TOWARDS the end of the middle Ages, feudalism as an economic system had started declining. This process was furthered by the Renaissance and other developments. The rise of towns and cities and the growth in trade stimulated the production of manufactured goods. There was an increase in the demand for goods which previously had been considered luxury goods. Life in the new towns and cities had created a desire for many new goods also. All these factors provided a great stimulus to the production of manufactured goods.
For a long time, however, the techniques and organization of producing goods did not undergo any significant improvement. The traditional methods were inadequate to meet the growing demand for goods.
During the later half of the 18th century there began a series of changes which revolutionized the techniques and organization of production. These developments resulted in the rise of a new type of economy— an industrial economy. The term ‘Industrial Revolution’ is used to describe these developments because the changes came rapidly and they had far-reaching effects on the history of the world.
The new system of society which had been emerging in Europe from the 15th century is called capitalism. Under capitalism, the instruments and the means by which goods are produced are owned by private individuals and the production is carried out for making profit. The workers under this system do not own anything but work for a wage.
The owners of wealth under capitalism who are called capitalists do not keep their wealth or consume it or use it for purposes of display but invest it to make profit. Goods are produced for sale in the market with a view to making profit. This system is in marked contrast with the feudal system in which goods were produced for local use and the investment of wealth for making profit did not take place.
Economic life under feudalism was static as goods were produced for local consumption and there was no incentive to produce more by employing better means of producing goods for a bigger market.
Economy life under capitalism was fast moving with the aim of producing more and more goods for bigger markets so that more profits could be made.
The discovery of new lands and the establishment of colonies had resulted in unprecedented expansion of trade and accumulation of wealth by merchants. The trade included also the trade in human beings, that is, slave trade.
The colonization was accompanied by the plunder of the wealth of the people who were colonized. For example, the treasures of the Inca and the Aztec civilizations were plundered by the Spaniards.
Mines in the newly conquered areas in the Americas were also exploited for precious metals like gold and silver. Large numbers of native people were worked to death in these mines.
You have also read about the use of slave labour in the plantations in the Americas. Colonization of Asia caused similar havoc and devastation. During a few decades of Dutch rule, the population of a province of Java in Indonesia was reduced to less than one-fourth of its former size.
The defeat of the Nawab of Bengal by the English in 1757 was followed by years of naked plunder of the wealth of Bengal. According to estimates of the English government at that time, the English Company and its officials received 6,000,000 pounds as gifts during the period of 1757-1766.
The plunder by the English contributed to a famine in 1769-70 in which about a quarter of the population of Bengal perished. Thus a lot of wealth was accumulated in Europe for investment to make more profit.
In the words of Karl Marx, “The treasures captured outside Europe by undisguised looting, enslavement, and murder, floated back to the mother country and were there turned into capital. ”
The desire to produce more goods at low cost to make higher profits led to the Industrial Revolution and further growl h of capitalism. The Industrial Revolution began in England in about 1750. It was then that machines began to take over some of the work of men and animals in the production of goods and commodities. That is why we often say that the Industrial Revolution was the beginning of a ‘machine age’.
Of course, there were many machines in use before 1750. The plough, air-pump, printing press and spinning wheel are only a few of the many examples that could be listed. For hundreds of years each civilization had been trying to perfect old technical skills and develop new ones. But after 1750, new inventions came faster, and they were of a kind that brought morn rapid changes in more people’s lives. The Industrial Revolution changed men’s ways of living and thinking all over the world.
The guild system had given way to the ‘domestic’ or the `putting-out’ system. In the 18th century, the domestic system had become obsolete. It started giving way to a new system called the ‘factory system’. In place of simple tools and the use of animal and manual power, new machines and steam power came to be increasingly used. Many new cities sprang up and artisans and dispossessed peasants went there to work.
Production was now carried out in a factory (in place of workshops in homes), with the help of machines (in place of simple tools). Facilities for production were owned and managed by capitalists, the people with money to invest in further production.
Everything required for production was provided by the capitalists for the workers who were brought together under one roof.
Everything belonged to the owner of the factory, including the finished product, and workers worked for wages. This system, known as the factory system, brought on the Industrial Revolution the early form of capitalism about which you have read before was now transformed to industrial capitalism.
