As the middle ages ended the feudalism came to an end in Europe due to Renaissance and other developments. Rise in towns and cities created a demand for goods which in turn stimulated the production of manufactured goods. But for a long time the techniques and organization for production of goods did not undergo any significant improvement. It was during the later half of the 18th century that the methods of production were revolutionized.
These developments resulted in the rise of a new type of economy called an industrial economy.
Industrial Revolution is used to describe these developments because the changes came rapidly and they had far reaching effects on World history.
This new system of economy emerged in Europe around the 15th century and emerged as an important form of economy that has continued to be economic system of most present day countries.
Features of Capitalism
The desire to produce more goods at a cheaper price and thus increase profits gave rise to industrial revolution. It led to the beginning of Industrial Revolution in England in 1750. The Machine Age had started and soon people started losing out jobs to machines. The industrial revolution changed the way of thinking rapidly. More inventions came up that changed people’s lives.
Industrial Revolution also led to creation of Factory System that used machines and steam power in place of humans and animals for production.
Factory system meant that the Capitalists, who were people who brought investment and owned the means of production, setup factories that made finished products. The finished products were also under ownership of capitalists who decided where to sell. They earned profits and invested it to further increase means of production.
Factory system turned early capitalism into Industrial Capitalism.
England became the birthplace of the industrial revolution because of the following reasons:
Indian calico cloth made in Calicut , Dacca muslin in Dhaka and Kashmir shawl from Kashmir were very popular in the English market. The English traders then imported raw materials and made the textile products in England for higher profits. The series of inventions further boosted the growth of textile industries in England.
Transport revolution in England when Railways were started to transport coal from mines to ports and then also from ports to factories. Roads called mcadamised roads were built to facilitate smoother transport by land and since water transport was easier than land transport canals were built.
The revolution in agriculture started before the industrial revolution as the demand for more food production was created. Mechanization of agriculture was done as the machines were used to reap and thresh. Steel plough and harrow were used for cultivating cash crops and raw materials for industries.
Pre industrial revolution land was allowed to lie fallow every third year to regain its nutrients. However this wasn’t possible after industrial revolution as demand from agriculture increased. Crop rotation became a popular technique to achieve balance.
Land Consolidation movement was the “Enclosure Movement”. In this the big landowners consolidated their land holdings and evicted the small peasants. They also usurped the common pastures and grazing grounds and the small grazers and peasants had to move to cities and towns. They did whatever work was available at the wage offered. The industrialists benefited from this as there was cheap and easily available labor.
Industrial revolution peaked the factory output of England. It went from a net importer to exporter. Its imports to India and other nations improved. The industries of other nations of Europe couldn’t compete with industrial goods of England. This create a chain of events that led to a race for colonies.
As industrialization spread to other countries production of goods started increasing. But as England was far ahead of others in the industrial revolution, its goods were far better and cheaper than their own goods.
The governments were forced to impose high import duty on goods which made them noncompetitive over domestic goods. As every country started imposing tariff barriers to protect local industry, The need to explore and find new markets was felt and this fueled the race for colonies.
Race for raw materials
As countries started industrialization they wanted more and more raw materials to fuel their growth. They captured colonies and exploited them for their own benefit. The economy of colony was subordinated and this phenomenon was called “Imperialism”.
Imperialism created friction between countries as they fought over colonies and dominance over a region. They created exclusive rights to trade with them and ruthlessly exploited the local population. Countries that industrialized late wanted to snatch colonies from developed nations. The countries that had colonies wanted more.
Earlier people lived in villages and village life was self sufficient. But with industrialization newer towns and cities emerged. They became the centers of political and administrative activity. They were more important as centers of industry.
People lost their traditional occupations and migrated to cities. The social bonds and constraints of village life were broken. The conditions of towns and cities deteriorated which created consequences for people.
However the change industrial revolution brought was creating an international consciousness amongst the people as trade was carried out between countries and things that happened in one part affected the other.
Laissez faire – Leave us Alone doctrine
The capitalists had laissez faire as a religion, it meant leave us alone. The governments should not interfere in industry and capitalists alone should be responsible for managing the affairs of industry.
Industrial revolution created miserable conditions for workers which led to reforms in industry and increased state interventions. These created the current system of labor reforms prevalent even today.