D.K. Garments is a subcontract factory with 150 foreign guest workers (135 from Bangladesh and 15 from Sri Lanka), which has been producing Victoria’s Secret garments for the last year. None of the workers have been provided their necessary residency permits, without which they cannot venture outside the industrial park without fear of being stopped by the police and perhaps imprisoned for lack of proper documents.The Victoria’s Secret workers toil 14 to 15 hours a day, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., seven days a week, receiving on average one day off every three or four months. All overtime is mandatory, and workers are routinely at the factory 98 to 105 hours a week while toiling 89 to 96 hours. Treatment is very rough, as managers and supervisors scream at the foreign guest workers to move faster to complete their high production goals.
Workers who fall behind on their production goals, or who make even a minor error, can be slapped and beaten. Despite being forced to work five or more overtime hours a day, the workers are routinely shortchanged on their legal overtime pay, being cheated of up to $18.48 each week in wages due them. While this might not seem like a great deal of money, to these poor workers it is the equivalent of losing three regular days’ wages each week.
Workers are allowed just 3.3 minutes to sew each $14 Victoria’s Secret women’s bikini, for which they are paid four cents. The workers’ wages amount to less than 3/10ths of one percent of the $14 retail price of the Victoria’s Secret bikini. Victoria Secret, Slave Labor
This is a very common problem for foreign produced goods and is not limited to just American corporations (Nike and Wal-Mart being other recent examples), but is found throughout the entire world. Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, India, Thailand, Burma, even New York city and Los Angeles where sweat shops and slave labor abound.
Slave labor is everywhere, the exploitation of human capital benefiting corporate monstrosities catering to dumbed down consumers who are too apathetic and stuffed to even care. Please read the rest of that article, it’s an eye opener.
Now, hoping you have read the article, consider this side tidbit: there is disagreement that America won’t fall under martial law because there won’t be the troops necessary to enforce it. But consider how people, all over the world, are willingly selling themselves into slave labor so that they can have the means to eat or a tin roof over their heads at night. This is a fact, a reality endured by millions of “workers” who are supporting the American corporate empire (and others). Finding the troops to enforce martial law in America is not going to be a problem here or anywhere else in the world as long as these corporate monstrosities control the resources we need to eat and live.
The real world is brutal, harsh, cold, calculating and utterly indifferent to suffering. Go examine the plight of the Palestinian people, the brutal conditions in the African diamond mines, the wholesale slaughter that has occurred in Uganda, Zimbabwe and recently, Burma where monks were killed by the thousands for current examples.
The world does not care about you or anybody else. Americans live pampered, puffed and pitiful little lives at the expense of other humans suffering on a global scale so that we can have our ‘essential’ baubles and trinkets and air-conditioned brainwashing malls. Spin cycle set to heavy-duty. Wash, rinse, repeat, over and over again, ad nauseam. American corporations are one of the primary parties responsible for this, but if they were not American, they would be Dutch, German, French, Italian or Canadian or any other country.
Capitalism depends on the exploitation of resources, both human and non-human, on a global scale. Profits are the sole motivation, the suffering of humans and non-humans are economically immaterial. Go examine a feedlot, pig farm or chicken ranch. Our treatment of other living creatures is absolutely appalling, and we mistakenly still believe this is the “good life”, the best the world has ever seen.
An ethical corporation would close up shop upon discovering that there are supporting the slave trade, but you don’t see that happening, do you? They’re not so ignorant to “not know” what they’ve done and deliberately set out to do. Instead, they get “caught” and the public outcry embarrasses them, so they pull up stakes and setup their sweat shops elsewhere and go right on as before.
What a wonderful arrangement this is for all the shallowly “concerned”. We get to feel self-righteous that we “objected” (but never stopped buying their shit or put these people out of business) and the corporations claim they’ve cleaned up their act and everybody’s happy, except the newly exploited poor who’s now “hired” for pennies a day in some third-world backwater to produce endless reams of more useless garbage for the American “connedsumer” market.
I’m no bleeding heart liberal, nor even remotely a pacifist, finding such positions indefensible, because they ultimately assume a position of personal irresponsibility. Our disagreement should not always be passive or silent because this position changes nothing and continues to permit everything. I mention this, because I find the widespread callous disregard for our consumptive consumerism at the expense of other living beings as being just as indefensible. It not only permits such crimes to keep occurring, it promotes them and enables them. But we go on just like always, pretending that there is nothing we can do about it, or settle for useless and stupid protests, marches and “boycotts”, or worse, expend our “votes” on cowardly politicians who don’t have the spine of a earthworm to “fix the problems” for us.
Common sense tells any thinking human being that such crimes should be stopped. Non-participation is one step in this process, otherwise, we are hypocrites and indefensible in our complicit agreement to enable these crimes, but it is not the only step. It is we ourselves, who are enabling these corporations to continue with their abuse. Those poor peasants they exploit have already been disarmed, downtrodden and exploited for centuries in many cases by the wealthy and powerful (including their own people). But we, surrounded by our wealth and abundance and high living “standards” never make the connection that we are really the ones who now stand behind this, enabling this and promoting it, and not just with our consumption, but with our acquiesence to how exploitation works, how capitalism works, and our unwillingness to rise up and put a stop to it.
