The Fragility of Industry

Seen from a distance in such weather, Coketown lay shrouded in a haze of its own, which appeared impervious to the sun’s rays. You only knew the town was there, because you knew there could have been no such sulky blotch upon the prospect without a town. A blur of soot and smoke, now confusedly tending this way, now that way, now aspiring to the vault of Heaven, now murkily creeping along the earth, as the wind rose and fell, or changed its quarter: a dense formless jumble, with sheets of cross light in it, that showed nothing but masses of darkness:- Coketown in the distance was suggestive of itself, though not a brick of it could be seen.

The wonder was, it was there at all. It had been ruined so often, that it was amazing how it had borne so many shocks. Surely there never was such fragile china-ware as that of which the millers of Coketown were made. Handle them never so lightly, and they fell to pieces with such ease that you might suspect them of having been flawed before. They were ruined, when they were required to send labouring children to school; they were ruined when inspectors were appointed to look into their works; they were ruined, when such inspectors considered it doubtful whether they were quite justified in chopping people up with their machinery; they were utterly undone, when it was hinted that perhaps they need not always make quite so much smoke.

—Charles Dickens, Hard Times

Things haven’t changed one iota, have they? We are still held hostage by the factory bosses.

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2 comments on “The Fragility of Industry

  1. びっくり says:

    Well, they are quite fragile, and we wouldn't want to ruin them. Most of the foreigners here think it only natural that we would throw so much money to save the poor car companies.

  2. Sylvia says:

    I think the joke here is that all those supposedly ruinous labour and environmental laws were imposed and—surprise surprise!—industry was not ruined, and indeed has only grown. For added irony, the industry that fought stricter environmental regulations tooth and nail, the US auto industry, is the one suffering the most. If it wouldn't cause such a disruption to the work force I would say let them fail and be replaced by more creative entrepreneurs. As it is, I hope they wake up and smell the CO2.

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