Thursday, October 8, 2009

Hobsbawm Ch. 4-5

In this week's reading, Hobsbawm discusses the rise of the proletariat, or the working class people and the impact this had in evolving global politics during the 19th century. The expansion of the working class led many aristocrats to fear that their governments would turn to communism. Hobsbawm quotes Aristotle and said he claimed democracy was the government of the mass of the people, who were, on the whole, poor. Although there were many fears, democratization was unavoidable. Thus, bourgeois societies would try to manipulate democratic pol tics to favor their views. For instance, they would manipulate the votes by adding weighted electoral colleges and other institutions, such as additional votes for citizens with higher education or more wealth. In addition, powerful landlords would put pressure on voters by being present at the scene. Although bourgeois society would do their best to manipulate votes, their impact was not that great. The working class was still growing, whether they liked it or not and they were now considered the greatest mass of political action.
The most interesting part of this reading to me was how the working class grew so rapidly and how they managed to override the ruling class, even when there were many attempts to manipulate them. I also thought it was interesting when Hobsbawm explained how many controversies, horizontally and vertically, the working class had within it, but how they were still united under this universal notion of being a working class citizen. One thing I am not extremely clear on was how the working class expanded so quickly? I understand it had factors to do with urbanization, industrialization, and migration, but I wasn't sure if this was it or not?

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you that the working class did explode onto the screen due to the increase in industrialization, the expansion of the globalilzing market, migration, and urbanization. But how long were they really united? I feel like the reason they had to fight so long and so hard was because they lacked really homogeneity. Yes they united under the universal notion, but how long can that last? The differences and internal controversies eventually cripple the impact the working class could of had.