when looking at this time period we need to realise it is a period of change with the 10 years that succeded the Poor Law amendment act saw some of the most influencial and most important parliamentary decisions of the the 19th Century, with the aboltion of slavery and the end of child labour under the age of 10.
This change was felt in Ireland as well with there own Poor Law ammendment act. Irish Poor Law Amendment Act. After a Commission reported that the 'importation' of the English 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act was inappropriate for Ireland, the government brought in its own "experts" and the 1834 PLAA was passed for Ireland. It was implemented just before the outbreak of the potato blight and proved to be inadequate to meet the crisis.
The Marxist interpretation of the Poor Law was that the newly-enfranchised middle-classes after the 1832 Reform Act were able to exploit the working classes by the legislation which built harsh workhouses and made claiming poor relief more difficult. These classes, at this time where unable to vote. The New Poor Law would decrease the amount of tax being paid by the bourgeoisie serving their interests.
The workhouse system meant that the peasants and working class could be kept under strict control as opposed to the system of outdoor relief under the old poor law. It was feared that this system could lead to a rise against the ruling class as happened in the French Revolution.
Co-operatives and trade unions are totally incapable of transforming the capitalist mode of production. This is really understood by Bernstein, though in a confused manner. For he refers to co-operatives and trade unions as a means of reducing the profit of the capitalists and thus enriching the workers. In this way, he renounces the struggle against the capitalist mode of production and attempts to direct the socialist movement to struggle against "capitalist distribution." Again and again, Bernstein refers to socialism as an effort towards a...