The MLM Project Log 2: The Project
Posted by <Jak Ritger> on 2021-03-18
Part of a series on The MLM Project
I, along with a small team of volunteer researchers and activists will explore and analyze the sprawling networks of America’s shady direct-selling Multi-level Marketing industry. We will investigate the ways in which these manipulative businesses use psychology, group dynamics, surveillance, behavior modification, and addictive gambling to grow massive workforces. We will show how MLMs extract value from the political and cultural narratives of the 20th century: belief and religion, war efforts, gender norms, wedge Issues, American exceptionalism, entrepreneurism, climate change, cults & new age and the rise of B-Corps & ethical capitalism. In addition we will demonstrate how MLM’s use inequality as an area for expansion: sexism, racial disparity and redlining, anti-immigrant policy, xenophobia, and classism. In some cases, MLMs have provided marginal positive outcomes such as creating supply chains to bring goods into underserved communities.
We will show the rise of MLMs as an inflection point: snowballing together ways people respond to markets, compressed into a hyper-localized form and then mimetically propagated throughout capitalist society as a self-replicating market form. The result is what we are calling the “MLMification of politics.” A condition where political narratives filter through the social system via personalized persuasive pitches. An MLM “sells you a business” which one then tries to sell to friends and their network. In MLMified politics, a political interest group sells a political identity that one then tries to convert others towards. Furthermore, while some political discussions among friends resolve towards a common understanding, the MLMified political approach grafts the MLM peer pressure recruitment strategy of in-group vs. out-group onto these discussions: If the person receiving your pitch does not agree, or does not buy the product, then they don’t “believe in your mission.” MLMification is both a product and the architect of the rise of the dominating political force of our time: technology companies and the human futures market (see Log 3).