Progress and Conflict in the New Industrial Order History 17B Lecture 3
Spirit of Individualism • “Rags to Riches” stories • Horatio Alger’s characters embraces individualism • Hard work pays off.
Mainstream Ideals Andrew Carnegie J.P. Morgan John D. Rockefeller • Captains of industry embody individualist philosophy. • Both political parties argue for minimal government interference. • Except to help big business and ensure cheap labor. • Federal government sought to unite nation into a single economic unit.
Rich in Resources Iron Ore, Oil, Gold, etc. Steel and capital goods Transportation Railroads allow for movement of goods. Refrigerator car (1877). The New Industrial Economy Bessemer Process
Mechanization Minimize costs and maximize profits. Replace or augment human labor. Sell more goods cheaply AND at a profit. Scientific Management (aka “Taylorism”) Reduce tasks to a minimum of movement directed by one authority. Management holds monopoly of knowledge. Non-skilled, cheap labor performs simple, repetitive tasks. (Assembly line.) Business Efficiency Frederick Taylor
Massive fortunes Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gould, and Vanderbilt Critics Capitalists who extracted wealth from economic system while adding nothing to it. Defenders Industrial statesmen; symbols of the individualist creed, Robber Barons Carnegie Gould Vanderbilt Rockefeller
Disparity in Wealth Gap between rich and poor In 1890 Top 1% of population owned 25% of nation’s wealth Top 10% of population owned 75% of nation’s wealth Was individualist creed a justification for wealth and exploitation? Individualism
Carnegie’s “Gospel of Wealth” Rich should help the poor help themselves. Donate to cultural, educational, and scientific endeavors. Social Darwinism Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner’s theories of “survival of the fittest.” The rich are the most fit. Government shouldn’t interfere with natural process. Individualism
Laissez-Faire • Government takes a backseat to business in economy. • Belief that individuals dependent on government will lose freedom. • Myth of Laissez-Faire and Big Business • Protection from overseas competition • Laws to facilitate corporate financial growth “What a funny little government”, 1900
Danger of decreased competition. Capitalism can lead to monopoly and concentration of wealth. Monopolies Reduce competition, control production, and set prices. Free Markets and Competition
Consequences to the Worker • Karl Marx and Worker Alienation • Workers have nothing to sell but their labor which is subject to price fluctuations like any other commodity. • Workers merely a cog in the machine
146 people (mostly women and children) die in factory fire Doors locked to keep women in and union organizers out. Fire escapes poorly made. 146 people killed. Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, 1911
Child Labor • By 1900, 1.7 million children working • 60 hours per week in mines, glass factories, sweat shops, farms. • Poor parents often had no choice.
Great Strike of 1877 100,000 railroad workers strike when wages cut 10% Strikes spread across country into all industries. Crushed but contributes to building a labor consciousness. Labor’s Challenge
Knights of Labor A “cooperative commonwealth” open to all of the producing class Promotes broad social reform. 730,000 members (1886) American Federation of Labor (AFL) Open only to skilled workers for more bargaining power. Samuel Gompers and “pure and simple unionism” 130,000 members (1886) Labor Unions Samuel Gompers
Many radical Socialists and Anarchists who believe reform of capitalism is futile. Anarchist rally turns into police riot in Haymarket Square, Chicago. Anarchists and Labor Unions are blamed. Knights of Labor folds but AFL gains strength. Haymarket Riot of 1886
State violence weakens unions. Homestead Steel (1892) and Pullman (1894) strikes both broken by state militia and federal troops. Strike leaders and sympathetic town officials arrested on charges of riot, murder, and treason. The Use of State Violence
Tactics were one of direct action through strikes and sabotage to spark a worker’s uprising. Industrial Workers of the World A radical western labor union focusing on unskilled workers. IWW (Wobblies)
American Radicalism The new industrial order would not commence without challenges from American workers.