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Capitalism: A Costly Trade of Slavery

Capitalism: A Costly Trade of Slavery
A critical glance at how capitalism works has merely become a tool for powerful nations to extract and exploit weaker resources.Memoona Riaz Khan

Dilorenzo explains that capitalism leads to enhanced workplace security and yield, and increased wages. Moreover, it provides more time to relax and good quality goods and products at economical prices.

There is no denying that free trade or capitalism has enhanced global output and has lifted millions of people out of poverty. However, a critical glance at how capitalism works has merely become a tool for powerful nations to extract and exploit weaker resources. To kick start the discussion, it is imperative to first decode the period following the civil war, when Abraham Lincoln started planning for the South’s reconstruction. It was told that these attempts were made to rectify the inequalities of slavery. It is prevalent to endorse the fact that in South America, slavery was replaced by the tenants for farming in the agriculture industry. The claim made by Thomas Dilorenzo in his famous book, “How Capitalism Saved America,” encompasses the significant impact of capitalism on the working class, more specifically the daily wagers. Capitalism has been overviewed by many researchers and philosophers in different ways. In his book: slavery by another name, “Douglas A. Blackmon” brings to light one of the most brutal chapters in American history as significant sufferings were endured by low-income and racial groups. In the same way, another writer “Gordon H. Chang” highlights the sufferings of Chinese railroad workers who played a crucial part in the development of modern America. Both Blackmon and Chang are very critical of capitalism by arguing the fact of such a system had brought misery in the lives of the poor and underprivileged working class in terms of wages, working conditions, and even slavery to a significant extent.

After the Civil War in America, the North side saw significant growth in industrialization, including the progressive transition of technology known as the “Second Industrial Revolution” however; the economic growth in the North as a result of such revolution avoided the south on a large scale.  Although there was significant growth as the result of the industrial revolution that aided the development of the New South, it could not help mitigate the sufferings of African Americans or poor railroad Chinese workers who are still the unsung heroes of the road that transformed America.  Dilorenzo disapproves of many misapprehensions and delusions about capitalism and its role in shaping the history of America. According to his readings, capitalism acted as a rescuer of millions of people who has been suffering due to the government. Dilorenzo refuted another perception of capitalism that exploits the working class. He considered all the universal and malicious myths about capitalism, a concept that he identified as the one stimulus to American Revolution. In Dilorenzo’s opinion, it translated as a savior’s behavior pertinent to the working class of America as the wages of the working class have improved in general. Dilorenzo claims that there is a direct relation between a worker’s wage and productivity; a more productive worker would earn a high wage as his value to the employer increases–that is, the laborer’s wages go up” that is justified as well. Wage can be determined as a direct derivative of productivity and the capitalism has helped workers to be more skillful helping the whole industrialization process to be reshaped.

Blackmon explains in his book how, after the civil war, the new concepts of labor took over the south; the convict labor system is one of those concepts. It was identified that “White people would always look upon and treat Negroes as inferior beings” which can be considered as a sad and unfortunate fact. While black people would be inferior in terms of wages and respect as well. Chang offers the first full-fledged account of that significant wage system, filling an egregious gap in our public memory. In his book, Chang mentioned that while building the central pacific railroad (CPRR) how Railroad Chinese worked harder, and faster for less pay than white workers, surviving blizzards, avalanches, dynamite accidents, cave-ins, and blistering heat to do what was widely considered at the time to be impossible. The contrast between the working conditions, types of labor, and wages of Chinese as compared to Whites is sharply defined in this book. In the book, Chang wrote about the experiences of Arther Brown, an engineer recalling his memories of that time when White carpenters were paid $4 a day as compared to the laborers presumably Chines who were paid $2.25 to $2.75 a day, but the worst thing was that their board was deduced from forty cents to $1.25 a day.

