Alienation Of Labor In Sidney Mintz's Sweetness And Power

1889 Words 8 Pages
This part of the researching sugar as a commodity looks at the plights and lives of sugar workers throughout the West and East, mainly focusing on the worker’s experience and how they are treated by government and politics. A common trend found throughout research was that most sugar workers in former colonies and European owned colonies were mistreated and ignored by their respective governments, which led to various reactions such as worker’s strikes and cultural movements. However, in the East, Mazumdar claims that sugar workers in China were prosperous and controlled their own market in contrast to the slave workers in European colonies, who actively traded and exchanged technologies and goods with the West, while small peasant families …show more content…
He claims that these people were harvesting and processing what they don’t own, and they did not own any land nor property. Mintz states that they had to sell their labour, being unable to enjoy and use what they have created. Everything they used, from clothing, building materials, medicine, food, etc. was produced elsewhere. This example applies Marx’s concept of alienation of labour, where the individual is alienated from what he creates, and does not find satisfaction, achievement, or humanity in what he creates. The rise of the division of labour, industrial technologies, and work for the sake of production and efficiency leads to this alienation of labour which brings inhumane work for the …show more content…
Cane sugar extraction at first was inefficient and produced an unrefined, black liquid through manual labour. One example of early refinement technique, according to Reverend John Scarth in the 1870s, “He seizes a spade like implement and bending over the hot mass of syrup, he begins to spread it about and mix it in all directions. As it cools it thickens, his work gets harder and harder until it loses its liquid state. Gradually, the stiff mass assumes a sand like appearance, its colour gets lighter and lighter, and within an hour of its being merely sap in a cane, the juice is boiled, expressed, cooled and made into sugar – Real Muscovado”. This technique spread throughout East Asia and India. Later on, Western technologies during the Industrial Revolution brought steam powered cane crushers that filtered out impurities such as pulp and dirt from the canes to make clearer, refined liquids. Even though China’s peasant workers had relatively more independence and mobility than their Western counterparts, the crops that they grew were only chosen by the Imperial state, the landlords, and merchants for economic use and foreign trade, such as sugar. For example, sugar was limited in supply by guilds in Taiwan, where they artificially limited the amount of sugar production and supply that could be sold at the local and international market, in order to drive

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