Red City

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Abstract

John Merriman is a re-known writer of issues of social concern. In particular, his works border on the history of France and Europe in general. The book The Red City: Limoges and the French Nineteenth Century narrates the history of changes that occurred in a French city around the 19th century. This paper takes a look at the history of France’s first socialist city, the Red City. The city is remembered for its robust social and economic wave that characterized an era of change. While it was known for its remarkable transformation in terms of industrial revolution, the city also underwent a great deal of political dynamics. Undoubtedly, the two processes had significant impact on each other. For instance, the political changes undoubtedly caused civil unrest in the country. This essentially affected the way people did business, especially considering that the new economic structures had not become strong enough. According to literature, the changes in the political arena took centre stage in the cities as well as in the countryside. It was basically a struggle between traditional methods and modern ways of doing business in the country. This made it look like a kind of radical movement in the political scene. In fact, some literature refers to it as political radicalism to denote the nature of politics at the time. It should be expected that conservationists would oppose any attempts to impose a new social order in the society. These events marked the battle front between the conservationists and the radical reformists.

Urban Transformation

The urban transformation created a powerful working class that controlled most of the economy. The adoption of industrial technology gave rise to huge industries that provided employment opportunities for most people. This essentially empowered them as they could at least cater for themselves. At the same time, it created a rift between people of higher social class and those who considered themselves of lower social class. it goes without saying that the higher class comprised mainly of the owners of the industries and their managers while low social class comprised of their employees. According to literature, it became apparent to the employees that they were doing all the work in the industries while their employees were not paying them proportionately. It was true that they were getting a raw deal in the whole thing and felt that they had to do something to change the situation. In response, the employees formed trade unions that were essentially meant to negotiate for better pay. This was the source of the rift between them with their employees who did not want to spend more of their profits on wages. And so, enmity arose between the two groups of people. Indeed, radical individuals among the employees took the fight to the employees. When it became apparent that their employees would not yield to pressure and pay them more, these people resorted to stealing from their employees. This further caused bad blood between them as people of the higher social class no longer felt secure in their homes. They made lots of money in their business but never got the time to enjoy the fruits because the atmosphere was not conducive at all. According to literature, this caused industrialization to nosedive at some point as people shied away from investment.

Political Radicalism

Political radicalism was essentially expressed in terms of class conflict between the owners of industries and their workers. It goes without saying that property was destroyed in the process as irate workers felt that they were being exploited by their employees. Indeed, the fact that they did most of the work yet all the revenue went to their employers contributed significantly to the civil strife. It should be noted that poor pay meant that employees lived in deplorable states while their employers lived lavishly. This made them to view their employers as the source of their problems and indeed the only reason why they lived a desperate life. According to literature, several industry owners would be found dead in their houses or even on their way to the industry. This meant that they had to spend more of their hard earned revenues to protect themselves. They had to employ bodyguards to ensure that they were safe in the streets or in their homes. This was the unfortunate face of the political radicalism. On the other side, the employees formed stronger trade unions to press for better pay for themselves. These trade unions would hold negotiations with the employers with a view to coming up with acceptable wages. As a matter of fact, the employers had to recognize and indeed negotiate with the trade unionists as a condition set by the workers before they returned to work. They literally made it impossible for anyone to take up those jobs without authorization from the trade unions. This made it impossible for the industries to run as they depended completely on manual labor. It should be noted that mechanical labor was not available at the time and companies depended solely on manual labor.

The Relationship

It goes without saying that urban transformation triggered political radicalism. According to the literature, the 19th century marked the emergence of industrialization and eventually a strong working class. On the other hand, the low class workers continued to live in deplorable states. Thus, the class conflict can be explained in social terms as well as in economic terms. The social aspect essentially entailed a conflict between the emerging new methods of trade and the traditional methods. It goes without saying that people who believed that the traditional ways were superior would try hard to prevent any changes to the system. On the other hand, those who believed that change was inevitable would undoubtedly stop at nothing to press for the changes. This resulted in a titanic battle for supremacy between these two groups of people. In fact, were it not for the resistance by the conservationists, it would not have taken that long to entrench the new economic order in France. In the particular city, social strife became eminent everywhere as each group tried to outwit the other. In the end, however, modernity prevailed over traditional means and the political radicals had the last laugh. It goes without saying it had significant impact on the social order as well.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the true revolution in France came to an end. The emerging trend of centralization literally killed the zeal that people had previously had about the revolution. This effectively marked the beginning of industrial capitalism and a powerful system of governance to protect the capitalism. In the minds of many, the industrialists had managed to establish capitalism and a government to protect them from the wrath of the irate workers. This technically meant that workers could not have their way, but perhaps plead for better pay from their employers. However, it is significant to note that the entire process completely changed the social setup of France and the city in particular. It was quite evident that future generations would not really live to appreciate that certain things happened the way they did. This is because the new systems were completely different from the old ones. According to literature, the changes were not limited to the cities. In fact, they were more prominent in the countryside. It was basically a struggle between traditional methods and modern ways of doing business in the country. This made it look like a kind of radical movement in the political scene. It should be expected that conservationists would oppose any attempts to impose a new social order in the society. This marked the battle front between the conservationists and the radical reformists.

In conclusion, this paper took a look at the history of France’s first socialist city. The city is remembered for its robust social and economic wave that characterized an era of change. It was basically a struggle between traditional methods and modern ways of doing business in the country. This made it look like a kind of radical movement in the political scene. In fact, some literature refers to it as political radicalism to denote the nature of politics at the time. The urban transformation created a powerful working class that controlled most of the economy. The adoption of industrial technology gave rise to huge industries that provided employment opportunities for most people. This essentially empowered them as they could at least cater for themselves. It further caused bad blood between them as people of the higher social class no longer felt secure in their homes. They made lots of money in their business but never got the time to enjoy the fruits because the atmosphere was not conducive at all. On the other hand, political radicalism was essentially expressed in terms of class conflict between the owners of industries and their workers. It goes without saying that property was destroyed in the process as irate workers felt that they were being exploited by their employees. This was the unfortunate face of the political radicalism. On the other side, the employees formed stronger trade unions to press for better pay for themselves. These trade unions would hold negotiations with the employers with a view to coming up with acceptable wages.

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