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The Condition of the Working Class in England (LibriVox Audiobook)

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This is Engels' first book (since considered a classic account of England's working class in the industrial age), which argues that workers paid a heavy price for the industrial revolution that swept the country. Engels wrote the piece while staying in Manchester from 1842 to 1844, based on th bohis observations and several contemporary reports conducted over the period. ( This is Engels' first book (since considered a classic account of England's working class in the industrial age), which argues that workers paid a heavy price for the industrial revolution that swept the country. Engels wrote the piece while staying in Manchester from 1842 to 1844, based on th bohis observations and several contemporary reports conducted over the period. (Summary by Cathy Barratt)


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This is Engels' first book (since considered a classic account of England's working class in the industrial age), which argues that workers paid a heavy price for the industrial revolution that swept the country. Engels wrote the piece while staying in Manchester from 1842 to 1844, based on th bohis observations and several contemporary reports conducted over the period. ( This is Engels' first book (since considered a classic account of England's working class in the industrial age), which argues that workers paid a heavy price for the industrial revolution that swept the country. Engels wrote the piece while staying in Manchester from 1842 to 1844, based on th bohis observations and several contemporary reports conducted over the period. (Summary by Cathy Barratt)

30 review for The Condition of the Working Class in England (LibriVox Audiobook)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    I’ve read bits of this before, but never the whole thing. In part, you probably wouldn’t read this now, because Marx covers a lot of the same ground in the first volume of Capital - and the stuff here is perhaps what many people would use to say, ‘at least Capitalism isn’t as bad as it was back then’. And Engels’ description of the horrors of the work houses, for instance - how people would literally starve themselves to death rather than go to them - make it difficult to find a comparable place I’ve read bits of this before, but never the whole thing. In part, you probably wouldn’t read this now, because Marx covers a lot of the same ground in the first volume of Capital - and the stuff here is perhaps what many people would use to say, ‘at least Capitalism isn’t as bad as it was back then’. And Engels’ description of the horrors of the work houses, for instance - how people would literally starve themselves to death rather than go to them - make it difficult to find a comparable place of horror in developed capitalist countries today. But you just need to read a book like No Logo to see that we have exported these horrors of early capitalism to the developing world where these continue on as before. Or Castells’ books that make it clear that the role that the Irish played in suppressing the wages of English workers is now being done all over the world today by endless surplus populations, with the added disadvantage that, as Bauman says, the world is now also full - there no longer being an Australia or United States to send our surplus populations off to. A significant proportion of this book is a catalogue of horrors - but the book sets about ending on an up note. Engels was only 24 when I wrote this book, and he believes that the working class in England, so utterly dejected, simply will not put up with the treatment that is being meted out to them. Rather, they will eventually rise up and end class society forever. This sort of optimism is evident throughout. In the main he sees two great forces coming into play that will push capitalism aside. The first is the rising levels of education that the working class - mostly due to their own efforts - are achieving. The idea being that an educated working class will have the capacity to be able to understand that the system is stacked against them and to be able to do something about it. He was young - he didn’t realise just how much education can be used as a means to indoctrinate as well as liberate. It has proven much better at indoctrination than it has in providing the kinds of critical consciousness skills Engels was hoping it might. The other was the Chartist movement - he imagined that once working people had the right to vote that would amount to them being able to vote in their interests and therefore vote away both master and king. He was quite convinced that working class life itself made an interest in those who flaunted their wealth - royalty, the clergy, the capitalist class - impossible and that democratic power would be the end of all inequality. If only it could all have been so simple. You couldn’t really write a book like this today. Well, you could, but you couldn’t do it focused on only one country. You see, Engels looked at England because it was the most advanced capitalist country and he made it clear that the future of the rest of Europe was what could be witnessed in England at that time. Today, you need to consider the global interconnections of the world. The division of labour is extreme today in ways Engels could never have imagined. But the cruelty and inhumanity of that division of labour he would have no problem in recognising at all. I don’t know if I could ‘recommend’ this book - it is beautifully written, and often fascinating, but the subject matter is agonising to read - whenever women are mentioned in particular things become unspeakably horrible. This gets criticised in The Making of the English Working Class - mostly for focusing too much on Manchester, the most developed city in terms of ‘factory’ labour - but this really is quite a book, especially given how young Engels was when he researched and wrote it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    I am a democratic socialist in the tradition of Aneurin Bevan and Harold Wilson . But this book as a work of history for anyone studying the circumstances of the working class in Britain at the time this is indispensable As a historian Engels was brilliant. The fact is that the Industrial Revolution was a terrible thing and the treatment by the aristocracy and middle classes in Britain in the 19th century was in some ways worse than slavery in the colonies. As Engels points out on this volume at lea I am a democratic socialist in the tradition of Aneurin Bevan and Harold Wilson . But this book as a work of history for anyone studying the circumstances of the working class in Britain at the time this is indispensable As a historian Engels was brilliant. The fact is that the Industrial Revolution was a terrible thing and the treatment by the aristocracy and middle classes in Britain in the 19th century was in some ways worse than slavery in the colonies. As Engels points out on this volume at least the masters for reasons of self-interest made sure the slaves were fed, whereas the British working class at this time were often deliberately starved to death. The British proletariat at the time were kept in densely packed filthy conditions in very small dwellings, scantily furnished in which entire families were forced onto straw serving for beds in the most revolting conditions, filled with vermin, were subject to starvation, death and suffering from overwork and disease and severe malnourishment The majority of children of this class did not live beyond five years of age. Factory workers often worked 18 hours a day and the conditions were dangerous as well as filthy, often workers dying from being caught by machines or from inhaling toxic substances which they were forced to work with women and children were often the worst off, with children of as young as four being sent down mines or working in factories , almost all children working long hours by nine years of age. The workhouses were designed to be particular places of cruelty ensured to make sure people would find other ways to survive other than going to these places to survive. People here were worked to death, existed on a bare subsistence on nourishing food and children as young as four and five punished by sleeping in mortuaries on top of coffins for bed wetting or not working sufficiently hard to my way of thinking this history makes it an injustice that the liberal and left descendants of the middle classes should force the English working class descendants of those oppressed to suffer from 'positive discrimination' , as the native British working classes in truth have historically suffered as much as the descendants of Third world immigrants who are often given preferential treatment by the elites in Britain. If Blacks deserve reparations for slavery, then the equally miserable and cruel treatment of the British working classes at this time should entitle them to the same thing. The basic problem is that the privileged left and liberal elite are no longer interested in class equity or the basic rights of the British working class but only in 'diversity' which is a farcical label for favoring the third world exotic brown immigrants and persecuting and demonizing the local white working class who they label as chavs-not worthy in the eyes of the left/liberal toffs of having their suffering, feelings or rights considered. The British working class suffered as much in the Industrial Revolution as the Blacks did under slavery but are still suffering with the privileged elite classes using pc propaganda and favouring of the third world exotic browns against them. Britain's indigenous working classes are put last in line for employment, council housing, health care, education and bank loans in favour of the exotic Third world immigrants (especially Muslims) favoured by the pc left elites. . Those who are flabbergasted at discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality of religion (unless of course you attack Jews for being 'Zionists' or attack Israelis-that is acceptable among the chattering classes) think nothing of attacking the British working class and lumpenproletriat as chavs. This also translates to a politically correct anti-white racism. White British young people who suffer as a result of social problems such as juvenile crime, drug addiction , and teenage pregnancy, as well as child prostitution, and come from broken homes no longer elicit sympathy from the liberal and left elites who consider the white underclass the lowest of the low, not worth saving or empathizing with, whereas they would have the utmost sympathy and support for Third world immigrant youth under the same circumstances. The liberal and left elites now use the race card against he white under classes and point out since the latter are supposedly 'racist' and 'bigoted' they must be punished for this and are the unworthy poor as compared to the impoverished people of colour who are deemed worthy of empathy and upliftment. This amounts to an inverse racism whereby the classes that have so long suffered since the Industrial Revolution and who came under sustained attack under Thatcher are now being made victims again at the hands of the leftist and liberal elites now in charge of Britain, including the media, local councils and the courts. So the neo-Marxists are oppressing the very people Engles here was championing-how ironic

