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The Mapping Project


"Logistics wants to dispense with the subject altogether. This is the dream of this newly dominant capitalist science. Modern logistics is founded with the first great movement of commodities, the ones that could speak. It was founded in the Atlantic slave trade, founded against the Atlantic slave. Breaking from the plundering accumulation of armies to the primitive accumulation of capital, modern logistics was marked, branded, seared with the transportation of the commodity labor that was not, and ever after would not be, no matter who was in that hold or containerized in that ship... In war without end, war without battles, only the ability to keep fighting, only logistics, matters." -Stefano Harney and Fred Moten

Amazon is a multinational capitalist and imperialist company, bent on taking over the world by turning everything into "logistics." Amazon supports Israel, US police, US violence against migrants, and the US military. Amazon contributes heavily to the displacement of community members from Boston, Cambridge, and other cities nationwide ('gentrification'), while polluting and destroying the earth (space is next in line) and practicing grotesque exploitation of its workers under the logic of racial capitalism.

As an imperialist corporation bent on extending its reach, Amazon seeks to take over all industries, from book publishing to food to health care. Tellingly, Amazon's secretive project to move into health care and biomedicine was code named "1492." Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos is one of the richest people on Earth, with a current estimated net worth of $190.7 billion.

Support for Israel

Amazon actively supports Israel's colonial subjugation of Palestinians and systematic theft of Palestinian land and resources by providing the Israeli state with broad-scale computing services. As reported in The Nation in 2021:

Amid Israel’s most recent deadly attacks on the Gaza Strip and ongoing displacement of Palestinian residents in Sheikh Jarrah, Amazon Web Services (AWS), together with Google, recently signed a $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government. The deal, “Project Nimbus,” is a flagship project to provide a cloud services “ecosystem” for the Israeli public sector, for which the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) will be the primary beneficiary. Construction has already begun on three data server centers.

The Nation article further details that Project Nimbus will "increase the IDF’s competence in artificial intelligence technologies, such as those deployed in the repression of Palestinian activistssurveillance along the Gaza border, and Israel’s Iron Dome system," and will "assist in Israel’s expanding settlement enterprise by supporting data for the Israel Land Authority (ILA), the government agency that manages and allocates state land." Amazon boasts that Project Nimbus will "innovate startups" in Israel, parroting the language of the Israeli state's ongoing effort to "brand Israel" as a "startup nation" and a hub of "innovation" in an attempt to whitewash its colonial and apartheid character.

Support for the US military

Amazon provides a wide array of computing services to the US Department of Defense (DoD), servicing the US army, US Navy, US Air Force, and other branches of the US armed forces. As just one example, in 2021, the US DoD "issued formal solicitations" to Amazon to bid on the Pentagon's "Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) program," a multibillion dollar project which according to the Pentagon aims to "leverage cloud technology from headquarters to the tactical edge, which will bolster our knowledge even further as we move to a full and open competition" with other nations and military powers. The Pentagon stated that it specifically solicited bids on JWCC from Microsoft and Amazon, after determining through market research that only these two companies had the "technical capacities" necessary to meet the JWCC program's cloud computing needs.

Support for US police

Amazon provides a wide array of technological services to police departments across the United States. Particularly disturbing is Amazon's practice of sharing video surveillance data with police through The Ring, an Amazon-produced "video doorbell, which allows Ring users to see, talk to, and record people who come to their doorsteps," and which "sends notifications to a person’s phone every time the doorbell rings or motion near the door is detected." As reported in The Verge in 2021, "All but two US states — Montana and Wyoming — now have police or fire departments participating in Amazon’s Ring network, which lets law enforcement ask users for footage from their Ring security cameras to assist with investigations." The Verge further reports that "Figures from Ring show more than 1,189 departments joined the program in 2020 for a total of 2,014," and that "local law enforcement departments on the platform asked for Ring videos for a total of more than 22,335 incidents in 2020."

Massachusetts police departments currently participating in Amazon's "Ring Network" include: Boston, Malden, Winchester, Woburn, Burlington, Danvers, Sudbury, Wellesley, Needham, Quincy, Hingham, Lowell, Tewksbury, Dracut, Norwell, Norwood, Groton, Hudson, Worcester, Haverhill, Attleboro, Swansea, Dartmouth, Mattapoisett, West Yarmouth, Harwhich, Wilbraham, Holyoke, Chicopee, Springfield, Westfield, Adams.