We’ve swallowed the lie that we can’t do anything about it, that we must allow the “democratic process” to work (which never does, it just regurgitates and pontificates, changing nothing) and that we must abide by the rules that have been laid down for us, but not for them. Hogwash. This has never been true, but the media and government spin cycle constantly regurgitates this abomination of logic, keeping us dumb, stupid and ignorant to the real facts of life.
This blog has largely focused on collapse, which I have argued is unpreventable, necessary and even long overdue. But has anyone besides me seriously considered the world that will be reshaped as a result of collapse? Or what your personal role and involvement might be?
If not, perhaps you should. The points raised above regarding our complicit agreement to exploitation will not change in collapse, unless we have changed, individually and collectively, including our corporations and plantation owners. Collapse does not abolish them by default, this is a ludicrous position to take. The “powers that be” will still be around, still be in charge and still own and control the resources we all need to live and survive unless they have been abolished.
This is a very important concept because many are hoping that collapse will change the world for the better. How can it, unless we change? Or unless our way of life and “doing business” also changes? Either we will suffer a catastrophic “extinction level event” that would abolish everything (very unlikely) or we can rightly expect an even worsening condition of our present situation and exploitation. It’s been said that if you can imagine the future, imagine a boot stomping on your face. That is the future, the slave labor, exploitation for your daily bread.
This is what I think will happen – as other writers have also said. Fascism will increase in collapse. Exploitation and human suffering will worsen, dramatically, especially here in America where the land of slave will take on a whole new meaning.
How then, will we change as a result? Will we remain as dependent as before? Yes, in all probably, we will. We will remain as complicit as ever, because we will sell-out just like peasants have been forced to do elsewhere for centuries. The idea that we will suddenly grow a backbone is based on an total illusion. Most people won’t lift a finger (just like now) to change anything or even help themselves (just like now). This group of people (over 90% – 95%) will be working against those who do seek fundamental changes. Or choose to live independently. Or have stashed food. Or have chosen non-compliance as their form of protest. But they will be irrelevant as being a part of any solutions that effectively change how we “do business” and treat each other. They will also be the new enforcers and informants of the collapse period, having sold themselves for their daily bowl of porridge.
Sweat shops exist in America and in other countries not because they are “occupied” by oppressors, but because the people are cajoled into oppressing themselves. Outside money and influence is not enough to force a people to stay oppressed, oppression must actually come from within and ultimately be self-enforced. This is one reason why Iraq is such a mess – the occupying forces are insufficient to oppress the people there forever. They must first be cajoled and tricked into oppressing themselves. Controlling food, water and medicine is one of their major methods, something America did to Iraq for over ten years before bombing the hell out of them again.
The IMF and World Bank oppresses people by enforcing severe economic policies that are not in the best interest of the targeted nation. South America is now seeking their own solution by creating their own version of a continental bank.
I have no illusions that Americans will concern themselves about the exploitation of other people, but they might eventually be concerned about themselves as their lifestyles and the planet crumble around them. Right now, they are too infotained, too distracted, too fat and too well fed to really care, despite being one of the most well-armed people on earth. Our concern is just like every other citizen on the planet, staying alive. Collapse won’t change that, it will only make it more difficult. Americans are already oppressing themselves, and this will only worsen. Other countries will do exactly the same.
It’s very clear to me at least, that our world won’t be improving because of collapse, not unless and if we actually do something about it, and set ourselves to the tasks necessary. But this is very doubtful of this present generation in my opinion. We won’t help ourselves now, what makes us think we will finally help ourselves then?
Unless and until we have achieved a level of literacy, education and awareness of our collective condition, we will remain both oppressors and the oppressed. This is a foregone conclusion. Blogs, books, newscast and video clips are not enough to change this, they’re only the barest beginnings and why I honestly think the Internet is almost useless as the tool to change lives. The Internet itself is still designed (and used) around the entire capitalistic model. My recent assaults by certain persons who sought to exploit my efforts for their personal gains and profits exemplifies this.
A new ethic of life and living is essential, but admittedly, unlikely to be embraced, even during the collapse. This entire generation must first pass away, hopefully leaving something of real value behind to our descendants, taking with them to the grave the apathy, indifference, callousness and disregard for life with them. What we should be doing is educating the young with a earnest zeal such as the world has never seen before, teaching them to utterly reject the present paradigm of exploitation for profits and greed and an absolute, categorical refusal to go along with any of it.
If the future is to have any hope at all, it belongs to them anyway, and not us. What we give them, instruct them and teach them is the only real “difference” we will ever make. But we can pave the way, at least somewhat by leading by example, exemplified in our lives and in our efforts while we yet live. But the question remains – will we?