  3. 4 out of 5

    E. G.

    Maps Introduction, by Tristram Hunt To the Working Classes of Great Britain Preface to the First German Edition Preface to the English Edition --The Condition of the Working Class in England Epilogue, by Victor Kiernan Chronology Further Reading Index

  4. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Pickstone

    Engels' study of the working class in Manchester in the 19th century. Personally, Engels was the hero not Marx - and is also the more accessible writer. This is a fascinating account of what it was to be working class at that time. It is a classic of whatever genre you wish to ascribe it to, very readable (this is at least my 5th re-read, for a challenge). Engels' study of the working class in Manchester in the 19th century. Personally, Engels was the hero not Marx - and is also the more accessible writer. This is a fascinating account of what it was to be working class at that time. It is a classic of whatever genre you wish to ascribe it to, very readable (this is at least my 5th re-read, for a challenge).

  5. 4 out of 5

    Clif

    The only reason I don't give this book five stars is that a good part of it is filled with a detailed account of the very thing it is supposed to be about - the awful condition of the workers. How can that be a liability? It is because you don't need to know all the details today. You can get an excellent idea of the conditions by reading just a few pages - long hours, dangerous machinery, no sick leave, poor nutrition, freezing or hot work environment, preying upon women by overseers, fines or f The only reason I don't give this book five stars is that a good part of it is filled with a detailed account of the very thing it is supposed to be about - the awful condition of the workers. How can that be a liability? It is because you don't need to know all the details today. You can get an excellent idea of the conditions by reading just a few pages - long hours, dangerous machinery, no sick leave, poor nutrition, freezing or hot work environment, preying upon women by overseers, fines or firing for being a few minutes late, awful deformities from long hours on the job at ages far too young, terrible housing with rats and sewage, breathing coal dust or lint all day long. I did wade through it all but I advise you to skim the parts describing specific conditions to get to what I think is the meat of the book: Engels' lucid account of the political and social movements of the time. This includes a description of the Poor Laws and their rationale that will immediately put you in mind of the Clinton welfare reforms - it is exactly the same. You'll get a definition of the Chartists and the Socialists and a recalling of the events of the great labor strike of 1844 that closed the mines of England, all worth reading carefully with more modern times in mind. Engels writes of free trade - England in relation to America in 1844 is startlingly like America in relation to China in the 21st century - free trade is knocking down wages, business is going elsewhere, owners are claiming they have no choice but to move due to competition. Same story with 168 years in between. Engels would not be surprised - his view was that it is the capitalist system of competition that pits one worker against every other and each company against its competitors in industry that makes the problems of the working people and the income gap inevitable. This view was, of course, shared with Karl Marx (see my review of Love and Capital). Both men did not advocate violence, but did not see how it could be avoided in the transition from capitalism to communism. They thought the bourgeoisie (property owners) would never be willing to give up their privileged position for the good of their fellow men, and therefor would not hesitate to use violence by the police and army to prevent any change. This was confirmed by the events following the publication of this book in the Revolution of 1848 and the reactionary response. Engels speaks of the deference given to the gentleman by the police and the courts in contrast to the assembly line "justice" for the poor. Judges apologize for taking the time of the well-to-do who appear before them even while harshly sentencing the destitute after perfunctory hearings. This remains exactly the same today. Read the excellent book, Courtroom 302, if you doubt it. The question remains - how to divide up the wealth within society. Then, as now, the few (now known as the 1%) have things their way because money is power and that entrenches high position. The intervening years have improved the lot of the working man (and woman) compared to 1844, but does anyone doubt that we are now heading back? Look at England today compared to the time of its glory in the late 1800's. Engels correctly identifies competition as the culprit. While not denying that it brings good things materially, it brings them disproportionately to a minority. Mitt Romney speaks of his wife's two Cadillacs without a second thought because he lives within the world of the 1%, heir to a politically powerful father and as far removed from the working man as he could be though he wants their votes to confirm him in power. Competition for labor drives down wages. The unions were a stopgap to prevent this, but their day is over with membership having declined for decades and a revulsion for unions even by those who would benefit from them. And in their prime did the unions provide a solution? Margaret Thatcher lead a successful conservative counterattack because England had become effectively paralyzed by unionism that produced shoddy products and held up prices for the many who were not members. Competition between companies drives them to reduce labor costs as much as possible to remain in business. Engels admits this is a fact, that it does produce lower prices in the end product and that it is not attributable to greed by the owners. However, in such an environment it is the avaricious ferocious competitor who will be rewarded, the one who sees winning as everything. Think of Ken Lewis buying up everything in sight, destroying Bank of America in the process for pure ego. A society that puts such people at the top, that cultivates them, is playing with fire. Anyone who has seen American movies will know the well worn theme of the kid who overcomes hardships to end up #1 in some area or another. We all cheer for the kid and the movies ignore the many who don't make the grade, unless to cast them as villains. This seems harmless enough until one realizes that it is propaganda for competition, missing the greater lesson that only a few can reach the top and that society is made up of everyone, not just the select few who get the gold medals. The object of the Horatio Alger story is to get everyone thinking that they will be one of the winners with only hard work - and for those who fail to win to take the blame upon themselves, not seeing they are among the mass of people with something in common, the simple need to make a living. To be myopic about winning is to forget that a huge pool of "losers" is inherent and necessary in the system. For the one who gets much there must be many who get little. This is why the "you are unique and special" mantra is so important in schools; it primes children to strive against others. Despite the constant refrain that we should all help each other, there's no gold medal for that. When you line up for a job application, helping your fellows doesn't get you that job. Both workers and owners must compete and so it will always be until another way of organizing society economically comes. Engels might be dismayed to know that there was a major effort at communism that failed miserably, but maybe not - he was an optimist. But for us, his modern readers, the problem remains with no solution in sight. Occupy Wall Street participants please take note. What do you recommend as an alternative to capitalism?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    I am a democratic socialist in the tradition of Aneurin Bevan and Harold Wilson . But this book as a work of history for anyone studying the circumstances of the working class in Britain at the time this is indispensable As a historian Engels was brilliant. The fact is that the Industrial Revolution was a terrible thing and the treatment by the aristocracy and middle classes in Britain in the 19th century was in some ways worse than slavery in the colonies. As Engels points out on this volume at lea I am a democratic socialist in the tradition of Aneurin Bevan and Harold Wilson . But this book as a work of history for anyone studying the circumstances of the working class in Britain at the time this is indispensable As a historian Engels was brilliant. The fact is that the Industrial Revolution was a terrible thing and the treatment by the aristocracy and middle classes in Britain in the 19th century was in some ways worse than slavery in the colonies. As Engels points out on this volume at least the masters for reasons of self-interest made sure the slaves were fed, whereas the British working class at this time were often deliberately starved to death. The British proletariat at the time were kept in densely packed filthy conditions in very small dwellings, scantily furnished in which entire families were forced onto straw serving for beds in the most revolting conditions, filled with vermin, were subject to starvation, death and suffering from overwork and disease and severe malnourishment The majority of children of this class did not live beyond five years of age. Factory workers often worked 18 hours a day and the conditions were dangerous as well as filthy, often workers dying from being caught by machines or from inhaling toxic substances which they were forced to work with women and children were often the worst off, with children of as young as four being sent down mines or working in factories , almost all children working long hours by nine years of age. The workhouses were designed to be particular places of cruelty ensured to make sure people would find other ways to survive other than going to these places to survive. People here were worked to death, existed on a bare subsistence on nourishing food and children as young as four and five punished by sleeping in mortuaries on top of coffins for bed wetting or not working sufficiently hard to my way of thinking this history makes it an injustice that the liberal and left descendants of the middle classes should force the English working class descendants of those oppressed to suffer from 'positive discrimination' , as the native British working classes in truth have historically suffered as much as the descendants of Third world immigrants who are often given preferential treatment by the elites in Britain. If Blacks deserve reparations for slavery, then the equally miserable and cruel treatment of the British working classes at this time should entitle them to the same thing. The basic problem is that the privileged left and liberal elite are no longer interested in class equity or the basic rights of the British working class but only in 'diversity' which is a farcical label for favoring the third world exotic brown immigrants and persecuting and demonizing the local white working class who they label as chavs-not worthy in the eyes of the left/liberal toffs of having their suffering, feelings or rights considered. The British working class suffered as much in the Industrial Revolution as the Blacks did under slavery but are still suffering with the privileged elite classes using pc propaganda and favouring of the third world exotic browns against them. Britain's indigenous working classes are put last in line for employment, council housing, health care, education and bank loans in favour of the exotic Third world immigrants (especially Muslims) favoured by the pc left elites. . Those who are flabbergasted at discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality of religion (unless of course you attack Jews for being 'Zionists' or attack Israelis-that is acceptable among the chattering classes) think nothing of attacking the British working class and lumpenproletriat as chavs. This also translates to a politically correct anti-white racism. White British young people who suffer as a result of social problems such as juvenile crime, drug addiction , and teenage pregnancy, as well as child prostitution, and come from broken homes no longer elicit sympathy from the liberal and left elites who consider the white underclass the lowest of the low, not worth saving or empathizing with, whereas they would have the utmost sympathy and support for Third world immigrant youth under the same circumstances. The liberal and left elites now use the race card against he white under classes and point out since the latter are supposedly 'racist' and 'bigoted' they must be punished for this and are the unworthy poor as compared to the impoverished people of colour who are deemed worthy of empathy and upliftment. This amounts to an inverse racism whereby the classes that have so long suffered since the Industrial Revolution and who came under sustained attack under Thatcher are now being made victims again at the hands of the leftist and liberal elites now in charge of Britain, including the media, local councils and the courts. So the neo-Marxists are oppressing the very people Engels here was championing-how ironic

