theory of the middle class : a few bad apples

Jonathan McIntosh:We will miss Steve Jobs. We will not miss his pioneering of closed systems, monopolies, predatory business practices, slave labor, worker suicides and locked devices….

Apple products. iwant, iwant, iwant, idesire, idesire,….the epitomy, the sweet spot of American middle class values. hegemonic, expansive and absorbing pervasiveness of American culture. Beautiful design, beautiful advertising. all to sell a stupid computer. They did it. More cash in the bank than Bernie Madoff absconded with. The cult of cool around  Apple new product releases seem almost mystical imbued with religious fervor.Messianic and utopian. Its the fascinating  cult of Apple that defies the coherent  criticisms of  their products, the necessity-the iPad- boutique designer pricing, and functionality compared with alternatives. Apple and its corporate culture; one of of the clearest examples of white patriarchal and colonialist culture, is the most visible  example of commodity fetishism in  America.

---Furthermore, it is a system of theory whose central predictions, with respect to the development of capitalism and the possibilities for emancipatory social change, have proven to be essentially correct. When stacked up against Marx’s prognostications, this success clearly provides the basis for what might best be described as an invidious comparison. For example, it is Veblen who, at the close of the 19th century, observed that “The exigencies of the modern industrial system frequently place individuals and households in juxtaposition between whom there is little contact in any other sense than that of juxtaposition. One's neighbors, mechanically speaking, often are socially not one's neighbors, or even acquaintances; and still their transient good opinion has a high degree of utility... It is evident, therefore, that the present trend of the development is in the direction of heightening the utility of conspicuous consumption as compared with leisure” . One could search long and hard to find a single paragraph in Marx’s work that is as prescient, or that reveals a more profound grasp of the underlying dynamics of the capitalist system.--- Read More: image:

BEIJING, China — As the rest of the world waxes nostalgic with tributes and accolades for Apple’s retiring CEO Steve Jobs, the factory workers in China who got sick while making Apple’s touchscreens remain unmoved. Six months ago, factory workers in Suzhou poisoned two years ago by toxic chemicals at the factory wrote to Jobs directly, asking for his help in getting medical care and compensation for their illnesses and lost work time….

---Apple, which announced record profits in January, has been dogged by criticism of work conditions at its China-based suppliers. Last year, its main China supplier Foxconn was hit by more than a dozen apparent worker suicides that critics blamed on harsh factory conditions. The poisonings were mentioned in a recent report from Apple, which sources many of its bestselling iPhones, iPads and other devices to contract manufacturers in China. That report said 137 workers had been hospitalised because of poisoning but had all recovered, a conclusion also offered by Wintek. Apple declined to comment on the workers' letter and referred a reporter back to its supplier report. But some of the workers at Wintek's sprawling plant in Suzhou said the Taiwanese factory-owner had not given enough compensation to affected workers, had pressured those who took compensation to give up their jobs, and had not offered assurances that workers who may suffer fresh bouts of illness from the poisoning will have medical bills taken care of.--- Read More:

They never got an answer from Jobs. Two years after the chemical exposure and many months of medical treatment later, they still say they’ve never heard from anyone at Apple directly.( Kathleen E. McLaughlin ) Read More:

…Such technology is no longer “boys’ toys” — according to the researchers ICM, teenage girls are far more likely to use mobile phones and digital cameras than boys, spending three times as much on gadgets than on beauty products. MOST of all, however, both the fans and the companies developing iPad applications are betting on the vision of one man, Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder.

