The Feudal Society of Matewan The Stone Mountain Coal Company wielded monopoly control over the town of Matewan through a feudal system of economic, cultural, political, and environmental processes. Every person in the town of Matewan came under the power of the company in one way or another. The employees of Stone Mountain were under a bondage contract with the company. Once they came to the company it was impossible to leave and at the same time maintain a basic standard of living. They could not leave also because once they signed on with the company they owed the company a large sum of money for everything ranging from the ticket for the train that brought them to Matewan to the equipment they needed to work there. In this way it was as if they were paying the company to let them work in the mines rather the other way around. They did not have the rights basic to capitalism such as the right to join a union, the right to sell their labor in a labor market to the bidder of their choice, and the right to spend their wage freely. The Stone Mountain Coal Company controlled the processes involving the production, circulation, and distribution of products and services in the town of Matewan. Most of the people in the town were employees of the company and others were in debt to the company through mortgages and loans. Everyone depended on the company for daily necessities such as food and clothing because the company owned the stores in Matewan and because all employees of Matewan were paid in company script which only allowed them to buy in the company stores. Furthermore, their contract said that to buy from any other store would mean immediate discharge from employment. The Stone Mountain Coal company was the only major employer in town. To become self-employed, citizens of Matewan would have needed initial endowments of resources, products and land that were only available at the company's prerogative. The Stone Mountain Coal company kept economic control through political processes which served to punish behavior unfavorable to the company. The company sent in agents from Baldwin-Felts to act as the feudal managers or Knights who intimidated the people and infiltrated the new union.
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The film Matewan brings to life the workings of a small West Virginia coal-mining town in the 1920's. Stone Mountain, as the town was called, existed for mining exclusively. Every resident of the town worked for the Stone Mountain Coal Company. The company was the dominant force in the community, acting as a feudal lord. It owned all the land, residential areas and restaurants. In this particular town residents had no other choice than to work for the Coal Company because it had monopoly control over all the resources thus creating a feudal economic system. The miners were forced into a bondage contract with the company, because of the lack of choice they had regarding their employment, which is a fundamental element in a feudal system. The owners of the Stone Mountain Coal Company who profit from the coal generated never actually stepped foot on the Stone Mountain mine land. They had no idea who worked for them and what their situations were. The workers never knew their employer instead the owners sent two representatives to ensure the excavation of the coal happened. The representatives became a third force necessary for the existence of feudal economy in Matewan. They were sent from the company to manage the organization and production of the mine. The representativesÕ primary job was to enforce the rules that the company had established in order to maintain power of the town, mine and essentially the workers. They used threats to induce fear in the miners as a way to stimulate and motivate them to work, because the miners had little significant reason to work besides basic survival.
Culturally, the Stone Mountain Coal Company is able to maintain control over the residents of Matewan by promoting ignorance and fear of the unknown—“strike breakers,” races, and unions. Pitting Matewan’s resident workers against the incoming strikebreakers allows the Company freedom to raise competition levels for jobs that all the workers need to live, while lowering the amount of mone...
In signing the Stone Mountain Coal Company's contract the coal miners did not simply agree to sell the company their time and labor; they signed away their lives. In a capitalistic society one goes to work in an industry of their choosing, is compensated with a fair wage. In such a society the business one works for has no authority over where their workers eat, sleep, or spend their leisure hours. However, the town of Matewan is trapped under the hegemonic power of the coal company. The coal company has a monopoly over the predominant natural resources in the area. Their ownership is not only limited to the coalmines, but to the general store, and the much of the town's housing. Within the bonding contract of the mine workers are forbidden to buy their supplies from anywhere other than the general store, and are forced to reside in the coal company's housing. The coal company enforces this by paying their workers in company script...
