In this week’s reading, Hobsbawm discussed the working class of the 19th and early 20th centuries and their role in politics and democratization. The 19th century up through WWl was a time of major social, economic, and political turmoil. The working class was growing rapidly; with industry, new jobs were being created but wages and conditions were the cause of the proletariat’s outrage. As the proletariat class began to establish themselves by organizing labor and trade unions, and even socialist political parties, they began to pose a threat to the upper class, the aristocracy, and the political systems in each respective country.
Certainly, gradual democratic-like changes were being made all over. Workers everywhere were drawn together by their similar economic conditions and inhumane treatment. Laborers were motivated to improve their situation for their own well-being and for the future of their children. Marxist ideas flourished throughout the west.
Although there was attempt to unify under 1 labor union calling for wage increases and working condition regulations, 1 union was impossible due to different regions/ cultures/ and languages. Also, although both agrarian and industrialized groups were in the same situation; their needs were different; therefore, unifying was an impossible task. Instead, many small labor unions formed, slowly change was conceived. Eventually, rulers were overthrown/ voting became more easily accessible, leaders were addressing the proletariats. This was the beginning of democracy the way we know it today.
Yesterday (Wednesday), in class we discussed how never before in history people took such drastic action to change their government/ way of life. It wasn’t as if conditions were never this bad, think; famine, slavery, etc., I just don’t understand WHY now? We discussed religious impact, and a few other factors, yet I think there is more than just that.