This Is the Imperialist System... This Is What They Want You to Vote For

The Real Cost of iPads

October 28, 2012 | Revolution Newspaper |


Yes: Romney and the ruling class figures most associated with him have a blatantly fascist, greed-is-good, fuck-the-poor, AmeriKKKa über alles agenda. Case in point, the billionaire Koch brothers. Their company is one of the top 10 air polluters in the United States, and they have poured millions and millions of dollars into union-busting, anti-environment politicians.

But what is represented by Obama, and ruling class figures he lauds as models and who are generally associated with the Democratic Party, is also a horror for the people. He acts in and promotes the interests of the system we live under, just as Romney does.

Case in point: The late Steve Jobs and Apple Computer.

In December 2010, Obama told us, “We celebrate somebody like Steve Jobs, who has created two or three revolutionary products. We expect that person to be rich, and that’s a good thing. We want that incentive. That’s part of the free market.”

What Obama didn’t say is that the enslavement and super-exploitation of tens of millions of workers throughout vast sections of the world are the source of these riches. And the global competition between these capitalist-imperialist enterprises compels them to scour the planet in search of the most vulnerable and exploitable workers, and the contractors and ruling classes in these countries most able and willing to organize efficient systems for sucking the life, and the spirit, out of these workers.

• • •

“Life is meaningless,” says a 21-year-old worker whose fingernails are stained black with dust after a 12-hour overnight shift. “Every day, I repeat the same thing I did yesterday. We get yelled at all the time. It’s very tough around here.” Conversation is forbidden on the assembly line; bathroom breaks are limited and timed; the constant noise from the factory is damaging his hearing; and he makes too little to send money home.

The youth was explaining in the spring of 2010 why at least 10 of his coworkers had committed suicide in a year working for Foxconn, the Taiwanese company that is the world’s largest contract electronics manufacturer in the world, making Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Foxconn employs 1.2 million workers in China and produces 40 percent of the world’s consumer electronics, some in factory complexes with nearly 200,000 workers. They are mostly young peasant-workers from the countryside; 86 percent of the workers at the enormous (three square kilometers, or 1.16 square miles) complex outside Shenzhen where he works are between the ages of 16 and 25, housed in dormitories with 8-10 people sleeping in a room.

An 18-year-old who came from the countryside after high school jumped from her dormitory’s fourth story, surviving but in a coma for two months. Her father said she felt isolated and without friends. Another worker was hospitalized after he slit his wrist.

 “I do the same thing every day; I feel empty inside; I have no future” explains a college graduate who works in product development and who has considered suicide. A 24-year-old said 80 percent of the production workers have to stand for 12 hours, 6 days a week. “It’s hard to make friends because you aren’t allowed to chat with your colleagues during work.... Most of us have little education and have no skills so we have no choice but to do this kind of job. I feel no sense of achievement and I’ve become a machine.”

Apple commended Foxconn for the measures it took to improve working conditions following the suicides. And Steve Jobs himself told a tech conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, “We’re all over this.” He assured his audience that his company does one of the best jobs inspecting suppliers, and that Foxconn is “not a sweatshop.”

Under the laws of the “free market” system Obama extols, and of which he extols Jobs as a model, Apple and all its competitors are driven to move production around the world in search of more vicious exploitation and an edge on the competition. Apple is not alone at Foxconn. Microsoft makes the Xbox there, Amazon builds Kindles, Hewlett-Packard and Dell make laptops there, Nintendo makes Wii, and on and on (and while the owner of Dell Computer is a prominent backer of the Republicans, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and’s Jeff Bezos are major backers of the Democratic Party).

Whether in the form of old-school fascist oligarchs like the Koch brothers, or in the form of liberal, new-style monopoly capitalists, capitalism-imperialism does what it does: crushes lives, destroys spirits, and ruins the environment in its meat grinder of exploitation.

Knowing this, think about what it means to vote for the “lesser evil” in this election, and to be drawn into and accept the terms that define elections for president under this system.

This Is the Imperialist System...

This Is What They Want You to Vote For

Workers at the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, China.
Photo: AP

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