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The Industrial Revolution: Economics
Updated: 2/10/2020
The Industrial Revolution: Economics
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  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • I am hoping to find Karl Marx and discover the truth as to how his economic theories developed, as well as what life was like during this period.
  • Hi there! It is currently 2 in the afternoon and I have travelled back through time to 1848 to report from the heart of the Industrial Revolution!
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Now, Adam Smith's idea of having a laissez faire economy was very visible during this time period. A laissez-faire economy consists of a free market and very little government intervention. This meant that private businesses were separated from the government and the state intervened very little.
  • First, let's begin by explaining how Adam Smith's ideas from his novel, The Wealth of Nations, is evident throughout the Industrial Revolution. Adam Smith was a classical economist during the enlightenment.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Because of the laissez-faire economy, there was a huge class division between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie that led to a lot of tension among classes.
  • The Industrial Revolution depended on this capitalist economy allowing wealthy business owners, also known as the bourgeoisie, to gain profit from the labouring class, also known as workers or proletariats.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Adam Smith's idea of specialization also played a large role in the industrial revolution. As factories and machinery became more common, specialization and the idea of the assembly line allowed for more efficiency in manufacturing goods and products.
  • The bourgeoisie payed their labourers very low wages and kept the working conditions as minimal as possible in order to increase their profit. This caused a large increase in class division.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Unfortunately, for the proletariats (labourers), the "invisible hand" was in reality forcing the proletariats to accept low wages as their income, poor working conditions and long hours, only to receive enough pay for the bare necessities. (not from the Jungle Book :)
  • Finally, Adam Smith's idea of the "invisible hand", was also evident throughout the Industrial Revolution. The "invisible hand" was claimed to be an unobservable market force that helped the demand and supply of goods reach stability. Through out this period the "invisible hand" directed the demand and competition of the free market to grow; without government interference.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Adam Smith's ideas and mindset influenced the progression of the Industrial Revolution. The emergence of Capitalism contributed to the Industrial Revolution. This is because industrialization needed a substantial amount of workers and investment from individuals (bourgeoisie) which was not received by the government
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • The Industrial Revolution was a period of great innovation, and wealth. Free markets were created allowing more competition amongst businesses. Many industries boomed thanks to the creation of the assembly line and more jobs were created, allowing children to contribute to the family income.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • There was also a great shift in population, as those living in rural areas lost their jobs and began moving into the cities in search of a better life.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Low wages for the proletariats resulted in greater class division and as a result the labourers were powerless against the wealthy bourgeoisie.
  • There was also a boom in mass production as an increase in efficiency led to the average cost being reduced, enabling more products to be produced. However these conditions allowed for overproduction. Many manufactured goods went to waste and pollution was everywhere as the coal industry thrived due to the rise of machinery and factories.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Here we have a father and daughter who just finished their long 10 hour shift and are willing to truthfully answer some questions.
  • What are the working conditions like where you work?
  • Unfortunately they are quite poor as the bourgeoisie simply want more profits. Many workers such as us work amid terrible smells from raw sewage, garbage, and industrial pollution. 1
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • That sounds just awful!
  • And Miss how old are you? And do you go to school? What exactly is your job while working?
  • I am 12 years old and I went to school for 2 years, but now have to work alongside my father to support my family. I work at a textile factory mending broken threads and/or climbing under machinery to fix it.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • And do you enjoy your job?
  • I wish I could go to school, but even though I get a very low wage because I'm a child, I am happy to contribute to my families income. However, everyday I'm terrified of having my fingers cut off and living the rest of my life with missing fingers. I just don't think it is fair that I have to work so hard while the business owners continue to exploit us.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Now in order to understand the Industrial Revolution in greater detail lets look at what liberalism and the free market are and their role throughout this period.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Free markets are closely linked to liberalism. A free market is an economic system where the prices of goods are determined by the competition amongst private businesses. Liberalism is similar as there is also little government control, allowing for private businesses to control the market
  • However, despite the incredible innovations and technologies that shaped the Industrial Revolution, this period was filled with poor social conditions.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Oh look!
