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: really?
by Tony Swash on Sat 17th Mar 2012 11:04 UTC in reply to "really?"
Tony Swash
Member since:
2009-08-22

While I can believe this guy lied, and I understand conditions are bad everywhere in China, sticking your head in the sand doesn't make it ok. There is absolutely NO reason why Apple couldn't pay their workers in that factory more. They are making a crap ton of profit, they don't have to treat people like slaves. Walmart does the same shit. Walmart actually had China devalue their currency just to get a better margin. Some of us ARE willing to pay more to prevent abuses like this.


Leaving aside the silly iPhobic hyperbole which has, it has now been confirmed, been whipped up by deliberate lies there is an underlying set of assumptions in your comment which is widespread which is that somehow the current situation in China and the other emerging economies is awful and can only be changed by changes in the developed economies. In reality the changes that will make a real difference can only occur inside the societies in question, the key is the development of democratic political institutions, a free civil society and in particular free trade unions. I think, and hope, those things will come in China and elsewhere but the road to them could be very bumpy.

We need to to locate the current situation in an historical context. For almost all of human history, and for almost everyone who has ever lived, life was, and and still is for countless millions, relentlessly short and nasty. Most have lived lives utterly constrained by poverty, disease, premature death and oppression. None of these this bad things need explaining, they are the default condition of humanity. What needs explaining is how those things get removed, how and under what circumstances the mass of people can come to live longer, better, freer lives. If one looks at those societies that have made a transition from the conditions of mass poverty and human indignity to one of material wealth, longer and better fed lives, personal freedoms and human rights the paths they have taken are remarkably similar. Away from peasant rural life and a move into cities (old saying 'city air makes you free'), away from agricultural work and a move to industrial production, a move from oppressive and dictatorial social systems to ones based on democracy and human rights. The journey almost always happens in that order. Building a democracy or ending poverty whilst being based on a subsistence peasant economy is almost impossible.

In the last couple of decades over a billion people have been lifted out of abject poverty. That is am amazing achievement. Global life expectancy is now an astonishing 60 years. Progress in my lifetime has achieved more to improve more people's lives than in all of prior history.

The journey from subsistence rural economies to modern urban industrial ones is difficult and inevitable involves wrenching changes for countless millions, disruption and confusion, exploitation and abuse. But it is a journey that must be made otherwise most of humanity will remain stuck in the dreadful default condition in which it has lived and suffered for all of history. It is a journey we should applaud.

We are living through a fantastic revolution in the human condition. By all means point out what can improved but don't miss the woods for the trees.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: really?
by razor on Sat 17th Mar 2012 19:07 in reply to "RE: really?"
razor Member since:
2010-01-13

im chinese and i couldnt agree more.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: really?
by Jondice on Sun 18th Mar 2012 16:03 in reply to "RE: really?"
Jondice Member since:
2006-09-20

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.

Edited 2012-03-18 16:05 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: really?
by Tony Swash on Sun 18th Mar 2012 17:55 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'.

Reply Parent Score: 1