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JesseBC
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Re: The Jungle - Immigration - relevance

Wealth and travel options may be part of it. And nations have always had mixed reactions to immigration. So neither globalization nor immigration law can fully explain one another. But, even at an all-time high, immigrants are only 3% of the global population. Meanwhile, 60% of companies are offshoring at least some portion of their production. So it's not hard to see the stark contrast -- capital can move to cheaper labor supplies, but labor can't move to the better jobs.





Choisya wrote:
I am not sure that this is altogether true Jesse because labourers can move and do now search the internet, newspapers etc. However, the employers can afford to search the world but ordinary folks can only expend so much time and money. Yet another example of where the power lies:smileysad: We have an example of immigration/emigration here in that quite a large number of our Asian immigrants, from the old Commonwealth, eventually move on to Canada. Britain is but the first leg of their migration. We also have an increasing number of Indians moving back to India because of that country's improved economy - especially in the IT sector. Travel was much more expensive in Jurgis and Ona's day so such options were not open to American immigrants then.




JesseBC wrote:
The intersection between globalization and immigration where I see the most injustice is that companies are permitted to search the globe for the cheapest possible labor, whereas laborers are NOT permitted to search the globe for the best possible jobs. Immigration laws require labor to stay put and tolerate whatever they're given.




fanuzzir wrote:
I wanted to thank you both for such an illuminating take on the immigration issue as it relates not only to the U. S. then and now but to the U. S. and Europe spectrum of economic/legal systems. It's a fascinating approach you both take that draws me into the question of globalization and its power to destabilize societies with its influx and outgoes of labor and capital. It also makes me think again about the immigration of the early twentieth century not as a heyday of the "melting pot." but as an early version of the social problems you discuss in your posts.



chadadanielleKR wrote:



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Choisya wrote:
On the general subject of immigration, which has been raised on this thread, perhaps Americans do not know that recent legislation in the European Union gives rights to every European citizen to travel freely within Europe to seek work and accommodation (without passport or visa restrictions). There are approx 470 million Europeans with those rights, which are in addition to the immigration quotas Europe has accepted as part of its burden in settling immigrants from other parts of the world and to seekers of asylum from political oppression. I do not have access to recent figures but I suspect that the rate of immigration to Europe now exceeds that rate of immigration to the USA.

With regard to the 'Jungle', I fear that some immigrants are bringing aspects of their Jungles to their host countries, as well as much needed skills. The rate of sex and drug related crime has, for instance, increased in the UK with the recent influx of Eastern European immigration, and health & safety measures in some industries are being flouted by bosses and workers who have not previously worked to the same standards. Whereas earlier immigrants from the old Commonwealth understood English, and English has been taught in all Western European schools since WWII, most Eastern Europeans are not English speakers and sometimes have difficulty in understanding what is required of them. Upton Sinclair would have found much to write about in the

new European Jungle

Here is a map of the new European Union, which will soon include Turkey:-

http://wwp.greenwichmeantime.com/time-zone/europe/european-union/map.htm
Message Edited by Choisya on 12-30-200608:07 AM



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


The jungle makes me wonder about the plight of the immigrants in countries like China and India where there is an organized society, a growing mass market and a growing taskforce of unskilled, poor and migrant people. What strikes me in the jungle is the scale of the "whole business": tons of food processed every day, thousands of unskilled workers and huge production facilities. Such scale was rather new for the time although the industrialization was well under way in Europe already. But in fast-developping countries of today...








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Re: The Jungle, Democracy and Hope (Possible Spoiler)

It seems to be a uniquely American belief that socialism is dead (or at least that it's so really most sincerely dead). But we have no viable socialist parties in the US, so socialism remains on a vague and theoretical level. In other parts of the world (most notably the UK), where there are active socialist political parties, it's neither so pure nor so remote.





fanuzzir wrote:
Choisya's post:
The speech of Dr Schliemann towards the end is full of hope - not only does he prophesy a washing-up machine for ordinary people but he says 'old dingy and unsanitary factories will come down..the dangerous trades will be made safe' and he then asks us 'to picture the harvest fields of the future to which millions of happy men and women come for a summer holiday...' (All of this was reminiscent of Oscar Wilde's Soul of Man under Socialism BTW) All these changes have taken place in our fathers' lifetimes due to the agitation of people like Upton Sinclair (and my own father, incidentally).

