Saturday, 29 September 2012

A Century of War

A century of war is about to close.  It began with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, the largest ship in the world, sunk on it's maiden voyage. On board, the UK's finest and wealthiest, a floating meeting of the Bilderberg Group.  History recorded a collision with an iceberg. Yet the only mountain in the course of history was WWI and the intolerable living and working conditions of the early 20th century, when average life expectancy for a man was just 46 years, a day at work for the poor lasted an average of 12 hours. To make matters worse, the wealthier in society depended upon household staff. Never was class disparity so held up in the face of those employed to carry out very personal, often dirty and manual labour. A wealthy household might employ staff to clean toilets, wash clothes, clean the house, maintain a garden, all tasks which starkly contrast social position, underscoring the class division between those living upstairs and those toiling at all hours downstairs. Today the coal face roles have been displaced by dishwashers, washing machines and other household appliances, whilst high quality pre-prepared food and many other labour saving technologies and modern conveniences have done away with class contrasting dependence upon man servants. Women within low income groups at that time, were practically enslaved within marital domestic servitude, the working class atomic unit depending upon such unequal social structures.

Europe's half a millennia of industrialisation created the burgeoning middle and upper classes of the early 1900s, capitalism's echelons of people and revenue mountains were highly ordered for the period. Europe was the world's hub of science, industry and commerce. Raw materials were brought here, to be processed using technologies that only existed here, before being traded locally or exported to marvelling lower-tech countries. We were rich imperial nations. Nothing was going to deter European capitalists from their vision glimpsed upon the blue Danube. In contrast with Russia's widely distributed and excessively poor land labourers, many people in Europe would be displaced from positions of power by radical change in political ideology. 

The process of redefining monarchy and the church has continued gradually since the 12th century, emerging from the dark ages with civilisation, shifting power toward the people and society's industrialists, bringing us to the position we have today where in most nations the monarchy continue only as figureheads or as a model of familial structure. Ultimately, nepotist feudal rule was no match for meritocratic industrialism, rendering the richest men in society no longer monarchs, taxes in the UK being paid directly to government since the late 17th century.

It is the source of much human suffering that capitalism and communism are mutually exclusive systems of governance, they cannot peacefully co-exist.  Since the invention of WMDs, with the volatility of political extremism, the absolute necessity of incremental revisionism over revolution is almost universally accepted. Yet it cannot be understated that the force which will emancipate mankind from hardship is technology and not any specific political doctrine. Communisms drive to bandage the lowest knee, over capitalisms potential for the amoral pursuit of profit, would seem clearly preferable to any compassionate human.  Yet paradoxically efficiency is a greater motivation for technological innovation. Innovations which today bring to the majority what a hundred years earlier were only available to the wealthy upper classes of our planet. 

The majority of us have been freed from laborious domestic chores. Whilst a night at the opera, the theatre or a musical performance may be enjoyed by all, even on a modest income. Travel to regions of the world, just a few decades earlier considered remote and exotic to most of us, is now possible for the majority. 

A hundred years of war, from which we may conclude: we must always strive to make available to the majority the life style enjoyed by the more privileged, always seeking to eradicate manual labour and suffering. Our objective must be the emancipation of humanity thru technology. 

This entry was inspired by a a three part documentary currently being screened by the BBC: "Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs"

No comments:

Post a Comment