White Slaves are Good

August 19, 2013

On the one hand, we need to rethink the way we use power; on the other, we don’t want to give up on the gains we have made. Obviously it is about values; but when i put on the dish- and clothes-washing machines, i like the labour saving of these devices. They’re the modern slaves, shoved aside and pushed around, expected to work for nothing and ask for no thanks. I washed dishes by hand for many years and loved the extra half hour i got back in my evening when i finally installed a white machine. My justification included the fact that the machine used the same amount of water i used in the sink (this was during our recent long drought in Melbourne).

Watching Indonesian villagers bash their soapy clothes against smooth rocks in the river filled me with mixed emotions – i didn’t like the immediacy of the pollution, although ours is just removed out of sight by piping, but i couldn’t help but be impressed by the sense of community they shared, and in nature too.

Ultimately, i want to keep my white slaves, although i’d like to be assured that the workers that built them had been properly paid – yes i am prepared to stand for the Marxist battle against profit – but the real issue for me is the environmental cost. Not only the way the detergents are rinsed away as if they no longer existed, to further acidify the oceans, but the fossil fuels we use to power them. Can’t we do this with solar or wind? I’m not keen on a future where my white slaves are hooked up to a bicycle, although i’d consider it. (If we only had to earn the right to watch television with pedal power – maybe broadcasting would improve, or go out of fashion!)

Any thoughts?



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