England in the 18th century was in the most favourable position for an industrial revolution, Because of following reasons
Through her overseas trade, including trade in slaves, she had accumulated vast profits which could provide the necessary capital. In the trade rivalries of European countries, she had emerged as an unrivalled power. She had acquired colonies which ensured a regular supply of raw materials.
After the disappearance of serfdom, people were no longer tied to the land and were free to do to any job they could find. The enclosure movement had begun in the 18th century. Big land-owners wanted consolidate their large land-holdings. In is process, small peasants who had all holdings in land were ousted and large army of landless unemployed people was created. Thus there was no shortage labour force to work in the factories.
As result of the revolution off the 17th century, a stable system of government had been established, which was no longer under the domination of the feudal classes. Commercial classes had acquired more political power and there was no danger of government interference.
England had plenty of natural resources, such as iron and coal, essential for industries. The sources of iron and coal existed side by side and this saved England from many difficulties that other countries faced.
England developed a large shipping industry and had no problem of transportation. No other country enjoyed all these advantages at this period. Some suffered from a lack of capital or natural resources and some from an unfavourable political system. These factors made England a natural place for the Industrial Revolution to begin. Almost all other European countries had agrarian economies and lived under backward political systems. Many of them, such as Italy and Germany, were not even united and suffered from many economic restrictions.
In the 1700s the English East India Company was sending cotton cloth from India to England. Soon, calico cloth made in Calicut and Dacca muslin and Kashmir shawls were in great demand in England. Shrewd English businessmen then began to import cotton and make it into cloth in England. When the workers using old-fashioned spinning-wheels and handlooms could not keep up with the increasing demand, a series of inventions came along to make faster spinning and weaving possible.
Hargreaves invented a machine which speeded up spinning. Arkwright adapted this machine for running with water. Crompton, sometime later, combined the advantages of the machines invented by Hargreaves and Arkwright. These three inventions alone made it possible for England to produce thread that was finer and cheaper than any that could be produced by others or with older techniques. Then in 1785. Cartwright invented a power loom. This machine could he run by horses or bullocks and later, when factories were set up along rivers and canals, water power was used to operate it.
But enough raw cotton for feeding these machines was still not available because the process of separating the fibres from the seeds was very slow. A worker could clean only five or six pounds of cotton clay by hand. In 1793, Eli Whitney, an American, unvented a ‘cotton gin’. This machine made it possible to separate the seeds from cotton three hundred times faster than by hand.
A tremendous increase in raw cotton imports would not have taken place but for the invention the steam engine by James Watt in 1769. It was this machine that made it possible to produce goods on a really big seal Machines run by the muscles of men animals, or by water power, could not compete with those driven by the steam engine. This invention revolutionized production.
With steam power available, there a demand for more machinery. England had plenty of iron and coal to make steel and manufacture machinery, but new and cheaper ways of processing iron had to be found. The development of the blast furnace and, later, the method of turning low-grade iron into steel, enabled the English industries to produce steel cheaply. Thus they could have more and better machines.
Railways: In 1814, George Stephenson developed steam engine to haul coal from mines to ports by railways. In 1830, the first railway train began to carry passengers and freight from Liverpool to Manchester.
These events were followed by a great wave of railroad construction in England and the United States. As early as 1853 in Lord Dalhousie’s time, the first railroad was laid in India.
Roads: The need to transport raw materials and manufactured products led to the improvement of roads and the digging of canals— in England and other countries. Mc Adam devised the method of making pakka or ‘macadamized’ roads.
Canals: To expand facilities for transport by water much cheaper than overland England began connecting rivers and lakes with canals. Canal building spread to Europe and America and was a big help in providing cheaper transportation, especially after steam boats came into use.
Improved transportation helped in carrying messages as well as people and goods. Rawland Hill’s idea of the penny post— fast and cheap communication by letter—began to operate in England in the early 19th century. Soon it was adopted in other countries, including India. People could thus send letters to and from all parts of the country at the same low rate regardless of the distance. Business concerns took advantage of the penny-post in their buying and selling transactions far and near.
There was a revolution in agriculture also. The revolution in agriculture in fact had started before the Industrial Revolution. Naturally, there were changes in farming methods to produce more food, and more importantly, to produce cash crops for the market and raw materials for industries. New farm machinery included the steel plough and harrow for breaking the ground, the mechanical drill for seeding and the horse-drawn cultivator to replace the hoe. There were also machines for reaping and threshing.
