victorian workers - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
Editor recommendation: There is much unexplored material for novels, screenplays and movies in, "The Condition of the Working Class in England," by Friedrich Engels. I suspect the information in it would lend itself nicely to creating Netflix series and such.
Since the birth of the industrial revolution, when Victorian workers were living often twenty or more to a single house, entire families living in single rooms of about ten by twelve feet, and sewage ran through the narrow streets, lower standards for workers meant more money for owners. Lower morality translated to higher profits. Regulations in modern times have only shifted the depraved living conditions and abuses from one country to another. In this new era we have the ability to ensure all are fed, housed and cared for, given liberty, a chance to heal and be happy. No more the half-smiles of the greedy, the condescending attitudes to those in deep trauma for generations. Now is the time for love to win and the brutality to end globally. No more, "All against all;" it is time for, "One for all, and all for one."
"The necessary preconditions of this competitive universe [capitalism] are periodic crisis; surplus population and a reserve army of labour... indirectly, far more than directly, many more have died of starvation, where long continued want of proper nourishment has called forth fatal illnesses... the English working men call this 'social murder,' and accuse our whole society of perpetrating this crime perpetually... In Manchester at that time more than half of the children of working-class parents died before the age of five."
Found in The Condition of the Working Class in England, authored by .
The first racism I have found, with the word "race" being used, was "white on white." In the Victorian era the working class (about seventy five percent of the British population) and the Irish immigrants were spoken of as other "races." It was considered by many appropriate to employ them on low wage, rent a pig-pen or or other dirty and poorly built home for them to live in and sell them whatever poor quality and amount of food they could afford. The first day they didn't work was the first day they didn't eat. In Manchester at the time fifty seven percent of children died before they were five. Entire families lived in a single room and, for the Irish, twenty to a tiny two room house with people in a dank cellar was the norm. Disease and hunger was rampant. Their deaths were predictable and seen as removing surplus population of "lower races" - they were all white. Victorian society was "all against all" - all out competition, survival of the fittest... and perhaps against this background it is obvious that Darwin thought humans and nature were this way... missing that we are a social species, that cooperation, gentleness and emotional sensitivity is an intelligence and not the opposite.
In terms of generations this was recent history. Trauma travels down the generations. So the wealthy white people in America abusing and murdering black slaves, was a cruel and ignorant extension of a cruel and ignorant society. It should be said that there are always good people in the richer areas with privilege who do their best to rescue and create fairness, such as those who helped create the health service and welfare systems... and there are those who fight their way up only to abuse those that were once their kin... making them culpable for their own disadvantage. It is time for the "good" from all nations to rise and show love and empathy is our way, that we refuse to keep on with this Victorian invention that is racism and see the inborn rights of every soul.
In the Victorian era the "employers" paid wages, yet charged for lodgings and food via the "cottage system" and the "truck shops." They worked from age seven, eight or nine, sometimes younger in the lace industry, twelve, fourteen or sixteen hours a day until they were too sick and deformed. At which point there was no welfare system and death awaited. As such people referred to themselves as "white slaves" and saw no difference between their lot and slavery, the wealth of nations built on their backs, their blood turned to gold in the hands of others. And so, in this spirit of competition, the workers of Germany drove down the wages of the workers in England and vice versa, each starving in their own personal hell. And if we step back from this slavery, if we remove the money and then ask what we see... we see domination of the many by the few. The alternative is liberty, society organised by those with the ability, not as power but as service and the necessities of life free for all, no money and the triangle of power inverted so that there are no slaves, only wise guidance, advice and freedom with true democracy. This is leadership more as the Buddhist monk than a European style royal. If you can learn to see the movement of goods and labour without any reference to money, you soon see the truth. This is why we must choose love and cooperation over money, it is our only hope to build a world worthy of humanity and the wonderful species of Earth.
The industrial revolution broke the ordinary British in body and spirit, working even children fourteen or sixteen hours per day. They were underfed, developed spinal injuries and deaths in the workplace was common. It was greed with indifference to others at its very inception and thus was born the industrialised world - greed barely restrained by laws that breaks the workers in body, soul and psychology daily, bringing early death, depression and a reduced capacity to enjoy living or be a proper parent. Social evolution that pays attention to who we are as a species, how we can heal, love and cooperate can build us a new system and let us do away with this outdated Victorian "combustion engine" of a system in which we are the fuel. Perhaps then we can stop the pollution, empty the prisons and find good health.
"When the glass is withdrawn from the fire, the children must often go into such heat that the boards on which they stand catch fire under their feet. The glass-blowers usually die young of debility and chest infections."
"They knew nothing of a different kind of life than that in which they toil from morning until they are allowed to stop at night, and did not even understand the question they had never heard before, whether they were tired." [Horne Report and Evidence]
"Among the children whose work is especially injurious are the mould-runners, who have to carry the moulded article with the form to the drying-room, and afterwards bring back the empty form, when the article is properly dried. Thus they must go to and fro the whole day, carrying burdens heavy in proportion to their age, while the high temperature in which they have to do this increases very considerably the exhaustiveness of the work. These children, with barely a single exception are lean, pale, feeble, stunted; nearly all suffer from stomach problems, nausea, want of appetite, and many of them die of consumption."
"All the medical men interrogated by the commissioner agreed that no method of life could be invented better calculated to destroy health and induce early death."
And in those Victorian factories and mills the girls, who made up most of the workers, aged about fourteen to twenty, were the de-facto harem of the mill owner. Perhaps only one girl in ninety-nine managed to say, "No." And the babies of married women and those who were not were away from their mothers from 5am to 8pm. As the babies languished in the care of the very young, the very old, and often doped up on opioids to keep them quiet, milk ran freely down the mother's clothing. Those whom survived were ill-suited for future family life, so accustomed to isolation and no loving care. These were our great grandparents, parents to our grandparents, these traumas still evident in the stories of neglect and poor mental health today.