Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Real Legacy of Steve Jobs

Child Labor, Environmental Degradation and Aiding the Police State 
Read Vince's article following the death of Apple founder steve Jobs.

It's deeply unfortunate, that when millions continue to die around the world, and at home, due to poverty, and Global Capitalism, few take notice. However, Tonight, Wednesday, October 5th, 2011, co-founder, chairman and former chief executive of Apple Inc., passed away, and indeed, everyone in Facebook-land took notice. Of course, in a Nation that glamorizes our Founding Fathers slaughter of Native Tribes, the bombing of Middle Eastern Nations, Torture, and the Death Penalty, one is inclined to expect the same form of glamorization to dominate the discussion surrounding the death of Mr. Jobs. Subsequently, I aim to provide an overview of not only the atrocious activities of Mr. Jobs, and Apple Inc., but, more importantly, a brief institutional critique of the World of Electronics. In short, Mr. Jobs, and his technological fantasy-world of widgets, camera phones, IPods, and indeed, the computer I'm typing on, relies on the severe exploitation of natural resources, child-slave labor, and a cozy relationship with America's National Security State. Celebrating the life/work of Mr. Jobs is beyond laughable behavior, it's simply shameful, and in need of serious examination.
Electronics rely on resources. Those resources come from distant lands, and are extracted in the most violent fashion. To provide a historical context, as Asad Ismi correctly observes, "Genocide and plunder have been Western policy towards the mineral-rich Congo since the Berlin Conference of 1885 when European nations divided Africa between them, and King Leopold II of Belgium got the Congo as his personal property. Ten million Congolese were killed under Belgian rule which lasted until 1960. The Congo's population was cut in half. Belgian domination was marked by slavery, forced labor and torture aimed at extracting the maximum amount of ivory and rubber from the Central African country." Indeed, the Imperial games continue today. However, in the form of Coltan for cheap electronic goods. (It should be noted the same process takes place for diamonds, copper, and other natural resources. Please, keep in mind when reading)
Thus, much like most consumer products, electronics contain vast quantities of natural resources, and, "Tantalum from coltan is used to manufacture electronic capacitors, used in consumer electronics products such as cell phones, DVD players, video game systems and computers." In other words, Multinational Corporations such as Mr. Jobs Apple Inc., absolutely rely on the violent extraction of Africa's natural resources in order to manufacture such goods (in Asia with Slave Labor, but we'll get to that), and then sell the items back  to the Industrialized World. Accordingly, a UN report released in April 2001, stated,  "Rwanda and Uganda are looting and plundering the resources of the eastern Congo and illegally exporting them to the West."  In addition, the United States has systematically conducted covert military operations, spy campaigns, and the funding of guerilla elements within these Nation-States, in the name of controlling resources for future production, and consumption.
The levels of degradation and corruption continue in a brutal fashion, through the production process of such electro-technical consumer goods. Toward Freedom claims that the 2000 launch of the Sony PlayStation 2 increased demand for tantalum electrolytic capacitors, causing the world price of coltan to increase sharply, in turn resulting in accelerated mining of the Congolese hills containing coltan. It should be noted, this extraction is a death-nail for the natural environment of the Congolese. Indeed, the brutal forced labor of children in the mining process is yet another by-product of Global Capitalism. With respect to human life, Robert MacPherson correctly observes that, "India, Bangladesh and the Philippines lead the world in the number of products made by child workers, a US government stock-taking of the global scale of underage labor revealed.  Some 130 types of goods -- from building bricks and soccer balls to pornography and rare ores used in cell phones (Coltan) -- involve child labor in 71 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America." These are the consequences of Global Capitalism, and the techno-culture promoted by the Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs of the world. Similarly, the National Security State gains to benefit as well.
There is a clear connection between technological advancement, and the use of such technologies to advance the interests of the National Security State. Conversely, "In today's reality... law enforcement agents increasingly are tracking suspects by zeroing in on their cell phone records without a warrant. And as a federal appeals court ruling handed down Sept. 6 amply illustrates, this practice highlights unresolved questions about personal privacy in the era of location-based devices," said LeClairRyan attorney Kevin D. Pomfret, a leading advisor in the rapidly developing fields of spatial law and geospatial technology. Further, the tracking of activists, organizers, and revolutionaries around the globe becomes much easier when the masters of such technology, namely, Apple Inc., Microsoft ect, willingly offer information to the State,  on command. Aside from the operational value of such information, the continued attack on civil liberties, and personal freedom is beyond acceptable, and should be examined by anyone interested in maintaining a Democratic-Republic, at the very least.
Above all, the environmental degradation, pollution of natural land-bases, and utter destruction caused by the disposal of such electronic products, will ultimately be the worst legacy left behind by Mr. Jobs. Excluding the aspiration for creativity, it is quite simply the profit motive which allows for such greed to take the place of human, and natural life. Specifically, as Sidney O'Brien writes in The Sydney Morning Herald, "...thousands of used computers, electronic goods and televisions are being secretly dumped all over the state and much of the so-called ''e-waste'' is ending up as toxic landfill." He continues, "234 million electronic waste items were sent to landfill in 2009...  many of our landfills are not actually designed to accommodate e-waste, we run a high level of risk if contaminated water escapes from them...  risk of transfer to humans if people were using contaminated groundwater for irrigation of food crops and long-term exposure could have a serious effect on human health,"   says Professor Ravi Naidu, the managing director of the Co-operative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment. Again, the consequences of cell-phone production are life, and death.
To conclude, those who would suggest Mr. Jobs did not know of the dire consequences directly attributed to his techno-Empire, are either simply ignorant, apologists for the Elite, or incapable of performing the task of critical thinking.  As a result of such incapacity, the production, and consumption of mass produced consumer electric products such as PlayStation's, TV's, iPods, iPhones, and Laptops, continues to rely on the exploitation of not only the superfluous labor force of the Third-World, namely those in Africa/Asia, but also, the ravishing of our natural environment to an untold degree. Moreover, once the products are produced and owned by the citizenry, they are then used to track, monitor, and prosecute, those unwilling to play by the State's rules.  As a result, I hold no emotional capacity for Mr. Jobs death. As a matter of fact, some day, I hope to witness the funeral of his entire unsustainable, brutal, and illogical, techno-electronic Empire, and culture.

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