Marx and the Industrial Revolution

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Socialist Ideology

(a)The origins and principal tenets of the socialist thought.

Before the Industrial Revolution Britain was an agrarian society with approximately 90% of the population living in the rural areas. Most people worked in the field as farmers and farmhands on land owned by a small minority (Aristocrats). During this time, the manufacturing of goods such as textile was a slow process because everything was done by hand. However, a series of innovations changed the way people lived and worked for the next 200 years. Inventors discovered ways to transform natural resources into energy, and then invented machines that were powered by this new energy. These machines replaced hand-powered tools that did the job much faster and cheaper. Factories were built to manufacture goods on a large scale to be sold to different countries around the world. These changes caused many people to become unemployed, which led to a mass migration in the early 19th century of villagers from the countryside to the cities in search of work. People who were once farmers, farm hands and skilled weavers, now flocked the cities to become factory workers. This was the birth of the Urban Working Class.

A new class of people emerged. Workers who produced goods and Industrialists (factory owners) who employed hundreds, sometimes thousands of people to made enormous profits in their industrial centres. Karl Marx, a political philosopher, who coined the term ‘Proletariat’, to describe the urban working class and ‘Bourgeoisie’ to describe the employers, saw the inequality of wealth between the two different classes of the industrial society as being unfair and immoral because the Bourgeoisie had all the wealth while the Proletariat who earned that wealth had nothing. This inequality, he believed, would breed hostility between the classes. He said that the Industrial Revolution had created the ‘Capitalist System’. A system, that protects the interest of the Bourgeoisie who...
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