About that sweatshop in your head By William Bowles

12 September 2006

Anybody who has read Joe Bageant’s excellent cries of rage[1] here will surely sympathise with the guy, stuck as he is firmly in the craw of a totally insane beast. The question is, who will choke first? As of writing, all bets are off.

Yet before I go off half-cocked it’s worth remembering that here in the UK we have our own version of insanity and I am no less stuck even if in the craw of a lesser beast than Joe is, nor are my fellow citizens any the less caught up in the madness than Joe’s neighbours on the Beltway. (For our sins we are all condemned to our own special hell. Conditions may vary from state to state, please check your purchase agreement.)

Folks elsewhere on this ball of mud might not either know, much less care, about the phony battle currently being conducted by the homicidal leaders of the Labour government, figuring correctly I surmise, that it makes not a whit of difference to us who leads this government as none of us have the slightest control over our own mediocre and incompetent version of Il Duce (no chance these very English fascists will get the trains to run on time).

Elsewhere, comrade Machover suggests that the reason the Brit (Eh Duce?), Blair, is hanging on is just so he can see through the hell he and Bush have prepared for the inhabitants of Iran, judging (I know not on what) that whoever leads the Labour government after Blair might not be so keen to have his (or less likely, her) name go down in history as the person who helped kick off WWIII (or is it IV, I’ve lost count?).

Joe Bageant kinda suggests that heaven/hell, US style, is some kind of celestial Wal-Mart, where people are condemned to consume endlessly, but this conjures up a vision of G*d as the ultimate sweatshop owner, but when you think about it, it’s not so far-fetched given as Bush and Blair, G*d-fearing mass murderers that they are, are all for extending the deathly grip of Wal-Mart, Adidas and Nike to the furthest reaches of the Solar System.

Yet this is precisely what the nightmare these bastards have unleashed upon us, is all about! And if you don’t believe me, then judge for yourselves (this from a book I’ll shortly be reviewing here):

‘The harsh reality is that employment in a sweatshop is akin to imprisonment. The Alejandro Apparel plant in Honduras is representative of sweatshops throughout the Third World, with its barbed-wire fence, locked gates and armed security guards … An average worker at Alejandro Apparel earns a wage of 86 cents per hour and sews 230 T-shirts in a ten and a half hour shift. Thus, a worker earns just 4 cents per shirt, less than one percent of its retail price. This plant supplies several American corporations, including Nike, Adidas and Hanes. In contrast to the insignificant sum a worker is paid for actually producing a shirt, Nike will spend over two dollars to advertise it. Keeping up with harsh production quotas is difficult, and workers take just ten minutes for lunch. Management monitors bathroom use and any worker regarded as taking too long is ordered over a loudspeaker to return to his or her workstation. Employees are forbidden to speak to one another and supervisors routinely scream at and berate workers.’

Or, check out this statistic:

Inequality has reached such an astounding level that it requires an act of willful blindness on the part of the Western media not to notice it. Over half the world’s population subsists on less than $2 a day, while the 200 richest individuals own more than 41 percent of the world’s population, or in other words, more than 2.6 billion people.’ — ‘Strange Liberators – Militarism, Mayhem and the Pursuit of Profit’ by Gregory Elich

Joe Bageant’s point that:

‘I’ve never seen a culture or human being that did not have an inherent sense of justice, an innate desire for balance. Most consider this to be the spiritual side of man, if they consider it at all. Most do not. A huge portion of the world is commodity addicted, while another portion is simply looking for a warm dry spot in which to shit or lay down and die. There is not much room for contemplation of the finer points of existence in either instance. Whatever the case, the American lack of even minimal spiritual observance inducted us into the Empire’s cast of featureless players inside the iron theater. Nobody needs answers to meaningful questions that are never asked, or dare not be asked.’

No wonder some (many?) people go mad, for once you allow the reality to creep, even sideways, into your consciousness, you’re doomed to live out your life knowing that the ever-so cheap sneakers you bought at your local Wal-Mart (or ASDA as they called here in the UK) for something like 10 zillion times what it cost to make them, makes you complicit in a crime of Victorian dimensions, and who wants to know that under global capitalism things have gotten so bad, that the clock has been wound back to the days of Charles Dickens.

Once aware of such realities, no wonder people retreat into their own heads, where you can scream to your heart’s content without bothering the neighbours, unless, like Joe Bageant you let rip at a dinner party. So we are all condemned to lives lived in sweatshops of one kind or another, the only difference is that ours are, for most of the time anyway, inside our heads.


  1. http://williambowles.info/guests/2006/0906/madmen.html
  2. http://williambowles.info/iran/blair_clings_to_power.html

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