Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Questions for Middle Class Professionals

Yesterday's bloggence was about a case of forced labor in Taiwan that ended in violence and deportation, in a situation where migrant workers' contracts are sometimes rewritten without consent, where sometimes most of their pay (already minimal) is substracted and withheld for miscellaneous unknown charges, where working conditions are sometimes unsafe and inhumane, where protests are met with private police forces and deportation -- while legal authorities look the other way, turn off their cell phones, and delete their emails. Surplus exploitation is not a farsighted way toward a happy society. It damages the exploiters along with the victims.

I would like to remind those same authorities that I too am a guest worker, and that when they come for me, that I have more access to media channels and lawyers and other forms of struggle that one shouldn't mention in a public forum.

The point here is not about me, but rather about the need for new types of workers' organizations and legal protections in a newly globalized economy. Guest workers, migrant labor, temp staff, immigrants, outsourced overseas labor, and so forth are the now dominant mode of production under globalization. If we continue to allow the most exploited workers at the bottom to be abused and punished, then we will never see progress at other socio-economic levels. But the introduction of human decency at the bottom will be a necessary prelude to much broader forms of fairness and happiness, perhaps even all the way to the top.

My questions today are directed to middle class professions:

  • Media professionals in Taiwan: Where is your camera pointing? Why not interview the workers?
  • Jurists and attorneys: Why don't you apply the laws? Isn't that what you profess to do?
  • Legislators: Are your current regulations of globalized capital sufficient to secure human rights?
  • Teachers: Why do you treat education as corporate job training rather than as exposure to truths?
  • Managers of capitalist enterprise: Why are you so unhappy?


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