People as Commodity

Tuesday, January 03, 2006
The question of women from Asia and Eastern Europe being forced into servitude came up recently on this blog. I would not normally link to the LA Times, which has a deserved reputation for inaccuracy. In other words, this may be another urban legend. But the story fits with what is known about North Korea.

It also ties in with the demographic discussion going on in the threads below. When the First World has a shortfall in people, it "imports" more of them, via immigration. When the Second World (or Eastern Europe), has a people shortage, it also seeks to make up the shortfall from somewhere. In either case, the process is not always pretty.


MeaninglessHotAir said...

Somebody explain to me please what the objective difference between this and slavery is.

terrye said...

There is none.

In fact it reminds me of endentured servitude.

Peter UK said...

Just an aside,we don't have a shortfall of people,we have a too many who wont work.

flenser said...

Objectively, everyone in NK is a slave. The scary part is that these women are probably a lot better off than their family back home. The article indicates that this is considered desirable work by North Koreans.

flenser said...


I know what you are getting at, but in the macro-economic sense we do have a shortage of people. The various old age pension schemes in the West are all some variant of a pyramid scheme. They presume a workforce which grows in size over time. (Or they assume a smaller workforce, which will happily pay the bulk of its earnings in taxation.)

In this case the Czech workers have gone abroad, perhaps to England, to fill the labor shortage in other countries. There is a certain logic to their places being taken by people from the Third World.

This story reminds me of the "company towns" I recall reading about in early 20th century America. The political indoctrination is the major difference.

truepeers said...

I have seen enough stories the last few years about women from around the world being sold into sexual slavery, and working in the western (and Islamic) world, that I've come to think it's not all urban myth but that we really have a serious problem with slavery and rape in our very own cities. When I get time, I hope to research this more.

If it's true what one reads, I can only say that the contemporary left in scapegoating Bushitler at the expense of limiting our ability to deal with the real horrors under our nose, like North Korea, like some of our brothels, is the evil we all think it is.

I saw a tv documentary on women from Molodova being sold into sex slavery in Turkey. The documentarians had linked up with a husband trying to rescue his wife who had been sold while in Turkey on a shopping trip with a family "friend". This male "friend" was also put on camera where he admitted to his crime in the most cynical and unashamed manner. The local court was corrupt and the man was not sentenced to prison time for his crime. He just walks the street and everybody knows it. That's what I don't get. Why aren't there more people killing people who sell their own women into slavery? How can a man live with himself if he allows a guy to do that to his wife?

Peter UK said...

In the UK we don't have a shortage of people,what we have are those who won't do certain jobs.One of the largest problems is the public sector early retirement of final salary pension scam.
We produce more hairdressers than any planet can usefully employ,the education system is skewed.
Immigration into settled countries is by and large to keep wage costs depressed,a walk through the centre of any industrial city during summer and you will see hordes of ablebodied young men loafing outside pubs.It is not that they have no incentive to work,they just have more incentive not to work.
The use of migrant labour to support welfare schemes is flawed,they too get sick,they too get old,more to the point the young men who come,come to send money home.
I wasn't so long ago that we were bewailing mechanisation and computerisation for the loss of jobs,a veritable work famine.
The bottom line is the method didn't work for the Spartans and it won't work for us.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


You touch on an important point, seldom mentioned, to wit, that without immigration wages in some of the least desirable jobs would rise. This is as it should be, capitalism in action. The use of immigrant labor to fill these jobs is essentially a bid by the wealthy upper classes to keep the lower classes from rising up, from bettering their position through good old-fashioned hard work. There is a sense in which socialism is simply a means to keep the poor poor, classism at its worst. Better to have them out there on the streets standing around, under control, not competing with me. There is a sense in which everyone knows this. That's one reason there are so many limousine liberals.