As I write this entry I am surrounded by eighteen inches of snow and if you think that sounds awesome – fuck you. I hate snow. When I see snow I want to burn the world down, I want to spill oil into the ocean so I can light it on fire and grill baby seals. Every ounce of kindness or goodness in me disappears when the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. When I see snow I don’t think of Christmas, I don’t think of sledding or skiing or snowball fights. I think of frostbite, I think of hypothermia. I think of the horror of having to kill and eat your best friend when you’re trapped on a freezing mountain top. Everything about the cold makes me feel depressed, trapped, but more importantly it makes me feel desperate.
So yes, I hate snow. But more important than the fact that cold weather is dangerous, and that it’s inconvenient, and unpleasant, painful or even deadly is the fact that snow represents an important class struggle in human society. Cold weather is a phenomenon inflicted on human society by those concerned with the acquisition of wealth and perpetuated on human culture by an unnatural, perverse mythology that circulates entirely around the capitalist model for the distribution of material resources.
Simply put, snow is for rich people.
So while I hate snow on a personal level because it makes me miserable, I also hate it because it represents all that I hate about the plutocracy of America and western capitalist culture in general.
My entire life the cold terrified me. Cold weather awakens some sort of primal self-preservation instinct in me, the kind of feeling you get when you look a lion in the eyes, when you’re lost in the woods, any time when you have to come to grips with the fact that you are still an animal, still able to be killed by nature if nature chooses to. We spend our lives hiding behind all the structures we’ve built to keep nature away from us. But sometimes nature comes roaring into our cities in the form of a snowstorm and we’re reminded that our naive and bucolic ideas about nature and “the environment” are idiotic and really nature is constantly trying to kill us.
I grew up in a house without insulation, without central heat, with a lot of exposed pipes that burst anytime the temperature went below freezing. My dad worked construction outdoors seven days a week to keep the lights on and feed his kids. We burned kerosene space heaters to keep from freezing and so our house was always smokey, stuffy, dirty and miserable in the winter. My friends never wanted to sleep at my house in the winter because it would get so cold and the space heaters that provided warmth would give you nosebleeds from the fumes and smoke and how badly they dried out the air in the house. My dad hated winter and he hated snow because he worked outdoors and since I usually worked with him over Christmas break from school I grew to hate it too. Stepping into my childhood home in winter was not unlike stepping into the hovel of a character from a Charles Dickens novel. Bob Cratchit c’est moi.
When I got older and made friends who weren’t from my white trash neighborhood I realized that for the middle and upper classes, snow is beautiful and festive. For the wealthy in their warm houses, watching snow fall outside is serene and peaceful. The rich delight in outdoor cold-weather gear like expensive North Face jackets, snow-tires and sport utility vehicles with 4 wheel drive, and cold weather sports and recreation like skiing and snowboarding. Cold to the rich is just another quaint obstacle for them to overcome in a quest for the next new sporting thrill requiring thousands of dollars in equipment. The rich have always loved to dabble in recreational discomfort. Things like safaris were once popular for the rich to see and hunt animals that poor indigenous people would either hunt for sustenance or flee for their lives from. Rich people starve themselves for aesthetic purposes in a painful irony as poor people die of starvation all around the world. In the same way rich people love to experience cold in small doses from underneath protective sporting equipment.
Let us not forget that human beings evolved in Africa. In Africa humans lived an egalitarian hunter-gatherer existence under appropriate environmental conditions in a landscape which didn’t require large amounts of clothing or complex structures to survive. They lived in the closest thing to equilibrium to their environment that we as a species ever have. They hunted animals that had co-evolved alongside them so that the large mammals weren’t completely eradicated from the continent the way they were from every other continent that we later migrated to. It wasn’t until homo sapiens left Africa for Europe that we evolved white skin as a response to the limited sun exposure, developed sedentary civilizations thanks to domesticated crops, and as a result created hierarchical social structures based on uneven distribution of material resources. The entirety of white western culture was created overnight by exposure to Europe and its miserable cold weather.
And in the end what does snow symbolize to most Americans? CHRISTMAS!
Snow, the catalyst for the stratification of human civilization came to be the symbol for the one holiday which best sums up western civilization. Don’t get me wrong I love Christmas, but I can smell bullshit when I’m born into it, and Christmas — pretty lights and all — is simply is the celebration of a theistic empire that conquered, killed, and co-opted every piece of cultural or religious resistance it encountered. Christianity was ostensibly the driving force behind the people of Europe’s conquest of all the other continents on the planet. Christmas is the yearly observation of a stolen festival celebrated by a imperial religion that mandates material consumption and monetary idolatry under the guise of showing love and goodwill. What better way for the richest 1% of the world’s inhabitants to show love and goodwill than to buy each other snowboards and new fleece pullovers?
So as the snow continues to pile up I am fearing for my life, wondering if I’m going to die of exposure on my walk to my shitty minimum wage job. I’m wondering if I can still be vegan if I have to cut open a tauntaun and crawl inside its belly to survive the Hoth-like weather in Richmond. Every snowflake that falls from the sky is another omen of my inevitable demise by mother nature. But it’s nice to know that while I am fighting for survival on a very basic primal level, some Ivy League brat is tearing down a double black diamond slope in Colorado somewhere and laughing about it later with his super hot girlfriend as they sip cocoa and lounge in the clubhouse’s VIP hot tub.