“The Great Divide” is just MSM (Main Stream Media) sensationalism. “Nations” have been divided since humans started living in societies and “discovered” conscious thinking; which made us moral as opposed to amoral. Conscious thought is needed to determine “right from wrong”, animals are considered to be amoral and not capable of conscious thought so in the case of a carnivore, if they are hungry they will find something to kill and eat to satisfy their hunger; herbivores don’t need to kill something to eat 🙂 Early humans apparently were not capable of conscious thought and pretty much “behaved” like animals and only killed animals to eat. When humans “discovered” conscious thought, they were then able to make rational choices, including should they kill an animal to satisfy their hunger and maybe should they kill another human to protect the safety of their families etc.
If we look back through (recorded) history, Britain (and likely most nations) has never really been “united” and has to a greater or lesser degree been divided in one way or another. The first division has always been the “Leaders vs the Followers”, leaders seem to have the best of everything while the followers have whats left. Religion has always been a good divider and Politics is the best wedge to divide any society. Wealth vs poverty is probably one of the biggest dividers!
From the mid 1700s, Britain were leaders in Engineering, Science and Technology, it invented the “Industrial Revolution”. The Industrial revolution is considered to have had its beginnings in Worsley, Manchester, with the building of the Bridgewater Canal by the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater (Francis Egerton) in 1760; which opened in July 1761. The Bridgewater Canal allowed the Duke (who was only in his mid 20’s) to transport coal from his mines in Worsley to Manchester, with a considerable saving on transport costs. This ultimately allowed coal to be bought for half the price and power the steam engines, which powered the machines in the new factories. The Duke eventually became one of (if not the) wealthiest people in Britain, unfortunately his employees in the mines didn’t fair so well. The employees included men, women and children (as young as 5 yrs old) worked 12 to 14 hour shifts were paid a pittance. This situation was mimicked in the new factories that were springing up in Manchester and the rest of the country.
The “Industrial Revolution” ought to have benefited everyone but it only benefited the “few” ! The divide between the rich and the poor just got bigger.
By the time Victoria took the throne, the “Industrial Revolution” was well underway. Britain became the worlds richest and most successful nation in the Victorian period. We had amazing people building bridges, canals, tunnels, railways and we had Steam and water power, we had amazing machines being made to mechanise skilled jobs, we had a textile industry that supplied the world. The Victorians thought big and “just did it”, we had some amazing people with vision. Engineers, Scientists and people that wanted to improve the way that we all lived. At this time, the plebs / commoners / “the people” had no part in politics (and probably had no interest in politics, probably due to illiteracy). Politics was something the wealthy played with and although we had a “parliament”, the plebs had no say!
Manchester* (Cottonopolis) was probably the most successful city in Britain but Liverpool was the second largest port and it was Liverpool that created the worlds first sewage system (ignoring what the Romans did), which ultimately improved the health of the nation (see James Newlands) London quickly followed and other cities followed suit. The invention / implementation of the sewage system was an outstanding achievement that saved peoples lives and improved the health of the nation, the addition of “Water Treatment Works” improved the sewage system by many fold. The sewage system was without a doubt something that enabled Britain to thrive and prosper, without it we would still be up to our necks in sewage and disease would still be rife!
*Birmingham was also a very successful city with regards to manufacturing iron and steel etc.
Despite all these engineering improvements we haven’t yet managed to find a way to drain the Westminster cesspit 🙂
Unfortunately these engineers didn’t prosper as much as the “Industrialists” but they saved the nation from dying from such things as cholera. The industrialists welcomed the “New technology” and this enabled them to start up “factories” where people worked together in large buildings instead of “working from home”. Now people attended the factories to work and their skills had to be amended to that of “machine operators”; they got paid a regular wage but it wasn’t much.
The “industrialists” made vast profits and made them wealthy, which enabled them to build huge mansions and estates, while their “employees” (in some cases, mostly children) worked for next to nothing in dangerous conditions. The employees had a life expectancy of about 20 years! The “mechanisation” changed the way people worked and lived, factories became the new way of doing things and this even affected what we ate and when. Meals had to be arranged around the working “shift pattern”.
All this new “technology” should have helped everyone to prosper but unfortunately it was only the “industrialists” that prospered, at the expense of the factory workers.The (factory) workers were gainfully employed and still lived in poverty but were “better off” (financially) than they were before the factories sprung up! (debatable) So the “Great Divide” just got bigger!
New machines powered by steam and water made productivity go through the roof but the “workers” didn’t benefit as much as the “industrialists”, they were still very poorly paid while the “industrialists made vast amounts of money: maybe greed was the cause! All this (new) wealth being created by the “Industrialists” caused concern among the (old) Wealthy /Gentry and many, in turn, became “Industrialists”. The Plebs did all the work and the “industrialists” profited; while the plebs continued to live in poverty and continued to have a short life expectancy! Could the divide be any greater!
The Luddite movement attempted to address these problems by trying to destroy machines but it was a spectacular failure!
Over time, changes happened and working conditions improved but the people carrying out the ” *Essence of business * ” were still poorly paid because people were lining up to do the jobs with regular pay! (working for a living but still being poverty stricken was better than starving) Vast improvements in working conditions came about but not until 1974, with the introduction of the Health & Safety at Work Act. Unfortunately the people carrying out the “essence of business” were and still are poorly paid compared to the business owners and management!
The divide between the wealthy and the poor just gets bigger, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Since the “Industrial Revolution”, We’ve had 2 world wars which we (Britain) apparently won, with the help of our allies.The people of Britain put their differences aside and stood shoulder to shoulder to beat the common enemy. The British Empire sort of ended 1950’s – 1960’s, when most of the colonies became independent. Dates are open to discussion! Yet we still have the divide between rich and poor.
- Essence of business. A simple example of the essence of business is say a business that generates its income from digging holes in the road. If the business doesn’t dig holes, it can’t generate any income. The people digging the holes are carrying out the essence of (the) business. The people carrying out the essence of the business should be suitably rewarded but it’s the management / directors / owners that get the biggest rewards! The relationship between an employer and employee should always be “mutually beneficial”! The situation where those who carry out the essence of business are poorly paid (compared to management and owners who don’t carry out the essence of business), is not mutually beneficial.
It can be seen that the wealth of the nation is still held by the 5% (or less) and is generated by the 95%. This doesn’t seem to have changed since humans started living in societies.
Look out for part two.