What to Do with Them? Political-Economic Philosophies stemming from the Industrial Revolution in the second half of the 19th Century
Social Darwinism Social Darwinism is the application of Darwin’s theories of evolution, natural selection, and “survival of the fittest” to society as a justification for not helping the weak, powerless and poor. Darwin himself never tried to apply his theories to society, so he, himself is not a “Social Darwinist.” Social Darwinists believe that, just as in the animal kingdom, some are born with natural advantages and some are born with natural disadvantages. This means thatthose with wealth and power deserve these benefits because as superior beings it is only natural that they have them.Others, who are plainly inferior, are clearly not fit for leadership. To try to correct this through aid to the poor would only help the weak survive and reproduce, ultimately harming society. It also explains why it is justified for “superior” nations to dominate “inferior” ones through colonialism and empire.
Individualism Individualistsdo not talk about what causes people to be born in poverty, but discuss why people remain in poverty. They are in a bad position because of poor choices they have made, made earlier in their lives, or their parents made. People remain poor because they are lazy, are not “thrifty” with their earnings, and spend what they earn rather than foregoing immediate pleasure and planning for the future. No one can really help them, since they would waste any aid given to them and would not use it to better themselves or do anything needed to set a foundation for their own long-term well being. Perhaps the government can help people make better life decisions, but ultimately it is each individual’s choices that causing success or failure. Society has many people who have gone from “rags to riches” through hard work and proper use of non-working hours. The individual must use “self-help” and “thrift.” He or she must work hard from early in life, plan for the future, avoid vices such as drinking and gambling, and develop a skill that employers are seeking. Blaming others, wasting time and money, and making destructive choices will not help.
Unionism Trade Unions began to form when it became clear that factory owners would not improve working conditions and salaries out of the goodness of their own hearts, the government had no interest in helping workers, and that individually a worker could do nothing to improve his or her situation as any worker who protested or demanded change was replaceable and could be fired. Collectively, however, if all workers in a factory or an entire industry were to go on strike if their demands were not met (and if other workers agreed not to take their jobs) the owners would have to give in or risk going out of business. Therefore, workers banded together to form a union, which negotiated on behalf of all workers for higher salaries, greater benefits, and better working conditions.It is expected that workers will support their class, and that in solidarity with striking workers, no one will “cross a picket line” to buy that company’s product or to act as a “scab” and take the job of someone on strike .
Democratic Socialism • Proponents of Social Democracy noticed that even in democracies, all popular political parties were dominated by the bourgeoisie and only worked for their own interests; poor people were not represented even when all men could vote. Therefore, workers needed to put aside their differences of religion, ethnicity, and other issues that divided them and form a political party comprised of members of the lower classes who would win elections and make laws in favor of the workers. After all, there were a lot more poor people than rich people. Social Democrats recognized that a lack of money and a lack of free time would make political participation difficult for workers, but they would not gain anything until they stopped complaining in bars after work and began organizing themselves to participate in and win elections. Of course, workers in countries which did not yet give their class the right to vote needed to fight for that right instead of shorter-term goals like higher wages. Social Democrats assumed that a worker-friendly government would pass laws that would favor the workers and level the economic playing field.
(State) Socialism The main idea of Socialism is quite simple. Since Capitalism rewards the “owners” at the expense of the “workers,” it would be fairer to take much of the destructive profit motive out of people’s lives by having the government owning and controlling the parts of the economy with a great effect on people’s livessuch as housing, medical care, banking, factories, the electric and water supplies and public transportation. Examples of this in modern-day America include the interstate highway system and the post office. Since “providing a service for the people” would replace “making as much profit as possible,” people would live better. No one would be able to get insanely rich, but poverty and unemployment could be greatly lessened, and workers would be treated better. “Fairness” and the “common good” would replace the dog-eat-dog world of capitalism. Some Socialists believed the state should control all parts of the economy leaving no private property (Soviet Union, Mao’s China), while others believed that small private shops were okay and only important “heavy” industries should become property of the state.
Communism (Marxism) See outline for much greater detail: E:\Summer West Civ\Week 3\Marxism Outline.docx Since factory owners exploit their workers and the government of the rich has no interest in helping workers, the logical answer is for the working class (the Proletariat) to overthrow the government and seize the factories. The workers would run the factories themselves, and would for the first time share the wealth it creates. Private property would be banned, and everything would be run collectively.
Anarchy Anarchy is a lot like Communism in that both want to see the destruction of the state and freedom given to a classless society. The major difference is that while Communists view the bourgeoisie and the government it controls as the enemies of the people, Anarchists see power itself as the enemy. They see it as inevitable that anyone handed power will make keeping and expanding his or her power their top priority instead of helping the people. Therefore, the only way for people to be free and happy is to get rid of as much authority as possible. 19th-Century Anarchists looked back on happier times in human history before the formation of governments and hoped to recreate it in modern times. Left to themselves, people would have no need to exploit each other.
(Modern) Liberalism Modern Liberals noticed that the “do-nothing state” and laissez-faire economics only benefitted the upper class and “condemned many citizens to [poverty], ignorance, and despair.” (Perry 574) Such hopelessly poor people could never manage to make the most of themselves under such terrible conditions. Therefore, governments have a moral obligation to create conditions where everyone is free to succeed or fail on a level playing field. To increase the chance for everyone to have the opportunity to succeed, governments need to step in and help the poorby ensuring everyone had access to basic housing, health care, and education. Liberals also believe governments need to make sure the upper class is not allowed to exploit the poor, and pushesforprotections for workers such as anti-pollution, minimum wage and an end to child labor. Some freedoms might have to be sacrificed to achieve better equality of opportunity for all.
(Modern) Conservatism Modern Conservatives believe that freedoms should not be sacrificed for well-intentioned efforts to help the poor. They fear that if the state aided the poor, people receiving aid would become dependent on handouts and would lose their incentive to work hard and be self-reliant. “Paternalistic government would cripple the working class morally by turning them into ‘grown-up babies’ who will ‘expect things to be done for them, and not…do things for themselves.’ (Perry 576) Furthermore, once governments begin regulating people’s lives they will never stop. This would eventually turn free people into prisoners or slaves of their government and society. As Herbert Spencer famously said, “The function of Liberalism in the past was putting a limit to the power of kings. The function of [Modern Conservatism] will be that of putting a limit on the power of parliaments.”