GreatTowns - 1 [Friedrich Engels was Karl Marxs colleague....

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1 [Friedrich Engels was Karl Marx’s colleague. Together they wrote many significant critiques of capitalism. This selection is taken from Friedrich Engels’ early writings (he had not yet met Marx). It has become a classic historical description of life among industrial workers in the British Isles. Engels was the son of a German manufacturer. He was sent to Manchester, England in 1842 to learn the family business. Engels spent much of his time, however, walking through the slums of the cities he visited, closely observing the living and working conditions of the proletariat (the working class). His observations became the basis of a book, The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 . The excerpts below are taken from the chapter, “The Great Towns.” --Prof. K.] Selections from Friedrich Engels, “The Great Towns” A town, such as London, where a man may wander for hours together without reaching the beginning of the end, without meeting the slightest hint which could lead to the inference that there is open country within reach, is a strange thing. This colossal centralisation, this heaping together of two and a half millions of human beings at one point, has multiplied the power of this two and a half millions a hundredfold; has raised London to the commercial capital of the world, created the giant docks and assembled the thousand vessels that continually cover the Thames. I know nothing more imposing than the view which the Thames offers during the ascent from the sea to London Bridge. The masses of buildings, the wharves on both sides, especially from Woolwich upwards, the countless ships along both shores, crowding ever closer and closer together, until, at last, only a narrow passage remains in the middle of the river, a passage through which hundreds of steamers shoot by one another; all this is so vast, so impressive, that a man cannot collect himself, but is lost in the marvel of England's greatness before he sets foot upon English soil. But the sacrifices which all this has cost become apparent later. After roaming the streets of the capital a day or two, making headway with difficulty through the human turmoil and the endless lines of vehicles, after visiting the slums of the metropolis, one realises for the first time that these Londoners have been forced to sacrifice the best qualities of their human nature, to bring to pass all the marvels of civilisation which crowd their city; that a hundred powers which slumbered within them have remained inactive, have been suppressed in order that a few might be developed more fully and multiply through union with those of others. The very turmoil of the streets has something repulsive, something against which human nature rebels. The hundreds of thousands of all classes and ranks crowding past each other, are they not all human beings with the same qualities and powers, and with the same interest in being happy? And have they not, in the end, to seek happiness in the same way, by the same means? And still they crowd by one
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GreatTowns - 1 [Friedrich Engels was Karl Marxs colleague....

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