After reading this article you will learn about Industrial Revolution:- 1. Causes of Industrial Revolution 2. Consequence of Industrial Revolution 3. Political Ideas.
Causes of Industrial Revolution:
The analysis we have just concluded reveals that the entire society of European continent was absolutely ripe for change and the governments of several European states took steps. They introduced reforms to meet the challenge of new outlook and physical situation.
The governments of European states felt that any negligence would invite disorder and chaos. Compared with the past, mind of men was quite scientific. Harman says – “Changing ideas was not the same as changing society. It would require another cycle of revolutions and civil wars to bring that about”. In the second half of the eighteenth century in Britain and several other countries of Western Europe there was a revolution in the industrial world.
Several factors jointly contributed to the emergence of the revolution in the industrial and commercial worlds and the intellectual factors being the prominent of them.
It has been asserted that evolution in thought and outlook was the chief factor that contributed to the rise of revolution in the industrial field. Before the emergence of revolution in industrial fields people earned their livelihood from agriculture and other fields. But agriculture was incapable to provide livelihood to everyone.
People began to devise new scope for livelihood. Alternative occupations were to be found out and this feeling inspired them to go out in search of alternative ways. In the medieval period the life of the people centred on religion which taught them to be other-worldly minded.
Under the impact of the new atmosphere people became materialist minded. They before long realized that agriculture could not satisfy their material demands and fulfill economic necessities. This caused Industrial Revolution.
In the second half of the eighteenth century a number of discoveries took place with rapid succession and all these brought about radical changes in the industrial and production fields which ultimately led to the unprecedented rise in production of commodities. Jointly it is called revolution in the industrial sector.
The discoveries of Kay in 1733, Hargreaves in 1768, Arkwright in 1769 and Crompton in 1779 revolutionized in various ways the industrial picture in general and weaving industry in particular. There was a remarkable impact of scientific discoveries on transport and communication and agriculture.
The farmers began to apply the discoveries in agriculture and this led to the rise to the production of agricultural commodities. The discovery of steam engine brought about change in the production of iron. In a word, the series of scientific discoveries change the industrial scene of several countries of Europe.
Many people were encouraged to invest in industries because they felt it highly profitable. Particularly the landlords sold their agricultural land and invested in industries. This resulted in the huge production of industrial goods that was practically unimaginable before Industrial Revolution. The setting up of new industries, at the initial stage, required labourers.
The persons engaged in the production of agricultural commodities left villages and thronged in the cities and centres at which industries were set up. At the preliminary level there was no problem of getting jobs in industries because there was great demand of labour.
We all call it Industrial Revolution because the successive discoveries of instruments practically changed the industrial picture. This change is called the Industrial Revolution.
If we look at the history and other aspects of Industrial Revolution we will find that it first originated in Britain. The pertinent question that peeps in our mind is that why did it first originate in Britain?
(1) In sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, it has been observed, there were tension and instability in the social and political life of Britain and this situation prevented the rise and growth of economy in general and industry in particular. Thomas Hobbes writes in his Leviathan (1651)
“Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where everyman is enemy of every man…wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them? In such a condition, there is no place of industry, because the first thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation, nor use of commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving”. This type of instability was to some extent absent in eighteenth century and this helped considerably the growth of industry.
(2) Some people point out that the British people were to some extent invention-minded. They want to devise techniques for their work.
(3) Before the onset of Industrial Revolution feudalism collapsed in Britain. The attachment of the landlords to landed property practically came to an end and they went out in search of new ventures. This was one of the causes of Industrial Revolution.
(4) New inventions and discoveries were applied in agriculture and this resulted in a revolution in agriculture. Scholars are of opinion that revolution in agriculture, in an indirect way, helped the Industrial Revolution. Raw materials were need for the furtherance of industrial progress. Thus both industry and agriculture got favourable opportunity for progress.
(5) The production of industrial goods needed new markets and Britain got that opportunity because of its colonies that spread in Africa and Asia.
Consequence of Industrial Revolution:
Before Industrial Revolution (hereafter only I. R.) the labour was “unproductive” because he had no instrument to help him in work. But I. R. made a labourer productive because he now got the help of new instruments in his activities.
Adam Smith and many other economists have said that new machineries have transformed the unproductive labourer into productive. Harman observes “Productive labour helped create durable products which could be sold either to be consumed by those engaged in other labour or as capital to be used in producing more goods. In either case its output helped to create more output, making the “wealth of the nation” expand.”
