Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 16th Mar 2012 19:47 UTC
In the News "This American Life has retracted an episode that focused on working conditions inside a Foxconn iPad factory, calling the source material 'partially fabricated'. The episode - the most popular in TAL history with nearly a million streams - was partially based on the work of artist Mike Daisey, who apparently lied to fact-checkers about his experiences visiting Foxconn's facility. Some of the lies were discovered during an interview with Daisey's Chinese translator, who disputed the facts presented in his show and on the air."
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RE[3]: really?
by Tony Swash on Sun 18th Mar 2012 17:55 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: really?"
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

This sounds very Hobbesian; I'm not sure that the introduction of say, the industrial revolution, improved many lives. I can be quite certain that it made many worse. Most of us are certainly better off now than then.

Hobbes made the mistake of assuming the suffering he saw around him was the default human condition. For most of human existence (which I do not call history since it was prehistory and pre-agricultural), humans existed as hunter gatherers. Food was everywhere, there was no competition, no need for agriculture, no Malthusian constraints. The default human condition is unfortunately one we cannot easily afford now.

Lately you can find many science books on how the rise of agriculture has negatively influenced aspects of our life, from psychology to sex to general health.



Back in the prehistorical period, when things were apparently so groovy, average life expectancy was around 30, most women could expect multiple pregnancies starting in their teens, most of their children would die in infancy, very few people made it past 50, toothache or a broken bone could kill you. There has never been a golden period of human history except the current one as it is enjoyed by those societies that have made the transition to modern, urban, industrialised and democratic states.

Moving from the default condition of humanity - subsistence peasant farming, grinding poverty, early death, oppressive and arbitrary political power - is not easy and has it costs but what is the alternative? Nobody, except a few pathetic, ignorant and privileged dreamers in the west, wants to live their lives as peasants. It's a horrible way to live. Everybody on the planet, except a few pathetic, ignorant and privileged dreamers in the west, wants to live lives just like those that the mass of ordinary people do in the west.

The basic living condition of more people has significantly improved in the last 30 years than at any other period of history. Only the privileged think economic development is a bad thing. Progress has costs, protest and highlight them, seek to ameliorate them, but don't start pretending that this great adventure of human progress that is unfolding in places like China is a 'bad thing'.

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