Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Why Capitalism and Industrialization is Immoral

The following is an essay I wrote for my high school history class on why the capitalistic system is immoral and industrialization is destructive.

The term “communism” refers to German philosopher Karl Marx’s economic system of absolute socialism. It involves the elimination of a social-class system and a formal government. In a communist society, all property is shared among the people. Communism is opposed to capitalism, which is Adam Smith’s economic system of a free market with no government intervention on the economy. Capitalism has been responsible for major social and economic problems throughout history. The dismal conditions and inequalities of the Industrial Revolution were a direct result of capitalism. Capitalism is intended to create prosperity through competition; however, the Great Depression was a result of the capitalistic system. As capitalism has caused major social and economic problems, communism provides a more ethical alternative to capitalism because it provides regulations to prevent inequalities, controls recessions and stop plight

A capitalistic economic system was responsible for the rapid urbanization of the Industrial Revolution and the poor living and working conditions associated with it. By 1850, the once agrarian English town of Manchester evolved into a behemoth textile-manufacturing town of 300,000 as a result of industrialization. Although urbanization was responsible for producing cheap goods, it caused dismal working and living conditions. Industrialized cities were filthy, dangerous places without development and sanitary regulations. Piles of trash heaped up outside of one-room apartments where entire families were sheltered. An 1842 study found that the average life span was 17 in an urban area as opposed to 38 in agrarian regions. Working conditions were dangerous too. The average worker spent 14 hours a day working for six days a week. Machines used for production often injured workers. Children as young as six joined the factories of Manchester, working hours of backbreaking labor with few breaks. Another study found that coal miners on average lived ten years shorter than other workers. These dismal conditions were the result of the capitalistic system. The proletariat workers served as an easily replaceable resource for employers to maximize profits. If a worker was injured and made unable to work, he could be replaced with a physically competent laborer. Industrialization and its detrimental aspects were products of capitalism. Given a controlled communist system, urban plight would be kept under tight control, thus, making communism more effective than capitalism in this regard.

Proponents of capitalism believe that economic freedom leads to progress and prosperity, but the presence of recessions disproves this. Adam Smith believed that removing government intervention in the economy guaranteed economic progress and social mobility. In his 1776 book The Wealth of Nations, he stated that the development of new technologies is a result of competitive self-interest; companies compete against each other for the consumer’s money. In this corporate competition, producers try to produce goods that are cheaper and more advanced than their competitors. The hope that the free market would bring economic prosperity was disproven in the early 1930s. After World War I, there were economic recessions worldwide in Germany, America, France and Britain. America’s unregulated capitalism was partially to blame for this. The free-market system bred competition between companies, thus, producers produced more goods than customers could consume. This lessened demand for products so that companies were unable to sell them, thus, companies lost more money than they made. Overproduction led to the failure of the companies involved, thus, leading to the U.S. Stock Market crash of October 1929. In the following decade, the entire U.S. economy had collapsed, leading to the Great Depression. This historical event directly contradicts Adam Smith’s statement that competition breeds economic growth. The economic flux of capitalism is opposed to the economic stability that communism provides in theory. Indeed, the total regulation held within communism does take away liberty from citizens, but surrendering that freedom brings economic security.

Rampant inequalities throughout history have been caused by and associated with capitalism. For example, in 1929, 5% of Americans held 33% of all income made nationally while 60% of Americans made only $2000 a year. This meant that the majority of the population could not support the economy because they were too poor to purchase the produced products. In addition, Marx stated that the production of profits preceded the welfare of laborers for the bourgeoisie. Capitalistic philosophers like Smith and Ricardo supported this view, opposing minimum wage laws and better working conditions, fearing that they would disrupt the free-market system and the production of wealth. The capitalistic system stemmed workplace-reform, while the regulated economy of communism would have brought about such reforms far more quickly. Capitalistic philosophers state that the development of inventions like the steam engine and the factory system are products of the free-market system. This is true. However, the advent of the factory system was the cause of urban disarray as evidenced by the textile mills of Manchester. Manchester’s rapid evolution into an industrial city was responsible for its problems. Frequent epidemics caused by unsanitary conditions were a sight to be acknowledged. The city was devoid of police protection, indoor plumbing and public education. Communist countries like Sweden remedy this problem by providing socialized education and utilities funded by tax money. These services prevented the plight of the poor without damaging liberty. Finally, Adam Smith states that an unregulated economy allows for social mobility. However, this does not account for the fact that the inefficiency of capitalism slows social mobility. Parents like Hannah Richardson were paid so little money that they sent children like William Drury to work in brutal conditions to fill that deficit. Because the children work in factories, they cannot go to school and receive higher paying jobs and thus, tie their families down to poverty. Drury’s testimony at the 1840 Parliamentary Commission on Coal Mining proves this. He stated that his had to forgo school to make his family a living. Acknowledging that capitalism and the pursuit of profit were the cause of these problems, a communist economic system is far more ethical than the free-market.

Even today, communism remains to provide more ethical and fair ideals than capitalism. The dismal working conditions, recessions and alienated labor of the Industrial Revolution are just as present today as they were back then. With the regulations and restrictions imposed by the U.S. government, manufacturing corporations have turned to outsourcing production to nations without labor laws. For example, Nike dominates 47% of the sneaker industry, enjoying profits of $3.77 billion. To create these profits, Nike has taken advantage of the lack of economic control in Asian countries and established hundreds of sweatshops. Using child labor from people as young as five in Pakistan and Malaysia to produce sports equipment throughout the 1990s, labor conditions are tantamount to those found in Manchester during the Industrial Revolution. These practices are a product of the lack of economic regulation in Asia; corporations are allowed to commit unethical actions to maximize profit. Considering the remaining presence of business practices like these in the 21st century, two centuries after they were born in the Industrial Revolution, communism is absolutely more ethical and effective than capitalism because it prevents those conditions through regulations.


Anonymous said...

nonsense propaganda

Anonymous said...

This article is total garbage