Cobalt in the Congo

The Washington Post has published a very pretty report on the “artisinal” cobalt mines of the Congo, and on the important role of these exploitative and dangerous mines in the global supply chain of high-tech consumer products.

Its a good reminder of what a mess the Congo is in general, and its position in global capitalism.  I wrote a blurb a while back when Amnesty International published a report on child labor in Congo’s cobalt mines, with the main point that unlike a lot of standard liberal narratives about impoverished parts of the global south as being “uncivilized” and in need of Western engagement, the thing to recognize about the Congo is that it is all too integrated with the “civilized” parts of the world.  Violence and exploitation in the cobalt mines is simply a predictable externality of the increasing hunger of a global economy increasingly driven by high-tech products, and decades and decades of imperialist subordination.

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