John Pilger: The New Rulers of The World – Dandelion Salad
To examine the true effects of globalisation, Pilger travels to Indonesia – a country described by the World Bank as a model pupil until its globalised economy collapsed in 1998 – where high-street brands such as Nike, Adidas, Gap and Reebok are mass produced by cheap labour in ‘sweatshops’ and sold for up to 250 times the amount received by workers.
He films secretly in one of the biggest sweatshops in the capital, Jakarta. Over footage of hundreds of mostly women and children in the camp, with its open sewers and unsafe water, Pilger reports that workers are paid the equivalent of 72p a day – about one American dollar – which is the legal minimum wage in Indonesia but acknowledged by that country’s own government as only just over half a living wage. Many children there were undernourished and prone to disease. While filming, Pilger himself caught dengue fever.
He also recounts the previously untold story of how globalisation in Asia had begun in Indonesia and how Western politicians and businessmen sponsored the dictator General Suharto, who brutally seized power in the mid-1960s. “The great sweatshops and banks and luxury hotels in Indonesia were built on the mass murder of as many as one million people, an episode the West would prefer to forget,” he reveals. “Within a year of the bloodbath, Indonesia’s economy was effectively redesigned in America, giving the West access to vast mineral wealth, markets and cheap labour – what President Nixon called the greatest prize in Asia.”