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Posted November 15, 2007
For most, Charles Dickens is the only source we've encountered regarding the awful human misery of the early industrial revolution. However, Friedrich Engels and Karl Marx reported on it, too. Indeed, most of their criticisms were far more applicable to the raw capitalism of contemporary England than their native Germany. Engels stayed in Manchester, the premier industrial city of the time, during the early 1840's to research his book. And he produced a devastating indictment of the truly miserable and life-threatening living conditions he found. Unlike Marx, Engels had a pronounced flair for writing he makes it a fascinating, eye-opening journey back through time. The topics he includes cover: struggling labor movements, the denigrating effects of immigration on domestic workers (due to competing subsistence-cost labor), the ignorance and crippling of child workers, the sexual exploitation of women workers, the displacement of male heads of household by lower-cost and more pliant women/children, the unbelievable filth and subhuman housing conditions workers endured, the dangerous and unhealthy working conditions of miners/factory workers, rampant substance abuse, doping of children by babysitters, the total lack of legal redress for the poor, the displacement of labor by machinery, and the role of unbridled competition in perpetrating economic distress. While we all know communism has failed, its rise was due to these very real and serious problems, some of which remain with many Western workers today. And most of these conditions do very much persist in emerging economies right now. So, even though the book is well over 150 years old it is still highly valid! The main fault of course with Marx/Engels' communist philosophy is that ALL humans are greedy and lazy - it's just that the clever ones (whether they originate from 'bourgeous' or 'working' classes) will always exploit the others. And it doesn't matter whether the system is capitalist or communist - those at the top will always exploit those below for personal advantage. Probably the best response has been the progressive social reform in Western nations over the last 100 years. (Revolutions and dictatorships usually only lead to mass murder.)Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 5, 2013
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