Updated: Dec 14, 2020
Of course Walmart will continue to flourish in spite of its deleterious effects on the American economy, on its own workers, on those who work in sweatshops around the globe for its suppliers, and on small businesses everywhere. It will continue to flourish because America is the Utopia of Pragmatism, which is by far the most deeply entrenched religion in the New World.
We believe in things that work, even if they work at our expense. We believe in the cheapest, most convenient path to happiness, even if it’s a counterfeit happiness that doesn’t linger beyond our short-term memories. Why we do we insist on this kind of living? Because in the face of such convenience and the possibility of acquiring something shiny and new, nothing else — not even the quality of our own lives — matters.
Walmart stands for everything that is wrong with America. This is why Romney almost won, in spite of the fact that he explicitly supported everything that got us into this economic hell hole to begin with. Because he promised a quick fix, and we Americans are like Pavlov’s dogs when the quick-fix bell rings: we salivate.
And so on black Friday, which has now become black Thursday (otherwise known as Thanksgiving), many will go out to shop for the best deals, the cheapest finds, the must-have items, because so many of us are powerless in the face of such a reality, entirely unable to exercise that most illusive of all virtues: restraint. Even if we are being led to the slaughter, we will, like sheep, willingly go, as long as the promise of the “best deal” is fulfilled.
And so we willingly allow Walmart to decimate the economic landscape, put millions of small businesses out of business, and co-opt our most sacred holidays, Thanksgiving being the last that still had a modicum of respectability. It was still, up until a few years ago, about family and friends getting together to give thanks for all the blessings we have incurred in this, the Land of Plenty; or at the very least, for the blessings we have reaped in the form of friends, and health, and life, even in the face of disasters and downturns.
But no more. Now Thanksgiving will be an addendum to the far more important tradition of Greed, a tradition that America not only invented in the form of boldfaced capitalism, but disguised and perfected under that name that is above all names: the American Dream.
To gain the world and lose one’s soul. How easy, how convenient, it turned out to be.
As for me? I’m relaxing with my family this weekend; going to my aunt’s and uncle’s on Thanksgiving, the Huntington Library and Gardens with my wife and son and daughter on Friday, spending the day together hiking in the San Gabriel mountains on Saturday, and then coming home, lighting a fire and eating Chinese food while playing a game or two of Yahtzee. Sunday morning we’ll go to our little church, and then it’s errands around the house and the yard in the afternoon, followed by a little 60 Minutes or AFV (depending on who wins the coin toss). Totally old school. Totally civilized. Totally can’t wait.
As for Walmart? Well, I guess it can take all the profits it robbed from the soul of America and go straight to hell.