Jan 14, 2010

Capitalism as a Rape of Culture

If you don't know Zara, you don't know fashion - that's what my friend always use to say. But does he know Zara well enough to know that behind the stylish cuts and patterns, fabulous window displays, 100% organic prints and 100% cotton are women who are threatened by their bosses of sexual harassment and lack proper labor rights?

I was reading this book "The End of Poverty - Economic Possibilities of Our Time" by Jeffrey Sachs (economics professor of U2's BONO and special adviser to UN Sec-Gen Kofi Annan) and there's this interesting article about Bangladeshi women who makes clothes for




Before I continued reading the article, I rushed to my closet and checked out some of my shirts because I was sure a "made in Bangladesh" tag was somewhere to be found. I was right, two of my Zara shirts have that label "made in Bangladesh." The rest are either made from Peru or Turkey.

I don't care even if Zara thinks I have a body fit for an 11-12 year old kid. What they're doing is (as nice as I can put it) irresponsible.

I know trying to cut the cost of production is key for an efficient profitable business but it's hard to believe what I found out in Sachs' book:

"thousands of people walking to work in long lines... these workers were almost all young women, perhaps between ages 18 to 25... the women often walk two hours each morning in long quiet files to get work. Arriving at seven or seven-thirty, they may be in their seats for most of the following twelve hours. They often work with almost no break at all or perhaps a very short lunch break, with little chance to go to the lavatory. Leering bosses lean over them, posing a threat of sexual harassment. After a long, difficult, tedious day, the young women trudge back home, when they are again sometimes threatened with physical assault."

What is striking about the situation is that most of the Bangladeshi women consider working in a "hazardous" workplace the greatest opportunity that these women could have ever imagined and that their employment had changed their lives for the better.

I continued reading the article and realized that although these women are given upward economic mobility (and although their wages are still below the minimum,) it has done more harm to them.

Capitalism rapes culture dry.

Capitalism forces itself into a society because it feels like a messiah who can save people out of unemployment and poverty.

Of course people need to buy to make their lives better! How could anyone possibly live without a microwave oven, a water heater or a dishwasher!

Capitalism slowly penetrates society, no matter how hard it resists, thinking that it can heal a broken down economy, not realizing that it is the one who's actually sick. They introduce new systems from the ever glorious West because it is a superior culture and it would do wonders in 3rd world society like Bangladesh, not knowing that a system of living already exists for the people there and introducing a new one would cause marginalization - leading to more violence and death.

Maaaring sumagi sa inyong isipan ang paglapastangan ng mga prayleng espanyol sa mga katutubong Pilipino. Hindi ba isa itong malaking makinarya ng kapitalismo - nagbebenta sila na parang mga puta ng pananampalataya, kapalit ang pagtira sa mga encomiendang nangangako ng pagbabago at proteksyon. Hindi man lang nila naisip na may sistemang gumagana na noon at mas marami lang naisantabi sa kagustuhan nila ng pagbabago at sa katotohanang kanilang hinahain.

These Bangladeshi women don't want to give birth because they are so driven to gain financial prosperity. Fine, that's a start. What would be next, they'd stop wearing their Sari in exchange of leather boots, mini skirts and trench coats. They'll watch Glee, True Blood and sing to the tunes of Ke$ha and Miley Cyrus.

Look at how capitalism raped the Philippine culture. Not dry yet thanks to the likes of Carlos Celdran, Imelda Marcos and Ambeth Ocampo. I need not explain further. (although there's so much irony in the examples I used)

If you do not see what is happening, nahawa ka na ng sakit ng kapitalismo, na parang kanser ay walang sintomas, at kasama ka sa mga patuloy na gumagahasa sa kung anong natitirang meron tayo.

Benevolence is the worst form of marginalization. Kasama ka na sa mga taong nagmamagaling ipasok ang tulong na hindi naman hinihingi o kinakailangan. Isa ka na sa mga taong nagpapatakbo sa makinarya ng kapitalismo.


toxic disco boy said...

hmmm... i have a different opinion... i think culture is dynamic. some people choose to preserve the old and some open themselves to whats new. that choice can lead to something better or otherwise.

i wouldn't say capitalism is bad. it does have it's benefits. but happened in Bangladesh is sad. :(

Bubu said...

I‘d like to invite you to visit my fashion blog:




Bubu said...


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Julián Marcial said...

you know what? I'm trying to look for a different discipline other than capitalism.

The problem of capitalism is not that there are too many capitalists, but too few, as what G.K. Chesterton said. The distribution of resources tend to concentrate on a few people, whose desire for wealth borders on greed. And if we choose to think the way capitalists do, then the cultural reverberations that echoes its upcoming destruction will certainly be heard, even from the most faraway land.

See if you can recognize me, I think I'm pretty obvious when I write.