The first step taken by the reformed Parliament towards a full-flagged laissez-faire regime was the reform of the Old Poor Laws in 1834. Since that date, poor relief would become much more difficult to obtain, and at a very high costs in term of human dignity. However, from 1820 onwards the widespread perception that «unrestricted factory industrialization made beast of men, women, and children» lead bourgeois Parliaments to develop a sophisticated labour legislation which was introduced by a series of Factory Acts, of which the first passed in 1819. In order to provide a more exhaustive assessment of Marx’s judgment of the function of the bourgeois institutions in passing legislations meant to ameliorate the poor’s living conditions, the aim of this paper is to look at Marx’s analysis of the English social and labour legislations.
- Karl Marx, Speenhamland Syatem, Factory Act