Each Man’s Son, by Hugh MacLennan, is set in Cape Breton where the mining industry acts as the focal point in the lives of most characters. Mining brings “great wealth and prosperity, as well as great misery and environmental destruction” (Armstrong et al. vii). Industrial capitalism, in Each Man’s Son, is a toxic force that aids in presenting the negative social and physical effects on the community of Broughton through the changes in environment, the physical and emotional repercussions of the colliery being bombarded onto men, and the emotional effects the colliery has on women.
As the citizens of Matewan attempt to break free of their feudal chains, they are not only attempting to change their economic situation, but also their current social state as well. Rebelling against the all-powerful Stone Mountain Coal Company, the workers are fighting against a socially and culturally accepted norm- a feudal economic system professed as "right" and "just" by their oppressor. The clash between the company and the striking, pro-union workers is but one historical conflict that attempted to bring about positive social change. As the miners struggle to break free from thier economic oppression and form a union, they push forward a preferred economic state of capitalism.
Manorialism and Feudalism were weakened by the rise of merchant guilds, plague epidemics, and nationalism. The rise of merchant guilds facilitated long distance trade during the medieval period [1301 - 1500], and lasted into the 18th century. Guilds were social, political and economic organizations in medieval towns. They cared for social and economic welfare of members. Guilds assisted in the rise of new middle class. They enjoyed a trade monopoly in towns, allowed members to earn a living wage. Guilds bypassed or contravened feudalism and manorialism when they purchased self government charters for towns from nobles or started new towns.
Nevertheless, conditions for workers during the Porfirio era were grim. Hernandez Chavez maintains, “What is more, working conditions in the period we are discussing, universally described as hellish, were subject to legislative supervision, leaving the workers utterly unprotected” (MBH 211). Workdays of long hours were the norm for textile workers and miners. The wages of a textile worker ...
During this era, businesses supplied large amounts of employment for citizens which created power for these businesses. They had the power to provide bad working conditions, lower wages, and fire their employees without any justification (Doc 1). George E. McNeill, a labor leader, states how “whim is law” and one can not object to it. The government took a laissez-faire approach and refused to regulate economic factors. This allowed robber barons and business tycoons to gain more authority of each industry through the means of horizontal and vertical integration. It wasn’t until later in the time period that the government passed a few acts to regulate these companies, such as the ICC and the Sherman Antitrust Act. One of the main successful industries was
The desire for sophisticated social class represented in The Great Gatsby can either destroy or build character and potential in a young person. Due to the fact Fitzgerald’s novel is flexible, the realistic and romanticized attributes can be interpreted in different ways. However, Fitzgerald’s technique utilized when building his social structure plays a major role in the novel’s penetration in high school academic literature.
In The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald explores the idea of the American Dream as well as the portrayal of social classes. Fitzgerald carefully sets up his novel into distinct social groups but, in the end, each group has its own problems to contend with, leaving a powerful reminder of what a precarious place the world really is. By creating two distinct social classes ‘old money’ and ‘new money’, Fitzgerald sends strong messages about the elitism underlying and moral corruption society. The idea of the American dream is the ideal that opportunity is available to any American, allowing their highest aspirations and goals to be achieved. In the case of The Great Gatsby it centres on the attainment of wealth and status to reach certain positions in life,
In the novel, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald peers into American life during the roaring 1920s. In the story, Fitzgerald not only discusses the ideas of power and greed but also that of social stratification. Fitzgerald focuses on the thought of a contemporary society: In chapter 3 Gatsby's holds a party that s both a description and parody of Jazz Age decadence. It presents the fortitude of conspicuous use, and is an amalgam of the boorish and the reputable. Fitzgerald accentuates the unique social classes through the descriptions of Gatsby himself, the guest’s behaviors, and the conclusion of the party, in order to suggest the superficiality of society.
In stark contradiction to pre-industrial capitalistic characteristics, were those conditions that were endured by workers under capitalism and its emphasis on modern industrialized manufacturing. To Marx it seemed as if the ordinary factory worker was viewed as being no more than a replaceable cogwheel in an enormous and emotionless machine driven only by quotas and greed.