To sustain our life, we need to sign it away
Much has been said about the cyclone -- the Evaly cyclone that has been gripping the nation. From a technical breakdown of its business model to the grassroots support it has been getting, the saga of Evaly is well documented, and it will definitely go down in the history of e-commerce in this country, although the nature of this written history can only be revealed by time itself.
However, despite the shady business practices and the visible grievances that customers are having with this platform, the die-hard portion of the Evaly fanbase has been showing their numbers through the glint of their teeth, and they will not back down without a fight. And although it is easy to dismiss this bunch as being brainwashed or being paid agents of the e-commerce entity itself, I think that a closer look reveals something much, much more complicated.
I was one of the people that dismissed these people. I used to laugh at the fools that submitted their orders to this website and at the fools that still revere the owners of this page as some kind of modern-day Robin Hood. But this all changed a couple of days ago.
T minus two to Eid. As the restrictions on our life were lifted, I went out for a bit, and took a rickshaw to come home. On the way back, the rickshaw-puller asked some passersby on the street the price of their cow. And when he looked at the animal with a sort of emptiness in his eyes, I finally understood these fools who will follow Evaly to the ends of the earth. I finally understood these fools who dream.
The people that support this enterprise justify their actions by saying that Evaly represents a symbol of their dreams, a symbol that everything they have gone through on this barren earth will not go to waste.
Now, what is a dream? I’m not asking about the semantics here. What can be categorized as a dream, and what can’t? For those of us in the privileged circles of life, it represents an endpoint, a certain lifestyle that we have been working towards our whole lives. But dreams are expensive, and not everyone can afford them. Even according to Maslow’s need hierarchy, only the people who have taken care of their basic needs can move up to a level where they are capable of fighting for their calling.
But achieving one’s calling is a different story altogether.
Under capitalism, a lot of these things are streamlined. Work hard at school, get a job, work hard, and you can make your life better. These are basically the things one fights for under a materialistic economic system such as this, but this is nothing but a mirage, a shape-shifting image that you can only see during the most random of nights. The rest of the nights are spent staring at a barren land with burning coal under your fight.
Under capitalism, even the basic necessities like phones and apartments and food are out of reach of the average customer. In order to sustain one’s life, one needs to sign it away. And that only happens when one is lucky. As for the rest, that is a topic for another time.
But people are working hard. In an average office, the distinctions between an entry level manager and the MD who inherited the company from his father are few and far between. In most cases, the entry level position demands more than the position of an MD. But the system is designed in such a way that the MD gets all the spoils of the work being done, while the manager gets nothing.
And even then, the system is designed in a way so that materialistic objects are always hanging in front of us, like a carrot in front of a donkey. A better life can only happen when we give our money to corporations, the same corporations who are responsible for this desecration in the first place. And if one can’t even do that, one is a nobody.
In a society where one’s worth is measured by the things one owns, the sin of gluttony is not seen as a sin anymore. It is seen as something holy, the only spiritual place one can ascend to in our current lives.
And when we ascribe so much importance to the things we want to own, the things we want to own end up owning us.
That’s when Evaly makes its entry. Like Amazon, it presents itself as a people-friendly conglomerate, a modern-day messiah that will take us to the promised land. The MD of the company seems to be in on this as well, as he presents himself as someone fighting the good fight, as someone who will always advocate for the little guy (even though there are thousands of people who have their money held up in the corporation, while the owners’ assets are just growing and growing).
Evaly has seemingly created a system where the materialistic spirituality that people aspire to are no longer a dream, they are on the verge of becoming a reality. In a world on the brink of collapse due to the market, the market has seemingly proved Marx wrong, and has theoretically created a utopia. But at the end of the day, like all things that are associated with the market, this too an illusion, a temporary band-aid. And as this makeshift band-aid is falling apart, I don’t think that it will be long before the capitalists have the last laugh. And as they leave this planet on the back of their spaceships, the rest of us stand to pay the price.
Nafis Shahriar is a student of business and an intern at the Dhaka Tribune.