This chapter begins by explaining how things have changed throughout the years. The twenty first century has brought us many sudden and permanent changes. Humans are one of the reasons as to why we are experiencing so many changes. Humans are currently executing almost everything. Due to this, capitalism needs to start to get taken more seriously. This book defines capitalism as “organizing the relations between humans and the rest of nature.” (A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things, 3.) The book explains how this world has been created mainly through seven things. These seven things include: nature, money, work, care, food, energy and lives. Along with this, the book also helps the reader analyze a way to think about the complicated relationships between humans and the rest of life.
One example of how things have changed throughout the years is seen in the production of chicken. The chickens we eat today are not the same as the ones thousands of years ago. Since chicken is the most popular meat in the USA, this requires a large amount of labor. However, these poultry workers are not paid enough. They only earn two cents for every dollar made on chicken. Along with this, the population and agriculture grew immensely. However, climate change was introduced which ruined lots of agriculture and this was one of the main sources of food. Due to this, the society began starving and this killed millions of people. The population was growing and there was not enough food to feed everyone. The Black Death also emerged in 1357. Due to the food shortage, people’s bodies were now weaker and susceptible to getting diseases. One can say that the black death was beneficial to the society due to everything that was occurring during this time.
Sugar was introduced and humans and mammals loved the taste of it. Since sugar became so popular, it required lots of production, but it was difficult to produce in large amounts. Increasing the production meant purchasing new technology and equipment to help with production. Sugar production became popular, and spread throughout the other islands very quickly. Due to the spread, new management and technology was introduced that helped production prosper even more.
Lastly, the term cheap is introduced. Cheapness “is a set of strategies to manage relations between capitalism and the web of life by temporarily fixing capitalism’s crisis” (22). A common misconception of the term cheap is that it means low cost, which is not the case. Cheap is described as a “strategy a practice a violence that mobilizes all kinds of work- human and animal, botanical and geological with as little compensation as possible.” (A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things, 22). This quote is explaining how cheap is not what things are made out of, but how they are made.
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