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jade Heslin

    This started off as being the foulest piece of drudgery that I had ever cast my eyes upon. Engels is a very wordy man, and once he gets going he’s like a steam train in motion. But once we get past the gruelling first chapter, in which he lists all the different types of fabrics and methods of making them, we actually get a terrific, thought-provoking, persuasive argument against capitalism. AND IT HAS LOTS OF MANCHESTER IN IT! He wrote this while he was here with his bezzo, Karl Marx. I absolute This started off as being the foulest piece of drudgery that I had ever cast my eyes upon. Engels is a very wordy man, and once he gets going he’s like a steam train in motion. But once we get past the gruelling first chapter, in which he lists all the different types of fabrics and methods of making them, we actually get a terrific, thought-provoking, persuasive argument against capitalism. AND IT HAS LOTS OF MANCHESTER IN IT! He wrote this while he was here with his bezzo, Karl Marx. I absolutely loved learning lots of fascinating titbits about the history of the city in which I live. Even my road gets a mention! I knew quite a bit about Victorian Manchester anyway, especially about the industrialisation of Ancoats (the area I call home), but nothing compared to what Engels has so importantly documented in this wonderful essay/book/report/whatever the hell it is. I learnt about how all the workmen’s cottages on my street were built back to back, just one brick thin (the bricks joining from end to end rather than the big flat part). No wonder not a single one has stood the test of time – something I had mused over in the past whilst walking through the streets of Ancoats. I also learnt about the squalor of the Old Town (reaching all the way down Swan Street to Victoria train station, and incorporating the Northern Quarter). It is astonishing that an area that was once so dilapidated and rife with infection is now one of the city’s most opulent areas. Everything costs a bloody fortune! There is a poor man’s burial ground somewhere in Castlefield, where they just chucked all the dead bodies of the workers, without proper ceremony or due respect. I’ll have to make an effort to find that at some point. It’s probably now a car park. That thought upsets me. One of the most fascinating things I learnt is that in the 1830s, a member of the bourgeoisie could hop on an omnibus from Chorlton or Pendleton or one of the other rich areas in the outskirts of Manchester, ride all the way into the city centre, partake in a bit of shopping on Market Street & the surrounding areas, and NOT ONCE bump into a lowly prole. This is to do with the way that the city is laid out and it happened entirely by accident. Unfortunately this is one of the reasons that the middle classes claimed not to have any knowledge of the subsistence of the proletariat. While Engels certainly appears to be pro-working man, he has an almost comical, incredibly bigoted view of the Irish (I’m allowed to say that, I come from their stock). I have never read anything so brimming with contempt in my life. I’m going to insert quite a long extract just so that you get the message: "Filth and drunkenness, too, they have brought with them. [a] lack of cleanliness ... [He] deposits all garbage and filth before his house door here, as he was accustomed to do at home, and so accumulates the pools and dirt-heaps which disfigure the working- people's quarters and poison the air. He builds a pig-sty against the house wall as he did at home, and if he is prevented from doing this, he lets the pig sleep in the room with himself. This new and unnatural method of cattle-raising in cities is wholly of Irish origin. The Irishman loves his pig as the Arab his horse, with the difference that he sells it when it is fat enough to kill. Otherwise, he eats and sleeps with it, his children play with it, ride upon it, roll in the dirt with it, as any one may see a thousand times repeated in all the great towns of England. The filth and comfortlessness that prevail in the houses themselves it is impossible to describe ... Drink is the only thing which makes the Irishman's life worth having, drink and his cheery care-free temperament; so he revels in drink to the point of the most bestial drunkenness. The southern facile character of the Irishman, his crudity, which places him but little above the savage, his contempt for all humane enjoyments, in which his very crudeness makes him incapable of sharing, his filth and poverty, all favour drunkenness." Bloody hell, Engels. reel it in a bit, you’re almost making me dislike you… You daft racist.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    Excellent work on Industrial Revolution, but it does contain racist ugly filth about the Irish.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Xander

