Aside from the fact that Walmart is actually not “capitalism gone wrong” but “capitalism gone very well according to its own logic”, the answer to this article’s hypothetical question is actually quite simple: the people who shop at Walmart are by-and-large those people who can’t afford to shop at the supposedly “ethical” stores that charge prices beyond what most people cannot afford. Indeed, that offensive “People of Walmart” site (which I refuse to link on principle) is evidence of this fact since it is primarily a site devoted to mocking the poor.
Hence, anti-consumerist politics is a lifestyle politics that assumes the problem with capitalism lurks at the point of consumption rather than the point of production; it assumes that the solution to capitalism is based on our buying choices, on de-commodifying by refusing to buy from big corporations, and living as pure anti-capitalists in an individual sense. The fact that the vast majority of people, especially those with the power to change society, cannot opt out in this kind of way, or the fact that buying at ‘ethical’ sites of production does not at all escape commodification, eludes this simplistic and self-righteous politics. Nor do most of the people who push this anti-consumerism see any contradiction in wearing clothes, walking down sidewalks, or living at the centres of capitalism which is entirely dependent on the brutal system they claim they are fighting when they make fun of people buying Banksy prints at Walmart.
If you aren’t amazed most of the time you aren’t paying attention.
How could I have been so ignorant? she thinks. So stupid, so unseeing, so given over to carelessness. But without such ignorance, such carelessness, how could we live? If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next—if you knew in advance the consequences of your own actions—you’d be doomed. You’d be as ruined as God. You’d be a stone. You’d never eat or drink or laugh or get out of bed in the morning. You’d never love anyone, ever again. You’d never dare to.