I'm not going to comment on the circumstances or content of the speech, but I do find it very interesting that many socialist ideas have come to pass, as Choisya has said, and given working people more incomes, more leisure, more rights with regard to their employers than they had in Sinclair's time. All I want to ask is: why do we feel we still have so far to go, or that socialism lost?


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JesseBC
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Re: Too much politics?

I don't understand what you're apologizing for. How would we talk about an intelligent novel without talking about intelligent subjects?

If all a reader wants to do is "identify with the characters" and "talk about our feelings," Sinclair just ain't your man.

I just wish I could read this book faster. I was at a conference for two weeks with no time to read so I'm still in the early chapters.





Choisya wrote:
Vivico: It is probably my fault that there have been too many posts on politics - that is my lifetime milieu and I tend to see everything within a political framework. I will back off and leave others to come in on characterisation etc.

(BTW re Wikipedia: Western socialists are usually democrats, just as Upton Sinclair was, so the book is not 'about a man who had been a socialist, then not, then a socialist again, then a democrat' it is by a man who was a democratic socialist propounding his views through his characters. And just because some countries call themselves, 'Socialist', like the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, does not mean that they are socialist. Just as some Christians do not behave like Christians:smileyhappy:)




vivico1 wrote:

fanuzzir wrote:
All I'll say on this question that voting and democracy are not always the same thing. The electoral system gives citizens the chance to influence, by indirect means, their country once every two years with a flick of a switch. Democracy represents citizen participation in governance, which may include voting but implies more sustained engagement. As for socialism: many of its advocates believe that distributing or nationalizing wealth so that everyone has a share of it is democratizing, though there's no need for a democracy to have a socialist economy, or vice versa.

I'll also just comment on the where is democracy going question by referring back to Sinclair's vision: it's not going anywere until the lowliest and the most disenfranchised are part of a fair,equitable society. That's a link between social justice, as its called, and democracy that not all the advocates of democracy might embrace today.


After reading some today and reading some of our posts about democracy vs socialism, I found myself getting lost in..ok is that what we are trying to get out of this book? One vs the other or what? And some confusion set in. I wish more people were posting their feelings about the book, but maybe its early yet.

But,unless this whole book is nothing more than a discussion about the differences between Democracies and Socialism, I am so caught up in the plight of this family and working conditions for them, that I am missing most of this kind of political debate. Also, I have to tell you, thats not a debate I would be terribly good in. Different political models of the world have not exactly been my point of studies in my life and they all tend to intersect in some places anyway as to seem to me that there is no "pure" this or that system. I believe in the democratic process, and the hopes of our founding fathers were not so different than a lot of things I have read just recently that socialist or others want as part of the new democracy they were proposing, are they? I did find two interesting pages on Wikipedia about both:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_democracy

I found the section on "Democratic socialism" versus "social democracy" very interesting. Also the graphs of the world of countries who call themselves democracies, versus those who do not claim to be democratic.

Here's the thing tho I would like to know, so I know how lost in this bookclub discussion I am or not or how superficial my thoughts are or not lol. Is this really a book about the differences in the two, since we are spending so much time on that? Or is it about a man who had been a socialist, then not, then a socialist again, then a democrat, just trying to point out to us the injustices forced upon the working class in this country(and I am sure that could be expanded out to other countries too whatever system they call themselves), in an attempt to try and bring about meaningful social change? If that is the case, I can follow the book and understand what he is saying and see the needs and faults in the system as it was , and is. But I have to admit, I am starting to get pretty confused by all this talk of different political idealogies and think, maybe I am in the wrong bookclub. But then I have not done a "bookclub" before, so I have been discussing this pretty much by what I get out of one chapter or several and holding off on its overall implications till the end.

Am I way off here in how i am reading or understanding this book as I go along, or what we are discussing or what? Anyone else out there, who is reading all these posts feeling the same and thats why your not posting much?





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JesseBC
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Re: The Jungle and Democracy : Vivico : What next?/What is it all?

