These days, almost everybody has an iPhone – they are practical, handsome, sexy, cool. They pretty much are everything we always dreamed of. However, maybe we don’t realize what our dreams are costing to another human beings… in a land “far, far away”.
As you may know, almost every manufactured product today is made in China. And we also may have heard that China is growing, that it is becoming a developed country, and so forth. This growth is always seen as a good thing. But there is always two sides of a coin… and the rotten side has been kept hidden from us – just like the dark side of the Moon.
A company called Foxconn City (and we will see that “City” is pretty what it is), located in China, is responsible for producing a large amount of iPhones each day. Since 2007 they have already assembled more than 200 million iPhones – all assembled by hand. The workers, these “hand-assemblers”, receive $17 a day for a 12 hour shift (sometimes this could reach 16 hours, depending on the demand). In order for us, happy customers, to have our awesomely shinny iPhones for a “cheap price” (what is cheap, anyway?) these poor human beings need to work like senseless robots. How can we not see the problem here?
Foxconn City has 230,000 employees, and over a quarter of their work force lives in company barracks – to make things easy for the company, of course. That way, they need to spend less with their employees (food, transportation, housing, and so forth). It’s an incredible strategy… and a pretty cruel one.
Foxconn has almost 300 guards to direct foot traffic so workers are not crushed in doorway bottlenecks. They have some kind of “industrial cooking center” too. The facility’s kitchen cooks an average of three tons of pork and 13 tons of rice a day. Somebody might say that this could be related to what Heidegger used to call “mechanization of being” – his example comparing factory farming to concentration camps is very famous and pretty accurate too. What’s the difference, anyway, between a company like Foxconn City and some, might we say, prison? Well, maybe you don’t have to work that much when you’re in jail.
Anyway, too make a long story short, what we should discuss here is not how many jobs the US may lost to these crazy Chinese factories – or even how to get them back. Because, in order to bring these jobs back we would have to build the same kind of factories here, and the human exploitation will just continue. When we will stop looking to the world through capitalist lenses? Not everything can be summed up in this kind of “capitalist worldview”. What strikes me the most is to notice that we don’t see people talking about how bad these worker’s conditions are, how much they work, and so forth… they just talk about how to create these same jobs elsewhere. Let’s just move the problem to another place – and that’s it.
Quite an ironic fact is that many people will read this very article on their iPhones… and some of them might even get upset or angry with Apple. But will they stop using their iPhones? I seriously doubt it. And do you know why? Because the iPhone is a symbol of status… and these kind of symbols are priceless. You don’t have an iPhone because it is practical, or cool, or handy… you have it because it gives you this “aura of superiority”, even if you don’t realize it. I am not blaming here Mr. Jobs, or even Apple. What I’m trying to do is just use them as a very good example about the capitalist machinations in this globalized world. Many companies do exactly what Apple do and, if they didn’t do it, probably they would just disappear. So, what is the solution? I think we are all waiting for it.