We’ve been checking the news a lot, and we learned that a new phenomenon has emerged thanks to ride-sharing companies like Uber. Drunken bar crawlers are now entering random people’s cars, believing them to be their Uber pick-up. Several of our friends began to see this phenomenon in the nightlife hot spots of central Seattle, mainly Capitol Hill and Belltown. Delirious bar patrons in groups of four would crowd around a car stopped at the curb and begin yanking on its door handles. In some cases, single individuals would engage in arguments with their alleged drivers, unable to comprehend their realities. Without the button on their smartphone screen, these poor souls would do what others like them have always done: pass out on the sidewalk, stagger home, or maybe learn a lesson and stop putting themselves in such awful positions.
Given that this was the case, we thought it wise to hand out 20,000 passes for free Uber rides on a warm Friday night in Capitol Hill and Belltown. Earlier in the afternoon, around 30 Uber drivers picketed outside the front doors of the Smith Tower, the location of Uber Seattle while another thirty circled the area in their cars. The sound they created was relentless and lasted for hours. 100 drivers recently quit Uber, leaving 900 on the road this Friday night.
From 11 PM to 3 PM, several groups of people handed out these free passes to bar patrons, explaining that they merely needed to show them to an Uber driver. Thousands of these were pocketed, surely to be either used or read. The full text of the backside of the free pass is included below, and will explain either to the passengers or the driver that a struggle to organize is happening among Uber drivers, pitting a group of immigrant fathers and their families against a conniving, multi-billion dollar company and its demented CEO.
(Protest outside Smith Tower, Uber Seattle HQ, 8/29/14)
Some of our friends know Uber drivers, and none of them were aware of the strike action today outside Uber Seattle HQ. The remaining 900 drivers of Uber do not know how to communicate with each other. In order to help spread word of the strike, we blocked dozens of Uber cabs for a few minutes, giving the driver a flier and telling him he should join “the union.” We did not specify which one, but any of those drivers who go searching will inevitably find each other. As it turned out, none of them had heard of the strike and all of them wanted to join “the union.”
The flier also explained the very clear ties between Uber and Google. The love affair between Sergei Brin and Travis Kalanik is a well kept secret, but that does not concern us very much. What concerns us are the clear intentions for Uber to become the network through which the Google Self-Driving Car will be introduced to the hoards of drunken consumers. Back in May, Google Maps integrated the Uber smartphone network, allowing a user to hail a ride directly from its website. A few weeks after that, CEO Travis Kalanik referred to Uber drivers as some “other dude” who does not need to be there, easily replaceable by a computer. The next day an Uber representative assured their drivers that self-driving cars are decades away in the future. And then a few days after that, Google released a disgustingly chipper video of their new design for the self-driving car.
We have no connection with any union, but we hope all 900 unaffiliated Uber drivers get organized, however they chose to. We hope that this simple outreach tactic is utilized again, just as we hope that our actions have made an impact tonight. All of our hearts are with the drivers, for as we said on our free ticket, this is a techno-class war, and we are on the side of the humans. Every Uber driver we talked to said he wanted to join “the union,” and this is an objective fact. Our anarchism is a world where all are free, and until that is so, none of us are free. We wish the drivers the best of luck, just as we wish the worst for Uber and their backers. If we all unite, we can take down capitalism tonight. With all of the tools at our disposal, we could create a world where the banks, the corporations, and the government are cut out of our lives, a world where our lives are in our own hands. We must imagine this world together.
Death to Capitalism
Long Live Anarchy
Link to Flier: UBER
A video of our action will be released shortly.
On Saturday night, a mob of people ran through the streets of Seattle, chasing down Uber cabs and detaining them amidst traffic. Ten cars were detained and fliers were distributed to the drivers and passengers. Hundreds of people witnessed this act of defiance against one of the most disgusting tech companies in existence. To learn more about our motivations, read below the pictures
Stop The Uber Man
The leader of Uber is a man named Travis Kalanick, a 37-year-old sociopath from the superficial landscape of Los Angeles. He went to UCLA and joined the Theta Xi fraternity. A few years before he entered the university, Theta Xi drew widespread scorn when its internal fraternity songbooks were leaked, revealing the scope of the brotherhood’s racism and hatred of women. These drunken monsters would routinely sing lines like “maggots crawl out of her decomposed womb” and “the dirty fags who contracted AIDS and died.”
