What assumptions did Andrew Carnegie in his essay "Wealth" make about the rich and the poor?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the fundamental assumptions that Carnegie makes in "Wealth" is that there will always a be division between those who have access to power and financial resources and those who do not.

Carnegie suggests that a social hierarchy predicated upon wealth acquisition is inevitable.  He suggests that some people will always possess more advantage than others: "It is well, nay, essential for the progress of the race, that the houses of some should be homes for all that is highest and best in literature and the arts, and for all the refinements of civilization, rather than that none should be so."  Carnegie believes that universal fairness is akin to universal "squalor."  He believes that "the old conditions" are ones where everyone was kept in financially dire straits, a reality that "would Sweep away civilization" and its advances.  One of Carnegie's primary assumptions is that there will always be a structure where some will be above others. Carnegie feels that this is natural to all social construction.

From this assumption lies his idea that the rich should try to make the best out of this situation.  He argues that the real challenge of the modern setting is not how to eliminate wealth inequality, but rather how to ensure that the "proper administration of wealth" can maintain "the ties of brotherhood."  He assumes that the wealthy will want to find and develop ways to create "harmonious relationships" between those who have economic power and those who lack it.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team