Assembly Required

China’s masses of production

Photograph: Michael Wolf

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Chinese factory workers

“Since 1979, when Deng Xiaoping unleashed capitalism on his vast but introverted nation,” the Financial Times noted recently, “China has conquered the world not with its armies but with its factories.” A legion of low-cost workers is driving the country’s staggering economic growth and transforming the global economy.

Hong Kong-based photographer Michael Wolf has spent the last 10 years documenting mainland China and its workers. Wolf aims to show the human presence behind the masses of Barbies, bobbleheads, and other made-in-China bric-a-brac that the world consumes each day–and to shine a light on the practices of the country’s industrial workplaces. Those factories are notorious for Dickensian conditions. But Wolf’s photos expose China’s other secrets of productivity, such as the heavy regimentation that marches employees onto the factory floor like an invading army with each new shift.

The facility pictured here manufactures industrial air conditioners. “I was trying to capture the feeling of discipline and mass,” Wolf says. “This is a very successful, privately run company, and the CEO places great value on discipline and order.”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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