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SLAVE LABOR February 19, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in Social Environment.

Slave labor is an epiphany for modern capitalism, which, perhaps as it always was, as much of an economic system, as it is an ideological system.

Take the case of unemployment in modern, formerly social democratic countries, such as Britain. There, it seems, with strong echoes of John Howard, if you are unemployed it is the fault of the individual. The unemployed are placed in education camps, run by contracted businesses, to correct attitudes, add deficient job skills and lie about employment history in burnished resumes. And then to work without pay in stacking supermarket shelves, to acquire job experience.

Barbara Gundell describes the situation in her Open Democracy article:

David Cameron even appears to find unemployment rather annoying and “unfair”. Not on the unemployed but on “hardworking families” who pay for the benefits. Speaking from the escalator of an ASDA supermarket in Leeds at the end of January, he asked of the assembled workers: “Are you happy that your taxes are going towards families where no-one is working and they’re earning more than £26,000 in benefits?” He went on to praise his hosts for the creation of 5,000 jobs (many so low-paid the taxpayer will be topping them up with tax credits) and for their apprenticeship scheme (also funded by taxpayers) and for offering opportunities to young people (many of them unpaid work experience). His message? There are jobs for the determined: get working.

Even if the policies do not work, or themselves inefficient, it seems it is the unemployed people who are at fault. One might note this as a classic example of scapegoating that enables a group to be marginalized and be held as objects of contempt and anger.

This policy position may well be understandable from a conservative ideological perspective, but one wonders why such a public policy position is apparently supported by the Liberal Democrats. An inference that could be drawn is that both parties represent elite interests with ideologies that add up to the same thing.

Much has been made recently of the treatment of workers in China, particularly those working to produce by hand the products branded by Apple and other computer manufacturers. As Robert Scheer suggests at Truthdig this is “a manifestation of cross-ideological betrayal”. The Chinese did not have to read Marx to be familiar with the reserves of industrial labor. It remains curious that the next official enemy of the US is under-girding the currency, while employing industrial policies that give it comparative advantage while boosting the profitability of the corporate capitalists, who presumably have the marketing networks.

American ABC reported on the case of Apple, FoxConn and the Shenzen connection:

As is perhaps true for the British Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, monopoly corporate capitalism and Chinese Communism have more in common than may be supposed at first sight. They represent a good fit. It reflects the economic genius of authoritarian Corporatism and authoritarian Communism to have found each other. They do not merely embrace: they interlock.



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