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Report…from the Poor Law Commissioners on an Inquiry into the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain (1842)

•What do you think the purpose of this document was?

•Which of his descriptions are related to urbanization (possibly common earlier in history) and which are related to industrialization?

•How does Chadwick’s proposal attempt to alleviate laboring class suffering?

•What difficulties exist to these improvements?

•Do you think that these reforms were successful? Why or why not?

Carnegie “Gospel of Wealth” (1889)

•How did Carnegie gain so much wealth? Would this have been possible before the Industrial Age?

•What does Carnegie argue about wealth and social relations?

•What is his solution to matters of wealth and inequality?

•How do his ideas about wealth juxtapose with Marks’ argument about Social Darwinism from this week’s reading?

•Do you agree or disagree with Carnegie? Why?

Luxemburg “Martinique” (1902)

•What seems to be the purpose of this document?

•How does Luxemburg criticize international responses to the crisis?

•How are humans still at the mercies of nature even during an industrialized age?

•How is the location (Martinique) significant? Why was the damage so bad here? Incorporate information from our discussions “Neo Europes” and “Climate/Uprisings”

•Do we see discussions today that mirror those of Luxemburg and Martinique in the Caribbean?

Edwin Chadwick (1800-1890) had taken an active part in the reform of the Poor Law and in factory legislation before he

became secretary to a commission investigating sanitary conditions and means of improving them. The Commission's

report, of which the summary is given below, is the third of the great reports of this epoch. The following material comes

from Report…from the Poor Law Commissioners on an Inquiry into the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring

Population of Great Britain London, 1842, pp. 369-72.]

After as careful an examination of the evidence collected as I have been enabled to make, I beg leave to

recapitulate the chief conclusions which that evidence appears to me to establish.

First, as to the extent and operation of the evils which are the subject of this inquiry: —

That the various forms of epidemic, endemic, and other disease caused, or aggravated, or propagated chiefly

amongst the labouring classes by atmospheric impurities produced by decomposing animal and vegetable

substances, by damp and filth, and close and overcrowded dwellings prevail amongst the population in every

part of the kingdom, whether dwelling in separate houses, in rural villages, in small towns, in the larger towns

— as they have been found to prevail in the lowest districts of the metropolis.

That such disease, wherever its attacks are frequent, is always found in connexion with the physical

circumstances above specified, and that where those circumstances are removed by drainage, proper cleansing,

better ventilation, and other means of diminishing atmospheric impurity, the frequency and intensity of such

disease is abated; and where the removal of the noxious agencies appears to be complete, such disease almost

entirely disappears.

 Contaminated London drinking water containing various micro-

organisms, refuse, and the like.

The high prosperity in respect to employment and

wages, and various and abundant food, have afforded to

the labouring classes no exemptions from attacks of

epidemic disease, which have been as frequent and as

fatal in periods of commercial and manufacturing

prosperity as in any others.

That the formation of all habits of cleanliness is

obstructed by defective supplies of water.

That the annual loss of life from filth and bad ventilation

are greater than the loss from death or wounds in any

wars in which the country has been engaged in modern


That of the 43,000 cases of widowhood, and 112,000

cases of destitute orphanage relieved from the poor's rates in England and Wales alone, it appears that the

greatest proportion of deaths of the heads of families occurred from the above specified and other removable

causes; that their ages were under 45 years; that is to say, 13 years below the natural probabilities of life as

shown by the experience of the whole population of Sweden. That the public loss from the premature deaths of

the heads of families is greater than can be represented by any enumeration of the pecuniary burdens

consequent upon their sickness and death. That, measuring the loss of working ability amongst large classes by

the instances of gain, even from incomplete arrangements for the removal of noxious influences from places of

work or from abodes, that this loss cannot be less than eight or ten years. That the ravages of epidemics and

other diseases do not diminish but tend to increase the pressure of population. That in the districts where the

mortality is greatest the births are not only sufficient to replace the numbers removed by death, but to add to the