    In 1843, Friedrich Engels decided to tour Great Britain to witness, with his own eyes, how the British labourer was living. He would, in the end, spend 21 months in the region, talking to poor folk, witnessing the conditions of these wretches, and subsequently write a book about his experiences. In 1845, he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, in Germany. It was only near the end of his life that Engels decided to publish this book in England. The book is a magnificent histor In 1843, Friedrich Engels decided to tour Great Britain to witness, with his own eyes, how the British labourer was living. He would, in the end, spend 21 months in the region, talking to poor folk, witnessing the conditions of these wretches, and subsequently write a book about his experiences. In 1845, he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, in Germany. It was only near the end of his life that Engels decided to publish this book in England. The book is a magnificent historical masterpiece - it's journalism, science, history and activism in one. Engels was a man with his heart in the right place. Not only this, he was a much clearer and more accessible writer than his friend and fellow activist, Karl Marx. He writes passionately about the things he saw and heard, and he mainly uses liberal sources as proof to back up his arguments This is done on purpose: in the preface he explains how he uses the weapons of his opponents to slay them with their own words. This means, in effect, that Engels uses reports written by official government-appointed Commissions, articles from 'bourgeois' newspapers, theories and arguments from liberal thinkers. The book itself, although long (almost 300 pages), can be summarized easily: Engels starts of with explaining how the application of mechanical force in the processes of production in the textile and agricultural industry heralded the new age of industrialism. Gradually machine replaced man, pushed man from the country-side to the cities, and created a huge proletariat, in which millions of people were permanently on the brink of starvation (and many beyond this point). The Industrial Revolution established capitalism as the new system of production, determining the social relations (i.e. classes) of the human beings within the community (i.e. the UK). According to Engels, 1844 Great Britain is the future for the whole world - capitalism will spread and hence the whole world will function as Great Britain functioned at the time. After this, Engels proceeds to describe the miserable living conditions in the British cities and the country-side. Here also, capitalism runs its course: the constant search for lower production costs and the maximalization of profits leads to shabby, unhygienic and disease-ridden slums. The bourgeois take care to move or to hide the mess behin nice little shopping streets. Capitalism thrives on competition - between classes, within classes, between countries, etc. This leads to inevitable consequences: the suppression of wages; the creation of a reserve army of labourers; immigration (leading to even lower wages and huge surges in crime and poverty); the use of the law, the state and its apparatus by those owning property; etc. After explaining how capitalism arose, how it created (the conditions of) the great towns, and the consequences of competition of all against all, he proceeds to explain the results of it all. To be short: it was horrible. Child labour (4 or 5 year old working wasn't rare), chronic illness, deformities and amputations, miscarriages, sexual abuse, depression, starvation, alcoholism (on a mass scale), crime, etc. Mentally, these people were dead long before they were physically done for (and even this was 10-15 years shorter than average). No education, no certainties, no security, no nothing. Engels does a great job in portraying the lives of these repressed people - a 'different race of men', as he calls them somehwere in the book. Those were the general results of capitalism, for the labourers. Of course, different industrial branches came with specific ills. The more an undustrial branche was permeated by the manufacturing system, the more brutal it was. Maybe the worst industries to work in were mining and agriculture - in the mining industry (and its offshoot the metalworks) people were worst off physically, while in agriculture almost everyone lived perpetually on the boundary of starvation. The only defence these people had was their associating with one another. As capitalism is built on competition, trade unions and associations are its sworn enemies. It defeats the power of competition and enforces equal treatment for labourers. It doesn't take a genius to guess that the labour unions were persecuted wherever the elites could. And how did the bourgeoisie respond to all this? By looking away, by acting like nothing's wrong, by blaming the victim. This latter strategy was very effective. and is best illustrated two major political issues that domminated British politics in the early nineteenth century: the Poor Laws and the Corn Laws. (1) The Corn Laws were instituted in 1815 to protect the British homemarket from foreign grain imports. With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, peasants came back by the thousands, foreign demand for grain dried up, and to save the situation the British government decided to institute the Corn Laws. This said, basically, that as long as grain sold under a certain price, import was forbidden. This created an artificial situation, in which farm labourers were paid relatively high wages while grain prices were relatively dear and agricultural capitalism was impossible. All throughout the period Engels covers, liberal and conservative politicians campaigned for the abolition of these import barriers - free trade was the answer. Of course, free trade would mean the lowering of prices, subsequently the lowering of wages and the breaking of the landed nobility - in favour of the bourgeoisie who could buy up land and invest capital to create more surplus value. This 'repeal of the Corn Laws' was sold as good for the people, by politicking and scheming people in power. (2) Thomas Malthus theorized that population grows geometrically, while food production grows arithmetically. This is a fance way of saying that people breed faster than they can produce food. Leading to overpopulation. This was checked, according to Malthus, by food shortages, starvation, and ultimately the dying of the superfluous. Hence, the old Poor Laws, which supported those in abject poverty, distorted this mechanism - government spending kept superfluous people alive - and hence should be abolished. The Poor Laws incentivized the poor to breed unresponsibly and create even more problems. Believe it or not, this theory came from a priest and was highly influential in British politics. Hence, in 1834 the old Poor Laws were abolished and new Poor Laws instituted. Now the limit for supported was even lower than before; and the people receiving it had to give up their freedom and live in a prison system of forced labour under harsh prison regimes. The effect: less people were helped, in a more brutal and inhumane way, while more people starved to death or lived in poverty. This was liberal and convservatist policy at its best. The issues surrounding the Corn Laws and the Poor Laws illustrate the thinking of the upper classes about the masses living in abject poverty. They couldn't care less - all that counted was making that extra buck. Engels sees in this attitude, according to him very widespread among the better off, a sign that revolution is coming. Communism is an inevitable historical event that transcends the existing class antagonisms. Since Communism is built on the irresponsibility of the individual (history follows class struggles) it is essentially a peaceful doctrine - the more the proletariat becomes communistic, the more peaceful the revolution will be. But the bourgeoisie... with their attitude towards the labourer, they speed things up and instigate a social war. The bourgeois is dancing on a volcano, not thinking about tomorrow. Revolution, when it comes, will be like nothing anyone has ever seen (the French Revolution will turn pale in the face of the Communist Revolution). Or so Engels claims in the last paragraphs. Again, as with Marx, Engels writes a beautiful book - a truly impressive masterpiece - but then he ends up uttering threats and promises. I wish he had left the last three pages out of this book and just published the book as it should have been - a report on the brutal oppression, by the rich, of the poor. The book is really impressive, in that it gives us modern day readers a glimpse in the lives of nineteenth century common men (and women). Throughout the book, you will be impressed by the sheer hopelesness an absurdity of the state of society of Britain at the time. The book is even a very reasonable and sharp argument against capitalism - at least its inherent flaws. But man, why always threaten with revolutions? This way, every opponent can shove you to the side with the words: "he's just a troublemaker!" Engels, and Marx, had important things to say, original ideas to communicate, but they both gave sceptical people an option to not engage with the problems they posed. The Condition of the Working Class in England is the best exposition of the Marx-Engels view on communism - forget the abstract theories of Marx, read this book and you know what they mean. It is extremely sad that Engels ended his book the way he did, since it deserves to be read by everyone living in 2018, growing up in wealth and safety. When I look around, I see ignorance and disinterest all around me; people act like the things as they are now are some end-goal of history. This book by Engels is the best antidote to such a rosy spectacled view of the world - we came a long way, we suffered a lot, and we should be vigilant for the future. I can really recommend this book by Engels!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Francesca

