The Chinese woman was getting increasingly annoyed at the failure of the Ecuadorian bakery worker’s inability to understand English.
“How big?” she asked pointing at a slab of chocolate cake that she had her eye on.
The young Ecuadorian woman gave her a puzzled look.
“How big?” she asked, the exasperation in her voice registering increasingly higher levels. “The slice.”
After another minute or two of pointing and negotiations, the two were able to come to some understanding. With the exchange finally made, the Chinese woman stormed angrily out the storefront’s door.
The Ecuadorian woman behind the counter winked at me and smiled.
“Why would you go to someone else’s country and get mad at the people because you can’t speak their language?” she asked me rhetorically, in Spanish. I shrugged my shoulders and responded in my broken Spanish: “The Chinese are too much like us Yankees.”
“Worse,” said the young woman.
I’ve been coming to this unremarkable Quito sandwich shop every other day for the past 6 months after discovering that they make the most spectacular turkey sandwich–hold the mayo–in the history of the turkey sandwich. While still not good, my Spanish has improved dramatically over those six months. But never have I articulated anything approaching frustration at the store employees for failing to understand me.
And yet this quotidian confrontation at a sandwich shop in a remote corner in the center of the world represents the shape of things to come. China’s fingerprints are everywhere in Ecuador and across the global South as a whole, as the American Empire fades into our collective rearview mirror. But if this episode of microaggression is any guide, Chinese neo-colonialism, while marginally superior to Western colonialism, will sooner-or-later suffer the same exact fate.
Capitalism is irredeemably broken no matter who wields it because it is a corruption of human relationships, an implicit assumption that capital shall forever be superior to the laborer.
And that is an idea that is simply not long for this world.,