The beauty of modern slavery
rethinking business practices
One of the things that shocked me most during the Coronavirus pandemic was the realisation of how many people from East Europe labour on western European fields and in western food processing factories.
Not just for a pittance, not just confined to containers, not just on twelve hour shifts, not just treated like assets that can be pushed around, but also without sufficient protection from the virus, putting their very lives at risk.
And for what?
If this is an achievement of the EU’s free movement of labour, that our fellow humans may slave for the West without any trouble or repercussions for farmers, the food industry, the building industry, the cleaning industry, and who knows who else, then the EU has failed.
And that gives you a first taste of the kind of flare-up I usually reserve for Alice, the main character in the easy town books.
The beauty of modern slavery slowly grew into a collection of extracts which are in one way or another connected to the way we do business and to alternatives we could test.
While some extracts bring up issues like racism or second class humans, other extracts are uplifting and full of ideas for possible alternatives to present business practices and to the motto screw or get screwed.
If you don’t mind some spoilers, then this collection is a good starting point to get a better idea of what the easy town books and the easy town projects about.
The Hub and dot.international are introduced in this collection, for more details see the Let’s build the Hub and be done with the tech giants and dot.international.
About this collection
The extracts for this collection are from book 1, beginning and book 2, travelling.
The extracts from book 2 follow the chronology of the story, with subjects as diverse as slum tourism, raw materials and a still relevant discussion about Brexit.
The extracts from book 2/2 add a more uplifting note to this collection with ideas to balance economies, and how to create a town that is sustainable, healthy, thriving and that has a rhythm of its own.
This part is followed by an introduction into the business models for the Hub and dot.international, some notes on additional business ideas and practices, consumption cycles and business locations.
The collection closes with Alice’s big flare-up at the story’s first conference in New York.
The beauty of modern slavery
- What you need to know beforehand
- About this collection
- Introducing book 1, beginning
- Introducing book 2, travelling
- About some of the characters
book 1, beginning
- The beauty of modern slavery, at the conference
- Exploitation, week 3
book 2/1, travelling
- We are all for freedom, Rio de Janeiro
- Slum tourism, Rio de Janeiro
- Racism, colonialism and the superiority complex, South Africa
- Slavery, South Africa
- African Kings, South Africa
- White Africans, South Africa
- Raw materials, South Africa
- Cheers to all the bastards, Australia
- What’s best for humans, Australia
- Brexit, and the EU needs a rethink, Australia
book 2/2, travelling
- Balances, China
- Going in circles, China
- Refugees, Otaon
- The time of the dwarfs, Romania
- Second class humans, Romania
- We can do better, on a global scale, Romania
- Working through the dull stuff, Romania
- Jack’s daughter is on a roll, Romania
- Rethinking business practices, book 1 & 2
- The Hub, a business model, book 1 & 2
- dot.international, a business model, Australia
- The flare-up, book 1, at the conference
The beauty of modern slavery
extended extract from book 1, beginning
during a Q & A at the conference
PRICES WOULD BE TOO HIGH IN YOUR TOWN IF YOU PRODUCED EVERYTHING YOURSELF.
‘Ah, the beauty of modern slavery,’ Alice said with gusto.
She paused and watched the mixed reactions from the audience, before she continued with a hint of mockery in her voice: ‘Modern slavery serves us so beautifully, and we don’t even have to see it.
Buying and keeping slaves openly – visibly – would hardly be possible in our modern times. Least of all, for a respectable person.
Today’s system is so much more elegant, and so much less disturbing for a good person’s soul.
We justify low wages with low living costs in a far away country.
We go to work in our countries. We’re not lazy. We pay taxes.
We are good people.
It’s all so nice and comfy.
And honestly, why pay more for a pair of shoes? Nobody could possibly want that.
Besides, big companies need all their cash for advertising.
And do you know how much it costs to pay a photographer or an influencer? There just isn’t enough money left to pay higher slave wages.
And advertising is essential.
Not just to brainwash us. It’s also a huge industry full of overpaid people.
We can’t put their jobs at risk, can we?
Besides, who doesn’t like a good commercial? Who doesn’t get excited about the latest high-end must-haves? And who doesn’t enjoy the promise of being free and revolutionary, and oh so wonderfully cool and modern?
Now, the slaves who work in far away factories, what are they to us? Do these human beings, who make our jeans, our trainers, our footballs, our pens, do they even need anything other than a job?
Is that an unfair question?
Oh right, these people in far away countries don’t go on holidays. They don’t buy cars. They don’t build houses. They don’t send their children to school.
They don’t need the money, do they?
So why the fuss?
If anything, we take advantage of how those countries are. It’s not our fault that they are this uneducated, poor and underdeveloped.
Really, they should be grateful. Without our designer bras, they wouldn’t even have a job. And the bra factory pays better than the farmer.
So really, we are doing them a favour.
It’s a win-win situation.
And frankly, child labour? These kids don’t learn an instrument or play computer games. They don’t have any dreams. In fact, they would be bored if they couldn’t harvest cacao pods or break stones. What else is there to do for them?
And child-brides? What does that have to do with us? We can’t be held responsible for what’s happening in backward societies, can we?
And as for all these poor, sad labourers from South America or Eastern Europe or refugees from the Middle East or from Africa, who don’t even speak our language, let’s face it, they have to slave in our countries, on our farms, building our roads, raising ours houses and our children.
I mean, there are no jobs in their countries. So we are doing them a favour. And their countries are so poor or at war or full of fanatics or dried up by droughts or overrun by locusts or governed by weird strongman or ruined by corruption, those people hardly need any money.
So why would we pay them more than they need? Besides, if we paid them more, they would just send more money to their poor relatives in their poor countries. And that’s not good for us, is it?
The beauty of modern slavery.’
When she spoke again, she spoke without mockery. ‘But here’s the thing. How much does the West profit from modern slavery? Does the West depend on modern slaves? Can we thrive without them? What does it take to make a town work without exploiting anyone or anything? Is that even possible?
Well, these are some of the many questions, we’ll address in our town experiment. And yes, we will ask people to pay a price for their purchases that allows our fellow humans to earn a decent living regardless of where they are, or where they come from.’
The atmosphere in the auditorium was heavy with— Well, it was hard to tell. Was this thought? Or awkwardness? Or discomfort? It was certainly strange.
A few people started to clap shyly, but most people just stared ahead of them or looked down.
As for Alice, she was too proud of this piece of thought to spoil the moment by checking how Tom or any of her team were reacting.
book 1, beginning, conference