The Jungle

How does Sinclair demonstrate the harmful nature of the boom-bust rhythms of the capitalist economic system?

chapter twenty one.

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The jobs that Jurgis holds in these two industries helps Sinclair show how tangled the web of capitalism had become in the United States. Although Sinclair does not make the connection explicitly, his readers would have surely known about the connection between the Harvester Trust, the Steel Trust, and the Beef Trust. The Harvester Trust was actually majority-owned by the leaders of the other great monopolistic industries of the time (steel, beef, sugar, and oil). Each of these enterprises cut deals with the other to get labor and materials cheaper than would otherwise be available. For instance, the Steel Industry would provide materials for the Harvester Trust to make machines cheaply. The Harvester Trust could then sell these machines to the sugar or beef industry. More products would mean that more railroad tracks would need to be built, meaning more steel would need to be manufactured. The Beef Trust would profit as well. These webs of industry all happen many levels above the understanding of a common worker like Jurgis. All that he knows is that his job can disappear at any time.