This is a very important consequence of I. R. and it has far-reaching ramifications in the whole economy. Adam Smith has rightly said that it has helped the expansion of the wealth of nation. In fact, the wealth of the nations could not get any opportunity to expand without I. R.
Adam Smith has thoroughly studied the various aspects of I. R. and has arrived at the conclusion that it is this revolution that produced unimaginable amount of commodities. Not only this, it later on created opportunities of distribution and marketing. The producers made arrangements for the sale of all the industrial goods.
With the meteoric rise of production, the manufacturers went out in search of new markets and in this task they sought the help of their government. This finally stood at colonialism or colonisation as is popularly called. Colonialism and I. R. in fact, went hand in hand.
The I. R. created, within very short time, fabulous amount of wealth and the maximum part of this wealth was gobbled by the capitalists or manufacturers because they always played the leading part in the process of industrialisation. But penetration into the entire process will reveal that the labourers—the real actors of the whole productive process—were practically deprived of the fruits of the I. R. That is, they were not getting their due share of the profit.
Polanyi has rightly observed; the labouring people had been crowded together in new places of desolation, the country folk had been dehumanised into slum-dwellers, the family was on the road to perdition and the large parts of the country were rapidly disappearing under the slack and scrap heaps vomited forth from the satanic mills. This was the inevitable consequence of I. R. Man was converted into lifeless machine which finally led to the nefarious dehumanisation of labour. I. R. may rightly be termed as the father of both poverty and opulence.
I. R. practically created a moribund situation for the century-old cottage and small-scale industries that developed in the country-side and created employment opportunities for millions of people.
In comparison with quality and price, products of cottage and village industries were far different than machine goods. The result was that while the demand for machine goods was high the same for the cottage industry goods lagged far behind. In many cases the age-old cottage industries were faced with destruction. This was inevitable.
The consequences of I. R. were not confined within the geographical boundaries of the countries of its origin. The manufacturers set up markets in foreign countries for the sale of their goods and this finally crippled the small industries of the colonies. The industrial magnates of Britain and other imperialist countries in all possible ways discouraged the industrialization in colonies and this is one of the reasons of the industrially backwardness of the colonies.
Political Ideas of Industrial Revolution:
The division of society into classes is the inevitable consequence of Industrial Revolution. The I. R. radically transformed the social, economic and political situation of all countries that came under its influence.
“There was a transformation of the working and living conditions of millions of people. They began to crowd into town and cities on a scale unknown in history”.
People in rural areas left their ancestral homes and gathered around the factory and mills in search of jobs.
Harman, citing few statistics, observes that in 1750 there had been only two cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants—London and Edinburgh. By 1851, just after a century, there were 29 cities and the majority of people lived in towns.
There was a transformation of the whole society. Needless to say that most of the inhabitants of the towns were labourers. They lived in slums and led a life full of poverty, diseases and, above all, deprivation.
These people worked hard from sunrise to sun-set for meagre wages which was insufficient for livelihood. “The new labour force was the source of massive wealth. But it was wealth for others”. The fruits of I. R. (that is wealth and profit) went to the capitalists or the owners of industries.
Whereas, the labourers who were the source of wealth were deprived of the benefit of I. R. To sum up, the I. R. divided the entire population into two broad classes or groups—propertied class and non-propertied class. Or, to put it in other words, capitalist class and working class.
With the progress of industrialization the gap between these two classes began to widen. The propertied class was not prepared to allow benefits to the working class and the main reason behind this was that any attempt to alleviate poverty will undermine the discipline. If poor people get more financial benefits and concessions they would become idle, lazy and worthless.
The actual reason is any extra benefits will cut the volume of profits and the capitalists were not prepared to accept it. The net result was the division of society into two classes. Now this division of society into two classes led to class conflict because the interests of the opposing classes were opposite.
The purpose of the capitalists was to maximize the volume of profit and the objective of the workers was to earn enough wage so that they can lead a comfortable life. We conclude the-conflict between the two major classes, the product of I. R., is the chief characteristic of an industrialized society. Class struggle later on came from this class conflict.
The class conflict or the bitter relation between the two major classes created another situation. In the thirties and forties of the nineteenth century the labour trouble in the industrialized countries assumed new dimensions and this forced the capitalists to think of reorganization of public administration.
They wanted to control state administration so that they could win over the working class. They believed that a definite control over the administration would enable them to check the labour trouble.
