27 October 2011

That Funny Picture

I think we've all seen it. Hahaha Occupy Wall Street. You twats:

Now, I'm not 100% sure, but it seems to be listing things that are made either by corporations or out of capitalism, with the implication that opposing any action by corporations or under capitalism while using these things makes you some kind of ghastly hypocrite. Especially coffee. God help you if you drink coffee. So I'm just going to do a quick rundown of who some of these things are actually made by:
  • Social Networking - programmers.
  • Smartphones - engineers, programmers and factory workers.
  • Wireless carriers - engineers, technicians and programmers.
  • Clothes - designers, weavers and sewing-machine operators.
  • Cameras - engineers, programmers and factory workers.
  • Cars - engineers and factory workers.
  • Buses - engineers and factory workers, driven by bus drivers.
  • Bicycles - engineers and factory workers.
  • Shoes - factory workers.
  • Starbucks coffee - Baristas (famously).

Not to mention all the farmers, miners, riggers, factory workers and so on that provided the raw materials, and the builders, cleaners, caretakers and handymen that maintain the places where they're built. Oh, and put your hands up if you shuddered a little bit when you got to the bit about clothes.

Now, I don't want to go down the "corporations are people" route, but corporations are people, ok? Or rather, all of the work that corporations do is actually done by people. All those brilliant ideas were thought up by people. Your iPhone wasn't made by a fruit, or a trademarked name, or a picture of a healthy half-eaten snack, or even by Steve Jobs himself. It was made by people. All "Apple" did was give them money for it. Sometimes even a reasonable amount. This is how branding works. When we look at our iPhone, we see the Apple name and the Apple logo which we associate with a pretty sound, endearingly hippyish guy called Steve, and we think "Apple made this". They didn't. Labour made it. Labourers made it.

Before capitalism, cleaners still cleaned, farmers still farmed, people still mixed hot water with ground-up beans and gave it to other people to drink. People would still be able to write code or operate machinery or design trainers if they weren't employed by corporations. And a lot of these people, especially the farmers and factory workers, might be a little better off if corporations didn't get the credit for their work and the wealth it generated, and if capitalism didn't enable that situation. Maybe they wouldn't. That's the debate we should be having.

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