Paul P. Mealing

Check out my book, ELVENE. Available as e-book and as paperback (print on demand, POD). 2 Reviews: here. Also this promotional Q&A on-line.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Feudalism in the modern world

This is an interview with monologist, Mike Daisey, who is currently in Australia. The topic of his current tour is ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs’. In a nutshell, Daisey is pointing out the hidden ‘dark side’ of all the gadgetry that we love and use in the Western world, of which I am a participant. This missive is being typed on one of the latest Apple computers, so how ironic is that?

There is no moral compass in the corporate world unless someone shines a spotlight on it. Davies has visited the so-called factories in China where Apple products are made, and witnessed the appalling OH&S conditions that the employees endure. He gives the example of how workers’ fingers are crippled from having to perform the same repetitive action for 16 hrs a day, month in, month out, when the simple measure of rotating the work would eradicate this avoidable injury.

In an unrelated documentary, filmed sometime in the last year by an Australian journalist, I saw how people were suffering from an appalling, debilitating and crippling illness caused by inhaling the glue used to paste the Apple icon on smart phones. I can’t look at the Apple icon on a phone now without thinking about it. And, no, I don’t own one, but they’re unbelievably popular in this country.

Last week I went and saw an exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) of the Viennese Secession that erupted at the turn of the 20th Century. According to a talk given at the exhibition, this came about when Franz Joseph carried out political reform in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s significance to Daisey’s talk is that the feudalistic paradigm was overturned, or, at least, reformed under Joseph, creating the political climate for artisans and artists to flourish.

It made me realise that up until the industrial revolution, everyone (in Europe at least) assumed that the feudal model, that had been followed for centuries, would continue for ever. In today’s world, we assume that the current economic paradigm driven by consumerism and infinite growth will also continue for ever. I expect it won’t continue past this century.

I’ve said before that we still live in a feudalistic society, only now it’s global rather than national. Daisey’s talk confirms that point of view. At the end of the interview he lays the problem at the door of the corporate mindset that dominates politics and economics worldwide.

Addendum (17 March 2012): This story has just emerged that Daisey's contentions are in dispute. However this ABC programme from Oct. 2010 independently supports his allegations.

No comments: