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A Debate Over Social Darwinism and Reform in The Gilded Era and Modern Time

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Words: 877 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: May 14, 2021

Words: 877|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: May 14, 2021

Following the events of the Civil War, a new era of development and success evolved, known as the Gilded Era. The reforms of the Gilded Era stirred large debate over being successful or ultimately a failure. On the surface the Gilded Age exhibited growth and prosperity leading to the Era’s success, but digging deeper into the Era failure can be expressed through inequality and unfairness shown in economy as well as corruption in politics. Debate was also stirred among those who valued Social Darwinism and those who pursued reform, this debate still holds large significance in modern Era as division among social class can be drawn from this debate.

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The Gilded Era did hold large success in improvement and growth in the economy at exceeding rate, but it also led to difficulties in society deeming the reforms in the long run a failure. During the time railroads and telephone lines stretched across the nation, creating new opportunities and a vast distribution of goods. Before these advancements that improved the economy were established, the U.S. consisted of a great amount of small farmers who became confronted with this new exposure of an industrial environment. Many consumers and producers in the nation became preoccupied with the idea and the feeling of possessing the greatest and most advanced products, while many were left with little to nothing. Those who could not adapt to the reforms of the economy were left at the bottom of society and struggled to survive, while an industrial and financial aristocracy lived in stately homes and indulged themselves with enriching amusement. The reforms expressed improvement in the economy, but also the divide in and inequality in society while some celebrated their new wealth and others suffered from it.

Apart from the economy, politics also showed improvement. During the Gilded Era, American politics were energetic and thrilling, voter participation rates were soaring and national elections were decided among heavy competition. With this success in Politics came large corruption plaguing the reforms as a failure. At the national level, inefficient administration was governed under Ulysses S. Grant, other areas of politics were inefficient as well as the wealthy solely held influence. The rapidly growing wealthy held large influence over the public as the proposal that the upper class wealthy were subject to hold the majority of power was appraised in politics. At the city level, urban politics were dominated by powerful organizations that also consisted of corruption as jobs and contracts were bartered for political loyalty. The politicians who ran these large organizations held an unequal share of power as well as an unequal share of economics as the majority of these politicians skimmed money through the organizations. As the growing wealthy class flourished, the working class struggle under unfair labor laws working long hours at a low rate of pay. This corruption was a result of the reforms during the Gilded Era and was ultimately a failure as it caused unrest and Labor movements that disrupted the economy, society, and exposed politicians.

Apart from the debate over the success of failure of the reforms, the Era also consisted of a debate over Social Darwinism and reform, which still exists in the modern nation. During the Era, the wealthy such as Herbert Spencer applied the theory of Social Darwinism, which expressed the “survival of the fittest” as a form of justification for the inequalities in wealth and society. Improvements in society were acknowledged to the wealthy or the “fittest” as the support for Social Darwinism opposed the economy with Laissez-Faire. A large majority opposed the support of Social Darwinism and pursued reform. Among this group was Jacob Riis, who wrote “How the Other Half Lives” expressing concerns for those who lived in the slums and immigrants who struggled to survive. These concerns over Social Darwinism evolved into large debate and attempts to reform. This debate exists in the U.S. today, as Social Darwinism is still alive. The debate lives through capitalism as capitalist states base their capitalism on Social Darwinism to justify unfair competition and to dominate weaker companies and organizations. Opposing this Social Darwinism capitalism in the U.S. is Laissez-Faire capitalism, which introduces methods for poor people to get ahead such as welfare and minimum wage. The widening gap between the rich and poor, which is supported by the rich and methods of attempting to close this gap by the lower and middle class is evidence that the debate still exists in the modern U.S.

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The Gilded Era can be viewed in a variety of ways from multiple perspectives, however, the details that can be presented during the Era show failure of reforms and the development of a debate that still affects the modern world. On the surface the Gilded Age represented growth and improvement as a result of reforms, but in reality the reforms led to failure due to their causing of a divide in society, inequality in the economy, and corruption in politics. The failure of these reforms can also be associated with the debate that followed due to the divide in society and inequality of the economy. This debate consisted of being for or against Social Darwinism, which can be exhibited to still exist in the U.S. today through the nation’s capitalist economy and gap between classes.

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A Debate Over Social Darwinism And Reform In The Gilded Era And Modern Time. (2021, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 1, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-debate-over-social-darwinism-and-reform-in-the-gilded-era-and-modern-time/
“A Debate Over Social Darwinism And Reform In The Gilded Era And Modern Time.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-debate-over-social-darwinism-and-reform-in-the-gilded-era-and-modern-time/
A Debate Over Social Darwinism And Reform In The Gilded Era And Modern Time. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-debate-over-social-darwinism-and-reform-in-the-gilded-era-and-modern-time/> [Accessed 1 Mar. 2024].
A Debate Over Social Darwinism And Reform In The Gilded Era And Modern Time [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 May 14 [cited 2024 Mar 1]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-debate-over-social-darwinism-and-reform-in-the-gilded-era-and-modern-time/
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