Sunday, May 29, 2011
Public Library: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
"The Jungle" was written by Upton Sinclair in 1906.
I could go on all day about how much I love this book. I feel it is one of the most important ever written.
It is a fictional story about the real life hardships of immigrants who came to America in hopes of a decent job and a better life. So they find themselves in the sheer hell that is the meatpacking industry in Chicago at the turn of the century.
Upton Sinclair once said of "The Jungle", "I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach"
While this book's characters are fiction, the content describes the very real working and safety conditions of slaughter houses at the time, before unions and regulations. Such as employees working 3 shifts in one day, people getting sick and dying, people disappearing, Employees making little to no money, severe pollution and environmental risks to workers and civilians, Workers slaving away in blood soaked, organ splattered, and parasite ridden factories and rats, clothes, bugs, parasites and sometimes even body parts were found in meat. The most horrifying thing of all is that these companies got away with all of it. There were no unions or government regulations and the ones that were in place were very basic and easy to get around legally. They did whatever they wanted.
This is what corporations acted like before we had unions and rules/regulations to protect employees and consumers. If you have rights at work, it is because unions fought for those rights. Corporations did not feel generous and give you your rights, they were fought for by workers uniting together, Unions.
However, "The Jungle" made a big difference....
When President Theodore Roosevelt heard about "The Jungle", he called Sinclair a "Crackpot", But Teddy Roosevelt, being a fair and openminded man, sent his labor commissioner to Chicago to make surprise visits to meat factories. When they returned, they confirmed exactly what Sinclair's book had stated.
Due to these findings and growing public outcry, congress passed the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, which created the Bureau of Chemistry which became the Food and Drug Administration in 1930.
So "The Jungle" literally changed the country for the better. This achievement is still a relevant over 100 years later in our everyday lives.
Overall, If you want to know what this country was like before unions and regulation and why we need them to protect our rights as workers as the fight continues on today.
Upton Sinclair had written close to 100 books in his career. He was a proud Socialist, Once saying, "Fascism is capitalism plus murder". In the 1920's, Sinclair moved to California and started the state's chapter of the ACLU.
In 1934, he ran for governor of California as a Democrat but was unsuccessful.
The Oscar Winning Film "There Will Be Blood" is based off Sinclair's book "Oil!".
Anyone who cares about politics should read "The Jungle". It may turn your stomach, but just be glad that we have rules/regulations, unions, and government to protect us from this today. For now....
You can find it at your local Socialist Structured, Taxpayer-Funded, Government Run Public Library!!!