Dilorenzo explains that capitalism leads to enhanced workplace security and yield, and increased wages. Moreover, it provides more time to relax and good quality goods and products at economical prices. He also defended child labor and a sweatshop, giving an argument that child labor is better than hunger. As he mentioned, “They were better than the alternatives of malnutrition, starvation, prostitution, begging, and stealing” while in Dilorenzo’s Opinion; Capitalism brings about increased yield and productivity due to the higher rate of adult workers, which eliminates child labor requirements. He is also against the concept that labor unions facilitated improved living standards and a long-standing rise in wages. Dilorenzo Further uses the term “heroic entrepreneurs” for the capitalists as according to him; they improved and upgraded the lives of countless consumers. Capitalists developed the entire city and gave work to thousands of people. They donated millions of dollars to charities and can be taken as the pioneers of effective management techniques. Dilorenzo further explains this by distinguishing between the market entrepreneur whose success is in his customers’ satisfaction and the political entrepreneur who influences the government to succeed. Political entrepreneurs are not as heroic as they look towards the government for favors and grants. Besides this, the market entrepreneurs work on their own and earn profits purely through voluntary means. Dilorenzo disdains the political entrepreneurs signifying them as wasteful and destructive for the economy and society.

However, Blackmon argues the claim him in almost every manner, the acquisition of laborers adopted practices practically identical to the patterns emerging in slavery before the civil war. The workers were forced to live in small cabins on the Atlantic passage. There were no windows in the buildings, ravaged blankets, and filthy food are just a few of many discriminations and cruelties against the black slaves. The convicts were forced to wear shackles made of an “iron hoop fastened around the ankle to which is attached a chain two feet long and terminating in a ring” that can be referred to as an unfortunate fact of history. From 1864 to 1869, the Chinese produced the largest workforce in American industry until the industrial revolution in the nineteenth century. The road, in turn, transformed America, but despite their critical role, the Chinese railroad workers remain silent spikes.

The claim made by “Thomas Dileronzo” in his famous book is that no matter how judgmental the people are about capitalism but as the matter of fact, it has supported the working class by providing them the job opportunities. He critically sees the benefits of capitalism as if it had not been there; the people might have died of hunger and other social disparities. Indeed, in his opinion, capitalism has saved the working class; however, many writers such as “Blackmon” and “Chang” reject the claims made by Dileronzo. Both writers highlighted the sufferings endured by the working class, including underpayments and extended working hours. Racism enlarged as African Americans and Chinese railroad workers were the victims of such hatred towards industrialists or business magnates. The business magnates were not concerned about the American population; indeed, they had a significant interest to control the masses by providing them with poor working conditions. As the era was considered a gilded age of industrialization, indeed, it was layered by a ruthless approach to business competition. It can be well identified that the key players of each industry, better known as the industry magnets, had started a business rivalry to defeat their competitors in a very cruel way. Many industrialists were granted the favor of Government subsidies and other financial benefits such as land allocations that were part of the railroad industry. As an alternative to the autocratic or democratic approach, the American Government adopted the Laissez-Faire approach to regulating the businesses and industries at that time. The process was considered for the masses to incorporate better working facilities; however, it was transparent that the subject approach only favored the capitalists while the working class kept on living their lives in misery. The Government policies were supporting the industry magnates as there were no taxes at the corporate level, and if there were any, the government would grant sufficient exemptions; the practice would only benefit the industrialists to amass tremendous wealth. The rise of capitalism across America had impacted the lives of specific social and economic groups of the population in general; however, the aftermath of such consequences can be felt at this present age. Capitalism had changed not only the political dynamics but also the foreign policy of the country as well. The immigrants, such as the African-Americans and the Chinese workers, were granted entry into the country to avail better work opportunities; however, they were instead enslaved at the cost of capitalism. Tom Dilorenzo sees the improvements in the conditions for the working class as becoming safer and well-regulated. The latest technology has improved the working conditions while earlier they were very vulnerable and dangerous. It is highlighted that “a reputation of having a dangerous workplace, then they must pay a wage premium to entice workers to take the extra risk”; indeed, there was a significant improvement in the working conditions as claimed by Dilorenzo.

The claim made by Dilorenzo about “Capitalism” is that it has provided significant opportunities for the working class however Blackmon’s views in contrast reiterate the situation by highlighting the real issues faced by the working class in terms of wage, working conditions, imprisonment, and slavery above all. The fact is that black people have been undermined and considered inferior to white supremacy as it well identified that “blacks who fell into the disfavor of white officials anywhere in the South could be swept into the penal system on the most superficial pretense” as pointed out by Blackmon. The fact highlights that capitalism was indeed favoring the rich industrialists and the white supremacy while the underprivileged racial groups the blacks in particular were enforced into slavery.


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