Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Age of Empire: Blog 2

In the first part of chapter 5 in The Age of Empire, Hobsbawm explains how this period was a period of economic expansion. Hobsbawm states this time period as a period where the industry was a sort of marriage between manual labor and steam technology. The industry was booming with new technology but old skills such as smiths and locksmiths were still required. The craft journeymen formed the most active and educated group in developing proletariat of early economics. Proletariats are members of a lower social class and this class was growing because there was such an abundance of jobs during this period of economic expansion. So many jobs were opening and many were getting jobs because the industrial labor required no real skills. Coal mining was a major part of the industry because steam was the major source of energy. Cheap work came from the replacement of manual labor with mechanization. Blue-collar workers were now outnumbered. Many areas started working as large firms in plants because this created heavy industry.

From these large firms being created, the development of political groups formed. Socialist labor parties were established as mass forces in Europe. The socialist parties were an important factor in national politics. However, my question is did this great age of industrialization and socialism ever take a turn for the worse? With all these people coming together, there has to be room for conflict. When did it start to turn downhill and how did the huge mass of people stay balanced?


  1. I can't say I have a very expansive knowledge of the world's history, so perhaps as we continue to read Hobsbawm will provide us with some answers. However, I do recall during this reading there was reflection on a great deal of conflict throughout the working class. Unification of socialist labor parties wasn't something that came right away, there was great division between these people who were far from homogeneous. There was a different strata for skilled crafts and of course various social and geographical origin. Also, take the U.S. for example, there were a significant number of workers who were immigrants, all different minorities, which is bound to create so conflict. So I didn't exactly answer your question, but I just found it important that socialism did indeed face a decent amount of division.

  2. I have to believe that Socialism crumbled because the powers that were could not handle the pressure put on them by such Unions. As we see today, Socialism is making a comeback on a political level, but when we look at the political status of the day, they were not ready for such leftist work systems.
    I also agree with Clara that there was simply no unity. Until the Socialist political machines came about, there was little or no protection or leadership for these groups.