Support for US tracking, detention, and deportation of migrants

Amazon provides broad-scale support to the US government's regime of tracking, detention, and deportation of Black and Brown migrants, through (largely third party) contracts with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (ICE and CBP's parent agency). As reported in Business Insider in 2021, "From 2015 to 2021, Amazon used third parties to sell its cloud services at least 16 times to ICE and CBP." Business Insider reports that recent Amazon sales to ICE, CBP, and DHS have included:

Furthermore, as The Intercept reported in 2022, "To further expand its ballooning logistics empire, [Amazon] quietly became a partial owner of Air Transport Services Group Inc., a power player in the air cargo industry that has helped the United States forcibly deport thousands of migrants and, its passengers allege, at times subjected them to horrific abuse en route." The Intercept further notes:

On March 9, 2021, following five years of using the service for chartered cargo flights, Amazon purchased 19.5 percent of ATSG for $131 million and currently reserves options that would let it expand that stake to 40 percent. Among ATSG’s various aviation subsidiaries is Omni Air International, a passenger charter firm that moves humans on behalf of the federal government. Its two most prominent federal customers are the Department of Defense, which uses the firm for troop transports, and the Department of Homeland Security, which has paid the company reportedly exorbitant fees over the years in order to execute so-called special high-risk charter flights for its “ICE Air” deportation machine. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deals with Omni through an intermediary, Classic Air Charter Inc., a flight logistics firm whose parent company previously helped transport CIA prisoners to black sites to be tortured. [...]

[T]he flights come with an inherent brutality for deportees, who remain bound and shackled for the entirety of an international flight, at times upward of 30 hours or more with stopovers. Nearly 100 formal allegations of abuse and mistreatment aboard ICE Air flights were filed to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties between 2007 and 2018, including a 2012 incident in which an ICE detainee “miscarried her triplets” aboard a removal flight to El Salvador.

Racist, capitalist exploitation of workers

The conditions Amazon workers face in the company's warehouses are infamously terrible. In some cases workers are unable to get access to even such basic necessities as drinking water without organizing for improved conditions on the shop floor, as shown by the determination of workers who recently won the first US Amazon Labor Union, and the backlash against their victory (see also: here, here, and here). Amazon's practices within its warehouses exemplify the logic of racial capitalism, producing and exploiting differences between people (along the lines of race, gender, ability, etc.) in order to maximize profits. Amazon has worked hard to crush efforts amongst its workers to unionize, using propaganda and encouraging workers to snitch on one another. Amazon also relies on a large number of subcontracted workers (a tactic to prevent unionization and disrupt worker power) for shipping. Amazon has used its muscle to optimize the "last mile" of shipping, making working conditions even worse for its workers, while increasing the destructive effects on the environment of increased traffic congestion and resultant carbon emissions.

Contributions to the destruction of the earth and of food sovereignty

Major computing companies like Amazon have been teaming up with big agribusiness to further commodify land, destroy local farming and food networks, and essentially "Amazon-ify" the production and distribution of food, through a combination of tools from big agribusiness (genetic modification, pesticides, monocultures, and seed patents), hostile takeovers of food distribution systems (by installing self-checkout, Whole Foods-like stores to replace traditional food markets), and digital currency platforms which invade local and overrun pre-existing food systems.

Responsibility for displacement in the Boston Area

Amazon has an expansive physical presence in the Boston area, with large corporate offices in both Cambridge and Boston (see also: here) and package distribution centers in countless locations. Through this expansive presence, Amazon is one among a handful of universities and corporations most responsible for rising housing, rental, and living costs in the Boston area (see image below), which are rapidly displacing working-class Black and Brown community members no longer able to afford to live in the neighborhoods they have called home for years if not decades.

Moreover, Amazon maintains numerous partnerships and collaborations with Boston-area entities like MIT, which are themselves heavily responsible for the displacement of Black and Brown working class residents from the Boston area. Amazon, of course, also owns Whole Foods, which itself has a large and expanding presence in the Boston area. Of particular note, in 2011 Whole Foods replaced Hi-Lo grocery store in Jamaica Plain. "Focused on providing food staples from all over Latin America to Jamaica Plain’s and Greater Boston’s large Latino community," Hi-Lo had served as an integral Latinx community hub throughout its 47 years of operation, before Whole Foods swooped in and replaced it. Today, this Whole Foods provides an inventory of overpriced products to a clientele of predominantly white, professional-class shoppers who have recently moved into Jamaica Plain's increasingly gentrified housing market.

Graph showing the change in housing and rent prices in Cambridge and Boston between 1997 and 2017. The average cost of a home has risen from $164,160 to $1,049,760 in Cambridge over that time, and average rent in Cambridge has skyrocketed from $726 to $3,222 per month.

(Image source: here)

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