Thursday, October 8, 2009

Power of the World Workers

A wave of industrialization has spread in the years spanning 1870 to 1914. Hobsbawm speaks of rapid growth in manual labor and a decrease in agriculture and craftsman workers. Jobs multiplied in gas, water, sewage, mines, and many more occupations listed through Chapter Five, eventually organizing the working class. To get an idea according to Hobsbawm two-thirds of workers in cities over 100,000 people worked in industrial occupations. Thus, with the majority of the people being blue collar, the organization of a unified political party became primary focus, at least where there was democratic and electoral politics that allowed it. The working classes goal was to form a socialist or labor party, in which it had control in government. My question then, referred to in class, is why did the workers not succeed in creating “worker’s utopia?”
Working class parties began to grow powerful with the goal of emancipation of the workers and what seems as enslaving the exploiters. Revolution being the number one priority, made capitalists and their states increasingly worried. We can see clearly the rise of the working class but unifying the working class into one homogeneous party is nearly impossible. Hobsbawm describes the riffs between these labor parties and how disputes constantly undermined their ultimate goals. One example of this is equivalent groups trying to monopolize in a certain kind of work, causing uninvolved workers in inter-occupational strikes. This is just one of many, as nationality, culture, language, and religion also played significant roles in fragmenting the working class.
Another reason consisting of nationality, language, culture, and religion played another role in crushing the hope of having one unified working class. Hobsbawm refers to several incidents of these barriers. An example of this is Bohemia Czech workers resisting integration in pan-Austrian movement, primarily involving workers of German speech. This only serves to re- illustrate how culture, nationally, and language server to split the working class. This however did not make it an impossible thought to unify a working class, but did set forth great difficulties. Reasons mentioned before and conflicts that crossed class lines, seemed to make for the impossibility.
One last possibility is the formation of trade unions, which serve as a political class consciousness. Basically the political pressure that helped in utilizing workshop strength essentially was the only method used; coupled along with this are the strikes in the transportation field, and metal working. They were large and thinly populated making it hard to unite. The transportation sector did not actually have labor unions, but when on a strike dramatically affected economies. My main point is working class is all but impossible to unify in one homogeneous socialist group.
The workers of the world had the potential to accomplish their goals, yet they fell short. A few key components to their failure of “workers utopia” are religion, culture, nationality, labor unions, strikes, divisions between labor classes and many more led to the non-homogenous system. A system in which many socialist labor parties existed in fragmentation of the evolving world. My next question then would be, how the world would differ today had they accomplished in making a “workers utopia?”

No comments:

Post a Comment