woes of workers

I have always appreciated the magnificent impacts on the Industrial Revolution, especially during the mid 19th century in the West, as it upended the contemporary foundation of the economy and reconstructed the social systems and culture around the world. However, I cannot help but look on to the plight of workers at the mercy of ruthless employers in a toxic working environment still practiced in this aeronautical, wireless internet age.

While the rights and benefits of workers have even been recognized and improved, thanks to people like Lord Ashley, the mistreatment of workers is yet rampantly prevalent by their callous employers exploiting their labor in the toxic environment. Unfortunately, sad tendencies exist everywhere in our world, particularly among non-western populations for whom the Industrial Revolution is the relatively late advent of human progress in terms of collective welfare.

Workers may be born free by the bill of rights, but they are at the whims and caprice of their employers like their ancient slave owners who would decide the livelihood of those under their mastership. Otherwise, Elon Musk’s Tesla would be careful about their non-white workers at his factory, but that’s just the tip of a vast collective unfair employment iceberg. Indeed, the history and experience exhibit to be utterly inconsistent with the advanced minds in the real world.

Polaris

Remember, when you see the North Star
On a high cold night drifting away at sea,
Your destiny isn’t doomed altogether
Even the spell on your life fades away;
Hope leads the path most brilliantly,
Humor cheers a sailing most pleasingly,
And tomorrow is always a new adventure;
No fortune’s malice can cover the Polaris
Nor can sorrow dim the diamond light
With heart even for the fate unkind ever.

still now and then

There is an excellent article in the newest issue of BBC History Revealed about how the Industrial Revolution has upended the fundamental social and cultural structures of the world as the French Revolution has changed political and economic systems of the world as we take for granted nowadays. Epochal changes are a juggernaut of our human civilizations as a process akin to a caterpillar turning mulberry leaves into fine silk despite seismic transitions ensuing from such transformation. A terse army motto of “No pain, no gain” rings true as a universal objective reality, whether or not you embrace it with open arms.

Yet, amid the mountainous waves of indomitable revolutions and a Levitan that dictates new norms and conventions in every aspect of life from clothing to parlance, one thing never changes, and that is a life of a worker, spending most of the day outside the home with strangers for livelihood. For instance, a person whose labor is paid is not entirely free from the whims and caprice of the employer for fear of losing jobs. There are still employers whose common sense is inconsistent with the progressive minds that today’s employees are not modern-day indentured servants or maids, if not those ancient slaves under Roman mastership. It would be anachronistic and unfair to compare the slaves with free citizens working for money, but a provision of service for subsistence puts the progeny on the same continuum.

Come to think of it, now I know why neurologist/psychiatrist/linguist Steven Pinker, aka the Rational Thinker, disagrees with Descartes’ dualism that the body and the mind are separable and Rousseau’s theory of the Blank State of the mind. We can’t be all workaholics without being personal, like cyborgs at work. Maybe that’s why nowadays, many self-checkouts have proliferated in retail and manufacturing sectors. Mind you, that the Luddites were not brute, ignorant anti-machinists destroying the factory machinery in 19th century England. They were somewhat naive angry workers who repelled against the sordid working conditions they were placed like human-like automation. The class distinctions demarcated by the types of work have become new social hierarchy even after the revolutions as aforesaid.