The Pros and Cons of the Industrial Revolution


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The Pros and Cons of the Industrial Revolution


The Industrial Revolution was a period in history when mankind found
innovative and efficient ways of producing goods, manufacturing services
and creating new methods of transportation. This not only revolutionized
the way the market system functioned, but also changed the way people
perceived their status in society and what they required as basic
necessities. However, the price that humanity was forced to pay for the
emergence of the Industrial Revolution greatly outweighed the rewards that
accompanied it.

Prior to the Industrial Age, the Western European market operated on a
simple "putting-out" system. The average producer was able to manufacture a
product in the same area that he or she lived on and the demand for that
product was usually set by a few local consumers. The process was easy and
simple, provided that the product being created was always required by
someone else. However, the invention of Machinery and all of its
accompanying peripherals allowed producers to start manufacturing on a mass
scale. With factories placed in central locations of the townships (known
as centralization), the previous system was dismantled and categorized into
steps. No longer would one person be required to build, market or transport
their product since the new system introduced the art of specialization.
Specialization allowed a person to perform a single task and guarantee them
wages as a source of income. However, as wonderful as this might seem, this
new system led to the emergence of a n working class (proletariat) and
forced them to depend on market conditions in order to survive as producers.
Although seemingly content at first, those who became employed by these
factories were immediately subjected to deplorable conditions. Arnold
Toynbee made a scholarly assessment of this new wave of socio-economic
behavior and concluded that the working class is suffering due to a series
of hardships that make their lives miserable. He cited low wages, long
hours, unsafe conditions, no provisions for old age, a discipline
determined by machine and whole families being left with a low income rate
as being a recurring problem that exploited the integrity and efficiency of
Industrialization. This subsequently led to a period of "depersonalization"
which meant that the employer-employee relationship was deteriorating in
exchange for this new system. No longer could a worker befriend his boss or
maintain a stable friendship since the divisions between their market
classes made this al most impossible. One relied on the other for
subsistence and therefore this dependency gave the property owners an upper
edge in terms of negotiating income and support.

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Since the proletariat
owned nothing but his labour, his abuse was imminent at the hands of some
ruthless bourgeoisie. Clearly, this revolution was not aiding all the
citizenry of Western culture.

Since European man had found a way to increase the amount of products
being manufactured, he also found a way to speed up the process through
specialization and Urbanization. The growth of giant factories in
Manchester, England skyrocketed from 77,000 in 1801 to 303,000 in 1850.
People began leaving their countryside rural areas in exchange for an Urban
life lead by the clock. The farm worker became the factory worker literally
overnight in order to compete with these new market forces that had swept
across Western Europe. T.S. Ashton, a prolific historian, saw this
transition as being a positive force during the inauguration of the
Industrial juggernaut. He believed that with Industrialization and
Urbanization there existed a greater stability of consumption since a
regularity in employment meant that goods were always being produced and
transactions were ensuring that a greater proportion of the population was
benefitting. He lauded the existence of a large class of workers since
guaranteed lower prices because more people were well above the level of
poverty. Be this as it may, Karl Marx had a radically different opinion on
the effects of Industrialization. He was disgusted by the fact that the new
working class was always at the mercy of their own employers and depended
too much on the market. This dependency, he preached, would lead to an
uprising involving the collective powers of the proletariat. This prophetic
warning would lead to many other revolutions, most notably the Bolshevik
revolution in Russia, and opened a new age of human suffering and decadence.

In conclusion, the Industrial Revolution presented mankind with a
miracle that changed the fabric of human behavior and social interaction.
Eventually, it even influenced political ideologies and spread across the
four corners of the Earth. However, in its silent and seemingly innocent
way, the majority of the population in Western Europe were struck by a
disease that was invisible to those in power and too obvious to those in
the lower classes. The exodus from nature and the simple country life into
a cornucopia of bustling cities filled with polluted factories is evidence
of the influence of Industrialization. An influence so profound that the
benefits were buried behind an avalanche of pain, poverty and abuse.


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