population. That the younger population, bred up under noxious physical agencies, is inferior in physical

organization and general health to a population preserved from the presence of such agencies. That the

population so exposed is less susceptible of moral influences, and the effects of education are more transient

than with a healthy population. That these adverse circumstances tend to produce an adult population short-

lived, improvident, reckless, and intemperate, and with habitual avidity for sensual gratifications. That these

habits lead to the abandonment of all the conveniences and decencies of life, and especially lead to the

overcrowding of their homes, which is destructive to the morality as well as the health of large classes of both

sexes. That defective town cleansing fosters habits of the most abject degradation and tends to the

demoralization of large numbers of human beings, who subsist by means of what they find amidst the noxious

filth accumulated in neglected streets and bye-places. That the expenses of local public works are in general

unequally and unfairly assessed, oppressively and uneconomically collected, by separate collections, wastefully

expended in separate and inefficient operations by unskilled and practically irresponsible officers. That the

existing law for the protection of the public health and the constitutional machinery for reclaiming its execution,

such as the Courts Leet, have fallen into desuetude, and are in the state indicated by the prevalence of the evils

they were intended to prevent.

Secondly. As to the means by which the present sanitary condition of the labouring classes may be improved:–

The primary and most important measures, and at the same time the most practicable, and within the recognized

province of public administration, are drainage, the removal of all refuse of habitations, streets, and roads, and

the improvement of the supplies of water.

That the chief obstacles to the immediate removal of decomposing refuse of towns and habitations have been

the expense and annoyance of the hand labour and cartage requisite for the purpose. That this expense may be

reduced to one-twentieth or to one-thirtieth, or rendered inconsiderable, by the use of water and self-acting

means of removal by improved and cheaper sewers and drains. That refuse when thus held in suspension in

water may be most cheaply and innoxiously conveyed to any distance out of towns, and also in the best form for

productive use, and that the loss and injury by the pollution of natural streams may be avoided.

That for all these purposes, as well as for domestic use, better supplies of water are absolutely necessary.

That for successful and economical drainage the adoption of geological areas as the basis of operations is

requisite. That appropriate scientific arrangements for public drainage would afford important facilities for

private land-drainage, which is important for the health as well as sustenance of the labouring classes.

That the expense of public drainage, of supplies of water laid on in houses, and of means of improved cleansing

would be a pecuniary gain, by diminishing the existing charges attendant on sickness and premature mortality.

That for the protection of the labouring classes and of the ratepayers against inefficiency and waste in all new

structural arrangements for the protection of the public health, and to ensure public confidence that the

expenditure will be beneficial, securities should be taken that all new local public works are devised and

conducted by responsible officers qualified by the possession of the science and skill of civil engineers.

That the oppressiveness and injustice of levies for the whole immediate outlay on such works upon persons who

have only short interests in the benefits may be avoided by care in spreading the expense over periods

coincident with the benefits. That by appropriate arrangements, 10 or 15 per cent. on the ordinary outlay for

drainage might be saved, which on an estimate of the expense of the necessary structural alterations of one-third

only of the existing tenements would be a saving of one million and a half sterling, besides the reduction of the

future expenses of management. That for the prevention of the disease occasioned by defective ventilation and

other causes of impurity in places of work and other places where large numbers are assembled, and for the

general promotion of the means necessary to prevent disease, that it would be good economy to appoint a

district medical officer independent of private practice, and with the securities of special qualifications and

responsibilities to initiate sanitary measures and reclaim the execution of the law.

That by the combinations of all these arrangements, it is probable that the full ensurable period of life indicated

by the Swedish tables; that is, an increase of 13 years at least, may be extended to the whole of the labouring

classes. That the attainment of these and the other collateral advantages of reducing existing charges and

expenditure are within the power of the legislature, and are dependent mainly on the securities taken for the

application of practical science, skill, and economy in the direction of local public works. And that the removal

of noxious physical circumstances, and the promotion of civic, household, and personal cleanliness, are

necessary to the improvement of the moral condition of the population; for that sound morality and refinement

in manners and health are not long found co-existent with filthy habits amongst any class of the community.