From this pool of misogynists, rapists, and business contacts, Kalanick launched himself into the dot-com boom of the late 1990’s. His first venture was a knock-off Napster, designed to divert money from the music industry and into his own pockets. At an early age, Kalanick became convinced that competition was the only force that could motivate him to do anything, so he set his aim at the music industry and was quickly knocked out by them. But to this foolish young capitalist, his defeat was only fuel to his blossoming free-market ideology.
In no time at all, this eager beaver had started another company. Red Swoosh started in 2001 and provided Kalanick with the affirmation he needed to continue believing in himself. Unsurprisingly, his new company was simply another Napster rip-off, but this time he succeeded in making it work. In his twisted imagination, he ascribed this success solely to himself and his ability to compete, ignoring the fact that he was harvesting the natural urge of people to share with each other and converting that human desire into revenue. For six years he extracted capital from all the people trusting enough to use his services. “In a lot of ways, it’s not the money that allows you to do new things,” he told Wired. “It’s the growth and the ability to find things that people want and to use your creativity to target those.” He seems to believe that his inner capitalist strength is the prime generator of all his wealth, and in this regard he is no different than any of the other Uber Men of the tech world.
This Is More Serious Than You Think
Nietzsche once wrote about the Uber Man, the perfectly evolved being that would leave humanity behind and fulfil the destiny of all of who came before. This Uber Man trampled on gods, morals, everything that kept him from becoming what he was: a dancing star, born of chaos. Just before he wrote about the Uber Man, all of the women in Nietzsche’s life had left him. In his despair, he withdrew into isolation and exalted himself on paper. Unfortunately for all of us, the idea of the Uber Man lingers on and as it turns out, the City Council of Seattle is quite enamoured by him. But we’ll get to that later.
Travis Kalanick cashed out when Red Swoosh was acquired for 15 million. With his share of the money, Kalanick went on to start Uber, the mobile app that connected passengers with a fleet of private taxi contractors. As Kalanick put it, “We just wanted to push a button and get a ride. And we wanted to get a classy ride. We wanted to be baller in San Francisco. That’s all it was about.” From these humble beginnings, Uber metastasised across the world after securing millions from angel investors and venture capitalists in 2011. In the three short years since then, Uber has made significant headway towards creating more and more service jobs catering to the ruling classes. Not only can people become drivers, they can now be bike messengers or even pilot helicopters for the super rich.
Kalnick views the contractors who generate his sacred capital as expendable pawns. If a driver suddenly drops from a 4.8 driving score to a 4.7, they are terminated without any explanation. In this competitive atmosphere, drivers are constantly fiddling with their smart phones and stressing about their next fare. During one such moment, a money-obsessed driver ploughed into a mother and her children on the streets of San Francisco. A six year old girl named Sofia Liu died because this driver cared more about maintaining his score and cramming in a few more fares than he did about paying attention to what—or who—was in the road in front of him. After her death, Uber did not assume liability and refused to compensate either the family or assume legal responsibility for their driver. According to Uber, because there were no passengers in the car, the man was not an Uber employee at the time. He was just a man in his car.
(Sofia Liu, RIP)
Can You Really Afford That Shit?
Since then, Uber has assumed liability for its drivers at all times, but we want to assure Kalanick that the ghost of Sofia will never leave him. Kalanick doesn’t seem to notice her, however. Time recently judged him to be one of the 100 most influential people and the magazine writer had these words to say about him: “Simply put, Uber is rad. Its co-founder, Travis Kalanick, is super rad. He’s savvy and driven. I can’t wait to see what he’ll conjure up next, as I’m sure it’ll be something I’ve never known that I’ve always needed but truly can’t live without.”
In Seattle, the acolytes of the local Uber PR team are constantly Tweeting about any and everything related to the company. When it was announced that Kalanick won the prestigious honour of being featured in another Time Magazine list, a woman named Jen Joyce told the Twitter following “our very own [Travis Kalanick] has been named one of Times most influential people.” Jen is the Seattle Community Manager for Uber and seems to be very dedicated to the CEO and the company. For the past two months, she has helped organize the Uber campaign to overturn a cap on the number of cars the company can put on Seattle streets. She and the Seattle team went to bar after bar and convinced drunken strangers to sign a petition supporting Uber freedom.
