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Capitalism And The Industrial Revolution Essay

1742 words - 7 pages

The Industrial Revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was arguably the most important turning point in history. It transformed the manufacture of goods from craftsmanship to commercialism, exponentially increasing output and decreasing production cost leading to prosperity and an unprecedented supply of goods for the markets of the world. Industrialization and mass production was the fuel which ignited the flame of capitalism which was already established creating bringing sweeping changes in wealth and its distribution. Within a few generations the very fabric of society was virtually remade as millions left the farms and villages of the countryside for jobs in the cities. This monumental change did not immediately sweep the entire globe, instead it remained concentrated in the countries of western Europe and the United States, thus setting the stage for the hierarchy of nations in the world, which as changed only slightly since. While there are several contributing factors which facilitated this state of affairs, the overwhelming reason for its existence can be compared to a crooked poker game with the West was dealing a stacked deck of cards to the rest of the world. The industrialized countries used restrictive trade legislation, military force at times, and most importantly exploited regional conflicts between ethnic groups to create a hierarchy or class system of nations, the effects of which can still be seen today. Westerners thought themselves superior both culturally and intellectually to the people of places like Egypt, India and the rest of Asia. Thus rather than seeing themselves as exploiting foreign populations and cultures, they instead saw as serving the greater good for humanity by uplifting primitive cultures into the modern world as they went about the business of colonialism.
Prior to the industrial revolution a variety of factors and their long term affects had combined with fortuitous happenstance of nature to make western Europe, especially England singularly suited to nurture the advancement industrialism. The introduction of many new crops like corn, tomatoes and potatoes to Europe from the Americas previously had all but eliminated wide-spread famine in the region. These new food sources had also made Europeans healthier resulting in generally increased lifespans and more offspring generating a significant population increase in the region, thus creating more demand for the products and goods consumed by every growing society. The increased population also provided for an abundant labor pool of workers to man the factories which were to become the engines of the emerging industrial society of the west. Favorable environmental factors were important too. The availability of an abundance of ports and waterways and large coal and iron deposits fueled the early surge of the industrial revolution in the west.
The introduction of an a highly efficient steam engine by Thomas Watt in 1769 was...

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