Farmers adopted intensive manuring and the practice of crop rotation to maintain soil fertility. The latter is the practice of changing the crop on a piece of land each year, for example, wheat, barley, clover, and so on— instead of letting the land lie fallow every third year as was done in the Middle Ages. Crop rotation is effective because different crops take different elements from the soil. Moreover, planting a crop like clover can actually be better for the soil than letting it lie fallow, because clover is one of the plants that add fertility to the soil.
Land-owners in England also began to enlarge their farms. They had already consolidated their holdings through the enclosure movement, as you have read before. The strips of land that lay scattered about the village were so consolidated that they could hold all their land in one piece. In doing so, the big land-owner quite unfairly got possession of the peasant’s small holding along with his own.
Sometimes big land-holders took over the common meadow in a village also leaving the small land-owners and tenants with no pasture. But the big land-owners controlled Parliament in those days and got laws passed that enabled them to do these things.
The result was that the peasants were forced off the land. With no other means of livelihood, they moved to the new industrial towns and cities where they got jobs at whatever wage the factory-owner would pay. Industries thus benefited, but at the small farmer’s expense.
Peak of Industrial revolution in England
In a little more than fifty years after the use of machines began, England had become the world’s leading industrial nation. Between 1813 and 1855, for example, her textile exports to India jumped from 50,000 kilograms to well over 2. 5 million. During the same period, the amount of coal mined rose from 15 to 64 million tonnes and became an important export. Meanwhile, England’s production of pig iron increased from 690,000 tonnes to over 3 million— enough to supply all the machinery and hardware she needed at home, besides sending vast quantities to other countries.
In the continent of Europe, the Industrial Revolution began to make some headway after 1815, after the defeat of Napoleon and the end of 23 years of war. Then machines were introduced in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany. However, unstable governments and unrest among the people in some of these countries slowed the growth of industries for some time.
1. France, by 1850, was developing the iron industry though she had to import both iron ore and coal.
2. Germany had, by 1865, occupied second place as a producer of steel, but with England far ahead in the lead. After a late start, Germany’s industrial development took an amazing leap after 1870 when the German states were finally welded into one nation. Soon Germany was to become England’s rival.
3. Russia was the last of the big European powers to have an industrial revolution. She was rich in mineral resources but lacked capital and free labour. After she freed the serfs in 1861, she obtained capital from foreign countries and Russian industry moved ahead. However, it was only after Russia’s 1917 Revolution that rapid industrial development started.
4. The United States had introduced machines and started factories before 1800— after gaining independence from England. By 1860 she had well established textile, steel, and shoe industries. The American industries grew very rapidly after 1870.
5. Japan was the first country in Asia to industrialize. Traditionally, Japan produced mainly such articles as silk, porcelain and toys. By the end of the 19th century, Japanese production included steel, machinery, metal goods and chemicals— and in quantities large enough for export.
As England was the first country where industries developed, she gained almost complete control over world markets. Even when people in other countries began to use machines they found they could not compete with England’s low prices. To help keep these low priced products from coming into their markets many countries introduced protective tariffs, that is- governments passed laws that required the payment of such a High tax on imported British manufactures that similar products made locally sold more as they were cheaper. The levy of tariffs to protect new industries became a wide spread practice.
The search tor markets and sources of raw materials resulted in international rivalries. First England later, other Western countries began to look for new sources of raw materials and markets for their manufactures.
Towards the end of the 19th century Japan was industrialized and joined the race. In this race, almost the entire non-industrialized world was carved up into colonies— spheres of influence or territories— for economic and political domination by industrialized countries.
Thus arose imperialism, under which strong nations subordinated the economies of the countries under their domination to their own interests. They forced them to buy and sell on their own terms.
The race for colonies caused many an international conflict. The countries which had been industrialized late and had no colonies, wanted to wrest them from those that had. Countries which had colonies wanted still more.
Before the Industrial Revolution, most of the population of the world lived in villages and was dependent on agricultural. Almost all economic needs of man were met within the village itself. Almost the entire population was, in one way or the other, connected with land.
The towns and Cities that had arisen since the beginning of civilization were, as you have seen, centres of craft and of political and administrative control. Trade was carried on between towns and cities of the same country and of other countries and affected only a very small percentage of the population.
With the growth of industrialization the picture was completely transformed. The centre of economic life shifted to the cities. The new cities and towns that grew were important more as centres of industry than as political and administrative centres.
