excerpt

(…) and there might be more freedom in England, though her feudal lords’ lightest words were worth men’s lives, and though the blood of the vexed husbandman dropped in the furrows of her fields, than there is while the animation of her multitudes is sent like fuel to feed the factory smoke, and the strenght of them is given daily to be wasted into the fineness of a web, or racked into the exactness of a line.

It is verily this degradation of the operative into a machine, which, more than any other evil of the times, is leading the man of the nations everywhere into vain, incoherent, destructive struggling for a freedom of which they cannot explain the nature to themselves. Their universal outcry against wealth, and against nobility, is not forced from them either by the pressure of famine, or the sting of mortified pride. These do much, and have done much in all ages, but the foundations of society were never yet shaken as they are at this day. It is not that men are ill fed, but that they have no pleasure in the work by which they make their bread, and therefore look to wealth as they’re only means of pleasure.

 

RUSKIN, John – On Art and Life

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