Foxconn Workers and Capital

Two thousand workers of the Taiwan-based Foxconn electronics manufacturer confronted Chinese cops after a worker was assaulted in the plant dormitory by factory security.  Additional security was called in the by State as local police in Taiyuan where the riot occurred were outnumbered.  Foxconn produces the majority of the worlds iPhones, something around 89 percent.  They were put on blast a couple years ago after a couple dozen Foxconn factory workers committed suicide to resist workplace conditions.  Now, entire assembly lines are threatening mass suicide if demands aren’t met.

Right now I’m reading Capital for the second time.  I’m reading section four of chapter one on fetishism which is where Marx writes about how social relations between people appear as relations between things.  Of course, fetishism isn’t just false consciousness, it is the appearance of value, its form concealing the content of abstract human labor.  The value form has an objectivity in the relationship between commodity and commodity, in the expression of value, in exchange.  When Foxconn is threatening to send Chinese jobs to Indonesia where it can purportedly pay workers 2/3 less than Chinese wages, this is the objectivity of value.  For Foxconn, commodities produced with less human labor means they will have less value.  To have less value means they will sell for less which undercuts their competition.



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