Recently a fellow writer and anarchist coworker wrote a piece that quite tactfully introduced the ideology of anarchists. Ever since then we’ve had discussions about the praxis of anarchy. For those who have begun to feel pushed towards anarchy like someone in the midst of a metal mosh pit but have yet to read the headache inducing texts of philosophy people; praxis is probably not a word you’ve met in the wild. It means direct action, the ability a theory of any kind has of having practical implementation. You know, like, doing things. The way an anarchist cell operates is very unlike any other political movement as its goal to abolish all power structures makes it impossible to use traditional hierarchical forms of leadership. The specifics are a study best kept for another article though the result of anarchist cells can often come in the form of individual action that was highly incentivized by the writings of others.
A lot of books, articles, essays and videos have been created with the sole purpose of incentivizing change. The ability to move people isn’t about force; it’s about having someone feel as though they are a part of something and can actively be changed and change within it. Imagine that you’re walking along the street one night after a fun drinking escapade, the last beer bottle of the night is swinging back and forth in the air until it flies down to the ground shattering into a million pieces. What happened? At face value, it’s just an act of littering committed by a drunk, happens all the time, and even though it’s not the kindest thing to leave for the city cleaners, you were too drunk to think about it at the time. Under the surface though, that action, and littering in general, is more than an individual problem; it perpetuates an unclean and violent habit. The fact that it was a beer bottle also serves to allow those who see it the next day to understand it as an action committed by a drunk, thus perpetuating a stereotype for all drunks. The age old adage of “the personal is political” should come to mind here. In a world of representative democracy, politicians are elected by the people to stop littering; those politicians hire police officers to stop littering, but how useful are the police officers? Individual action over representatives could be the difference between waiting for the police to do something and actually getting something done.That’s why this article will be looking at how shoplifting, though it may seem highly selfish, when done responsibly is actually an effective form of anti-capitalist activism.
What if shoplifting was just another way to better your life? What if this new technique allowed you to save money, help resist against capitalism and even helped out others? Though saving money is always a good way to make your life easier, it is imperative that the shoplifter look as though they don’t even need to shoplift in the first place.The shoplifter has the crucial job of being able to act normal: normality as dictated by the society they live in. So the shoplifter is in more danger if they are a person of color, a homeless person or a hipster that dresses like one, someone who doesn’t know how to “act normal” or someone under the influence (of drugs, especially alcohol). A successful shoplift means innocence, and sadly, the hallmarks of innocence are a white skin tone, sobriety and privilege. As a writer living in the Netherlands, the context here is also heavily inscribed in the overly trusting nature of Dutch supermarkets, stores, etc … The concept of shoplifting in this sense, both for how you look and for where you are, is about abusing trust. By shoplifting, you abuse the trust a company has in their customers that made them never pay for intense security; you abuse the trust the company has put into how negligible shoplifting is for their quarterly reports, and you abuse the trust of your society who thinks that those with privilege are better, more ethical human beings. The responsibility of intellectual shoplifters is to choose carefully where the trust is worthy of being abused. Major supermarkets are the golden standard.
It might seem like in this climate a company should only be held accountable for the actions that actively destroy people’s lives. Repercussions rain down on McDonalds when they refuse to pay for Liebeck’s third degree burns caused by a boiling hot coffee. These small moments of victory swell many Liberal chests with pride; big fines of millions of euros have the word million in it! How can that not be big, did you count all the zeros?! The documentary “(Dis)Honesty: The Truth About Lies” has a great section where they ask people who they think the biggest thieves are. Most responded in the same way as the Liberal: the person who was able to take the money of others in the millions, often citing people like Jordan Belfort (aka the Wolf of Wall Street) whose manipulation of the stock market granted him over a 100 million dollars and who was guilty of the highest form of robbery. In a shocking twist of events, Wall Street bankers who steal in the millions become nothing more than rounding errors for the IRS who continually miss out on billions of euros from the collective tax evasion of the US population. Though a single person who evades a couple hundred dollars of taxes might feel small, the overall impact of all the people that think like him deal a fierce blow against the IRS. I hope you see where I’m going with this. What if we all decided to be the intellectual shoplifter? The collective action of shoplifting is so much more impactful than say, a multi million dollar lawsuit against a supermarket’s monopoly.
Breadtube (aka the leftist YouTuber community) anarchist Thoughtslime makes a great point about supermarkets that I’ll be borrowing here. He poses a simple question: what is stopping a starving homeless person from taking food in a supermarket and just eating it without paying? The majority of people you ask would gladly have the starving man consume food; yet we have these massive buildings full of food (and known for massive food waste) that are blocked off simply because the pricetag is too high to be healthy. You don’t have to be homeless either. Countless single moms, first generation immigrants, minorities in underdeveloped areas count their pennies for the month, unable to fathom a day where the fridge is full, and their stomachs too. In the most extreme scenario, Thoughtslime points out that those without the innocence factor could literally be shot by the police. The police enforce rules, but it is impossible for it to be enforced equally and all the time, and sometimes that means they arrest you for feeding your family. In a world of binaries and othering; when people can’t shoplift, others can. That’s why some anarchists have begun to shoplift from supermarkets in order to support those in need.
Now let’s discuss how they do it, yeah?
The intellectual shoplifter is short on cash tonight. They enter the closest supermarket and take a shopping cart. They place their tote bag inside the shopping cart so as to have its gaping wide mouth ready to eat up all that delicious free food. As they shop, some things are simply too massive for the tote bag; hence they place it in the shopping cart but outside the bag. Those are the only things they’ll be paying for. When done selecting the various treat-yo-self gifts, they find themselves a place not too close to the register (in the case of the Netherlands, the self checkout is the only one with security) and pick up the surprisingly heavy tote bag, wrap it around their shoulder and then pick up all the big things that didn’t fit. The intellectual shoplifter is always low on cash when it comes to paying for food; their lifestyle allows them to go grocery shopping for food on a semi-regular basis and yet a week’s worth of groceries only costs them 10 euros (average of two shopping trips per week). Some shoplifters I’ve met will even pick up the small purchases they’ve made and put them inside their tote bag (full to the brim with goodies) all whilst right in front of the cashier.
The tote bag is an incredibly useful tool but is not always essential. Shoplifting is a deadly technique against Capitalism and operates like a gunman’s concealed carry: it is a slick student’s attempt to conceal and carry. Hiding places are everywhere when thinking in that mindset. Always questioning, how does one get this away from security’s viewpoint? Pockets, handbags, sleeves, the inside of jackets, etc… What really matters is the unbroken intent of the perpetrator. The earlier they realize they’re about to shoplift the easier it becomes. Many people who have never shoplifted before begin with a thud in their chest, the quick palpitation of the heart informing them that they’re in the wrong. We all exist in a society that pre-exists us; no one can shoplift for the first time without knowing that they will be looked down upon by the police, God or any other power hungry lunatic. The intellectual shoplifter rationalizes the moors of society and breaks away from oppressive and repressive ideologies. There eventually comes a time when the adrenaline turns from fear to excitement over what they’re about to walk out with.
As a kid my mom used to always tell me that it was way too obvious whenever I was breaking the rules because I was just staring right into her eyes the whole time hoping she wouldn’t look my way. People are often aware of the thing that controls them and sometimes feel as though when they break the rules they need to be caught in order to prove to themselves that the controller is as powerful as they thought. Please, don’t be that stupid, don’t be that kid, I was that kid, say fuck that kid and then apologize to him with a stolen lollipop.
P.S. Exercising means running away when spotted – they can’t fine you if they can’t find you.