The Regime of Capitalism (9/9)

When reading Friedrich Engels’ The Condition of the Working Class in England the way the people live in those horrid conditions just have rags to wear, brings up the question just why Capitalism can be so brutal to its own people? Something that really jumped out was that on page 92 stating “The bourgeoisie, on the other hand, is far better off under the present arrangement than under the old slave system; it can dismiss its employees at discretion without sacrificing invested capital, and gets its work done much more cheaply” (Engels 92). in this instance it is saying that slavery is less efficient than simply forcing the working class to fight to live with an unlivable wage is beyond insane. under this society of hierarchy there is no ladder to climb only luck of being born not a working class person. i wonder how a leader could merely allow such poor condition to continue under their regine and what moral backing he must have in order to justify this actions?

2 Replies to “The Regime of Capitalism (9/9)”

  1. To provide a possible answer to your question as to how a leader could allow this to happen, I’m afraid the sad reality is money, money, and more money. At this point, like we examined in class on Tuesday, England’s economy was expanding and growing at an unprecedented rate and there was a huge opportunity to rake in money while technology was being developed, trade and manufacturing were becoming more efficient, and so long as there was a working class willing to accept such poor conditions. The issue with an unlivable wage is that often at the time it led to the working class finding other ways to scrounge up enough money to provide for their families. So long as they were getting paid enough to continue their work and not make it worth either striking or quitting, they were essentially forced to do whatever the Bourgeoisie wanted. A good analogy would be that the wealthy are dangling a carrot in front of a horse, the horse being the working class. There is this promise of more with the great progress being made in innovation at the time, and that promise also likely made people think that eventually good fortune would come their way if they kept working hard enough. In a sense, it was a sense of rationalization and coping through 19th Century trickle down economics. As far as moral backing, the only argument I’d assume they, the wealthy, would have is that they are paving the way for the future and that without sacrifice it would be impossible to move society forward, which is something many industrialists in the U.S. would later use to their defense around the 1870s-the early 1900s. This distancing from the cruelness of their actions was also a form of rationalization, so in that sense an endless reassurance kept things the way they were…at least up to the point where Engels is writing from.

    Also, it says a lot that these same wealth factory owners were in many cases the main force advocating the continuation of American slavery, as well as supporting and helping to arm the Confederacy in the American Civil War so as to keep the price of cotton low for their textile mills. So in light of that, they obviously weren’t exactly compelled by the morals of practically anything.

  2. I would have to also agree with Ian here. The real only explanation why any leader would let their people live in conditions as poor as that is money and greed. It is easy to lose moral sight when all you see ahead of you are dollar signs.

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