Andrew Carnegie: The Gospel of Wealth, 1889 Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) was a massively successful business man – his wealth was based on the provision of iron

and steel to the railways, but also a man who recalled his radical roots in Scotland before his immigration to the United

States. To resolve what might seem to be contradictions between the creation of wealth, which he saw as proceeding from

immutable social laws, and social provision he came up with the notion of the "gospel of wealth". He lived up to his word,

and gave away his fortune to socially beneficial projects, most famously by funding libraries. His approval of death taxes

might surprise modern billionaires!

The problem of our age is the administration of wealth, so that the ties of brotherhood may still bind together

the rich and poor in harmonious relationship. The conditions of human life have not only been changed, but

revolutionized, within the past few hundred years. In former days there was little difference between the

dwelling, dress, food, and environment of the chief and those of his retainers. . . . The contrast between the

palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the laborer with us to-day measures the change which has come with


This change, however, is not to be deplored, but welcomed as highly beneficial. It is well, nay, essential for the

progress of the race, that the houses of some should be homes for all that is highest and best in literature and the

arts, and for all the refinements of civilization, rather than that none should be so. Much better this great

irregularity than universal squalor. Without wealth there can be no Maecenas [Note: a rich Roman patron of the

arts]. The "good old times" were not good old times . Neither master nor servant was as well situated then as to

day. A relapse to old conditions would be disastrous to both-not the least so to him who serves-and would

sweep away civilization with it….

We start, then, with a condition of affairs under which the best interests of the race are promoted, but which

inevitably gives wealth to the few. Thus far, accepting conditions as they exist, the situation can be surveyed

and pronounced good. The question then arises-and, if the foregoing be correct, it is the only question with

which we have to deal-What is the proper mode of administering wealth after the laws upon which civilization

is founded have thrown it into the hands of the few? And it is of this great question that I believe I offer the true

solution. It will be understood that fortunes are here spoken of, not moderate sums saved by many years of

effort, the returns from which are required for the comfortable maintenance and education of families. This is

not wealth, but only competence, which it should be the aim of all to acquire.

There are but three modes in which surplus wealth can be disposed of. It can be left to the families of the

decedents; or it can be bequeathed for public purposes; or, finally, it can be administered during their lives by

its possessors. Under the first and second modes most of the wealth of the world that has reached the few has

hitherto been applied. Let us in turn consider each of these modes. The first is the most injudicious. In

monarchial countries, the estates and the greatest portion of the wealth are left to the first son, that the vanity of

the parent may be gratified by the thought that his name and title are to descend to succeeding generations

unimpaired. The condition of this class in Europe to-day teaches the futility of such hopes or ambitions. The

successors have become impoverished through their follies or from the fall in the value of land…. Why should

men leave great fortunes to their children? If this is done from affection, is it not misguided affection?

Observation teaches that, generally speaking, it is not well for the children that they should be so burdened.

Neither is it well for the state. Beyond providing for the wife and daughters moderate sources of income, and

very moderate allowances indeed, if any, for the sons, men may well hesitate, for it is no longer questionable

that great sums bequeathed oftener work more for the injury than for the good of the recipients. Wise men will

soon conclude that, for the best interests of the members of their families and of the state, such bequests are an

improper use of their means.

As to the second mode, that of leaving wealth at death for public uses, it may be said that this is only a means

for the disposal of wealth, provided a man is content to wait until he is dead before it becomes of much good in

the world…. The cases are not few in which the real object sought by the testator is not attained, nor are they

few in which his real wishes are thwarted….

The growing disposition to tax more and more heavily large estates left at death is a cheering indication of the

growth of a salutary change in public opinion…. Of all forms of taxation, this seems the wisest. Men who

continue hoarding great sums all their lives, the proper use of which for public ends would work good to the

community, should be made to feel that the community, in the form of the state, cannot thus be deprived of its

proper share. By taxing estates heavily at death, the state marks its condemnation of the selfish millionaire's

unworthy life.

