Back here, I castigated Walter Isaacson for writing an entire book about Steve Jobs without even mentioning the giant gulag of brutal Asian sweatshops that make Apple’s products.
That was in December 2011. What happened next?
A month later, performance artist Mike Daisey’s “embellished” account of Foxconn caused a huge wave of sweatshop stories in the reluctant corporate media.
At a stroke, a decade of carefully crafted multinational propaganda was swept away. Today, everybody knows about the sweatshops. In fact, it is so mainstream now that even Saturday Night Live did a bit on it:
But don’t expect any multinationals to voluntarily give up their sweatshops. The gulag is very tightly integrated with our economy. It is part of our flesh and blood now – sort of like slave plantations were in the Old South.
It took the Civil War to exercise slavery from the South, and I don’t expect it will be much easier to exorcise the sweatshop demon. Rather, I believe we will see the system expand. This year, we signed a “free trade” deal with Colombia. In China, unions are illegal. In Colombia, union organizers are assassinated. They practically hunt them for sport down there. And that makes Colombia an ideal site for sweatshops from the perspective of the multinationals because they can have their prized “clarity” on labor costs.
So, not only is it a “race to the bottom” on labor costs and working conditions. It is also a race to the bottom on brutality and murder. If the Chinese don’t massacre some Foxconn workers soon, and restore orderly production, they may lose business to Colombia.
Yes, it is that evil.