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What Is Industry & How Did It Get That Way?

Industry--from converting of raw materials into the things people want to the providing of services people need--is the center and foundation of our social life. The capitalists who control the natural resources, and who control the equipment and facilities necessary to transform raw materials and to provide these services, form the smaller of the two classes in society. Workers who gather raw materials, transform materials into usable goods, and provide services society needs are the other, and much larger class.

The interests of these two classes is opposed. The entire social life of the world is shaped by these facts.

The capitalist class is anxious to stay in control and keep the privileges that come from having that power. To make that control secure, it seeks to gain or keep control of all social institutions. It wants the government to write and administer its laws. It wants the schools to teach respect and obedience to the privileged few. It wants the press, television and film to shape our thoughts and feelings to serve its interests. And where it cannot get rid of the organizations that labor has built, it wants to control them too.

Capitalists are threatened with the loss of their control by two outstanding facts:

  • Modern industrial development has made their activities unnecessary;
  • The working class is able, once it so desires, to take control of industry and thus establish a much more efficient and satisfactory society.

The original function of the capitalist was to provide funds and management. Today management is the job of a specially trained section of the class of managers, and funds are amply provided out of the various reserves taken from profits. The system of corporate administration that the capitalists have built up has made them unnecessary.

The capitalist class to power in society as the result of long struggles against kings and feudal land owners. Kings and feudal land owners ran the world based on a agricultural social system where the ownership of land was the basis of power.

With the help of the common people who did the fighting, capitalists won the fight against feudalism because new inventions, procedures, and discoveries had made feudalism outdated. The parliamentary bodies that had been created to raise funds for the feudal order had also established a more efficient system of government, and had made kings and lords as obsolete as capitalists are today.

Historic voyages and discoveries, improvements in navigation, and the new factory system had all made the ownership of warehouses, ships and equipment more important than the ownership of land. The basis of society had shifted from the farm to the factory, and the control of society had shifted to those who control industry.

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