The Age of the Empire
“A proletarian life, a proletarian death, and cremation in the spirit of cultural progress.” This was the motto of the Austrian Workers’ Funeral Association, ‘The Flame,’ in the early 1900s. A proletarian was used to describe a person who occupied the proletariat class in the late 19th century. This was the lowest or poorest class of people, who possessed no capital or property, and usually earned their living in the labor, or agriculture field. At the end of the 19th century, the labor class was rising at a rate that would soon become a majority, especially in the USA, where office, shop, and service workers outnumbered blue-collar workers. Also in the United States, agriculture was rapidly evolving and modernizing. This modernized farming meant fewer hands were needed, because industrialized forms of agriculture were in place. This proved problematic for the unmodernized agricultural lands in the back regions of the States that couldn’t provide sufficient land for the number of hands that would be required to farm the land.
Industry was also modernizing at this time, as machine and factory production replaced the handicraft methods that were used to make the majority of urban consumer goods. This considerably hurt the masses of artisans, as their presence in the labor force greatly declined. At the same time, however, the number of proletarians in the industrializing economies grew at a rapid rate; due to the limitless demand for labor in a period o economic expansion. It was easy to find workers for industrial labor at this time, because it was unmechanized and required no particular skills. Because of this, individuals with no experience in the industrial labor sector found work, and the numbers of such workers multiplied rapidly as output rose.
As the end of the nineteenth century neared, one thing was clear: there was a rapid advance of the armies of industry, and within each town, an advance of industrial specialization. There was an unprecedented growth of laboring people in industrial, industrializing, and urbanizing countries who formed a group that had potential to one day become a majority.
It is now the 21st century, and it is clear that industry did indeed continue to grow. In addition to this, unmodernized, or less modernized, agricultural lands continued to find hardships. An example of the struggle experienced by many agrarians can be seen by looking at the United States agriculture sector. With the recent economic turmoil of our economy, farms that used to thrived started to especially struggle because they relied on traditional methods of farming, and were unable to fund the more modern, technological methods that today’s agricultural sector requires. Because of this, farmers suffered economically and many had to cease farming as an occupation. Although the original quote of this blog references the life of a farmer in the late 19th century, “a proletarian life, a proletarian death, and cremation in the spirit of cultural progress,” very well sums up a lot of the struggles our population is still experiencing due to economic hardships and high demands of production that cannot be met in unmodernized areas of production.