Sinclair made several unsuccessful bids for Congress as a Socialist. In all likelihood, he changed parties because he ran for governor of California and he was much more successful under the banner of the Democratic party. There's no real indication that he changed his political ideology along with his party. He was much more of the Paul Wellstone/Russ Feingold mold as Democrats go.





vivico1 wrote:
Choisya,
What I meant by Sinclair being a socialist, then not being, then being a democrat, was his political parties associations as outlined in the front of the book under "the world of Upton Sinclair and the jungle",i.e. early 1900s joins socialist society, then 1926 he REjoins the Socialist Party, 1933 he changes his registration from Socialist to Democrat. What was in his heart, I dont know. What he showed affiliation with, is what I meant. Which the last was not a bad move in the sense of, even tho he had privy to important people before, look who all he was visiting and working with after changing his registration.

He may NEVER have been a "democrat" in his heart, I dont know, but he was a smart man and knew what changing affiliations on paper could do for him. That and it says he did have some major falling out with the other at one point. I think a democratic socialist as you say fits him.


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JesseBC
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Re: The Jungle and Democracy/What next?/ not just a christian thing ;)

 
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Re: Democracies and Aid/ and?/ solution?

Voter participation between the era of The Jungle and today can't really be compared because suffrage has so dramatically increased the number of eligible voters. But in general, American participation rates are abyssmal and have only been getting worse.

There are a lot of theories about why this is, but I imagine it's aggravating to people in other countries because Americans are very smug about a right to vote that we take far less advantage of than other nations and Americans, on the whole, cast far less informed votes.

From a glass-is-half-full perspective, we could say that this complacency comes from having a relatively stable government and economy. We feel safe not voting, knowing that things will pretty much roll along without us.

From a glass-is-half-empty perspective, it makes us look uninformed and sanctimonious, trying to spread democracy around the world when we don't even use it at home.

But there's really no fair way to compare today's voters to voters in the era of The Jungle. It's apples and oranges.





vivico1 wrote:
Casting out the baby with the bathwater, in this instance, means, casting out democracy because the water is dirty, i.e. getting rid of a good thing because of the impurities around it. It may not be a phrase you are familiar with.

As for lower voting and voting vs socialism, lets take lower voting first. I do not know how its going there in England, but here, especially right now, watch what is happening and tell me the people are not speaking. I am a registered democrat. Some see them as the liberals who care about the people more and republicans as more about big business and in theory this is true I think. BUT, we do not have to vote a straight ticket. Nor are we forced to vote one way or the other, tho in some rural southern areas, I am aware of our woes. This is very different than the time Sinclair is talking about, we have advanced even in this. Also if you worry so much about the problems we had with the "chads" voting,look at the light it shed on needs for better WAYS to vote. And there are checks and balances to see that one does not vote over and over as Jurgis saw and did.

Am I naive about what happens here? No. What I am saying is, no one system is perfect and will never be, we are not a static world. Ideals are perfect, men are not. I am proud of my privilage and duty to vote. I know you dont like the idea of it being a privilege but when we say it, we mean, there are people in the world who can not, who have no voice, so we do not take it lightly to say its a privilage, an earned one yes, but a privilage considering the world at large.

Lower voting...just this November, we had local and national elections. Local officials and also for the Senate and Congress. It is today known world wide what has happened. The people, unsatisfied with what is happening now are voting and have spoken loudly!. Also, when there is a war we do not appear to be winning, be it a justified fight or not,it becomes, and always has been, the unpopular problem of the party in office at the time!

This year, more than many of the past, I studied the local issues, looked up everything I could on the candidates, and not what they say,but their record on what they have done or propose. I did not vote a straight democratic ticket, which you can do, but instead, I voted the Oklahoma state issues, one at a time and the congressional and senate seats according to what I found out in my research. Watch next year at the nation voting and the numbers that will turn out and what will come of it.

I have a say, we all have a say in this, which is the beauty of democracy.But if people are apathetic to it all, or think their one vote doesnt matter, then it doesnt work to the best it can or was formed for. That is why no system, democratic or socialist or any other, will work along the perfect structure of its Ideals. Because of one freedom...free will. The right to do something or nothing and many will chose the later.Even Jurgis saw this within socialism to his dismay. There are several versions of a great quote:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke (1729­1797), Irish philosopher, statesman.

Victor Frankel, “Evil happens when good people do nothing.”

