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0 votes
Maybe it's a bit cliche, but of all the corporate bastards out there, Starbucks is one of the favorites of anarchists as far as smashing is concerned. When Starbucks pays its employees well with great benefits (to the point where workers feel no need to unionize) and supports liberal policies such as Fair Trade and LGBT equality, why is it such a huge target?
Commenting this; not sure if I'm gonna write a full response.

I don't think I would say that Starbucks "pays its employees well with great benefits" considering there's often purposeful manipulation of shift scheduling in order to prevent employees from qualifying for full-time status. I doubt the typical wages of a Starbucks employee are much above minimum wage. I also don't really understand the concept of being "paid well" because I feel like this implies that work could ever be genuinely worthwhile so long as you were paid enough to do it.

"Fair Trade" is an equally meaningless term to me because I don't see why anarchists would be interested in a more ethical capitalism, or whether the Fair Trade designation even means anything as far as making capitalism more ethical.

As for LGBT/queer equality, I doubt Starbucks really supports any form of equality or liberation so much as they might support assimilation and the ability to make some money off of a queer-friendly image.

Oh, edit: Starbucks workers have, in fact, tried to unionize. You can literally type "Starbucks union" into a search engine and the first result will probably be the website of a particular Starbucks unionizing effort.
have you ever tasted their coffee?
"have you ever tasted their coffee?"

lol! i'd have upvoted that if it was an answer!

1 Answer

+4 votes
Reasons for me:
Starbucks is a force of centralization and monopolization of commodity production. Anarchists generally look to decentralization as a model of social organization. Hence, Starbucks epitomizes one aspect of inherent opposition to anarchist goals.

When it began its empire in Seattle, Starbucks crowded out local, independent coffee houses (including several that were apparently run by some radicals/anarchists) by offering lower prices like other big box stores. Not that I am calling for more local independent capitalist enterprises, but there's definitely something to be said for having a more personal relationship with people who offer goods and services in your neighborhood.

Starbucks does not in fact pay their grunt workers well, but they do extend plenty of perks to managers, increasing the division of former co-workers into those who don't really care who signs their paychecks and company loyalists. Any business model that promotes disunity among proles is inherently opposed to anarchist goals.

Starbucks, as a centralizing/monopolizing enterprise, represents one very visible prong of the drive of American cultural homogenization domestically, and American cultural colonialism abroad. It's the Coca Cola of the late-20th century. Because setting up a Starbucks franchise is cheaper than McDonald's or Target, it can quite easily be considered the opening salvo in the extension of US capitalist expansion and eventual domination of just about anywhere.

Combined with Rice Boy's observations, does that provide you with a few credible answers?
by (570 points)
A note about on the subject of crowding out its competitors: Starbucks actually uses a business model that focuses on destroying local competition even at the expense of individual Starbucks stores. They place their locations in such close proximity that there's a likelihood of one store taking business away from the other, but most of all taking business away from local competitors. After all the competition closes, Starbucks shuts down whichever location is unprofitable or not profitable enough.

Obviously, local/independent business aren't necessarily better or preferable compared to any other, but Starbucks is such an obviously impersonal and monopolizing force that it's kind of built up a status as a convenient target for general anti-capitalist hatred.
fwiw, i disagree with the rationale of a lot of lawrence's answer (ie it's parsing the nuances of businesses more than i care about).

his penultimate paragraph is the one that works for me.