The Amish & Capitalism

Sarah Bowman
Sarah Bowman, Writer & Researcher, volunteer at Atheist Secular Humanism

I don’t think so. A look at the Industrial Revolution of the early nineteenth century before Frederich Engels and Karl Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto and before the women took to the streets to protest inequality, shows unbridled capitalism in which the rich oppressed the poor beyond tolerance.

Pregnant women gave birth on the factory floor rather than risk the punishment of losing a day of work if the birth was late. The growth of children was stunted and other health and growth problems developed due to factory work; children up to age seven glowed with health, but then they were forced into the factory and grew pale. Children had to work twenty-hour days because their labour was the cheapest, putting their parents out of work. Kids were so overworked and exhausted that on Sundays, their only day off, they could do nothing but sleep. See Engels’s Conditions of the Working Class in England, 1845. That is not what the West would be like; it is what the West was like.

I have never seen or heard of Amish or Mennonite women and children being oppressed to that extent by capitalism, even though they might be pressed into heavy farm labour at times. The Amish and Mennonites have their own form of socialism in that they care for their own needy, and provide help out of the community treasury for fire and storm damage or other major loss. Not to mention free labour to repair damages and tend to the ill.


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