    Cheering every time Liverpool is mentioned versus realising it’s always in reference to the great suffering and slavery happened here

  11. 5 out of 5

    David Wen

    Sobering look into the lives of people during the industrial revolution. It's very apparent why communism was started given the situations the people had to endure. Class warfare on an extreme scale compared to what it's like nowadays. Sobering look into the lives of people during the industrial revolution. It's very apparent why communism was started given the situations the people had to endure. Class warfare on an extreme scale compared to what it's like nowadays.

  12. 5 out of 5

    William Acharyya

    so it turns out the condition, was bad

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    In the words of my partner, a corker. It leaves you with a number of impressions. The most overpowering is just rage and sadness at how the industrial revolution decimated lives. Half of children dead by the age of 5, average life expectancy from 45 to 50, the malnourtrition, cold, damp, misshapen bodies, impotency and infertility, lost limbs, lost lives. 'The English working men call this 'social murder', and accuse our whole society of perpetrating this crime perpetually. Are they wrong? (38) N In the words of my partner, a corker. It leaves you with a number of impressions. The most overpowering is just rage and sadness at how the industrial revolution decimated lives. Half of children dead by the age of 5, average life expectancy from 45 to 50, the malnourtrition, cold, damp, misshapen bodies, impotency and infertility, lost limbs, lost lives. 'The English working men call this 'social murder', and accuse our whole society of perpetrating this crime perpetually. Are they wrong? (38) No. They are not wrong, and Engels's goal with this work is to prove it. He writes: I have now to prove that society in England daily and hourly commits what the working-men's organs, with perfect correctness, characterize as social murder, that it has placed the workers under conditions in which they can neither retain health nor live long; that it undermines the vital force of these workers gradually, little by little, and so hurries them to the grave before their time. I have further to prove that society knows how injurious such conditions are to the health and the life of the workers, and yet does nothing to improve these conditions (107). The second is just how much this must have contributed to Marx's thinking in writing Capital, I read it and throughout the empirical and social research I found so many echoes (but they must be considered previews really) of Marx's more theoretical work making sense of it, bringing its insights into order and revealing a deeper structural functioning. Editor and author of the introduction Dave McLellan notes that it was one of Engels's articles on this political economy of the factories which first awoke Marx's interest in economics when he recieved it as editor of the radical German journal to which Engels was submitting it. I can't help but think that these two works should be more tightly linked, particularly for those like myself who are nervy of theory too renoved from concrete fact. I like to think now, of this being the first volume of their work throughout the volumes of Capital, the understanding of raw suffering and misery, the initial grasping of the roles played by competition (given an entire chapter which proposes that capitalism consists of a never-ending movement between crisis and prosperity and this requires a reserve army of workers) and constantly improving technology, that drove them to fully theorise these things much more elaborately and certainly at far remove from the actual conditions described here. Some of them are revisited in Capital itself, but I found this to be far more pursuasive, both why a bigger theory of capitalism was so desperately needed, and to dig into the way it has functioned to impact worker's lives and how they have struggled against it (which Capital never gets to...). Third, the character of Engels himself. In the opening dedication 'To the Working Classes of Great Britain', he writes 'I forsook the company and the dinner parties, the port wine and champagn of the middle classes, and devoted my leisure hours almost exclusively to the intercourse with plain Working Men(9) I can think of no more hilarious opening, and McLellen does right in pointing out (as Engles points out himself in his 1885 prefaces), how young Engels was at 24 when he researched and wrote this between 1943-45 while working at his father's thread factory in Manchester, how imbued he was with the idealism of the Young Hegelians and the even more radical politics of Hess and Marx. He remains in many ways a man of his time and class, with many a cringeworthy sentence on the nature of the Irish and the stupidity of the working man, and the most amazing failure to see any revolutionary potential in the thousands of women and child workers. He sees instead that a system where women work and men actually take care of the home (OMG!) Can anyone imagine a more insanse state of things?...this condition, which unsexes the man and takes from the woman all womanliness...(155) On the working classes? He confuses arrests with criminality for example, completely failing to recognise the use of police and prison to dominate and contain. It is hard imagining him treating any factory as an intellectual equal. For the Irish, he does note that it is primarily as an exploited country and as immigrants that they are used to force wages and demands down. But there is a brutal judgment of their humanity running through everything: In short, the Irish have discovered the minimum of the necessities of life, and are making the English workers acquainted with it. Filth and drunkeness, too, they have brought with them (103) Fourth, the key observations of the city and its form that he makes. On Manchester: The town itself is peculiarly built, so that a person may live in it for years, and go in and out daily without coming into contact with a working-people's quarter or even with workers, that is, so long as he confines himself to his business or to pleasure walks. This arises chiefly from the fact, that by unconscious tacit agreement, as well as with outspoken conscious determination, the working-people's quarters are sharply separated from the sections of the city reserved for the middle class; or, if this does not succeed, they are concealed with the cloak of charity (57) He looks at the full layout of the city, with each class inhabiting its sections, and large thoroughfares separating them, lined with shops and activity and closing off from view the inner courts and closes: The finest part of this arrangement is this, that the members of the money aristocracy can take the shortest road through the middle of all the laboring districts to their place of business, without ever seeing that they are in teh midst of the grimy misery that lurks to the right and the left. ...they suffice to conceal from the eyes of the wealthy men and women of strong stomachs and weak nerves the misery and grime which form the complement to their wealth (58). The descriptions of thousands of people crammed into tiny closes with pigs and no sewage facilities or drainage or running water are heart breaking. If anyone wishes to see in how little a space a human being can move, how little air--and such air!--he can breathe, how little of civilization he may share and yet live, it is only necessary to travel hither (65) He diagrams the closes and courts, the new rows being thrown up shoddily by speculative builders and the methods and materials they use. He also sees them, like Lefebvre long after him, as the birthplaces of struggle: The great cities are the birthplaces of labour movements; in them the workers first began to reflect upon their own condition, and to struggle against it; in them the opposition between proletariat and bourgeousie first made itself manifest; from them proceeded the Trade Unions, Chartism, and Socialism. The great cities have transformed the diseases of the social body, which appears in chronic form in the country, into an acute one, and so made manifest its real nature and the means of curing it. Without the great cities and their forcing influence upon the popular intelligence, the working class would be far less advanced than it is. Moreover, they have destroyed the last remnants of the patriarchal relation between working men and employers...(133) And finally, the accounts of struggle to recover humanity through theft, arson, murder by despairing individuals, and the struggle to organise into unions and associations, to win political change through chartism. There is so much to admire here, even though Engels own theoretical belief in the inevitability of defeat is at war with the hopefulness inspired by worker struggle: The history of these Unions is a long series of defeats of the working men, interrupted by a few isolated victories. All these efforts naturally cannot alter the economic law according to which wages are determined by the relation between supply and demand in the labour market. Hence the Unions remain powerless against all great forces which influence this relation (224) He describes long strikes and gun battles. The 'Rebecca' disturbances in Wales, in which agricultural workers donned women's clothing and black face to conduct their rebellion. he prophesied revolution coming at any minute. He was wrong of course, at least about the imminence of revolution. It reminds me of reading Angela Davis writing in the 60s, that firm belief that change is around the corner. Writing 40 years later, I found it fascinating to discover that that part of his explanation for this failure is the rise of England as the manufacturing hub of a globalised world, exporting to all of Europe and creating a demand for its goods as far away as Africa. This caused the manufacturers to make a compact with workers (my word), raising wages and improving conditions so as not to interrupt production and wildly rising profits with growing markets whose demand outstripped supply. The beginnings of a newly reorgnising chains of production and a growing globalisation.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    I must say upfront I detest Marxist-Leninism in its 20th century form and the post-modern left with their support for terrorism, Islamism , Jew/Israel-hatred, dictatorship and anti-white racism. Though I am a democratic socialist in the tradition of Aneurin Bevan and Harold Wilson . But this book as a work of history for anyone studying the circumstances of the working class in Britain at the time this is indispensable As a historian Engels was brilliant. The fact is that the Industrial Revolution I must say upfront I detest Marxist-Leninism in its 20th century form and the post-modern left with their support for terrorism, Islamism , Jew/Israel-hatred, dictatorship and anti-white racism. Though I am a democratic socialist in the tradition of Aneurin Bevan and Harold Wilson . But this book as a work of history for anyone studying the circumstances of the working class in Britain at the time this is indispensable As a historian Engels was brilliant. The fact is that the Industrial Revolution was a terrible thing and the treatment by the aristocracy and middle classes in Britain in the 19th century was in some ways worse than slavery in the colonies. As Engels points out on this volume at least the masters for reasons of self-interest made sure the slaves were fed, whereas the British working class at this time were often deliberately starved to death. The British proletariat at the time were kept in densely packed filthy conditions in very small dwellings, scantily furnished in which entire families were forced onto straw serving for beds in the most revolting conditions, filled with vermin, were subject to starvation, death and suffering from overwork and disease and severe malnourishment The majority of children of this class did not live beyond five years of age. Factory workers often worked 18 hours a day and the conditions were dangerous as well as filthy, often workers dying from being caught by machines or from inhaling toxic substances which they were forced to work with women and children were often the worst off, with children of as young as four being sent down mines or working in factories , almost all children working long hours by nine years of age. The workhouses were designed to be particular places of cruelty ensured to make sure people would find other ways to survive other than going to these places to survive. People here were worked to death, existed on a bare subsistence on nourishing food and children as young as four and five punished by sleeping in mortuaries on top of coffins for bed wetting or not working sufficiently hard to my way of thinking this history makes it an injustice that the liberal and left descendants of the middle classes should force the English working class descendants of those oppressed to suffer from 'positive discrimination' , as the native British working classes in truth have historically suffered as much as the descendants of Third world immigrants who are often given preferential treatment by the elites in Britain. If Blacks deserve reparations for slavery, then the equally miserable and cruel treatment of the British working classes at this time should entitle them to the same thing. The basic problem is that the privileged left and liberal elite are no longer interested in class equity or the basic rights of the British working class but only in 'non racism' which is a farcical label for favoring the third world exotic brown immigrants and persecuting and demonizing the local white working class who they label as chavs-not worthy in the eyes of the left/liberal toffs of having their suffering, feelings or rights considered. The British working class suffered as much in the Industrial Revolution as the Blacks did under slavery but are still suffering with the privileged elite classes using pc propaganda and favouring of the third world exotic browns against them. Britain's indigenous working classes are put last in line for employment, council housing, health care, education and bank loans in favour of the exotic Third world immigrants (especially Muslims) favoured by the pc left elites. . Those who are flabbergasted at discrimination based on race, gender, sexuality of religion (unless of course you attack Jews for being 'Zionists' or attack Israelis-that is acceptable among the chattering classes) think nothing of attacking the British working class and lumpenproletriat as chavs. This also translates to a politically correct anti-white racism. White British young people who suffer as a result of social problems such as juvenile crime, drug addiction , and teenage pregnancy, as well as child prostitution, and come from broken homes no longer elicit sympathy from the liberal and left elites who consider the white underclass the lowest of the low, not worth saving or empathizing with, whereas they would have the utmost sympathy and support for Third world immigrant youth under the same circumstances. The liberal and left elites now use the race card against he white under classes and point out since the latter are supposedly 'racist' and 'bigoted' they must be punished for this and are the unworthy poor as compared to the impoverished people of colour who are deemed worthy of empathy and upliftment. This amounts to an inverse racism whereby the classes that have so long suffered since the Industrial Revolution and who came under sustained attack under Thatcher are now being made victims again at the hands of the leftist and liberal elites now in charge of Britain, including the media, local councils and the courts. So the neo-Marxists are oppressing the very people Engles here was championing-how ironic

