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Postwar 19th century America.

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Caleb
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Hello all, I'm looking for information that disputes the claims that workers were "expolited" during postwar 19th century America and if it weren't for labor unions and government regulation, there never would have been a middle class, etc. I have read the essays in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, but I found that they didn't address the entire workforce (only women and children), or they are more philosophical than historical in nature. For example, I have tried making the argument that most workers worked in agriculture at that time and, in fact, the working conditions in factories at that time were better than alternatives in agriculture. However, this doesn't seem completely satisfying, and the people with whom I debate don't buy the philosophical arguments. I'm really looking for hard facts that show that conditions during that time weren't all that bad, all things considered. Are there any books or articles that you would recommend that I read?

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You have to attack the whole concept of exploitation philosophically. The concept of exploitation as generally understood comes from the intrinsic theories of value postulated by Smith, Ricardo, and ultimately Marx in the labor theory of value. There are likely no utilitarian facts about conditions that will sway your opponents because their understanding of exploitation is epistemological at root. You have to demolish their erroneous concepts of value on that level.

A solid understanding of the Austrian subjective theory as espoused by Carl Menger and later Ludwig von Mises, as well as the objective theory of value that Rand discussed in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal will help you. The classical liberal theories of class conflict usually goes something like this: there are those who contribute to the creation and production of wealth, and there are those who destroy it, consume it, waste it, and plunder it. From there, you can build your argument on who are actually the exploiters and who are actually the exploited, by making clear the source of production as man's mind and the nature of individual rights versus the initiation of force as destroyer of man's mind its products.

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  • 3 weeks later...

a must read is:

"Child Labor and the Industrial Revolution", The Objectivist Newsletter, April, 1962. This issue of The Newsletter is the forth published, so she considered child labor as an important point to discuss.

How Capitalism Saved America is good and has some references.

I will take this opportunity to make my standard pitch that everyone read The Objectivist Newsletter, The Objectivist, and The Ayn Rand Letter. There is lots of basic material that has not been published elsewhere. All of the articles in the non-fiction books appeared in these publications first.

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Thanks for your recommendations. I have been meaning to read more from the Austrian school. I was going to start with Hayek, though.

AR didn't care for Hayek, he was too much a pragmatist, I think. Von Mises is much clearer, consistent, and more of an economist. There is a reason that Hayek got the prize and not vM, and it isn't a good one. Consider the source.

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a must read is:

"Child Labor and the Industrial Revolution", The Objectivist Newsletter, April, 1962. This issue of The Newsletter is the forth published, so she considered child labor as an important point to discuss.

How Capitalism Saved America is good and has some references.

I will take this opportunity to make my standard pitch that everyone read The Objectivist Newsletter, The Objectivist, and The Ayn Rand Letter. There is lots of basic material that has not been published elsewhere. All of the articles in the non-fiction books appeared in these publications first.

I just received How Capitalism Saved America in the mail a few days ago, I will start it right away.

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