A large part of the population now started living in cities where thousands of people worked in industrial establishments. This population was not connected with land. Now in some industrialized countries, less than 20 per cent of the population is connected with land.
In our country, though still an overwhelming majority lives in village there is a gradual increase in the population dependent on industry.
In highly industrialized countries, the share of industrial production in the total national income is far larger than that of agriculture. Urban and rural economies have become mutually dependent and complementary.
The crowding of people into cities has always produced problems of housing, health, and sanitation. The quickening pace of industrialization in England created deplorable living conditions, concentration in smoky industrial towns, and city slums grew worse.
Even though the movement of people from village to cities has been going on since civilization began, it has always aroused sadness. Life for a villager in the city resulted in many social strains. Many social bonds were dissolved. Many moral restraints which life in a village community imposed broke down.
On the other hand, men became freer to develop their capabilities. The Industrial Revolution brought countries and peoples together. The relations between countries and peoples, however, were not based on equality as the industrially developed countries began to control the economy of countries which were not industrially developed. In spite of this, the Industrial Revolution created an international consciousness among peoples because the developments in one place began to influence the developments in other places.
The system of society which came into being as a result of the industrial revolution may be termed industrial capitalism. The main classes in this society were
1. Capitalist: the owners of the means of production.
2. Workers: workers who worked for a wage
1. It resulted in the concentration of economic power in a few hands.
2. The independent craftsman became rare.
3. A small number of capitalists came to control the lives of not only a large number of workers whom they employed but also, directly or indirectly, the economic life of the entire society.
4. The concentration of economic power in a few hands resulted in shocking social inequalities and created a wide gulf between capitalists and the rest of the population.
5. These inequalities were so obvious and so great that Disraeli, a British Prime Minister of the 19th century, spoke of the existence of two nations in England- the rich and the poor.
6. The Industrial Revolution produced a vast number of landless, toolless workers, who were wholly dependent on an employer.
7. They had to accept whatever wage the employer offered, for there were usually more workers than jobs.
8. Women and children were employed even in mines because they could be hired for less money.
9. Often they had to work from 15 to 18 hours a day with no rest periods. If perchance they fell asleep on duty, they might be beaten by a heartless overseer.
10. Working surroundings were unsafe and dirty.
The houses provided for workers were no better. Whole areas of the industrial cities where workers lived were crowded slums. Accidents, disease and epidemics were common. A report on the slums of Manchester in 1837 mentions, among other things, that almost all inhabitants of many streets perished in cholera.
No Social security
If an employer was displeased with a worker for any reason, he could dismiss the worker at will. A worker had little choice but to accept an employer’s terms, or be jobless. If he was ill and unable to work, he got no pay, and he might be discharged. If he suffered an accident on the job, he got no help from the employer. When business was slack, a factory-owner regularly dismissed as many employees as possible leaving them with no means of livelihood. It was the industrial workers in England who first endured conditions such as those just described but the workers in other countries fared no better.
The horrible condition of child labourers is stated in the evidence collected by a committee of British Parliament in 1816. The following information was collected from a one-time master of apprentices in a cotton mill. He was asked questions by the committee on the condition of child labourers in his factory.
A few humanitarian reformers and some land-owners who were jealous of big businessmen combined with English workers to get the first laws to improve conditions of work. In 1802, England passed its first Factory Act, limiting the hours of work for children to twelve a day. In 1819, law forbade the employment of children under nine. Later laws regulated the employment of women and children in mines.
Many of the laws to protect workers have been due to the pressure from workers’ trade unions. When the English workers first formed trade unions, employers called them `unlawful combinations’ and laws were passed to curb such `evils’.
But by 1824 the workers succeeded in getting laws against unions repealed and there was a remarkable growth in unions for all the trades. It may be hard to believe today, but it is true, that the English industrial workers did not have the right to vote in those days. In the beginning in fact, the population of new industrial cities had no representation in Parliament at all.
In the thirties and forties of the 19th century, a movement known as the ‘Chartist Movement‘, was launched to get the right of vote for workers. Though the movement declined by the fifties of the 19th century, left its influence and through the Acts of 1867, 1882, 1918 and 1929 all adult citizens were enfranchised.
The English workers also won the right not only to organize trade unions but also the right to strike to force employers to concede their demands.
Trade Unions in other countries
The idea that the workers’ case must be heard in any dispute met with opposition everywhere. Germany got the right to form labour unions in the late 19th century.
