The Industrial age began in the middle of the 18th century with the introduction of mechanical power. Now, not only were employers faced with labor organization problems; they were pressured to invent new production methods while cutting costs to keep prices competitive. The influx of raw goods arriving in Great Britain from her colonies set the stage for a stream of new inventions. Efficient machine technology began to replace human and animal power. This fundamental characteristic of the industrial revolution was referred to as the introduction of mechanical power.
As technology improved the standard of living and steam engines lowered transportation costs, it came at a great human cost. Factories were organized to produce huge amounts of goods. People left the countryside and moved into the cities to find work in factories. The crowded housing was often poorly built and infested with disease and rubbish. Men and women worked up to 12-hour days. Families started to live their lives away from each other. Even children worked to contribute to the family’s income. The death rate fell to fewer than 45, about 13 years premature compared to other countries.
Moral decency decreased due to close living quarters along with the lack of education. Skilled craftsmen who once held a status in a certain trade were now employed by factories as unskilled labor. Other social problems included a low fertility rate in women. Due to rising costs of raising a family, couples decided to use contraceptives instead of bearing children. Mortality rates did improve, better diets led to population increases, however unsafe fast-paced working conditions created crippling accidents in the workplace.
Many children became orphans due to losing parents from sickness and industrial accidents. These adverse circumstances produced an adult population that was, “short lived, improvident, reckless, and intemperate, and with habitual avidity for sensual gratification. ” Environment health declined within urban areas. Factories deforested the land, polluted the air, and poisoned the water. Epidemics of Typhoid and influenza from water pollution ravished the worker population. The streets were filled with, “Noxious filth in neglected streets and bye-places.
” Air pollution created a mysterious “killer fog” that when inhaled could potentially be lethal. Edwin Chadick’s report on sanitary conditions in England (1842) reported overcrowded housing, trash build up, and poor water drainage. After Edwin Chadick’s report, cities finally began to install sewers, fresh water, better sanitation. Fire and police departments were also established to meet new social demands. In response to harsh work discipline and ruthless uncaring corporations, workers rebelled.
Socialism gained popularity, which invariably led to factory strikes and violent protest. Bands of English hand craftsworkers called the “Luddities” destroy machinery in protest of low wages and unemployment. Socialist systems deplored the exploitation of workers and sought equality. Social critics like Robert Owen tried to establish a model socialist community and did succeed to a degree. However, soon after creation economic difficulties and political problems caused them to fail. The most famous of socialists were Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
Karl Marx scorned utopian socialists like Robert Owen for being unrealistic. Marx called for the abolition of public property, and institution of a radically egalitarian society. By now, the socialist movement reached a boiling point. In his “Communist Manifesto” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels allied themselves with the communist party and foretold that a, “dictatorship of the proletariat” would destroy capitalism. It called for a revolution for the proletariat. No longer would the working man suffer for capitalistic profits.
The Manifesto outlined a society that was fair, just, and egalitarian. A new world infinitely more humane than the capitalist order. Social conditions during the industrial age went from one extreme to the other. The industrial revolution led to a highly capitalistic society dominated by careless corporations. The working class was exploited for profits. Perhaps a quicker response of government regulation would have saved the lives of thousands of laborers. Regrettably, nations were more concerned with the creation of empires abroad than improving conditions at home.
In the end, it took radical socialists like Karl Marx to evoked change, his theology instilled hope in the common man for a better life. In the Manifesto he wrote, “The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have the world to win. ” In 1917, Marxist socialism won control in Russia, and later spread to other countries. Today it lives on. A number of states are entirely devoted to Marxist communism; even democratic states incorporate socialistic and capitalistic ideals. Now, thanks to Karl Marx these governments are finally committed to protecting the proletariat classes from exploitation.