How can this boy on the end of a diving board help being compared and contrasted with the millions of child labourers in India and other places, at the sweaty end of the Primark profit-chain? How can the sight of this child with the eyes of the world on him not remind us of the millions of lives which are destroyed each year so that we can cheer ourselves up cheaply with a new shirt or dress every week, so that consumerism can get its quick fix behind the bikesheds?
The answer to both questions must be because it must seem natural to us that these lives are destroyed. Otherwise, we would never shop again with confidence. Just as it seems natural and worthy that India is now a rich and powerful country, with a growing oligarchy of billionaires, and a market presence to be proud of.
It is also natural that with access to such token wage bills, Indian entrepreneurs should attract manufacturing jobs away from the west, causing unemployment, but at the same time, making unemployment more tolerable by reducing the cost of clothes in Primark. And naturally, unemployment is more tolerable in Britain than in India because we have a welfare state. So isn't it time India had one too? Now that she is an embryonic super power. In fact, isn't it time that the western business cabals started demanding that India bear its fair share of global poverty, and allow the jam of manufacturing employment to be spread a little thinner but a little wider. In other words, it is time that the CBI started lecturing India (and China) on social policies it would once have described as socialist.
This is assuming, of course, that the likes of the CBI do not relish the prospect of India sliding into a form of Neo-Feudalism, based essentially on slave labour - because if they are prepared to accept that political model in India, why should we assume they would be hostile to it in Britain? Especially as it seems to be so profitable. In fact, why should Digby Jones have any problems with the Chinese political model, given how stable and long-lasting it obviously is.
Whatever muffled outburts of defiance we get to see in the smoggy Beijing august, it's safe to predict that there won't be many demands for fair housing benefit and access to universal trade union rights from many western media machines. And yet without this economic safety net, a system based on a vote every 5 years is a pale imitation of democracy, and can still run on slavery, as India, the biggest democracy of all, shows.
Beijing Olympics 2008