Time of crisis and mobilizing power

Banks failed and, as a result, payments were frozen, resulting in a financial meltdown in the commercial market.
Financial excesses and breakdowns result in a cotton-centered structural recession of industrial capitalism.
Exports plunged to their lowest level in a decade, as masters and merchants who had amassed raw cotton were unable to attract buyers.
Dozens of businesses went bankrupt, and unemployment in industrial districts skyrocketed.
What was the Crompton spinning mule’s biggest disadvantage? In what conditions did the “mule spinner’s”control reside? The main disadvantage of the Crompton spinning mule was its heavy reliance on human intervention through the fingers which had to constantly intervene to regulate the speed of the revolving spindles. In the absence of strong arms and dexterous hands, no yarn could be made hence the power of the mule spinner resided in controlling the production process in its entirety.

What was Andrew Ure’s ideal of automation?

Andrew Ure’s ideal of automation emanated from the concept of self-acting machinery which relied on involuntary motions outside the human body and lack of free will. Self-acting machinery, therefore, needed to have within itself the power to initiate and control own movements.

How did Richard Roberts’s self-acting mule decisively demonstrate its usefulness to capitalists?

The self-acting mule decisively demonstrated its usefulness to the capitalists when it proved that it could effectively replace the human spinners who often staged protests demanding wage increases. The advent of the self-acting mule, therefore, eliminated the monopoly previously enjoyed by the living spinners and mitigated against union militancy to the benefit of the capitalist masters.

Was steam power essential for the operation of the self-acting mule?

The self-acting mule, being the first truly automatic machine in the cotton industry was geared by the steam engine as its prime mover, an essential power source for its operations. However, it soon emerged that a self-acting mule could also perfectly get powered by a waterwheel since there was no technological string tying it to steam.

What inhibited the adoption of the power loom even though a crude version had been invented in 1784 (better model patented in 1787) and refined in the following decades to the point that it was equal or superior to the handloom?

What inhibited the adoption of the power loom despite its superiority to the handloom was based primarily on the cheapness of its labor. The trial of power looms resulted in economic failure with manufacturers consistently snubbing them because of the enormous need to utilize cheap labor from peasant laborers who had infiltrated the market. The surge in demand of weavers who had ready skills in weaving only thrived on handloom and other ancillary tools that were cheap and easy to master.

What kept handloom weavers in the poorly paid trade?

The myriad of handloom weavers kept to the poorly paid trade because the market was virtually oversaturated with cheap labor, hence could not help but undercut their position. Secondly, the lack of other employment opportunities and the overflowing market made it almost impossible to wage strikes for a pay rise as any laborer was fully disposable because of the surplus alternatives.

How did the ‘labour problem’ with the loom weavers differ from the problem with the mule spinners?

Loom weavers lacked coordinated action since they were not unionized. Also, their wide dispersion in space, each weaver to their own domicile scattered across valleys and hills impeded any efforts towards coordinated action whereas spinners were concentrated within and around their industries hence could negotiate over pricing rates and had strength in numbers for affirmative action.

In what respect was the problem with the handloom weavers similar to the problem with mule spinners?

The problem of handloom weavers and mule spinners appear to have suffered a similar fate of market dynamics as epitomized by the capital prevailing over labor as proper hierarchy was reestablished based on more output at lower cost.

Also, both were obliterated by the consequences of mechanization. The power loom which was mechanically superior eventually replaced the handlooms while the self-acting mule eradicated the role of the mule spinners.

Was it the introduction of the power loom and of combined factories with both self-acting mules and power looms that established the primacy of steam over water?

The introduction of the power loom and of combined factories with both self-acting mules and power looms essentially established the primacy of steam over water. The first and the largest combined factories were however powered by rivers but the new era of automation would consequently rely on steam for efficiency and sustainability in the long run.

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