Sunday, January 22, 2006

Slowing down endless accumulation

Wallerstein – World-Systems Analysis

Wallerstein has provided a scary and poignant analysis of the way the world is.  Everything is for endless accumulation of capital.  This is the motive that most people work toward.  The scary part of his analysis is that you don’t have to work toward endless accumulation to help the system of endless accumulation.  He gives the example of an environmentalist; the environmentalist just raises the cost of production which can be absorbed by the bigger firms but not by the smaller firms so it reduces competition.  

Here is my question, what if I were to spend my life working to raise the standard of living, wages, safety, working conditions, etc. of those working in sweatshops?  Would that screw with the system or would it just put more money in the pockets of the rich, or does it even matter because the living standard would be raised, giving those people choices?  

Last night I had a dream that Dr. Kassam and Dr. Tetty were working for an engineering firm and it was my first day as an intern.  I got in an argument with a field engineer about a project in Mexico because he was saying that the squatters should just be run off the land that was needed for the project.  I said he couldn’t do that and displacing so many people has impacts that have to be accounted for, these are people and there has to be a plan to take care of them.  He replied that they were staying on the land illegally and had no rights and started swearing.  I told him to watch his mouth twice and everyone in the office knew that his actions were inappropriate and I got the feeling that these people would be taken care of because the people in the office sided with me.  

This dream really hit me because I had an impact on the lives of a couple thousand people.  The firm still made money off the deal, but people were taken care of.  There needs to be people that are concerned with people on the inside of the operations of the TNCs.  Maybe I can’t change the goal of endless accumulation, but I can slow it down by making that profit subject to sustainability and human rights, more than that, human decency.

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