This policy would work powerfully to induce the rich man to attend to the administration of wealth during his

life, which is the end that society should always have in view, as being that by far most fruitful for the people….

There remains, then, only one mode of using great fortunes: but in this way we have the true antidote for the

temporary unequal distribution of wealth, the reconciliation of the rich and the poor-a reign of harmony-another

ideal, differing, indeed from that of the Communist in requiring only the further evolution of existing

conditions, not the total overthrow of our civilization. It is founded upon the present most intense individualism,

and the race is prepared to put it in practice by degrees whenever it pleases. Under its sway we shall have an

ideal state, in which the surplus wealth of the few will become, in the best sense, the property of the many,

because administered for the common good, and this wealth, passing through the hands of the few, can be made

a much more potent force for the elevation of our race than if it had been distributed in small sums to the people

themselves. Even the poorest can be made to see this, and to agree that great sums gathered by some of their

fellow-citizens and spent for public purposes, from which the masses reap the principal benefit, are more

valuable to them than if scattered among them through the course of many years in trifling amounts.

This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of Wealth: First, to set an example of modest, unostentatious living,

shunning display or extravagance; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him;

and after doing so to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called

upon to administer, and strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is

best calculated to produce the most beneficial result for the community-the man of wealth thus becoming the

sole agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience, and

ability to administer-doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.

Andrew Camegie, "Wealth," North American Review, 148, no. 391 (June 1889): 653, 657-62.

Rosa Luxemburg (1902) Martinique

Written: After the volcanic eruption in May 1902 at the port of St. Pierre.

Mountains of smoking ruins, heaps of mangled corpses, a steaming, smoking sea of fire wherever you turn, mud

and ashes – that is all that remains of the flourishing little city which perched on the rocky slope of the volcano

like a fluttering swallow. For some time the angry giant had been heard to rumble and rage against this human

presumption, the blind self-conceit of the two-legged dwarfs. Great-hearted even in his wrath, a true giant, he

warned the reckless creatures that crawled at his feet. He smoked, spewed out fiery clouds, in his bosom there

was seething and boiling and explosions like rifle volleys and cannon thunder. But the lords of the earth, those

who ordain human destiny, remained with faith unshaken – in their own wisdom.

On the 7th, the commission dispatched by the government announced to the anxious people of St. Pierre that all

was in order in heaven and on earth. All is in order, no cause for alarm! – as they said on the eve of the Oath of

the Tennis Court in the dance-intoxicated halls of Louis XVI, while in the crater of the revolutionary volcano

fiery lava was gathering for the fearful eruption. All is in order, peace and quiet everywhere! – as they said in

Vienna and Berlin on the eve of the March eruption 50 years ago. The old, long-suffering titan of Martinique

paid no heed to the reports of the honorable commission: after the people had been reassured by the governor on

the 7th, he erupted in the early hours of the 8th and buried in a few minutes the governor, the commission, the

people, houses, streets and ships under the fiery exhalation of his indignant heart.

The work was radically thorough. Forty thousand human lives mowed down, a handful of trembling refugees

rescued – the old giant can rumble and bubble in peace, he has shown his might, he has fearfully avenged the

slight to his primordial power.

And now in the ruins of the annihilated city on Martinique a new guest arrives, unknown, never seen before –

the human being. Not lords and bondsmen, not Blacks and whites, not rich and poor, not plantation owners and

wage slaves – human beings have appeared on the tiny shattered island, human beings who feel only the pain

and see only the disaster, who only want to help and succor. Old Mt. Pelee has worked a miracle! Forgotten are

the days of Fashoda, forgotten the conflict over Cuba, forgotten “la Revanche” – the French and the English, the

tsar and the Senate of Washington, Germany and Holland donate money, send telegrams, extend the helping

hand. A brotherhood of peoples against nature’s burning hatred, a resurrection of humanism on the ruins of

human culture. The price of recalling their humanity was high, but thundering Mt. Pelee had a voice to catch

their ear.

