21st century slavery? Yes, it is something real. Furthermore, almost every person on the planet is part of it – either as slave or consumer.

Amazon warehouse or where people are being killed ‘mentally and physically’:

  • Extreme job insecurity, blackmailing, lack of rights;
  • Inhuman work routine
  • Internal temperature beyond 40 Celsius
  • Disciplinary actions against workers who slow down….

This is part of the picture behind EVERY corporate ‘miracle’ out there.

 

Fetishism, or “Fantastic form of a relation between things”. Internet, a technology with its own spirit, a reality that evolves on its own… even nominated for Nobel Prize for Peace and while we see that side, there is another, much darker, side of it:

  • Using the net to exploit or underpay intellectual work;
  • Control and arrest people;
  • Impose new idols and fetishes, spread the dominant ideology;
  • Enforce the financial capitalism that is destroying us.

 

What I do know is that when we trash a perfectly working cell phone because a new model can do more things, we’re trashing a good portion of life and toil of a large mass of workers, who are often underpaid and booted in their butt into the bargain.

materialism.jpg

 

To call the Apple iPhone a fetish is only to state the obvious. It is, specifically, a commodity fetish.

To call oneself a “maker” is to claim an exalted cultural status, and the term “creative” has achieved the status of a noun to describe workers such as designers and artists who are “makers.” The iPhone is part of this fetish of self-sufficiency and creativity, and thus exempt from critiques of conspicuous consumption that have arisen as a logical response to a worldwide recession.

Amidst all this empowered making, we must ask: who makes the tools for the makers? Whose labor underwrites this labor?

‘The iPhone girl’ or the implication that Apple/Foxconn’s products emerge not from a sweatshop but rather from a happy, creative workplace where laborers have the time and leisure to pose for the camera to visually document their happiness—just as its consumers and “makers” do.

An iPhone is made in China, but due to licensing constraints, is difficult to buy in China, and like the dress it is a key class signifier, as it is in the US, increasingly identified with “cool” and with an aspirational middle class.

 

iPhone, iPad, iPad… youDie

Foxconn Technology Group is the world’s leading electronics manufacturer… which is also known for boosting productivity through the DEGRADATION OF WORKERS INTO DEHUMANIZED MACHINES. After fourteen young workers commit suicides, the company response was:

  • invited monks to exorcise the evil spirit;
  • suggested that workers committed suicide in order to gain the huge amount of compensation;
  • personal problems;
  • asked workers to sign a document pledging not to commit suicide;
  • psychological questions were introduced as a new criterion in recruitment;
  • installed anti-suicides nets……

1984-2012

 

Other than Foxconn, electronic brands like Apple, Nokia, HP, Dell, Sony, Sony Ericsson, and Motorola, which have placed orders with Foxconn, also bear indispensable responsibility in the tragedies.

Workers are ordered to stand during the work shift, tasks are broken down into more precise and tedious steps, production targets keep surging, and workers have to compete with each other for production bonuses, etc. In this sense, workers are treated inhumanely like machines. Worker degradation did not stop. It merely returns in more insidious forms.

 

References:

Fetishism of digital commodities and hidden exploitation: the cases of Amazon and Apple. Available at https://libcom.org/library/fetishism-digital-commodities-hidden-exploitation-cases-amazon-apple

Workers as Machines: Military Management in Foxconn. Available at http://sacom.hk/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/report-on-foxconn-workers-as-machines_sacom.pdf

Lisa Nakamura. Economies of Digital Production in East Asia, iPhone Girls and the Transnational Circuits of Cool. Media Fields Journal

 

 

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