Bunnings is a warehouse outlet throughout Australia and now in London, that sells home-ware, hardware and DIY tools. They have a major monopoly and the parent company Wesfarmers owns a huge share of the consumable market with a large supermarket chain in their portfolio. But Bunnings also symbolizes a major problem in the capitalist ethic. Make no mistake, I am not anti-capitalist. However, as an apologist for Capitalism I will openly critique it’s many problems. One of them being a propensity towards cronyism which (as far as I can ascertain) stems from our collective feudal past.
This notion of cronyism stemming from our collective feudal past, goes with the idea of psychological inertia (which I will detail more in a future post). One way of thinking about it though, is that our systems of organization move much faster than our ideological understandings of the world. The simplest example of this is the fact that even after World War Two there are still Nazis, and even after the fall of the Berlin wall there are still Socialists. Ways of acting in the world take much long to change than our ability to develop systems which facilitate the ways of acting in the world. If history doesn’t repeat but rhymes then we have one of the best rhyming poets of all time at our fingertips, cause we simply keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
This is partly the problem of rational models of behavior to drive economics. It’s very easy to write the rules of the game and damn near impossible to teach them, even more so to chorale people into playing by them. So what we have left is an enormous ideological overlap, much of it shoehorned into contemporary society. We have guises and manners and in-authenticity as a direct result of this. There is a question here: where does such in-authenticity flourish today? I propose the answer is: In our “corporate culture.”
The mere fact that people have to continuously be reminded of the so-called “rules of the engagement” known as “professionalism” is a clear indicator that it’s a synthetic overlay to natural human behavior. Think for a moment, of how many people have lost their prominent positions for one instance of speaking out of line. One instance of brutal self-expression, one instance of, dare I say it, authenticity.
Keep in mind that authenticity isn’t always a good think. In the clip above Bill O’Reilly is being exposed for sexual harassment. Think very carefully about what Brian Stelter is actually suggesting when he says that thirteen years ago O’Reilly was able to pay the victims off, but today “corporate America has changed … Fox is no longer able to stand by [O’Reilly].
By now however, you’re no doubt asking yourself what does all this have to do with Bunnings? Well, if we consider for a moment the system we operate in known as the Five Day work week as being the basis for Capitalism (which I beg desperately to protest against and suggest with the futile hope of a child that internet may redeem us from and abolish this chronological slavery), then the weekend is supposed to represent our time to rest and recover. It is supposedly the time we get to replenish our authentic selves. It also have an incredible legacy.
Thaddeus Russell points out the very nature of a weekend comes out of Irish workers refusing to work for two days of the week.
This though, didn’t emerge out of a vacuum and I dare say it originated from the concept that God rested on the Seventh Day.
Now we can argue for eons on which day of the week, not that God was working a nine to five for fuck’s sake (how can an Abstract concept hold down a job?!?), is the Sabbath. The point here is: that there is a Sabbath. And in Christianity the Sabbath is on Sunday. Although that in itself makes no sense given that they start their Calendar week on Sunday making the seventh Day a Saturday which means that the the contradiction that emerges actually goes in favour of the Jews who hold the Sabbath on Saturday. Nonetheless, the idea is a sound one, and that is that even God – the Creator – needed to rest for at least one day a week.
Still you’re begging for me to get to the point, probably with some mild irritation. The point is this, capitalism demands a particular type of regulation of self that can be summed up as “Keeping up with the Jones.”
This IS the baseline business model for Bunnings (and other such “improvement” companies). They operate out of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and then consistently demand that you work harder to have the best Kitchen, Backyard, Deck or whatever the fuck it is, in the neighborhood. They market heavily for you to “get out there and DIY” on the weekends. So far, this demonstrates that capitalism itself is anti-Christian which indeed may be so. Consider for example the work of Troy McLaughlin on the fascination of money.
But Bunnings is particularly pernicious as they have a sausage sizzle that raises money for various schools and charities on a Sunday. So they play on the fomo angle by making you feel inferior and lazy and then entice you out of rest on a Sunday through guilt and a fucking delicious sausage!
It’s brilliant and it demonstrates how our systems of organization move faster than our psychological mapping of the world. I have made a bold statement here and it isn’t a definite, it’s not a fact. Rather it is a provocative speculation designed to get you to consider the ways in which companies like Bunnings are working to erode your rest and how much psychological conflict that causes at your rest and how much psychological conflict that causes at a fundamental level. In particular for Christians who shop at Bunnings after they go to Sunday morning mass.
It’s a mess. It’s a tricky situation and one that requires existential thinking to come out of. But that is what I believe Bunnings represents and perhaps the worse part is, is that it may be a vehicle out of capitalism and back to feudalism. Remember they offer the lowest prices and that’s just the beginning.