Complicity

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The  dead now number over 400 in Bangladesh in one of the worst contemporary examples of capitalist greed and neglect.

The new pope was predictably outraged. He has a sense of realism that the previous pope never had.This pope actually seems grounded in people’s lives. Gone are the abstractions of the academic pontiff. Francis smells the corruption and evil because he himself has dealt with it in his native Buenos Aires.

That [38 Euros] is what the people who died were being paid. This is called slave labour,” Pope Francis said on May 1, traditionally a celebration of global workers.. “Today in the world this slavery is being committed against something beautiful that God has given us – the capacity to create, to work, to have dignity. How many brothers and sisters find themselves in this situation! …I think of people, not just young people, who are unemployed often because of an economic conception of society based on selfish profit outside the bounds of social justice.”

A staggering irony here.

The most religious country in the world the United States which persistently wears its religion on its sleeve bears a major responsiblity for this lack of solidarity and inattention to suffering beyond its own narrow borders.The “race to the bottom” has been going on for decades, factories moving to the cheapest locale so the overindulged in North America and Europe can get cheap clothes which show up in our huge chains like Walmart, JC Penney and now Loblaw’s brand, Joes.

But America the major sinner here  could stop this carnage in a flash by demanding safety measures and increased remuneration for the poor of the world. They could ban these products drenched in human sweat and blood at ther very borders if they so wished. But it appears that the unrelenting maw of global capitalism has a mind of its own, a beast that refuses to be tamed especially by the fundamentalist free marketers in the US Congress and Senate.Their real religion is profit, greed  and the holy market not Christianity. Many go on and on about life being precious, sacred even, but they do not mean it.Their scriopture is not the New Testament but NAFTA  and the WTO both of which are mum about the dignity and rights of global labour.

Out of sight out of mind.

In this seamless world we live in this could be easily mitigated but the odds  against it ever happening are massive.Magna’s  Frank Stronach said it well years ago: “Your first mandate is to make money, and money has no heart, soul, conscience, homeland (quoted in Bilello 1992).

Maybe Pope Francis and the wisdom of Catholic  social teaching can take this on in a big way. After all we are a huge multinational carrying  deeper values.

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3 Comments »

  1. 1
    Ron Bates Says:

    Ted, it seems to me that pope Francis has been reading your Blogs!!!

    Sent from my iPad

  2. 2
    fiatjane Says:

    Another cheap shot at Pope Benedict XVI. He was quite clear about our concern for authentic human development in “Caritas Veritate.” It’s too much of a simplification to place blame squarely on the U.S. I can walk a block to the mall here in Canada and find 90% of the items made for slave wages. The consumers here in Canada are culpable, as are the business owners.

  3. 3
    wmgrace Says:

    In reading through some non-corporate newspaper reports of the disaster in Bangladesh, this quotation came to light. It’s concerning the factories of England in the 19th century – the beginning of the Age of Industrialization:

    “But in its blind unrestrainable passion, its wear-wolf hunger for surplus labour, capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the merely physical maximum bounds of the working-day. It usurps the time for growth, development and healthy maintenance of the body. It steals the time required for the consumption of fresh air and sunlight…. All that concerns it is simply and solely the maximum of labour-power that can be rendered fluent in a working-day. It attains this end by shortening the extent of the labourer’s life, as a greedy farmer snatches increased produce from the soil by reducing it of its fertility”

    Karl Marx, Capital, 1867

    That sounds eerily similar to what’s happening in Bangladesh and other poorer nations, as the corporate giants ( largely from the US) sub-contract their labour requirements out to the cheapest bidders. Whereas they once invested in the building of factories and infrastructure to support their enterprises abroad – thereby assuming responsibility for the welfare of their foreign workers – they now find it much cheaper to let local entrepreneurs assume that responsibility. Claiming not to know that labour legislation and codes around adequate working conditions are rarely enforced, or perhaps not even in existence in these countries, is going beyond the pale.


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