Socialism versus Capitalism in The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Even before the beginning of the twentieth century, the debate between socialists and capitalists has raged. In The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, he portrays capitalism as the cause of all evils in society. Sinclair shows the horrors of capitalism. In The Gospel of Wealth, by Andrew Carnegie, he portrays capitalism as a system of opportunity. However, both Carnegie and Sinclair had something to gain from their writings; both men had an agenda. Capitalism and socialism both have advantages and pitfalls; when capitalism is adopted using certain socialist ideals, a truly prosperous society exists.
A major theme of The Jungle is socialism as a remedy for the evils of capitalism. Every event that takes place in the novel is designed to show a particular failure of capitalism. Sinclair attempts to show that capitalism is a "system of chattel slavery" and the working class is subject to "the whim of en every bit as brutal and unscrupulous as the old-time slave drivers"(Sinclair 126). Sinclair portrays this view through Jurgis, a hardworking Lithuanian immigrant and his family. Sinclair uses the hardships faced by this family to demonstrate the effect of capitalism on working people as a whole. Jurgis' philosophy of "I will work harder" is shown not to work in this system. No matter how hard Jurgis worked, he and his family were still stuck in the same squalor. These characters did not overcome the odds and succeed. That would defeat the purpose of the novel; to depict capitalism as an economic and social system that ignores the plight of the working class and only cares for the wealthy, as well as furthering his socialist agenda.
The main purpose for The Jungle is to promote Sinclair's socialist agenda. In Sinclair's views socialism is the cure for all the problems that capitalism creates. Sinclair sees capitalism as a system in which the wealthy exploit the working class for their material benefit. In chapter 28 when Ostrenski, a staunch socialist, is introduced Jurgis is transformed into the socialist way of thinking. Ostrenski tells Jurgis that his condition of poverty is not the result of his action or destiny; it is the result of him being oppressed by the wealthy merchants in Chicago. However, in a socialist society the plight of the working class s addressed. In chapter 31, Nicholas Schliemann is introduced. Schliemann is a socialist leader who acts as a voice for Sinclair in the novel. Schliemann claims once the public owns the means of production (socialism), inefficiencies will be eliminated. Thus, the working class will have to work less, in better conditions, and be paid more for their work. In the last few chapters of the novel, the story is abandoned. It turns into a socialist manifesto designed to show the evils of capitalism and illuminate how socialism can rectify those evils.
In " The Gospel of Wealth" Andrew Carnegie sings the praises of the capitalist...