Thursday, December 01, 2011

Occupy North Pole!

Santa Claus is the 1%. 
Santa: a corpulent image of corporate excess
Illus.: Thomas Nast, 1881
He only works a single day each year.

Yet he merrily exploits an unpaid labour force of bedraggled elves, who toil away frantically inside a mass-production factory, euphemistically known as ‘Santa’s workshop’ -- or is that Santa’s sweatshop?

(Do the elves have a labour contract? Or are they essentially slaves? An impartial third-party audit of the elves’ working conditions has never been released to the public.)

Just look at him: plump, jolly Santa is the very image of excess. In The Night Before Christmas, he’s described as being dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot’. And who is the gluttonous recipient of the milk and cookies, year after year?

Santa’s List: Orwellian tool for
oppressive social conditioning?
Santa -- one man, alone! -- wields the monopoly power to decide whether you’ve been naughty or nice. By what means did he acquire his capricious and judgemental authority? We never held any democratic elections for this.

Doesn’t that strike you as an unseemly and inequitable concentration of influence for a single person?  

Where is the transparency and accountability in his decision-making process? If your name shows up in the wrong spot on that arbitrary, notorious List of his, you wind up with a lump of coal instead of a present! Sure, he claims to check it twice -- that’s supposed to be quality control? What are the safeguards to prevent systemic fraud or other abuses?

And, most importantly with respect to the Occupy framework, why does Santa consistently give rich kids more expensive gifts than to poor kids? Social justice is being failed.

“He knows when you’ve been good or bad” -- since when did we grant Santa unfettered access into our homes, to conduct Panopticon surveillance for every moment of our personal lives? It’s a gross invasion of our privacy rights -- the first step towards a totalitarian dictatorship.

Notice how, during the busiest travelling time of the year, Santa flies with impunity across national borders -- without any checkpoints, customs inspections, or security monitoring whatsoever. No lines or waiting for the privileged old elf! Of course, he also lives in magnificent isolation at the North Pole -- free from taxation, and sheltered from the prying eyes of the masses.

Santa: shilling for conspicuous consumption
Despite all this, the federal government insists on providing Santa with an ongoing, heavy subsidy -- mail addressed to Santa is typically answered on his behalf by legions of ‘volunteer’ postal workers.

He doesn’t need to lift a finger, and the feds are there to bail him out from all those tricky questions kids can ask.

In return, few figures serve commercial interests as eagerly as Santa Claus. For example, Haddon Sundblom famously portrayed Santa as a dedicated Coca-Cola quaffer for several decades (A persistent meme continues to circulate that Santa’s red and white uniform is a deliberate invocation of the Coca-Cola corporate colours. Coincidence? Perhaps...).

To conclude, we need to re-examine our blind acceptance of the man in red.

Under the deceptive guise of patronizing beneficence and ritualized good-cheer, Mr. Kringle has insinuated himself into a position of deeply secular symbolism, antithetical to the roots of Christmas.

His materialist emphasis on gifts serves only to whitewash greed as a value, and to drive shopping behaviour during the holiday season. When children make their annual pilgrimage of obeisance -- while he sits regally on his throne at the mall -- what’s the key question he asks of them? “What do you want for Christmas?”

That is how the cultural indoctrination of lifelong consumerism begins.

I invite one and all to join with me in protest -- and together let’s #OccupyNorthPole!

Santarchy 2005, Toronto: The movement for change begins
(yours truly w/ grey beard)
Take Action Now Against Santa’s Moral Fascism
Photo: New York Daily News
We are the 99% -- not Santa
Photo: Steve Rhodes

Attempts to contact Santa for comment have not yet met with a response.

Support resources for this post provided by: United Snowmen Against Climate Change.