SparkNotes: The Jungle: Themes
The main theme of The Jungle is the evil of capitalism. Every event, especially in the first twenty-seven chapters of the book, is chosen deliberately to portray a particular failure of capitalism, which is, in Sinclair’s view, inhuman, destructive, unjust, brutal, and violent. The slow annihilation of Jurgis’s immigrant family at the hands of a cruel and prejudiced economic and social system demonstrates the effect of capitalism on the working class as a whole. As the immigrants, who initially possess an idealistic faith in the American Dream of hard work leading to material success, are slowly used up, tortured, and destroyed, the novel relentlessly illustrates that capitalism is to blame for their plight and emphasizes that the characters’ individual stories are the stories of millions of people. The Jungle is not a thematically nuanced or complicated novel: capitalism is simply portrayed as a total evil, from its greedy destruction of children to its cynical willingness to sell diseased meat to an unsuspecting public. Sinclair opts not to explore the psychology of capitalism; instead, he simply presents a long litany of the ugly effects of capitalism on the world. In Sinclair’s view, socialism is the cure for all of the problems that capitalism creates. When socialism is introduced, it is shown to be as good as capitalism is evil; whereas capitalism destroys the many for the benefit of the few, socialism works for the benefit of everyone. Because the family that Sinclair uses to represent the struggle of the working class under capitalism is a group of Lithuanian immigrants, the novel is also able to explore the plight of immigrants in America. Sinclair doesn’t attack the American Dream; instead, he uses the disintegration of the family to illustrate his belief that capitalism itself is an attack on the values that support the American Dream, which has long since been rendered hollow by the immoral value of greed.
Vagammon Narayana Murthy teaches corporates about ‘Compassionate Capitalism’
Corporate thought-leader and Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy has flayed the high wage hikes that senior managements have been apportioning to themselves when the software industry is in trying times and has advised them to make “Sacrifices” to maintain common man’s faith in capitalism. Conceding that times are difficult for the IT services sector, Murthy dismissed the commonly attributed threats of artificial intelligence and automation as “More hype than reality”. Terming the trend of no hikes for juniors and freshers as “Worrisome,” Murthy rued that the senior level people have been taking handsome hikes. “I think that is not the way to make capitalism acceptable to the larger masses in a country that has huge poverty,” he said, speaking at the IIT-Bombay over the weekend. “If we believe in capitalism, if we believe that is the best solution for the country to move forward, then the leaders of capitalism will have to demonstrate self-restraints in apportioning to themselves the part of the benefits that come out of running companies, Murthy, who mostly flies the economy class, added.” Murthy, a strong proponent of “Compassionate capitalism” since his days in the company, did not make any reference to Infosys. It can be noted that over the past few months, Murthy had gone public with his displeasure over senior executive compensation at Infosys. Speaking before the students at the prestigious institute, Murthy said in the last seven years, the salaries of freshers in the software industry have stayed stagnant while the same for senior-level employees have grown by up to 1,000 per cent. “There is this whole thing about automation and artificial intelligence. That is much more hype than the reality, at-least in the software services,” Murthy said. The domestic IT sector employs over 4 million directly and its revenues have crossed over USD 150 billion, according to industry lobby Nasscom.
How Capitalism Creates The Welfare State « The Dish
The more capitalism and wealth, the familiar argument goes, the better able we are to do without a safety net for the poor, elderly, sick and young. What it doesn’t get at is that the forces that free market capitalism unleashes are precisely the forces that undermine traditional forms of community and family that once served as a traditional safety net, free from government control. In the West, it happened slowly – with the welfare state emerging in 19th century Germany and spreading elsewhere, as individuals uprooted themselves from their home towns and forged new careers, lives and families in the big cities, with all the broken homes, deserted villages, and bewildered families they left behind. We can forget this but the cultural contradictions of capitalism, brilliantly explained in Daniel Bell’s classic volume, are indeed contradictions. They did so in part for humane reasons – but also because they realized that unless capitalism red in tooth and claw were complemented by some collective cushioning, it would soon fall prey to more revolutionary movements. The safety net was created to save capitalism from itself, not to attack capitalism. This is not to argue against the conservative notion that it is precisely because of capitalism that we have to foster greater family bonds, keep marriage alive, communities together. The forces of global capitalism – now unleashed on an unprecedented global scale with China, Russia, Brazil and India – are destroying the kind of society which allows and encourages stability, traditional families, and self-sufficient community. One reason, I think, that Obama’s move toward a slightly more effective welfare state has not met strong resistance – and is clearly winning the American argument – is that the sheer force of this global capitalism is coming to bear down on America more fiercely than ever before. Capitalism destroys the very structure of the societies it enriches.