Monthly Archives: February 2019

Discussion Question (375)

6. Urban historians have long debated whether capitalism resulted in better living conditions for the average worker. What evidence do we have from the development of the industrial city to answer this question?

KW: extended commodity production, urban implosion, money, accumulation, Reformation, specialization of labor, class hierarchy (and “the spatial separation of the rich and poor”), commodification of everything (land, labor, etc.) and thus private property, attenuation of traditional ties (including family), enclosure of the commons, increasing size of cities (and the problems associated with population increase: overcrowding, disease, crime, poverty, etc.), lack of urban planning (uneven development), absence of symbolic aspect of industrial capitalist cities in the sense that cities’ growth did not correspond to a religions model

Engels’s description of Manchester: dangerous built space, lack of adequate sanitation, psychological toll of living in these conditions. Ex. “rivers polluted with the intestines of slaughtered cattle” and “‘foul pools of stagnation urine and excrement'” (46).

In contrast to the feudal era, when ordinary people were primarily serfs tied to the land and the arbitrary rule of a local lord, life in the industrial capitalist city was much freer. This freedom, however, depended on an element of coercion. If a person was not compelled to offer a tithe of his produce or labor to the local authorities as was common during the Middle Ages, she was essentially forced to participate in the city economy as a waged laborer simply in order to survive. At this earlier stage of industrial capitalism, when there were few if any laws regulating the treatment of workers or their living conditions, to be a member of the urban proletariat was to be at the mercy of employers and other social elites. Life in the industrial capitalist city was determined more by money than by social ties. Everything was for sale– i.e., commodified– including living space and life itself. Workers, after all, sell their lives piecemeal in return for a wage. The chaos of this social formation can be seen in the absence of urban planning, the negative consequences of overcrowding such as poverty and disease, and a general atmosphere of misery and alienation. Those who obtained the necessary wealth, on the other hand, surely experienced the industrial capitalist city as social terrain full of variety and promise. If there were beggars on every corner there were also venues where the bourgeoisie could socialize and entertain themselves.

Cold War 3.0

Note the way Trump’s speechwriters cram together standard-issue anti-socialism, imperial arrogance, and a full-throated “Israel first” pronouncement.

Two weeks ago, the United States officially recognized the legitimate government of Venezuela and its new President, Juan Guaido. We stand with the Venezuelan people and their noble quest for freedom and we condemn the brutality of their regime whose socialist policies have turned that nation from being the wealthiest in South America into a state of abject poverty and despair.

Here in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence and not government coercion, domination and control. We are born free and we will stay free.

Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country. One of the most complex set of challenges we face and have for many years is in the Middle East. Our approach is based on principle, realism, not discredited theories that have failed for decades to yield progress. For this reason, my administration recognized the true capital of Israel and proudly opened the American embassy in Jerusalem.

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