Can you please discuss some of the philosophies that appeared as a result of the success of big business in the 1800's?Can you please discuss some of the philosophies that appeared as a result of...

Can you please discuss some of the philosophies that appeared as a result of the success of big business in the 1800's?

Can you please discuss some of the philosophies that appeared as a result of the success of big business in the 1800's?

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brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Massive monopolies and trusts that did so well in the late 1800s, such as Standard Oil and U.S. Steel, encouraged a number of philosophies and approaches to business that are somewhat uniquely American.  Laissez-faire, the belief that government should put little to no regulation on business, was a reality during that time, and one of the reasons why business was so successful.  You can still see the remnants of that philosophy in business conservatives today.

Andrew Carnegie, owner of U.S. Steel, wrote The Gospel of Wealth, which basically argued that the rich should give their money away and not pass it on to their kids, or see it wasted on unnecessary items.  This was popular with the churches in those days, of course, but not many other wealthy people agreed 100% with Carnegie on that one.

Social Darwinism was another viewpoint associated with the rich, which argued that the wealthy were that way because they deserved to be.  They said that business was the survival of the fittest, and the rich had risen to the top because they were the best.  Many people still argue that today.

Lastly, the American Dream was very popular at the time.  There was this idea that you could rise to be as wealthy as you ever dreamed just through hard work and talent, and that America was the perfect place to do that in the 1800s.  People still debate over whether the American Dream existed, or still exists, but Andrew Carnegie, who started as a clerk in a telegraph office for $4 a week, is a good example of it.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As previously mentioned, one of the philosophies that helped to empower big businesses in the 1800s was social Darwinism.  This philosophy was a perversion of Darwinist idea of "survival of the fittest."  Darwinian thought emphasized the idea of struggle in nature as something that takes place in the natural setting over thousands of years, or on an evolutionary scale that lapses past human beings.  Yet, proponents of Big Business twisted Darwinian thought to justify their own practices of unfairness and collusion to gain more control of the marketplace.  The result on businesses was an "anything goes" attitude.  The use of this philosophy convinced many that winning was a result of weeding out those weaker or more feeble.  This helped to make businesses as being seen as "right" or "correct," and failed to raise question to limits on corporate expansion, greed, and the proliferation of profit.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some things that came about during this time are also the farmers organization the Grange. This group worked to get representatives elected to combat big business, mainly railroads. This led to Granger State laws regulatin railroads, which were ruled unconstitutional, but eventually led to the Interstate Commerce Act and the Sherman Antitrust Act. While these are not philosophies they are a result of big business in the 1800's. 

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
The 19th century was a time of expansive businesses. Bigger was better. I think we still have this mindset. It was the beginning of the monopolies and consortiums. The above post mentioned the Grange. It was the farmers attempt to meet force with force.
krishna-agrawala | Student

I am not sure if success of business in 1800's or later has led to development or popularization of any philosophies. Yes businessmen and other supporters of big business may have used ideas like laissez faire, developed by Adam Smith in 1700's, to justify their existence. But ideas like these are not philosophies. Besides these were not developed as a result of success of business. As a matter of fact laissez faire assumes a  competitive market characterized by many small producers rather than one dominated by big business. As a matter of fact the development of big business after Adam smith propounded his Ideas served to highlight the limitation of this concept.

The ideas developed by Darwin, similarly, had nothing to do with business. Social Darwinism is an idea developed by twisting  the basic ideas of Darwin to justify not just big business but kind of exploitation of one set of people by another. For example the idea of social Darwinism has also been used to justify exploitation of colonies by their colonial rulers, and brutal practices like trapping of people from Africa for slave trade and slavery.

The only philosophy made popular by big business, if it can be called a philosophy, is that of dominance of materialistic considerations over the spiritual ones. To a large extent the aggressive marketing and advertising programs have been responsible for a general shift towards such approach to life among common people.