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anton Himmelstrand

    Enjoyable both as an historical document and as a political statement about industrial society. In “The Condition of the Working Class in England”, Engels gives a long an detailed description of the state of the great Victorian industrial towns – and of their less fortunate inhabitants. The reader is shepherded through crumbling working-man's districts, gin-palaces, prison-like factory floors, mines filled with lung-destroying dust, damp cellars and the increasingly mechanized countryside. In man Enjoyable both as an historical document and as a political statement about industrial society. In “The Condition of the Working Class in England”, Engels gives a long an detailed description of the state of the great Victorian industrial towns – and of their less fortunate inhabitants. The reader is shepherded through crumbling working-man's districts, gin-palaces, prison-like factory floors, mines filled with lung-destroying dust, damp cellars and the increasingly mechanized countryside. In many ways, the work reads like a catalog of every conceivable misery, but despite its technical and slightly droning style, there is life and even some humour in Engels' writing (for example when he relates a story about children who, due to poor education, fail to give even remotely accurate answers to very basic questions on religion). With statistics and polemics, he presents a persuasive argument for the inhumanity and injustice of industrial working conditions in the 1840s. “[T]heirs is not a state in which a man or a whole class of men can think, feel, and live as human beings” (p. 212). Whether or not one agrees with his solution, or for that matter concludes that the same injustice exists today, will ultimately depend upon political opinion, but as an historical or self-contained text, “The Condition of the Working Class in England” is worthwhile reading. As the author himself recognized later in life, the work is not a product of fully developed Marxist thought – something that might in fact make it more accessible. On something of a side-note, it must be said that the book contains some pretty unsavory remarks about the Irish. There are plenty of statements about 'filthy, uncivilized, drunkard, potato-eating Irish immigrants forcing down the rate of wages and the general state of English civilization'. I understand that the point is presumably to illustrate how the capitalist system, through inter-worker competition, makes the condition of the poorest workers into the condition of all, but by today's standards, the language is not the most palatable.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Comrade Mohd Aliff

