Profit and Illth: From Carlyle to Ruskin to Morris

Authors

  • Louis Harap

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.14452/MR-030-07-1978-11_6

Keywords:

History, Philosophy, Political Economy

Abstract

One effective antidote for capitalist apologetics these days is to return to, read, and take at their full depth the diagnoses of the ills of capitalism in the writings of English social critics from Carlyle to William Morris. To be sure, the skill of Carlyle and Ruskin in prescribing remedies did not approach the insight with which they penetrated to the mainspring of the miseries entailed in the free-enterprise system: the passion for profit. This remains the basic motive and driving force of capitalism down to our own day. This immitigable pursuit of profit makes for a proliferation of waste of every kind—of goods, of materials, of human labor, and finally of the very resources of earth. Ruskin had a name for this kind of waste—"illth"—the opposite of "wealth," production of all that diminishes and degrades humankind.

Published

1978-12-06

Issue

Section

Articles