Revealed: Industrial Revolution was powered by child slaves (src)Which is fine, except for a few minor problems:
- This is not a new revelation; I knew about child labour in industrial Britain when I was studying the period at GCSE. (Probably my favourite period of history, by the way. Technology, progress, economics… I loved all that.) I suspect that Marx and Engels had a few things to say about children in factories, too: they wouldn't have passed up an opportunity to slate the wicked capitalists for giving families work.
- It was not simply the Industrial Revolution: children had always worked. It used to be on the farm or in the fields alongside their parents. When the parents moved to the cities to find work in the factories, it became factory work. This is a natural evolution of an existing phenomenon, as the body of the article goes on to note.
- It was not 'powered': children were a part of the workforce, and as the article goes on to note, only about fifteen percent, and they would have provided less of the output since they are not generally as productive. So they were a significant, contributing minority, but a minority nonetheless.
- 'Slaves' is pure hyperbole, if not an actual calumny against mill-owners. The children were paid, just like the adults were, and they went out to work through economic necessity rather than at the barrel of a gun. If 'having to work in order to eat' is slavery, then I guess we are all slaves.