Scraping By Seth Rockman

Topics: Marxism, Social class, Employment Pages: 5 (1992 words) Published: April 1, 2014
History 1100 Scraping By Seth Rockman

Rockman does an excellent job of going against the grain in this book, arguing ideas and points that were not specifically stressed in earlier documentation of early America. Rockman covers and references a vast majority of information however a lot of his points seem to overly engulf the concepts of Capitalism in early Republic. Capitalism is a way of organizing an economy so that the things that are used to make and transport products are owned by individual people and companies rather than by the government. So unlike other historians or authors who usually only talk about the prosperity of Capitalism, Rockman doesn’t: he argues that the deprived work hand in hand with the prosperity, and without the ‘unskilled workers’ capitalism would have not been as successful as he also argues that Capitalism relied on the exploitation of workers unable to fully obtain freedom in the market place, which ultimately were the ‘unskilled laborers’ who were labeled dirty and devalued. Rockman still agrees though that Capitalism “…made the United States arguably the most wealthy, free, and egalitarian society in the Western World.” (Rockman, 3). He just believes it was the deprived, the unskilled but necessary labors that made it happen. Rockman also argued how exploitation enforced by Capitalism unified the race, class, and gender triad in the form of slaves, women, and poor laborers. The exploitation of workers by Capitalism which is the ultimate reason for its success, would be in my opinion Rockmans main argument as there are numerous times in this book he proves this point. I believe so because throughout the whole book he constantly voices how the laborers had no minimal control over their own labor and ultimately were beaten down by the work market. Rockman depicts the work market as violent and aggressive as it did not make life easier for the laborers that it employed, if they were even lucky enough to get a job or even a job that even provided them to live comfortably. And even in a lot of cases jobs that didn’t kill them. Rockman shows the transformation of labor to a ruthless subjection to laws of supply and demand that made the market something other than “a force of human liberation”. He compared the market place to an “invisible hand” but in actuality it is a fist that beat people bloody and often killed them. Referring to the brutal jobs that they had to take on. (Rockman, 258). Resulting in further exploitation by Capitalism, Rockman notes how the cheap labor from a vicious working market drew no artificial distinctions and was a multiethnic and multiracial endeavor basically caused no class consciousness to develop among these poor struggling laborers. And he goes on to prove this point when he refers to the struggles of free blacks and poor white men searching for jobs in this market, stating, “White skin did not protect some men from backbreaking labor.” (Rockman, 47) And I bring that specific quote up for the reason that black and whites have always been in this infamous battle and for the fact skin color was not determining the job at some points said a lot in that era or at least about the marketplace. The poor laborers were basically caught up in a battle within the working place, Rockman shows throughout moments in the book that the working class was battling itself: reasons that are obvious, to be hired against others vying to have a job. Then the working class was also at war with the employers, since they saw them as oppressors, and the employers also battling themselves as in the means of who to hire in terms that would cause little to no political or moral friction. It was a mean cycle, and it was all because the capitalist political economy denied these workers their basic needs.

It was these exploited basic needs of the people that caused the unifying of the race, class, and gender triad in the form of slaves, women, and...
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