The revolution may or may not be televised. But it will be turned into branded merch to be sold through an easy-to-use website. Because Change Takes Courage (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez™️, 2018), the war against the system will be systematically transformed into cuddly swag for internet consumers because, well, capitalism is literally killing us.
Reuters reports that AOC is ‘investing heavily in her online store’ in order to fundraise and build ‘the second-term lawmaker’s profile nationally.’
See folks, she ain’t grifting — she’s elevating her profile, because clearly not enough people have heard of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, even if she is the most famous congresswoman in the world.
But there’s no denying that even radicalism has a bottom line, and AOC knows how to shift product. Her campaign paid Financial Innovations, the company that operates her online store and supplies merchandise, more than $1.4 million in the first six months of 2021, according to campaign disclosures to the Federal Election Commission late last week. That’s a serious amount of swag.
Cockburn isn’t much of an online shopaholic, but his curiosity was sufficiently piqued to have a gander around shop.ocasiocortez.com, ‘the official AOC store.’ It is underwhelming, to put it mildly. There are lots of cod-soviet Green New Deal tees. There are ‘Tax the Rich’ sweaters, which, at $58, poor people can’t afford. It’s not about them, though, is it? There’s also tops, socks and stickers that say ‘Drink Water & Don’t Be Racist’ — since thirsty people are notoriously bigoted. Cockburn couldn’t help but wonder if Financial Innovations — slogan: Crush Your Merch — couldn’t do better. If that is what $1.4 million gets you, how do the less revenue-generating progressives get by? At least it’s all ethically sourced, 100 percent made in the USA, by unionized workers using recycled, organic or non-toxic fabrics.
Money-savvy activists such as AOC are keen to make out that, in the world of e-commerce, flogging t-shirts is little different to political campaigning: it’s a useful mechanism for data capture and so on. Maybe so. Yet Cockburn can’t help but recall Eric Hoffer’s great quote: ‘Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.’
Perhaps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aims to do the reverse: start out as a merch scam, turn into a progressive consumer business and then degenerate into a political movement. That seems unlikely, however.