    This book paints a VERY shocking picture of 19th century England during Industrial Revolution and also of Capitalism in general. It's not a theoretical work unlike many of Engels' other works but rather a SOCIAL REPORT on how the workers being exploited while denying them the most basic principles of human rights and dignity. A must-read classics; readable and informative. This book paints a VERY shocking picture of 19th century England during Industrial Revolution and also of Capitalism in general. It's not a theoretical work unlike many of Engels' other works but rather a SOCIAL REPORT on how the workers being exploited while denying them the most basic principles of human rights and dignity. A must-read classics; readable and informative.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    I have read this - Engels is as fun of a person as Marx! It is not very happy of a book, but in my History of Communism class, I am positive I saw this before.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carlos Martinez

    A brilliant book, written when Engels was just 25, investigating the lives of ordinary workers in England and exposing the horrifying conditions they faced. At the time (1845), this sort of study was unique and unprecedented. Engels paints a vivid picture of squalour, misery and exploitation, along with the emerging resistance movement, principally Chartism. As such it is a must-read for those interested in British history. 'The Condition of the Working Class in England' was written at the very s A brilliant book, written when Engels was just 25, investigating the lives of ordinary workers in England and exposing the horrifying conditions they faced. At the time (1845), this sort of study was unique and unprecedented. Engels paints a vivid picture of squalour, misery and exploitation, along with the emerging resistance movement, principally Chartism. As such it is a must-read for those interested in British history. 'The Condition of the Working Class in England' was written at the very start of a political life that lasted fifty years. As such, it lacks the intellectual clarity of Engels' later work. Many of the key concepts of modern economics (which Engels himself had a role in defining) are missing here. But more grating is the profilic use of racist anti-Irish tropes. These were par for the course at the time, but they stand in stark contrast to the vehemently anti-colonialist writings of Marx and Engels once they'd seriously studied the colonial question.

  19. 5 out of 5

    G.D. Master

    During the nineteenth century steam power and the cotton gin changed economics, cities, and social classes. Much of the industrialized specialization or rationalization of the world that people and the media take for granted in the twenty-first century began during this period. More people started to live in cities and a middle class labor force grew from employment in industry and commerce. Unforeseen problems began to occur when industrialists learned that they could use workers for extended h During the nineteenth century steam power and the cotton gin changed economics, cities, and social classes. Much of the industrialized specialization or rationalization of the world that people and the media take for granted in the twenty-first century began during this period. More people started to live in cities and a middle class labor force grew from employment in industry and commerce. Unforeseen problems began to occur when industrialists learned that they could use workers for extended hours and pay them to the degree of simple sustenance. Without retirement and with large numbers of people entering poverty because of physical attrition, slums, disease, and high infant mortality rates were recorded by private individuals, like Friedrich Engels, and the British Government, in what were known as blue books. Engels father held stake in thread manufacturing and sent young Friedrich to Manchester to work with management in one of his factories around 1842 to 1844. Young Engels was appalled by what he saw all around him and set down to create one of the most endearing documents in human history before meeting Karl Marx. Engels and Marx would create works explaining political economy and criticize social institutions and government in a constructive way that still resonates in the twenty-first century. In “The Conditions of the Working Class in England” Engels writes lengthy and extraordinary passages describing the history of economics from the feudal era to the industrial age of the nineteenth century. After explaining how the labor force has changed with industrialization, he describes how factories use women and children as inexpensive labor for repetitive tasks and mining. He describes how children are sent to work to support parents injured in factories. He describes how young infants are taken care of by irresponsible people while parents work extensive hours. He describes how government and the aristocracy skimp on education and how industrialists weasel out of educating their laborers all together. Because of the recent effects of industrialism, Engels speculates the severity of continuing abusive labor practices, impoverished living conditions, and discusses how citizens and government should cooperate to help bring change for improving human conditions and society. Like history repeating, much of what Engels describes then, still happens in the twenty-first century. Since Engels’s writing, people still struggle with the same issues and still have not implemented sustainable global change. “The Conditions of the Working Class in England” is a foundational piece of literature for academics interested in industrial novels, such as those by Disraeli, Gaskell, and Dickens, and is also foundational for people interested in political economy, Marxist criticism, social philosophy, and developmental infrastructure. It is the most important and overlooked work in classic literature. Engels writes using many clauses in his sentences with complex punctuation allowing for sophisticated readers, able to organize many things rationally, to create analytical environments that can be compared and contrasted dialectically among peers and other writers. Engels’s work is not for recreational readers. It is for people with an unmanageable interest in the human condition.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Scott Goddard

    This anthropological, ethnographic study examines the English Working Class, with particular emphasis and inquiry into the "North", that is to say, Manchester, Scotland, and other towns and cities that lie above Birmingham. Of course Engels lucidly describes towns and cities of the South, but to a lesser extent. From a quick cursory read over the other reviews, one criticism of the book is a recurrent iteration of the same point; for me, this point does not hold, and I felt there to be a apprecia This anthropological, ethnographic study examines the English Working Class, with particular emphasis and inquiry into the "North", that is to say, Manchester, Scotland, and other towns and cities that lie above Birmingham. Of course Engels lucidly describes towns and cities of the South, but to a lesser extent. From a quick cursory read over the other reviews, one criticism of the book is a recurrent iteration of the same point; for me, this point does not hold, and I felt there to be a appreciable diversity and eclecticism in the writing, in terms of locational and vocational circumstances, as well as and de facto class stratum. Engels is extremely descriptive in his writing and is, as a result, very evocative not to mention provocative. Down to the minutiae, he succeeds in presenting a clear and illustrative image of the type of conditions the working class often had to endure. Content wise, Engels chronologically spells out the periodical progression in the working class's latent potential, and how they become more expressive of militancy and insurrectionary, insofar as being sanguinary and committing frequent and purposeful acts of incendiarism against the bourgeoisie. I could not help but express sympathy to the plight of the working class; they were, in effect, incorrigibly subordinated to their employer through a sort of de facto, bordering on de jure, enslavement and utter servitude. Children at a young age were quickly lured into the "satanical mills" and mines, to work exhaustively till they do themselves irrevocable damage. This was an avoidable but necessary eventuality for the capitalist, as there delirious fixation with profit overrode all other considerations - and plus, as one employee perishes into infirmity, there were always hundreds more within the large "surplus population". In sum, it demonstratively shows how capitalism per se, that is to say, the unadulterated, laissez faire modality, turns empathetic, caring humans into voracious, avaricious, utterly unscrupulous individuals who show no emotion towards their fellowman.

  21. 4 out of 5

    S.D.