Jobs, … is for many young people today “a cross between John Lennon and Richard Branson”, according to Joe Priester, a professor of marketing at the University of Southern California.“Four decades ago teenagers would have queued for the latest rock album. The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was apparently capable of changing society, that was what people believed, but no longer — today it’s the iPad,” he said…. Read More:

---Art Chantry art. ---While Apple pronounced the situation resolved in its most recent Supplier Responsibility report, former factory workers say those who are still sick can no longer get medical care. Many fear the symptoms might last for years, or return unexpectedly. Medical literature around hexane toxicity is vague, because the chemical is generally well-regulated and basic safety equipment like masks and gloves prevent toxic exposure. Nerve damage is tricky business, though, and can resurface and cause problems for years. Read More:

…In fact, it took Apple more than a year to acknowledge that 137 workers got sick on the job in 2009 at a components factory run by the Taiwanese electronics supplier Wintek, working under contract with Apple. The Wintek parts factory substituted hexane for alcohol in the manufacturing process to shave time off production of Apple touchscreens, but failed to outfit workers with proper safety equipment. Dozens fell ill, many were hospitalized for months, and several say they still suffer symptoms of nerve damage, like numb hands and feet, from exposure to the chemical. ( ibid.)

Ray Ceasar Art. ---The average middle class person in North America spends $321 per year on Apple products, according to an estimate from Credit Suisse analyst Kulbindar Garcha. Garcha thinks it only gets higher in the years to come. By 2015, he thinks the number is $481. This little nugget comes from big report on Apple

opportunity in emerging markets. Garcha sees Apple adding $68 billion in sales in the next four years as it expands into China, India, Brazil, Mexico and Russia. Read more: image:

So, the aura surrounding an  iPad, or new version of the iPhone has zero to do with the work that went into constructing the product, or the concept that they are mini computers with limited functionality , or that there are alternative choices available at lower cost that provide identical or better service.  The commodity fetishism, the religious aspect of Apple merchandise, the religiosity, is bundled and tied to the image Apple has sold to consumers of their goods, which transforms into a real but intangible quality once they have bought it. Like Coke, or Rolex etc. Apple purchaser profile plays on the identity issue:  hip, current, cool, and belonging to distinct, status conscious niche once they acquire ownership.

…“Technology and shopping have eclipsed rock’n’roll as the source of identity and discussion for younger people, and Apple is where all the coolness meets.” That attractiveness lies in an attention to form over function that marks out Apple’s products and which comes from Jobs himself, according to those who follow the firm closely….

Nick Hubble:Looking back from the twenty-first century, it is easy to take that British wartime coalition for granted but, given the historical context in which the salaried clerical workers –- the new middle classes –- of interwar Europe generally, whether passively or actively, supported the political right (see Koshar 1990), it is actually necessary to account for the development of that national consensus. One of the factors in that development is the influence of British middlebrow culture. The historian Ross McKibbin has identified a transition within the British middlebrow tradition from a literature of conflict in the early 1920s to a self-conscious literature of modernity in the 1930s, in which a confident middle class represented itself as the modernising class . While this transition can be charted, as McKibbin does, from more reactionary books, such as Warwick Deeping’s Sorrell and Son (1925), to more progressive ones, such as A.J. Cronin’s The Citadel (1937), it is also possible to detect a broader current running throughout middlebrow fiction that is aligned to a different axes of fairness and national unity, drawing on the legacies of Dickens and Victorian humanism. The Forsyte Saga is clearly part of this longer tradition and nowhere is this more foregrounded than in the passage above, which aligns its main protagonist with a perspective of gently comic humanism, as a subject for universal identification. Read More: image:

…“Jobs’s real achievement is producing lifestyle objects, like the white iPod headphones which marked you out as an Apple person,” said Professor James Newman of Bath Spa University. “Of course this creates ‘haters’ but adopting Apple as part of your public identity is impossible to avoid. I’m not sure you can say the same about other technology manufacturers such as LG or Samsung.” Alan Randolph, a former Apple accessory designer based in San Francisco, said the iPad was an “overpriced and beautiful fetish object designed first to inspire envy and then to allow us to consume even more thought-distracting entertainment on the move”.( ibid. )


…Feeling like a ‘little bitch’ now that iPads exist. It’s like the Macbook is no longer the status symbol of a ‘relevant young person.’ Laptops feel really antiquated now, like I am some sort of grandpa accessing a 100 year old version of the internet….The glow of my laptop monitor seems dimmer than ever, now that iPads exist, lighting the way into the technological future. iPads are ruining my life, making me feel less relevant….Feel like Steve Jobs ruined my life. I convinced my parents to get me a Macbook so I could write a hit chillwave EP, photoshop the album cover, and video chat with my friends from all around the world. But now I am stuck with a useless piece of technology. Maybe standard computers are just ‘too powerful for me.’ Feel wasteful, like I am wasting resources that could be used to find a cure for cancer….Went 2 buy an iPad at my local Apple Store. At first I thought ‘that is stupid, I already have an iPhone and a Macbook Pro’, but then I realized I could be part of something special if I purchased an iPad….

