EPILOGUE
THE REVENGE OF THE IRON CHINK
Capital is not a thing, but a social relation between
persons which is mediated through things.
—Karl Marx, Capital
Figure E.1 is a fish-butchering machine that is on permanent display
at the Royal British Columbia Museum, located in my hometown of
Victoria, British Columbia. On the other side of the machine, not
visible here, its name appears in large, capital letters: “IRON CHINK.”
The machine was built by the Victoria Machinery Depot in 1909 and
replaced a crew of thirty butchers. As indicated on the information
placard at the exhibit, “it processed about 60 fish per minute, remov-
ing tail and fins, slicing open the belly and scraping out the guts.”1 It
was named the Iron Chink for the Chinese butchery crews it replaced
in salmon canneries along the Pacific coast, a machine capable of gut-
ting salmon at a rate of sixty to seventy-five fish per minute with a
crew of only three laborers. As Geoff Meggs explains, “Before 1900,
twenty-five men could handle only 1,500 to 2,000 fish in a ten-hour
day. Now a single iron butcher could keep two canning lines amply
supplied with a fraction of the labour.”2 Today the Iron Chink resides
in the museum as a relic of early industrial innovation and accom-
panying racial attitudes.
I offer this concluding example of the Iron Chink because it serves
as an unusual corollary to the example of the 2012 controversy over
the erased Asian scientist from the Canadian hundred-dollar-bill that
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