Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from a black left perspective.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

We hear all the time about what geniuses the masters of capital, the lords of innovative technologies and global supply chains are. But are modern supply chains really that different from the transAtlantic slave trade, which brought genocide of Native American and African peoples and destruction of natural environments?

Ecocide & Genocide Are The Secret of Capitalist Efficiency

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

We hear all the time about how the competitive genius of firms like Wal-Mart, Monsanto, GE and Apple Computer have mastered innovative technologies, and global supply chains to bring us all the objects we covet and consume. We understand they did all this by being braver, more far-sighted and just plain smarter than the rest of us, because that's what we've been told all our lives.

But thanks to intrepid journalists who have visited and reported on sites like the massive 400,000 employee Foxconn plant in South China, through which nearly all Apple's Dell's, and the product lines of many of their “competitors” pass, there are many reliable accounts describing how final assembly of all our cell phones, computers and computer subassemblies is done by workers, often children confined to barracks, exposed to toxic chemicals, worked to death and disability for near-starvation wages in 12 to 24 hour shifts, and discarded for newer serfs before they reach their late twenties. This innovative system is backed up by a Chinese state every bit as much the craven servant of capital as our own US government. And this is only one stage in the electronics industry's global supply chain.

It starts in Central Africa, in the Congo where most of the world's coltan, a naturally occurring compound used in every cell phone, circuit board, computer, car, aircraft, missile or electronic device, is mined. To ensure that a strong central Congolese government didn't block Western access to its vital resources, Western powers engineered the invasion of Congo by seven surrounding countries who turned it into a vast free-fire zone and killed 5 to 6 million in the last half of the 90s alone. The ore is shipped to China on freighters fueled by West African oil, where that industry has turned Nigeria's delta region into one of the most ecologically devastated areas on earth.

Capitalist efficiency then, is nothing more than the murderous offloading of real costs onto powerless oppresssed people and the natural environment.”

In China the coltan is refined and processed using coal fired electricity, with the coal coming from the rape of Australia's indigenous lands. Chinese manufacturing for US companies selling to the US market are an enormous contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide which is melting the polar icecaps and causing uncontrolled and catastrophic global climate change. The electronic subassemblies are put together in Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand and Maylasia under conditions so terrible even the Chinese government can't force them on its people. The subassemblies are shipped to China for final assembly and to the US on more oil-burning freighters. The electronics industry differs only in the particulars from global corporate agriculture, fisheries, auto, textile and many other industries.

Capitalist efficiency then, is nothing more than the murderous offloading of real costs onto powerless oppresssed people and the natural environment. The trans-Atlantic slave trade was a global supply chain as well. The genius-grade innovations of Steve Jobs, the Waltons and the rest of the investor class are ecocide and genocide. They are parasitic vampires, a malignant disease feeding off humanity and the planet Earth. It's time we begun planning a cure, and how we will someday live our lives without these geniuses of capitalist efficiency.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and lives in Marietta GA, where he serves on the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)

Direct download: 20120222_bd_myth_of_capitalist_efficiency.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:35pm EDT