Economics Karl Marx and Frederick Term Paper

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He contrasted the work done in factories with such tasks as lace making, stocking knitting and rural work and felt that factory work was easier by comparison and less tedious or monotonous in nature. The arguments of Marx and Ure are as dissimilar as two could possibly be. While Marx believed that history of technology since 1830 could be described as one of 'weapons against the revolts of the working-class', Andrew Ure felt that machine system was just so perfect that it could destroy any labor unions that ever came into existence. Writing about the dressing machine, he said:

It affords an instructive warning to workmen to beware of strikes, by proving how surely science, at the call of capital, will defeat every unjustifiable union, which labourers may form.

Thomas Carlyle was another important figure of the time. He can be described as the man whose views ran somewhere in the middle of two extremes presented by Marx and Ure. While he understood that machine age was here to stay, he did not want people to rely too heavily on machines and was among the first few to criticize such dependence:

Not the external and physical alone is now managed by machinery, but the internal and spiritual also. Here too nothing follows its spontaneous course, nothing is left to be accomplished by the old natural methods.
.. Men are grown mechanical in head and in heart, as well as in hand."

Carlyle's views were more spiritual in nature than commercial or industrial. He was not exactly interested in criticizing the machine, but what it had done to the human soul and psyche. He rightly felt that people were more or less not interested in the invisible anymore. They had seen the machine do so much; they felt that all that they can do is in the visible. This meant that machine had somehow replaced spirituality and the belief in the unseen.

Hence Marx, Ure and Carlyle all differ in their arguments on the machine age and the factory system. While Ure eulogizes them, Mrax offer harsh criticism while Carlyle takes a middle path and only criticizes the effects of mechanical revolution of spirituality.


Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. The Communist Manifesto 1848. Retrieved online 24th September 2006 at

Andrew Ure. Philosophy of the Manufacturers. 1835 Retrieved online 24th September 2006 at

Thomas Carlyle: Signs of the Times: The "Mechanical Age." Retrieved online 24th September 2006 at

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