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Exploration of Capitalitsm in Norma Rae

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Exploration of Capitalitsm In Norma Rae

While many of us tend to view capitalism as the ultimate goal when talking of profit capability and worker freedoms, we are shown a much different reality in the film \\\"Norma Rae\\\" in which the economic system comes under direct and harsh scrutiny. While the economic system on display in \\\"Norma Rae\\\" is a vast improvement from the impoverished feudal economic system shown in Matewan, there are still several improvements that can clearly be made to the O.P. Henry Textile Mill\\\'s definition of capitalism in this 1978 film based on actual events.

The textile workers at the O.P. Henry Mill are used to struggle and adversity as both characterized their

employment in the factory and the hardships they had to face in their everyday lives. Many of the factory employees had been working in the mill for their entire lives, enduring the worker cruelty that the company dealt out with alarming regularity. However, many of the workers in the factory had little or no choice in seeking other employment, as the Textile Mill was the largest employer in the area, especially for unskilled laborers. While the employees were not forced to work in the factory, they stayed so as not to risk unemployment.

This fear of unemployment was the mechanism that allowed the Textile Mill to push its workers to the limit. In this particular capitalist system on display in Norma Rae, the workers were the ones who had everything to lose. The workers had their livelihoods tied up in their jobs and would have to face the consequences if the company suffered economic difficulty, relocated, or had to downsize and make worker cutbacks. In this way, the workers\\\' bargaining power with the company was weakened and the Textile Mill had the upper hand, allowing the company managers to mistreat their workers, ignoring basic human needs, such as those to a safe working environment. In an environment like this, the workers are unable to complain because they do not want to jeopardize their

employment, their source of survival in a capitalist economy. We are witness to the workers tolerating their deplorable working conditions throughout the film as when Norma Rae\\\'s mother loses her hearing due to the overbearing noise that the factory machines make and is told that her condition is \\\"normal\\\" and \\\"temporary,\\\" nothing to be too concerned about. Also, wokeres complained that their windowas

had been bricked closed to make them feel as if they were \\\"shut in\\\" or working in a box with no way out. But, they tolerated these conditions to save their jobs an remain a part of the capitalist system.

Examples like these show that the film Norma Rae depicts the evils that can result from a system of capitalism, such as when in a free-market economy the wealth produced is not allocated fairly, but becomes concentrated in the hands of a select few; in other words, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This protrayal of capitalism is contrary to the euphamistic way capitalism is usually portrayed

as the champion economic system for the working man; a system of rational supply

and demand, hailing the accomplishments of the average worker and rewarding his efforts with a decent wage and the possibility of job advancement. While the textile workers do receive a wage (albeit a meager one) and had the right to choose their employer, the capitalism examined in Norma Rae is far from the \\\"ideal\\\" and is, in fact, a much more pessamistic vew of a system that we as a society have come to think of as a system of the workers\\\' right to choose. The film Norma Rae is clearly against the concentration of power amongst members of management (the \\\"higher ups\\\") and therefore undeniably pro-union.

A union, it seems is the greatest threat to the O.P. Henry Textile Mill, as it would eliminate the unlimited power that the company previously held over its laborers. A union would give its workers a voice, a voice that would presumably ask for higher pay rates and better, safer working conditions. As the company stands wthout the existence of a union to interfere, they can shorten worker breaks, increase production requirements, and push workers to their absolute breaking point (as was the



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