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The Link Between the Industrial Revolution and Socialism

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The Link Between the Industrial Revolution and Socialism

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The Industrial Revolution was period of rapid economic and social growth during the mid 18th and early 19th centuries. The new found power of coal and iron made for many new innovations in machinery. Not all of the Industrial Revolution’s changes were physical. A new ideology arose from the sweat of the working class: socialism. Socialism is a political theory advocating state or collective ownership of property and industry opposed to private ownership. To fully understand the relationship between the Industrial Revolution and socialism, one must first be comfortable with the Revolution and its changes, socialism itself, and the fine line of events linking the two together.

The Revolution began in Britain and over the course of a few years spread across Europe and to the United States. It all began with a surplus in food. This caused a population increase as people were in better health due to more nourishment, and they had enough food to support children. This raise in population was mainly unskilled laborers. As new inventions came out, more and more people were employed in factories to run the machines. The textile industry and mining industry were two huge employment areas. Life as a worker in a factory was brutal. The workdays were 12-14 hours a day, the workspace was overcrowded, and the sanitation was horrible—all for little pay. The consequences for one mistake were enough to keep everyone on edge. Even children were treated horribly. This led to the working class, called the proletariat, to be working for the middle and upper class, the bourgeois. The middle class was slowly but surely detaching itself from the lower, working class.

Socialism came about due to the unfair working conditions of the proletariat. Socialists were against capitalism, competition, and class distinctions. While all forms of socialism wanted the same end goal of a classless society, two forms had very different paths to take on how to get there. Marxism,...

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