  • Here comes Karl Marx! Now with all this context in mind we can finally discover the truth as too how his economic theories have developed!
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • 1. John Merriman, A History of Modern Europe, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2009) 558
  • Hi Karl Marx! I just have a few questions to ask you.
  • How do you feel about the industrial revolution? Do you agree with how the bourgeoisie are treating the proletariats?
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Very interesting. Do you have any other thoughts as to why the gap in class division is so great?
  • Yes, I believe that the liberal society we currently live in is only beneficial for the bourgeoisie as the lack of government intervention allows them to control the market and exploit their labourers. Therefore the gap continues to increase. I also believe the gap in class division is so great and unfair for the workers as the bourgeoisie have access to productive resources that earn them their profits, such as factories and land. Meanwhile, the poor proletariats have nothing to gain a profit with except for their own labour and therefore the divide just keeps increasing as they get stuck in this system.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Oh I am so sorry, thank you so much for speaking with me.
  • What do you think of the increase in machinery and factories?
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Liberalism is a form of capitalism. It is an ideology that was based on individualism (having free will to act as you want) and other principles such as private ownership, as well as the bourgeoisie owning their businesses, self interest and economic freedom.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Liberalism and the free market allowed for the creation of the Industrial Revolution as the bourgeoisie were able to manipulate the market with their wealth and businesses as little government intervention was present. The government had set no laws for a minimum wage or max number of working hours. This allowed the wealthy to pay their workers low wages and thus increase their profit. This increase in profit provided the business owners with money for better innovations and technologies therefore allowing the Industrial revolution to progress.
  • $$$$$
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • $$$$$
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Well first of all, I have definitely noticed that the Industrial Revolution has increased the gap between the business owners and labourers tremendously. I also believe that the labourers working conditions are awful and unfair because of the bourgeoisie.
  • $$$$$
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • Well that was quite interesting. Socialism is an economic system in which the production and distribution of goods and services is a shared responsibility of a group of people. There is also no privately owned property. The class consciousness amongst the proletariats and Karl Marx are for socialism because in a capitalist society the class division doesn't allow them to gain much income. A socialist society would help break the differences in class division and allow the proletariats a chance for a better income.
  • The Industrial Revolution: 1848
  • 2. Mark Skousen, The Big Three in Economics, (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2007) 85
  • Well, I have noticed that the more machinery used, less jobs become available as the machinery is able to do the work of the labourers more efficiently. Machinery and technological advances benefit the capitalist, but not the worker2. This is extremely unfair to the workers!
  • Is there anything else you would like to mention about the Industrial Revolution?
  • I believe that this capitalist society must come to an end and that there should no longer be inequality and such a strong class division! Socialism is the answer!
  • Yes, I also disagree with the increase in machinery as I believe they are causing the labourers to be alienated. The labourers are no longer able to take pride in their product as they did not contribute to the whole process of manufacturing the product because of the machines doing part of their work. These workers then feel as if they have less meaning in life because of the technology taking their place.
  • Thank you so much for such detailed responses!
  • Oh look! Here come some of the labourers who agree with my thinking.
  • End Capitalism NOW!! We want SOCIALISM!
  • 3. John Merriman, A History of Modern Europe, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2009) 560
  • Hi! Why exactly are you protesting for socialism?
  • My husband is a very fine tailor and we have decided to join the middle class in protest for a socialist society and more government control! His business is being overtaken by all the mass machinery producing clothes faster than he ever could! I won't be able to feed my son and two daughters much longer! Machinery is "the devils invention3!"
  • Us workers are being exploited!
  • Im so sorry, thank you for explaining the reasons for the protest.
  • The free markets and liberalism are only benefiting the bourgeoisie! They keep lowering the working conditions and wages! Us labourers and craftsmen aren't benefiting from this society at all! That is why we need socialism!
  • Thanks for tuning in! Next week we will travel to 1767, the heart of the enlightenment and interview Adam Smith!
  • Well I believe I have all of my questions answered! It is now time to travel back to 2020! Funny enough Karl Marx doesn't know that in 2020 we still are a capitalist society.
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