In the United States, where unions were frowned upon for almost a century, workers did not, gain full legal rights until the early 20th century. Then the right to form unions, to strike, and to bargain with employers on the conditions of work was legalized and this was followed by other laws that brought more benefits to employees.
The many benefits that workers and all salaried people enjoy in most industrialized countries today are due directly or indirectly to the efforts to correct the terrible conditions that the Industrial Revolution brought about.
Protection for industrial workers could not have taken place without a change in the ideas of the responsibilities of — governments. When the Industrial Revolution was gaining strength in England— and the same was generally true in other countries— the growing belief was that governments should not interfere with business and industry. The theory known as laissez-faire or ‘let us alone’, was then a kind of religion among capitalists.
Laissez faire and Capitalism
According to the laissez faire idea, the businessman should be free to look after his own interests. Only the unwritten law of supply and demand should determine the size of his profits. The same unwritten law would determine the fate of the worker, whether he had a job, what would be his working conditions and salary. The famous economist Adam Smith voiced this idea in 1776 in a book called The Wealth of Nations, and it had many supporters, too.
The laissez faire doctrine was opposed by many people. Gradually, almost all the countries came to accept the idea that the state has a legitimate right and duty to regulate the economy. The Factory Acts in England and many laws dealing with the economy in all countries were a consequence of this.
Today one rarely hears a voice in defence of laissez faire. Gradually, the state’s role in economic development has also come to be recognized. This is true particularly of the developing countries that cannot modernize their economies without a comprehensive and large-scale effort on the part of the state. In fact, in these countries, it is the state, rather than the private capitalist, that is the main agency for economic development.
The greatest challenge to laissez faire, and to capitalism itself, has come from the idea of socialism, which grew in the beginning as a reaction against the evils of capitalism. The idea appealed particularly to workers. Through their struggles, they were able to achieve much improvement in their living conditions. However, they came to believe that, for basic improvement in their life, socialism or a complete re-ordering of society was essential. You will read about ideas of socialism and movements based on those ideas later.
The Industrial Revolution that began in England in about 1750 was a revolution in man’s ways of producing goods and services. Abolition of medieval, antiquated social, economic and political systems, arid industrialization to lead to an era of shared plenty became the declared aims of one society after another who emerged as nations.
Ever since 1750, man has increasingly used machines and mechanical power to do the work that he formerly did with his own muscles and the help of animals. Meantime, the machines invented by man have become more and more complex and provided him with goods and services that could not otherwise be produced at all. Also, machines have increased the amount of goods man can turn out in a given time, and enabled people to raise their level of living.
Industrialization and capitalism brought benefits as well as hardships and evils to man— unemployment, smoky, crowded cities, unhealthy living and working conditions, rivalry and conflict between nations. As working men got the right to vote and elect their representatives in government, they forced the passage of laws that eliminated many of the early evils that industrialization had brought about. Ideas of socialism also arose which, while recognizing the importance of Machines and making them even better, aimed at solving the problems created by capitalism, by building a new social order. But many problem remain. The unsolved problems are a challenge to all nations.
1. Explain the meaning of the following terms: Industrial Revolution, capital, capitalism, socialism, protective tariff, laissez faire.
2. What conditions are most favourable or essential for industrialization?
3. Give examples to show that the Industrial Revolution with its demand for raw materials and markets made nations more dependent on one another.
4. Describe the conditions which prevailed in industrial cities and factories as the Industrial Revolution spread. How these conditions were slowly improved?
5. Make a Time Line showing the most important inventions from 1750 to 1870.
6. Make a bulletin board display of pictures of machines that revolutionized manufacturing, farming, transportation and communication during the first hundred years after the Industrial Revolution began.
7. Write a paper of 250-400 words on the subject: The Industrial Revolution was a mixed blessing’.
8. What are the main features which distinguish capitalism from feudalism?
9. How did the growth of trade unions help to put on end to the idea of laissez faire?
10. Why does industrialization affect farming, transportation, communication, trade and how does it result in the need for more education?
11. How does industrialization help in raising the level or the standard of living?
12. Study the weaknesses and disadvantages of producing goods and services under the capitalist system of production. What are the advantages that a socialist system can have over a society based on capitalism?
13. Would you say that industrialization was ‘a natural step’ in man’s progress? Why or why not?