Condemn big-brand exploitation

Any real war on terror would start by hunting down those responsible for the textile factory collapse outside Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Start from the bottom, round up the subcontractors who place the job orders. Then the garment factories owners who ordered workers back into the Rana plant. They ignored the big crack in the wall. Then the building’s owner who swore it was safe.

The workers’ revolt pushed the government to arrest the building and factory owners. Now try and punish them for the workers’ deaths and injuries.

Off to the side are the Bangladeshi politicians and officials. They serve the Bangladeshi capitalists — the business owners. Their cops and army make sure no unions form in the textile factories. They hide the bosses’ crimes. They protect the garment industry, their main export. They keep labor costs the lowest in the world.

The big capitalist contractors are one step removed. They don’t need to order workers into a building that might collapse or lock them in firetraps. They just tell the garment bosses: Produce X number of garments at price Y by date Z. If you can’t, we’ll find someone who can.

Riding on top of this pyramid of terror are the big-brand retailers. That’s Walmart, The Gap, H&M, J.C. Penney, Primark, Mango, Benetton – and others based in the imperialist countries. Their defense: “It’s not our building.”

Two steps removed, they establish what X, Y and Z are. They demand lower prices each season. If Bangladesh can’t do it, they’ll try Laos or Tanzania or El Salvador. They hunt the lowest prices to steal the biggest profits.

If a nation rebels and pulls out of the “free market capitalist” system, well, that’s what the Pentagon and NATO are for.

Imperialism in the 21st century: Young women working for pennies an hour, 15 hours a day, six and seven days a week, competing worldwide in the race to the bottom and ending up crushed beneath tons of concrete. And that’s in peacetime.

Dhaka’s workers seek justice in the streets. Whatever they can do has Workers World’s support. Workers in the U.S. could dedicate May Day 2013 to them in our common struggle against a common class enemy.

But from Bangladesh they can’t reach the top criminals. We in the imperialist centers owe it to our Bangladeshi comrades to shine a spotlight on the crime bosses heading the big-brand retailers. It is a good first step that organizations here have already called protests at their doorsteps.

The system that buried more than 400 Bangladeshis in concrete is the same capitalism sold to us as the pinnacle of human endeavor. It will be even harder to rid the world of this system than it is to punish the criminals responsible for its latest crime. But the goal is more than worth the effort. Historically it is inevitable.

Fight terror. End capitalism.

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