(View of Downtown Seattle from local Uber HQ in Smith Tower)
Over 36,000 people in Seattle signed their names on pieces of paper provided by Jen and her minions. 630,000 people live in the city, and only a minority of them use Uber. Getting a short ride from Capitol Hill to South Seattle costs around 30 dollars. Most of the people who work service jobs in order to pay rent and feed their children cannot afford to regularly use Uber as many techies and professionals do. As luck would have it, Uber figured a way around that.
By marketing itself as way to get shitfaced drunk and then get home safely, Uber is hoping to clean the pockets of everyone who wants to feel free on a night like this one. Most people want to feel free, especially when they are not, and alcohol is a good way to pretend. On top of the forty dollars they might spend on booze and food, the average Saturday night drunk can now spend another thirty on an Uber cab. Uber Seattle is always offering discounts for people who go to bars, who love happy hour, who like to get wasted, who dig getting totally fucked up, and who also like to drink. Without the desire to escape produced by this sick capitalist society, Uber would be lacking in drunks to ferry home every night. But of course none of the success of Uber has anything to do with the passengers, or with their misery, or with Jen’s fierce and terrifying identification with her CEO. No, the success of Uber has only one source, and you already know who we’re talking about.
And Now Here Comes The Politicians
We are anarchists, not socialists. We want the abolition of the economy, the destruction of capitalism, and the immediate communization of all shareable resources. But clearly we are nowhere near this state of affairs, just as the socialists are nowhere near their own conception of socialism. But like Robert De Niro says, “We’re all in it together, kid.”
Our friendly socialist Kshama Sawant in the City Hall tried to push for a cap on the number of Uber cars on the road and spoke publicly about Goldman Sachs (along with Google and Jeff Bezos) being a major investor in Uber. Burgess, Bagshaw, and Rasmussen were the only council members to oppose the cap. Nevertheless, despite their allegiances and power plays, it was the capitalists that decided the matter for the City of Seattle, not the other way around.
Sometimes the capitalists try to sound like anarchists. Travis Kalanick wants to undermine every City Hall he encounters and render its laws meaningless. But in the end, he wants the laws to favor him and him alone. He is the Uber Man after all, and if the state wants to keep him down, then he should be free to hijack the state and make it serve his ends. Like the besieged capitalists in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, people like Travis Kalanick will compete with everyone on their way to the top, trampling on their workers and ignoring ghosts like Sofia.
With the click of a button, Kalanick will completely destabilize and undermine African immigrant communities in Seattle. Just as once he disrupted the music and taxi industries, now he can disrupt the lives of individual families. Dozens of cab owners are currently threatened by the unrestrained expansion of Uber, and if the company is allowed to discard any regulation, multiple families will lose a significant portion of their monthly incomes when Uber overtakes the smaller taxi services. In the cannibalistic utopia of the free market capitalists, this is the normal way of things. In their world, everyone must live on their knees so that the Uber Men may be great.
Happy May Day, Champ!
We find this disgusting, and hopefully after reading this, you do as well. As anarchists, we want to encourage people to come together to build a new world while rebelling against the obvious and blatant exploitation around us. Act now, act relentlessly, and do not hesitate. Please act now, as quickly as possible, and do anything you think will make a difference. Don’t go through the normal channels, don’t rely on the government. Do it yourself. Talk to your neighbours, get on the same page, and regain the dignity you probably didn’t realize you had lost.
Anarchism is a practice and a philosophy, as broad as it is diverse, so don’t come looking to join the party. If you hate arbitrary authority, if you know how to share, and if you want the people around you to be safe, you’re probably an anarchist.
We don’t have any fucking money, that’s for sure, and we hope everyone reading this knows that everyone else is also broke as hell. There are more of us than there are CEO’s, though, so don’t forget that. They have a lot of money and the state at their disposal, but if enough of us figure our predicament out, we could knock them all on their asses on a single day. Hopefully we get there. Keep up the good fight whoever you people are.
We haven’t even started messing with Uber. Stay tuned.
Death To Capitalism
Long Live Anarchy