19th and early 20th century Anglo-America History homework help

Use readings in 19th and early 20th century Anglo-America to test some of the propositions advanced by either Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations and /or Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in The Communist Manifesto. Don’t attempt to explore all of their many ideas, but chose just one or two. For example, you might take Adam Smith’s conception of the pin making division of labor and then see if that is an accurate template to explain the division of labor in the great textile, steel, and auto factories of the 19th century and after, including that of Amazon. Or you might examine the rise of large corporations and the merger movement of the late 19th century to test Smith’s conception of how unfettered markets a century earlier proved an accurate model for later developments. Do those greyhounds of 1776 have the same kind of market power as Carnegie Steel in the 1890s?

History 167cb

Capitalism and Class

Instructor: Nelson Lichtenstein

Four Page Paper Due January 27, 2022

Write a four page paper that uses course readings in 19th and early 20th century Anglo-America to test some of the propositions advanced by either Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations and /or Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in The Communist Manifesto. Don’t attempt to explore all of their many ideas, but chose just one or two. For example, you might take Adam Smith’s conception of the pin making division of labor and then see if that is an accurate template to explain the division of labor in the great textile, steel, and auto factories of the 19th century and after, including that of Amazon. Or you might examine the rise of large corporations and the merger movement of the late 19th century to test Smith’s conception of how unfettered markets a century earlier proved an accurate model for later developments. Do those greyhounds of 1776 have the same kind of market power as Carnegie Steel in the 1890s?

Likewise, test some of the provocative propositions put forth in The Communist Manifesto. Was the bourgeoise (the capitalists) a “revolutionary” class that destroyed old ways of life? Offer examples, including those whose livelihoods were destroyed in the 19th century. Have capitalists been their own “grave diggers,” insofar as they create large factories that concentrate and empower a proletariat, with “masses of laborers crowded into factories… organized as soldiers?” Marx and Engels argue that capitalism simplifies the class structure, destroying the middle class and polarizing society into capitalists and proletariat. Does history prove them correct? And another proposition from the Communist Manifesto: “Differences of age and sex have no longer any distinctive social validity for the working class.” Is that true when it comes to the growth of a 19th and early 20th century laboring class?

Again, don’t try to answer all of these questions, but take one or two from either Smith or Marx (or both) and explain what these writers meant in 1776 or 1848 and then whether or not the subsequent industrial and commercial decades proved them right or wrong. Use the readings, lectures, and especially Joshua Freeman’s Behemoth to find historical examples, statistics, and narratives that sustain or contradict ideas put forward by these 18th and 19th century theorists of capitalism.

There is no right or wrong answer. Hundreds of historians, economists, and other scholars have written millions of pages praising, denouncing, or otherwise commenting on the truths or fallacies in the work of these writers. Your job is to extract from the assigned readings the kind of historical evidence that will enable you to make a coherent argument about just a very few of their ideas. Explain why you have chosen the propositions you plan to test and then marshal the stories and examples necessary to sustain, subvert, or modify the idea put forward by Smith or Marx. Don’t just quote the authors or the text, but also tell stories and offer examples in your own words.

Footnote your paper – by using footnotes! Thus, you might write: Marx argues that “Steam and machinery revolutionize industrial production.”[footnoteRef:1] As Joshua Freeman has shown, the early factories were advantageous to British capitalists because, in the words of journalist Edward Baines, they “allowed greater supervision of every stage of production by a skilled overseer.”[footnoteRef:2] That’s why so many commentators, then and now, used the metaphor “wage slavery” to describe factory labor.[footnoteRef:3] [1: Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto, 5. ] [2: Joshua Freeman, Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World (New York: W.W.Norton, 2018), 11.] [3: Ibid., 25.]

This paper should be posted to GouchoSpace by 1 p.m. on January 31, 2022. (I don’t want you working on it during the lecture that afternoon). It is worth 20 percent of your grade. If you have questions or want me to review a sample paragraph or two, e-mail me at nelson@history.ucsb.edu

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