We hear all the time about how the competitive genius of firms like Wal-Mart, Monsanto, GE and Apple Computer have mastered innovative technologies, and global supply chains to bring us all the objects we covet and consume. We understand they did all this by being braver, more far-sighted and just plain smarter than the rest of us, because that's what we've been told all our lives.The capitalist class has a love-hate relationship with the word, exploitation. If we're talking about land and natural resources, capitalists puff out their chests at being called exploiters. To exploit these things is to turn them into profit-producing products and services. But capitalists become indignant if it is suggested that they are exploiters of people because, well, that looks bad and capitalist exploiters have a very high opinion of themselves!
But thanks to intrepid journalists who have visited and reported on sites like the massive 400,000 employee Foxconn plant in South China, through which nearly all Apple's Dell's, and the product lines of many of their “competitors” pass, there are many reliable accounts describing how final assembly of all our cell phones, computers and computer subassemblies is done by workers, often children confined to barracks, exposed to toxic chemicals, worked to death and disability for near-starvation wages in 12 to 24 hour shifts, and discarded for newer serfs before they reach their late twenties. This innovative system is backed up by a Chinese state every bit as much the craven servant of capital as our own US government. And this is only one stage in the electronics industry's global supply chain.
It starts in Central Africa, in the Congo where most of the world's coltan, a naturally occurring compound used in every cell phone, circuit board, computer, car, aircraft, missile or electronic device, is mined. To ensure that a strong central Congolese government didn't block Western access to its vital resources, Western powers engineered the invasion of Congo by seven surrounding countries who turned it into a vast free-fire zone and killed 5 to 6 million in the last half of the 90s alone. The ore is shipped to China on freighters fueled by West African oil, where that industry has turned Nigeria's delta region into one of the most ecologically devastated areas on earth.
~ from Ecocide & Genocide Are The Secret of Capitalist Efficiency by Bruce A. Dixon ~
As Dixon underscores above, the exploitation of natural resources and human beings goes hand-in-hand. Invariably, to exploit one is to exploit the other. This is why Karl Marx is so loathed by "free market" capitalists. He exposed the fact that capitalists do not subscribe to the Golden Rule. Capitalists, by the very nature of this economic paradigm, do not do unto others as they would want others to do unto them.
When we get right down to it, this is the chief reason I am staunchly opposed to the capitalist system. It treats people and the earth like chattel. The majority of us are viewed by the elite as expendable pawns who can be moved here and there on the chessboard of profit and global domination.
And while the majority of global capitalists SAY they are supporters and defenders of democracy -- the "super patriots" of our time -- nothing could be further from the truth! These titans of wealth are neither democratically-elected nor accountable to the people. They show no allegiance to borders or governments. ANYTHING that might impede their ability to amass staggering fortunes is to be fought tooth-and-nail. If it means despoiling the planet and throwing droves of people into poverty and squalor, so be it.
I know there are some of you who share my disgust with the system as it is now, but you hold onto the belief that capitalism's ugliness somehow can be mitigated. You believe that, with a few major tweaks, capitalism can be made to serve the interests of all the people.
All I can say to that rationale is that it is wishful thinking. When the generation of short-term profit is the core principle of the economic system, nothing can constrain it for long. No matter how much you try to tweak the system, the ownership class will quickly devise ways to subvert it. While some of the folks who do this are what we might call evil people, the vast majority are not. They simply are acting in ways that are an inherent part of the system.
While we can debate whether or not a democratic socialist economic system would be better, we need to develop SOME system to replace the exploitation-ridden capitalist system...BEFORE we exploit the entirety of our natural resources and Mother Nature makes the decision for us!