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The Industrial Revolution, Karl Marx & Max Weber.

The powers that were in place for over a millenium were violently shifting. The 19th century was a time filled with revolution & revolutionaries. Industrialization and capitalism were plowing the feudal system into oblivion. The Industrial Revolution created new social classes and, new forms of labor. Karl Marx and Max Weber tried to explain and understand this change.

The structure of western society changed forever because of the Industrial Revolution. New technological advances in communications, transportation & mass production were changing the way people lived & worked. These changes were so powerful that the ruling aristocracies of the time feared industry, because it would effect their dominance & social power.

The Industrial Revolution was a time of invention. The creation of the steam engine or the atmospheric engine as it was originally named, changed transportation and mass production forever. The introduction of steam power replaced human and animal power in the production of goods & services. Steam power was utilized in transportation through locomotives and steamships, which later evolved into warships. Advances in communications & transportation made the world a smaller place. Information began to be transferred quickly. The media began to be more up to date because people were now linked globally through the telegraph.

The impacts the Industrial Revolution had on social thought can be seen through the creation of new social classes. The modern working class, or proletariat began to emerge. Workers no longer owned their tools, they had little property, and generally had to exchange their labor for a money wage. Mechanical power brought a great increase in worker efficiency, which made goods abundant and cheap. Through this the standard of living improved in much of the world.

In the new technological times there was a need for the specialization of the workers in the industry. According to the Bendix readings: Specialization made the lower workers or proletarians experts in their fields, but left them with a narrow knowledge which prevented them from rising in status.

The development of industrial capitalism had serious human costs. The early days of the Industrial Revolution were blemished with horrible conditions for large numbers of workers, especially in England. Abusive child labor, long working hours, and dangerous and unhealthy workplaces were common. These conditions led Karl Marx to produce his massive indictment of the capitalistic system.

The impact of industrialization and capitalism made it possible for many necessary items to be available for everyone, but few actually benefited. The new entrepreneurial class or the bourgeoisie were welded into a new social class because of the excitement and promise of new technologies. This class owned the means of production in the industrial capitalistic society. Marx believed that the capitalists/bourgeoisie exploited their workers the proletarians so they would become low cost appendages to run a machine.

Marx felt that capitalism would fail for two reasons. The first reason being that capitalism was based on the industrial cycles of the market. Capitalism depended on over production and the creation of new markets. It survived reoccurring inflation and deflation crises by the destruction of products, and exploitation of old markets. Marx felt that this was an absurdity and it was doomed. The second reason Marx felt capitalism would fail was because the exploited proletarian would revolt against the bourgeoisie, and destroy the capitalistic system. The proletarian would become increasingly impoverished and it would be alienated from the fruits of its labor. The proletarian would develop class-consciousness and become educated.

Marx struck at the fundamental principle of capitalism, private ownership of the means of production. Marx believed that land and capital should be collectively owned and that the products of the system should be distributed fairly and evenly according to need. Marx sought to overthrow the capitalistic order and create a system of collective control of the society, which would ensure a fair system for all of the citizens. There would be abolition of private property & inheritance. A state centralization of banking, communications, transportation, factories and instruments of production. Free public education and equal labor.


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