As for our social ills, health,wages...by the way the minimum wage, what the minimum wage in America can be, trying to keep things like what Jurgis went through from happening, is either up for vote now (the amount of the increase, not the law, that we have now of course) or was approved just this last month.

We can address the issues of the socialist concerns within our system, the framework is there. America is not devoid of socialist or what socialist think are "their" ideas.

As for the article from your post... BENEVOLENT DICTATOR? Sounds like an oxymoron to me! And if this is the model of the American dream,let me out.
"There is a $5000 reward for mothers who agree to be sterilized after their second child. Sterilized parents get top priority for public housing, and their children get into desirable schools." TOP PRIORITY?? no questions on that?
"Singaporeans now accept that two is the right number of children."
"Singapore requires all workers to save 25% of their salaries. "

Heaven help us all. And while you are at it, in this new Utopian Singapore,bring back our little girls who have been abducted and taken there for the sexual amusement of all the Capitalist of the world who visit it, have the money and the predaliction for children.

Choisya wrote:
I have not at any time suggested casting out any babies with any bathwater. My preference would be for socialism via the ballot box...


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fanuzzir
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Re: Democracies and Aid/ and?/ solution?

Jesse, that was a very helpful comparison you drew between Wellstone and Sinclair. It reminds us that the most supposedly radical positions occasionally find their way into the agenda of either mainstream party. It also is a reminder of what the Democratic party had become, thanks to Roosevelt: a launderer of democratic socialist ideals. Although he lost, Sinclair clearly belonged in an electoral system that would give the state its most liberal governor, Pat Brown.
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JesseBC
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Re: Democracies and Aid/ and?/ solution?

So whose positions did you see becoming "mainstream" -- Wellstone's or Sinclair's?





fanuzzir wrote:
Jesse, that was a very helpful comparison you drew between Wellstone and Sinclair. It reminds us that the most supposedly radical positions occasionally find their way into the agenda of either mainstream party. It also is a reminder of what the Democratic party had become, thanks to Roosevelt: a launderer of democratic socialist ideals. Although he lost, Sinclair clearly belonged in an electoral system that would give the state its most liberal governor, Pat Brown.


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fanuzzir
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Re: Democracies and Aid/ and?/ solution?

Thanks for the question. Wellstone was maintaining a solid lead in Minnesota against the hand-picked candidate of Vice President Cheney, Norm Coleman, when he was killed, despite the massive financial influx from the national RNC. Wellstone had good government credentials to neutralize alot of ideological responses to his politics as well, so I do believe that though he would not have had a chance as president, he might well have held down a powerful Senate committee chairmanship. His successor? Sherrod Brown of Ohio or James Webb of Virginia, principled, intelligent critics of economic inequality.
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JesseBC
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Moving right along...

It's come to my attention that my disparaging remarks about Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman fell outside Barnes and Noble's standards of civil discourse.

In light of that, I amend my statement. What I meant to say is that Senator Coleman is a: Fine Upstanding Citizen knowledgeable hardworking erudite and dependable.


Anyway, getting back to The Jungle (and this is a very broad comment that doesn't fit into any particular chapter), I'm struck by the themes of disappointment and shattered dreams and how (albeit on a less extreme level), these themes continue in the lives of working people.

I'm thinking particularly of "Generation X" -- the people who came of age in the 80s and early 90s. A lot of their Boomer parents had benefitted from the GI bill so the common wisdom was that, if you go to college, you'll get a middle-class job and achieve all your middle-class dreams.

The reality was a glut of college-educated young adults who found that the value of their diplomas had been so reduced that they need a degree to work at McDonalds and, with variations based on local economies, a job at McDonalds may be all they can get.

Gen-Xers are becoming a cynical and disillusioned bunch and I keep thinking of this as I'm reading about Jurgis and Ona -- the dreams they had for themselves coming to America and they reality that met them when they got here. The bait and switch. The feeling of getting blatantly ripped off at every turn.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Moving right along...

That would be pretty sad if it were true, as Gen Xers are born into an affluent middle class society coddled by parents who themselves were coddled with middle-class amenities ranging from after school programs to Social security, and Jurgis and Ona are penmiless immigrants without skills or education who barely spoke the language. But maybe it is sad but true.
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JesseBC
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Re: Moving right along...

Similar theme, different circumstances.

