2.b.18 – Did public education mitigate the class struggle?

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February 5, 2010 — Riccardo Sabellotti - Giacinto Sabellotti

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Did public education mitigate the class struggle?

During the nineteenth century science and education became almost sacred values, and a manner consistent with the liberal Enlightenment thought, it began to introduce public education for all or at least for a wider range of people. The growing dissemination of education allowed a greater specialization and hence a greater variety of activities and products; the value of the individual worker, his working ability, increasingly depended on his professional training which, by making increasingly difficult to replace the worker himself, made the levels of wages consequently increase.
This helped to offset the tremendous social tension that was built between the new ruling class, that of industrial capitalists, and new subject class i.e. the worker proletariat. Modern industrial slaves in fact soon understood that they might be crushed by the gears of progress and that their conditions were quickly getting worse instead of improving; being included in production process just like machines, they were treated as such: the relation human-animal now become man-machine. Like their masters, they reacted in a violent way, with riots and occupations of factories, both producing or embracing a new culture, such as the socialist thought or one of its evolutions, like the anarchist or communist ideology. The workers of factories did what was impossible to slaves: to get organized to obtain a greater political weight; the result was a slow and suffered improvement of the life conditions of workers, who obtained, for example, the right to form trade unions, then the right to holidays, weekly day off and retirement. Therefore, if the first hundred years of industrial economy were tormented by the ideological war between liberal and aristocrat thought, the following hundred years were torn by a conflict between socialist and liberal thought: on this regard, we can recall the Russian Revolution of 1917, the war in Vietnam and the Cold war.

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