new technology to exist. Commercial drones will deliver commodities to consumers while military drones incinerate rebels in the periphery. Both commodities and death can be delivered with the click of a button. Something like this is often referred to as a dystopia, as mere science fiction, but to people like Bezos it is simply called The Future.
This action is taken in solidarity with everyone fighting the reign of Amazon and its policies of exploitation, greed, and domination. The only way to stop their obvious and undeniable plans is to gather our forces together internationally and begin formulating an exit strategy from the global dictatorship of capitalism. The struggle must be expanded and hopefully this text will serve to ignite the imaginations of antagonists worldwide.
Down with Amazon!
Down with the CIA!
Up with Freedom!
Up with the Spring!