The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution brought about great changes in how goods were produced and consumed, but it also brought about social and political changes. Some were positive, such as machines relieving much of the toil previously placed on worker’s muscles. But there were also negative changes. As workers moved to cities to work in factories, and progress in medical and sanitation practices improved, urban crowding became a huge issue.
Additionally, where industry was taking over production in markets that had previously been dominated by small business owners, these skilled workers, weavers and the like, were now being forced to take jobs working for capitalist ventures– often working in the industry coinciding with their master skill, but being paid as unskilled workers. These two issues–urban crowding and loss of independence for workers no doubt lead to an extreme decrease in the overall social atmosphere and in worker morale.
The Industrial Revolution brought about several new inventions that greatly increased production efficiency, however these machines were very expensive, so it was natural for businessmen and investors to put up the money needed to purchase these machines and the factories that housed them and then hire employees as workers. This generally caused a great disparity of wealth.
Though capitalism already existed by the time large-scale manufacturing came into play, the very nature of these changes had a great impact in it’s further development. Capitalism is a type of economic organization in which those with capital, or the funds and resources needed to purchase and maintain large scale production facilities, own all said means of production. Capitalists will then hire workers, or employees, to work in their facilities in exchange for a wage.
These workers can be dismissed at will, so the only real duty the capitalists have to the employees is to pay this wage. The ultimate goal of the capitalist is to increase their own wealth by hiring many workers to do the majority of the “grunt” work for them and then paying a wage to each of these workers that is essentially pennies in comparison with the profit made. Those in defence of capitalism say that it forces producers to develop new or improved products and to develop ways of working more efficiently.
On the other hand, those against capitalism state that it causes economic inequality, exploitation of the working class and causes overall social disruption. The rise of capitalism was a driving force in the development of communism. The disparity of wealth, overcrowding of urban centers, undermining of skilled workers and the appalling living and working conditions of the working class have lead to wars and a forming of a socialist or communist point-of-view. Socialism is the underlying motivation behind communist movements in history.
Socialists believe that it is unjust for a small amount of people to own the biggest portion of the wealth in society. This idea lead to the concept of a communist society, in which the existence of private property is eliminated in favor of government-owned property being shared among all it’s people. The government would provide jobs and care for all people equally. The idea was that through communism, there would be no social classes, thus eliminating alienation for any of the people in the society.
In comparison, capitalism and communism are like night and day–opposite of each other in every way, but the main differences in the two can be seen in the distribution of wealth among a society’s peoples and the appearance of freedom. Theoretically, in a capitalist society, there is freedom for anyone to own private property and to thrive and prosper. Also, in a theoretical sense, capitalism offers many personal freedoms to it’s people–allowing the ability to choose education, health care and work.
On the other hand in a communist society, all property is owned by the government and all aspects of life are regulated by the government, including, but not limited to, work, education and living conditions. The other main difference between the two types of society, however, is the distribution of wealth. In a capitalist society, a small group will inevitably own the largest portion of the wealth, thus creating social classes, where those with more wealth have more actual freedoms than those with less wealth.
While in a communist society, resources are distributed equally among all peoples. However, fair as this may appear, most, if not all, freedoms of choice are taken from the individual and placed in the hands of the government. References Lewis Hackett. (1992)