Le Monde Diplomatique (March 1998) Central America a region of poverty, mass unemployment and dire circumstance. The maquila was introduced which is a type of factory which uses foreign imported material and the labour-force converts it into material for export. Foreign companies which own factories in Central America: Japan, USA, Italian, China, Taiwan, South Korea. Exploitation, Capitalism are modern remnant of the old English Industrial Revolution. There are no worker rights, no trade union voice permitted and political uprising guerrilla fighters (pandillas =gangs) constantly threaten the welfare of the workers. Government corruption and neglect are commonplace so important issues and complaints go unnoticed and are avoided.
The maquila is a symbol of dehumanization and alienation where man is reduced to ‘objects of merchandise’ – automaton. Man becomes a mechanized being. Workers who live from cheque to cheque are sleep deprived, work long hours and are denied health coverage in the event of an accident incurred at the place of work. Transportation difficulties amplify the workers problems to get to work. The cost of civilisation (host countries welcome foreign ones to reduce unemployment, introduce more technology roads, water, telephones, power facilities.- Central American governments embrace maquilas to boost the economy. The maquila is a modern example of a sweatshop. Low wages and high demands of employers crush the life out of the poor labour force.
The ill-treatment at the hands of supervisors and employers make life hard. Unfair wages, the ever-present threat of being sacked. The workers have no right to protest. No trade union to represent their interests. The workers have only their labour to offer, vulnerable and helpless, exposed to harsh weather conditions, mortal risks on the jobs, no health allowance or coverage, denied toilet/canteen facilities. The workers must work according to a time, doing monotonous labour in the fabric/clothing companies. Women and children constitute the body of the workforce for they are more docile and their hands more skilled. The maquila companies find ways to constrain the workers to bear with sub-human practices and exploitation. Death, death threats, torture, sexual harassment, unemployment are ways by which maquila employers manipulate their labour force. Human rights activist groups, international philanthropic organizations agitated. With boycotts from the American customers, negotiations initiated talks to come to an agreement to lessen hardships of the workers. Trade unionists assert rights to protect the interest and dignity of the workers.
Two Cheers for Sweatshops (2000) highlight sweatshops and the poor labourers who labour, toil there for sub-average wages and the dependency of the workers on sweatshops for family income. Sweatshops are a sign of the industrial revolution in Asia and making its mark there. It is a sign of hope actually for millions of workers and families. Still the workers suffer sexual harassment, cruelty, health risks at the job, no toilet breaks, lack of a trade union to protect them. American boycotts and agitation in the long term do not help ameliorate the conditions of the Asian workers for that subtracts from them income and opens them to unemployment. The workers work every day of the week and only have the Chinese New year for a sabbatical, furlough. The factories offer workers the option of extra-time with extra pay and so consider it an opportunity to work for these textile companies. Sweatshops generate wealth in the country and like the South American maquilas they are a means to develop the community, provide employment and improve the workers’ lives. A trend has been observed where the Sweatshop belt records the highest rates of increase per capita. Therefore there is a conflict here. The West observes exploitation of a people but at the same time sweatshops are a lifesaver for many. A catastrophic by-product of the industrial revolution is the noxious fumes and gases which the factories emit. This plagues the respiratory systems of the workers and the community and its insidious effect harms more than even the worse exploitation.
In Principle, a Case for More ‘Sweatshops’ (New York Times 1997) chronicles the advancement of sweatshops as a modern phenomenon whose proponents say stimulate the country’s economy and is a step forward to prosperity and a better life. Sachs a professional from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says that there are too few sweatshops in Africa thus its peoples would continue to suffer from high unemployment and poverty. Challenges which Africa faces now like malaria, AIDS and high mortality rates would be surmounted for the wages would help to a degree the lives of the workers. Third world countries and developing nations stand a better chance to improve economic status. Through studies and observations, the American government and economists attempt to encourage sweatshops in developing countries.
Karl Marx and the Communist Manifesto (1848) sets up the bourgeois versus proletariat. Throughout history, class struggle has been equivalent to political struggle. The existing antagonism and hostility between bourgeoisie and proletariat has its roots in its opposing ideologies where there is the oppressor and the oppressed. The tenets of the bourgeoisie are founded on the past order of social class and class distinctions based on land. The industrial revolution and its impact on proletarians and bourgeoisie are undisputed as proletarians are converted themselves into machines and automatons for a natural superior the bourgeoisie. The exploitation and oppression of the bourgeoisie on the past and modern ages have been perpetrated by the proletariat – it reduces the status of man as a thing, an appendage. Self-interest, greed and selfishness of the bourgeoisie fuels this exploitation en masse and oppression of the majority by the few powerful ones. The bourgeoisie takes advantage of resources through monopolization. Imperialism of the bourgeoisie and civilization on “barbaric nations” build up a culture of consumerism and dependency. Centralized concentrations of resources and of benefits do not permit even distribution and division of wealth. Therefore we have the wealth of a nation circulating only in the hands of a minority. The empire of the bourgeoisie is built on imposition of ideas and concepts of an accepted image. As the bourgeoisie exploits man, he exploits also nature, subjecting it to industrialization, depleting rapidly nature’s life-giving power, raping the land and depriving the larger population of its benefits. Economic and political dominion of the bourgeoisie prevails. Over-production is the natural result of the driving forces of greed and keen competition among the bourgeoisie. Communism scorns the substandard status which commerce has reduced man to. Machinery, low wages, inability to possess land and capital, stagnancy of the social classes, drudgery, reduction to slavery, no rights to indemnity plans or retirement.
Capitalism is defined as a socioeconomic philosophy grounded in the private ownership of capital (or estate/ wealth) operated for profit and controlled by the ebb and flow of supply and demand, with little filtering of the high value resources to the lower classes. Yet, trade unions are a sure protection of workers against the unfair treatment, exploitation and oppression of the bourgeoisie. The Proletariat is here empowered to agitate for more rights and privileges, and participate in politics and make demands of their employers. This movement upgrades the proletariat from not only a social class but a political party. The power of the proletariat is undeniable since it comprises a majority and therefore commands more support. Property appropriation is equivalent to personal, social and political power therefore one of the means to break the power of capitalism and of the ruling classes is to place wealth in the hands of the oppressed majority: confiscation of property and the abolition of personal property. Communism invalidates and nullifies religion, and the eternal, universal truths of freedom, justice and codes of morality abandoning all the traditional orders and embracing the novel ones.
The goals of Communism are to act on behalf and in the power of the proletariat and rise in opposition to the interests and members of the bourgeoisie, to wield the power of the proletariat and oust the bourgeoisie, to erase class distinctions, to evenly distribute the capital resources of the bourgeoisie across the proletariat, to overthrow of all existing social conditions and of the ruling class thereby setting in motion a “proletarian revolution” where political power is in the hands of the proletariat. Communism throws its support on international political systems especially of democracy. The unification of all proletarians is the only means by which all these aims can be effected. The consequence of such steps is the introduction of the system of meritocracy in which one acquires solely what one rightfully earns.