---Artist Michael Tompert takes Apple’s products and wrecks them with blowtorches, sledgehammers, handsaws and handguns. His large-scale prints of the detritus are surprisingly colorful and beautiful. “It’s an alternate viewpoint,” explained Tompert at a preview of his first gallery show, which opens in San Francisco today. “They’re beautiful inside. They’re beautiful when you open them up.” At a preview last weekend, Tompert’s three kids sat on the floor playing with iPhones and iPod touches underneath their father’s artwork. The irony was lost on no one. In fact, it’s our obsession with Apple’s products that Tompert is commenting on. “It’s a testament to the cultural heights Apple’s products have reached,” said Vinnie Chieco, a copywriter who has worked for Apple, as he admired the artwork. “At first you go, ‘Oh no, what did he do?’ But it’s just a damn product. It’ll be obsolete in a year. It makes people think about these things.” Read More:

…Waited in line over night. Had 2 make sure I got 1. Brought my Macbook so I could watch youtube videos all nite. really bonded with these techbros, like I finally met people who lived in the same world that I live in….

…Is the iPad the second coming of God / Jesus Christ?
Are iPads for ass holes?
Are iPads ‘a huge ripoff’?
If u were stuck on a desert island, would u rather have a Macbook Pro, an iPhone, or an iPad?
Should I put my Macbook Air on eBay?
Are Apple Store employees ‘ass holes’, ‘helpful’ or ‘self-righteous, disgruntled liberal arts grads’?
If u work at an Apple Store, r u an important part of society, or are they the modern Best Buy / Circuit City employee?
Will the iPad change ur life?
will the iPad save humanity by helping us 2 connect?
Has Apple ‘jumped the shark’ or have they made a beautiful product?
Do u wish u had an iPad when u were a tween?…

---Randolph added that even when they are at home getting fat on the sofa, people love to think they are always busy and on the move. “Apple flatters our own mythologies, our secret vision of ourselves as sophisticated and popular with dozens of friends who cannot wait to hear from us. Jobs knows you cannot touch us more deeply than that. “We are, at the end of the day, very simple vulnerable squishy creatures, and Apple does pretty up even the dullest lives.”--- Read More: image:

…Are Apple products just for ‘upper middle class ppl’ who are pretending 2 be rich + cultured + technological?
Do u get crappy iPhone service?
Are Apple products the ultimate sign of a lamestreamer?… Read More:
He ( Walter Benjamin ) holds that the decaying commodity fetishes of the nineteenth-century, buried within Paris’s dilapidated shopping arcades, are critical figures for twentieth century culture because they allude to the fossilization of time in the commodity form. The fossilized commodity is a critical image for Benjamin because it captures the stagnant nature of modernity, highlighting the ways in which nature is reified as a dead and passive construct in the bid to sell the notion of a naturally unfolding historical development, and consequently, to point to the ways in which commodity culture lulls any possibility of real historical change . The once-fashionable commodities of Paris are best characterized as the shells of a mythic, ancient era – extinct pieces of nature unearthed by an archaeological dig. As Susan Buck-Morss argues in The Dialectics of Seeing, Benjamin’s fossil metaphor illuminates the narcotic-like effect of the commodity and its inducement of a profound form of amnesia that enables the perpetual worship of the ever-same as the ever-new . It is a potentially critical image capable of performing a withering optic upon modernity’s phantasmagoric illusions of endless progress, highlighting the ancient, utopian longings for real historical and social change that lies dormant within the commodity form – the seeds of change that are ceaselessly buried in the parade of endlessly new commodity fetishes . Read More:

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