What a Giant Pile of Unsold Clothing in the Desert Can Teach Us about Real Resistance

According to this article:

“Chile’s Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world, has been a dumping ground for fast fashion leftovers. A mountain of discarded clothing, including Christmas sweaters and ski boots, cuts a strange sight in the desert, which is increasingly suffering from pollution created by the fashion industry.”

Some further explanation from another article:

“Sadly, the desert is also a dumping ground for cheap, unsold clothing. Shein party dresses, H&M sweaters, and more are all heaped in growing mounds. The site contains an estimated 60,000 tons of clothes from Europe, Asia, and North America, the BBC reported. The nearby port town of Iquique is one of several ‘free zones’ in Chile, meaning there are no tariffs, taxes, or customs-related fees. This was meant to boost the local economy, but it’s been catastrophic for the local environment. Clothing that is transported to the port city and isn’t sold is then dumped in the desert because no one wants to pay fees to get those items out of the free zone.”

This is why I criticize capitalism. It’s not about promoting other isms. It’s about what the dominant economic ideology has done to human psychology and to the natural world.

To repeat something I wrote a few weeks ago:

Critiquing capitalism does not make you unAmerican, unpatriotic, communist, socialist, or Marxist. It makes you empathetic, open-minded, curious, and imaginative enough to say: None of the above. Who knows how many better options can arise if we’d expand our vision and stop viewing capitalism as our god? I say we find out.

A good step in that direction is to stop contributing to a culture that overproduces items like the unsold clothes now piled so high in a Chilean desert as to be visible from space.

As Dorothy Day reminded us: “If you have two coats, one of them belongs to the poor.”

But keep your guard up.

Find ways to live simply without turning it into yet another source of counterproductive virtue signaling.

In my years on the “left,” it was considered “selling out” for a “rebel” like me to make too much money or even want to make too much money. Your “radical” cohorts would look at you askance if you talked too much about basics like having health insurance — never mind retirement funds.

I eventually recognized this mindset as one of the most effective capitalist propaganda efforts of all time: Convincing “activists” to take a virtual vow of poverty to prove how “hardcore” they are.

How genius is it to make the (alleged) enemy actually feel morally obligated to voluntarily surrender resources? Radical “purists” prove their (alleged) commitment to their (alleged) cause by guaranteeing they never come close to advancing it.

Meanwhile, the Powers-That-Shouldn’t-Be churn on, unscathed and virtually unware that we even exist.

You can reject the tenets of false activism without living a life of self-sabotage.

The “free market” crowd leaves us with mountains of unsold clothes made by exploited workers.

The so-called “activists” eschew anything that looks like prosperity for fear of losing their (alleged) street cred.

How many better options can arise if we’d only expand our vision?

I say we find out.

Mickey Z. is the creator of a podcast called Post-Woke. You can subscribe here. He is also the founder of Helping Homeless Women - NYC, offering direct relief to women on New York City streets. Spread the word. Read other articles by Mickey.