An Apple store or a ‘town centre’? Jorge Lascar

Beneath the elegant aluminium and glass façade of every iPhone and MacBook is a company which epitomises modern-day corporate skullduggery.

Apple – the trendy, progressive and responsible tech giant – is the ultimate sinister corporation. The hypocrisy that it preaches is repulsive; worse still is the fact that this has zero bearing on its success. As I angrily tap away at my MacBook Pro (while listening to music on my iPhone), students are walking around Cambridge, plugged into their Apple devices, white earphone cables dancing in the wind. We are oblivious to the true nature of the tech giant that we are all besotted to.

It’s not just Cambridge, or the UK, or Europe, or North America. Apple is the poster-child for globalisation. It is ubiquitous. Apple products are everywhere: the most remote Amazon rainforests, the sunniest Cuban beaches, you can even watch American and Chinese tourists hold aloft their iPhones as they take selfies in Pyongyang, North Korea.

“Off-shore secretion of profits and use of ultra low-cost labour with atrocious working conditions are the two practices I take a particular and visceral dislike to”

Globalisation – specifically, the ubiquity of products – is not a bad thing per se. Indeed, the spread of technology, and with it the ease of access to knowledge and information, should be commended. It has facilitated communication and understanding and is consistently used to hold structures of power to account. Just look at WikiLeaks (its terrible founder aside).

However, Apple has surfed the wave of globalisation in the worst possible way. Off-shore hiding of profits and use of ultra low-cost labour with atrocious working conditions are the two practices that I take a particular and visceral dislike to. For this purpose, I must draw attention to Foxconn, the little-known manufacturer of many Apple products (indeed, it’s the largest technology manufacturer in the world, and the largest private employer in China).

Apple’s shimmering new circular office in Cupertino, California seems a great monument to irony, when we consider the working practices the company encourages abroad. The Pacific Ocean is all that separates Apple’s California headquarters from Foxconn’s largest factories on the Eastern Chinese seaboard. And while that ocean is vast, it doesn’t suffice as a representation of the epic chasm between the American executives and Chinese workers who both kneel at the alter of the iPhone.

Apple executives in California work in the most comfortable conditions conceivable: gardens, catering, welfare and exercise are all accommodated. In stark contrast, the men, women and children who actually manufacture the products we so adore work in the most pitiful circumstances, seven days a week. Suicide is rife. Pay is atrocious. Living conditions are inhumane. Where is the accountability for this? Why are young, typically socially conscious, Apple consumers not enraged? Why don’t we boycott Apple?

Apple’s success has been so momentously staggering that it has a cash surplus of $215bn. That’s right. $215bn which is sitting in various international banks and across numerous financial products accruing interest.


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Perhaps this is naïve of me, but in a world of such bitter poverty and destitution, where entire regions are engulfed by famine and drought, I think it is morally indefensible that a single corporation should have accumulated such epic profits on the basis of exploitation of developing countries’ labour, and find no need to distribute at least a portion of it to some of those at the other end of the wealth spectrum. They could at least start by paying the people who have built their success a fair wage, or perhaps reducing their working week to give them a single day off.

The recent announcement that Apple will rename their shops ‘Town Squares’ is as depressing as it is deceitful. Apple is pioneering this rebrand to enshrine itself as a necessity and a community leader – somebody you’re meant to trust and rely upon like you would a government. Except it’s not a government. There is no community in Apple’s ethos – maybe on its advertising campaigns, but not in its corporate soul. Apple seeks to profit; the welfare of its employees and customers is irrelevant. It does this by extorting labour from an oppressed modern proletariat abroad to sell to a wealthy, burgeoning diaspora of middle-class consumers across the world. This is Apple’s community ethos: deceit.

This is not an anti-capitalist article. For various reasons, Apple’s success is commendable. Its attitude towards social responsibility, however, is reprehensible. This is a pro-humanity, pro-social justice article. It’s time for Apple to be called out. And it should be us, the young, who do the calling

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