Chinese Workers, Trade, Human Rights
(I couldn’t find this image on google images of the AFP website so if this picture is inveitably bumped just go here to get it and my apologies for stealing from How to Change the World)
Reading through Mamdani’s Citizen and Subject it’s amazing how much of what made Africa so unbearable a moral tradegy was the emphaisis on relative or cultural values. Apartheid began as a system to “respect” the autonomy of African culture although as Mamdani points out it was, to say the least, it was a bit of fabrication in actual application (the colonialists didn’t bother to look at africa’s governments historically but only the tribal bands that existed after the fall of slavery and africa’s massive economic and political losses). Double standards were common, South Africans banned a slave trade in women only to proceed to force african children into labor to catch up with the then economically superiod local tribes. Similarly, As the WTO goes, human rights are the jurisidiction of each country in it, it is up to Bangladesh to decide if children should be allowed to work and for how long and who are we to say if families there might need their children to work extra hours to help them especially if they aren’t provided daily education etc. But pictures like these (and yes I know it’s a limited thing) do bring up just how much universal human rights being part of the WTO would help, after all these men could have been saved burns, bruises, and other things if we’d just agreed on some basic safety standards, ensured every government had regulations to ensure whistle blowers are protected anonymously, labor couldn’t be forced, etc. While the respecting of each country’s autonomy in labor rights might seem like a good idea it’s practice seems to only allow the unscrupolous in each country to further take advantage of their countrymen for their own gain. After all these men have probably never paid taxes, but China’s government is relaint on factories just like these to stay afloat (corporate taxation comprises almost all of the government’s income). Preserving people isn’t the incentives of the chinese government as it stands and while an absence of taxation probably helped these men, that they were so disenfranchised to go through this shows how little we push for the morals that we obviously need to live in a globalized world. At the very least thought the local system here did eventually bust the labor, but how much still exists and what level of transparency are we guarnteed in labor rights anyway?