France weeps over the tiny island’s 40,000 corpses, and the whole world hastens to dry the tears of the Mother

Republic. But how was it then, centuries ago, when France spilled blood in torrents for the Lesser and Greater

Antilles? In the sea off the east coast of Africa lies a volcanic island – Madagascar: 50 years ago there we saw

the disconsolate Republic who weeps for her lost children today, how she bowed the obstinate native people to

her yoke with chains and the sword. No volcano opened its crater there: the mouths of French cannons spewed

out death and annihilation; French artillery fire swept thousands of flowering human lives from the face of the

earth until a free people lay prostrate on the ground, until the brown queen of the “savages” was dragged off as

a trophy to the “City of Light.”

On the Asiatic coast, washed by the waves of the ocean, lie the smiling Philippines. Six years ago we saw the

benevolent Yankees, we saw the Washington Senate at work there. Not fire-spewing mountains – there,

American rifles mowed down human lives in heaps; the sugar cartel Senate which today sends golden dollars to

Martinique, thousands upon thousands, to coax life back from the ruins, sent cannon upon cannon, warship

upon warship, golden dollars millions upon millions to Cuba, to sow death and devastation.

Yesterday, today – far off in the African south, where only a few years ago a tranquil little people lived by their

labor and in peace, there we saw how the English wreak havoc, these same Englishmen who in Martinique save

the mother her children and the children their parents: there we saw them stamp on human bodies, on children’s

corpses with brutal soldiers’ boots, wading in pools of blood, death and misery before them and behind.

Ah, and the Russians, the rescuing, helping, weeping Tsar of All the Russians – an old acquaintance! We have

seen you on the camparts of Praga, where warm Polish blood flowed in streams and turned the sky red with its

steam. But those were the old days. No! Now, only a few weeks ago, we have seen you benevolent Russians on

your dusty highways, in ruined Russian villages eye to eye with the ragged, wildly agitated, grumbling mob;

gunfire rattled, gasping muzhiks fell to the earth, red peasant blood mingled with the dust of the highway. They

must die, they must fall because their bodies doubled up with hunger, because they cried out for bread, for


And we have seen you too, oh Mother Republic, you tear-distiller. It was on May 23 of 1871: the glorious

spring sun shone down on Paris; thousands of pale human beings in working clothes stood packed together in

the streets, in prison courtyards, body to body and head to head; through loopholes in the walls, mitrailleuses

thrust their bloodthirsty muzzles. No volcano erupted, no lava stream poured down. Your cannons, Mother

Republic, were turned on the tight-packed crowd, screams of pain rent the air – over 20,000 corpses covered the

pavements of Paris!

And all of you – whether French and English, Russians and Germans, Italians and Americans – we have seen

you all together once before in brotherly accord, united in a great league of nations, helping and guiding each

other: it was in China. There too you forgot all quarrels among yourselves, there too you made a peace of

peoples – for mutual murder and the torch. Ha, how the pigtails fell in rows before your bullets, like a ripe

grainfield lashed by the hail! Ha, how the wailing women plunged into the water, their dead in their cold arms,

fleeing the tortures of your ardent embraces!

And now they have all turned to Martinique, all one heart and one mind again; they help, rescue, dry the tears

and curse the havoc-wreaking volcano. Mt. Pelee, great-hearted giant, you can laugh; you can look down in

loathing at these benevolent murderers, at these weeping carnivores, at these beasts in Samaritan’s clothing. But

a day will come when another volcano lifts its voice of thunder: a volcano that is seething and boiling, whether

you need it or not, and will sweep the whole sanctimonious, blood-splattered culture from the face of the earth.

And only on its ruins will the nations come together in true humanity, which will know but one deadly foe –

blind, dead nature.