File spoon-archives/lyotard.archive/lyotard_2001/lyotard.0107, message 130

Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2001 11:21:15 +0100
Subject: Re: Plea: help

Eric and all

It is known as 'divide and rule'.



Mary Murphy&Salstrand wrote:

> When George W. Bush, economists, politicians and journalists accuse the
> alternate globalization protestors of being anti-poor, they are usually
> working with an abstract  model of development which goes loosely like
> the following.
> Nations which are poor and underdeveloped need to go through a phase of
> menial cheap labor because over time a portion of the earnings will be
> invested back into the local economy. This will gradually allow a
> sustainable infrastructure to be built which in turn provides the basis
> for greater wealth accumulation as industrialization develops.  Today's
> poor working class will become tomorrow's middle class and a lucky few
> will even become rich.  For an illustration, just look at the success of
> the Asian tiger economies.  They provide the basic pattern for the
> ultimate success of global free trade.
> The problem with this model is that it assumes there is a fixed law of
> economic development that tends towards both the metaphysical and the
> ahistorical.  It seems reasonable to ask whether on not there are
> tendencies in today's economic situation making this outcome less
> likely.
> The anti-sweatshop movement has pointed to a number of such factors.
> One of these derives from the basis that multinationals tend to
> outsource their assembly operations to the lowest possible bidder.
> Typical workers live in a compound that houses them as well as providing
> their workplace.  He or she is usually young and hired on a temporary
> basis which means that no work entails no pay.  The pay that is received
> is extremely low and most of it returns back to the contractor as living
> expenses.  The hours are long, as many as 16 hours a day, as much as
> seven days per week.  The benefits are non-existent.  If someone becomes
> sick or pregnant, they are simply let go.
> Furthermore, if these workers unionize, the contracts are sent to
> another labor compound that is less expensive.  This allows
> multinationals to cherry pick the cheapest supplier and play one country
> off against another to obtain the best possible terms, while
> simultaneously absolving themselves of any responsibility because they
> are "just a buyer" themselves.
> The spectre that results from this is that these areas may never follow
> the mythic path of development to a middle class future at all.  Rather
> they would simply form a permanent underclass that parallels those
> already existing in the inner cities of industirialized nations.
> This would lead to exactly the scenario that Steve has outlined.  A vast
> army of cheap and ready labor that would keep the Northern communities
> supplied with a steady stream of brand name consumer goods while these
> citizens have the additional luxury of smugly patting themselves on the
> back and saying: "We are helping the poor to better themselves.  There
> is no other way."
> A new millenium. The same old lies.


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