“People resist exploitation. They resist as actively as they can, as passively as they must.” — Immanuel Wallerstein
IN his world system analysis, Wallerstein speaks of a multiplicity of political systems which gives capitalists a “freedom of manoeuvre that is structurally based”.
This analysis explains how the system works when the core (rich) countries export waste to peripheral (poor) economies in the shape of decaying ships. It is the core (industrialist-state) nexus in the peripheral country itself which benefits at the expense of its peripheral (marginalised) labour. A follow-up of the disaster at the Gadani ship-breaking yard in Balochistan validates the premise.
FOR millennia, the symbol of the ship epitomised hope and the promise of new horizons. With the discoveries of new lands and the onset of trade, the image of the ship was besmirched with the sufferings of human cargo — the slaves — transported in and out of continents. Then, more recently, emerged the phenomenon of boats full of refugees and immigrants capsizing on Western shores. What remains hidden, or not so visible, in our collective consciousness is the story of ships being broken down across South Asia’s shores, bringing in their wake death and despair to those who dismantle, bit by bit, the decaying, hazardous, mammoth machines.