    America “solved” its class problem with a myth of upward mobility that appeared to be real for three decades, thanks to what Galbraith in 1952 called countervailing power; a means Engles suggested, more than a century, was the only resource available to the destitute working class of England – albeit as a step toward revolution. Perhaps the English working class Engles credits with knowing the cause of its mid-19th Century plight did comprehend it better than America’s in the 21st Century, where America “solved” its class problem with a myth of upward mobility that appeared to be real for three decades, thanks to what Galbraith in 1952 called countervailing power; a means Engles suggested, more than a century, was the only resource available to the destitute working class of England – albeit as a step toward revolution. Perhaps the English working class Engles credits with knowing the cause of its mid-19th Century plight did comprehend it better than America’s in the 21st Century, where employment is not a means to a better of life. So long as the working class accepts work on employers’ terms alone, Engles’ depiction of proletarian plight at the hands of a “profit-greedy” bourgeoisie will continue to read broadly as a current state of affairs.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Markus

    Want to read this because Jeannette Winterson recommends it in "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?" According to her, it's "a frightening, upsetting account of the effects of the Industrial Revolution on ordinary people -- what happens when people 'regard each other only as useful objects.'" Want to read this because Jeannette Winterson recommends it in "Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?" According to her, it's "a frightening, upsetting account of the effects of the Industrial Revolution on ordinary people -- what happens when people 'regard each other only as useful objects.'"

  23. 5 out of 5

    J

    Heavily detailed and a little repetitive in content, hence many pages were skim-read. A fantastic insight into the conditions of the working class in the early days of industrialisation and capitalism. An important historical text.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Varney

    An interesting book. I have read Elizabeth Gaskell's books North and South and Mary Barton, which are set in the same city at the same time about the same people. It was interesting to compare and contrast. This is what unregulated laisser-faire market economics looks like. An interesting book. I have read Elizabeth Gaskell's books North and South and Mary Barton, which are set in the same city at the same time about the same people. It was interesting to compare and contrast. This is what unregulated laisser-faire market economics looks like.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anthony Zupancic

    It certainly identifies the horrible social effects of the industrial revolution. If you are unsure where the Communist Manifesto came from, or why, read this.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ben

    Littered with Marxist thought, but otherwise a really good insight into 19th century Britain.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nattyc30

    Re-Read

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nihad

    The books is a very important text if you are a researcher or you like history, other than that no fun read.though some parts are repetitive and boring, but on the overall an insightful reading.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mickey Dubs

    Friedrich Engels’s The Condition of the Working Class in England, like Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier, is a sort of poverty safari through the deleterious effects of industrial capitalism. Capitalism is presented as absolutely inhuman. It mutates and corrupts the physical form of the working class – human beings become stunted and sclerotic, they become blinded through eye strain, and functionally lame by the time they reach 40. Like the Morlocks from Wells’s The Time Machine, the workers had b Friedrich Engels’s The Condition of the Working Class in England, like Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier, is a sort of poverty safari through the deleterious effects of industrial capitalism. Capitalism is presented as absolutely inhuman. It mutates and corrupts the physical form of the working class – human beings become stunted and sclerotic, they become blinded through eye strain, and functionally lame by the time they reach 40. Like the Morlocks from Wells’s The Time Machine, the workers had become a feral, underground race of their own. The onset of capitalism launched a war of each against all - atomising people into monads, making them brutally indifferent to each other’s needs as to anonymous faces in a crowd. Although obviously outdated in some respects, Engels’s analysis still remains remarkably pertinent to today’s conditions. For instance, the book raises concerns about air pollution and sexual harassment in the workplace. In England in 2021, the working class does not live in such squalid conditions as they did in 1844: child labour has essentially been abolished and everyone has access to healthcare. However, it is hard to read the passages about slum housing and parents sending their children into the factory and not think of the sweatshops abroad that produce our commodities today. In one memorable passage, Engels gives an account of the sheer amount of suffering inflicted upon the human body to make fancy laces for bourgeois women. Today, we have all become the wives of the bourgeoisie – happy to acquiesce in the brutal exploitation of others for our precious knick-knacks. Engels’s conclusion is ultimately optimistic. In the English workers’ agitation against their bosses through the formation of Trade Unions and violent protest, Engels find the seeds of the coming class war which would bring about the triumph of the workers. He argues that serious violence and the Terror that follows revolution could be avoided with a widespread adoption of Communism. Communism makes the individual irresponsible so that workers won’t blame their bosses personally but will instead focus on dismantling the system that compels their bosses to act in that way. Both of Engels’s predictions were dead wrong. Erratic guerrilla workplace sabotage never erupted into outright war nor did the English workers adopt a Communistic philosophy. Where Communism did win a place as a guiding philosophy, it often brought about conditions of comparable barbarity as those in England in 1844. Moreover, it is unclear whether the suffering depicted in the book is essential to capitalism specifically or just industrialisation generally. After all, even if there was some system of socialism in place in the 19th-Century, surely people would still have to carry out the same arduous work until technology had developed enough to make those jobs redundant. Nevertheless, Engels’s work stands up as a stark exposé of the degrading effects of industrial capitalism with searing moral force. When one individual inflicts bodily injury upon another such injury that death results, we call the deed manslaughter; when the assailant knew in advance that the injury would be fatal, we call his deed murder. But when society places hundreds of proletarians in such a position that they inevitably meet a too early and an unnatural death, one which is quite as much a death by violence as that by the sword or bullet; when it deprives thousands of the necessaries of life, places them under conditions in which they cannot live – forces them, through the strong arm of the law, to remain in such conditions until that death ensues which is the inevitable consequence – knows that these thousands of victims must perish, and yet permits these conditions to remain, its deed is murder just as surely as the deed of the single individual; disguised, malicious murder.’

  30. 4 out of 5

    J. Alfred

    Here are some of the things that one can learn from reading historical documents and some of the implications that one can draw from those things, broken helpfully down into current political parties: True thing for conservatives: America is not now, nor has been for at least the past two hundred or so years, a truly Capitalist free market, and this is a Very Good Thing. Because in completely government-free markets, you get things like child labor and people starving to death in the streets, as Here are some of the things that one can learn from reading historical documents and some of the implications that one can draw from those things, broken helpfully down into current political parties: True thing for conservatives: America is not now, nor has been for at least the past two hundred or so years, a truly Capitalist free market, and this is a Very Good Thing. Because in completely government-free markets, you get things like child labor and people starving to death in the streets, as in England in 1844, when this was written. Implication for conservatives: Maybe we don't need to scornfully say or suggest things like DUH HISTORY whenever things like Socialism are brought up, because historically, we are now, currently, in a socialist country. And this is a Very Good Thing. Unless you want to be morally implicated in child labor. True thing for liberals: in the preface to the American edition, Engles praises America for getting its social finances in order so quickly, such that he didn't think there would ever need to be a bloody revolution here, as compared to England, where he thought the revolution was coming any minute. This is because the wage-earning classes had access to democratic power structures and the employer classes were in practice far more open with their funds than the English were. Implication for liberals: Maybe we don't need to scornfully say or suggest that America is always the bad guy at all times, because 1. it's not warranted (so says Marx's coauthor) and 2. it makes you sound like a jerk who no one can work with. And MAYBE everyone should get together and agree that America has had its ups and downs and we want to see it get better in the future? And do so civilly, as we have history to support that we have been able at times to do?

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