Police, army and bureaucracy were the chief weapons by which the labour trouble could be checked and since all these were under the direct control of state administration the capitalists were determined to control administration in their favour.
After the I. R. the capitalists constituted the dominating section of the society. Economically they were dominant. Finally, academically and politically, they finally became dominant. A un-holly alliance was formed between the capitalist class and the government. Government wanted more money for running the administration which could be provided by the capitalists.
The capitalists were prepared to part with a portion of profit and the government was prepared to help them to control the working class. Gradually the control of the state machinery went to the hands of capitalists. The bureaucracy, army and police practically were converted into puppets. There was a state in an industrialized nation whose chief objective was to safeguard the economic and other interest of the dominating section of society.
The I. R. completely changed the character of state administration. In the feudal age the state was controlled by the feudal lords and in the industrial period the state came to be dominated by capitalists. Ultimately the state was converted into a machine of exploitation. The machine was used by the capitalists to protect their financial interests.
It is generally observed that the character of state assumed a new character and we call it the class character of state. Before I. R. there existed the class character of state but that was not so much prominent. This particular nature of state brought about numerous ramifications about politics.
The state came to be called a machinery, its abolition was strongly advocated by Marx and his followers, and establishment of socialism and finally of communism. All these concepts are political-economic and, to some extent, sociological. Whatever it may be, they are definite by products of I. R.
Utopian socialism and Marxism are the products of I. R. The three Utopian socialists, Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier and Robert Owen, first drew our attention to the miserable conditions of the working class and for the first time they suggested a way out. Of course Marx and Engels did not agree with their suggestion.
Later on Marx and Engels went into the depth of capitalist society and scanned it thoroughly. The I. R. created miserable and intolerable conditions which were inextricably associated with the contradictions of capitalism. They drew the conclusion that the contradictions were the inevitable products of I. R.
Laissez faire may be regarded as an important product of Industrial Revolution. The father of this doctrine was Adam Smith (1723-1790). He elaborated this doctrine in his Wealth of Nations (1776).
The English equivalent of the term is a policy of non-interference, especially abstention by governments from interfering in the workings of the free market. Before Adam Smith, the physiocrats strongly advocated the idea of non-interference in the economic affairs and in the seventies of the eighteenth century.
Smith drew the attention of the larger section of the community by arguing that economic progress was dependent upon the establishment of the independence of the industrial capitalist.
In his opinion any form of governmental interference in the economic activities of private persons or individual capitalists will thwart the progress of commerce and development of economy.
This is popularly known as laissez faire. This is also called “economic liberation” (the term is frequently used by Eric Roll). This is also called the political philosophy of Adam Smith.
The main emphasis of Adam Smith is that it is always the natural order that human beings prefer to work or to pursue their own policies or activities without being restrained.
According to Smith it is “the obvious and simple system of natural liberty.” He also said that if a person is permitted to follow his own policies and activities that will finally result in grand success. But government’s restrictions will result in catastrophic consequences.
Summarizing Smith’s observation Eric Roll makes the following comment –
“The consequences of the belief in the natural order are simple. Government can rarely be more effective when it is negative. Its intervention in human affairs is generally harmful. Let it leave each member of the community to seek to maximize his own advantage and, compelled by natural law, he will contribute to the maximization of the common good”.
The concept of liberalism was first enunciated by John Locke and subsequently it was elaborated by many.
Adam Smith saw that being pressurized by various sectors the government was imposing restrictions upon the freedom of industrialists and this was hampering the overall economic progress, His Wealth of Nations was published in 1776 and by that time the governmental interference was prominent.
Smith apprehended that if it were allowed to continue the concept of free market will face dire consequences. Apprehending this he enthusiastically built up the doctrine of laissez faire.
In clear terms he declared that it is not the business of government to restrict the economic activities of private entrepreneur’s in the pursuance of their economic policies and activities.
Adam Smith argued that if freedom of activities is restricted (in the case of individuals) that will inevitably curtail their freedom and dampen their enthusiasm. Applying this general concept to economic liberalism Smith concluded that the I. R. has opened the door of industrialization and progress and this can be achieved through the laissez fane.
The government has no business of interfering in the policies of activities of private persons Our point is the I. R. at least for a short period, invited the governmental interference in the economic fields and Adam Smith’s laissez faire doctrine put a very powerful check upon that. Some scholars are of opinion that the I. R. rejuvenated the political doctrine of liberalism and practically it goes in the name of Adam Smith.