I'm not comparing the physical realities, but the sense of loss, betrayal, and of the American Dream not turning out to be what you thought it was. We could probably string out any number of examples of this theme and the circumstances of those examples would all be very different from one another. (That's what makes it a theme, right? It cuts across a variety of human experiences.)

The more I read, the more I can't fathom why The Jungle is always described as an expose on food sanitation. How narcissistic does a society have to be to read the plight of exploited workers and come away thinking, "Oh, my God! You mean my meat is dirty!?"





fanuzzir wrote:
That would be pretty sad if it were true, as Gen Xers are born into an affluent middle class society coddled by parents who themselves were coddled with middle-class amenities ranging from after school programs to Social security, and Jurgis and Ona are penmiless immigrants without skills or education who barely spoke the language. But maybe it is sad but true.


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vivico1
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Re: Moving right along...

Jesse wrote:
How narcissistic does a society have to be to read the plight of exploited workers and come away thinking, "Oh, my God! You mean my meat is dirty!?"
_________________________________________________________________________--

lol,I think you answered your own question..unfortunately.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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fanuzzir
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Re: Moving right along...


JesseBC wrote:
Similar theme, different circumstances.

I'm not comparing the physical realities, but the sense of loss, betrayal, and of the American Dream not turning out to be what you thought it was. We could probably string out any number of examples of this theme and the circumstances of those examples would all be very different from one another. (That's what makes it a theme, right? It cuts across a variety of human experiences.)

.





It makes you wonder whether there was EVER a time when the American dream could be taken seriously. Maybe after WWII, with the GI Bill and all those tailfins. By the 60s, a little over 15 years later, the consensus is under attack.
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JesseBC
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Re: Moving right along...

Well, sure...I suppose the '50s were idyllic. As long as you weren't black, a suspected Communist, concerned with the threat of nuclear annihilation, or a female with any sense of personal ambition or a need for reliable birth control. For everyone else, the '50s were just one long episode of Happy Days.

I thought in light of the usury issues that come up in The Jungle, the following article might be interesting. The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same: http://www.prospect.org/web/page.ww?section=root&name=ViewWeb&articleId=12425





fanuzzir wrote:

JesseBC wrote:
Similar theme, different circumstances.

I'm not comparing the physical realities, but the sense of loss, betrayal, and of the American Dream not turning out to be what you thought it was. We could probably string out any number of examples of this theme and the circumstances of those examples would all be very different from one another. (That's what makes it a theme, right? It cuts across a variety of human experiences.)

.





It makes you wonder whether there was EVER a time when the American dream could be taken seriously. Maybe after WWII, with the GI Bill and all those tailfins. By the 60s, a little over 15 years later, the consensus is under attack.


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fanuzzir
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Re: Moving right along...


JesseBC wrote:
Well, sure...I suppose the '50s were idyllic. As long as you weren't black, a suspected Communist, concerned with the threat of nuclear annihilation, or a female with any sense of personal ambition or a need for reliable birth control. For everyone else, the '50s were just one long episode of Happy Days.

br>




Touche!
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vivico1
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Re: Moving right along...


fanuzzir wrote:

JesseBC wrote:
Well, sure...I suppose the '50s were idyllic. As long as you weren't black, a suspected Communist, concerned with the threat of nuclear annihilation, or a female with any sense of personal ambition or a need for reliable birth control. For everyone else, the '50s were just one long episode of Happy Days.

br>




Touche!


LOL!!!! how funny, havent been in here in a few days and this one about the 50s being idyllic was the first i hit right after reading in another bookclub someone saying, the 60s were such a simpler time. LOL! and here i was telling them just about what you were here. I said well if you can say a president being shot and killed, his brother and a major civil rights leader too. IF you can say a war that if you didnt die there, when you got home you were treated like trash by your own country was simple. (this was about women being naive and innocent too then) I said if you can discount all of Helen Gurley Browns writings and magazine to bring women into their own sexuality was Donna Reed. If you can say sex, drugs and rock and roll, burning your bra, free love, blacks still being locked out of schools in the south and hanged were all the simpler 60s, then ok. LOL Gosh we get so overwhelmed with new things each generation that we become so overly sentimental about the past we forget lol. Just wanted to let you guys know you made me laugh so hard reading this after all that, regardless of what got you to this convo lol.TY
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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