reformed movements included several major changes W r i t i n g
I need a conclusion paragraph for this essay.
The Industrial Revolution brought about one of the greatest transformations in European society in the late 18th and early 19th century. Prior, the vast majority of people worked as farmers and artisans; however, with new inventions that allowed them to mass produce goods, jobs soon move to factories. The lifestyle and conditions associated with this shift were extremely difficult and unsafe. Reforms were initiated but the Revolution itself was not the only piece that caused some to rethink society as a whole. Thus, the reform movements of the 19th century were a response to a longstanding, centuries-old history of the average European citizen being oppressed by the small fraction of those at the top with wealth and power.
The disgruntlement of the common people started centuries ago with the division of people through the social class system. The very few at the top that held power (i.e. the aristocracy, nobles, church officials) enjoyed a mass amount of privilege and lifestyles; however the vast majority of people could barely get by since they often had to pay high taxes and did not have access to similar resources those in power did. Absolutism increased tensions causing a movement known as the Enlightenment to rethink how government and life was structured.
Individual rights and freedoms were heavily promoted. “The statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted, not only to no single person, but to no council or senate whatever” (Source 7). This quote from The Wealth of Nations insinuates that no person or government should have the power to tell another what to do with his or her own money. Due to ideas like this, the common and often oppressed people fought to change the ways of government through many revolutions and revolts, which brought about major changes throughout Europe. These weren’t perfect by any means, and as a matter of fact, would begin to degrade with the onset of the Industrial Revolution.
During the late 18th and early 19th century, society changed dramatically. No longer was there an agricultural society but rather that of mass production, textiles, steam power, amongst other new innovations. While this new system was certainly helpful and efficient, the actual working conditions were treacherous with compensation being low. Not only that, but many would work long days of 16+ hours with few breaks. Looking at the pictures from sources 1, 2, and 3, one can start to envision the danger and backbreaking labor everyone, including children, were required to do. When you begin to think about that, along with the terrible living conditions due to low wages and poverty, it’s easy to see why major reforms were called for in order to bridge the gap between those in power that were maximizing profits and the workers who suffered greatly with nothing to show.
Looking at source 4, people began to seek limitations to working hours, as well as include scheduled breaks for lunch. Likewise, restrictions for childlabor and an increase of accountability were requested. Wages, on the other hand, remained an issue. Many people wanted the government to not regulate these and keep that up to private industry. “These, then, are the laws by which wages are regulated, and by which the happiness of far the greatest part of every community is governed. Like all other contracts, wages should be left to the fair and free competition of the market, and should never be controlled by the interference of the legislature” (Source 9). Still, even with that being said, those same people argued that wages must allow for workers to live well and work safely. While these reforms worked to solve the problems of factory workers of the lower and middle class were important and necessary, a few reformers began to wonder if completely restructuring society as a whole was a better answer to the problem.
This new thinking brought popularity for socialism, which was first proposed nearly a century before the Industrial Revolution. Given the major problems associated with it, restructuring society as a whole was enticing to say the least. The ideas of working for a better society of the masses, they thought, should outweigh individual rights and freedoms contrasting the ideas of the Enlightenment (individual vs. whole group mentality). Such reformed movements included several major changes in ideology that challenged classical economics. Utopian socialism was one the first types to question capitalism and society. Property, they argued, should be shared by all. “Under a true organization of Commerce, property would be abolished, the Mercantile classes become agents for trade of industrial goods and Commerce would then be the servant of Society” (Source 11). Aside from the property issue, socialists tended to support government initiatives to help create equality and allow the entirety of people to benefit from the system while limiting the power of the selfish few.
Marxism was a bit more extreme in its approach. In his Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx said, “The modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms. It has but established new classes, new conditions of oppression, new forms of struggle in place of the old ones” (Source 13). Due to this oppression, Marx saw now another way to revamp society for the good of everyone to completely overthrow those in power, especially the ones that owned the majority of property and goods. A new way of life would be created where for the first time in known history, one group of people would not have control of another. Unfortunately, this class conflict would not come to be, but the ideas of socialism, especially Marxism would remain in peoples’ minds and become more and more popular in the 20th century.